Eat + Drink
The Lower East Side of the Mission District (this would be East 24th Street) is blossoming. I’m sure the gentrification whistle blowers are up in arms, but personally I love it when a neighborhood starts mixing it up. (And my money is on the fact that the whistle blowers are the exact hipsters that frequent Pops, anyhow.) Stagnancy is not what thriving cities are made of: Sushi, tortas and gourmet donuts located within a one block radius are.
Introducing the first of our guest food blogger series. For six weeks, Tuesdays are your chance to get inside the mind of everyone from a Top Chef contestant (yes, like Jamie) to a food stylist to a dishwasher to a farmer. Get to know how they live, breathe and, most importantly, eat San Francisco.
Being a chef is not as glamorous as it might seem. Unless you’re Daniel Boulud or Eric Ripert with a full-on entourage, it’s early mornings and late nights spent in the kitchen trying to retain some semblance of control.
The new Dosa on Fillmore officially opened last Monday. And while the first Dosa filled the South Indian niche, Dosa II has filled in some blanks of its own.
• It’s lured the ladies from upper Pac Heights to boldly venture to the scruffier side of lower Pac Heights (although not as scruffy as the South side of Geary). The night I was there more than one table was made up of solely of women, many with hairbands, bonding over cocktails and curry.
• It offers a pre-concert dinner for those headed to the Fillmore and a post-movie dinner for those spilling out of the Sundance Kabuki theater.
• It’s a home away from home for Nopa fans. Former bank building? Check. Huge and impressive windows? Check. Skyhigh ceilings? Check.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.