Eat + Drink
Behind every great bartender, there's probably a great barback. If nothing else, this I have learned in my short, two-year foray into the world behind the bar. At Cantina, I sometimes get to work with a great one: a kid named Anson Stahl. What more could you ask? When he's on his game, he's there handing me glassware and bottles to make a cocktail before the customer's even finished ordering. Ice, replacement bottles, straws, napkins, fresh fruit are never a worry. When I'm in the weeds, he's there pulling beers, pouring shots. The main reason he's not a full-time bartender is that he's too valuable as a bar back. (Sorry Anson!) Good help is hard to find.
The other day, my coworker went to the coffee shop around the corner from our office to get a bagel. While there, she noticed an oversized bin of fresh, juicy, sliced tomatoes. "Oh" she said, motioning to the tomatoes,"can I have a slice of tomato on my bagel?" An innocent enough request, it would seem—she described what happened next as a kind of Curb Your Enthusiasm moment, as the women behind the counter flat-out refused the request. "No," she said. "I can't." And then, the line that even in the second-person retelling had me outraged—"I've been instructed not to cater to the customer." Thud.
These days the Tonga Room—the Fairmont Hotel's thatched-walled, indoor-raining temple of Tiki Kitsch—finds itself in more danger, more often than Elisha Kuthbert’s ever-threatened Kim Bauer on the first season of 24. The current state of the historic bar's impending closure has the Fairmont turning it and the 28 stories above it into condos.
It's the Friday of a short week, which means that it's time for the Eater Wrap, the weekly recap from Eater SF on all the happenings from the local restaurant scene.
1) The big news of the four-day week went down at Enrico's, the North Beach institution on Broadway. In the wake of big financial struggles, the restaurant declared bankruptcy, with the hope of getting around its debt and ringing in a new era. It's staying open, so please do support it, lest it be lost to the tides of time.
Leblon Cachaca is organizing a march this evening through North Beach to protest what it sees as the discriminatory labeling rules of the US Government. You see, the government demands that Brazil's national spirit have on the label not only the word cachaca, but the phrase, "Brazilian Rum." And cachaca enthusiasts and producers--or at least the people behind Leblon--are incensed at this. They believe that cachaca--evidently the third-most consumed spirit in the world--is unique and worthy of its own category, independent of rum. To that end, you can sign the petition here and join the march at Calzone's at 5 PM or pick it up at Rose Pistola at 6, Mangarosa at 7:30 and 15 Romolo at 9:30.
If anyone has the inside sccop 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.
I called a friend of mine yesterday and caught him in the middle of making his fantasy football picks. I'm not much for football, but I didn't want to be left out of the fun—so when I got back to my desk I tweeted the following: "If you could snap your fingers and your dream restaurant would be created here in SF, what would it be? Please don't say pizzeria." (By the way, if you're not following our food Twitter feed @7x7bitsbites you are missing some wild times). The imagining of a fantasy San Francisco restaurant is one of my favorite hobbies. I even have a post-it on my computer screen on which I've written (and circled) "The Restaurant of Our Dreams". What would it be? I have some thoughts, but I was pleased to see that many of you like to play my game.
… Or at least California fine wine, according to this fascinating article from yesterday's Santa Rosa Press-Democrat. The article asserts: "… a powerful shake-up under way in the U.S. wine industry. Consumers, who for decades have been steadily trading up to higher-priced vintages have reversed course, trading down to cheaper wines in search of better values. Some think the reversal will be short-lived; others say something has fundamentally changed in the wine business."
If you’re still trying to differentiate junmai sake from ginjo and daiginjo, here’s your golden opportunity. On September 10, Yoshi’s is hosting the third annual Joy of Sake event—100 different sakes will be on offer, including 49 that aren’t even available here in the States. The polished rice libations will be complimented by snacks prepared by chef Sho Kamio and the cost is $50 ($60 at the door)—to buy a ticket, visit joyofsake.com or call 888-799-7242.
In the Can