Food & Drink

FEAST: 6 all-you-can-eat buffets

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If I have an Achilles heel when it comes to dining out, it is a persistent inability to make up my mind about the entrée. Who can ever pick just one? Wouldn't that seafood linguine be pleasantly enhanced with just a morsel of roasted quail? Isn't the fun of eating Chinese food in passing the plates around so everyone gets to try everything? Happily for my hardwired grazing gene, there is a contingent of restaurants in the Bay Area that cater to my need to nosh, with fixed-price all-you-can eat buffets. Read more »

Still Waters

Tracing the rise of Alice Waters
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If you come away from Thomas McNamee's riveting new book, Alice Waters and Chez Panisse: The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution (Penguin Press, $27.95), not sure whether you've just read the story of a woman or a restaurant, do not panic. You have read both, the twist being that the two tales are so embraided as to become one. Read more »

Dine Listings

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Welcome to our dining listings, a detailed guide by neighborhood of some great places to grab a bite, hang out with friends, or impress the ones you love with thorough knowledge of this delectable city. Restaurants are reviewed by Paul Reidinger (PR) or staff. Read more »

Spam reconsidered

Eva's Hawaiian Cafe
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paulr@sfbg.com

We can't quite say that spam has become a blight, since it was widely unloved (except for the Monty Python bit) even before the word's great shift in meaning. Everyone hates the new spam — except, I suppose, the spammers themselves, forever importuning the e-mail world on behalf of the mysterious Fifth Third Bank — but the old spam had a good deal to say, much of it unpretty, about America. Read more »

Taking the heat

Papolote Mexican Grill
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le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS Sockywonk lost her mouth on account of the chemo. We were sitting around wondering about lunch, which is one of my three favorite things to wonder about, and she said (and I quote): "I wonder if I have my mouth back."

I looked up from my prayer book, or food journal, and asked, "Excuse me?"

"I wonder if I can handle the salsa at Papalote," she said. She's been off the sauce for a couple months and off chemo now for maybe one month. Read more »

It's the chalk

Soil makes the wine
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When we think of white wine, we think of many things — Brie, student-faculty mixers, summer picnics sur l'herbe, grilled fish — but chalk is generally not among them. Chalk would not seem to have much to do with food and drink at all, except as a means to write the day's specials on those little blackboards restaurants sometimes hang on the wall or prop up outside the front door. Read more »

Mythic pizza

Gialina
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paulr@sfbg.com

The perfect pizza, like its near relations the perfect golf shot, the perfect holiday, and the perfect sentence, is an apparition of memory. We all have some recollection of a pie (or three-wood from the rough to within 10 feet of the pin) that achieved sublimity. We might have eaten this pie in Rome or Naples, on Chestnut Street or Columbus Avenue, or even in our own kitchen. Read more »

Such a woman

Boudin Bakery
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le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS Cousin Raym is a doctor and works at Kent State. He gets to come to San Francisco for conferences, and I get to take him around for sushi, and clam chowder in a sourdough bowl, and all the things he loves that you can't get in Ohio. Good sushi, I mean. This has happened two years in a row, and that means he has seen me more than anyone else in my family who doesn't live here.

Raym is 50 years old and still plays tackle football. We tried his hand — or feet — at soccer, and he didn't get a lot done but did have fun. Read more »

On grappka

Grape vodka?
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A small peeve of mine is grappa served at or near room temperature, as if it's cough syrup. Perhaps I am churlish to complain about tepid grappa when having the chance to order grappa at all is a rare treat; even many Italian restaurants don't offer it. On the other hand, ice-cold grappa is simply sublime — at least for those of us who find it so — and keeping the bottle stashed in the freezer under the bar doesn't seem like a terrible burden. Read more »

Golden nugget

Ziryab
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paulr@sfbg.com

New restaurants, like trees and kings, have a way of rising from the remains of fallen ones: the restaurant is dead, long live the restaurant. This only makes sense. In the typical hermit-crab situation, a kitchen of some kind is already in place, there might also be some serviceable tables and chairs, and the permit jabberwocky will be slightly less daunting. Easier all the way around.

But this is not the only means of passing fortune's baton. Read more »