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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Closing of the Eagle Tavern Will Rip a Hole in the City's Cultural Fabric

Posted By on Tue, Apr 12, 2011 at 6:01 PM

Scene at the Eagle after Pride last year. - BRIAN M./YELP
  • Brian M./Yelp
  • Scene at the Eagle after Pride last year.

At our sister arts and culture blog the Exhibitionist, SF Weekly's Keith Bowers reflects on what the imminent closing of the Eagle Tavern ― slated for April 30, by an out-of-town landlord who apparently wants to open a very different kind of bar in the legendary SOMA space ― will mean to the city at large, quite apart from guys who might have a pair of assless chaps clipped to a hanger in the closet. Bowers:

It was known as a gay, leather, and biker bar, but its clientele was manifold. One poster on Yelp reports: "This place is also very woman friendly, so it's one of the few gay bars in S.F. where both men women, gay and straight, hang, and get along, and are not isolated from one another" ... Its Sunday Beer Bust was legendary as a place people could go for some bawdy daytime fun while also giving money to a good cause.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wall Street Journal Reports on JapaCurry Story

Posted By on Wed, Feb 23, 2011 at 6:41 PM

JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall

Oh, look: The Wall Street Journal noticed JapaCurry's struggle to find a parking spot Downtown. Tomorrow's online edition of the WSJ includes a story by Jim Carlton, who talks to restaurant owners in the FiDi and beyond. One owner is conspicuous by her silence, though: Alison Rowe. Read: "Restaurants, Food Trucks in Turf War."

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook. Contact me at John.Birdsall@SFWeekly.com

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why Was 'Urban Homesteading' Issued a Trademark in the First Place?

Posted By on Thu, Feb 17, 2011 at 4:36 PM

Is this book ― published in June 2008 ― evidence that the Dervaes family's claim to the term "urban homesteading" is full of shit? - SHIRA GOLDING/FLICKR
  • Shira Golding/Flickr
  • Is this book ― published in June 2008 ― evidence that the Dervaes family's claim to the term "urban homesteading" is full of shit?

SFoodie's Sean Timberlake weighs in today at Punk Domestics on the fight over usage of "urban homesteading" and its variations. Timberlake explains:

In October of last year, the Dervaes family, of Homestead in the City in Pasadena, ... acquired registered trademark status for both "Urban Homestead" and "Urban Homesteading" ― and have been sending notifications to blogs and other sites that use those terms to either change the usage or apply the ® symbol and give credit to them for it.
Since yesterday, when the story blew up, OC Weekly's Gustavo Arellano has been documenting the Dervaeses idiocy in real time, idiocy that includes firing off cease-and-desist letters to DIY blogs (also: the Santa Monica Public Library, which hosted an urban homesteading event) who use the term.

Timberlake wonders about the Dervaeses' legal bullying here in the Bay Area, notably against Oakland's Institute of Urban Homesteading, which Timberlake says has had its Facebook page blocked. (For more, including an interview with the Institute of Urban Homesteading's K. Ruby Blume, check out the story by the Bay Citizen's Twilight Greenaway. "'They're trying to boot out everybody whose using urban homesteading to describe what they do, so they can make it distinctive,' says Blume. 'That's what a lot of big corporations do.'")

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Is Banning Shark's Fin Racist?

Posted By on Tue, Feb 15, 2011 at 6:04 PM

Leland Yee.
  • Leland Yee.

Today, the San Francisco Chronicle surveyed the battle emerging over a recently introduced state assembly bill proposing to ban the sale and import of shark's fin throughout California. The pro and con camps are defining it as a fight over cultural heritage versus environmental conservation.

According to the New York Times, 73 million sharks are killed annually just for their fins, and numerous species of shark are already nearing population collapse. This December, a federal ban on shark finning in U.S. waters was passed, but since it doesn't regulate the sale of imported shark fins, it's not keeping the expensive ingredient out of markets and restaurants here. AB 376 doesn't attempt to identify and eliminate loopholes ― it completely shuts down trade.

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Monday, January 31, 2011

Does This Faux Condom Dish Go Too Far?

Posted By on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 at 6:03 PM

Alvin Leung Jr.'s "Sex on the Beach," which resembles a discarded condom, is 100 percent edible. - LIFESTYLEASIA.COM
  • lifestyleasia.com
  • Alvin Leung Jr.'s "Sex on the Beach," which resembles a discarded condom, is 100 percent edible.

Our favorite morsel from the blogs.

