Lured by the promise of deep fried tentacles, I drifted upstairs for dinner. I forwent the CalTrans open house with regret, fully aware that my readers would probably be more interested in that than yet another tale of fabulous food, but sometimes I’m afraid you must suffer for the sake of my intestinal needs. I went up a bit earlier than I usually do, and thus was somewhat astounded to find myself in the midst of the dinner rush. There wasn’t a table available yet, so I sat on the bench and read Stiff until one opened up.
One thing amazed me in my waiting–the restaurant was obviously busy, and all the staff on the floor were occupied, but they managed to do it gracefully. Despite the large size of the floor, there were no panicked dashes hither and thither. Instead everyone moved briskly, purposefully, and quietly toward their goal, remembering to stop and enquire after a table’s food or to clear a dish on their way. The kitchen staff, likewise, were busy, but the kitchen seemed peaceful, relaxed even. No one evidenced impatience or panic, and it’s something I like seeing as a customer waiting for service. There might have been all sorts of disasters going on behind the scenes, but the customers would have been blissfully unaware.
The promised tentacles were excellent, of course. They had been fried in such a way that all the excellence of frying came through without any of the minuses–light, crunchy, and grease-free, each tentacle was exquisite. The accompanying sauce was quite lovely although I like them well enough with lemon and salt. The capers in the sauce were a splendid addition–I think pickled foods go very well with fried, and I was pleased every time one squirted its capery juice into my mouth. (Though few things compare to the deep fried capers you can get in cones in small towns along the Mediterranean, like pickled popcorn.) Few foods bring tears of joy to my eyes–kalimari is one of them.
I followed with a creamy fettuccine and smoked fish. The fish was rich and complex, and the smoke layered with the cream sauce in a fashion which caused me even further palpitations of delight. The fennel was an excellent addition, as well. The faint flavour of licorice interacted with the smoky, meaty fish, and the crunch of the thinly sliced root was a pleasant counterpoint to the pasta. I greatly enjoyed the layering of textures and flavours–I never knew what to expect with the next bite.
For dessert, I had a scoop of coconut sorbetto and a scoop of blood orange sorbet. Both are old favourites of mine, and with good reason. The blood orange is tart and icy, reminding me almost of sherbet in Turkey. It’s the sort of thing that tastes mild and cleansing on the palate, that would freshen up a hot day. The coconut is rich and creamy, not too sweet, either. It’s a concentration of coconut power (and while I adore coconut shreds, I have immense respect for the unbroken creamy texture of this sorbet).
Replete, I trundled home through the gathering darkness, pleased at the thought of a full stomach and fresh sheets on the bed.
Also, cookie report for JSP: I got two cookies, perhaps because someone in the kitchen is entertained by my cookie reports. Oh, or maybe because I got two scoops of sorbet. At any rate, one cookie was featherlight and crunchy, the very texture I believe is desired in a gingersnap. The other…is best left undiscussed. Although a sabertooth tiger might have been able to dent it.