California food

auspeople says “Weather. Food. Total beauty of the location. Access to different types of scenery in a relatively short drive.  These are all things that explains why so many people want to live in California.”

Admittedly, the weather’s been great.  The scenery, too, is pretty wonderful – though I think we tend to take some of the coolness around Houston for granted.  Sure, I can drive a couple hours and see a redwood forest, but from Houston I can drive a couple hours and take close-up pictures of alligators in the wild.  Each has its charm.

But the food… has been really sort of disappointing.  Maybe because I live in Houston where good ethnic food is plentiful, authentic, and cheap?

I’ve had two really fantastic meals here.  One was prepared by our friend and hostess (Ann), so I don’t think I can credit SF for that one.  Ann’s an awesome chef.  The other was at the little seafood restaurant that got featured in one of the iphone commercials.  Nicely prepared sushi and edamame, scrumptious sweet potato fries, and a creative, sinful dessert.

Beyond that, though, I’ve been repeatedly disappointed.

The trendy little cafe in the Marin area served me a really nasty sandwich. Perhaps this was my fault for being a bad communicator.  The menu advertised a tuna sandwich; I specifically asked if there was any mayonnaise on the sandwich.  We were being served by the restaurant owner herself (apparently they were short-staffed) and she said “of course not”. She neglected to clarify that it was a tuna SALAD sandwich (tuna MIXED with mayonnaise).  Blech.  But, on the bright side, the little feral tortoise shell cat lurking near our outdoor table was pretty psyched about the whole episode, as she got to eat most of it!

The bowl of clam chowder at a highly-recommended restaurant on Fisherman’s wharf – was served in a sourdough bowl.  The sourdough was pretty tasty but the soup was awful.  The potatoes were overcooked which lent a starchy, glue-like consistency to the overall soup, which was also really underseasoned.

The Italian restaurant on Russian Hill had high prices and crowded seating.  The gnocci in creamy tomato sauce was competent but the accompanying bread tasted like Wonderbread and the olive oil tasted off somehow.

The popular pizza place in Berkeley served undercooked pizza though I did enjoy all the nice veggies on it.

The bowl of noodles I nearly passed out into was overcooked and underseasoned.

The mexican food last night involved chips that tasted like they’d been purchased in a large bag from Sam’s, nasty american cheese, bland pico de gallo, but a really generous serving of very tasty guacamole. 

The Chicken Tikka Masala I just had for lunch was the blandest Indian food I’ve ever eaten.  Not only could you not taste any Masala spice, you could barely taste the tomato.  Naan was good, though. 

Tonight’s the big dinner associated with the conference so who knows what we’ll be served.  I’m pinning my hopes on tomorrow night, when we’re supposed to have dinner with some old friends who are longtime gourmets.

Wish me luck?

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