Monday, April 07, 2008

Tommy's Joynt San Francisco California

Sadly, I have discontinued communications with this woman. Her forum is politically correct. I suggest if you don't want to be ostracized as I was don't visit her pages. I posted as recipe that was used prior to the U.S. Civil War and some "idiot" thought I was promoting racism.

In honor of Clotilde's Days in San Francisco
Clotilde is Clotilde Dusoulier, and she lives in the Montmarte, Paris.

I first traveled to San Francisco in 1969. I had hitchhiked across the U.S. from the midwest and had just come up the Pacific Coast Highway from Carmel. I had found a grove of pine trees just outside the Mission area of Carmel. The grove had been undisturbed for years. A bed of pine needles made do for a place to sleep. And for one night, I even slept on the beach. Strange I didn't get cold at night back then, ah, but that was several decades ago.

Just how I arrived in San Francisco I don't remember. I stayed at the YMCA, probably the central Y because it was on Golden Gate Avenue. I wandered all over, pretty much doing nothing that I can recall except for two things. I had my first taste of Old Fashioned Pacific Slope San Francisco Sourdough French Bread. I had this morsel at the Magic Pan Crêperie at Fisherman's Wharf. I decided on dinner there because 1) they obviously had crêpes and 2) it was my first foray into French dining (or so I thought). Now my love of crêpe goes back to childhood, when, with a group of boys I had been taken, by railroad, to Chicago Illinois. We boys had stayed up most of the night, trying how to get into the next car in front of ours. That's where the adults has stashed the girls. The boys thought it would be fun to run through the girl's compartment, trying to grab them in their sleep. We failed at this. Yet, reader, bear with me as I veer towards they 'why' of crêpes. Our last day in Chicago was a Sunday and on that morning we were all shepherded to a crêpe restaurant on North Clark Street. It was a cafeteria style place and one would see all the fillings and toppings and tell the person behind the counter how many crêpes you wanted and how to fill and top them. YUMMM! One of my best childhood food memories. The crêpe pans were old black steel affairs. They had never been washed. Maybe at most wiped with a cloth, reheated, re-oiled and put back to work. Nothing stuck to them. Nothing!

Jump forward some decades and there I was seated in the Magic Pan. I ordered wine, and salad and the crêpes. In English we say savory crêpes to distinguish them from sweet or dessert crêpes. Dinner crêpes, I can't recall what they were filled with. I don't remember whether I had dessert or not. I can't recall what I drank. I can't remember if I was served by a waiter or waitress. But, I do, to this day, recall the flavor, aroma and texture of the basket of bread that was put on the table, as I was "mine host's" most welcome dinner guest. It was my first taste of Old Fashioned Pacific Slope San Francisco Sourdough French Bread. I was served part of a baguette. (In France, a baguette, is the size and shape of a loaf of bread. That size and shape are controlled by laws.) It was 6 or 8 slices in the basket. I ate it all, I asked for more butter. Then I asked for more bread, but alas, dinner came first. It bored me. The depth of flavor of that bread I've tried to find over and over again. I tried like crazy to find it during my first visit to Paris, and again in Strasbourg, and then Nice. It is gone? I can't really know, but I didn't taste it in Paris.

Paris cooking, unlike provincial cooking should be flavorful, yet light, that is, it is made with a delicate palate and an artfull hand. Ed Behr, un-noted food writer, but, then again, since the death of Julia Child, who isn't, said this about the baguette of Paris:

"There are 1,500 bakers in and around Paris, and nearly every one makes baguettes. Yet hardly any baguette is a classic baguette. French bread is gradually recovering from the flavorless hell of white bread into which it descended in the 1970s and 80s, but there is something country about all this new bread, while the classic baguette is the most urban and refined — the most parisienne — of breads."

I'm not in complete agreement with Ed Behr about that. It would be hard to find the time to sample bread from even 100 bakeries, let alone 1,000.

Lastly, and I hope Clotilde, will respond about this is: Tommy's Joynt. Did you eat there? I asked a hotel doorman, maybe a passerby on the street where I could find a good deli sandwich for lunch. I was told: "Tommy's Joynt" at the corner of Geary and Van Ness. So off I hiked for Tommy's. Once there I learned that the bar had Anchor Steam Beer on tap. And while I eventually met and have more than a passing acquaintance with Fritz Maytag, who now owns Anchor Brewery, at that time Anchor Steam Beer was not well received in it's native San Francisco. So I had a sandwich of whatever they had that day. It wasn't until several decades later that I returned to San Francisco and had Tommy's Buffalo Chile con Carne. YUM! Tommy's Joynt will always be a favorite, even though there are more sophisticated places to eat in San Francisco.

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