APPETITE Style-over-substance at popular restaurants grew old in my Los Angeles days. A pretty package matters little if food isn't excellent. In SF, we tend towards the other direction. Thank goodness for places like Gitane, Bix, Foreign Cinema, which manage both — a little style is welcome. With the entry of two new, upscale Chinese restaurants, we get style aplenty. One, the international Hakkasan chain, feels oh-so LA or NY, and the other, M.Y. China, is inside a mall (very Southern California) from famed chef Martin Yan.Read more »
CHEAP EATS "It's amazing how Ohio still exists," said Shawn Shine out of the blue. I think it was in Salt Lake City that an old woman, on her birthday, referred to him and my brother Phenomenon as "a couple of real cowboys" — and this made their day.Read more »
APPETITE As I've often bemoaned, finding authentic 'que outside of the Deep South is a rarity. Case in point: Southpaw opened late 2011 on Mission Street, a BBQ oasis of the gourmet kind, brewing its own beers in a couple in-house tanks. Welcoming staff and flaky catfish impressed me early on, but watery sauces and dry ribs and brisket deflated my BBQ dreams.Read more »
CHEAP EATS Mz. Grizz is tall and beautiful with a gleam in her eyes that says both I have something funny to add and, if you put a football in her hands, I will knock you over like a freight train hitting bowling pins.
If we played tackle instead of flag football, she would lead the league in yardage and touchdowns, and probably a lot of people would quit. As it is, her area of dominance is the defensive line. And the bowling pins are the opposing team's O line.Read more »
Ringing in the new year is all about celebratory imbibing, but the sometimes dreary days of January likewise call for a cheering pour. It’s a month of planning towards a new year, reaching out for fresh horizons… good reasons to have something quality in the glass, whatever the category. Here are a few worthy bottles, from sake, wine, whisky, even cocktail bitters.
Medicinal and mixable, the glut of bitters released the last few years has all but assured oversaturation. But Brooklyn Hemispherical Bitters ($21 per bottle) stands out. Made in Brooklyn, the focus is on seasonal flavors like popular Meyer lemon, rhubarb or Sriracha. Heat radiates from their savory-sweet blackberry mole or spicy charred pineapple bitters, or a brisk, bitter chill from Icelandic bitters. These are some of the more inventive, elegant bitters on the market.
CHEAP EATS As we were walking to the car we decided: it was not only the best pozole, it was the best thing either of us had ever ate. I should have gone back and told her so, but when we'd left Sal the Pork Chop's penthouse sweet it was almost midnight and she was in her pajamas. She'd already fallen asleep in the middle of the season premier of "Downton Abbey," and we'd had to clear our throats and knock on her head after, just to say goodbye. It was a knockout pozole, really and truly.Read more »
APPETITE Authentic Asian cuisine of every category is one of California and the Bay Area's strengths, with constant new openings, including Richmond's mellow Daigo Sushi (www.daigosushi.com) and Szechuan outpost Chili House (www.chilihousesf.com). These three spots stand out for one (or a few) reasons.
APPETITE Although I'm not an island girl, I crave sorrel — that cinnamon-spiced, rosy-purple juice made from the petals of a sorrel plant — or multi-colored Scotch bonnet peppers, both common in the Caribbean and ideal together, the sorrel cooling off the pepper's scorching heat. One of my closest friends is Jamaican and we've been exploring local Caribbean food for years, despite the lack of abundant local options.Read more »
Imagine if the Wild West collided with a European village. There might be winding, narrow streets through neighboring towns, plotting through pine trees. Old West saloons, wood sidewalks and columns, classic homes in walkable small towns. Not far from Lake Tahoe, at the foothills of the Sierra Mountains, there are two such tiny towns. The Gold Country towns of Grass Valley, a charming, relaxed Old West town, and its sister merely four miles away, Nevada City, the smaller, more funky-artsy and visually striking of the two. Historically, I'd trek 30 minutes off the 80 on the way back from Lake Tahoe to spend an afternoon in these towns, particularly when fall leaves are at their peak. This fall, I decided to spend the weekend here instead of Tahoe - and a restorative weekend it was.
While you're in Grass Valley, foodies and cooks don't miss Tess' Kitchen Store, three floors of every cooking accoutrement you can think of, and Back Porch Market, a small but well-curated gourmet deli of cheese, salumi, wine and gourmet foods (P.S. inhaling the house pasta sauce cooking as you enter is intoxicating).