Last month, during one of those gorgeously sunny weeks, a friend visiting from China (read: escaping from Beijing's craziness) requested a fun outing that would include a meal highlighting local foods. The perfect side trip came to mind immediately. There's no better way to take in the Bay than on a leisurely ferry ride. And for local flavors, Restaurant Picco offers Marin Mondays, special weekly prix fixe dinners that highlight the best of Marin Country farms. I told my friend to meet me on the Larkspur Ferry.
Skimming along the water, with both bridges within view and plenty of time to catch up on the years that have passed, who wouldn't prefer a ferry ride over stop-and-go, rush-hour traffic? Add Chef Bruce Hill's special menu, and it's a dinner excursion that both visitor and local will long remember.
The Larkspur Ferry leaves regularly from the San Francisco Ferry Building, and a taxi at the other end whisked us within minutes to Restaurant Picco's door. That week's six-course Marin Monday menu featured crudo with local albacore, delicately fried squash blossoms, housemade fettucine with oven-roasted cherry tomatoes and Marin Sun bacon, roasted chicken with fresh butter beans, a cheese course with Point Reyes Original Blue, and for dessert a generous swirl of Picco's famous Strauss Dairy soft-serve ice cream.
After our dinner, I wrangled Bruce into giving us a tour of his amazing kitchens. Beneath the restaurant's hotline and his pizzeria's wood-burning oven lies another whole, wide world of food prep. We walk around back, descended the wooden stairs, and there entered a huge complex dedicated simply to prepping the food before it heads upstairs to be finished and plated and served.