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Robin Rinaldi

Hot in the Kitchen

Yesterday I was watching a rerun of Top Chef in which Stockton line cook Michael Midgley won an elimination challenge with a luscious-looking pairing of trout and salmon ensconced in a melange of vegetables. Midgley is pudgy, a bit unkempt, and in this episode he had just had emergency dental surgery, so his cheek was swollen and red. But as he layered the disk of trout against the steaming salmon, this perennial truth re-occurred to me:

There’s nothing quite as hot as a man who knows how to cook.

Pasta My Heart

I know I write about pasta a lot. But as they old saying goes: Write what you know.

Hottest Dog in Town


Photo by Stefanie Michejda.

Earlier this week I went to B Restaurant & Bar, the new, glass-enclosed restaurant/lounge in Yerba Buena Gardens just next to Samovar. It’s the third outpost of Boxed Foods on Kearny, a Hartle Media lunchtime favorite with its super-fresh, delicately dressed organic salads and inventive takes on traditional sandwiches.

GATOR-IFIC


Gator's gumbo.

Soul food. Those two words go so well together. Down in San Mateo (a nice little drive to a walkable and charming Main Street when you feel like getting out of the city for the evening), chef Glenn “Gator” Thompson, an Oakland native, recently opened Gator's Neo-Soul Café. The new space is airy, modern, very warm. Last Friday, a lone musician sang the blues at just the right volume throughout the meal. And if you sit at the chef’s counter abutting the open kitchen, Gator will likely come chat you up.

Sometimes You Feel Like a 'Nut


Photograph courtesy of Scott Peterson

People continually ask me what my favorite restaurant in the city is, and I’m always at a loss to answer. I have favorite diners, favorite pizza joints, favorite five-stars, favorite neighborhood spots, favorite classics, favorite newcomers, and finally, the most important and difficult category: favorite places to take visiting out-of-towners.

Carnivorous Knowledge

Don’t go to Espetus, the Brazilian steakhouse on Market Street at Gough, unless you’re starving, because you’re in for a fixed-price, all-you-can-eat session of marathon meat-eating, which stomach needs to be empty to fully enjoy. There is no menu and no ordering. I suggest starting with a glass of sangria or a caipirinha before heading up to the salad bar, where you’ll find soup, paella and roasted potatoes in addition to fresh vegetables. With your drink, the Gaucho-styled waiters deliver a coaster-sized chip colored red on one side, green on the other. Keep the green side up, and the waiters will come to your table bearing huge skewers of meat fresh from the fire in a continual revolving feast.

Sweet Charity


Clockwise from top left: Des Jardins, Florence, Bloomfield, Williams-Sonoma founder Chuck Williams (who'll be honored at the dinner), Keller, Falkner, Fox, Cosentino.


I’m a big believer that more is more. Though it’s fun, and often revelatory, to go to a restaurant and enjoy a particular chef’s talents, it’s even more fun to eat your way through an event that combines the efforts of, say, seven of the country’s best chefs.

East of Eden


Now is the time of year when we East Coast expats begin to get homesick. Back in New England and the Tri-State Area, the evenings are balmy, the halter tops are emerging from storage and businesses are closing early on Fridays so everyone can get a head start for “the Shore”—where the water is warm enough to swim. Here, the fog is rolling in and we’re breaking out the fleece.

  
   The deck at Sam’s Chowder House.
   Photos by Kingmond Young.

Boulette's Feast


Boulettes’ salmon carpaccio with salt-cured capers.

I know our Eat + Drink editor, Sara Deseran, has written about Boulettes Larder in the Ferry Building, as have others. But since it’s not exactly a restaurant—more a combination of extremely high-end gourmet shop, takeout counter and, in the evening, private dining room—I for one didn’t know what to make of it until a few nights ago, when I attended a wine-pairing dinner hosted by Blackbird Vineyards. (See Jordan Mackay’s blog for more on Blackbird’s wines.)

Ceviche Redux


Greetings from Mexico...

I recently spent time in Zihuatanejo, a small fishing village on Mexico’s Pacific coast that has starred in two movies over the years: In When a Man Loves a Woman, it’s where Andy Garcia takes alcoholic wife Meg Ryan in an attempt to lengthen their denial, and in The Shawshank Redemption, it’s where innocent convict Tim Robbins escapes to start the rest of his life.
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