Food & Drink

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 »

Lonely enough

Taqueria San Jose
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le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS I don't even know the name of this river. Three, four, maybe more years in a row we've been coming here, and the women bring magazines. My brother and Wayway and Jolly Boy go fishing and don't catch fish. I sit on the rocks with a pen and don't catch poetry.

At the bottom of the river, on a slimy rock, sits a barrel-shaped bug with four black legs sticking out of its head, an off-center orange dot, and — I swear — barnacles ...

Nature is so punk! Read more »

La Salette

Gettin' figgy
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paulr@sfbg.com

Is Portugal the most isolated country in Europe? It's certainly competitive. It is the sidekick land of the Iberian peninsula, itself a geographical curiosity barely connected to the rest of the continent by a mountainous isthmus. Iberia's big bruiser is Spain, of course, and the Iberian siblings are strikingly similar in language, history, and of course, cuisine. But whereas Spain looks both outward to the Atlantic and inward to the Mediterranean basin, much of which it ruled not so long ago, Portugal looks on the Atlantic only. Read more »