Eat + Drink
With my rapidly advancing age, marital state and experience working at Cantina on many Fridays over the last year, I have largely stopped going out on weekend nights. Bars are just too crowded, too loud. You know . . . too "too." And I don't even have kids.
But I had friend in town from LA this weekend who was interested in the SF cocktail scene, so Friday was a good chance to observe the weekend nightlife at a couple of the city's more happening cocktail outposts.
So a few nights ago, I stopped by Chesnut Street's latest offering: The Tipsy Pig. The new "pub" from the boys of Mamacita, Umami and Blue Barn. (Alert! This is not a Vintage 415 project. It's the baby of restaurateurs Stryker Scales , Nate Valentine and chef Sam Josi of Sustainable Restaurants.) The scene, as you might imagine, was a mob of 20 to 30-somethings very happy with their beer, not paying too much attention to the antique books in the faux "library," and having no issue with yelling at each other over the din. I couldn't hear but I'm pretty sure they were all saying: "Yay! Our new favorite hangout!!"
San Francisco is not lacking in the themed bars category. Nevertheless, a new trendy watering hole has taken it upon itself to join the ranks. Five minutes in Bloodhound, which opened its doors in early February (replacing former neighborhood favorite Cassidy's) will make you wonder where exactly you veered off course in SoMa and wound up in your Uncle Billy's hunting room in West Virginia.
Every time I drive up to my parents in Sonoma, I pass a sign, right by Sears Point, that simply says: Woolyweeders.com. I've known about Don Watson's sustainable mowing business for a while (he brings the sheep; they eat your weeds and do their own bit to fertilize) but I've never actually seen a sheep in a vineyard—until Saturday, when I saw a whole flock of them contentedly grazing amongst the vines at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards. They were so cute that I had to pull over and snap a photo, which really annoyed the sheepdog guarding them. (Whether or not these are the sheep of Don Watson—who runs his business both in Colorado and Napa—I don't know.
This weekend Stacy Finz of the Chronicle wrote a great piece about Bill Niman, and the pressures (and difficulties) of taking a small-scale business big time. I was an early fan of Niman Ranch meats, easily fell in love with their superlative hot dogs and apple-wood-smoked bacon, and now am wondering whether I should continue supporting a business that claims to still employ the quality and husbandry standards Niman put in place but has done some dubious streamlining since Bill Niman's ousting from his eponymous company late last year.
Welcome to our exciting new partnership with Eater. For this weekly Friday column, Eater editor Paolo Lucchesi gives his opinionated report on all the restaurant news that's fit to print, including and a little something dubbed Black Saturday.
None of the jokes we could make (i.e. his three-hour tour turned to three years) can mask the sadness we're all likely to feel at the news that the great, great Martin Cate, one of the partners and certainly the soul and the genius behind Alameda's Forbidden Island, is leaving the tiki bar. If not a Tiki God (sorry), Cate is certainly considered one of the world's top authority's on this overlooked cocktail art form. While tropical and sometimes kitschy, Cate's drinks were always remarkably complex, balanced, and delcious. He told me that he and his partners in the bar, which opened in 2006, " just had different ideas about the the future of the business."
Mardi Gras is coming up next week and Townhall is having its annual Fat Tuesday celebration. Co-owner Mitch Rosenthal recalled last year's celebration: "We shucked 1,900 oysters. It was brutal. There were about six of us, just shucking and jiving." Although for 2008, the restaurant ordered big, fat oysters straight from Louisiana (having grown up there, I like my oysters big, which often slightly horrifies people here who prefer delicate little—i.e. sissy—Kumamotos), they learned a lesson when the $900 overnight shipping bill came. For 2009, the oysters will be sourced locally.
Come see me moderate a panel on cocktails tonight at the Commonwealth Club. I'll be interviewing several of the city's premier mixologists onstage, and afterwards there is a reception with cocktails created by these bartenders and a vote to see which was the preferred drink. It'll be educational, entertaining and intoxicating. What more can you ask for in two hours?
Here's the release:
As the second part of our series of guest food bloggers, 7x7 welcomes food stylist Katie Christ. Katie worked as Culinary Producer for the first season of Top Chef and in 2008, she won the first ever Food Network Challenge for food stylists. Tune in to get a taste of Katie's inspirations as she eats and drinks her way through our fair city.