Kaylen Baker

Mole and mezcal

Sabrosa serves up sophisticated Mexican dishes and drinks

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arts@sfbg.com

FOOD Roughly a month after Sabrosa opened its tinted doors to flocks of the rarer type of Marina patron — one hungry for trend-pushing, flavor-forward cuisine — word got out that the plates outshine the cocktails at this upscale Mexican restaurant and bar.Read more »

Carb your enthusiasm

Pop-up Mattarello rolls out authentic, handmade pastas

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On a bright November afternoon, I ducked into Biondivino, a tiny but tremendously well-stocked Italian wine shop in Russian Hill, to meet John Pauley and Anna Li of Mattarello — an artisanal, handmade pasta pop-up.Read more »

Chef Michael Anthony talks 'The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook'

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The Gramercy Tavern Cookbook (Clarkson Potter, 352 pp., $50) takes you on a restaurant tour, beginning with Danny Meyer’s initial conception of opening this New York establishment, continuing past the chief steward and his wheelbarrow of fresh spring produce from the Greenmarket, around the harvest table where the floral designer pairs yellow sprays of sunflowers with splayed summer squash, into the kitchen during the staff’s family meal, past the pastry station where Nancy Olson creates her autumn peanut butter semifreddo, and ending at the dining table with a winter dish of guinea hen prepared by James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Anthony.

By the time you’ve read through this serious and seriously exquisite cookbook, ogled the colorful photos, and closed the enormous, masculine-elegant back cover, you’ve spent a whole year eating inside the Tavern. Your appreciation for the minute mechanics that run a restaurant will have widened, and your list of must-try recipes? Exploded. (I’ve already checked off the curious “Cauliflower with Quinoa, Prunes, and Peanuts” with happy results). Chef Anthony, making his first trip to San Francisco in December, spoke to me about his vision behind the book.

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Gobble online

Ordering heritage turkeys with Bill Niman

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Chocolate + 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire' = irony that tastes gooooood

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When I got to work Friday morning, I found the Arts and Culture editors, along with our publisher, huddled outside a cubicle, mouths agape. I joined them. A large rectangular box sat on the desk. Reminiscent of the strange stone tablet from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), it rose up from the desk, black, and ominous, only this one gleamed with golden letters, spelling out “Catching Fire.” Inside, I found chocolate.

(Here’s a quick rule of thumb in the newsroom: You will get promotional gifts. Another one: rarely will a promo grab your attention. But my favorite is: Do not let thy promo go to waste.)

I did what any food writer would do. I tasted each and every last chocolate bar — a total of 12, one for each “District” inside the post-apocalyptic world of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy The Hunger Games. (The timing of this delivery, of course, is to whet one's appetite for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, out Nov 22). Crafted by chocolate makers Vosges through their American farmer-sourced Wild Ophelia line, each chocolate bar incorporated aspects of American geography, on which Panem, the segregated, classist country where heroine Katniss lives, was based.

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Sweet 'n' local: chocolate-making with Dandelion at the SF Botanical Garden

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"My name is Kaylen, and I'm a chocoholic," I announced at the Mesoamerican cloud forest at the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society (SFBGS), where users like me met for a recent course taught by Dandelion Chocolate. But what else is there to know about chocolate, apart from learning how to quit?

A whole botanical and cultural history, as it turns out, including tribal trading spats, terroir to make a oenophile envious, and ancient medicinal remedies — so don't stop drinking just yet. (Sound enticing? Sign up for SFBGS's upcoming class with Dandelion Chocolate and Four Barrel Coffee on Nov. 9; more Dandelion events here.) Here's the report.

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Pleased to meat you: Fatted Calf Charcuterie

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If you’ve ever found yourself waiting for the 16 Express on the corner of Fell and Gough, then it’s easy to bet you’ve swiveled around on that red bench to peer through the glass wall of the charcuterie and butcher shop behind, where ruby-colored sausages, pâtés, smoked ham, bacon and meatloaf show off their curves inside a refrigerated display. Unthinkingly, you’ll have walked in.

The Hayes Valley location of the Fatted Calf Charcuterie — the store also has a Napa outpost and a weekly presence at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market — sells a plethora of coveted artisanal delights as well, like hard cheese, house-pickled beets, dried beans, and impeccable pastas. Among the sandwiches, the coffee-bourbon barbeque pulled pork sandwich contains a moist piquancy, while the toasty Croque Monseiur, dripping of Mornay sauce and overlaid with squiggles of cured ham, is worth missing the next bus for. (Grab an extra napkin — these beasts invariably fall apart in your hands and lap.)

You can’t take the entire shop with you, but luckily owners Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller just published their first cookbook, In the Charcuterie (Ten Speed Press, 2013), which reads like a whole world of meat — one I’ve become enamored with, after making the Flaky Leaf Lard Biscuits. I caught up with Boetticher before the couple left on a promotional trip, asking him about their journey in charcuterie.

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