Northern California Trip Over – Back in NYC Update: Perilla and ITP

Fisherman's Wharf of San Francisco

End of summer update: I got back this morning from a week-long holiday in Northern California. Tons of pictures on Flickr. I will blog more about it later.

Above: The famous Fisherman’s Wharf of San Francisco. Below: LS plays with eels at the Monterey Aquarium.

LS & Eels

Sophia & Perilla

I hung out with Sophia today. We had dinner in the West Village at a place called Perilla, which is Top Chef Harold Dieterle’s restaurant. The ambience was casual and cosy, typical West Village. Our waiter was attentive and the menu looked good. I was a big fan of Harold’s when I watched Top Chef, so I had high hopes. But unfortunately, things got weird, but not in a good way. We were presented with exactly one slice of bread each. Mmm, gee thanks. Nobody asked if we wanted more. We shared an heirloom tomato salad and seared sea scallops for the appetizer course. The tomato salad was good, but a bit pedestrian. The pine nuts and the feta cheese in the salad overpowered the subtly of the tomatoes. The scallops themselves were executed to textbook perfection, but like the tomato salad, had some balance issues: their were bacon or pancetta bits that were a little overwhelming, and not advertised on the menu.

Entrees. This is where it gets bad. We had the Romesco Oil Poached Chatham Cod with black olive gnocchi, oyster mushrooms & summer zucchini sauce and the Grilled Pork T-Bone with lavender, lychee-black chick pea salad & green mustard sauce. Off the bat, the cod dish was way too salty, and had a weird “squeaky texture.” The “romesco” was a red sauce smeared on the cod with chunks of nuts in it, a departure from the smooth Catalan classic. I found the nuts too aggressive in texture compared to the tender cod. Much better after I scraped off most of the sauce. The summer zucchini sauce was more of a color element than a flavor contrast, so I can’t say it was all the memorable. The black olive gnocchi was too similar to the oyster mushrooms in color, but were surprising in taste and texture when I bit into them. The color and texture reminded me of Taiwanese pig’s blood black pudding, and not in a good way.

The pork t-bone was a big, thick peace of meat, but not at all juicy or particularly flavorful. It was covered by a giant mound of salad that obscured the meat on the plate, not all too flattering a presentation. I couldn’t really taste the lavender, and the lychees were just kind of random surprises that lacked a real context.

Dessert was redeeming. Sophia ordered the Vanilla Scented Doughnuts with peach compote filling & sour cream curd. Fried dough. Peaches. Cream. Yum. ‘Nuff said. I had the local blackberries Linzer Torte, which was very well executed as well. It did a nice job of clearing my palate of all excess salt from the entrees.

Sorry Perilla, I really wanted to like it. I really tried, but I left disappointed. Luckily, we were able to amuse ourselves with some great people watching, as we observed two very awkward dates at adjacent tables unfold before our eyes. Made up for the lackluster food. We noticed that the awkward date people were drinking a lot more than we were. Maybe they were on to something.

Interactive Telecommunications @ NYU Tisch

Orientation starts tomorrow morning for the masters program in Interactive Telecommunications that I am doing at NYU. Updates forthcoming.

Below: Lee-Sean and the giant sunflowers of Sonoma.

LS & Sunflowers in Sonoma