OMG! In 20 minutes my 31st birthday will be over and the one gift I promised to give myself was this blog. The blog my friends and family have been rolling their eyes at me for talking about now for years.
“You’re not writing a blog until it’s online,” my friend Shauna keeps reminding me, “you’re practically an old hag who keeps a digital scrapbook!”
No offense to people who scrapbook, but her words struck me to the core. She was right. And that’s when I decided to turn away from the light at the end of the tunnel that leads to converting our guestroom into a crafts room and retiring to mom-jeans. If I’m going to be mistaken for Rosie O’Donnell its not gonna be from elastic waist pants! Maybe my broad shoulders, but that’s it!
So here we are. 31 years of food research later and I’m ready to share my thoughts with the world. Finally a stage large enough for the likes of my unfiltered remarks and slightly discriminating opinions about life, love and the meals in between.
This blog, like my life, is a work in progress. So promise me you’ll give me a chance, and I’ll return the favor by improving as best as I can…..and be limiting the number of exclamation points I use.
So without further adieu…my inaugural post! (sorry I couldn’t help myself).
Birthday dinner at State Bird Provisions
For my special birthday dinner, Jonathan took me and two of our good friends out to dinner at “the best new restaurant in America” according to Bon Appetite’s Andrew Knowlton: State Bird Provisions. This was my second time eating here (the first time was soon after they first opened) and I can honestly say the food is just as amazing and inventive as it’s ever been. Jonathan’s been three times now (bastard went without me when I was home sick once) and the fact that we live four blocks away not only makes me happy to be so close to this place, but giddy that our condo’s close proximity might mean the value of our condo has gone up?
Well this is what we had. And don’t freak out Fern (my stepmother) these are small plates served dim sum style and there were four of us sharing. This is not as much food as it seems.
I think what I find most remarkable about State Bird Provisions is that each entrée is so full of it’s own unique flavor, but nothing overpowers your palate. From one dish to the next, my taste buds rode a culinary rollercoaster around the world and never once did we feel like we couldn’t take on more.
State Bird Provisions gets two thumbs way up and I recommend you make a reservation asap since they’re only taking reservations 60 days out. Oh, and they will only take parties of four or less. The place is tiny, so forget about going with a large group. If there’s just two of you, there are a few seats at the bar and two standing only seats for walk-ins. Whichever course you choose, you need to check it out. De-lish!
Oh, and a big shout-out to our waitress Sara. She’s feisty, hot, Indian but born and raised in San Jose, and when she wasn’t answering one of a thousand questions I peppered her with, she was cracking our shit up with her awesome attitude and witty retelling of her late nights on the town in San Francisco as a single girl having the time of her life. She and the rest of the down to earth staff (even Chef Stuart Brioza greets guests as you walk in as he works the line) make this the best new restaurant in America without the pretentious ambiance and I just hope it stays that way!
Thanks State Bird staff for making my 31st one to remember! (ok, that was the last exclamation point for awhile, I promise). Here’s what we ate:
Ciccioli (which is like pork rillettes) with rosemary buttermilk cracker
Duck liver mousse with almond biscuit
Sherry glazed smoked potatoes with tonnato: the potatoes were something special and the those are fried onion on top. What you can’t see in this photo (sorry) is the cured and smoked trout salad under the potatoes that made this ah-maze-ing
Shrimp avocado and nori: why we don’t eat shrimp ceviche on fried black nori more often is beyond me.
Garlic bread with burrata: this is one of their signatures and it’s always on the menu.
Steak tartar with grilled broccoli & shishito: that red pepper is a shishito….shit y’all I didn’t know they came in red.
Seafood salsa: this is their version of a ceviche and is usually on the menu. The chips are nice and thick and super crunchy and they serve this on some pureed avocado.
Kimchi pork belly with tofu: I actually stopped Chef Brioza as he was walking past our table to the prep kitchen to tell him how much I loved this dish. “You’ve just validated several years of my taking photos of food in restaurants because I’m a Jew and this is pork and we were meant to be together.” I said. Understandably, he sort of gave me that you’re-a-little-crazy-smile and stepped away slowly. But Jonathan doesn’t eat pork often at all (actually doesn’t like bacon really) and he couldn’t get enough of this dish.
CA state bird with provisions: it’s fried and served on top of some onions sautéed in lemon and butter. Get the whole order, trust me, you’ll eat it.
Glazed pork ribs with swiss chard, togarashi: again, Jonathan went apeshit over these and it’s pig.
Red trout, mandarin, hazelnut-garum brown butter: the skin on this fish was crispy and salty and perfectly complimented the flavors of the sauce.
Braised beef curry, bok choy, French crepes: I’ve never had crepes folded up like this and the curry was subtle not too overpowering to the point that everything after this tasted like curry. Yet it was still full of flavor and awesome. (Sorry the photo is a little blurry)
Cauliflower viennoise, beet, horseradish-ale cream: It’s hard to see it in this photo, but the cauliflower is the golden brown breaded pieces under the garnish. The cream was on the bottom of the dish and was probably my least favorite flavor of the evening and yet I licked the fucking bowl.
Cumin lamb with scallions, grapes and cauliflower: this is another one of their signature dishes. Last time I was there this dish had sea beans and dates. It’s always cumin and lamb though. The first time we ate here one of the chefs was nice enough to come out and tell me how they made this dish and the secret ingredient is white soy sauce. You can order it online or get it in specialty markets….I’m warning you though, a small bottle is $20.
And for dessert……
Strawberry granite, quince, caramelized honey tapioca: this was light and refreshing and Jonathan’s favorite of the desserts.
Chocolate-gingersnap pudding, coconut pecan crunch: the crunch was soft and chocolaty. The pudding was herbaceous and the consistency of a pot de crème.
Plum jam ‘ice cream’ sandwich, chocolate and fennel: This is what they served us a birthday candle in and it melted in my mouth faster than the wax could melt to the plate. The fennel and the plum really played off each other nicely keep the dessert light and not to heavy.