The San Francisco International Airport is currently hosting an exhibit, Calling the Earth to Witness: Eight Centuries of Buddhist Imagery from Southeast Asia (url posted at the bottom of the post) . I am drawn to Eastern iconography, so I was grateful to have stumbled upon the exhibit while waiting to head out on a flight to Seattle (Note: Virgin America rocks!), the next destination after a few days hanging in San Francisco. Purpose for the trip? A working vacation filled with abundant dining opportunities.
Buddhas are classically represented in one of five mudras, or hand and finger gestures. The mudra of Calling the Earth to Witness (depicted in above photo) shows one hand of the Buddha resting in his lap in meditation pose, and the other pointing down, fingers touching or towards the earth. Legend has it that Siddhartha (as then almost-Buddha), while seated in meditation under the bodhi tree used this mudra to call upon the earth Goddess to witness his worthiness in becoming Buddha as he was being tormented by Mara, the demon Lord of Evil. In response, the earth shook and flooded; the evil lord fled terrorized. Siddhartha then attained enlightenment.
As I reflected on our week’s worth of eating through San Francisco and Seattle, I couldn’t help but to think what an apt title this would be for my homecoming post. I certainly felt a sense, or at least the spirit, of divine enlightenment by witnessing so much glory within the context of our meals. Although I was not eating as a vegetarian, the apparent reverence and thoughtful use of the Spring season’s vegetable and fruit bounty were responsible for the flavors and textures that stand highlighted in my taste memory.
The earth Goddess shone brightly through the deft hands, passion, whimsy and talents of the many gifted chefs stationed in those two cities; cities so obviously devoted to celebrating nature and her seasons through the gifts of food.
Highlights, San Francisco area:
*Farro with roasted carrots, mint and chiles, SPQR www.spqrsf.com
*Roasted asparagus with sauce gribiche, sieved egg and lardo, SPQR www.spqrsf.com
*Saute of baby beet greens, Perbacco www.perbaccosf.com
*Mixed lettuces, roasted wild mushrooms, burrata cheese & filone, Perbacco www.perbaccosf.com
*Salad of avocado, ruby grapefruit and chiles; citrus vinaigrette, Cafe at Chez Panisse www.chezpanisse.com
*Rhubarb galette, Cafe at Chez Panisse www.chezpanisse.com
*Each exquisitely, elegantly wonderful dish at Ubuntu (see photos below) www.ubuntunapa.com
Highlights, Seattle area:
*Sauteed pea shoots and king oyster mushrooms with a pristine wild-caught salmon at 35th St. Bistro www.35bistro.com
*Chickpea and celery salad , How to Cook a Wolf www.howtocookawolf.com
*Reggiano Brodo with English peas and little tomatoes, How to Cook a Wolf www.howtocookawolf.com
*Miner’s lettuce salad with favas, asparagus and a shaved cheese (forgot which), Tavolata www.tavolata.com
*Special cocktail props to The Vessel 75: Bourbon, Peychaud’s, simple syrup, orange zest and maple syrup foam. One of the finest cocktails I’ve ever drink-drank-drunk. Vessel www.vesselseattle.com
Enlightened food from Ubuntu:
A non-edible highlight was meeting up with Cakespy’s Jessie for an aperitif at Seattle’s cute little bistro, Le Pichet. I must say that the bistro was not anywhere as cute as Jessie and her sparkley glasses. You can check out the sweets-filled Cakespy blog on my sidebar, and a link to Jessie’s Etsy shop filled with her adorable drawings under the “Artistic” header.
SFO’s Calling The Earth To Witness exhibit: http://www.flysfo.com/web/page/about/news/pressrel/2008/sf0813.html