Restaurant interlude: San Francisco

We spent the weekend in San Francisco so I could attend and speak at the awesome National Conference for Physician Scholars in the Social Sciences and Humanities. It was such a fascinating weekend that I actually wanted to attend every session, but I did manage to squeeze in a few good meals and few more cocktails. Philadelphia and Denver just got bumped down a couple notches in my personal rankings of cities with extremely innovative, local, farm-to-table cocktails.

We started out by walking to the Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery for lunch, fresh off the plane Friday morning. We shared Devils on Horseback, bacon-wrapped goat cheese-stuffed dates, which I had to admit rivaled my own variation. My sister tried their spicy wings, my mom chose prosciutto and Carmody cheese, and I ordered fish and chips. The fish had an amazing texture - butter-soft white flesh in a perfect crisp shell but seemed bland even after a dash of salt and several helpings of malt vinegar. The chips were solidly good and went well with the Blue Bell Bitter.

For dinner, we took a taxi to aziza - I was very excited about the duck confit bisteeya (my favorite Moroccan dish) and about my son's second Michelin star experience. The only disappointment was the portions - I'm used to tiny plates from high-end restaurants, and if I was a local, it would have been a really good value, because we took home several boxes. The sweet-savory (and therefore always filling) bisteeya could have served four but neither my sister nor my son wanted to taste it. The lamb shanks with prunes (classic!) and barley was generously oversized, as were the short ribs (which my sister pronounced the best she'd ever had). My son devoured the green chickpea spread and shared the lentil soup with his aunt and grandmother. (Yes, we let the one year old eat $10 worth of soup. Sigh.) We also shared the marinated olives. I thought he would be excited to be allowed some preserved lemon (since he LOVES to gnaw at the peel of fresh lemons) but he seemed disinterested. Finally, the cocktails...I had an amazing concoction of arugula, turmeric and tequila and a completely different, equally exotic blend of whiskey, grape, and smoke.

On Saturday night, my mom generously stayed in with the baby (who had not exactly been showing off his best restaurant behavior, despite some adventurous eating performances) and my sister went to the Alembic. We had olives and shishito peppers (so simple, so delicious), followed by sea bass with artichoke, clam and smoked potato, and smoked cavatelli with early spring vegetables (smoke is very definitely our friend). Best bar food ever. Megan tried a couple of the beers, including Moonlight Death & Taxes, and I tried the Rise Above (tequila, Lillet Rose, lemon juice, rose hip syrup) and the Jack Rose (applejack brandy, lemon juice, grenadine). I was intrigued by the Poop Deck Cocktail (cognac, port wine, blackberry brandy) but the name? Ew. Sadly, we had to get home to baby and so I skipped the tempting caramel panna cotta and caramelized brioche desserts.

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