you know you've got it good

Monday, June 30, 2008

... when you can compare the chef's tasting menu at Gary Danko to the one at Cyrus.

We went to Gary Danko tonight to celebrate his birthday. It took us a little while to settle into the experience -- the restaurant is between Ghirardelli Square and North Beach, so to get there, you have to drive through hordes of tourists who don't obey traffic lights. We were a little stressed out by the time we arrived, but after the amuse bouche of corn soup, the first course of oysters and caviar, and a glass of Grüner Veltliner, we were fine. (By the way, I feel very pretentious just typing the word "caviar.")

The verdict: Cyrus still wins (better attention to detail, mellower ambience, more creative/fun dishes, i.e. foie gras doughnut -- hello!), but Gary Danko is damn good -- really damn good. We had an amazing salmon medallion tonight. And the oysters with caviar were just as decadent as they sound. And we also tried bison for the first time. (I kept daring Todd to ask the server if the bison was from Golden Gate Park, but he didn't do it. And we ended up overhearing the server say the bison was from some farm in Wyoming anyway.)

And then there was the chocolate soufflé. Good lord. This soufflé shouldn't even be legal -- it was just so perfect -- so fluffy and airy and light and wonderful. (And the hole in the soufflé is not a flaw, by the way. That is merely where the server poured the crème anglaise and warm Belgian chocolate. Yes, you may drool now. I am.)

was it the caterer?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Did another tasting yesterday evening. I don't really know what the verdict is on this one. When we left the tasting, we were ecstatic. I mean, look at the menu:

Hors d'oeuvres
Ahi tartare on a sesame crisp
Slow-cooked duck and polenta
Fava bean bruschetta with young pecorino
(All amazing -- and all perfectly bite-size, which is important when it comes to hors d'oeuvres -- you don't want your guest to feel awkward trying to eat them)

Butter and romaine lettuce with grapes, green onions and toasted almonds, topped with a mustard-basil vinaigrette
(I died. I love salad. This was an amazing, amazing salad. I could literally eat this every day.)

Prime rib
Portobello mushroom napoleon
Sides of steamed asparagus with truffle oil and roasted potatoes
(Prime rib was fine -- on the rare side. More on that later. Portobello mushroom napoleon -- now that's what I call a vegetarian main! It was pretty, substantial and tasty. And the asparagus was so good -- truffle oil in moderation, which is nice.)

(Good, but we are actually going to cut the dessert from the menu since we will be serving our super-secret awesome dessert instead.)

We raved about the food all night long -- no joke, we were really impressed. And the service was excellent too -- seemed like a very professional company with lots of experience working at the site we've selected. (Which, I'm discovering from talking to various caterers, is not the easiest site for events.) We even found ourselves discussing linen colors (I know, I know -- never in my life did I think I would care) and napkin folds (yes, there are several options to choose from, believe it or not). And all was well.

Until about 6 this morning when Todd woke up and started barfing. I'm not sure what the cause was. Food poisoning? Stress? His stomach's strong desire to stay home from work today? All I know is we ate exactly the same thing last night, except for the amount of prime rib. I took one bite, while he ate his entire serving. And the meat was very rare.

So now the question is: Was this a fluke and/or totally unrelated to the caterer? Or is our whole wedding party going to end up barfing the morning after?

taste test

Monday, June 23, 2008

We've started tasting caterers' menus. We're interviewing four caterers (never hurts to be safe, right?), and we dropped by the first one yesterday. She was really, really nice -- lots of great ideas for floor plans and an awesome idea for an alternative to wedding cake (her idea is so awesome that I can't share it here because I want people to be surprised when they experience the awesomeness -- but a hint: This is something I have blogged about before).

As for her food, thumbs up for the starters -- the soup (a chunky tomato served in a mug) was delicious, and I loved her salad, too. The rest of the menu was braised short ribs (which were really tender and good), potatoes, mushroom ragu and chard -- all fine, except that if you were vegetarian, you wouldn't have much to choose from since the mushroom ragu was more like something you would top the short ribs or potatoes with instead of a dish you could enjoy all on its own. Also, the main courses didn't exactly say "spring wedding" -- seemed more like winter comfort food to me.

Still, overall, it was a good experience. Although I have to say I'm having a more and more difficult time keeping the whole thing from turning into The Madness. I can already feel myself getting completely sucked in. Just now, I realized that I've spent the past hour or so looking at save-the-date cards, which don't even need to go out until November.

Someone slap me, please.

two wheels, too much fun

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I am going to buy a bike.

This is the conclusion I've arrived at after spending three days in Aspen for work (we sponsor the Aspen Music Festival, and opening night was Thursday). Two of those three days involved riding a bike absolutely everywhere -- to visit accounts, to eat brunch, to buy chips at the convenience store, to ride through different neighborhoods and ogle rich people's houses, to follow the river, etc. We rode through a cemetery, past some small waterfalls, over numerous bridges, up one gigantic hill (not fun when you're trying to get used to the altitude) and into town. We even saw a deer.

I am hooked.

on the road again

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

In Tahoe for work. Spent the day investigating "activities" for our national sales meeting, which will be held here in August. Discoveries included:

1. A rafting trip where you don't actually have to paddle and can just float down the river and drink beer.

2. A rafting trip where everyone is required to paddle and there are rapids at the end. (And if you're scared, you can get out of the raft right before the rapids and walk the rest of the way.)

3. A very nice sailboat that does a sunset cruise with wine, beer and snacks.

4. A swanky resort that offers fly-fishing lessons, bike rentals, ping-pong tables, karaoke parties, golf, spa treatments and pretty much anything else you can dream up.

5. A stable that doesn't have a web site. Or a credit card machine, either.

6. A gigantic plate full of "dynamite prawns" that were so freaking good I ate them all by myself, even after an old man came up to me and said, "Those are the best, but what a big serving! I couldn't finish them!"


Saturday, June 07, 2008

Currently, the cats are being teased by a very fat bird that is hopping around just outside the sliding glass door.
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