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Jessica Battilana

Liza Shaw is obsessed with Sparkling Sake

I got turned on to sparkling sake when I was in Tokyo last fall to do a spot-check on the A16 there, which opened in September. I go three or four times a year to talk to the cooks about new recipes and see how things are running. We were at this yakitori place in Ginza, some seriously down and dirty spot that’s a celebration of the chicken. They put all parts of the chicken on a skewer—tail, neck, gizzards. But we started the meal with sparkling sake, and that’s how I got introduced to it.

Why Brunch is for Suckers

I'm not really a breakfast person. Rather, I am not a going out to breakfast person. Nothing irritates me more then waiting on line, early on a weekend morning, to eat overpriced eggs and cold toast. Like Peter Meehan wrote today, "I think there’s value in putting money aside to go out to a place that's doing something cool rather than overpaying for a meal that's better at home." He was talking about homeburgers—hamburgers made at home—but he could just as easily been talking about pancakes, fried egg sandwiches and home fries.

Eat It: St. Patty's Day, Sake Tasting and Suckling Pig


St. Patrick’s Day at Orson
You could go to a rowdy pub and get splashed with green beer, or you could opt for a kinder, gentler celebration at Orson, where the menu will include beer-and-cheddar soup with soda bread crackers, corned beef and cabbage and coffee parfaits with whisky-chocolate centers. The meal is $55 (plus optional beer pairings); call 415-777-1508 to make last-minute reservations.

On Restaurant Magic

Last weekend I had a great meal at Church & State in Los Angeles. My dining companions and I sat there, in the center of the dining room amidst a swirl of activity, and I felt the happiest I'd been in a restaurant in quite some time. Everything was great—great energy, smart servers, terrific food—but there was also some indescribable brilliance that made that spot feel special. Restaurants—even good restaurants—don't always have this magic ingredient, and while we worked out way through bacalao fritters, escargot, perfect John Dory, we tried to figure out what it was.

Eat It: Cheese, Bees and Slaughter City

A Cheesy Book Release
Gordan Edgar, the cheesemonger of Rainbow Grocery, will celebrate the release of his new book, Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge, with a party at Amnesia Bar on March 13 at 6:30 p.m.

First Bite: The (re)Birth of Marlowe

Ah, if only all transformations could as be as seemingly effortless as Madonna's. From Like a Virgin to Blonde Ambition, that lady made it all look so easy. The reality of reinvention, of course, is much trickier, particularly for restaurants, who are now getting into the game with increasing frequency. Marlowe reopened in mid-February after transitioning from their previous incarnation as the South Food and Wine Bar. Though Anna Weinberg is still owner, her partnership with celeb chef (and Virgin Airlines consultant) Luke Mangan is no longer, nor does the Australian-inflected menu remain (let's all take a moment to mourn the loss of South's licorice-lime dessert, shall we?).

Eat It: Moonshine, Spit-Roasted Pig and Food Photography

Moonshine Demystified at Elixir’s Cocktail Club
On March 4 Elixir will be hosting their cocktail club from 7 to 9 pm. Taste the spirits that go into Elixir’s drinks while Max Watman, author of Chasing the White Dog, shares his moonshine expertise.

Fremont Diner: Fried Chicken, Pies and More

I basically starved myself in preparation for judging Cochon 555 at Silverado Resort on Sunday. By the time the plates of food came trickling into judge's chambers round about 5 p.m., I was ravenous. I played it safe, though, sampling bites from the bites, trying not to get full before the arrival of Devin Knell's pork paté set on a perfect rectangle of pistachio genoise and Dennis Lee's ssäm. Somehow, miraculously, I made it through unscathed. You know what took the toll? The free-flowing whiskey. Figures.

Eat It: Oysters, Pork and Sake Galore

Swap Cookbooks at 18 Reasons
If your shelves are groaning under the weight of cookbooks you never use, head to the cookbook swap at 18 Reasons on Thursday, February 25, between 7 and 9 p.m., and trade the old for the new. You can take as many as you bring, and admission is only $5.

Rabbit: It's What's For Dinner

There is so very little to celebrate the last Monday in February. Long weekends behind us for the foreseeable future, the weather still not quite cooperating, caught between winter food and spring food. In other words, I know you don't have plans on February 22, so you should certainly plan to attend EAST MEATS WEST, a collaborative rabbit themed dinner cooked (and hosted) by Bar Tartine chef Chris Kronner and Sean Rembold, chef of Diner in Brooklyn. Meatpaper has spearheaded the collaboration, and this is the second in a series (the first was hosted at Diner back in November). This is truly a once-in-a-long-while happening and promises to be a fun and festive evening.

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