Eat + Drink
I'm so happy it's December 1. Well, I mean, it's true that the year has raced by faster than ever, and I puzzle over where exactly it went. And it's true that we're getting into that hectic crush where end-of-the-year projects collide with holiday shopping only to be buried by an avalanche of social obligations. But we're also in the month that allows us a coping mechanism for the madness: the afternoon drink. Naturally, I'm writing this with a martini in hand (one of my favorite afternoon cocktails -- 2 parts Plymouth, 1 part Noilly-Pratt, lemon twist, stirred). I hope you're reading this with same.
For every restaurant that has closed (and this year, there have been many) another opens in its place. The natural ebb and flow is what makes this a good eating town, constantly in a state of change and renewal. The latest long-awaited addition to the dining scene is Frances, Melissa Perello's first solo venture, which will open it's doors today (3870 17th Street between Noe and Sanchez, 415-621-3870) in the former home of a short-lived Filipino restaurant that Perello (and her father and a team of pros) renovated extensively.
Because I love what they're doing so much, I'm going to take this space once again to hype an upcoming beer dinner at the Monk's Kettle. This Wednesday Dec 2, the Monk's Kettle folks have devised yet another really cool beer dinner, this time featuring select beers from Shelton Brothers, one of the most adventurous and fascinating beer importers in the country. Almost as cool as their portfolio, which sports beers from 16 different countries (including Brazil and Japan), is the fact that they're based in the aptly named Belchertown, MA.
Though the doom-and-gloom restaurant talk is completely warranted, since plenty of great restaurants have closed in the last six months, it's nice to see, occasionally, places that are doing well against the odds—or because of them. Kasa Indian Eatery is one of those places. The first location, on 18th street near the Castro, quickly drew a devoted local following (we included them in our Best Cheap Eats story in August of 2008) and it's easy to see why: wholesome, affordable Indian food is pretty hard to resist.
Dumplings and a movie. It doesn't get much better. Here are our five of our favorite double dates.
The traditional Thanksgiving meal isn't normally on the menu year-round at most homes, and picking wine to match a turkey dinner and all the trimmings can be a challenge. We spoke to employees at three local wine shops to get their opinions on wines that would pair beautifully with the holiday spread. Their picks span the globe, but all three agree: avoid wines that are heavy, rich, or tannic, and look for clean flavors and acidity to cut the heaviness of the meal.
Michael Barber, Domestic Wine Specialist, K&L Wines:
Overeating at Thanksgiving dinner is not only accepted, it's practically expected: after the dishes are done, the holiday requires very little from its participants other than a snooze and a half-hearted viewing of Midwestern NFL games. And as many veterans of Turkey Day have learned, the uncomfortable fullness of the huge meal and the added stupor of some good wine can turn into a gastrointestinal nightmare after the fourth quarter ends. So if you want to have your turkey feast but still be peppy for those Black Friday sales, we recommend topping off your dinner with a shot of amaro, the Italian herbal digestif that's best known to San Franciscans as the genus of our beloved Fernet-Branca.
You missed the pre-orders on pies—not to mention the turkey. There's still hope for the semi-homemade cooks of San Francisco. Here's your plan. Now run with it.
First, get yourself down to Cheese Plus in Russian Hill. Fresh pies from Katia's Russian Tea Room are coming in this afternoon in classic flavors such as pumpkin, apple, sweet potato and pecan. And while you're there, pick up some turkey-friendly wines recommended by Greg, the in-house wine guy, who suggests Harmonia Pinot from Oregon or a Gruet Rosé Brut from, of all places, New Mexico (hey, it makes good dinner conversation). Grab some charcuterie and of course, cheese, to place out before dinner and you're halfway there.
Before you even enter Quince you get a visual of what’s for dinner: A massive window facing the street beckons diners to gaze from the darkness outside into a kitchen glowing with stainless fixtures and copper pots, and outfitted with a centerpiece of a three-ton royal-blue Bonnet stove the size of a studio apartment. The voyeur opportunities Quince’s kitchen offers might be classier than that of the peep shows at the Lusty Lady up the street, but the excitement that it generates in the loin of fine dining aficionados is the same.
Last night, I had the opportunity to sip what amounts to the Holy Grail for many craft beer lovers: a snifter of Samuel Adams Utopias, the ultra-rare beer that the Boston brewery only makes every other year. While it's made from the basic ingredients of beer (hops, malt, yeast, and water), Utopias really stretches the definition of "beer" in every way. It's served uncarbonated, clocks in at 27% alcohol by volume (the average brewski is a mere 5%), and has the look and mouthfeel of nice brandy or cognac. It takes several years to brew and blend, and is aged in whiskey, wine, and cognac barrels.