The Ferry Building is a beautiful place at night. It is even more beautiful decked out with elegant table settings and filled with the excitement of hundreds of food bloggers.
The evening began with drinks and passed hors d’oeuvres outside the Ferry Building, and continued upstairs, shortly before 8, where we seated ourselves at tables covered in more glassware than I had ever seen at one table.
The first course was without a doubt my favorite, a roasted golden beet tart with crimson beet, feta, and currants with wild arugula and basil puree. The tart could best be described as quiche-like, but much less eggy and without the slightly gelatinous quality that egg dishes have. The filling did not have a prominent beet flavor, but was mildly sweet with a smooth, slightly grainy texture. The basil puree was a nice alternative to the ever-popular pesto. It managed to be incredibly flavorful without large quantities of parmesan, garlic and pine nuts. Without those ingredients, the pure, fragrant basil flavor was what came through.
The next course was seared scallops with Bonny Doon Vineyard Verjus beurre blanc, served with braised fennel and garnished with fried fennel fronds. For the vegetarians, they replaced the scallops with “tofu scallops.” It was a creative idea, and the execution was successful, except that for some reason, they served the tofu scallops without the beurre blanc. There was no seasoning on the tofu itself, and so when I took my first bite, it was completely tasteless. Thankfully, another vegetarian at the table had already asked for some of the sauce and they brought over a dish. With the sauce, it was absolutely delicious. I was also somewhat surprised at how much I liked the fennel. Normally, I only like fennel in small amounts. But this was braised to a soft, tender consistency and was bathed in what I believe was the same beurre blanc.
The next course was a rosemary and garlic infused rack of lamb (I’ll explain the photos shortly) served with local wild mushrooms, pinot noir sauce, and butternut squash puree. They offered both a fish alternative, above, and a vegetarian alternative of roasted portabella mushrooms filled with a mash of lentils and shiitake mushrooms. This was quite a mushroom overload. I like mushrooms thinly sliced or chopped, so I enjoyed the filling. But the whole portabella and the chunks of wild mushrooms were not for me. The squash puree was lovely though, with very little added richness or sweetener.
For dessert, we had tarta de almendras, a buttery almond cake with oranges and Spanish sherry sabayon. I love almond baked goods, and combined with the juicy sweetness of orange sections and fresh fig, and the richness of the sabayon, it was the perfect satisfying finale.
The wines of the evening were all provided by Bonny Doon Vineyard, from left to right: Vinferno (dessert), Ca’ del Solo Albariño (1st course), Le Cigare Blanc (2nd course), Le Cigare Volant (3rd course).