Last week I had the pleasure of attending a remarkable meal put on by Des and Rob Denunzio, authors of the excellent Bay Area beer blog, Pfiff. The theme was “The Italian Modernists.” Now, I know little about beer and even less about Italian beer, but I do know that the wonderful southern European country has a great reputation for, well, wine. So the idea of an Italian beer tasting was intriguing, made even moreso by the fact that we would try 9 interesting and esoteric Italian beers, each matched with a different course.
Seeing as I grew up in the heart of Texas bbq country, I'd been eager to get in and try the fare at Wexler's, the new Financial District spot with cuisine "informed by" cooking traditions of the American South and Southwest. Now I knew better than to expect bbq itself, especially since last spring I took Wexler's chef Charlie Kleinman back to aforementioned home for an inspirational little two-day bbq tour, where I got familiar with Kleinman's concept, which is not easily summarized. Certainly "bbq-informed" is not the most romantic sounding culinary description. Luckily, none of that matters, as the final result speaks for itself. No, it's not bbq--not even close--but what I had was very good.
So burgers are definitely in the air around here. And while I was not invited to participate in selecting 7x7's 10 Best Burgers in the City, it's not like I don't have my opinions. But I'm not here to raise my hackles about what makes a quality burgers (I will say that I like 'em off a greasy griddle and always with extra pickles), but to celebrate them and what to drink with them. I've tried all manner of so-called "burger wines" (simple, quaffing, fruity reds) and I've had beer with a plethora of cocktails (margaritas, manhattans) and nothing, nothing matches up as well as a good old-fashioned beer. I know that's not exactly breaking news, but it's worth saying.
The Booze News is a roundup of pertinent or otherwise interesting drink-related stories from the media. I try to do it once a week.
There was a cocktail article over the weekend in the Chronicle called "Bars looking for more niches in cocktail lists." If not a good article, it was at least well-intentioned. I'm not sure what point the piece was trying to make, as the topics discussed have been floating around for several years, at least.
Well, I finally got around to watching Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations SF episode over the weekend. Now I am--like most everyone else--a big Bourdain fan. His unvarnished commentary and loose-cannon opinions are often a delight in the relentlessly enthusiastic and back-scratching world of food media. But how would I feel when those sights are trained on my beloved home, the SF Bay Area?
I sometimes joke about the habit of some serious modern bartenders to signify their profession by sporting moustaches, vests, cuffs and other physical accoutrements of a bygone age. You can see this on display here in town at places like Rickhouse, Bourbon and Branch and on various other "serious" bartenders in town. But, on the other hand, I also admire it. It's nice to see people with such professional pride, and I like the fact that their garb address the historical/conservational side of what they do, since many of them are celebrated more for their brands of innovative mixology.
After enjoying it regularly during the spell of great sunny weather we've been having (at least over here in the Dogpatch), I'm ready to come out and say it--the just-realeased Square One Botanical is bold, original, wonderfully delicious, and absolutely deserving of your attention.
A recent article in the Atlantic trumpets "The rise of BYOB." Lately in SF that phrase has taken on the meaning of Bring Your Own Bag, since farmers' markets have stopped offering plastic bags for shoppers. But more significantly the phrase means "Bring Your Own Bottle" and applies to restaurants that allow you to bring in the wine you want to drink. Often it's restaurants that don't have wine lists or liquor licenses of their own. As a practice, BYOB usually saves the diner money and allows him/her to drink bottles from their own collection.
With the SF Chefs.Food.Wine event it's another big weekend for San Francisco, as the Union Square area will be invaded by the hungry, the thirsty, and the people trying to feed them. Hopefully, it all goes down smoothly and happily.
There's a ton of great seminars happening throughout the weekend, so if you haven't examined the program, you should take a look. For instance, you might consider attending my Pinot Noir tasting and discussion tomorrow morning. Got winemakers/reps from some of the best Pinot producers in the state on my panel: Flowers, Tandem, Goldeneye, and Patz & Hall. At 10:30 AM, a little Pinot talk just the right way to ease into your day.