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Sara Deseran

Hot 20 2009: Hans Robertson, Sanjit Biswas and John Bicket, Founders of Meraki

Photography by Bryan Davis.

Next time you’re on a desert island and can send out an SOS via email, you might want to thank Meraki. The SF-based company, launched in 2006 by three former MIT grad students, has since brought affordable wireless Internet service to more 140 countries, from places such as Cape Horn on the tip of South America to SF’s City Hall. They’ve even been responsible for making sure movie stars have Wi-Fi connections while on sets as remote as Tropic Thunder’s, which was filmed in the rain forest of Kauai.

Hot 20 2009: James Syhabout, Chef-Owner of Commis

Photography by John Lee.

Chef James Syhabout’s timing is spot-on. Just as the recession has people questioning fine-dining, he’s redefined it with Commis, his tiny three-month-old restaurant set in his native Oakland. Commis’ food is four-star exquisite, but the prix-fixe menu stops at three courses. There are neither tablecloths nor pretensions. The open kitchen’s counter allows patrons to sit within feet of Syhabout and his small team, as they meticulously prepare California-fresh dishes that are rooted in classic technique, such as smoked sardines with green-tomato confit in rhubarb juice, or roasted chicken paired with porcinis emulsified with foie gras.

Lunch Hour


Summertime makes me feel fine.

This is what I did Friday. I worked from home on our upcoming August food issue and when I thought I couldn’t stand to look at my computer any longer, I made lunch.

Lunch was Bubalus Bubalis fresh mozzarella [realmozzarella.com] made from the milk of water buffalo raised in California (and sold at Tomales Bay Foods). It tastes nothing like the tasteless, rubbery fresh mozzarella you can normally find—the taste is rich and it has a soft, almost spreadable texture.

The Sweet (and Sour) Taste of Victory


Hard-won cherries.

There are times when shopping at the farmers market is an urbanite’s bucolic fantasy, and there are times when it’s a blood sport—requiring NASCAR driving skills, sharp elbows and unrelenting greed. I participated in the latter style of shopping last Saturday at the Alemany Farmers Market. All in the name of my mother.

Hot Chick


Picadillos at Piqueo's

Killing Me Softly


Joan’s on Third's veggie sandwich.

I sit within an arm’s reach of our arts and entertainment editor, Melissa Goldstein, and she feeds me the latest music—most recently a bunch of local bands that we’re featuring in our upcoming July entertainment issue. Of these, Von Iva is now on heavy Nano rotation. The rocking three-woman, PJ Harvey-esque band, has an upcoming August release, Our Own Island, and the first track, “L.A. L.A.,” has the refrain:

I Heart Strawberries


Summer of Love: Strawberries.

The Food Bank

Known as a bit of a space-case among friends, the one thing I can confidently say is that I have a sharp mind for food—which is good for this job and bad for bills, dates, cool indie music trivia, star sightings and most else. I can recall the most obscure things I’ve eaten with an exactitude that isn’t necessarily as impressive as it is a bit weird. I suppose though, the result is that my mind if full of delicious food. Things could be worse.

Added to the food memory bank, as of last week, are two dishes that I’ve had nothing quite like before and want to have a lot more of right now:

The Discovery Channel


Andrea Arria Devoe, friend and Daily Candy editor,
enjoys a bowl of the spicy tofu ramen.

Should one ever think that they’ve “discovered” a place in San Francisco—say, a tiny slice of a restaurant along a touristy stretch of Geary Street, a little Japanese spot that happens to have a ramen menu buried amongst a menu of many other things—they will always find that they have, in fact, “discovered” nothing as soon as they look on Yelp and find 72 (yes, 72!) postings on that exact “discovery.”

Tuesdays with Tori

Along the information highway, there are endless recipe stops, so it’s nice when someone takes control of the wheel and lets you kick back.

Tori Ritchie (my former boss from my days back at SF mag, the author of many cookbooks, the former host of Ultimate Kitchens on the Food Network and a regular guest cook on CBS’s Early Show), has just launched Tuesday Recipe, a website that’s very much like Tori herself: to the point, decidedly unfrou-frou and refreshingly free of bells and whistles.
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