Eat + Drink
I had hoped to have a report on Contraband or Ma*Velous today, but neither was open to the public when we stopped by earlier this week. (According to Ma*Velous publicist Claudia Juestel, its a permitting matter. It's always a permitting matter. Every new cafe struggles with permitting, and it always takes longer than expected.) In the interim, I thought I'd look at some interesting coffee news from around the Bay this week including, yes, Blue Bottle and Dolores Park.
Each week, we bring you our top picks for the best places to booze on the cheap in SF.
1. SFAQ Symposium: The San Francisco Arts Quarterly, described as a hybrid of a newspaper and an arts calendar, is releasing its latest issue with a celebration on Saturday. With a free wine tasting from 5-6, and an open bar from 7-10, the atmosphere should be very celebratory indeed. They'll also have talks, live music from the Birds & Batteries and Holy Shit, and snacks from Georges. (Saturday, November 13, 5-10 pm, at the San Francisco Art Institute, 800 Chestnut St., North Beach.)
Firestone Walker, the popular brewery based in Paso Robles, turns 14 this year. Since 2006 (their tenth anniversary), they've been brewing a barrel-aged beer each November, enlisting a group of vintners from the nearby Santa Ynez wine country to help them formulate the perfect blend. The 14th Anniversary edition was released at the brewery on November 6, and the celebration continues tonight at Toronado, with brewery representatives on hand.
Cotogna Opens in Jackson Square
After a long wait, chef Michael Tusk has at long last opened Cotogna, his rustic trattoria concept next door to Quince. Expect plenty of pasta, along with grilled dishes prepared on a wood-burning rotisserie and grill (the only one of its kind in the States) and a prix fixe wine list curated by David Lynch, with every bottle ringing in at $40. The restaurant is open for dinner Monday through Saturday.
Food for Thought Dine About
If you're looking for an excuse to go out to dinner tonight, we've got a great one. Dine at any one of the 35 Mission restaurants participating in Food for Thought, and 25 percent of your bill will be donated to Mission Graduates, a nonprofit that helps Mission high school students prepare for college.
Now that Michael Mina has moved into the old Aqua space, I got a chance to dine there the other night. For Mina fans, it's a true second coming. You should have overheard the reverent foursome at the next table over from me who practically passed out when Mina, the man/the legend, walked over on water to greet them.
And though there was a whirlwind of activity going on around me (the servers might be wearing jeans and a bottle of self-serve water might be set on your table, but that doesn't mean the old tableside service is over), I became particularly fixated on the beautiful plates.
This Friday, November 12th, is World Pneumonia Day. Against all odds, pneumonia--not AIDS or malaria--is the world's biggest child killer. Yet it can be prevented with a simple $10 vaccination. Join the worldwide effort to purchase billions of doses of proper vaccinations to give to children in developing countries at tonight's event, Pneumonia's Last Syrah in Dogpatch Studios.
Paul Einbund is the wine director of the Slanted Door restaurant group. He's also worked as the sommelier at Frances, Coi and more. Look for him here every Tuesday. Follow him on Twitter @pauleinbund.
Americans have historically been the largest market for Madeira wines in the world. Now most of us only know the stuff as cooking wine. All this is a’changing!
Bartenders and mixologists have reached new heights of acclaim over the past few years, with countless books and articles elevating the work of fancy cocktail-slingers and dive-bar beer-pourers alike. Yet one key component of a bar's operation remains unsung: the barback. These hardworking folks serve as the prep cooks to the bartender's chef, keeping them in limes, ice, and kegs during the busiest hours-- all while enduring the death stares of waiting patrons who don't realize that they're not allowed to serve them.
While you were going about your business last month, Michael Mina opened two—that's right—two new restaurants in San Francisco. To put this in perspective, these are his 17 and 18th properties—Mina opens restaurants the way some people change hair-dos.