Sunday, October 7, 2007


I tried this great new restaurant/ café in San Francisco on Wednesday called Mission Beach Café. I hadn't heard much about this restaurant before going, but a friend took me after hearing great things about it through someone else. As a small plug for this place I will say that my meal was unbelievable. Every single dish that I had was exceptional. Mission Beach Café has gotten very little recognition thus far from food critics, but great reviews are soon to come. The ambience is great, the service was wonderfully friendly, and literally every dish was out of this world. The pastries, the pie in particular, were some of the best I have had in San Francisco, and maybe ever. I highly recommend this restaurant.

The main reason for this post is to describe the differences between my experiences at Pizzaiolo and Mission Beach Café. As I said in my previous post, my meal at Pizzaiolo was good but too simple. Mission Beach Café however was the exact opposite experience. What better way to prove my point! Every dish on the menu is perfectly simple, and yet each item was unbelievable. My friend and I shared a Cesar salad and crab cakes for appetizers, we split the pappardelle pasta for a second course, and the rabbit pot pie for the third course. We finished our meal by splitting a piece of coffee cheesecake, and a piece of strawberry nectarine pie. I realize that that list does not sound anything other than simple. They are all very normal, classic choices. The difference however is that each recipe has a little flair to it. The Cesar for example had a slight hint of fig, and was served with slightly roasted figs. This was something that I have never tried before, and it was an incredible addition to the average Cesar salad. A wonderful heirloom tomato "sauce" accompanied the superb crab cakes, and the rabbit pot pie had a great binding sauce, and one of the best crusts I've ever tasted. Both the crust and the filling of the pie was deliciously fresh, and the cheesecake was creamy, smooth, and light all at the same time. Everything was done to near perfection.

After my meal I couldn't stop myself from comparing it to my dinner at Pizzaiolo. Each dish here was basically a simple, easy, and tasty course. What made my dinner so special however was how impressed I was by the small but crucial additions the chef made to these classic recipes. It was this type of cooking that I said I love so much. All of the food was simple in essence, but amazingly original at the same time. In my opinion, this is one of the most important skills it takes to be a successful chef. Skills in the kitchen are clearly important, but it evident when a cook knows what flavors go well together. The people at Mission Beach Café clearly displayed their knowledge of interesting combinations of flavors, but they also were able to put this into a menu without being too outrageous or risky. Just because one person may like two very contrasting flavors being put together doesn't mean everyone is going to. At Mission Beach they somehow were able to use intriguing and new flavors without taking risks that might not be successful.

How is it that they were able to figure out these great combinations? After mulling this over, I came to the conclusion that this talent must have come from a lot of taste testing! Though there must be some degree of an inherent sense of good tastes, the ultimate sharpener of this skill must come from simply loving to eat, and loving to try new things. Maybe this is just how I feel, but I think that loving the feeling after you discover a great new taste must be one of the underlying things that draws people to the kitchen. Whether it is to cook, or just to eat, people who are truly attracted to the kitchen have to love the prospect of finding some new tongue-tantalizing flavor.

For me, I would have to say that I love not only tasting new, exciting things, but also sharing them with my friends and family. Food plays a huge role in my life because I love enjoying meals with people who are important to me. Whether I make the food, or someone else does, I find that sitting at a table with people that you care about talking, enjoying the company, and exploring new tastes together is one of the easiest and most traditional ways to spend time with people. Whether we are eating things that we are used to, or things that we never imagined we would try, it is the act of getting to explore with others that plays a huge role in my life. I don't know whether or not this means that I should be cooking for others all the time, or if it solely shows that I enjoy food, but either way I know that the thrill of new flavors is one of the main things that draws me to the kitchen. Now the question that this conclusion leads me too is, how does that fact change my thoughts about what cooking means in my life?

Is my love of food and new tastes enough to lead me to a life in the restaurant business?

1 comment:

hoo.asked.yoo said...

perhaps you don't have to know WHERE food will lead you, perhaps the task for the moment is simply to follow your taste buds. . .and be led.