Eat + Drink
Our friend the Tablehopper, AKA Marcia Gagliardi, asked me to pass along this notice of her upcoming wine tasting and class. The focus is the wines of Sicily, which are well worth knowing about. Sicily is a vast land will all kinds of different terroirs, from the hot and dry to the cool, lava-dominated soils of the still-active Mt Etna. As in California, all kinds of wines come from Sicily, from the most humdrum of bulk wines to some the most unique and intriguing wines in the world.
Tory Farms returned to the market last Saturday with baskets of their lovely May Crest peaches. The May Crest variety is one of the first to appear for the season and is remarkably sweet and flavorful. Rebecca and Tory Torosian of Tory Farms grow a wide variety of peaches, nectarines, and pluots throughout the season. This week, Rebecca tells me they’ll also have Rose Diamond nectarines and possibly a few of their wonderful apricots.
Who would have thought that San Francisco needed another wine bar? I guess we did, given the kind of slamming business RN74—named after the road that travels up and down the Cote D'Or, the heart of the Burgundy wine region—has been doing since it opened a few weeks back. (A couple of disclaimers: My wife, Christie Dufault, is one of the sommeliers there, and I am good friends with RN74's visionary Rajat Parr, one of the world's foremost Burgundy experts. So take what I say as you will. I also attended a comped "media dinner," but I've also been there and paid straight up for food and drink.) Nevertheless, my enthusiasm is genuine.
A couple of weeks ago, the Chicago-based Menu Pages blog posted an article entitled “Why Does Everyone Hate John Mariani?” It all started when Esquire critic—and author of the influential “Best New Restaurants” list—was in Chicago doing his rounds, which provoked some irate tweets from the likes of the chef de cuisine of Alinea about Mariani’s unethical ways—predominately about his decided lack of anonymity. Let’s just say the word “douchebaggery” was slung. (Why do bloggers and tweeters insist on using variations on this word?)
Those who know me (or who follow our 7x7bitsbites Twitter feed) know that I have been quietly obsessing over Schmidt's for quite a while now. Ever since first hearing that the space on 20th and Folsom, formerly occupied by El Farolito, was being taken over by the Walzwerk owners and that sausage, German snacks and beer were going to be in full effect only a block from my house, I have biding my time.
The job of a line cook can be brutal, but the best nights are when you get into a groove. Thing is, you never know what’s going to derail you.
Last month, Restaurant Gary Danko sommelier Michael Engelmann shocked the world (or at least the US sommelier community) by coming out of nowhere to win the coveted title Best Sommelier in America, a title conferred only once every two years. While Gary Danko and SF are not exactly "nowhere," it's true that Engelmann, who is not the restaurant's wine director, keeps a somewhat low profile. He's soft spoken, studious, mannered and not prone to behavior that causes him to really stand out of a crowd.
Not long ago, we wrote about Monk's Kettle's (my, that's awkward sounding) new program of monthly beer-pairing dinners. Which, by the way, is a great idea, as beer is arguably just-as, if not more, food-friendly than wine.
So, it's nice to see other restaurants getting into the act. In this case on June 17th it's Ame, lending executive chef Greg Dunmore's and kitchen guru Hiro Sone's talents to a menu paired with the (in)famously extreme ales of Delaware's Dogfish Head brewery (which even earned a profile in the New Yorker not long ago).
Well, the third annual San Francisco Cocktail Week came to an end on Monday with a closing bash at Jardinere. I, unfortunately, was not there, as I was instead actually bartending at Cantina. I pulled three shifts during the week, so my attendance at events was a bit more limited than I would have wished. Nevertheless, I got some sense of what was going on—what worked and what didn't.
I'm happy to say that overall I think the event was a rousing success. Parties were fun. Classes were largely well-attended and enthusiastic. Interesting people came in from out of town to see what was going on. The mood was great. Congratulations to the local bartenders and bar owners who planned the thing.
Yesterday I stopped by the Mission's latest addition, Flour + Water, to see how the team is doing after being open for a week. The answers, it seems, are 1) they're hot (small kitchen plus heat wave=sauna) 2) overworked and 3) unfailingly kind and cheerful, taking time to squire me around the kitchen. To say that they have been busy since they started serving dinner last Friday would be a gross understatement—they have been absolutely crazy jammed, quoting hour-plus waits at 7 p.m. and turning away people who arrive too late in the evening. Those who read my earlier post may remember that they are serving not only pizza, but also handmade pasta and house-cured charcuterie.