Eat + Drink
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!
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hey, this has been kind of a rough year, eh? The last couple of months have kind of made us want to hide under our desks. But as this year ends and the next begins, it would seem a shame to let it go by without a proper toast, something like “Thanks for nothing, 2008. See you on the flip side.”
1. Stock your holiday pantry with a visit to Cheese Plus—they’ve got panettone, Stilton, mince pies and Nordic glögg aplenty, perfect for whatever wintry celebration you have planned. For more information, visit cheeseplus.com
2. On December 24 Incanto will be hosting the annual Feast of the Seven Fishes, a four-course all-seafood menu that is the traditional Italian meal served the night before Christmas. The price is $55, exclusive of tax, gratuity and beverage, call 415-641-4500 to book your spot. For more information, visit incanto.biz
If you're looking for a fine, but reasonably priced Champagne for the holidays this year, I recommend this new-ish offering from the famous Champagne house Taittinger. It's made entirely from Grand Crus-rated vineyards (ones that score 100% in the Champagne AOC's system), and it's 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. it's got great structure and length, but is marked by an elegance and a citrusy juiciness that makes it hard not to guzzle. I think the price of $50, which you can find at K&L, is a bargain for Champagne of this quality.