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Eat + Drink

Puttin’ on the Ritz



I’ve only stayed at The Ritz-Carlton once in my life, but it only takes one visit to appreciate how truly decadent a stay—or a meal or even a drink—here is. After all, if it’s good enough for Danielle Steel….  (I heard on NPR on Tuesday morning that it was her 60th birthday and then saw her step out of a shiny black SUV as I was leaving the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco last night. Perhaps a b-day dinner celebration at The Dining Room?)

One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila …

That’s when I stopped counting.


Five tequilas to taste (reposado, platinum, anejo, paradiso, anniversario).

Hot in the Kitchen

Yesterday I was watching a rerun of Top Chef in which Stockton line cook Michael Midgley won an elimination challenge with a luscious-looking pairing of trout and salmon ensconced in a melange of vegetables. Midgley is pudgy, a bit unkempt, and in this episode he had just had emergency dental surgery, so his cheek was swollen and red. But as he layered the disk of trout against the steaming salmon, this perennial truth re-occurred to me:

There’s nothing quite as hot as a man who knows how to cook.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

We have a good time down here in the trenches, our food department of two (our oft-mentioned intrepid intern, Roxanne, makes three). Really, we do. Sometimes Sara and I knock off for an hour and go to Punjab Kebab, where we overeat chicken tikka masala and saag paneer and then return to our desks in a stupor. Some days, I make everything into a bet—with bottles of wine serving as the prize (I have seven bottles by my desk now. Sara has only four. Guess who’s winning?)

Sugar and Spice and People Who Aren't Nice

My generally very good-natured friend Alan is English and thus has no macho issues with things like wearing pink or his devotion to sweets. He’s a man who uninhibitedly finds great happiness in a “pudding” or a “cakey” (what we might call a “dessert” or a “pastry”). He's the kind of guy that jumps for joy.

Every Friday before he goes off to the biotech company where he works as a scientist, he and his wife Jina get themselves over to Tartine for a breakfast treat. It’s their endearing weekly ritual.


O, Yes

A friend came to town for a visit, so we broke out some Champagne on a Sunday night. It was also an occasion for my wife and me to get into our recurring argument—the Riedel O Champagne glass.


No stem?

A Very Good Year

If you haven't yet heard, 2005 was a stellar year in Beaujolais, a great wine region that has largely been forgotten in the modern vinous rush. The reason this place has been overlooked might be because it makes a lighter style of wine from a grape that no one talks about. Anyway, in 2005 the wines are not light, but are perfect medium-bodied wine. They have some tannic grip and loads of dark plummy fruit. I like them slightly chilled.


Almost Old Enough to Drink

Toronado, San Francisco's number one beer institution, celebrated its 20th anniversary on Saturday, meaning that it's only one year away from being alcohol-legal.


Revelers at Toronado.

It was a packed affair, as people spilled out into the streets, happily warmed by all sorts of great Belgian, German and, of course, local beers. Toronado's reputation as one of the best beer bars in the entire country is secured—as was proven to me a couple of years ago when I met a bartender who had traveled out all the way from Boston just to do a stint there.

Eating My Greens


The Dagwood to go.

Lettuce is my idea of rabbit food, not salad. Sure greens ought to be a major component, but, in my mind, a large, leafy salad just means a lot of chewing. If I’m looking to fill up on a meal-sized salad that brings together various layers of texture and tastes to make salad chewing worthwhile, I search no further than Mixt Greens.

Weir Cooking

I know Joanne Weir about as well as most people in San Francisco know Joanne Weir—which is to say, not at all, really, save for the familiarity that comes when you watch someone on television (Weir hosts a cooking show, Joanne Weir’s Cooking Class, on PBS) and read their cookbooks. But of course I knew of Joanne, and her excellent reputation as one of San Francisco’s most beloved food personalities and cooking instructors. She’s a consummate and hands-on teacher, and she has recently opened her home to small groups for week-long intensive cooking classes.
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