Sunday, June 26, 2011

Looking for Barcelona in San Francisco

Since returning from my trip to Barcelona, I have been anxiously sniffing for signs of Catalan life in the Bay Area. I may have found it at B44, in the financial district in San Francisco.
Piquillo peppers stuffed with Dungeness crab
B44 is located in the middle of a tiny strip off Pine Street that is lined with other European bistros (eg Plouf, Cafe Bastille) with indistinguishable store fronts.

Mine was a quick dinner on a Saturday in mid-June to scope the place, see how authentic it was compared to my Catalan experience, and see how it might fare as a place to catch next season's Barcelona (Barça) football games.
Escalivada:  Grilled red peppers, yellow peppers, eggplant, and onion.
There was a TV at the end of the bar broadcasting a Mexican soccer game.  Check. I liked the warm glow of the place, and the high ceilings. Check. The tables outside on the narrow strip make the place look very European.  Check. And the food wasn't bad (check) though the only thing I could compare was the Catalan toast. B44's was made with sandwich bread and arrived cold. In Barcelona, it was served on much thicker, crustier bread...and  was warm. I was put off by the chilled toast.  But I had no problem finishing it. 

I had come for the grilled sardines but my waiter, Brad Pitt, asked the chef and the chef said they were out of season so I ordered the piquillo peppers stuffed with crab.  I have tasted fresher, meatier crab, but it was still pretty good.  
Catalan toast, after one piece was eaten.
Unfortunately, it didn't occur to me until after I paid the check that my cordial server, who looked like a very long-haired Brad Pitt (with blonder hair) might be Catalan. He spoke excellent English and was blond so I assumed he was American.  In my American accent, I asked him if the place broadcast Barça games.  "Barça?" he asked rolling his r:  Barrrrrgh-sa

With that, he game himself away. Had I known, I would have been interrogating him throughout the meal. 

I forget that some Catalans are not dark.  I know this.  I just...forget.  

In any case, B44 is on my list as a possible resource for Catalan life 6,000 miles away.  I have a list of Spanish eateries I want to try, but hardly any of them are Catalan which makes it less of a priority.  Next food adventure will probably be French since I am digging brunch right now and there are plenty of French restaurants  that are open during brunch hour on the weekends.  

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