Ever looked at something and lost your thoughts?
Ever had history with some, and chemistry with others?
See how easy it is to twist relationship flirting into something that could actually describe your relationship with food? No judging here, but eyes or plates, I’ve lost my thoughts before. And while I have had my fair share of history, even with palettes of days bygone (hello cookies), I can always ignite chemistry with newfound loves. And I’m vegetarian. The biggest touché of all times.
Coqueta means flirt (or mildly put, infatuation) in Spanish. Hence the derailment into a coy world. Probably an intentional foray by Michael Chiarello in the bountiful, single filled city of San Francisco. Located on an iconic pier overlooking the romanticism soaked San Francisco Bridge, this was a pebble’s throw from the mind of my Bay Area staple foodie, Gastronomypix.
We sat in the semi open air veranda on a table looking conspicuously like wine corks. Not feeling like a wine slumber so early in the week, we figured we’d flirt with cocktails instead. Two spheres of pumpkin rum and ginger cocktails arrived, each looking conspicuously like other spherical mounds on a slight tilt, but over a fistful of dense, gold speckled liquor. The drink itself was not saccharine, a much welcome change to the inhalation of sugar that San Francisco had known to synonymize for me.
The bread arrived on a wooden platter with a sprinkle of chunky salt, deceptively bringing to life the feeling of a seaside escape turned misadventure.
Being very un-soup-like, I was surprised that we agreed on a Spanish classic, whisking me back to my days of Barcelona and Madrid: the gazpacho soup. A cold soup, usually with a tomato base, this one came in a cocktail glass and had a creamy white color to it, speckled with vegetable cuts and florets like jewels on a crest. It was almost as if the dish was playing with my mind, bewitching with a guise of being something exotic. And the best thing about such gestures is when the visual expectations are met with apt taste. The salty taste of marcona almonds was prevalent throughout cut by the sweetness of grapes, alongside syrah grapeseed oil.
A radiant and disproportionately horizontal plate with a huge scarlet streak and cinnamon specks was just what an adulterous valentines evening was made of. Baby orange beets with Sausalito watercress formed the tasty, tangy crux of the plate, with a beet and tierra vinegar, sprinkled with the sweetness of cinnamon and the sharpness of cabrales blue cheese. An intriguing combo, almost like a blind date between a tough, old fashioned gentleman (the blue cheese) and a radiant damsel with more than succulent red up her sleeve (the beets). The result? Electrifying.
At any other less love soaked outlet, the vegetable croquettes with blue cheese and thyme with a tomato sherry dipping sauce would have been a winner. But as they say, dating quirky tends to spoil your ability to appreciate simplicity, which is the exact indecision and reaction towards this filler course. Visually though, orbes upon orbes could trick the mind into Amsterdamage.
Dessert is my easy, everyday sin as many who know of my mischievous ways are aware. The warm pimenton cake was a rather suggestive cylindrical shape, held uptight with a generous sprinkling of tamarind and white chocolate cream. Getting past the coquetishness, you might say, the sprinkling of chili maracona almonds and cacao nibs made for a great textural balance to the rather vanilla cake.
On better notes was the pirate style platter of a sprinkling of mini desserts, a bit sized concept I educated myself on in San Francisco itself. While I liked the quince jelly with herbs and spiced sugar, it was the salted caramel popcorn that had taken this mainstream fad and turned it into a crunchy, delectable snack. Same for the manchengo cheesecake, an odd combination with a least favorite dessert, but where the tartness of the cake balanced blissfully with the velvety texture of the very same cake. Plus, the whimsical presentation which mandated pics reminding me of a childhood dream of the Borrowers.
And thus ended this relationship, a fling or a flirt of gastronomic proportions.
Whisking me off into the naked twilight of a single speckled, loving city.
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