Sunday night, I headed down the Luce, the fancy restaurant in the InterContinental Hotel to help judge the Culinary Clash, a contest where 5 culinary academy students are selected, and each of them get their own night to cook dinner at Luce for a panel of judges. I got to be a judge for the adorable Bruce, who looks like he's eleven years old and invented the most amazing dessert I've ever had.
My fellow judges were my friends Jay Barmann from Grubstreet and Liam Mayclem from Eye on the Bay, and then we dined with Peter Koehler, the GM of the InterContinentl, James Stolich who writes the food column in the Nob Hill Gazette and Mike Weller, who is the nicest man in the world and also the Executive Chef at the California Culinary Academy. All of them had very fancy conversations about food and restaurants and wine pairings while I drank juice and tried to keep my dumb questions to a minimum.
Among the dumb things I said:
Peter asked what the crunchy, salty things on the plate were, and I confidently responded that it was broccoli rabe. As nicely as he could, Jay said, "Actually I think those are pistachios."
I spent most of the dinner worrying about sweet Bruce slaving away at his first time in a real restaurant kitchen with (dreamy) Chef Daniel Corey, so I basically scored him 10s in every category because he was just so goddamn 'aww shucks' about the whole thing. And as someone who doesn't know the difference between broccoli and pistachios, I didn't feel qualified to throw out anything less than an 8.
Dessert was this amazing cippolini onion upside-down cake with apple cider ice cream and rosemary kumquats. It sounds really unusual but it was an amazing dining experience. And just the fact that this kid came up with it was pretty impressive. Needless to say, Bruce got all 10s from me on dessert.
In other INCREDIBLY FANCY SHIT news, Alice and I attended a private rehearsal of the San Francisco Symphony with la-ti-da and very charming Symphonix people last night. My wonderful friend Catherine is very involved with Symphonix and she invited us to last night's event. First of all, it was held in one of the most gorgeous rooms I've ever been in. It's called The Wattis Room in Davies Symphony Hall and it makes me desperate to have an occasion worthy of the space.
Second of all, the music we listened to was celebrated DJ and composer Mason Bates' newest oeuvre (see how I used that word) which at first I thought was really weird (it had what can best be described as robot sounds) but then I began to really like. It was fun to be one of forty or so people in Davis Symphony Hall while the Symphony Chorus rehearsed with the maestro (another fancy word) and the chorus director. And of course, Mason and his laptop of genius.
Beforehand there was a brief talk, where a woman who is very passionate about fancy music told us what EXACTLY we should be listening for. She was gesturing with her hands, describing the intricacies of sound very enthusiastically. After the event, Alice and I walked outside together and because we are so artsy, we discussed the music.
"Did you hear all of the things you were supposed to hear?" I asked Alice.
She turned and looked at me. "Oh, you mean..."
Alice paused, waiting for me to say it with her, "LITTLE MOMENTS OF COLOR!"