KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: Wine. Dine. Donate. with Mark Franz
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Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Wine. Dine. Donate. with Mark Franz

Tanya Steel, editor-in-chief of Epicurious.com, and chefs Mark Franz, Jan Birnbaum, and Parke Ulrich invite you to San Francisco's Farallon for a dinner to benefit America's Second Harvest. The evening's special menu will feature dishes personally created by each chef, including diver scallop carpaccio, crispy maple pork belly, and roasted strawberry turnovers.
Click here to purchase tickets. Dates for this event in Chicago and New York have already sold out!

I talked to Mark Franz recently about the dinner and what's new:

For those who haven't dined at Farallon before, how would you describe it?
It's fine dining, sophisticated and elegant. We keep our approach pretty simple in that it's all seasonal, our menu changes weekly and sometimes daily. We give people the whole package--great food and service and almost over the top design, it's whimsical but we take it seriously. It's not a stuffy restaurant people feel at home. Upscale but not pretentious.

What's your philosophy for putting a dish together?
This really feels like one of the best times of the year right now--I'm not particularly religious but it seems like God has a plan, anything that's in season works together. Pick what's in season and it will work together that's my philosophy.

How did you choose what to feature for the Wine. Dine. Donate. menu?
I'm using diver scallops--they are perfect, big and luscious and they aren't dipped, we get them fresh every day so there are no additives no extra water in them, they are extremely fresh and just magnificent. Three quarters of what I find in the supermarket I would send away. I picked something seasonal with fava beans and artichokes to go with the scallop carpaccio. Those two ingredients are a real marriage and I try to turn people on to them. All of that gets served with a gribiche which is an eggy sauce with capers and tarragon.

You've been working on the opening of Water Bar on the Embarcadero, what will that be like?
The food will be clean and simple. It will be more provincial in the sense that the food will be grilled, roasted, less rich ingredients. In general, more simple, more straight ahead, everyday meals that are more mediterranean in approach less of the classic French approach you find at Farallon. What I'm doing at Water Bar is what I wanted to do at Farallon, more everyday than special occasion dining.

Farallon has been around for 10 years, what's new?
The raw bar is new. When you come into the bar there is more excitement because the oysters are in the front not in the kitchen. We sell thousands of oysters but we were never listed as a raw bar so now we moved them into the bar. It's kind of like reinventing yourself but realistically the seafood is the same. If you haven't been in for a while you should check it out.

What's it like working with Jan Birnbaum at Farallon?
Jan worked here for the last year and a half---we've known each other for 30 years. We both try to utilize what's seasonal and make sense of it. There are no egos involved--Jan's influence shows up in that we do more charcuterie, he's known for braising meats and New Orleans style cooking of course. But we each choose dishes and see what works together. Seafood and pork work especially well together. There isn't a lot of fat on seafood so the pork belly adds a nice velvety layer.

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Blogger Anne said...

i wish i were across the country right now because i'm always curious as to what "upscale but not pretentious" entails.
i'm guessing it's 5% decor, 5% staff attitude, and 90% food. macaroni & cheese and chocolate cake, anyone?

- anne, menuism.com intern
& big fan of the blog

5/23/2007 7:53 PM

Blogger Amy Sherman said...

The restaurant interior is often described as an "underwater fantasy". It's very pretty and elegant and as Mark Franz says, almost but not quite over the top. The food is definitely in the French vein.

l'll tell you a funny story that illustates "upscale but not pretentious." I once went to Farallon to see a guy I'd been dating. We hadn't seen each other in 3 weeks and found ourselves kissing right in the booth! At least twice the waitress came over, saw us then smiled and backed away. We weren't wildly inappropriate just a little kissy. Anyway that night we professed our love for each other and not much later were engaged to be married. So I too think of it as a special occasion place but one where you could steal a kiss, or two.

5/24/2007 10:06 AM


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