Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Searching for Italian Food

After a wonderful night in Cambria we continued our drive north. The highway continued beautiful and curvy. A mid morning stop at a very small roadside establishment plus a slow drive thru the Carmel area brought us in the vicinity of Castroville around noon.
Castroville CA is the Artichoke Capitol of the world, by their own admission and thus an absolute must for an Artichoke lunch. After quizzing two Hispanic men and one Gringo we settled on "Green Artichoke Restaurant" 11261 Merritt St., Castroville CA-831-633-3501, the unanimous choice, possibly the only choice.
"Green Artichoke" is a large, clean full service establishment run by attractive young people, mostly Hispanic, as is the majority of the population in California vegetable growning country. They have an extensive menu and a nice looking salad bar, without Artichokes. We shared an Artichoke platter, enough for two, which included a hugh, but tender, steamed artichoke, with several sauces, fried and grilled artichoke hearts and artichoke bread, very much like Zucchini bread. We had plenty, it was good and I, not an artichoke lover as Marilyn is, don't have to do that again.
We arrive in San Francisco around 2:30 and after checking into our motel went to Marilyn's brother's home, in the Sunset District. Marilyn's brother is an Architect whose wife has Parkinson's and so he works out of his house. He is wonderful, caring and interesting but not into food the way we are.
On all visits we "carry in" mostly from one of the worst Chinese restaurants in SF and maybe further. Heavy brown sauces, over sweet seasonings and fairly sticky rice, you get the picture.
We had decided that we weren't going to let that happen so after consultation with his wife we voted for Italian. Now the adventure began. (Unfortunately this is somewhat of a "shaggy dog" story so you really don't have to continue. It did have a happy ending.)
Marilyn's brother, who has been on the west coast many years, claimed he has never eaten in a proprietor run Italian restaurant. San Fransisco has some of the best. The only place he remembered eating was the "Olive Garden". He made a short list of places in the general neighborhood and we took off. The first spot was basically a large bright watering hole with Burgers, Pizza and 2 Spaghetti dishes on a plastic card menu, not what I had in mind. The next was a meat market with a small deli counter and a bowl or two of macaroni salad. Next was an owner establishment who had no takeout menu and was reluctant to let us take the pages of their regular menu for the women to view. Finally we struck Gold, for the second time in California, in a neighborhood place also in the Sunset District. They found a carryout menu for us to take home, which we did. I must now come clean-I don't have any paper work and can't remember the name address or even the street of the restaurant.
We brought in a very good dinner, two orders of sweetbreads Marsala, my brother-in-law and I, one Veal with Lemon sauce and one mushroom stuffed ravioli, excellent. All's well that ends well,except this Blog entry. Sorry about that.

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