Food & Drink

Jang Soo BBQ

Tongs: a study in indispensability
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paulr@sfbg.com

You won't find kimchee mousse on the menu at Jang Soo BBQ, but that's not a criticism, since you probably won't find it on any menu in town. Korean cooking, despite its many charms — could it be the most winning of the spicy cuisines? — has so far resisted the dressing-up that has given a Cali-French gloss to food traditions from around the globe. If you're eating Korean food here, you're almost certainly in a traditional Korean barbecue joint, with a grill (charcoal or gas, lighted or not) in the middle of your table. Read more »

Cousin, cuisine

Eat This! 1001 Things to Eat before You Diet
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Given the state of English food, it should not surprise us that English food writers are either embittered and caustic or looking for a way out of their mildewed isles. In the latter group we find Ian Jackman, who hopped the pond hither 15 years ago and has now published a book, Eat This! 1001 Things to Eat before You Diet (Harper, $14.95 paper). Read more »

Home sweet home

If all goes as planned, tomorrow we will wake up near an unpronounceable, unspellable tidal river
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le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS First windmills we saw were in Wyoming, and I was in the back of the van writing about Don Quixote. So that was cool. I like stuff like that. Then in Nebraska it was my turn to drive and we went through a tornado. It was just getting dark out, and at first this was amazing. Lightning was everywhere all at once — not just bolts but balls and flowers and roadmaps. Explosions of pure pyromania, like fireworks or a war zone. One of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.

I was in the van by myself. Read more »

Mission Beach Cafe

Beach boys
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By Paul Reidinger

paulr@sfbg.com

Pending the results of the next big earthquake, the Mission remains beachless, unless we count rooftops and the southwest corner of Dolores Park. No summertime water there, other than from the lawn sprinklers, but plenty of ephebes in Speedos for your voyeuristic pleasure. Maybe we shouldn't fixate on water, anyway. Read more »

All the President's polyps

A bumper crop of precancerous growth
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Last week's joke was that while Dick Cheney was in the hospital, having the tires on his pacemaker rotated, he temporarily transferred the powers of the presidency to George W. Bush. This is clever, but Mr. Bigdee's imperial vice presidency is otherwise no laughing matter. Bush himself, meanwhile, having failed as a warlord, seems to be donning the mantle of laughingstock. Recently his intestinal polyps were much in the news. Read more »

The horse's mouth

Willie Bird's Restaurant
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le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS My favorite novel is Don Quixote. I've been reading it since I was three. Or so. Over and over and over and over. But I'd never seen Man of La Mancha, even though it was Crawdad de la Cooter's favorite musical. On road trips, we would listen to her old tape over and over, singing along, dreaming the impossible dream, and so on.

Then I saw Man of La Mancha. Read more »

Farina Focaccia and Cucina Italiana

The watch zone
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paulr@sfbg.com

Imagine a restaurant situated inside a bottle of sparkling water, and you will have a working sense of Farina Focaccia and Cucina Italiana, the latest entry along 18th Street's burgeoning food row in the Mistro. The Italians, in their inimitable way, refer to sparkling water as con gas, and Farina is an Italian restaurant — a Ligurian-influenced restaurant, to be precise, which means it's not quite a head-on rival to Delfina, a few steps away. Read more »

Basil rides again

A particular leafy abundance
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Now is the season of our wondering what to do with all the basil. Basil has been particularly abundant this summer and of notably higher quality than the last few years, so we can't say the droughty winter was a complete bust. All the summertime crops, in fact — from stone fruit to melons to tomatoes and beyond — have seemed especially sweet and full lately.

If we are facing a surfeit of basil, this almost certainly means we are facing an associated surfeit of tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, and eggplant. Read more »

Are you game?

Learning to eat like aboriginals with Where People Feast: An Indigenous People's Cookbook
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› paulr@sfbg.com

Nutritional revelation reaches the public consciousness these days as a kind of fireworks, erratic alternations of bomb blasts and star bursts, terror and jubilation (eggs are bad; no, they're good!) — but amid the flash and smoke, an understanding does grow stronger. The understanding is that a healthy diet for our kind is some version of the hunter-gatherer diet, which we've evolved to thrive on. Read more »

The Dining Room

How the Ritz-Carlton saved civilization
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paulr@sfbg.com

Ritz sounds a lot like rich, and you might well catch a glimpse of some rich people as you make your way toward the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, where you have taken care to make a reservation. You might see them, financiers and captains of industry with entourages of family, debouching from black Lincoln Town Cars in front of the hotel, a colonnaded fortress of marble that sits like the Parthenon on an outlier of Nob Hill. Read more »