In honor of father’s day I’m going to share one of the fondest memories of my childhood.
I was ten. My brother was 13. My parents were divorced and it was a Thursday night, which meant we were at my dad’s house. My brother had just gotten into trouble for something. I don’t remember what it was, but it was bad enough to piss my father off, which for those of you who know, doesn’t get riled up easily. Their heated discussion started somewhere in the living room and crescendoed its way through the house. Being the brat younger brother that I was, I got a kick out of watching my older brothers get yelled at. It was somehow justification for all those times I’d been the victim of another sibling-inflicted injustice. So I followed them from the living room and through the kitchen around the dining room table and down the hallway to the master bedroom where they had a standoff. I was watching from in the bedroom doorway as my father continued to “parent” my brother who was standing his ground on the other side of the queen bed looked a little helpless and small, trapped into the corner. It was fantastic!
“Come here!” my dad said, pointing his finger at the ground where he stood with his eyes bulging open from anger, which caused him to furrow his brow pushing the wrinkles from his forehead up and across his shiny baldhead. “I mean it. On the count of three I’m gonna give you a spanking unless you say your sorry for what you did.”
My brother was/is stubborn, and probably figured a spanking was worth the pride he’d gain from standing his ground. He showed no signs of admitting to any wrong doing and he seemed prepared for the worst. [Which if I’m being honest, wasn’t more than a few weak spanks on the butt that we usually just shrugged off before going back to cartoons or video grames]
I was barely able to contain myself. The anticipation was palpable, as if I were on the edge of my seat at a space shuttle launch. Any second now, my father, who’s a second-degree black belt in karate, was going to blastoff like a Praying Mantis across the room and spank the hell out of my brother. I think was drooling at the thought and saliva was probably spilling out the corners of my mouth.
The room was still and both of them stood there frozen as if a gun had just gone off. I wondered who would move first, and then saw my father taking a step. Here was the moment I’d been patiently waiting for and before I knew it, my father had turned around, grabbed me by the arm, and started spanking me.
“What did I do? I didn’t do anything!” I screamed, trying my hardest to break free from his kung fu grip with little success.
A few seconds later, he’d stopped spanking me and let me go. I turned to him with a flush face and my instant recall tears coating my irresistible cheeks for what all good youngest children call “milking it.”
“Why did you do that dad?” I asked, rubbing my bum to give the full effect of having just been punished. “Aaron was the one in trouble.”
My dad looked me square in the eyes and with complete confidence said, “you were closer.”
Padrecito: The Newest Member of Cole Valley’s Intimate Restaurant Scene
Father or husband (we’re not sure) to Mamacita, Nate Valentine, Sam Josi, and Stryker Scales’ hermana restaurant in San Francisco’s Marina District, is Padrecito- the latest in a long line of yuppie Mexican cantinas in American (YMCA). But unlike some of those other “upscale Mexican eateries,” Padrecito delivers great value. Don’t get me wrong, unless you live in one of the desirable Cole Valley Victorians (pssst all of them) you’ll have sticker shock too. It was a delicious dinner for four and we had some great Mezcal cocktails; but growing up in San Diego, some of the most delicious Mexican food above the boarder is customarily served for $5 in a Styrofoam to-go box from a 24-hour drive-through window with a “C” from its last Department of Public Health inspection.
Padrecito is the complete other end of the spectrum in the sense that it’s pricey, fresh, clean and mouthwateringly delicious. It’s restaurants like this that are bringing Mexican cuisine out of the lard and flour filled shadows of cash-only taco shops and into the limelight of a sophisticated San Francisco foodie scene. Here’s what we ate:
We started with a delicious Mezcal drink called La Copa Verde with cilantro, lime, chipotle powder.
Guacamole and chips. The tortilla chips are thick, super salty, and freshly fried in-house. I love that they’re crispy and tough, able to withstand the weight of any size glop of guac I can find.
Ceviche with local halibut , citrus-serrano agua chile and golden tostadas.
Crudo of yellowtail, mango, avocado, chipotle-agave salsita, and blue corn strips.
Enchiladas Rojas filled with roasted chicken, mole Amarillo, and jack cheese; and covered with a roasted garlic crema that was perfectly browned under the broiler.
Grilled Arctic Char tacos with achiote rub, avocado aioli and mango-jicama slaw in a flour tortilla.
Braised Pork Belly tacos with smashed chorizo beans, morita braised greens and jalapeno escabeche.
Goat Barbacoa tacos with avocado, broccolini, salsa arbol, crema Mexicana (sour cream) and manchego cheese.
A side of roasted asparagus with toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and edible flours.
A side of Tecate braised chard, which believe it or not was one of the best dishes of the evening for most of our group.
For dessert we got their churros served with a spiced and sweet crème fraiche. The thick crème fraiche carried a subtle blend of mocha, cinnamon, and vanilla. The cool smooth and tangy characteristics fit like a glove with the warm, crunchy sweetness of the churros. They’re slightly denser then your typical churro and the heartier ground grain was actually corn meal instead of flour. “We try to use corn as much as possible so there are no gluten issues here,” our very sweet and knowledgeable waitress informed us as our friend “Blobby” (the Dr. Jekyll version of our friend Bobby) molested the last remains of sweetened crème with his finger…. before I joined in, and snatched the ramekin back.