Thursday, February 26, 2009

The girl and the burger

In an effort to really take advantage of this fair state, Daniel and I headed up to Sonoma County last weekend and partook of some of the fine culinary bounty that wine country has to offer.

By far the jewel in this excursion was the burger that had me closing my eyes and sighing in delight at The Girl and the Fig. This bistro, whose motto is "Country Food with a French Passion," is a cozy little place just off Sonoma's main square. You can eat in the bar or during the day in the garden, but as it was evening and a little chilly out, after a half hour wait, we were seated in the main room, at a table that was a bit too exposed to the hustle and bustle of the servers for my taste. But boy did the food make up for this feeling of chaos.

This being wine country, we asked the waitress to point us in the direction of a dry local white and then we dug into the menu. There was much that caught our atteniton, but after some deliberation, I chose the salad of the season to start off with because it featured watermelon radishes, which is my new favorite crunchy vegeatable. Seriously, if you haven't tried one of these, rush out and grab one. They're bigger and less bitter than other radishes, and when you cut into them they are beautiful -red marbled, sometimes with a hint of green. The pickled red onion added that perfect tang that I'm wild about and the whole things was served over a mix of dark greens. Simple, but very nice.

Daniel, ever the cheesehead, started off with the cheese and fruit plate, "three selections of cheese, seasonal fruit, house-made fig cake and baguette." Although he had the option to choose his own cheeses from a detailed list, he described to the waitress his proclivity toward the sharp and mildly stinky and let her work her magic. What he ended up with was pretty special (he generously let me sample each.) First laguiole, a hard French cheese of cow's milk. It was salty and slightly nutty, and was really fantastic when paired with the apple chutney that accompanied the plate. My second favorite was the fleur de maquis, a soft French sheep's milk cheese that was covered in wild herbs. It was buttery soft, but its intense richness was cut with an almost lemony quality. Really, really nice. The third was an organic Italian goat's milk number, fleur de capra. It was sweet and subtle and was complemented nicely by the pear slices. Not my cheese style of choice, but very good nonetheless.

For our main courses, Daniel was tempted by the grilled cheese with tomato confit, but not wanting to over indulge, he prudently chose the open faced olive oil poached tuna sandwich, topped with hard boiled egg and served with creme fraiche potato salad. His sandwich was subtle, but really, really good. And that potato salad. Oooh boy...

My main course, however, was RIDICULOUSLY good. The aforementioned burger was top sirloin with grilled onions served on a dutch crunch roll. I opted out of any topping it with cheese, but I took advantage of the dijon and the ketchup (and housemade pickles!), and I bit into heaven. The medium rare burger was a juicy masterpiece. The roll was the best version I've had yet of this ubiquitous California specialty. Perfect bread to burger ration. Perfect crunch. Perfectly perfect. It was served with matchstick frites, but honestly, who wants to bother filling up with such nonesense when one has a burger like this? Sigh. I wish I were eating it right now.

On a side note, earlier in the evening, we went to Meritage Martini bar, where I sampled the "Drunken Angry Hog" a Bloody Mary style drink served in a martini glass, made up of absolut peppar vodka, spicy mary float, with a fresh hog island oyster floating in it. Being a sucker for savory cocktails, I was tempted. The verdict: it was a little weird.

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