Eat + Drink
Who knows exactly why things suddenly become popular. You could blame it on the media (although, as of now, there's a one less media outlet to blame), or you could blame it on the power of suggestion—a chef sees something on a menu someplace, it lodges in his or her consciousness, and before you know it they've put it on the menu at their restaurant without even realizing. Think of it like seeds scattered in the wind, trends moving from coast to coast.
Yesterday I blind tasted a wine at RN74 with a couple of top sommeliers. It was light colored, obviously Pinot, probably Burgundy. Bright with perfume and fresh berry fruit flavors, the wine had punchy acidity, a lean body, and a bit of tannin. I guessed 1988 Chambolle--a lean, high acid year that also made lovely perfumed wines. The sommeliers guessed younger--2001 and 1996. We were all wrong, it turned out, but I was the closest. It was indeed Chambolle. Yet my vintage was off by 26 YEARS! The wine was a 1962.
According to Food52—started by Mrs. Latte herself, Amanda Hesser, along with Merrill Stubbs—the website/community was "created to celebrate the best cooks in the world: home cooks." It's the kind of site you submit your best stew with olives or your best fig recipe. Relatively down home.
Eric Asimov has a blog post today on The Ten Bells, his favorite Manhattan wine bar. His advocacy of this place really hit a mark, as it has been tweeted and re-tweeted all afternoon. What makes Ten Bells so cool? Well, the headline says it's a "place for wine without the lecture." Asimov adds that "the Ten Bells is just a great place to hang out" and that "perhaps most telling, you can always find a few people at the Ten Bells with no interest at all in wine."
I share Eric's appreciation for the unpretentious. What he wishes for, as do I, is a world without "wine bars," per se. Instead: a world with great bars that also have great wine lists.
Last night at the CUESA Sunday Supper I learned the following: that Gialina owner Sharon Ardiana is opening a new restaurant (though she doesn't have a space yet), that Mark Dommen's next whole beast meal will be devoted to suckling pig, that Bar Tartine will serve housemade English muffins when they open for breakfast in three weeks (and that chef Chris Kronner isn't sleeping much).
By Sunday night, when you are in post-Hardly Strictly Bluegrass or LoveFest recovery mode, you'll be ready to cozy up to the couch and watch the season premiere of the second season of Food Network's The Next Iron Chef. Given that many Americans appear to have an obsession with contest-based reality shows, and given that here in San Francisco we have a particular interest in food-focused competitions, we're guessing that the show, featuring local chef Dominique Crenn of Luce and once-local-and-now-oft-missed chef Nate Appleman, will have a strong local following.
There won't be our usual "Eater wrap" posted today because our friends over at HQ has been busy redesigning their website—you can click over there and check out the new features, look for a job in the food industry (unpaid office internship at Momofuku, anyone?), and—in an early Chicago-esque Olympic bid to gain attention by pulling out the big guns (Oprah, Obama)—view their list of 38 Essential San Francisco restaurants. What makes an essential restaurant? Eater editor describes it as a list of places that "shape and embody the city in various ways." Why are there 38 of them?
Regular readers of this column know that I'm a fan of the gin and tonic, but only when the tonic is good. Back in the day, there was no good tonic. So I remember my life changing when I found that the Slanted Door was using Schwepp's Indian Tonic, something that at the time, no one else in the city had. Then it changed again, when Fever Tree tonic water came out a couple of years ago. Nowadays, with those two tonics easily available as well as other good tonics like Q and Stirrings plentifully on the market, there's simply no excuse to ever have a bad G&T.