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Basque food at its best!!

July 30, 2009

I had the honor of doing a cooking demo and presentation to my alma mater the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco last week. I also had the pleasure of dining at Piperade, a Basque restaurant on Battery St. in San Francisco.

This restaurant was everything I love about San Francisco dining. The room was pleasant but not meant to steel your attention away from the food. The staff was polite and super knowledgeable and helpful but not over the top. And the food, wow! The food was amazing!

I ordered one of the Basque (Northern Spain) classics called “ttoro” which is a fish and shellfish soup. The Spanish version of a Bouillabaisse. What I loved about this dish was that I could taste the chefs’ incredible knowledge of how to treat each ingredient individually yet bring them all together to create perfection in a bowl. I could picture the shrimp and scallops being seared to perfection, left slightly underdone and taken out of the pan to make way for the fish which was cooked just until it wanted to given in and start to separate into tender flakes. The fish was probably then taken out and the pan to join the shellfish and the pan was deglazed with alcohol, I think I tasted sherry but it may have just been wine? I can taste the yummy bits on the bottom of the pan dissolving into a perfect sauce. Just enough tomato was added to create the perfect balance of acid. The sauce was probably puréed and strained because it was like silk. I imagine all the seafood and shellfish being added back to the pan with the sauce and being heated just briefly to bring the flavors together and finish cooking everything to perfection. It was the kind of sauce I just kept tasting and squeezing between my tongue and the roof of my mouth to try to identify every herb and flavor but I couldn’t. I was a perfect symphony where no one ingredient was the star.

A sip of amazing Albarino (lush Spanish white wine, which is the grape) and a smile from my wife every time I looked up made it a perfect lunch. Oh how I love to eat!! I am so grateful when I can enjoy a dish done to perfection!

Eat well, enjoy life, be happy.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Margaret OBrien permalink
    July 30, 2009 12:52 pm

    Wow. Your ability to transform a meal description into sheer poetry is mindboggling. You must write a book….

  2. emma permalink
    July 30, 2009 3:32 pm

    It’s always nice to log on and see you’ve had time to answer the questions, that must be the most time consuming part of blogging. Is this dish a more elegant version of Italy’s cioppino? It sounds delicious, particularly the sauce having a silkiness.

    On another note, I just read on Bob’s FN blog about the show a small discussion about referring to you as Jeffrey or Jeff (some thought Jeff was too familiar). Please let us know if you have a preference. I read in your bio here that you’re a 2nd degree black-belt so I’d be just as happy referring to you as Sensai Saad 🙂

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