Every now and then, My Beloved and I like to venture into the big city for an evening. We did this more when I worked in the city but since I retired, it's a very special occasion. We had heard that the musical "Mamma Mia" was back in town and, it being one of my all-time favorites, we gathered up our pal Sari and cousin Jan to go with us.
If you haven't seen "Mamma Mia" in live performance, you really should. I love the movie, too, (despite the gorgeous Pierce Brosnan's singing) but there is nothing quite so wonderful as a stage performance. The sets are clever, the music is lively, and there is something just plain awe-inspiring in watching the performers put themselves out there, risking it all just to entertain you. Their talent and courage make it a fantastic experience. If you aren't on your feet and dancing by the end - well, you just will be.
Anyway, we all went out for dinner before the show, trying a new-to-us restaurant called "Sauce" in the Hayes Valley section of San Francisco. It has a somewhat quirky menu with all kinds of interesting preparations. Sari enjoyed the beef short ribs presented as Beef Wellington topped with duxelles and wrapped in pastry. Jan and My Beloved had the butterfish special and both said it was yummy. I went for the Brussels sprout salad with chili-dusted pumpkin seeds, followed by poutine.
I had heard about poutine from my food blogs and from my older brother and his wife who recently spent a long, snowy weekend in the city of Quebec, Canada but I had never tried it myself. I have to admit that the idea of French fries topped with cheese curds and slathered with brown gravy sounded a little weird to me, but I learned early on that if Canadians like something, it's going to be good. Like everyone else in the world, I love Canadians and that admiration has never steered me wrong.
This is truly comfort food. It was fairly bland, pretty rich, and wonderfully filling. My plate was advertised as an appetizer but it was the opposite, an appetite appeaser. Rather than French fries, this presentation used russet potato skin spears that had been baked and lightly sautéed before the topping and slathering began. The unctuous cheese melted under its blanket of smooth gravy, oozing amongst the potato slices.
It would be great on a rainy evening or, better yet, a snowy one, perhaps after skiing when you are cold right down to your toes. After the winter they've been having in the northern tier of States this year, I'll bet a whole bunch of people have converted to poutine. Because we live in mild California and I hadn't been on the slopes all day, I was unable to finish my generous portion.
After dinner, we hurried down Market Street toward the theater, full of good dinner and anticipation, ready to be enchanted, to clap and laugh and dance to the music.