Chef's Blog

Solage Calistoga's Executive Chef Brandon Sharp shares his passion for cooking, life and all things Napa Valley.

November 14, 2010

So far, about 1200 words have been written, erased, and are (thankfully, believe me) forever gone.  As I drove home from work tonight, I worried that this post could run to 50,000 words.  Points I want to make for sure:

I. Chang / Appleman follow the link–there’s a recent history.

II. Daniel Patterson v Chez Panisse follow the link–we may be doomed to repeat less-recent history.

III.  Public transportation  In New York, taxis and subways can take you where you need to go in minutes.  Your ability to ride or even walk from one great restaurant to the next is almost unlimited.  San Francisco’s public transport system is less user-friendly and the cabs are fewer, so San Francisco, in part due to its topography, has much more distinct neighborhoods than Manhattan, and its residents tend to stay within them when dining out.

IV.  3 choices  You live in Chicago and are traveling to SF for three great meals and to NY for three great meals.  You start a topic on Chowhound in both places.  SF’s board leads you to decide on Redd, Coi, and Manresa.  NY’s has you stopping at 15 East, Eleven Madison, and Aldea.  To attend all three choices in the Bay Area, you will need a car and a good 4 hours of driving time.  To attend all three choices in Manhattan, you will need an afternoon and two subway tokens.

V.  Hot new dish  Along the same lines, in NY I could hear about the salad of crispy duck tongue and green papaya over at Kin Shop, then go have it after I got off work.  But I live in the upper Napa Valley, and I’ll be lucky if I get to Manresa for Belinda Leong‘s desserts within the next two years.

VI.  Restaurant competition  This is the one area where I have always believed, and still do, that NY has it all over us–and proximity has everything to do with it–but there is a heightened consciousness about food, kitchens, and chefs that keep the restaurant community absolutely buzzing in Manhattan.  I heard several rumors from writers, editors, chefs, and waiters last week that come out in print this week as reportage.

VII.  So, bottom-line it for me, dude.  We have better raw product in California, hands down.  East Coast cuisine requires much more manipulation of ingredients; ours demands restraint and finesse.  Both are disciplines, and there is of course a lot of common ground.

VIII.  Any personal vendettas a la Chang/Appleman?  I’ll throw down the squab rossini with black perigord truffles from tonight’s solbar menu against anything anywhere in NY.  And I will say that our black garlic ramen noodles absolutely cannot be f*&%#@ with.  And if anyone in NY needs a demo on the proper way to make char siu bao, come see me at 755 silverado trail, we have plenty of aprons.  And I mean that in a laid-back, surfer-type, whatever way.

IX.  Any asterisks?  Our buttermilk fried chicken every Tuesday night would make any Southerner proud, but so far I can’t make a better Korean fried chicken that I had at about 2AM last week in Koreatown.

X.  Um, thanks for sharing?  I’m not saying Randy Moss is a litigative genius or if “litigative” is a word, but it helps when you’re answering your own questions.



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