Saturday, December 03, 2005

A Marvelous Dark Friday Night on Hayes Street


Absinthe Restaurant and Bar 398 Hayes St. San Francisco, CA

Steven took me here two years ago when I insisted that I WAS going to drink Absinthe, damn, it, despite his hearty objections. So we went and I had my odd little green drink and its weird little ritual and S. had a bowl of the most life-altering astounding Chanterelle mushroom risotto ever created with tiny chunks of mysterious silky fat floating in it. Magic in a bowl, served with a massive spoon.

So. Now that we live here: we figured that we would have to go again and that Friday Night in the City seemed a good enough occasion. (Alas, no risotto on the menu this time.) The place is always filled with the well heeled, slighty overly groomed crowd. A lady who looked an awful lot like Ms. Madeline Albright was at the next table on a date. I hope it was her; she looked happy. I do adore Maddie. (And she knits, ya know.)

As you can see by the photo, Absinthe has very sympathetic low lights and sexy glossy dark red paint on the walls and very lovely polished dark red wood. Everyone looks dead-sexy there, so it's a good date joint. In the spirit of the restaurant I had a Pernod, which I liked a great deal. S. had a cask-strength single malt that slid over the tongue like perfume, dissolved the enamel on my back molars and exploded into tiny brilliant blue stars somewhere in my retinal nerves. In a word: OhmyYowza.

For dinner I had a New Zealand Bluenose Bass with horseradish & mustard butter, served with a kohlrabi gratin, a radish (?) salad and two lovely slices of grilled persimmon; all meshed very well with the bass. It was quite delightful although I was disappointed the blue nose was not included.
S. had a brilliant Coq Au Vin with perfectly velvety smell and texture. We came to the conclusion that the chef must have used the chicken blood to enrich the broth. This is a traditional element, but not really used in the US much due to "ick factor", but even with that unsavory idea I would have eaten a whole bucket of the stew, particularly with more of their lovely crusty crusty bread. S. can be a very nice man in most respects, but he always scores the heel of the loaf before I can get my mitts on it, if it is respectably good bread.

Afterwards, it was down Hayes Street in the dark peering into gallery openings and listening to street musicians. We staggered into a warren of an Asian antiques gallery that just went on and on. S. is looooves Asian antiques but can be deeply dubious of them in centralized large quantities. On dwelling on it, maybe not an entirely unsound suspicion. At any rate it was a huge adventure of a store with niches and little odd rooms and there were many, many lovely things and a few pieces that I liked, particularly a sturdy feeling wood Quan Yin with flecks of white and gold paint clinging on the knees of her gown and a particularly handsome face and lovely hands. But not now, not without a job and not at that price.

Further on we staggered into a bath products shop I have been itching to try: Nancy Boy. No flroofy floozily floralish gasping wretched synthesized oooky stenches! How to describe the choices? hmmm... androgynous (?) clean smells oriented towards lavender, verbena, citruses, herbals... very very well put together. And no smell-o-rama headaches from the Steven!

It did not hurt that the two beautiful male shop owners were rebounding around the crowded spare and elegant store, stuffing S.'s pockets with free samples and foisting extra bars of delicious eucalyptus soap on me. Oh, I swear it's heaven.
The Nancy Boy Motto: "Tested on boyfriends: not animals." Do I love them? Oh, yesh.

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