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Eat + Drink

Taking the Fifth


The spirits course

Over the summer I got to know the two young chefs—Charlie Kleinman and Jake DesVoignes—who were promoted to top status after the departure of Melissa Perello. They’ve been running the Fifth Floor for most of the year.

The news is out now that, for some reason, the hotel hired Laurent Manrique to take over the famed destination restaurant, and he has in turn installed his choice, Jenny Lorenzo, in the head spot. (All this I learned from the most excellent Tablehopper, by the way.)

Jordan Turns 35

Family-owned and operated Jordan Winery celebrated its 35th birthday at its Alexander Valley digs with a lot of great food and wine, and I was lucky enough to get in on the action.

Jordan has always put a stress on its wines being food-friendly, so it was no surprise that as soon as our first glass of wine was in hand—a 2005 chardonnay—a parade of plates started streaming out of the kitchen. First up, a gelee of Japanese cucumber topped with Transmontanus Rex (aka Idaho white sturgeon) caviar. Fast on its heels came little pillows of Peruvian scallop served ceviche-style with salty caps of osetra caviar. I had three helpings, they were so good.

Independent Spirits

Tomorrow is one of the coolest shows of the year—the Independent Spirits Festival. Small-production, artisanal spirits are the name of the game, as these are some of the most exciting and delicious products on the market. I’m especially looking forward to seeing Ron Cooper, importer and mastermind behind Del Maguey mezcals (the greatest agave products on the planet), who I’m interviewing next week.

You can only buy tickets online today. Print out your confirmation and bring it to the W Hotel at 6:30 p.m. for the start of the show. It’s only $78 for a chance to sample hundreds of amazing products.

My Post-Vacation Vacation


Wine bottles and flowers at Quattro

I lucked out last week. After getting home from Cartagena at 1 a.m. on Monday morning, all I had to do was put in five days of work, then I was off again for a night at the Four Seasons in Palo Alto followed by a Sunday in Healdsburg and a relaxing Columbus Day off.


Sens and Sensibility

The one and only drawback to Sens, the new restaurant that draws on talent from several trustworthy corners of our local food universe—a general manager and sommelier from Kokkari, chef from Plumpjack Café and pastry chef from Citizen Cake and French Laundry—is getting to it, via an elevator and hallway buried within the promenade level of the mall-ish Embarcadero 4 building. But the location pays off once inside, where your view from the dining room or spacious patio is of swaying palms lined like sentries in front of the iconic Ferry Building.

Reluctant Capitalist

Here’s the curse of an open market economy: Too much choice. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling totally paralyzed in most grocery stores now. As I scan the aisles of laundry detergent, or dry pasta, or canned tomatoes, I find myself gripped by a kind of shopper’s paralysis. Organic? Sustainable? No Fragrance? Whole Wheat? I think that’s why I really like finding a favorite brand and sticking with it. I’m a loyal shopper. I’m also a loyal diner. When I find something I like, I have a hard time deviating from it. That’s why I will always order French fries and fruit crisp at Universal Café, and the Vietnamese crepe at Sunflower.

Sprinkles Are Like Sunshine

Last night I was at Bimbo's for 7x7’s very fun party celebrating our Hot 20 issue and let’s just say after a little too much of the Johnny Walker, I’m feeling a bit like I need a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. And for an instant pick-me-up, you can’t go wrong with cupcakes showered in sprinkles.


Devil's food cupcakes, ready to party.

Fruit or Veggie?


Garden tomato salad

The tomato is a complicated item. Its pronunciation isn’t the only conundrum—toe-may-toe or toe-mah-to? Many also wonder: Is it a fruit or a veggie?

Reality Bites


SF's Traci Des Jardins is the first to go.
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