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At the Hotel St. Francis
On the morning of April 18, 1906, one of us stood in the doorway of the Hotel St. Francis, and watched approaching fires that came from three directions. It was but a few hours later when all that part of the city was a mass of seething flames, and in the ruins that lay in the wake of devastation was this magnificent hostelry.
Before business in the down-town district was reorganized, and while the work of removing the tangled masses of debris was still in progress the Merchants Association of San Francisco called its members together in its annual banquet, and this banquet was held in the basement of the Hotel St. Francis, the crumbling walls, and charred and blackened timbers hidden under a mass of bunting and foliage and flowers. Here was emphasized the spirit of Bohemian San Francisco, and it was one of the most merry and enjoyable of feasts ever held in the city.
It was made possible by the fact that the management of the Hotel St. Francis was undaunted in the face of almost overwhelming disaster. The same spirit has carried the hotel through stress of storm and it stands now, almost as a monument to the energy of James Woods, its manager. There has always been a soft spot in our hearts for the Hotel St. Francis, and it is here that we have always felt a most pleasurable emotion when seeking a place where good things are served. Whether it be in the magnificent white and gold dining room, or the old tapestry room that has been remodeled into a dining room, or in the electric grill below stairs, it has always been the same.
We asked Chef Victor Hertzler what he considered his best recipe and his answer was characteristic of him.
"I shall give you Sole Edward VII. If this is not satisfactory I can give you a meat, or a salad or a soup recipe." We considered it satisfactory, and here it is:
Sole Edward VII
Cut the fillets out of one sole and lay them flat on a buttered pan, and season with salt and pepper. Make the following mixture and spread over each fillet of sole: Take one-half pound of sweet butter, three ounces of chopped salted almonds, one-fourth pound of chopped fresh mushrooms, a little chopped parsley, the juice of a lemon, salt, pepper and a little grated nutmeg.
Add to the pan one-half glassful of white wine and put in the oven for twenty minutes.
When done serve in the pan by placing it on a platter, with a napkin under it.
Hertzler has another recipe which he prizes greatly and which he calls "Celery Victor," and this is the recipe which he gave us:
Take six stalks of celery well washed. Make a stock of one soup hen or chicken bones, and five pounds of veal bones in the usual manner, with carrots, onions, parsley, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Place the celery in a vessel and strain the broth over it. Boil until soft and let cool off in its own broth.
When cold press the broth out of the celery with the hand, gently, and place on a plate. Season with salt, fresh ground black pepper, chervil, and one-quarter white wine vinegar with tarragon to three-quarters of best olive oil.