Two Nights, Two Incredible Book Dinners: Thank You San Francisco!

by Louisa on May 12, 2013

I’m coming up for air after a wild week of book events, and finally have a chance to post the photos from the two book dinners I did in San Francisco. They were amazing nights, with more glorious food and shining faces of friends than I could have imagined. And I even got to spend time in restaurant kitchens for the first time in God knows how long, and it was FUN! I’m grateful to the food community of this city, who has made me feel so welcomed. From bookstore owners to food writers, from chefs to food activists, and people who simply love to eat, I’m in awe of the amount of support I’ve received here.

On to the dinners. I’ll go in chronological order, with Zaré at Fly Trap first, followed by Bar Tartine. The night at Fly Trap was all about Chef Hoss’s famous “hoss-pitality.” The dinner was sold out, so you would not have wanted to wander into the kitchen unprepared—it was  intense in there! But Hoss managed emerge, with a radiant smile, and greet nearly every single guest. The Bay Area guitar legend Farzad Arjmand was there playing Persian flamenco guitar, while the venerable Jalal Takesh played the qanun, a traditional stringed Iranian instrument. At a certain point in the evening, everyone started singing and clapping. Oh yes, and the food was fabulous. Somehow we didn’t get too many food photos at Fly Trap, because both James and I were too busy greeting people, hopping from table to table, and signing books, so you’ll have to take my word about the food. I’m going to miss working with Hoss, it’s been a pleasure to get to know this big-hearted man, and he feels like family.

Menu for Zaré at Fly Trap, dinner for The New Persian Kitchen, reflecting the regions of Iran. Saturday, May 4:

Appetizer: Kurdestan

Radish, Rhubarb, and Strawberry Salad

Entrée: Azerbaijan

Lamb Kebabs in Pomegranate-Walnut Marinade kebab-e torsh

Jeweled Rice made with Freekeh morassa polo

Yogurt with Onions and Sumac mast

Accompaniment: Sour Spring Pickles shur

Dessert: Gilan Province, Caspian Sea

Date and Walnut-Filled Pastries koloocheh with Saffron Frozen Yogurt, Black Walnut Jam

Making the koloocheh pastries, with Fly Trap pastry chef extraordinaire Mina Kacos.

Behind the scenes, getting ready before the show starts.

The evening, in full swing.

 

And here are the photos from Bar Tartine.

I got a lot of gorgeous food photos, because I arrived early, and got to snap all the plates that the kitchen laid out for the waitstaff to taste. I truly do not know how — on top of their packed schedule – Chefs Cortney Burns and Nick Balla managed to create and execute TWENTY-TWO original dishes for this dinner, but they did. This is a couple that loves to feed people, and in the spirit of a good Persian meal, our guests left feeling very, very satisfied. The two chefs, and Cortney in particular, took my book as a jumping-off point for a fantastical menu of Persian-inspired dishes, using countless special ingredients like orange blossoms, bearss limes, and nigella. Cortney even made excellent tahdig! I have a chef crush on Cortney, and I’m in awe that she is such a badass in the kitchen and such a sweetheart in person. I am so sad that I don’t have this dinner to look forward to anymore, but at the end of the night, they invited me to come back when I finish my next book, and I floated home on a cloud of happiness.

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