We descended into San Francisco International Airport after a horrible flight, and wandered into beautiful weather. It's absolutely imperative for someone involved in food and wine to travel. No matter where you live there are always exciting tastes and flavors to be explored elsewhere. These trips are necessary for inspiration. As I was saying, the weather was beautiful so we made a short trip to Cori and Joel's apartment to drop off our bags. We then walked next door to Le Zinc to sip wine and snack on the patio. I drank a sparkling rose from Burgundy, Kelly had a Rhone Valley red blend, and Joel had a Loire Valley sauvignon blanc. We split duck and pork rilletes, lamb sausage and Morbier cheese in a crepe, and crispy Camembert drizzled with truffle oil. Absolutely killer!
Cori joined us after returning for work and we set off for Cha Cha Cha, a Latin American restaurant in the Haight-Ashbury district. We split a pitcher of sangria (almost as good as my mom's but not quite) and settled into a table in the middle of the PACKED front dining room. Even though we were squashed into a small table right up against two other tables, we were having such a good time that we quickly forgot how cramped we were. The restaurant has the coolest Central American religious altars I have ever seen. They are literally everywhere in the place.
We dined on ceviche, pork quesadillas and plantains. The ceviche was hauntingly good. It was packed with octopus, shrimp, fish and scallops. I have never in my life had octopus so tender and succulent. Kelly was a little wary of it but oh well, more for me. The pork was slow cooked to perfection and seasoned beautifully. Our plantains were sweet but not cloying, and even though they were fried they were not greasy at all. They served them with a deliciously creamy black bean sauce that I literally could have poured all over myself, it was that good! After polishing off another pitcher of sangria we headed over to the Fairmont Hotel for some tiki drinks at the Tonga Room.
The Tonga Room is wild. Seriously. We felt as if we were in Bora Bora on some patio bar. It has a small lagoon where it rains and thunders every 20 minutes. They also have the stiffest drinks in town. Kelly and I shared a Lava Bowl before he and Cori shaked their groove things to the Polynesian cover band. It was soooo much fun. If you go to SF, be sure to go to Cha Cha Cha for dinner and Tonga Room for drinks.