Beer & Ale
So the other day I went to check out Hukilau, that rather nondescript yet somehow noticeable little restaurant on the corner at the big intersection of Masonic and Geary. I'd been wondering about it for a long time and, as one of its bartenders, Kimmie, has come into Cantina (where I sometimes tend bar), I decided to see what it was all about.
Samuel Adams, the Massachusetts-based brewery, runs a really cool competition each year called Longshot in which home brewers from all over the country submit their beers for judging. The winning beers are then brewed by Sam Adams for national release and feature a portrait of the brewer on the label. I recently tasted a Weizenbock from a Chicago-area winner--delicious, as was a grape ale made by the winner of the Sam Adams employee homebrew competition.
I hadn't been to a true happy hour in years, but the other day I stumbled into the one at O Izakaya. Beers, well sake and well drinks were each $3, which seemed like a pretty good deal (I drank Sapporo). What was a great turn on, though, was the food, priced on a special happy-hour $5 list. We sampled the seaweed salad, ultra-fresh hamachi and the tempura/beer-battered onion rings and loved all of it.
Going through airports is as bad as it’s ever been. I don't mind taking off my shoes in security--it's the belt that's annoying. One thing that's made flying better, however, is the appearance of local food and beverage vendors in the terminals. I noted this trend a decade ago in my native Austin, TX, as its then-new airport sported such local favorites as Matt's Famous El Rancho (Tex-Mex), Schlotzsky's (sandwiches) and the ever-popular Salt Lick BBQ, whose airport location is closer to the original restaurant (and its pit) than downtown Austin is, so you know the meat is fresh.
Green beer. Everyone makes fun of me for having my ritual St. Patrick's Day toast with a glass of chromatologically-enhanced beer. And of course, it is a silly and cheesy practice, but that's why I like it. Beer just seems to taste good when it's green and the day is the 17th of March. Naturally, I'm listening to the Pogues’ If I Should Fall from Grace with God (their best album, and don't even try to tell me otherwise) as I write (and drink). Green beer also tastes better when consumed with a shot of Jameson before noon on St. Patrick's Day.
Had a chance to visit the new Yoshi's on Fillmore with our food editor, Sara Deseran, the other night. The array of interesting dishes presented to us kept us busy, but not as busy as all the delicious things to drink. We were helped along the way by the impressively knowledgeable and enthusiastic saké expert Ben Baker. He kept our glasses full of everything from a flowery, nuanced daiginjo to a solid, fruity gingo to an earthy shochu. Baker taught us the progression of these that a Japanese person would follow at a similar meal, which, contrary to the order we drink wine in the West, flows from the most fine and flavorful to the most solid and plain.
Last week, I had my first experience of an SF tradition--late night dining at the Grubstake. In 6.5 years of living here, I'd never been. But last week, after getting off a shift at Cantina at about midnight, I went over there with my wife (who was also just getting off work) for a bite. We were starving, but stayed away from the Portuguese specialties like linguiça, the famous pork sausage. Instead, we just had a burger and some of those fried jalapenos filled with cream cheese. These were a novelty to Christie—who was disappointed not to find them more spicy—but were familiar to me, as they're common back in Texas, where I grew up.
At my friend's Superbowl party yesterday, the spread could not have been more classic—chips, guacamole, 7-layer dip, homemade wings and someone brought a tray of sushi that went mostly uneaten. The drinks were, as another friend likes to call them "macrobrews," though, like my beloved Pacifico and that macro masquerading as a micro, Sam Adams. This photo was taken, that's right, deep into the fourth quarter, as the Superbowl party is the year's first opportunity to excuse one's self from new year's dieting plans and eat carcinogenic snacks.