Sunday, September 6, 2009

San Francisco, day 2. Kuleto's.

We spend the day at Golden Gate Park, wandering through the de Young and the Academy of Sciences, now facing each other across an intricately plotted quadrangle of trees, statues, benches, fountains. For some reason I remember them being elsewhere in the park, which could be true. What I do know - the evidence is staring me in the face - that both museums underwent protracted and extensive redesigns, by the great architecture firms Herzog and de Meuron (de Young) and Renzo Piano (Academy of Sciences). The former is now sheathed in a skin of weathered mesh, with an angular tower whose viewing platform offers sweeping vistas (in the morning, everything was swathed in fog) in all directions; the latter is all light and air topped with an undulating "living roof" that contains some 1.7 million native plants (I checked the website for that number).

Lunch is a forgettable (though pretty decent) meal snatched in a crowded museum cafeteria, so I am eager for dinner. We head to Kuleto's, near Union Square, meeting up with some of my mom's friends, two of whom we'd seen the night before. Another friend I've never met before joins us, bringing with her the director of a local museum, who I had met during his time in Seattle. We order a few appetizers - pork pâté, coarse and hearty, scallops with mushrooms on potato slices, a Caesar salad, and calamari - and nibble on breadsticks and warm foccaccia. C. and I agree to share our mains - duck breast for me, linguine with clams for her.

Here I should admit the single reason I chose the duck breast is because it is accompanied by a Frog Hollow peach. I have been hearing about these damn peaches ALL SUMMER, so it seems, and here is my chance to taste one. A taste is all I get, because there is only half of one, which I have to share with C., and my mom, but a taste is enough. The peach is soaked in grappa and roasted, and it is the sweetest, juiciest, most fragrant, flavorful morsel of peach I have ever eaten. I want to weep from the pleasure of it, and then I want to leap up and demand that our server bring me another one. A few bites of the white polenta - rich and creamy - and the sliced duck - perfectly cooked - and then the excellent linguine with clams, makes me abandon that idea. But that one bite of grappa-roasted peach is the best thing I eat all night.

We order a few desserts, affogato of housemade vanilla gelato doused in espresso, tiramisu, and a warm almond cake with peaches. They are all good, but none of them overcome the memory of that one Frog Hollow peach. Summer is over; I will have to wait another year for more. They will be worth it.

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