Closed Captioned For The Thinking Impaired

Sunday, March 9, 2008

San Francisco: One Perfect Night & Day with the One You Love... A Happy 11th Wedding Anniversary

It was a perfect Saturday afternoon on the 8th of March in the 2008th year of the Gregorian calendar.

A beautiful day for a wedding; and, we had one.
11 years ago,
on the beach along the California coast that overlooked the same ocean but a different bay near Carmel appropriately known as Monastery Beach.

We eloped, if you can still call it that after living together for eight years.

We stayed at the Lodge (Pebble Beach) and had two very surprised friends in tow as witnesses who had no idea why we were so dressed up that afternoon. I, in my little ivory colored St. John purchased in secrecy especially for the occasion, and Garrett looking very dapper in his dark blue Zegna suit.

Our pals had on khakis, polo shirts & sneakers; having stepped right off the plane from New York and ready to hack a few golf balls around the course until we ambushed them into attending our wedding.

Garrett & Dave were taking part in their second annual two-man team amateur golf "world championship". Sally & I weren't golfers then but tagged along, to shop, eat, ride horses, take pictures, workout, spa etc.
I thought it might be fun to throw a little marriage ceremony in.
You know, to break up the monotony.
It did!

11 years later, still married, still on the left coast in San Francisco and still loving it! The marriage and the city, that is; though, not always in that order. :>)

This year the celebration started early with a walk by the bay for me & a hike in the Presidio for the hubby; after which we met up by the benches at Lita Vietor's View in the sunshine and picnicked overlooking the spectacular North Bay vistas with two of our favorite sandwiches from Lucca Deli on Chestnut which we shared equally, "halvsies, halvsies" as the hubby cutely puts it.
(The sandwiches were turkey & provolone with roasted sweet red peppers and avocado on Dutch crunch; rare roast beef with fresh mozzarella, olive oil and more roasted sweet red peppers on Acme sweet as well as Lucca's yummy vinegary potato salad with fresh dill)

View of Golden Gate Bridge & Marin Headlands from Crissy Field

After lunch, a little shopping expedition at the nearby Sports Basement, the former army px turned sporting goods store, for a few sporty essentials then back home for a refreshing nap before dinner and the ballet.

A few words about that evening:

Jardiniere: the best service and most delectable duck preparation in the city, bar none!

When I tell you that we had a 6:30pm dinner reservation (tried a month ago to get it earlier and no dice, too many others were also attending the ballet that night) and had to attend an 8pm performance, you could imagine how fraught with tension that dinner could have been.

I did call ahead to explain our predicament (which I'm sure occurs much more than Jardiniere would like) and was told what I already knew: the kitchen conducts its pace at two hours for a two top. But I was both tenacious and very apologetic, so the hostess said she would note it on our reservation and they would do their best to comply.

Jardiniere's upstairs dining room

A world-class dinner in less than 90 minutes?

They did it!!!

They did it with aplomb, grace & wit! We did our best to help by ordering quickly & decisively but the staff at Jardiniere not only realized our needs but fulfilled them in such a way that we felt as though we had a leisurely meal (which included a loan of reading glasses directly from the incredibly gracious and hospitable sommelier) plus a few lovely chats about food & other pleasures with our very capable server. We even had time for dessert (the fab Dulce de Leche flan with fresh cinnamon sugar coated churros & jalapeno gastrique).

We each had a glass of Henriot rose champagne, starters (perfectly seared scallops with ample slices of Perigord black truffle for me, beet salad with spiced Marcona almonds for hubby) a bottle of '02 Marcassin Three Sisters Pinot Noir , the entrees (Wagyu ribeye for him, San Francisco's most amazing duck breast delicately seasoned with five spice powder replete with toothsome crust & unctuous meat, did they sous vide it? if they did how did they get that crust???? for me) plus dessert in 75 minutes and never a rushed moment! Incredible!

Needless to say, we will be returning for Traci Des Jardins' tasting menu very soon; so that we can eat there properly; but, I must say, I can't imagine it getting any better in terms of the kitchen's expediting, the servers solicitude and charm, or the quality of the food served. My only quibble was that the Wagyu ribeye, a humongous slab of beast that was originally ordered by moi, was slightly overcooked more medium than medium rare with a slightly "off" flavor vaguely reminiscent of used dish rags but my husband didn't detect it and very gallantly switched dishes with me. The duck breast, on the other hand, was out of this world!!!

It had been far too long since I had eaten at Jardiniere. When Traci Des Jardin was at Rubicon, I enjoyed many meals there including hostessing my husband's company Christmas party. When Ms. Des Jardin initially opened Jardiniere with Pat Kuleto in 1997, we followed her there (X-Mas party included) but over the past several years what with one place & another opening, I have ignored this Civic Center classic despite the James Beard awards, despite the Iron Chef appearances.

I've already booked two dinners there for the next month and half. Jardiniere deserves to be revisited and often!!! It is everything a restaurant ought to be! I'll be in a better position to describe the latest experience there and review it properly next month. Stay tuned!

The San Francisco Ballet's 75th anniversary season is in full swing and it is spectacular!

Yuan Yuan Tan & Damian Smith in SF Ballet's Program 5

We saw program 4 last night. (Couldn't find pictures of it on the internet yet)
The program offered:
An evening of tributes to the choreography of Jerome Robbins with three suites:
Fancy Free, a jaunty character-driven balletic rendition of "On the Town" with music from Leonard Bernstein;
Into the Night, with three nocturnes from Chopin, and three beautiful pas de deux with some of the company's finest principals (Yuan Yuan Tan, Lorena Feijoo, company choreographer Yuri Possokhov);
and finally, West Side Story, a Robbins ballet suite of the musical so rambunctious and energetic that I was cheering like I was at the Super Bowl not the War Memorial Opera House. When ballet corps member, Shannon Roberts as Anita started singing and dancing, "I Want to Live in America" I thought I was watching a young spicy sassy Rita Moreno on the stage not a fouette' turning, toe pointing, chignon-wearing ballerina. Hips were flinging, heads were tossing, the prevailing mood was wild and reckless. Fun, Fun, Fun!!!

I'll be back there next week to watch Program 5 which offers a very different look at this versatile company. You should go, too. Program 4 with the West Side Story suite will only be offered until March 20th. This company is finally getting the worldwide acclaim they deserve due to the efforts of Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson & Choreographer in Residence Yuri Possokhov with exciting works, superior staging, incredible scenery and a cast of principals and soloists (plus its young corps) who are truly poetry in motion.

All in all, a perfect day and one that could have occurred only in San Francisco. Where else could you in the course of a sunny 68 degree winter's day walk by the beach & picnic for lunch and then have an early bird gourmand special before going to see a world-renown ballet in the space of twelve hours. Not too many places, I'm so happy to live here!

(The photos of the Bridge are courtesy of my iPhone since the Sony camera is still ailing but they look pretty good, huh?)

Photo of wine glasses

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