Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sundays in My City - Old Friend, New Friend - April 17, 2011

Nothing brightens my spirits more than a visit from a beloved friend.  Atul Kapoor,
originally from India, is someone I met about thirteen years ago aboard one of Royal
Caribbean's older ships, the Viking Serenade.  He was a head waiter back then, one
of the elite group I call "the Bollywood boys."  As with so many of the Indian crew,
he became a dear friend and what is nice is that I've been able to spend time with him
off the ship.  He left Royal Caribbean a few years ago and began working at Masraff's,
a fine dining restaurant in Houston, Texas, where he is now the general manager.  Also,
he recently became an American citizen which makes me very proud - but he will
always be one of my Bollywood boys.

He has been to San Francisco to visit me on two past occasions.  Last time, I was able to
accompany him to the Napa Valley where we were guests at Rombauer Vineyards,
producers of one of my favorite chardonnays, staying at their pool house!  What a lovely
experience that was, with the grapes growing all around us!  We were also privy to
a private wine tasting high up Spring Mountain at Cain Vineyard and visited Darioush
and several other lovely wineries.

This time, he brought a lovely lady, Sylvia Haist ( also a nurse ) with him.  I found her a
complete delight and we became immediate friends.  Our time together was spent eating
and drinking and catching up on happenings. 

I wanted them to see a little bit of the Pacific so, after picking them up at the Clift Hotel in
San Francisco, we drove to Half Moon Bay, south of my home.  For much of the trip, we
were completely enveloped in fog and I was rather dismayed.  Much to my relief, by the
time we arrived at Sam's Chowder House, the sun broke through and we were able to
have lunch outdoors.  It was so lovely.

I knew something was different about Atul but couldn't quite figure it out - he finally
clued me in that he had shaved the moustache that he'd worn, ever since I'd known
him a few weeks ago, while he was on vacation at home in India.

Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay opened to rave reviews in 2006 and has
won numerous awards since that time, including "Top Three Dining Spots in the Bay
Area."  The Food Editor of the NBC "Today Show" selected the lobster roll at Sam's
as one of the five best sandwiches in America!

The view is definitely spectacular though it can get a bit chilly in the fog!  Once the sun
started to set, we were glad we had finished eating and were ready to head inside!

Bouvet - a lovely dry rose

Nice crab cakes

My Hawaiian poke - a fabulous ahi tuna

The calamari was really good!

Nice seaweed salad

A happily full trio!

I drove Atul and Sylvia back to San Francisco for a quick nap, then picked them up
two hours later so we could eat again.  We went to the Salt House which was
recommended by the concierge at the Clift House.  It was on Mission Street, south of
Market, in a area that looked a bit precarious.  I even had some qualms about the man
who collected our money for the valet parking and checked with the hostess to be sure
he was legitimate.  I had visions of coming out after dinner to find I no longer had a

The Salt House was part of an old warehouse with high ceilings and exposed bricks,
and definitely was not a spot for intimate dining or cozy conversation.  We arrived a
bit early and had a drink at the bar but were seated at exactly 8:45 PM, our
reservation time.  Thankfully, we were not starving or the wait would have been
interminable.  After about forty minutes wait for our appetizers, we were served a
complimentary bowl of chilled asparagus soup which was only mediocre, I thought.
The rest of the meal, when it finally came, was excellent, however.

Atul and I both ordered the sweetbread appetizer and it was superb, pan seared and
crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, served with sunchokes, smoked bacon and
rosemary honey.  My main course was an excellent pork loin and shank.  We shared
a bottle of red Lebanese wine - which we enjoyed very much. 

We were far too full for dessert but, since it was Sylvia's birthday, the owner brought
their passion fruit cheese cake which I found most heavenly, very light and airy, unlike
any cheese cake I've ever eaten ( I am a total maniac for passion fruit ). 

Cheers from my friends

The wall painting at the Salt House

Scrumptious sweetbreads

Sipping my gold Mt. Gay Barbados rum, a favorite

Delicious pork loin

I felt a bit sad this morning at 6AM when I picked Atul and Sylvia up to drive them
to the airport.  It was a very brief visit but I loved every minute I got to spend with
them.  They keep telling me I must come to Houston to eat at Masraff's, the restaurant
where Atul is general manager.  I understand it is one of the best in Houston!  Ah,
if I were only working, I'd be there my next weekend off!  I will get there, though, come
hell or high water.

I am participating in Unknown Mami's Sundays In My City even though
my lovely day out and about was on Saturday.  Check out the site and
tell us about your city!


  1. it's always a joy to be with friends, am glad for you Carmen for being able to spend time with them and reconnect from old times. The view at half moon bay with the fogs starting to clear is really beautiful. today it started that way here too, very dense fog in the morning, but after 9:30 am, it started to clear and now, we have blue skies :)

  2. I enjoyed your city on Sunday! I'm now making notes of where to go to eat what on my way down California.
    Good to know you had a great time with old friends.

  3. You have such interesting friends- and I know why... your smile!

  4. How nice you could meet up!! The food looks delish!

  5. Coming over from SIMC linky party.

    All the food in this post looks scrumptious and your header photo is simply stunning!

  6. Anonymous7:35 PM

    It looks as if you had a wonderful weekend with friends and fantastic food. I hope that you do get to go to Houston some time soon.

  7. Oh yes, you must go to Houston and visit them. They seem delightful and I am so glad you got to spend time with them and share such scrumptious meals.

  8. Visiting with friends is a wonderful way to spend a weekend.

  9. I love those types of visits, but they are too short! Looks like you all have lots of yummy yummy food and friendship.

  10. Sounds like a wonderful visit!

  11. Betchai -
    I cannot even begin to say how much it meant to me to see Atul again. It made me forget my trouble for a little while!

    rosaria -
    It was such a joy having Atul here and to meet his friend. I felt so relaxed for a change and had fun!! Need more of that.

    Sharkbytes (TM) -
    You're so nice...I am fortunate to be blessed with some wonderful friends. I'm not sure my smile drew them but I am very thankful they're there.

    Flower Photography -
    I hadn't seen Atul in three years but, instantly, when we meet up again, it's as though we saw each other yesterday!

    Keetha Broyles -
    My header photo, taken on my first visit to Tokyo, is one of my favorite travel photographs.

    myrelish -
    I'm forever taking food pictures. I like to remember good meals!

    Unknown Mami -
    This was the third time Atul has come to San Francisco to see me so I definitely need to go to Houston. Also, one of my nursing school classmates lives there and I have two other dear friends within fifty miles of Houston.

    Amy -
    Sadly, now that I have all the time in the world
    ( retirement ) to visit friends, I don't have the money! I'd love to go to Houston for a couple of weeks to visit all my friends in the area.

    Kristin - The Goat said -
    You said it...visits with friends, like Atul, are much too short.

    secret agent woman -
    It was a terrific visit but far too short.

  12. what a great time !
    and oh that food !!!.....YUM