How do you feel about eating octopus? I've had little bits of sliced large octopus tentacles on nigiri sushi; not disgusting but it wouldn't be my first order at the bar.
I know it is a very lowly, common food along the coast of the Mediterranean, and every time I read about little pulpo vendors or restaurants that will cook your own catch if you bring it (and you'd better buy some Cava, señor), I am filled with yearning.
How would I ever stumble across that brisk, soft, slightly charred, not rubbery, cephalopod, served with a really good lemon-herb seasoning? Here in decidedly upscale Northern California where the climate is Tuscan and the restaurants are getting better and better?
Ha ha. I must be a fool. Have I even tried to stumble across it, or is it just a crazy dream tucked safely in the pages of glossy magazines?
Sincere apologies and a tip of the hat to my friend Brett, who runs Contigo in San Francisco. An octopus salad is on the menu there; I've only eaten there once (chagrin) and I must have missed it.
"Missed" it. I probably skipped it. I'm not all that brave.
I had a lovely meal at a private dinner upstairs at Emporio Armani in San Francisco many years ago, prepared by an Italian chef. He brought out small plates of thick six-inch lengths of octopus arms, seared and draped in greenery. I'm not sure what the seasoning was, because I refused to taste a single bite.
Bunch of American yahoos. There were a dozen or so of us, and almost everybody passed on the pulpo. The chef was visibly nonplussed, which is Italian for pissed off, when the plates of wasted food were cleared.
Suddenly, though, I'm ready to try everything. I'm up for tripe and sardines and, well, bring it and I will give it a fair and square bite. (I know where to get lamb tongue.)
I had lunch today with Cranky at the new Boca Pizzeria in Novato. I'm avoiding gluten, but I cheated and had a few slices of the excellent pizza. Not the best, compared with some of the other ovens in the region, but really, very good. 9 on a scale of 10, and you should be so lucky.
The menu has wonderful choices that don't include wheat. Baby Octopus Salad.
My eyes began to swim, and Capt. Ahab threw a harpoon at them. My eyes got out of the ocean.
I'm Having That. I could barely read on.
This is a new me. Embracing a sea-change in my appetite, I waded in (yet more aquatic metaphors), mouth wide open. I devoured the tender little seared florets in their lemon-herb sauce surrounded by walnutty-peppery leaves of arugula.
Then I toweled off and rode away with Old Spice Guy.
What had I been I waiting for?
It was better than pizza. It was better than good pizza.
And it did not predict the World Cup. It was just a plateful of babies. World Cup was probably over when they were born.