Good lord, the grape. Living in a world-class wine region (or rather, living so close to several) literally drenches one in delightful tannins and myriad notes of blackberry, chocolate, tobacco, apple, and plum. Read more »
French and Italian cuisines always get the raves; German food tends to get short shrift. It's usually called heavy, not comfort food, and beets, pickles, and sauerkraut aren't on the instant craving gratification list for most Americans. But they are for me. And while I've yet to sample a schnitzel as heavenly as I did last year in Leipzig, local interpretations of German cuisine are worthy competitors. Read more »
San Francisco is a city of the night. We like to go out late, stay out till early, and start our days when most other cities are half-finished with theirs. But if the city is ruled by the moon (and maybe some MDMA), the East Bay is ruled by the sun and not just because they actually get some. Sure, there are places in Berkeley and Oakland to go after dark, but our sisters across the water are places best experienced while clear yellow light is still shining through green trees onto wide streets lined with charming wooden houses or charming little breakfast spots. Read more »
It all starts innocently enough. One day you decide to order a mocha instead of your usual cappuccino; the next you grab a few Ghiradelli squares from the impulse aisle at Safeway. By the end of the week, you've blown your savings at Joseph Schmidt and are curled in a fetal position, watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on loop, stuffing your face with take-out pastries from Tartine. Scharffen Berger and Cocoa Bella are only the tip of the iceberg San Francisco is host to one of the premiere chocolate cultures of the world. Read more »
When I was a wee lad in the sun-baked Los Angeles Basin, my maternal grandparents fostered what would become a lifetime obsession: the cafeteria. Products of World War II, they were people who appreciated the value of simple food and low prices. Add the fact that they were Roman Catholic and had eight mouths to feed, and their philosophy was pretty much a necessity. This is how I was introduced to carving boards of meat, steaming casseroles, and endless ice trays filled with shiny, multicolored geutf8 jewels. Read more »
Think about it: every time you take a sip of Bordeaux, a fuzzy baby polar bear loses another drop of its habitat. Importing your party goods from overseas comes at a big fossil fuelspewing cost. If you want the good times to keep rolling into the next millennium, you won't have to suffer a bit. Just stick to Napa Valley wines and local microbrews and limit your fruit and veggie intake to the produce of local organic and sustainable farms. But what about some of the bulk items you keep in your kitchen? Read more »
Vanguards of the gastronomic West, we San Franciscans no longer teeter through establishments that struggle over cooking a steak or making a dry martini. Now it's heirloom this, house-made that. But yet, too often we find menu exoticism riding roughshod over care and competence. Go to a grill in Millbrae and you may sooner find mustard-encrusted salmon than a truly good burger; likewise, walk into a lounge in SoMa and you might see a bartender rolling up his sleeves to make a Thai-basil gimlet, only to then throw some Jameson into decaying java to pass off as an Irish coffee. Read more »
Some dates are sweet. You go to a nice restaurant with lacy tablecloths, order food that won't make your breath stink later, have polite conversation while shyly catching each other's eye over the rim of your wine glass, and hold hands tentatively as you walk to the car, wondering if you'll share a delicate kiss before you part ways for the night. But these aren't usually the dates I want. More often, I like my dates down and dirty, boozy and bawdy, or, at the very least, out of the ordinary. Read more »
CHEAP EATS While y'all were at Burning Man, I was in the bathtub. I was taking a bath. I was floating in a swimming pool with a mojito in one hand and a grilled hot sausage on a long fork in the other. I was walking in a fog.
I was eating a popsicle, running naked through sprinklers, stepping on worms.
I was listening to Elton John. In my room. Window open. I was eating salad and salad and salad. The greens were green and crisp, the tomatoes not quite ripe.
I was slicing white onions. I was eating white onions, raw, and hot peppers. Read more »
Let us now parse famous streets in particular, Chestnut and Union streets, those parallel avenues and venues of Marina culture, so near to yet far from each other. As someone who cannot be said to be a habitué of either promenade, I speak with the authority of the outworlder, the sporadic visitor whose perceptions are freshened by infrequency. Therefore: Chestnut Street seems to me to be peopled by post-collegiate sorts in their 20s, while Union Street, a few blocks up the hill, strikes me as more thirtysomething country. Read more »