Food and Drink

Beer Week rolls out the barrel

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With much fanfare, the San Francisco Brewers Guild annual SF Beer Week popped its cork at the Concourse last Friday night, and the Bay Area has been awash in a tsunami of beer ever since.

Unable to attend the grand gala opening celebration, I got the lowdown from beer-tasting buddy Cee Jay, who took a few for the team in his quest for the perfect snifter of suds and got him to wax eloquent on Sierra Nevada’s new line of barrel-aged beers (“The barrel-aged Bigfoot is the tastiest brew I’ve had in a long time,” he gushed) and weigh in on the collaboratively-brewed Brewers Guild malt liquor Green Death -- a brew apparently inspired by one of my secret nostalgic faves Rainer ale, a dubious beverage I have fond albeit very fuzzy memories of. One this subject Cee Jay vacillated between calling it “well-balanced” yet possessed of a “split personality,” code words for “he don’t like it” (decide for yourself at the “Meet the Brewers” event at Speakeasy on February 13).

As I peruse the schedule for the week ahead, all I can say is “thank goodness beer week lasts 10 days”. Because otherwise I don’t know how I’d fit in all the beers that sound too good to pass up.

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Celebrate Black History Month with four days of sf|noir food and drink

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This month, you can observe Black History Month by attending a filmmaking discussion, a childrens dance class, by going to a lecture at USF -- check out this and this event rundown for inspiration. And given how food-oriented we are as a region, it was only natural that eventually you'd be able to eat and drink while celebrating African American heritage, not to mention the black culinary geniuses that add to it here in the Bay. 

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Can Yan noodle?

Martin Yan's M.Y. China and the upscale Hakkasan add to the Chinese scene

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Style-over-substance at popular restaurants grew old in my Los Angeles days. A pretty package matters little if food isn't excellent. In SF, we tend towards the other direction. Thank goodness for places like Gitane, Bix, Foreign Cinema, which manage both — a little style is welcome. With the entry of two new, upscale Chinese restaurants, we get style aplenty. One, the international Hakkasan chain, feels oh-so LA or NY, and the other, M.Y. China, is inside a mall (very Southern California) from famed chef Martin Yan.Read more »

Ride 'em

Real cowboys, tons of bees, and Thai House 530
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le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS "It's amazing how Ohio still exists," said Shawn Shine out of the blue. I think it was in Salt Lake City that an old woman, on her birthday, referred to him and my brother Phenomenon as "a couple of real cowboys" — and this made their day.Read more »

Southpaw

Spiced ribs and dreamy Natchez: the Mission BBQ makes a tasty comeback

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE As I've often bemoaned, finding authentic 'que outside of the Deep South is a rarity. Case in point: Southpaw opened late 2011 on Mission Street, a BBQ oasis of the gourmet kind, brewing its own beers in a couple in-house tanks. Welcoming staff and flaky catfish impressed me early on, but watery sauces and dry ribs and brisket deflated my BBQ dreams.Read more »

Quarterback sack

The huge plates at Celia's in San Rafael require a robust offense

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le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS Mz. Grizz is tall and beautiful with a gleam in her eyes that says both I have something funny to add and, if you put a football in her hands, I will knock you over like a freight train hitting bowling pins.

If we played tackle instead of flag football, she would lead the league in yardage and touchdowns, and probably a lot of people would quit. As it is, her area of dominance is the defensive line. And the bowling pins are the opposing team's O line.Read more »

Appetite: New year sips

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Ringing in the new year is all about celebratory imbibing, but the sometimes dreary days of January likewise call for a cheering pour. It’s a month of planning towards a new year, reaching out for fresh horizons… good reasons to have something quality in the glass, whatever the category. Here are a few worthy bottles, from sake, wine, whisky, even cocktail bitters.

BITTERS

Medicinal and mixable, the glut of bitters released the last few years has all but assured oversaturation. But Brooklyn Hemispherical Bitters ($21 per bottle) stands out. Made in Brooklyn, the focus is on seasonal flavors like popular Meyer lemon, rhubarb or Sriracha. Heat radiates from their savory-sweet blackberry mole or spicy charred pineapple bitters, or a brisk, bitter chill from Icelandic bitters. These are some of the more inventive, elegant bitters on the market. 

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Going down

Pozole meets clay pot

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le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS As we were walking to the car we decided: it was not only the best pozole, it was the best thing either of us had ever ate. I should have gone back and told her so, but when we'd left Sal the Pork Chop's penthouse sweet it was almost midnight and she was in her pajamas. She'd already fallen asleep in the middle of the season premier of "Downton Abbey," and we'd had to clear our throats and knock on her head after, just to say goodbye. It was a knockout pozole, really and truly.Read more »

Banchan, ramen, and squid innards

Intriguing Asian hotspots Muguboka, Ramen Shop, and Roku arouse the senses

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Authentic Asian cuisine of every category is one of California and the Bay Area's strengths, with constant new openings, including Richmond's mellow Daigo Sushi (www.daigosushi.com) and Szechuan outpost Chili House (www.chilihousesf.com). These three spots stand out for one (or a few) reasons.

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Island breezy

Tasting Jamaican at Back A Yard and Miss Ollie's

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virginia@bayguardian.com

APPETITE Although I'm not an island girl, I crave sorrel — that cinnamon-spiced, rosy-purple juice made from the petals of a sorrel plant — or multi-colored Scotch bonnet peppers, both common in the Caribbean and ideal together, the sorrel cooling off the pepper's scorching heat. One of my closest friends is Jamaican and we've been exploring local Caribbean food for years, despite the lack of abundant local options.Read more »