Butchers are having their day, but what about the age-old profession of the fishmonger?
It’s not a secret that chefs aren’t the only rock stars in San Francisco’s food world.
A proper groupie will swoon over a butcher, a baker, a bartender, a barista. Even a pickler here has a fighting chance if the tattoos are right. Roll your eyes, but this fanaticism has encouraged a younger generation to re-embrace old-world trades.
The restaurant question we get asked more than anything is definitely: "Where should we go for my friend's birthday party?" Generally speaking, the situation involves a party of 10, more than a party of 200, but this restaurant short-list can accomodate a wide scope of food preferences, ambiance and number of people. Since we're of the mindset that hard booze never hurts, we've put a star by the restaurants with a full bar. Go ahead now: Celebrate good times. Common!
I've been thinking about this lately: Are restaurants here ever going to get to the point where they don't feel its necessary to name drop farms—or at the very least put disclaimers (or claimers, in this case) stating that their ingredients are sourced from the local and organic? Will it ever become just an assumption?
In a very Obama-esque move, the SF Chronicle's critic and food editor Michael Bauer is bringing Eater editor Paolo Lucchesi to work for him. Hillary (ahem) … Lucchesi, who has infused Eater with a good sense of fun since it launched in San Francisco, will be missed, but he certainly will spice up the paper's online presence—something it could definitely use. Bauer is a smart man. The biggest question though is what should we call Mr. Lucchesi now? The Paolorizer? The Big Easy? The Italian Job? Let me know.
If San Francisco's restaurant world was a high-school cafeteria, there would be one table in the middle where the cool kids sit: This table perpetually has seats reserved for the Delfinas, the Zunis, the A16s, the Slanted Doors.
But we (and I include myself in this) so often forget about restaurants on the periphery—the wallflowers, the Duckies (am I dating myself with this reference?). The restaurants that open quietly, in true neighborhood spirit. They often don't have a publicist or even … a website. There are plenty of these establishments, and in 7x7's ongoing quest to bring to you the latest and greatest, I unfortunately rarely find the time to patronize them.
The rain, the cold, the grey: Instead of running away from it, last week I embraced it and headed up to Tomales Bay which, to my mind, is best experienced in the winter. The crowds are gone, fields of hot yellow mustard flowers pop off the mottled grey sky, the bay is calm and moody and the oyster-eating is very, very fine. Add a fire to this scenario and the word hunker suddenly doesn't seem so silly after all.
Here's the escape plan:
The James Beard Foundation announced the James Beard Awards semifinalists for restaurants and chefs today. Like the Academy Awards, there are always some nominees that make me go, Hmmmm. For the Best New Restaurant category, as lovely as it is, Frances seems incredibly new. Acquerello for wine service (and Outstanding Service service) but not RN74? Then there's the sad fact of Ubuntu.
How could I forget that today is Fat Tuesday? Clearly I've completely lost my Louisiana roots. In a panic, I looked up what's left to be hand: Arizmendi Bakery's king's cakes are sold out, the Mardi Gras celebration at Town Hall? Sold out too. But, ah, who would have thunk? The Republic is ringing in Lent with a Mardi Gras party tonight. Their chef Ronnie New is from the Big Easy and he'll be making barbecued shrimp (which was my request for every birthday dinner I ever had growing up in Baton Rouge) and some classic gumbo. Hurricanes as well as Abita beer (both Purple Haza and Turbo Dog) is also available—another prerequisite. Starts at 4 pm and goes until 1 am.
I was having dinner the other night with one of the former cooks from Greens restaurant—Greens from back in the day, right after Deborah Madison left to go to Santa Fe. We were talking about its slightly scandalous, Zen Center, hippie past and what has grown out of it. I've often thought about how the free-loving movement (which really encompassed Chez Panisse too) has made "California cuisine" what it is today to a large extent. The farm-centric menus. The tofu.
Of course, most hippie values are old-fashioned values you see in back-to-the-land movements. Farmers are not the hot new thing, for the record. Nor are fresh chicken eggs or composting.
I love the Big Eat. It elicits such strong reactions from people. The latest one I stumbled on is from yesterday on Mission Mission. "Fuck yeah! The Mission dominated this year’s 7×7 2010 Big Eat SF with 26% of the 100 recommended restaurants. Take that, Hayes Valley!" I love the statistics of it all.