Full disclosure: I’m good friends with Gerald Hirigoyen, one of the most lovely, talented and hospitable chefs in town. In fact, we took a trip to Spain together about two years ago to this day. The coldest winter Spain had seen—snow on the beach in San Sebastian; the streets of Barcelona virtually empty as everyone tucked into cafes to escape the brutal winds and warm up with cigarettes and decadently soupy hot chocolate.
photography by Stefanie Michejda
Long, long ago I was tipped off via Raj Parr (the wine director at Michael Mina) about a place called Punjab Kabab House (101 Eddy St., 415-447-7499). I hate to admit how far back this dates, but let’s just say it was many moons ago when Raj was working at the Fifth Floor.
photography by Stefanie Michejda
Sadly, this is my last blog entry for 7x7. After a year and a half at the magazine, I’ve decided to pursue another career path.
Some people might think I’m crazy. Whenever I’ve told a new acquaintance that I write about restaurants and food, the usual response is, “That’s my dream job!” And it truly has been an incredibly cool job. I’ve met and interviewed some really interesting people, have gone to fun events, and have eaten at some of the city’s best restaurants.
When Cecilia Chiang (asianpacificfund.org/awards/bio_chiang.shtml) asks you to dinner, you know you’re in for a grand event—full of multiple courses and many toasts—no matter how highfalutin or no-nonsense the restaurant. In the case of an end of December meal, I found myself driving a bit white-knuckled, through fog and rain to get to KL Restaurant (4401 Balboa Street at 45th Street), a Cantonese spot that I’d never heard of. Cecilia leaned over to whisper to me “You don’t see Americans here!”—which was true, barring my parents who had come along, as well as food writer Patricia Unterman, a true eater who’s traveled the world over.
Lately the humble egg, normally reserved for breakfast, has gotten a lot of play at the dinner table at some of the city's best restaurants. In fact, one of the best creations I'd tasted last year was Vernon Morales' poached egg with bacon ice cream at the unfortunately-now-shuttered Winterland.
Mexican Combo Platter of 2006: Puerto Allegre (546 Valencia St., 415-255-8201)
It's not organically grown, locally produced, or even particularly fresh—it's an old-school Tex Mex heap of carbs and lard and meat, served in an always-hopping place with cheap pitchers of margs to wash it down.
Best Use of the Deep Fryer in 2006: Weird Fish (2193 Mission St, 415-863-4744)
Health concerns aside, you can't argue with the goodness of just about anything that's deep fried. My nominee for favorite new deep-fried item of 2006 is (drumroll, please): the fried yo-yos at Weird Fish in the Mission. Basically, they're thick slices of fried dill pickles served with a chipotle dipping sauce. They're wonderfully briny, crunchy and a much more interesting side than ho-hum fried potatoes.
The openings of Pizzeria Delfina (pizzeriadelfina.com), Little Star (littlestarpizza.com), which recently expanded with a second location in the Mission) and Bruce Hill’s Picco in Larkspur (restaurantpicco.com) in the past year or two had everyone touting SF’s “pizza renaissance.” As an East Coaster—who lived in Italy and in New York City for a few years—I still don’t think most of the ‘za here holds a candle to NYC. I’m not a pizza authority, but most of what I’ve tasted (with some of the exceptions listed above) have been lackluster.
I’m a condiment girl. When I order a burger, I slather the bun with ketchup and mustard (preferably Dijon, but yellow will do in a pinch). I dump Papalote’s (www.papalote-sf.com) blended salsa on my fish tacos, and I love dipping Frjtz fries (www.frjtzfries.com) into roasted-pepper mayo. Heck, even when I was a kid, I’d demand barbecue, sweet and sour and the oft-neglected honey so I could dunk my Chicken McNuggets to my heart’s content.