Saturday, July 21, 2007

SF vs. Land o' the Strip Malls

My folks are in town from Arizona, and I thought, wouldn't it be a nice treat to take them to CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen for dinner so that they could enjoy some premium wine and lovingly prepared food showcasing locally grown, seasonal ingredients? After all, the 'rentals spent almost 40 years in SF and my dad had been complaining about the lack of variety and quality of restaurants in and around their cookie-cutter desert town. And no wonder: All they've had over the past 4 years since their move is strip mall upon strip mall and chain resto upon chain resto (Olive Garden and Applebee's are two of my mom's new faves). But alas, mom's first response when the plates arrived was, "The fish is so small. They're charging a lot for very little." I looked hopefully at my dad, who'd done a lot of dining out during his days in the SF corporate world; surely, he'd have some understanding of dining on a finer level than that of China Buffet and Outback Steakhouse, two other AZ stand-bys. No such thing. "What? They don't serve any bread here? Isn't this an Italian place?" he grumbled ... My hopes were dashed—mom and dad have gone over to the dark side: They love mediocre, mass-produced food and lots of it. Heaping platefuls are best. Taste and seasonality be damned. *Sigh* ... Oh well, I tried. And I sure did love my food, even if they didn't (though they did both eat their plates—duck meatballs and bluenose sea bass—clean). The house-made sweet corn and ricotta ravioli with heirloom zucchini and cherry tomatoes looked like a summer garden and tasted like one too: fresh bursts of flavor, a pillowy soft and creamy texture, all helped along with sips of a crisp Gruner Veltliner (which my dad said tasted exactly like his Australian Chardonnay ... oy). And then for dessert: an oozing sweet-tart raspberry crisp with vanilla ice cream. CAV wine bar is still on my favorites list.

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