Sunday, February 06, 2005

Hats Off to A16

We started off the weekend with a round of drinks with a friends at our place. Last weekend, we tracked down a bottle of Navarro Gew├╝rztraminer grape juice, since the lovely lady element of the couple is pregnant. While she drank straight-up grape juice, the rest of us drank black magics (well, really white magics). A black magic is 2 oz red grape juice, 1/2 oz triple sec, and champagne. I liked the drink, but less than the pure grape juice and certainly less than chambord royales, my favorite champagne cocktail.

After drinks, we went to Chapeau!, my number one restaurant in the city. Chapeau!'s food is the best-exectued French bistro food I've ever had, and its atmosphere is noisy, but incredibly intimate. They have a great prix fixe menu, which is always preempted by some marvelous amuse-bouche (yes, the name for my blog was inspired by Chapeau!'s amuse-bouche custom). For my meal, I had chestnut soup with creme fraiche and croutons which I believe were infused with duck fat, mussles with fries and aioli, and creme brulee. Three of us split a bottle of a sancerre, the exact name of which escapes me. The meal was as good as usual, and we had a great time catching up with our friends, talking a lot about their child-to-be. They're both unusually good people, so I know they will be awesome parents!

On Saturday, we headed up to the hip Marina, after watching 24 Hours on Craigslist at an independent film festival -- I loved the characters I met through the film, finding many of them to be quite endearing! Our Marina destination was A16, which the Chronicle has named one of the top new restaurants of 2004. I concur. Having read reviews of the restaurant, I was prepared for the 30 minute wait past our reservation time -- it was worth it. After a glass each of Prosecco (a popular Italian aperitif), we described our wine tastes to the sommelier (fruity sauvignon blancs, sweet German rieslings, yadda-yadda). I typically don't like Italian wines, so I wanted to get a good recommendation. I think my dislike has a lot to do with Italian wines usually being the cheap wines served on most restaurant's menu (to clarify, not that the wines are cheap, but that restaurants don't try to pick winners). The sommelier picked a winer -- I need Aren to remind me of its name. For dinner, we shared their soppressata, which is cured on the premises, and fresh burrata cheese. I moved on to a pizza of tomato, oregano, garlic, olive oil, anchovies, olives, calabrian chiles, which I found light and delightful. My hope is to replicate it on Valentine's day (we're planning a romantic meal in that night). For dessert, I had a moist almond cake that came with lemon sorbet and creamy zabaglione. I'd recommend A16 to anyone who likes fresh, authentic Italian food over Spaghetti Factory-portioned Italian chow. I would also recommend it over Oliveto, another Italian spot we tried recently.

I'm off to cook some dinner now, so I'll talk to you next weekend!


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