Surely y’all remember writing about what you did on your summer vacation when you went back to school in September. It seemed like an elementary/middle school English teaching requirement. Naturally, my essays would include a lot of food and not much has changed over time. After 8 long years, I finally was able to take a short vacation thanks to my mother’s plentiful miles and my friend’s willingness to care for my elderly Shih Tzu while I was away.

John and I flew out West to visit my family in my hometown of San Mateo, California. We spent a day hanging out with my mom and twin brothers and on that first night, John and I had dinner with Aimee, an old friend from middle school that I hadn’t seen in 35 years. As it turns out, San Mateo has become something of a dining mecca since I’ve been away, sporting several Michelin-star restaurants and attracting award-winning chefs.  Adrien, another old friend from school and fellow foodie (who visits me quite often in New Orleans) suggested I try Wursthall, a new restaurant and bierhaus downtown owned by San Mateo natives and helmed by James Beard award-winner and food writer Kenji López-Alt.

Aimee and her husband Rick met us at the restaurant and amidst much catching up and reminiscing, we feasted! We started with an appetizer of deviled eggs topped with fresh dill, Aleppo pepper and mustard. Aimee and her husband were playing it light with butternut squash and kale salad topped with watermelon radish, thick slices of manchego, candied walnuts and apples drizzled in a cider vinaigrette. John and I went all-in with a Thüringer Bratwurst made with ground pork and veal, marjoram and caraway.  The brat was served on a toasted top-split bun with German potato salad and mixed greens. We also shared a side of “bratkartoffeln” or crispy-fried potatoes, a dish that was reputedly to die for … they were right!

Though the bratwurst and deviled eggs were good, the stars of the show were most definitely the potatoes. The German potato salad had thick bits of bacon and fresh dill throughout bound together by a tangy mustard vinaigrette, it was so flavorful I couldn’t think why I would eat potato salad any other way. And the crispy potatoes served with aioli were exactly as wonderful as they sound, crusty and crisp on the outside, soft and buttery on the inside. What a way to start our vacation!

It was such a lovely evening, catching up with an old friend, meeting her husband and eating great food. Courtney, another friend from middle school was supposed to meet us, but couldn’t make it in time seeing as she had to work late and then drive through nasty Bay Area traffic from San Francisco. I do hope I get to see her next time I’m in town!

Stay tuned for Part II — the Ranjbars (and one Schexnaydre) do Lake Tahoe!

 

 

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