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Eat + Drink

Santa Cruz Root Beer



My quest to find the perfect root beer continued with this oddity, purchased at the Ashbury Market. As you might expect, my quest will continue. This organic root beer is clear. Wearing its lack of artificial coloring on its sleeve might allow Santa Cruz to feel morally superior, but, come on, root beer should be brown and served in a frosty mug. (OK, I’m the one who put it in a wine glass.) Anyway, the flavor was not particularly rooty. It was more gingery and spicy. It’s drinkable, but not really satisfying as a root beer. Next!

Brooke’s Benefit



Last week’s benefit at Cantina for bartender Brooke Arthur of Range was a big success. The bar was packed, as so many people turned out to donate and raise a glass in support of her and her recovery.


Cantina’s Staff Appreciation Party

We had the holiday, no, staff appreciation party for Cantina employees and friends last week. What was supposed to be a leisurely Sunday lunch followed by a mellow bar crawl  for us to hang out together beyond the confining box of the bar didn’t go as planned.

We went to Bodega Bistro— one of my favorite restaurants in the city—for lunch. Unfortunately, lunch was planned for 2 p.m., but the kitchen shuts down at 2:30. So instead of eating slowly and in a relaxed manner, we sort of pounded the food, as well as the copious amounts of wine we brought (most of which we left to the good staff of the restaurant, which closed while we were still there, though they mercifully let us stay and continue to make fools of ourselves).

Mini-Mandarin Mania



Photo by Stefanie Michejda.

Sparkling Wine Snuff Film

It felt kind of creepy to watch this, so passing it along to you makes me feel, well, sleazy. I know, it’s scary what can happen to you in Europe, as depicted in movies like Hostel, Hostel: Part 2, Midnight Express or the YouTube video of the giant robotic arm of Belgian customs snapping the necks of 3,200 bottles of innocent, whimpering California wine. Like lambs to the slaughter, lambs to the slaughter . .

The Fairest Fast Food of All

Last week, a little-reported bit of food news crossed my desk: Chipotle, that chain of Mexican fast-food restaurants founded here in the Bay Area by Steve Ells (former cook at the now defunct Stars) has gone on record as saying that it will serve some 52 million pounds of naturally raised meat in 2008, marking a 40% increase over last year. I’ve read enough Michael Pollan to be skeptical of the phrase, “naturally raised meat,” but figured it warranted a second look.

Here's to Our Health

San Franciscans have a village mentality. Leave the big-box stuff to the Los Angeles and Miami; let New York have its sweeping fine-dining restaurants. We’re proud of our casual, but conscientious, neighborhood joints that don’t cost an arm and a leg—the little guys, owned and run by a chef who knows your name: the Delfinas, Terzos and Blue Plates; the SPQRs, Mavericks and Frescatis.

By Land and by Sea

Food From Cloned Animals Seems Safe, a Panel Finds—there’s an unsettling headline if I've ever seen one. What's reassuring about a panel saying something as off the wall as eating food sourced from clones "seems safe"? I think I’ll pass.


Wood-oven roasted rib eye

Parr Selections

I've been to many tastings where winemakers put their wines up against the top wines of France—Cabernet versus first growth Bordeaux, sparkling wine versus tête de cuvée Champagne and Pinot Noir versus Grand Cru Burgundy. It's always a good exercise, and as predicted, the California versions usually fare pretty well against the greats of Europe. There's always an element of hubris in the act, though, as implicit in the exercise is the assertion that "my wines that I've been making for 20 years are as good as this French property that's been making wines for 200."


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