Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Suppers at Il Cane Rosso

I'm confused. Il Cane Rosso is a tasty new eatery in the foodie chic Ferry Building, fronting the wharf with an unobstructed view of the Bay and Treasure Island. It started just four months ago, a brainchild of Daniel Patterson of Coi and on-site chef, Lauren Kiino, formerly of East Coast Grill in Cambridge, Mass.

A highly praised chef and literate commentator on food trends, Daniel Patterson has decried the lack of creativity among trendy Bay Area restaurants, describing the sameness of Bay Area cuisine as nothing more than glorifying purveyor-driven dishes. Ouch!

Patterson is not alone with this complaint. A few weeks ago, Momofuku chef David Chang's dismissive "figs on a plate" comment with Anthony Bourdain was an instant cause célèbre among San Francisco foodies.

Yet, this kind of fare is exactly what Patterson dishes out at Cane Rosso. Not that I'm complaining, far from it, as I've enjoyed a number of meals there already. I guess if you can't beat them, then join them. But to Patterson's credit, he's made this kind of Bay Area cooking, first championed by Chez Panisse, accessible to the masses and definitely more affordable.

The restaurant's patio is the wharf deck where one can enjoy alfresco dining (where's Amy?)...

...basking in the magnificent view of San Francisco Bay.

A Fentiman's Orange Jigger soda ($4.50) is pricey but a refreshing way to start

Long and Bailey Farms Porchetta Sandwich with Bell Pepperonata, Mustard Greens and Aioli ($9)

Dirty Girl Beet and Farro Salad with Kale and Ricotta salada ($7.50). Farro appears to be the current grain du jour. No?

The 3-course menu is just $25 and started off with this heartwarming Butternut and Cannellini Bean Minestrone with Garlic Crostino. It paired well with the 2007 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare. Rosés are great with soup!

Braised Marin Sun Farms Lamb Shoulder with Umbrian Lentils and Mirepoix. 19-year-old Châteauneuf du Pape was the perfect match for this fall dish.

Chocolate Crumb "Tiramisu". Tiramisu is so '90s but, hey, this is imaginative!

And to end the meal, a Gibraltar from Blue Bottle Coffee next door.

Small carafe of 2007 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare. A Provençal-like rosé blend of mainly Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah with a dollop of white wines--Grenache Blanc and Roussanne--mixed in. The red blends are bled from Bonny Doon's Le Cigare Volant. Brilliant!

1990 Domaine Charvin Châteauneuf du Pape Rouge, perfect with the braised lamb shoulder

I cellared this at 54-55 degrees F since release. At 19 years it's drinking very well, though there's noticeable baby fat. A few months ago, a friend opened a 1957 Domaine de Mont-Redon Châteaueuf du Pape Rouge, now that's mature Châteauneuf!

Late in 2000, Vineyard Gate hosted a 1998 Châteauneuf du Pape wine dinner. 1998 is a great, classic vintage in Châteauneuf and my admiration grows each time I get a chance to taste one. I remembered someone asking me at the dinner, "how would these wines age?" He couldn't believe that a wine that's so fruity and lush could go beyond a few years. But I've always said, Châteauneuf has the widest window of drinkability of any wine that I know of.

Last weekend, Vineyard Gate featured a small tasting of 2007 Châteauneufs, another highly acclaimed and classic year. I love many of the wines in this vintage. But I do find it amusing to read comments saying the top wines of the vintage could go up to twenty years. As if that's news!

Il Cane Rosso
One Ferry Building, # 41
San Francisco, CA 94111
Open daily for lunch, starting this week supper served nightly

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