A unique chocolate dessert from Spain recreated and served at In Situ.
A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of dining on signature dishes from Japan, Germany, Denmark, France, Spain and Italy — all from the comfort of my chair at In Situ in downtown San Francisco.
Opened last May as part of SFMoMA’s $610 million expansion, In Situ has to be one of the most original restaurants ever created. Leave it to French Laundry alum, Chef Corey Lee of San Francisco’s Michelin three-starred Benu and Monsieur Benjamin, to fashion a restaurant that’s much like a museum, itself, in curating and showcasing iconic artworks that in this case just happen to be edible.
Latin for “on site,” In Situ, is where Lee has collaborated with chefs from around the world, as well as right here in the Bay Area, to recreate their most iconic dishes. At times, he has traveled across the globe to watch a chef cook a dish; other times a chef has merely sent a video with instructions.
Art on the wall behind a communal table.
The bright dining room that’s lively, but still intimate enough for conversation.
How many times have you longed to try some fantastic dish at some far-off restaurant, only to realize the odds are you would never make it to that destination? At In Situ, that wish is very much possible.
Four-star chocolate from a four-star chef.
When Thomas Keller of the French Laundry makes a chocolate bar, you just know it’s not going to be your run-of-the-mill candy.
Not by a long-shot.
What makes this chocolate bar so different and special is that it contains extra virgin olive oil. And naturally, it’s olive oil by one of Italy’s most exclusive producers, Armando Manni. The Tuscan producer makes some of the most cherished and expensive olive oils around, beloved by illustrious chefs such as Keller and New York’s Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Their collaboration is K+M Extravirgin Chocolate. The premium cocoa beans are processed in a way that maintains their antioxidants that are normally destroyed in the chocolate-making process. A small amount of Manni extra-virgin olive oil is added to boost the level of antioxidants even more.
Quail at Monsieur Benjamin.
In the Bay Area, it’s Asian flavors that seem to be on everyone’s plate and palate these days.
So much so that French cuisine — though not its classic techniques — seem to have fallen out of favor.
But leave it to Monsieur Benjamin, which opened last summer in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley, to remind us why French food — just like a sharp little Chanel suit — truly never goes out of style.
Korean-born Corey Lee may imbue his Michelin three-starred Benu with breathless Asian flair, but with his second, more casual restaurant, Monsieur Benjamin, he stays the course of timeless French dishes yet gives them a touch of modernity.
His right-hand man is Chef Jason Berthold, late of RN74 in San Francisco, who worked with Lee when both were at the French Laundry.
Chef Jason Berthold deep in concentration in the kitchen.
The bistro doesn’t try to recreate the look of one in Paris. Instead, it very much fits in with its San Francisco surroundings, incorporating a lot of stainless steel, clean lines and striking black walls.
Liquid nitrogen butter pecan ice cream floats (with an edible chocolate straw) at Michael Mina’s tailgate at Levi’s Stadium.
When there’s the likes of lobster pot pie, freshly shucked Kusshi oysters, and made-to-order, liquid-nitrogen butter pecan ice cream being served, you know you’re not at your average tailgate.
When it’s chefs Michael Mina and Thomas Keller in charge of the food, you know you’re truly at no ordinary sports feast.
Such was the case yesterday at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, when the San Francisco 49ers socked it to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Chef Michael Mina presiding over his exclusive tailgate at his Bourbon Steak & Pub.
Oh, he’s a fan alright.
Some young fans enjoying the food.
At every home game, Mina’s Bourbon Steak & Pub, located right at the stadium, is transformed into the ultimate upscale tailgating party imaginable. For added fun, Mina invites a different guest chef to headline with him. Typically, the guest chef has a connection to the opposing team’s city, such as when Chicago-native Christopher Kostow of the Restaurant at Meadowood was on hand for the Niners-Bears game. Or how when the Niners take on the Washington Redskins on Nov. 23, it’ll be Chef Jose Andres, who has several restaurants in the nation’s capitol.
Presenting the American Kobe ribeye cap.
For the past seven years, almost all of Snake River Farms’ entire supply of ribeye cap — its premier cut of American Kobe beef — has gone to one restaurant.
The French Laundry.
That tells you just how magnificent this cut of beef must be.
Thanks to an uptick in production, though, that same cut is now available to the public, starting this week on the Idaho-based specialty meat company’s Web site.
Yes, you can cook up the same exquisite cut of beef used at one of the finest restaurants in the world.
It won’t come cheap, of course.