Paella in San Francisco

So, when it's raining in San Francisco, what else is one to do but wander the city looking for Spanish / Catalan / Basque joints to eat? That's what I did. Here is my review:

1) Bocadillos: A -
Bocadillos is a great little hideaway in the financial district. It had a Basque flavor more than Spanish, but the menu covers regions all across Spain. Definitely worth the effort to get there.
By and large, we liked this place so much that we went there twice. I had two bocadillos (one of jamon serrano, and one of butifarra (which is a Catalan sausage), both of which were great). We also had maple glazed butternut squash, patatas bravas, sardines and olives, brussell sprouts with pears and jamon, all of which were perfect. My only complaint was some undercooked chorizo . . . but if that's all, then I can't complain.

2) B44: A +

B44 is located down a little alley in the financial district as well. Every restaurant around it was abandoned when we went on a Monday evening, but B44 was jammed. Inside, the decor is "modern catalan," to the extent that I can identify decor.
The highlight of B44: a Paella Cacadora (chicken, rabbit, pancetta, mushrooms, rosemary, and parsley picada) which was unlike any paella I had ever had. It definitely didn't taste "traditional," but it was really really good. I loved this place.

3). Esperpento: B
Esperpento was less "hip" and more "south of spain" than the other two places I have mentioned. It's located in the Mission, sort of out-of-the-way if you are downtown.
We had all kinds of tapas at Esperpento, all of which were good, but let's get to the real situation: The Paella. I had the Paella "Matanza" which has chicken, pork ribs, chorizo, morcilla (blood sausage) and butifarra (catalan sausage). In short, the Paella was pretty good, but a bit oily for my liking. I would have liked to have seen some crust on the bottom, but there was just oil. What's more, blood sausage doesn't belong in a Paella. But, the tapas at Esperpento saved the rest of the meal . . . fun place to be.
So, if I had to recommend one of the three, I would choose B44 (but maybe that's because I am biased toward Catalan fare). But in any event, San Francisco is full of corner bistros full of Spanish food, from tapas to paella. I loved it.

Coming Soon: Paella in San Francisco!

That's right. I will be in San Francisco sampling the city's best paella over the next week. Stay tuned for my reviews.

Paella To The Masses!

Let the movement begin! It's time to unleash the goodness of Paella to those unkowing citizens that still cling to Italian cuisine. So, por favor, visit the link below and make the dream happen!

Paul the Octopus (Pablo El Pulpo)

So, this octopus has been all the rage during the World Cup due to its uncanny ability to predict the winner of each match with exactness. The soccer-minded octopus predicted the following wins: Germany > Australia, Germany > Ghana, Germany <> England, Germany > Argentina (another surprising pick that came to pass).

In short, this Octopus knows its soccer. And much to the delight of the nation of Spain, Paul the Octopus has picked SPAIN to defeat the Netherlands in Sundays World Cup Championship. If the Octopus is wrong, then I have read of several people threatening to make an Octopus Paella.

Ferran Adrià

I love this article from the LA Times, which quotes various reviews from individuals who have eaten at El Bulli, supposedly the best restaurant in the world, which is located north of Barcelona, Spain. It sounds like quite the experience. Some sample reviews:
  • "You come out thinking 'what do I do now?'" -Anthony Bourdain (Travel Channel)

  • "It might not have been the best meal I've ever eaten, but it was the best something. I just don't know what" -Tim Savinar (San Francisco Attorney)

  • "Going to El Bulli is like going to an amusement park. I like to go once a year to an amusement park. If someone goes every day to an amusement park, though, they have a psychological problem." -Carlo Petrini (Friend of Ferran Adria)

  • "It's like the black stone of Mecca, Mona Lisa's smile, the nucleus of the atom, the bank vault, the oval office of the White House, love and sex . . ." -Pau Arenos (Barcelona journalist)

  • "I had a reaction similar to mourning, as if I had been allowed into an enchanted garden for one evening and had then seen the iron gate close irrevocably behind me when I left." -Andreas Viestad (Washington Post)

  • "When we tasted a delicious mackerel, my wife told me that she tasted something strongly unpleasant, which I couldn't taste. Shortly after, feeling ill, she went outside and didn't finish her meal. She spent the night violently ill." - Francois Audouze (French collector of wines)

To be fair, the article points out that, to date, nobody has died as a result of Ferran's molecular cuisine.

Best Restaurants in Spain

According to Pellegrino's annual "World's 50 Best Restaurants," Spain is home to 4 of the top 10 restaurants in the world. Felicidades Espana. They are as follows:
  • El Bulli #2 (Roses, Spain)

  • El Celler De Can Roca #4 (Girona, Spain)

  • Mugaritz #5 (Errenteria, Spain)

  • Arzak #9 (San Sebastian, Spain)

Truth be told, I've never been privileged to dine at any of these restaurants, especially considering the demand (El Bulli accepts 8000 reservations a year, but over a million are requested). So plan ahead, and start saving your money!