Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mmm mmm delicious!

On Tuesday, I spent  $36.96 on two pounds of organic grass-fed skirt steak. I purchased this top-notch beef to be the star for the dish I am going to prepare for ESF’s Final Celebration. Austin and I ventured down Market St. toward our destination dodging buses, Benz’s, and bicyclists, and luckily we snagged a metered parking spot just around the corner.

As the assignment required that all ingredients be local and seasonal, the Ferry Building’s Farmer’s Market and specialty shops provided the perfect spot to grab everything I needed. The Golden Gate Meat Company at the Ferry Building in San Francisco proudly boasts: our cattle are pasture-graze with plenty of room to roam, fresh air, and sunshine. Their feed is 100% organic, with no animal byproducts.

I included this little story to point out just how expensive organic groceries can cost. While I wish I could shop at the Ferry Building everyday, my minimal student funds don’t always allow it. Cooking and documenting the meal will follow in my next post.

Eating San Francisco’s final excursion to Zazie in Cole Valley for dinner and McDonald’s on Haight Street for dessert most definitely brought the course full circle. The original plan was to pig out at McDonald’s; an outing inspired by the Bay Area’s very own Michael Pollan and his book Omnivore’s Dilemma, which was required class reading. Pollan’s manifesto provides readers with a complete natural history of four meals, requiring them to think about the moral and ethical ramifications of America’s eating habits. More simply, Pollan followed food from its inception all the way to his plate or lap, as was the case for his first meal, Industrial Corn, in the form of an American staple—namely, McDonald’s.    

Realizing the class bank account could afford to fund a classier (and healthier) outing we decided to enjoy our last meal together at a quaint French Bistro in the heart of Cole Valley.  Zazie is everything that McDonald’s isn’t.

The 17-year-old establishment sits on a tiny lot on Cole Street, which is typical for the neighborhood; however, the cozy garden patio and carefully arranged tables for two, makes dinners feel like they are dining in an artsy Parisian café. 

Open for breakfast, lunch, brunch, and dinner Zazie proudly serves only organic milk and free range, antibiotic and hormone-free eggs from local farms. In addition to using organic dairy products the menu at the bistro features seasonal and regional fare, dishes depend on what produce is available from local farmers. I feasted on a 21 dollar grilled hanger steak, served with portobello mushrooms, a brandy cream sauce, and grilled asparagus.  The perfect medium-rare steak I devoured came from “Happy drug-free animals with an ocean view!”—according to a blub on the menu. In complete contrast, the Big Mac I might have eaten at Mickey D’s that night, would have sported “beef” patty that Michael Pollan explained came from a corn-fed cow raised in a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), Three glasses of wine later our delightful waitress, thankfully, began bringing out each of the 17 main courses.  The salmon, shrimp ravioli, and steak dishes looked almost to pretty to eat, as each element was placed meticulously on the plate and chopped parsley adorned the stark white rim. The fresh ingredients including, pea pods, tomatoes, and asparagus were brightly colored and smelled delicious; this meal was not only satisfying to eat, but was also a feast for the eyes and nose.

 After two hours of witty conversation and culinary excellence we headed to McDonald’s for a sweet treat. Runaways and transients are the typical clientele at the Haight Street McDonald’s; however, the McDonald’s employees were graced with the presence of seventeen college students and their professor. Most of my classmates decided to top their nights off with ice cream treats including McFlurries, ice cream cones, and classic sundaes complete with chocolate syrup and peanuts. I ordered medium French fries, which were as greasy and salty as I expected them to be, but satisfying nonetheless. 

To be honest, I would have been just as satisfied eating a #10 (McNuggets, fries, and a pop) as I was with my steak dinner from Zazie. So that’s just what I did. A few days after our outing and an in-depth discussion of Omnivore’s Dilemma, my boyfriend and I decided to take a trip to Marin and eat at the very McDonald’s where Pollan and his family ate. We got it to go, and just like Pollan ate it in a moving car driving 65 on the freeway. I thoroughly enjoyed it!