Monday, December 16, 2013

Back to Skool

After some absence I was lured back to Skool a few times last month. Every month the pastry chef and co-owner, Hiroko Nagano, features a new dessert special. The one for November was a real surprise for me as it was a version of ginataan, a traditional Filipino sweet snack of sweet potatoes, purple yam, banana, tapioca, sago, and jack fruit stewed in sweetened coconut milk. Street eateries in the small towns and metropolises of the Philippines offer this sweet treat every day

Hiroko's ginataan had a more refined and elegant presentation compared to what's hawked along the alleyways of Manila. She uses only a few ingredients--sweetened black rice, purple yam, tapioca, and jack fruit--in a pool of medium-sweet coconut milk sauce. This more simple medley nevertheless channeled the soul of this humble snack, bringing food memories growing up when I would have it for merienda. Skool featured the dessert to raise funds for UNICEF to benefit Filipino children who are victims of typhoon Haiyan. One hundred percent of the price were donated to the charity. Way to go Skool!

Skool's uni flan topped with ikura and spread on mini crostini is the most killer app in the city. It's quite rich, so best to have a glass of Champagne or Chablis with it. I tried it with a Manhattan cocktail and it rocked.

It's sneakily listed on the menu as "squid ink spaghettina" but one slurp and you know it's clearly a seafood ramen. And it's terrific! A simple meal for me at Skool would be to start with the uni flan, then this "spaghettina".

I always bring wine to Skool, but one quiet night I went there without wine as their attractive bar has always intrigued me. I ordered a Manhattan, my favorite cocktail. My waitress asked me what Bourbon, but I said I'd have Rye. She suggested Redemption but I opted for Templeton. But where I break with tradition is I like it in a lowball glass instead of a cocktail glass. But this was a very good Manhattan, just a low dose of vermouth so the aggressive taste of the Templeton comes through.

Just a few of the wines I've enjoyed at Skool. After Beaujolais Nouveau Day friends and I opened a couple of cru Beaujolais and Thomas Pico's Pattes Loup Chablis. All wines were gorgeous with the food. Jean-Claude Lapalu's 2012 Brouilly Vielles Vignes showed graceful, rustic charm, while Pico's Chablis never fails to blow me away every time I have it.

Brouilly "Vieilles Vignes", Jean-Claude Lapalu 2012

Skool Restaurant
1725 Alameda Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
Open for lunch Monday through Friday, dinner everyday, and brunch Saturday and Sunday

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