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Eat + Drink

SF Chefs with Blogs

Here’s how you know blogging has reached the mainstream: chefs — notoriously short on time, and mostly workaholics — have somehow made time for the pursuit. Some blogs, such as the one kept by cook Richie Nakano of Nopa (linecook415.blogspot.com) offer a behind-the-scenes look at a busy SF restaurant. Others, such as the one written by Brett Emerson, owner and chef at the forthcoming Noe Valley restaurant Contigo (inpraiseofsardines.typepad.com), chronicle the harrowing process of opening a restaurant in the city.

Aziza chef Mourad Lahlou vs. Paula Wolfert

What do Aziza chef-owner Mourad Lahlou and Sonoma-based Moroccan food expert Paula Wolfert have in common? Not much, as it turns out. I just spent the weekend at the annual CIA Worlds of Flavor conference, where old guard and new guard rubbed shoulders, swapped recipes and took in demos on everything from Syrian pastry making to live fire grilling. It’s one of the more well-organized and inspirational food conferences out there; you should consider putting it on your calendar for next year, when the theme will be street food of the world.

What we know about the SF cocktail scene that the Times doesn't

Did anyone else read the article in the New York Times food section Wednesday about bartending philosophies? Rather fitting, given that this is the anniversary of Repeal Day. We were pleased as rum punch to see a mention of hometown hero Daniel Hyatt from the Alembic, who was categorized, rather grandly, as a neo-classicist. You can keep tabs on Daniel’s activities at the Alembic by visiting his blog, alembicbar.blogspot.com.

What Your Drink Says About You (And Maybe Your 'Hood)

1. Shot of Patrón You think you know, but you have no idea.
2. Pacifico and a shot of anything Fine-dining restaurant employee.
3. Sommelier Sidecar Your knowledge of wine is not as good as you think it is.
4. Vodka Soda Marina chick (even if you're a guy).
5. Jack and Diet Ex–frat boy who spends too much time at the gym.
6. Dark and Stormy Seasoned drinker who's "on the wagon."
7. Milk of Millennia You're likely from L.A.
8. Mojito European tourist who will later ask whether we know of a good disco in the area.
9. Vodka Red Bull Show us your ID.

California Wines by the Half: What to Drink

2006 Grgich Hills Estate Chardonnay
Citrus and apple with a hint of toast and spice. Tightly wound, this wine insinuates that even a half bottle will keep nicely for a few years. ($22)

2005 Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs
Gorgeous and complex, this wine has the perfect balance between sharp, laser-like structure and deep, hedonistic richness. ($16)

2006 Robert Sinskey Carneros Pinot Noir
Sinskey has the touch when it comes to Pinot. Notes of red cherry and cranberry have an underlying bed of loam and tea. The fresh acidity is integrated for a velvety texture. ($19)

Ordering Drinks: How to Get Served in SF

DO have your entire order ready, for yourself and your friends. No bartender has the time to meet each member of your posse. And when we finish making your margarita, please don't say, "Oh, and two more of those."

DON'T whine, "My drink's too sweet." Politely say that you like it a little more tart, and we'll be happy to fix it for you.

DO be patient.

DON'T ask to have your drink made extra strong. Would you ask a chef to put an extra steak on your plate for no charge?

DO have your money or credit card ready. The moment to dig through your purse is not when there are 50 people behind you.

The Rise of Miss Saigon

Make no mistake—Miss Saigon isn’t going to revolutionize the dodgy block on which it sits (at the corner of Sixth and Mission streets). It is, however, a good place to get lunch if you’re tired of the options at the Westfield SF Centre. The utilitarian, but spic-and-span, dining room is run by an efficient workforce that bustles about, delivering Vietnamese coffee and fussing (in a good way) over the guests. Menuwise, it’s the usual suspects: We have no complaints about fried squid with scallions and garlic (#14) or the delicate threads of green papaya in the classic salad named after it (get #9, shown here, the version with shrimp and pork). Linger too long and you’ll be subjected to a viewing of violinist André Rieu’s DVD of love songs, shown on three televisions.

Holiday Gift Idea #2: Noe Valley Baking Co. Stollen

Oh, yes, we’re in the thick of it now. Here is something that will make things better: A big old slice of Noe Valley Baking Co.’s superlative stollen. Stollen, that yeasted sweet bread of German origin, studded with citron and raisins and gently perfumed with almond, is just the thing to perk you up. Buy a few now and throw them in your freezer, then toast and butter slices as needed all month long. Also worth noting: the $21 loaves make very lovely host/ess gifts.

Available at Noe Valley Baking Co., 4073 24th St., 415-550-1405

Spanish Beauty

Rich white wines, especially white Burgundies, are popular around the holidays. They're delicious with cheese, lobster, crab and all the other rich things we like to eat. Problem is, they're super expensive. Here's an alternative:

 

Holiday Gift Idea #1: Get the Best Bonbon of 2008 at Coco-luxe

If you can't cook a turkey and write your Christmas list at the same time, you've failed in holiday multi-tasking.

But we're here to help. Starting today until December 25, Jessica and I are going to let you what we want for Christmas, because the best gifts to give are often the ones you want to eat yourself.

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