Saturday, February 26, 2011

Octopuses, Octopi or Octopodes?

When you learn a good friend is about to move out of the state the natural reaction is to spend as much time together as possible. That is how it's been for my dear friend Angela Nunes and I. In one week she is moving to Philadelphia to accept a position with BHLDN, a new line of bridal garb from the folks at Anthropologie.

We lunched together when she was in town, after some pretty standard San Francisco moments. After a parking debacle, being complimented/hollered at by a group of young men standing on the street and traversing a maze of crackheads while being careful not to step in any human refuse around 6th street and Mission, we decided on 54 Mint, an Italian restaurant in the alley behind the old mint building.

I  forget there are some pretty amazing establishments in this little square. 54 Mint holds it down for the Italians in this part of town. Despite its close proximity to Union Square, the Westfield Center and some of the most touristy parts of our town, it's alley location keeps it out of view from most people who don't pay attention to detail, much less their surroundings, and makes it feel a little more SF for me. After all some of our best restaurants are in alleys.

We order the Carpaccio di polipo (octopus carpaccio) which comes dressed in a citrus olive oil, dusted with some red powdery substance, my guess is paprika since there is no real spice in it and a little shaved fennel and celery salad. The carpaccio was delicious, not a decision I associate with feelings of regret. The octopus was fresh--thanks seasonal menu-- the citrus flavor in the olive oil perfectly complimented the cephalopod without overwhelming it and the dish was beautiful when it arrived at the bar, where we always prefer to sit. Coincidentally, our bartender was also not very hard to look at. His charm and hospitable manner only reaffirm my love for European men, and make me want to go to Italy. 16 Mint Plaza (415) 543-5100.

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