On a beautiful sunny weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting up with two Herb & Lace contributors in the Bay Area while I’m staying in San Francisco. Last time Herb & Lace San Francisco organized a meet up the group went to Brenda’s for brunch, so this time we decided to change it up and rendezvous at Absinthe Brasserie & Bar for a late afternoon drink.
There was no way I would go to a bar called Absinthe and not try absinthe. I asked the bartender for a recommendation, and he asked a couple questions about my tolerance for licorice before pointing to his personal favorite. He prepared it the traditional way, with a special absinthe spoon on which sits a sugar cube. Ice water is then dripped over the sugar cube, evenly displacing into the absinthe and activating flavors and aroma in the spirit that you wouldn’t taste otherwise. It was an interesting process to watch, and a slow but steady build up that signaled the rest of the bar that I was ready to get drunk. While the sugar cube was disappearing with every drop of water that fell, the older couple that set next to us impishly asked if this is my first time having absinthe. I could tell they were reminiscing the mischievous times they individually had when they were under the spell of the green fairy.
As far as taste goes, it is probably now one of my favorite spirits (even though I haven’t had enough in my life for that statement to mean much). And boy, was it strong. But as I took more sips, it made me feel inexplicably fabulous, a surprising reaction that I think in a way explains why so much style happened during the Belle Époque when everyone couldn’t get enough of absinthe–and it was much stronger back then.
We then ordered some appetizers, all of which tasted divine. Isabelle had the Hawaiian White Shrimp with caramelized potato-prosciutto broth (it tasted as amazing as it looks below), while I tried the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio that was a delight to eat. Camilla ordered the fried chick peas and mixed olives, which were probably some of the best simple-foods-done-right that I’ve tried.
The setting was also perfect for our occasion. It was packed enough to feel social but not bothered, and quiet enough to have conversations without needing to shout. I had a wonderful time putting faces to the authors of blog posts I’ve been reading for the past year, and talking about everything from south of France to opinions on the academia world. Herb and Lace is a diverse and global community, and I think our meet up could not be more evident of that.
I have less than two weeks left in San Francisco and I am very grateful to have seen the city through a local’s perspective during this trip thanks to the insight shared on this blog by our Bay Area contributors. I look forward to meeting more Herb and Lace girls around the world, one city at a time!
398 Hayes Street (at Gough)
San Francisco, CA 94102
Special thanks to Isabelle for the great photos.