Even if you haven't yet ridden the Alice Waters/Chez Panisse media waves that have taken the world wide web by storm over the past month, you've probably heard that it's Chez Panisse's 40th birthday this year—next Sunday, August 29th, to be precise. This coming Wednesday—in an effort that's bound to draw crowds rivaling those at this weekend's SF Street Food Festival—Chez Panisse will continue its celebrations by serving lunch in Union Square. Obviously, it's not just any lunch. Click through to learn more about what's in store for the remainder of the most organic, locally-sourced birthday bash imaginable.
"Where's the beef from?" and "Is that grass-fed?" are common queries in the San Francisco food world. And with local offerings like 4505 Meats' meat-filled CSAs and things like pork happy hour at Fatted Calf in Hayes Valley, butchery practices are working their way even further into the city's vernacular. Now Avedano's Tia Harrison and Primal Cuts author Marissa Guggiana are taking things one step further wtih The Butcher's Guild, one of our country's first support groups for ethically-minded butchers. With local whole-animal advocates Ryan Farr and Chris Cosentino among the group's 23 charter members, The Guild is now reaching out to other members of the industry to expand its reach in the early going. Later this summer, they'll be recruiting lay people (i.e. meat geeks) as members.
Alice Waters and local nonprofit Garden for the Environment have been hard at work at Levi's Workshop on Valencia Street. They've been designing up art for Edible Schoolyards, her Chez-Panisse Foundation-helmed project that aims to get kids dirty in the garden and foster a sustainable food mentality from an early age. The poster design will help to brand Edible Schoolyard projects around the country. Head out to Levi's Workshop this Friday to see the unveiling!
I must admit it: I have a bit of a love affair with Fergus Henderson, the chef of London's St. John restaurant. I've never eaten at his restaurant--which is something of a canteen for the London art set--but I warmed immediately to his cheeky approach to food, as demonstrated in his terrific cookbooks and this series of funny videos on the St.
I wish that this was a joke, but it's not. Two days ago I received a press release from the Organic Consumers Association with the subject line "Picket at Chez Panisse Restaurant." Picket lines? At Chez Panisse? Chez Panisse, that place in Berkeley that does everything right? Oh, California. It seems the OCA will indeed be picketing in front of the restaurant today, on the occasion of the restaurant's 30th birthday (and can we just pause for a moment to recognize that—30 years!).
One night last fall at a wine dinner at Chez Panisse, Alice Waters got up to address the dining room and made a surprising confession. “Shame on me,” she said, “for paying so little attention to California wine. I had no idea what was going on underneath my nose all this time. And to think that it was through my daughter, Fannie, that I discovered something so important around me.”
Even though we know full well that lists—to-do lists, top-10 lists, lists of the best things to eat—are just a clever marketing ploy used by magazines to, well, sell magazines, we're just like everyone else: we fall for them every. single. time. Do I think the UK-based Guardian knows more than I do about what is good, culinarily speaking, in San Francisco? Judging by the speed with which I clicked on their "50 Best Foods In the World" list, the answer is yes.
One thing’s for sure—the French certainly know how to celebrate. Whether you’re looking to satisfy that craving for Chateaubriand or twirl your tail off to DJ Frenchy le Freak, this city’s got you covered on July 14. Join the French in festivities commemorating the birth of democracy on Bastille Day.
Oh, Alice. It's as if she's suddenly been thrust front and center into the real world—the cruel world that lies past our cozy, often smug 7x7-plus square miles of sustainable bubbliciousness. First there was the 60 Minutes interview where she baked an egg in a wood-fired oven in her kitchen as an example of a quick and easy breakfast that just about anyone could whip up. Of late, there's been the Obama's garden, a victory perhaps for Alice, but not necessarily one's she's going to get credit for. As Maureen Dowd wrote in her pro-Waters op-ed column on Saturday,
In about two weeks time, I will have reached my annual puff pastry saturation level, a point I get to after attending the first of many holiday parties. Soon after will come blue cheese canapé fatigue, followed by miniature crab cake malaise. For no matter how different a holiday party might be, the food is almost always the same. Here is my public service announcement: Break out of the mold!