Whenever I come back to this spectacular City by the Bay, I make a beeline for the Ferry Building which my friend Tracy calls “complete sensory overload”. I call it heaven. The Ferry Building is a food lovers version of crack and nothing short of addicting. From the clam chowder and three-cheese grilled cheese at Hog Island Oyster Company to the mosaic of delights at Boulette’s Larder to the dizzying Sur la Table where I simply want to ask for “one of everything” to the Saturday morning market insanity, the Ferry Building is the Louvre of food, a showcase and tribute to the sophistication and appreciation that thrives in this once bawdy gold rush outpost.
When I had to come up with a menu for a friend’s 50th birthday dinner, I naturally zeroed in on the Ferry Building. Where else can you shop for an entire meal, from caviar to chocolate, in one place, one stop, one parking lot and call it a day. Gotta’ love that! With Tracy in tow, we bought the foie gras at the San Francisco Meat Co, the striped bass from Bill at the San Francisco Fish Company, caviar at Tsar Nicolai, chocolate at Scharfenberger, cheese from Rachel at Cow Girl Creamery, and vegetables and herbs from the maze of produce stands that gift wrap the building.
Tracy, Patty, and I shared a memorable meal a year ago at Manresa ending with the promise to get together and cook whenever we were all in the same city. So cook we did, enlisting Patty and her oldest daughter Amy, a student at the Calfornia Culinary Academy in San Francisco, as sous chefs and Tracy as official brusher of olive oil on croutons, quality control, and ensuring our wine glasses were never empty. From 1pm to 11pm we chopped and sauteed and reduced and sipped and toasted and cheered and ate and ate and ate. Voila le menu…
Bonne 50eme Anniversaire Patty!
Gougeres de Comte
Saumon Fumee avec Creme Fraiche Citron sure Brioche Grille
Filet Mignon et Oignons de Porto et Balsamique sur Baguette Grille
- Aperitif de Champagne Krug avec Framboises et Cassis
Foie Gras Saute avec Confiture des Figues,
Brioche Grille et Oignons de Porto et Balsamique
-1981 Chateau d’Yquem Sauterne
Bar Roti Entier avec Fenouil et Basilic et une Melange
des Pommes des Terres et Pommes Douces avec Sauge et Grasse de Canard
Tomates “Heirloom” Farci Provencal
- 2002 Chassagne Montrachet
- 1975 Joseph Swan Pinot Noir
Assiette des Fromages
Epoisse, Comte, Morbiere, Red Hawk, Forme d’Ambert, Fromager d’Affinois, Harley Farms Chevre
- 2004 Reynolds Family Winery Russian River Pinot Noir
- 2004 Reynolds Family Winery Carnasos Pinto Noir
Gateau du Chocolat Moelleux
Glace a la Vanille chez Patty
The following are my prep notes that I followed to stay on track throughout the day.
1. mise en place, plates, pots/pans
2. reduce balsamic and port
3. make ice cream
4. make chocolate cake batter, test one for timing
5. make gougeres
6. set out cheese on platter
7. make tomato stuffing – toast/cuisinart bread, parsley, garlic, toasted hazelnuts
8. sear tenderloin
9. cut, stew onions in port
10. make croutons for apps
11. make potatoes – cube, roast in duck fat and sage, finish w/ saute. I bought the duck fat at Boulette’s Larder.
12. toast brioche – circles for foie gras
13. make lemon creme fraiche – creme fraiche, lemon zest, lemon juice
14. cut, partially roast fennel
15. stuff fish
Timing is always the most challeging part for – once I’ve come up with a menu – so I always make a timeline and a step by step prep list (above). For this dinner, I tried to follow this time line. Don’t get stuck sticking to a schedule, rather go with the flow of the evening (and the flow of champagne!).
5:45 assemble apps
6:00 plate apps
6:45 plate brioche, onions, chutney
sear foie gras
7:00 put fish in oven
serve foie gras
7:30 take fish out, finish sauteing potatoes, warm beurre blanc. put tomatoes in oven to heat.
7:45 plate dinner
8:45 serve cheese course
9:15 cake in oven
9:30 serve cake