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Eat + Drink

Cheers! Champange for Inauguration

For the upcoming inauguration, if you're celebrating, I just want you all to know about this exquisite Blanc de Blancs Champagne. It's an NV brut from Pierre Gimonnet, exceptional for its clarity, its bright, vivacious citrus notes and its vinous, mineral character. While it's complex and sophisticated, it's difficult for me not to gulp it. Try it at the the Bubble Lounge, which carries it on its list.

To Riesling or to White Burgundy with Crab?

It's the high-point of crab season, folks, so time to get crackin'. Last week SF sommeliers and a few lucky others (including yours truly) had their annual Crab and Riesling lunch. Except for some call it the Crab and White Burgundy lunch, a disagreement that highlights a rift in the wine-and-food pairing orthodoxy. Which goes better with crab? I'm firmly a Riesling person, especially, a srpy German Kabinett or a minerally smaragd from Austria. But many others, including Sara Floyd, who co-sponsors the lunch with fantastic winemaker Brian Talley of Talley vineyards in Arroyo Grande, believe in white Burgundy with crab.

More Obama Love: Yes Pecan!

We’ve already given you a couple of things to do on January 20 to ring in our new Mr. President, but for the hedonists among us, here’s a much simpler way to get in the inaugural spirit: Go to any Ben & Jerry’s and order a scoop of the newest flavor, “Yes Pecan!”

Oh, those clever Vermonters. The ice cream is described as “amber waves of buttery ice cream with roasted non-partisan pecans.” We’re wondering if maybe those nuts, perhaps sourced from the great pecan-producing state of Texas, are B & J’s attempt at reaching across the aisle?

Blowfish-Fin Sake at Ame: It's Hot

It would be a lot more thrilling if fugu (blowfish) fin sake (called hirezake) could maybe, almost, kill you, if it weren't for the masterful, surgical skills of the sushi chef that extracted the fin from the infamously poisonous fish. As I sat at the bar at Ame, and took a sip of this piping hot sake yesterday—a dried and toasted blowfish fin steeping in the bottom of my ceramic cup—I asked Susan Johnston, the g.m., if I could expect imminent death. But apparently, unlike the liver of the blowfish (which is where the danger lies), the fin is utterly safe. My legs didn't go numb. Not even a little buzz. Just the savory flavor (finally!

For the Best Cocktails, Go West

Well, it’s official. New York (or, at the very least, the gray lady) seems to be looking westward when it comes to cocktails. Remember the article a couple of weeks ago (which caused me to grouchily wonder why Bourbon and Branch wasn’t included)? Well, hot on its heels comes a second article in the Times travel section, this one written by local drinker Gregory Dicum who, we think, gets it just right.

Geek Grub

While other MacWorld attendees are crowding into Jollibee at lunchtime, you, armed with this list, will be enjoying a genuine San Francisco culinary experience. Here’s our list for the best places to lunch (and drink) around Moscone Center.

Why eat a boring turkey sandwich when you could be dipping your chopsticks into the modern Vietnamese food at Bong Su? Don’t miss the shrimp cupcakes, green papaya salad and Empress rice. (311 Third St. at Folsom, 415-536-5800. Open for lunch and dinner.)

Jamie Lauren On Top Chef-dom

How my life has changed since I started appearing on national television:

Until I got a spot on this season’s Top Chef, my job at Absinthe has always been behind the scenes. For the past year and a half, I’ve been going into work and prepping, cooking, expediting and hand-holding for about 10 to 12 hours a day (on average) before heading home.

Olive-Oil Ice Cream Comes to the Mission. Really.

And what's even more surprising, it's good. What's not surprising is the fact that the place—Humphry Slocombe, owned by Jake Godby, formerly of Coi, etc. etc.—is using McEvoy Ranch olive oil. The result reminds me of times I've had real, super-expensive balsamic vinegar dribbled onto vanilla ice cream...not shockingly savory but subtly vegetal, in a good way.

Top Chef's Jamie Lauren: Why I'm Enraptured by the Pig

I am a huge hot dog fan, as many of you may or may not be aware. I grew up on them in New York and have spent a good portion of my life being ridiculously obsessed, so much so that I have even been tempted to tattoo a hot dog some place on my body. I have struggled with the absence of a delicious hot dog in San Francisco for the past seven years and I always look forward to repeated trips back home so that I can indulge … and there I was. Sitting in New York City, snowed in. Missed my flight back to San Francisco and got pretty much screwed. The only glimmer of hope was that I got to indulge in all sorts of delicious things to eat.

What's Up with Melissa Perello's New Restaurant?

This is the time of year when I start thinking about all the bests of the year—my favorite meals, the chefs I hope to see more of in the New Year, the best newcomers, restaurants I’m sad to see close. Melissa Perello is one of the young chefs I’m keeping my fingers crossed for in 2009. I finally got over to Sebo last Monday, where Perello’s been guest-cheffing periodically (her boyfriend, Danny Dunham, is one of Sebo’s chef-owners and was in the kitchen to help). The $45 four-course meal was a well-executed Cal-French mid-winter treat, featuring a caramelized scallop salad with celery root puree, kale-and-chanterelle risotto, and fork-tender Cabernet-braised pork cheeks.

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