Food & Drink

Practical aggression

Chilli Cha Cha
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le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS The reason I keep a dream journal is not because I think my dreams mean anything. It's because where else do you get to write a sentence like He's always so brittle when he comes back to life and not even blink?

Cheap Eats!!!

This week's dreamy food-for-all begins on the baseball field. Big Rec, Golden Gate Park. A beautiful summery day for July or August. For early February, it was surreal. Read more »

When the lights go down

Why are menus so hard to read?
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Now that our winter festivals have ended, taking their candle-lighting rituals with them, we are left with winter's deep and early darkness. We are left with it even in restaurants, many of which seem to be increasingly dim and shadowy, and how are you supposed to read a menu in such brown-out conditions? If you're lucky, your table is set with a votive candle, which you can pass back and forth, like boys in a tree house sharing a flashlight to ogle purloined porn. Read more »

See you in Assisi

Ristorante Umbria
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paulr@sfbg.com

Umbria is the center of Italy, pretty much, and that isn't an easy thing to be. The country has an unconcentric shape, for one thing: a long, booted shank poised to kick a lumpy ball called Sicily, with aloof Sardinia looking on and a curious glanslike flaring in the north, where the peninsula's long-ago collision with the rest of Europe raised the Alps. Italy is, like California, hot, snowy, mountainous, and flat; it is a land of butter, rice, pancetta, tomatoes, basil, and olive oil. It is close to Switzerland and Africa. Read more »

Reorientation

Little Thai
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le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS Earl Butter said it was the dumbest thing he'd ever heard, and that was when I knew I was back. I wish I could remember what I'd said, to mark the spot, something about ... something, I feel certain.

We were sitting around a couple of square tables in the back room at Mollie's truck stop, former home of the 12-egg omelet and current home of the only chicken-fried steak omelet that I know of. Read more »

Behold, a pale port

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While sipping my way through a barrel tasting last week, I came across something of a novelty: a California chardonnay port. White port isn't that unusual, of course; the Portuguese have been making fortified wines from white grapes and from red fermented off-skin for a long time. Still, when most of us think of port, we think of a ruby-colored, almost syrupy elixir, a few sips of which makes a lovely after-dinner drink and, with its sweetness, a good substitute for dessert.

The maker of the chardonnay port is VJB Vineyards, in Kenwood. Read more »

En plein air

Cole Valley's Zazie
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paulr@sfbg.com

If every neighborhood needs a neighborhood bistro, then every neighborhood bistro needs a neighborhood. And is there a neighborhood in the city more charmingly neighborhoody than Cole Valley, the little hamlet tucked in a cleft of the hills near UCSF and fitted out with every romantic accoutrement, from a railway station (Muni's N-Judah line stops at Cole and Carl after emerging from a mysterious tunnel) to a sunlit boulangerie with well-worn floorboards? Read more »

Missed connections

Yearning for Manzanita
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le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com

CHEAP EATS My new favorite songwriter is my old friend NFC, which BTW stands for "new friend Catherine," not National Football Conference. Of course, I sometimes call her Ms. Conference or National or Nat just to confuse matters. Read more »

Hot Green

The kale's the thing
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Kale: what is to be done? Yes, kale has its virtues: it's good for us (as indicated by its dark green color), it presents a variety of interesting textures, it isn't too expensive, and it turns up in winter, when our farmers markets are desolate. Still, kale is among the trickier leafy greens to handle. Read more »

The JonBenet Ramsey

A vigorous, pounding cocktail
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REVIEW So magical it is to be a six-year-old beauty pageant starlet! Whether it's vomiting backstage at Raven concerts, shooting free speed while having your nipples taped up, or getting "auditioned" on the hood of Tommy's PowerWheel, the list of privileged moments seems to never end. Read more »

A Tale of two malls

Out the Door and New Filipinas
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paulr@sfbg.com

Whether euphemism is entirely a separate language or just a dialect, we need translational efforts to understand what is really being said in its slippery idiom. When foreign ministers tell the media they have enjoyed "frank and cordial discussions," we peek behind the fluttering veil of words to see that they bitterly argued and threatened each other. Read more »