Eat + Drink
They say drinking is recession-proof. But when I read a story a few weeks ago in the International Herald Tribune stating that alcohol consumption has dropped—even in Ireland!—during these lean economic times, I knew things were bad. Here in San Francisco, luckily, the question seems to be not will we drink, but what will we drink? In regard to wine, the most expensive bottles are gathering dust. “People are not ordering that second bottle,” says Jen Knowles, head sommelier at Waterbar. “We’re seeing more corkage, and people are going straight for the value-driven wines.” The good news is that an inexpensive Cab can deliver the same grace as its pricey counterpart; even the best sommeliers at the fanciest restaurants have hidden delicious value wines among the titans on their list.
If anyone has the inside scoop when it comes to the Ferry Plaza Farmers market it's Lulu Meyer, associate director of market operations at CUESA. You'll see her at the market, rain or shine. Every week, she'll be giving us her short list for the market—just in time for Saturday shopping. Go to cuesa.org for more information about farmers, what's in season and market goings-on.
If there's any food that incites spirited debate amongst food-lovers, it's pizza. Thin-crust, deep dish, New York v. SF, Di Fara v. Franny's, Pizzeria Delfina v. Pizzaiolo—the throw-down runs coast to coast and knows no limits. And though we'd be inclined to say that San Francisco is fast approaching pizza saturation, we'll admit to being very curious, and very enthusiastic, about Flour + Water, the Mission's latest addition.
Welcome to our third guest blogger series written by Ella Lawrence, who works as both a freelance writer and a server at popular restaurant in San Francisco. Lawrence has been published in Travel & Leisure, Time Out, and the San Francisco Chronicle and has her own blog, Restaurant Girl Speaks. Every Tuesday for six-weeks, she’ll be dishing out the tips on how to be a better diner, something about which she has a lot to say.
Oh, Alice. It's as if she's suddenly been thrust front and center into the real world—the cruel world that lies past our cozy, often smug 7x7-plus square miles of sustainable bubbliciousness. First there was the 60 Minutes interview where she baked an egg in a wood-fired oven in her kitchen as an example of a quick and easy breakfast that just about anyone could whip up. Of late, there's been the Obama's garden, a victory perhaps for Alice, but not necessarily one's she's going to get credit for. As Maureen Dowd wrote in her pro-Waters op-ed column on Saturday,
10 a.m. on day four of PBFW is a brutal time for demo, but a hung over Jamie Lauren and Stefan Richter rallied to the occasion (with the help of a bottle of wine and some Journey tunes) and cooked up an asparagus salad and a chocolate mousse. Of course, the majority of the audience could care less about the cooking—it was Top Chef unplugged time, a chance to experience Stefan’s unrequited love for Jamie first hand. The Top Chefs entreated (Jamie: “Everyone knows we’re in love and are having babies, right?” Stefan: “Jamie, you called me at 8:30 to wake me up? No, I turned over at 8:30 to wake you up”), even going through a fake marriage ceremony, administered by Food & Wine editor Gail Simmons.
Did we mention this whole thing is positioned as a NorCal v. SoCal showdown? Well, Ted Allen said it again during the Michelin Stars of Los Angeles dinner last night, rallying the audience to rate the dishes and proclaim a winner via Twitter. (After giving an amusing ode to the “red teeth-ed girls” of the festival.)
Day three at Pebble Beach Food & Wine, picking up where Jessica left off at the afternoon cooking demo with Boulevard’s Nancy Oakes and Pamela Mazzola. The scene was certainly no Thomas Keller Jesus-fest, but Oakes’ fan base is a slightly different breed. She certainly commands the respect of a room (albeit a post-spa, wine-hazed one), especially when she cooks up an extremely complicated seared abalone with a slow cooked farm egg, a dish she admitted “was not necessarily to be tried at home.” It required a $900 “circulated egg” machine, a lab apparatus that keeps the egg yolk runny while cooking the white. Intense.
Another day dawns at PBF&W. Have I mentioned yet how difficult the mornings are here? Well, let me underscore that. As I write, it's just past 7 a.m. and I count myself among the lucky ones, having turned in at the more-reasonable hour of 2 a.m.. The Michelin stars dinner, which I attended last night, has the distinction of being one of the longest meals I've ever enjoyed in my entire life. Given how many dinners I've attended, this is something. The guests who managed to make it to hour six (yes, really) finished off the evening with a dessert prepared by the Coi pastry chef, a combination of blood orange "curd," walnut crumble and an ice cream flavored with Douglas fir. Comparing notes with my L.A.
Though this may sound pretty obvious, people really like chefs. This morning, en route to "Lexus brings a moment with Thomas Keller," I encountered some women in the hallway. "Make sure you get Tom Colicchio's autograph!" Just like Sara wrote in her blog, the ladies are all over Tom Colicchio like white on rice. However, this level of adoration was NOTHING compared to the scene inside the cooking demo tent, Thomas Keller presiding.