Jonathan thinks I’m a packrat. And I disagree. Because naturally I always disagree with him until I’ve decided whether or not he’s right. And if he is, and only if, I’ll let him know once, either: enough time passes that he’s forgotten I disagreed with him in the first place, or I’ve figured out a way to reiterate our shared opinion in a unique enough way that he doesn’t recognize it as his own. So the other day, when were doing some spring cleaning, and he called me a packrat after finding the issue of Spirit magazine I saved from our first Southwest flight to Las Vegas together in 2008, because it contained the first (and last) crossword puzzle we ever completed together—I scoffed at the idea of being a hoarder of sentimental trinkets and quickly tried to prove him wrong.
Thankfully I immediately stumbled upon my box of greeting cards.
“Case in point!” he laughed, with a smugness I hate but find charming just the same.
But these weren’t just cards. These were letters and notes I’d received from relatives, friends, and colleagues for nearly every birthday, holiday, or special occasion I’d had since I was 20. Not only are they a physical symbol of the world’s adoration for me, but I find reading them years later transports me straight back to that special moment in my life when I read them for the first time. [cue tears]
So I sorted through a few of the cards on top, and found the card Jonathan game me on our three-year anniversary, and I read it out loud:
3 years! When we went on that date and you sat behind me on the stairs in the play, I never imagined I would find someone who makes me want to love so much. You make me laugh, have fun and want to be a better person. You always have a smile and a joke and even when I want to kill you I can never stay upset. These 3 years have been an amazing adventure and I can’t wait for more to come! Happy Anniversary
And that’s why I keep random shit! Oh, and you can thank me for correcting his misspelled words and bad grammar. It’s the least I could do.
Dinner at Aziza in the Richmond District
Aziza is one of those restaurants that has been on every “best restaurants in San Francisco” list at some point and for good reason. It’s a little off the beaten path, but well worth the trip to the Outer Richmond District. The culinary ménage à trois of Executive Chef Mourad Lahlou, Chef de Cuisine Sung Anh, and Pastry Chef Melissa Chou are turning out Moroccan inspired dishes that go way beyond the hummus and lamb tagine you’re used to. Each plate is artistically plated with the freshest of ingredients, some familiar, and some strange; as you’d expect from a restaurant with a Michelin Star.
From the moment you enter this Moroccan den of midnight blues and rusty reds, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into the Dar el Makhzen in Tangier. Between delicious dishes that are almost too beautiful to eat, your eyes will dart from one nod to Moroccan style to another (ceramic tile accents and inlaid wood tables).
I have to admit; at first I wasn’t so excited for dinner at Aziza. I hadn’t done much research on the restaurant, and I just assumed that based on the location, it wasn’t going to be anything special. But my mind was blown! And trust me, when you dine at Aziza, yours will be too!
Here’s what we had.
The spreads of eggplant, yogurt-bottarga, piquillo-almond, flatbread. The piquillo-almond spread was like crack. Sweet and perfectly smooth. I’ve had Moroccan spreads and flatbread before, but never plated like some edible Kandinsky.
Squid, tomatillo, cucumber, spinach, seaweed, and zhug. Another beautifully plated dish, and if you look closely, you can see the squid is scored with a microgrid for texture and shape. This was light and refreshing. Not at all fishy, and almost a palate cleanser between the flatbreads and spreads and the chicken wings that we had next.
Chicken wings, honey, nigella seed, cashew, jalapeno, yogurt. The chicken was moist and sweetened with honey. And my favorite part…..they removed the bones from each wing so there no problem popping each one of these in for a good chew.
Black cod, daikon, beech mushroom, cabbage, kale, potato, saffron. This dish was perfectly cooked. The fish practically melted like butter, and each vegetable was delicately placed in a warm umami-scrumptious broth. Probably the best fish dish I’ve had in a long time.
Lamb shank, barley, pumpkin, pomegranate, arugula. This is one of those dishes they always have on their menu. It needed a little more salt for my liking, but once I added a pinch, it was the most delicious bite of food I’ve had in awhile.
And for dessert, we started with the semolina cake, coffee mousse, and sesame. This was almost too beautiful to eat, but that only stopped us for a minute. Once we dove in, we were in heaven. Pastry Chef Melissa Chou does an amazing job of balancing savory and sweet, and her desserts are kissed with just enough sweetness that you can still enjoy the herbaceous notes and spices.
And the hazelnut financier, goat cheese, pomegranate, with douglas fir ice cream. This was one of the most unique dishes we’ve ever had. The ice cream was infused with the essence of a douglas fir, and it was like the forest was in my mouth. I know that sounds strange, but it worked.