Simply Sunday. The more I travel, the more essential it is to build in time with friends. Dining with Bob Puccini and his wife at one of San Francisco’s hottest new restaurants was a chance to hear about his trip to Kviv, and yes, he was staying just a few yards from the barricades (his photos were just as good as anything on BBC World). He told me that he is thinking of expanding his booming restaurant design business into bedrooms too.
We were at Coqueta, Michael Chiarello’s latest restaurant, a South American homage at Pier 5 on the Embarcadero. Even on a horrid rainy Sunday night it was packed, both in the tall warehouse-like restaurant and in the adjacent bar (every luxury hotel must wish its restaurants had people standing in line any night of the week, let alone Sunday). Why can freestanding restaurateurs do what hotel food people seldom can? Ah, Bob Puccini, you are the answer …. I am reminded of one of the first meals Michael Chiarello ever cooked, in his St Helena days. It was a one-off Barbarian Dinner, a special for his beloved wine friends Belle and Barney Rhodes, and I was lucky enough to be among those tasting deep-fried pigs’ ears and other historic delicacies. Yes, thank goodness for friends.