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Eat + Drink

Just Like Us

I’ll admit that one of my guilty pleasures is reading bad celebrity magazines. I usually restrict my reading to airplanes and at the dentist’s office (where no magazine, no matter how trashy, will distract me from my fate). But I’ve never really understood Us Weekly’s “Just Like Us” bit, where they catch celebs jogging, say, or buying toothpaste, then slug it with “Stars! They’re Just Like Us!” Yeah, just like us, save for the million-dollar paychecks, throngs of paparazzi and houses in Beverly Hills. Well, like somebody’s mother once said, we all put our pants on one leg at a time. And, apparently, like Crest.

Big-Time Chef Goes South



Chef Luke Mangam at South, the day before its big opening party.

Running with the Fishermen



I just got back from a week’s vacation in Cartagena, where fresh-picked fruit and just-caught fish are always at your fingertips.



The eating was good, which is one reason why I stepped out to run a few miles on the beach every other day, despite the three-digit temperatures. During these morning runs, I’d exchange thumbs up with all the fishermen pulling in what looked like very heavy nets. With such abundance from the sea, it’s no surprise that breakfast was my only fish-free meal.

Spruce It Up

Spruce the long-awaited bar and restaurant on Sacramento Street in Laurel Village opened a couple of months ago. I finally had time to stop by and check out the cocktails and wine list at its exceedingly lovely bar.


A Shot and a Beer for Breakfast



This photo was taken at 11 a.m. in the morning. I know that the idea of me having a shot and a beer at that early hour confirms many people’s suspicions about me, but this was a special occasion. In fact I had worked behind the bar at Cantina from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., come home and stayed up all night working on a story for Wine and Spirits magazine. Actually, I slept for two hours and got back up at 4 a.m. and kept working. I finished the story between 10 and 11 that morning, and then it was time to have a drink and go to bed.

Learning to Let Go


Her name was Lolo, she was a showgirl

The Last Days of Tomatoes

We went to the farmer’s market last weekend and bought a 20-pound flat of tomatoes ($35 from the lovely people at Ella Bella farms), as it’s one of the last weekends of dry-farmed early girl tomatoes this year. The tomatoes get softer and sweeter at the end of the season, but you want them a little earlier than that—when they still have great acidity.


Philadelphia Freedom

I enjoy comparisons. Comparisons, after all, are what we use to make most decisions. “Do I want oatmeal or pancakes for breakfast?” To decide, you mentally compare the two. “Should I continuing dating Jake, or is it just going to end badly, like Jack did?” Again, you compare. “Do I take the high-paying but boring job or the low-paying creative job?”

Talk, Eat, Listen


Michael Pollan is all smiles and ready for his big dinner at Fort Mason.

I’d make a horrible revolutionary. I don’t have the myopic focus of an Alice Waters or the drive of a Michael Pollan. Last night, I set down the latest Gourmet magazine, which focuses on the “farm-to-fork” movement, with a sigh. Instead of being moved, as I was a few years back, I felt tired. Even worse, I felt compelled to do something bad—like eat a pineapple.

Cal-Mex Hits Maine

I’m always reminded that some of the best things are the most unexpected. Happy accidents, I think they're are called, and they seem to occur most just when you stop looking. I spent last week touring around the great state of Maine, visiting farmers and checking out local restaurants (did you miss me?) and in the process was reminded of the greatness of serendipity.
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