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Trip Report - La Mar, Farina, Chez Panisse Cafe etc

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Spent the past 5 days back here in the Bay Area, realized how much I missed the awareness and level of food here in comparison to San Diego.

Some of the Highlights:

>Chez Panisse Cafe
- Tried the Sierra Nevada Trippel on Draft which was mighty tasty with its mild funk. Never seen it bottled?
- Hog Island Oysters, what can you say? Simply immaculate with the mignonette.
- Shaved Fennel, Persimmon and roasted Fig salad. I am crazy about this dish. Its the best salad I think I've ever had.
- Pizetta with Luques olives and greens reccomended by waitress was very weak.
- Bavette Steak with Caper Chimmichurri was Fantastic
- Coho Salmon elicited 'meh' reaction.

>Farina
- Sat next to the pasta making station which was cool.
- Bresola carpaccio was very satisfying
- Outstanding Foccacia
- Pansotti perfect winter pasta dish
- Lobster papardelle wasn't bad - the fresh pasta saved it.
- Hankerchief pasta with pesto. If dish could be characterized as 'haunting' this would be it. Texturally magnificent - tender, delicate noodle. creaminess of the world championship pesto. This was my favorite dish of the whole trip. The flavor of that pesto made me seek out fiore sardo cheese and ligurian olive oil which I am now equipped with heading home in hope of recreating it. I spent everyday thinking about it. There is a video on CHOW with the chef Paolo Laboa making it. Check it out. He was overseeing everything the evening I went.
- Milk Fritters with Blood Oranges - Wow, like eating creamy donuts sprinkled with cinnamon sugar - after the pesto this was the best thing we had and the most successful dessert I can remember

> La Mar Cebicheria
- Expensive, small portions but exceptionally made food.
- Tried Cusquena and Cristal beers for the first time. Cusquena is the better, Cristal reminded me of Corona.
- Anticuchos de Corazon are one of my favorite dishes - they are really well composed here. Perfectly medium cooked, lovely cumin aji panca bbq flavor and served with choclo and nice fried potatoes. The spicy rocoto and creamy huacaina sauces were wonderful.
- Cebiche mixto - I wanted the lick the bowl - the aji amarillo leche de tigre was spot on with slim slices of octopus and red onion. Very good.

> Blue Bottle Coffee
- Best Cappuccino I've ever had

> Delica in Ferry Plaza
- Pretty middling - Ive had better Hijiki, roast beef sushi looks better than it tasted but the marinated aubergine salad with ground meat was exceptional

> Boccalone
- Awesome Mortadella and even better Nduja.

> Tamales Ladies in front of Rancho Mendoza Supermercado on Sebastopol Rd. In Santa Rosa.
- Super Tamales! Small Torpedo shaped, almost Monterrey style balanced tamal. Perfect Santa Rosa Breakfast on a rainy day with some warm drinkable arroz con leche or champurrado.

I'll have to Make it out to Nopalito SPQR and Mexico DF next trip.

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  1. Apparently the chef won the Pesto World Championship in Genoa last year!

    http://www.chow.com/media/5728