The other day really sucked. Colossal, epic, universe is fucking with you kind of suck. Mind-numbing, are you serious, can it get any worse – yes it can suckity suck suck. Yet, looking back, I can’t help but feel like it turned out to be pretty good.
It started with the fog. Did you guys see that? Pea soup, snow-blind fog at 8am. My view is what energizes me each morning. At the worst I can see boats in the dry dock – massive creatures my son claims are “bigger than whales”. Not today! Cold, clammy and dense.
Now I love every second I spend with my son. He is the light of my world. I am guilty of being totally gay for my 5-year old boy, stealing wet kisses from his shayna punim every chance I get. He can do no wrong by me and I spoil him like crazy with divorced-dad-guilt….But the thought of another playdate at the Academy of Sciences (like the 5th time in 2 months) just wasn’t screaming fun to me that day. There’s the albino alligator, look! jellyfish, oh here’s the rainforest. Again.
I know, I suck. We are so lucky to have such an amazing museum nearby and to share it with my boy is a treasure. So, as a result of my discontent, I got karmic bitchslapped. 4:00pm we’re about to get in the car to go home and I discover my key fob has fallen off my Schneider bundle (huge points for getting the reference). Done poof, gone. Enter the mind of the 5-year old existential crisis. Quivering lip: “Daddy. If we can’t get into the car, does that mean we can’t go home and we’re homeless?” No son, we just need to go to mommy’s house and get the spare I left. “But if the cab doesn’t come, how will we get there?”.
An hour later and dozens of more questions we’ve journeyed from GGP to Potrero and back in a vomit-inducing cab ride (it was the Gypsy Kings music as much as the driving). During which, at some point, I receive text message from the sitter that she cannot come tonight. Really? Really? Mistake in her plans, so my plans are toast. I was supposed to have dinner at Sons & Daughters, a place I had already cancelled twice. I’m really not supposed to eat there.
Still during all of this, I am calm. I keep my center. I don’t lose my cool, in fact, I welcome the challenges. How can I learn from this? What am I gaining? I shit you not! The Zealot is growing up people. I’m thinking about how the little man and I are getting some amazing mind-fuck-bonding going on. We’re answering real questions. We’re getting ok with the world. And from out of the blue, a family of fairy princesses and princes decided to invite my booger to sleep over, thus solving the sitter conundrum. Right with it all. Karma restored.
So, I’m back on track and the world is pretty wide open to me. I arrive early and walk around Union Square. And I cannot stop thinking that I never go to Union Square. But how festive! Yes, I must take the boy. Ice skating. Shopping. I feel like a tourist. When we sit down to eat it turns out that my companion also had a pretty shitty day. So we’re both in the need of a drink and an experience please. In fact, I receive an “order for me” and “yes, I’d love to share” – which are two of the greatest phrases an Epicurean Zealot can hear. Why thank you, I will.
So we get the tasting menu x 2, different paths with four courses, plus amouses, totaling a bazillion dishes with wine pairings x 2. Now, mind you, I know nothing about this place. I keep up on the scene, but it escaped me. Maybe it’s the generic name. Maybe it’s the humble pedigrees of the two chefs. Maybe because it’s in Union Square (though Opentable insists this is Nob Hill). So, I consider this order a risk, having been disappointed by Commonwealth on a few occasions and, while loving Frances, not feeling the backflip-enducing praise it gets. But give it your best shot fellas.
And so it was. Course after course after course. Without a misstep. You heard me. Everything was perfect. From a celery root soup with maitake, trumpets, enoki & cauliflower mushrooms to an abalone with burdock root and castelvetrano olive (say it three times – I made the waiter) to the finest wagyu zabuton steak I could imagine. We had foie and sablefish and none of the savory courses were less than outstanding. My only complaint was that the desserts didn’t live up. The chocolate was ok and the foie seems contrived. But it was excusable in the grand scheme.
Frame of reference: I just returned from a 10 day sojourn to Basque Spain to eat. I ate. A lot. In really really good places. This region is the epicenter of modern food. And I tell you… that the best meal I’ve had in months was at Sons & Daughters. In San Francisco. My hometown. As we left the restaurant the cold didn’t seem to matter. Strolling Union Square was even more charming with the glow of 8 wine pairings and a belly full of foie. The suckfest day was a distant memory and my faith in San Francisco dining rejuvinated. Turned out to be a pretty good night afterall.