Embracing life to the full… Including questions, challenges, joys and adventures
This time last week Matt and I were in San Fransisco sleeping off two amazing meals and preparing for a few more days of culinary and relational adventure.
As you know, I am sort of obsessed with Top Chef. So, I used the 5+ hour flight out to the West Coast to finish watching Season 10 (one of my favorites so far!) The winning dishes and judges comments only increased my anticipation for what was to come over the next several days… and you will get a “taste” of here.
We started off our adventure along with several friends and got to enjoy hand crafted sandwiches from Market & Rye and then explored the city, Golden Gate Park and even made it to the Pacific Ocean 🙂
After a nap and getting acquainted with Hotel des Arts we set off to the Mission District to enjoy a 6 course tasting menu at Commonwealth, for “progressive American food”. (Below you find one of the least creepy pictures we took from the hotel… I think we stayed on the “dying naked people” artistic expression floor… but, we will go back the hotel was interesting, quaint, inexpensive and fun!
So, now what you are most curious about… what did we eat?? (or maybe you don’t care… but, I think its pretty fabulous!) Lets go course by course…
First Course: smoked rainbow trout, trout roe, sea beans, horseradish-buttermilk snow
We were seriously feeling like the judges on Top Chef– Amazing smoky, unique, delectable
(Matt) asparagus and eggs: sea urchin, egg mousse, herring roe, seaweed brioche
(Traci) fluke crudo, hibiscus, horseradish pearls, puffed black rice, cherry blossom dashi …. Isn’t this beautiful!! I cleaned the entire plate, flowers and all! It was like savoring a work of art full of texture, emotion and love.
We forgot to take a picture of the sea urchin, but it was AMAZING! If you ever get a chance to go outside of your culinary box– Please do! You will be pleasantly surprised.
Third Course: artichokes, candied citron, black olive, hazelnut pesto, goat’s milk gel — Matt loved this one, but I thought the artichokes were a bit squishy– I’m a tough critic 🙂 They should bring me on a guest judge…
Forth Course: lamb smoked over eucalyptus, fermented carrot, kale, yogurt
We forgot to take a picture because the fragrance enticed us to start eating immediately. The chef smoked the lamb over eucalyptus wood chips which gave it a fresh, minty flavor along with the creaminess of the yogurt and crunchiness of the kale, a main course to truly savor.
Fifth Course: blood orange sorbet, tonka bean soda
**I’m not sure why, but the two restaurants we went to both had 2 dessert courses on their tasting menus. I thought that was odd because most top chef contestants hate the dessert course and I thought that San Fran was supposed to be health conscious, but I wasn’t complaining!! I also expected the sorbet to be a small melon size ball of ice, but instead we got a full size scoop in a martini glass swimming in a small pool of tonka bean soda. Tonka beans have a similar flavor to vanilla, but also bring a hint of root beer. We asked our server what Tonka beans are and he told us something about them possibly being toxic… but totally edible… hmm… This Article helps explain them a bit more.
Sixth Course:Let’s finish it out with dessert
(Traci) baked apple, hazelnut ice cream, fennel, and toasted oats — If you watched Season 10 of Top Chef, you saw that Sheldon had similar concoction during the meal that sent him home.. I had to try and see what the hype was about. I enjoyed the combination of apple and fennel and my fennel was sauteed rather than raw– sorry Sheldon– which developed a pleasing flavor and texture combination, but the ice cream was kind of bland.
Matt’s semifredo was AMAZING– we learned that semi-fredo means semi-frozen, so it was kind of like a a half frozen thick Reece’s cup with buttery creamy “popcorn” and caramel sauce.
After sharing with you and enjoying all of these amazing dishes, I can’t help but shake a feeling of guilt and confusion at the same time. Our table faced a window where Matt saw the San Fran bus stop every 20 minutes or so. He was able to watch people walking by our gourmet restaurant without enough to eat for themselves. People, who were obviously homeless or who would never be welcomed into the places that we so easily walked into.
Is it okay to enjoy meals like this knowing that others are going hungry within 10 feet of us? From reading my blog, you can probably tell that my answer is “yes”, but one that comes with a “yes” and– we must not just observe inequality, we must work towards service and generosity while enjoying the blessings that we have… This is hard to do.
I want to continue to live life to the full– enjoying expensive culinary adventures– without losing touch and somehow having solidarity with the poor. I want to be willing to give sacrificially… to the point where meals like this may not be possible for us… I believe that life to the full is full of tension, beauty, grace, sacrifice and much joy. We experienced all of these in this one day. God is good and the food was delicious!