Chef Ken Tominaga reaches over a refrigerated case stacked with pristine slabs of fresh fish and places a slice of raw sea bream, which is wrapped over a Brazil-nut-sized clump of sushi rice, onto a pretty ceramic plate. “No dipping,” he advises. This, I already knew. I became a fan of Tominaga’s sushi spot, Hana Japanese Restaurant, 14 years ago after Japanese chef Hiro Sone (of Ame and Napa’s Terra) clued me in. Hidden in a low-slung strip mall off the 101 in the Santa Rosa suburb of Rohnert Park, this was where he and his wife, Lissa, ventured when they craved one of Northern California’s most elusive culinary indulgences: good, authentic sushi.
Even the literati have style moments sometimes. Tell, don't show, with these quotable looks.
To appreciate Thad Vogler’s commitment to craft spirits, heritage cocktails, and the art of thoughtful bartending, you must witness him eat an apple. Measuring 6 feet 8 inches, the renowned liquor authority has the strong carriage of, he says, a horse, and thus tackles his fruit accordingly. “The first time I ever saw Thad eat an apple, it was a revelation,” says Jon Santer, owner of the Prizefighter bar in Emeryville.
The greatness of Northern California dining, any local will tell you, starts with the top-notch ingredients grown here. But creative Bay Area chefs and farmers aren’t always satisfied with the standard bounty: They’re scouring the globe for a slew of exotic varietals to add to the regional mix. This new bumper crop of fruits, herbs, and vegetables is cool, kooky (lollipop kale, anyone?), and—in the right hands—refreshingly delicious. Meet the new “locals.”
As Traci Des Jardins would drive over the Golden Gate Bridge en route back into San Francisco, she’d gaze upon the Presidio’s thick forests and wonder how that dramatic plot of land, now a national park, came to be. As she devised the concept for The Commissary, her brand-new restaurant housed in the former army post’s main barracks, she was inspired by its history as a military settlement originally established by Spanish conquistadores in the 1800s.
If this image by Sally Mann—a portrait of her five-year-old daughter—strikes you as more provocative than a kindergartener’s photo should be, you’re not alone. Jessie at 5, 1987 “complicates straightforward notions of beauty,” says Allison Harding, curator of the SFMoMA-Asian Art Museum exhibit, “Gorgeous,” opening this month.
When Thad Vogler isn’t busy helming a restaurant empire or traveling the world in search of spirits worthy of his bar counters (only the best, natch), you’ll likely find him noshing, imbibing, partaking, and relishing in any of the following: