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Eat + Drink

Gary Danko: Fire and Disco Balls!

Confession: I dined for the first time at Gary Danko … last week. Yes, Gary Danko, winner for Best Overall restaurant for our 2008 Reader’s Choice Awards, Michelin-star Danko, Relais & Chateau Danko. I was prepped for great service and a great cheese cart, but there was one thing I hadn't considered. Gary Danko can actually be quite thrilling—and I’m not talking about the food.


Pyrotechnics at Gary Danko.

1. It offers great people watching.

Good drinking at the new Yoshi's

Had a chance to visit the new Yoshi's on Fillmore with our food editor, Sara Deseran, the other night. The array of interesting dishes presented to us kept us busy, but not as busy as all the delicious things to drink. We were helped along the way by the impressively knowledgeable and enthusiastic saké expert Ben Baker. He kept our glasses full of everything from a flowery, nuanced daiginjo to a solid, fruity gingo to an earthy shochu. Baker taught us the progression of these that a Japanese person would follow at a similar meal, which, contrary to the order we drink wine in the West, flows from the most fine and flavorful to the most solid and plain.

7 Food Finds



Check out these events—all happening this week.

1. Native Brew Ha Ha
The Slow Beer Festival  being held in Golden Gate Park on Saturday, March 1st, might not be the place to chug a beer in under 15 seconds, but it is the place to enjoy some of the area’s finest cold ones, paired with Hog Island oysters and Fatted Calf charcuterie.

2. Tasting is Believing

Fever time at the Grotto

The Grotto, the writer's collective of which I am fortunate to be a member, was paid a visit by the ever charming and convivial Tim Warrilow of Fever-Tree. Fever-Tree is a new English brand of mixers that uses natural botanicals and flavourings (my nod to the Brits) and less sugar. The desire to start this company came from the experience that Fever-Tree's founders had in running Plymouth Gin (SF's favorite artisanal brand these days), a lovely and complex product that is easily—as any good gin is—desecrated by bad tonic.


Mushrooms: The Black Market

What’s exported to Europe from here, but underappreciated at home? The Bay Area’s black trumpet mushrooms, according to Connie Green, the owner of Wine Forest Mushrooms and long-time forager of wild fungi for some of the Bay Area’s top chefs—from Todd Humphries of Martini House to Thomas Keller of the French Laundry to Hiro Sone of Ame. Green ships out her prized trumpets, which she says grow better here than anywhere else, to cities like Barcelona and Paris. “But only a few chefs [here] really know what to do with them,” she says of what she calls the “blue cheese of mushrooms” because of their full flavor. According to Green, these select chefs include Traci Des Jardins, Mark Franz and Charles Phan.

Jamie Lauren Likes it Nonstick, High Heat

Oh, the interwebs. What will they turn up next? Today’s discovery is the inimitable Jamie Lauren, executive chef at Absinthe, shilling for Pam®cooking spray in a series of web cooking videos. And the recipes…we might’ve expected seared scallops, but blackened salmon with tropical fruit salsa? Ginger stir fry? Not likely to debut on the Absinthe menu anytime soon, I don't think.

A Little Sunday Rosé

It's a good thing to have a little Champagne every weekend. Keeps the joints loose and the mind balanced. It's also a very good thing to have very good Champagne, which I was fortunate enough to do this past weekend.

Now, I love a good rosé Champagne--who doesn't?--but I can't say that I will immediately roll over at the sight of one. Too many are sweet or excessively fruity, emphasizing "pinkness" in all its connotations, while deemphasizing the finesse, crispness and clarity that make great Champagne great.


Grubstake



Last week, I had my first experience of an SF tradition--late night dining at the Grubstake. In 6.5 years of living here, I'd never been. But last week, after getting off a shift at Cantina at about midnight, I went over there with my wife (who was also just getting off work) for a bite. We were starving, but stayed away from the Portuguese specialties like linguiça, the famous pork sausage. Instead, we just had a burger and some of those fried jalapenos filled with cream cheese. These were a novelty to Christie—who was disappointed not to find them more spicy—but were familiar to me, as they're common back in Texas, where I grew up.

DIY liqueurs, redux

All my talk of making home liqueurs, combined with the premature but tantalizing glimpse of sunny spring last week, prompted me to get into the act with a little home brewing. The project? Cherry-blossom liqueur. Right now, a bowlful of blossoms from the tree outside my house is steeping away in Everclear. I have no idea if it will turn  out to be tasty. But at least it sure looks purty…

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