Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Golden diner, Cooking Class and a confession

I started off the morning at one of my favourite places to have breakfast in San Francisco. The Golden Coffee looks sad and worn but the food is always really good.I spent a comfortable hour at the counter in the sun reading a paper and eating a freshly made avocado and Jack Cheese omelette with salsa, a fresh hash brown and coffee for the princely total of $7.75. Here's the confession - I enjoyed that meal many times more than last night's meal at Chez Panisse for 15 times that amount.

Part of this is the fact that despite my being on my way to 50, I didn't feel comfortable being at the restaurant. Oh I know that the travel and dining guides say take a book, but who reads a book at the table of a restaurant like Chez Panisse?

There is another aspect to this: without wanting to sound conceited, because that is not my intention, I know that on a good night and with the right quality ingredients, I could produce a similar meal. I am equally certain that I could not have produced an omelette and hash brown as good as the one I had this morning.

Today was also the day for my cooking class at Sur Le Table. It was a beginner's class,
but I wanted to see how someone else did it and perhaps get some ideas for the classes I'll be doing this year. It was a nice group of people, and for me it was interesting to spend time with a group of locals. In the three hour class we made a spaghetti with tomato sauve, a fennel and haricot verte salad, rice pilaf, mashed potatoes and a French omelette, which only proved to me my earlier sentiments about the omelette I had at the Golden - there is a real skill to doing one well.

I ended the day visiting, with great trepidation, a store called Cookin' in the suburb of Bernal heights. Cookin' specialises in vintage and antique kitchenware, including French kitchenware. My trepidation came from reading lots of reviews of the place which mentioned the very cranky owner. Well I met the cranky owner ( who all but accused me of stealing her mobile phone which she had misplaced while attedning to her cute dog just after I walked in) but also her lovely assistant. This place is an absolute treasure-chest ( but also Pandora's Box) crammed to the ceiling with piles of pots, pans, cutlery, baking pans, cookie cutters, signs anything you can think of related to cooking. Prices are pretty steep for most things, meaning that most of what I bought will be for display in the shop not for sale. She had a compete range of cannelle moulds in every size, the smallest of which (about a TBS quantity) were $17.95 each. An impressive collection of copper pots was tempting, but I had to rmind myself that I can't take anything too bulky back. I made a beeline for the back wall lined with cookbooks, stepping over a fallen sign on the way. I browsed for a few minuted before hearing the owner say to her assistant: "Cookbooks!" He bustled over to me and apologised that I couldn't enter that section because they were pricing new arrivals there, and the sign I had stepped over had been intended to stop customers entering. As I paid for my few purchases, I told him I was a cookbook seller here on a buying trip. "You should come back later in the week" I was told, and I'd be able to look through the cookbooks - but I should probably come on a day when he was working there and I wouldn't have to deal with Judith. Well I don't think I'll bother, despite the treasures within, I'm not sure I'm prepared to spoil my trip by dealing with an unpredictable and cranky proprietor.

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