Yes, I travel tummy-forward. But then, you knew that, didn’t you. Of course food is the center of my travel adventures. It’s pretty much the center of my daily life, as you have seen. So one of the central joys of going on any expedition is guaranteed to be eating related. I am somewhat inclined to plan any trip around the potential dining and snacking involved in the destination of choice. The choice of destination, if I have any, is certainly influenced as well by the quantity and quality of delicious items available in said locale.
As it happens, the point of this journey was determined in advance by the lovely necessity of the Berkeley Early Music Festival and Collegium‘s participation there. It was mere marvelous luck that sent us off to Berkeley, and San Francisco was of course a truly logical pit stop on the way to see our family up north, then, no? As it happens, there’s no end to the glorious eating and drinking you can do in the magnificent Golden Gate city. There are the icons of foodie worship all around that range from the Buena Vista, where Irish Coffee is purported to have been born (and is aging very gracefully indeed, I can tell you) and the venerable eateries of Fisherman’s Wharf (yes, we did pop in to Alioto’s last night and the Dungeness crab Louie was loaded with sweet crustacean dreaminess) to a nearly endless parade of newer delicacies and delicatessens.
One thing that could hardly steer you wrong on any expedition, from road trip to round-the-world, is keeping a sharp lookout for good food and drink at every turn. The most logical place to start is any farmer’s market, food hall, CSA, allotment or other magnificent foodie emporium. Say, perhaps, the Ferry Terminal, where just by crossing the cable car line at the Embarcadero you enter into a haven of artisanal glories that will transport you to another plane. There are charcuteries boasting all sorts of exquisite hand-crafted organic meat treats, a creamery or two filled with cheeses ranging from creamy goat cheese or a fromage triple-crème smoothness to the wildest of the contemporary cultured creations and back again to the most scintillating classics like the weirdly beautiful Mimolette (not, as it appears, an alien cantaloupe but a deep orange hearted beauty of a nutty salty cheese) and of course the most glamorous hunks of lovingly aged Parmigiano-Reggiano looking ever so much like a cheesy lunar landscape inviting exploration by hungry adventurers.There are the vegetable stands full of produce and forage unspeakably pristine and desirable in its purity and freshness. Sea beans, anyone? Mushrooms picked from their carefully hidden home turf this morning? Artichokes still small and tender and almost as delicate as to be able to self-destruct in a puff of fairy sparkles? Oh, my darlings, you can see that I’m bound to instantaneous loss of–well, okay, I would lose my composure and maturity if I had any to start. When I get around this stuff it just happens. And I think you do know what I mean. Be nice.Meanwhile, I shall be dashing hither and yon to hunt along those pretty, pretty piers of San Francisco, where the fishermen bring in their catch of the moment, just to see what tempts my hungry soul. I love fish. I love shrimp, prawns, scallops, calamari, all sorts of goodies. But what I’m most often and most likely to want any time I can possibly get hold of it is fresh, sweet, insanely delicious Dungeness crab. I will certainly eat it as many times as I get the chance on this visit to the coast. I had it at both lunch and dinner yesterday and it was barely enough to whet my appetite further. Don’t get me wrong: the crab Louis was excellent and the macaroni and cheese with D-crab in it was a dish of smooth, melting yumminess. But life is short and Dungeness far, far away from Texan turf, so I’ve a great need to fill up my innards with as much of this joy-inducing treat as I possibly can. So much work to do. I’ll get back to you later on this.What are you waiting for? You should be rushing out in search of, at the very least, a good grocery store or picnic ice chest. Get yourself moving. There’s very little time until the next meal, and who knows when it’ll be the last one, really? Hungry, I tell you, hungry and sure that time is seldom better spent in pursuit of grand food and drink than in nearly any other work known to humankind. Be reasonable. It would be quite a pity to let any such fine things go unappreciated, now wouldn’t it.