Saturday, January 16, 2010

Prix Fixe

Let's keep it simple, I said to myself last night as I stepped off the long amusement park tram that is Bay Area Rapid Transit in the Embarcadero station. I could have traveled from there to any destination in the City for drinks and dinner, but I wanted to go home, I wanted my lights by the Park, my rustic, Eddie Bauer-laden, UCSF-student-soaked slope to the tall trees. So I stopped for the fat Specialty's cookies that I miss by not working in the City and then hopped a number 6, Sunset-bound. I stepped in the apartment, loaded laundry, changed into jeans, and went to the Park's edge for Pacific Catch.

Catch is all fish, all the time--I usually end up with a bowl of brown rice, seaweed, salmon, wasabi, etc., etc. But when they brought me the menu, they had added a prix fixe tribute to Costa Rica, with a fresh soup, bright, barleyed entree, and then the strangest sounding dessert of all time, tres leches--cake soaked in milk with prickly pear sauce. Ummm, okay. Do they know what things soaked in liquid look like? Taste like? And this is Pacific Catch, mind you. They aren't really known for striking innovation. Part of my wonder, though, is in tasting things that I never knew before California, and Costa Rican cuisine would definitely fall in that space. I took the house white wine (a label called Ladybug...dunno what that means) and then ordered coffee with dessert.

The slice of cake came out on a plate, like a slice of white sponge cake, complete with frosting and the sauce dripped artfully on the plate. Where's the milk, I thought, but maybe it was just made with milk, like delis that have special bagels that are called egg bagels. I didn't notice that they served it to me with a spoon until afterward. And let me stress again, this cake slice stood tall, like sponge cake should, but not sponge cake soaked in milk. I took a bite and couldn't get past it--it was SOAKED--and enjoyed probably the best restaurant dessert I've ever experienced since Lambert's in Taos, New Mexico. It's just milk-soaked cake, for heaven's sake, but you would never know it to look at it. How does the milk stay in a slice that tall and upright?

I was licking the spoon in the ultimate compliment of satisfaction when the bus boy approached me, struck by my relishment of the dessert. "Did you enjoy that?" he said with a smile as he took the plate, and I gushed over it--"I could have that for breakfast every day." The whole meal had been wonderful, but that dessert, so soft and light and miraculous, and he could see my passion for food and told me all about how the chef was going to rotate the prix fixe menu to a new one every two weeks. I normally don't go in there that often, but the cake and his appreciation of my appreciation sold me.

Ah, love in a miracle.

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