Heirlooms, Delfina, Franciacorta and Kosta-Browne by valleyfog
August 16, 2008, 3:37 pm
Filed under: Restaurants

Yes, you read that. Heirloom tomatoes, Delfina culinary treats, Franciacorta Italian sparkling wine and Kosta-Browne Pinot Noir…all in one evening! Last night, we decided to partake in Heirloom Tomato Week in San Francisco. A number of restaurants in the city are participating in it and have select menu items celebrating the seasonal variety of tomato. For us, it was an excuse to get a babysitter and go out to dinner. We saw Delfina on the list and decided to get a reservation there. We used to live around the corner from Delfina when it first opened almost ten years ago. In fact, I remember running into Delfina to buy a baguette (for a dinner I was cooking at home) because Bi-Rite was closed or out of them. That’s how unknown Delfina was at that time. It was probably a Saturday night and it was not that crowded. And it was probably Craig Stoll (the owner) that was behind the counter that sold it to me. I would never think of doing that today! And we hadn’t been in awhile because…well, because it’s no longer a small neighborhood restaurant – it’s a destination restaurant and reservations are hard to come by. But, hey, we know it’s awesome, so we went for the 5:30 reservation – a dinner time we’re used to given that we have a 2-year old daughter.

Since we don’t get out to restaurants as often as we used to, we tend to blow it out. Hence the Franciacorta *and* the Kosta Browne. We went for 1/2 bottles – a great way to go if the couple dining has different tastes. After a long day with a nap-less child, Jennifer was ready for something sparkly. We hadn’t tried Franciacorta and decided to give it a go. Franciacorta is Italy’s take on Champagne and uses both Chardonnay and Pinot Nero. I don’t remember the particular maker, but it is from Lombardia. It was elegant – a great balance that you enjoy with a Champagne. Yeasty, restrained fruit, a little smoother than your average bubbly. It paired well with the Heirloom tomato salad I had (with fresh stretched mozarella) and the salt cod mantecato (like a brandade) that we shared. For a more intense dish like that, the acidity really cleared the palate.

When we were at Delfina years ago, we had a very memorable gnocchi – it was with a simple, light cherry tomato sauce and was sublime. It just melted in your mouth. No other gnocchi has compared to it, ever since. So we had to revisit the gnocchi scene at Delfina. We had the gnocchi with ragu. It was classic Delfina – very much “of the place.” That same velvety smoothness of the pasta that we remember with a classic rustic slow-cooked ragu. Mmmmmmmm. It really deserved a Barbera or Chianti, but we ordered a Kosta-Browne 2006  Russian River Valley Pinot Noir to go with our “secondi” – hanger steak for her, roast Fulton Valley chicken w/chanterelles for me. Russian River Pinots can sometimes be bigger and can hang with steaks pretty well.

We were also keen on having the Kosta-Browne because they make Pinots (blends and single-vineyards) from the Amber Ridge Vineyard in Windsor. Waits-Mast has a 2005 Amber Ridge and will also be making a 2008 Amber Ridge as well. So, we were interested in comparing and contrasting. It did not disappoint. The aroma was beautiful – full fruit with a little bit of Asian spice.  It had a very fresh and ripe taste to it, but not overbearing and not too big. Definitely more fruity than your average Pinot, but not over the top. It worked well with our dinners and was yummy. We finished every last drop. And while the half-bottle price was still kind of high, it’s at least easier to swallow that a full-bottle price.

As we finished off the Pinot, dessert arrived. We ordered the chocolate torta with olive oil gelato and Maldon sea salt, but were also treated – compliments of the kitchen – to the panna cotta. A good friend of ours, Alyssa (who is our web site designer, too) used to work there and another friend Eric is now working there…helps to have connections. Our server Adam was great as well – gave us lots of attention, answered all our food-geek questions, etc.

Sigghhhh. Okay, I think I’m going to heat up those leftovers!


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If I was a betting woman my guess would be your frangiacorta’s producer was Monte Rossa. I love their stuff – so clean!

Comment by Alyssa

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