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Crustacean Cravings

Crab roll

Food memories have been haunting me lately. Although I’ve made SF my home, there are definitely times (usually the summer) when I toy with the idea of hopping on a plane home to D.C.—Bethesda, actually—for a brief visit. The tomatoes, peaches, corn and cantaloupe that I grew up eating have not met their fresh, juicy, perfectly flavorful match here in California—believe it or not. And then there are steamed Maryland blue crabs with a touch of Old Bay. MMMMMM.

Hottest Dog in Town

Photo by Stefanie Michejda.

Earlier this week I went to B Restaurant & Bar, the new, glass-enclosed restaurant/lounge in Yerba Buena Gardens just next to Samovar. It’s the third outpost of Boxed Foods on Kearny, a Hartle Media lunchtime favorite with its super-fresh, delicately dressed organic salads and inventive takes on traditional sandwiches.

Gay Pride

I have a brother and three brothers-in-law, all under the age of 32, so even though I live in a very female household with my partner Sarah and our two girl pets, I consider myself in touch with boys. Well, I guess I should qualify that—I feel very in touch with bad boy humor. It’s not something I’m entirely proud of, but there you have it.

In any case, I was walking down Grant Ave. today through Chinatown on my way to an interview when I happened to pass a sign for a restaurant advertising their early dinner special. First item on the menu?

Small homos plate.

All in the Family

I usually go home for Christmas, but when my brother goes to his in-laws’, my parents fly out here from D.C., and we spend the holiday wine tasting, eating out and getting pampered at the Sonoma Mission Inn. That was the case this past year. Feeling extra adventurous, we decided to take a day trip to the Anderson Valley—fast becoming my favorite wine-tasting locale—and that’s how I discovered Esterlina, a family owned and run winery up in Philo.


Gator's gumbo.

Soul food. Those two words go so well together. Down in San Mateo (a nice little drive to a walkable and charming Main Street when you feel like getting out of the city for the evening), chef Glenn “Gator” Thompson, an Oakland native, recently opened Gator's Neo-Soul Café. The new space is airy, modern, very warm. Last Friday, a lone musician sang the blues at just the right volume throughout the meal. And if you sit at the chef’s counter abutting the open kitchen, Gator will likely come chat you up.

Happy (belated) Bastille Day!

I spent Saturday involved in very un-French pursuits—no petanque, profiteroles or pommes frites for me, unfortunately. Years ago, when I was working at a cooking school in France (an experience that was in equal parts miserable and glorious) we celebrated Bastille Day by producing 1,000 gougeres (cheese puffs) and 1,000 palmiers (elephant ear pastries fashioned from puff pastry that we made from scratch) for the celebration in the town square. By the end of it I was so tired and so sick of pastry that I didn’t even attend the party.

What you don't know might (not) hurt you

Alaska's answer to good food: Blackened halibut pizza.
In a word: delicious.

Deer-Free Sushi

Last Tuesday, I met my friend Tasha at Sebo—her hands down favorite sushi restaurant in the city, and maybe even the world. It was a timely visit since I had just read “Waiter, There’s a Deer in My Sushi”—one of the most emailed New York Times articles that day—about how chefs in Japan are dealing with the tuna shortage. Anyway, one extreme solution was to use smoked deer meat for its maguro-red color (ew). Horsemeat was another solution, but I’m not going there.

Sometimes You Feel Like a 'Nut

Photograph courtesy of Scott Peterson

People continually ask me what my favorite restaurant in the city is, and I’m always at a loss to answer. I have favorite diners, favorite pizza joints, favorite five-stars, favorite neighborhood spots, favorite classics, favorite newcomers, and finally, the most important and difficult category: favorite places to take visiting out-of-towners.

Carnivorous Knowledge

Don’t go to Espetus, the Brazilian steakhouse on Market Street at Gough, unless you’re starving, because you’re in for a fixed-price, all-you-can-eat session of marathon meat-eating, which stomach needs to be empty to fully enjoy. There is no menu and no ordering. I suggest starting with a glass of sangria or a caipirinha before heading up to the salad bar, where you’ll find soup, paella and roasted potatoes in addition to fresh vegetables. With your drink, the Gaucho-styled waiters deliver a coaster-sized chip colored red on one side, green on the other. Keep the green side up, and the waiters will come to your table bearing huge skewers of meat fresh from the fire in a continual revolving feast.
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