Food & Drink

Change of heart

The joys of Tartine
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le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com
CHEAP EATS It still says Carl's on the sidewalk in the doorway because that's what it used to be, and the light from the big scripted Carl's sign used to romanticize our windows. I was on the bottom (like I like it), and then Wayway lived upstairs from me, and Earl Butter lived on top of him. So anytime any of us looked out our windows, Guerrero and 18th, that was what we'd see: Carl's.
Ten years later, Wayway, having circled around the Mission, is back on that corner, haunting my old apartment (or vice versa), and Earl Butter still lives up top. Read more »

The Michelin men

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paulr@sfbg.com
Although the Michelin guide is no worse an offender than Zagat as a distant judge of our restaurants — its offices are farther away, but only because the guide is French and cannot be blamed for the relative remoteness of France — there is nonetheless something galling about the colonialism of outsiders' kiting in to assess us, then trumpeting their findings to the rest of the country and world as authority.
Zagat relies on a vox populi method, actually: its surveys reflect the views of hundreds of locals. Read more »

Charm latitudes

Cafe Claude
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paulr@sfbg.com
Presidents are so seldom intentionally funny that when a genuine wit makes it to the Oval Office, we (the people!) tend to notice and remember. As a quipster, John F. Kennedy is without peer in modern times, and while his crack that Washington, DC, is "a city of Northern charm and Southern efficiency" might not be his best line, it's still a pretty good one — not to mention useful for certain latter-day restaurant writers, who admire the deftly phrased paradox while being perennially fascinated by the truth embedded in it. Read more »

Carried away

Vik's Chaat Corner
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le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com
CHEAP EATS Over the years I have said goodbye to a lot of cool people in this paper. Haywire went to Maine. Moonpie went to Pittsburgh. Rube Roy went home. E.B. Matt became S.D. Matt. Johnny "Jack" Poetry I packed up and delivered to Idaho with my own two hands and old van and creaking heart. Birdbrain Brad went to Denmark. Satchel Paige the Pitcher, Thailand. Noah, J.C., Jason.
Now this ...
Oof, me and Carrie moved here together 16, 17 years ago, after the earthquake. Drove across the country in my ’71 LTD with all our stuff in the backseat and trunk. Read more »

Small change

Bruised, pitted, and withered leaves
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paulr@sfbg.com
Recently a colleague reminded me — in the course of a brief correspondence heavy on mutual commiseration (for what are writers if not commiserators?) — that while change is often deplorable, it also must be accepted. "Hate change, embrace change" was her pithy, I might even say her writerly, formulation. Read more »

Mild to wild

The Mandarin comforts of Ah Lin
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paulr@sfbg.com
"Mandarin" is a word that suggests a certain grandeur or even haughtiness. Mandarin English is the language of such pompmeisters as William F. Buckley Jr., George F. Will, and all those other East Coast bow-tied toffs with Roman numerals after their names. As for mandarin food: if you are enjoying this style of Chinese cooking, you must sit up straight, keep your napkin in your lap, and not eat with your fingers. Can you see Buckley or Will eating pot stickers with their fingers?
Perhaps that is a needlessly nightmarish image. Read more »

Unlearnt

El Tepa
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le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com
CHEAP EATS I was serious when I said my nephew the Gun was invisible. The waiterguyperson came to our table with three menus, gave one to me and one to Cousin Lora, and then looked around confused, like what was he doing with three menus?
He turned and walked away with the third. My nephew looked at my menu with me.
Then a waitressperson came to our table and said, "Drinks?"
"Coffee," we all said, one at a time, very clearly. Read more »

Without Reservations

Earth in the goblet
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paulr@sfbg.com
Many of us have now accepted that the real benefit of sustainable agriculture — whether organic or biodynamic — is, er, sustainability. A globe less beleaguered by pesticides, run-off, and soil exhausted by monoculture is a globe more likely to support life in the future. Read more »

In the family way

Lombardi's Fine Foods
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paulr@sfbg.com
When last I saw John Lombardo, proprietor of Lombardo's Fine Foods, he was hurrying along the sidewalk outside the windows of his recently expanded Mission Terrace operation — a café now adjoins the catering kitchen — on his way home to ... change the baby's diapers? He had revealed to us his domestic mission, with apologies and having first checked to make sure we were satisfied with our food, and it is some measure of how satisfied we were that I forgot why he said he was rushing forth almost as soon as he'd said why. Read more »

Twisted logos

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le_chicken_farmer@yahoo.com
CHEAP EATS I wear a jean jacket with Chief Wahoo, the not exactly politically sensitive Cleveland Indians' logo, embroidered on the back. Not sure what people behind me think of this, but here's what I'm thinking from inside the jacket: warmth. And meaningfulness, because I embroidered this jacket myself when I was a kid. I was into sports, and I was into embroidery (and needlepoint and macramé). Read more »