Faux dirt ― edible simulacra of garden humus ― has become fashionable in recent years, but this is ridiculous. At Identita' Golose, an Italian gastro congress unfolding in Milan, Hong Kong's self-styled "demon chef," Alvin Leung Jr., unveiled "Sex on the Beach," a dish resembling a used condom flung onto sand. The edible "condom" is made by dunking a metal cigar tube into a food-grade polymer. It's partially filled with a milky fluid of honey and Yunnan ham emulsion, arranged on powdered shiitake mushrooms (i.e., the "sand"). If you missed it in Milan, cheer up: You can fly to Leung's restuarant in Hong Kong, Bo Innovation (tagline: "X-Treme Chinese Cuisine"; Bourdain's been) to, uh, taste it (do you use a knife and fork, or pick it up with your fingers and throw your head back?). Proceeds go to a local AIDS organization.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook. Contact me at John.Birdsall@SFWeekly.com

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Even in San Francisco, Seafood Sustainability Is Suspect

Posted By on Thu, Jan 27, 2011 at 5:50 PM

Sardines are an anytime food.
  • Sardines are an anytime food.

Today, San Francisco magazine published an amazing investigative piece by Erik Vance. Vance doesn't just accept local chefs' commitment to sourcing what they call "sustainable seafood" ― he checks up on their claims.

There is a booming demand for sustainably caught fish. ... But at the same time, many of our most famous chefs continue to put unsustainable choices like ahi tuna, monkfish, and farmed salmon on their menus, while their most respected suppliers keep selling red-listed fish to whoever wants it. Even the many chefs who go out of their way to ask the right questions of the people they get their fish from can be misled by the half-truths told all along the supply chain. 

Vance's central character is Kenny Belov, the co-owner of Fish in Sausalito. Belov isn't just a restaurateur. His concerns over the gap between the perceived and actual sustainability of seafood has propelled him into becoming a wholesaler, an anti-farmed-salmon advocate, and a trout farmer. Belov makes the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program look like it's dabbling in half measures. (The chart's "yellow" section? He thinks it's bogus.)

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Getting to the Bottom of Taco Bell's 'Taco Meat'

Posted By on Tue, Jan 25, 2011 at 3:46 PM

Taco Bell's Beefy 5-Layer Burrito ($1.39), a sort of paste-within-a-paste. - JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall
  • Taco Bell's Beefy 5-Layer Burrito ($1.39), a sort of paste-within-a-paste.

Taco Bell's getting sued by a California woman pissed that the fast-food chain's beef products contain so little actual meat, they're guilty of false advertising. The L.A. Times explains:

The class-action suit, which does not ask for money, objects to Taco Bell calling its products "seasoned ground beef or seasoned beef, when in fact a substantial amount of the filling contains substances other than beef." It says Taco Bell's ground beef is made of such components as water, isolated oat product, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch and sodium phosphate, as well as some beef and seasonings.
The attorney alleges that only 15 percent of Taco Bell's ground beef-like substance is actually even protein, and just over a third if it is even a solid ― the rest is some sort of starchy slurry, apparently.

SFoodie set out to do a little journalistic investigation. First stop: Taco Bell's website, which claims that the chain's "taco meat" is "made from" USDA-inspected beef. That "made from" part is troubling, but don't worry ― at least it never sees the inside of a freezer:

It tastes great because it's simmered in 12 authentic seasonings and spices and is never frozen. Moreover, our taco meat is leaner than what you'll find in a restaurant-cooked hamburger because of the unique way that we prepare our taco meat and remove fat.
To test that taste claim, SFoodie's second stop was the Taco Bell at Duboce and Guerrero for the Beefy 5-Layer Burrito ($1.39), figuring anything that made such a confident claim for meatiness would have to deliver. Wouldn't it?

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Is Umami Not All That?

Posted By on Wed, Jan 19, 2011 at 6:10 PM

The Umami Burger in question. - JENNIFER CHONG/FLICKR

Today, meat-loving provocateur and Time columnist Josh Ozersky posted a piece on the magazine's website inspired by the nationwide expansion of Umami Burger. The L.A.-based chain is supposed to lard its burger meat with ingredients that boost its umami, a taste that many of us perceive vaguely as big flavor.

You hear a lot about umami right now. The foodista product of the day is Taste #5, a paste said to include porcini mushrooms and anchovies. The ultimate umami-additive, MSG, isn't exactly returning to favor, but dashi and anchovies are certainly showing up on local menus that had ignored them for a while. Ozersky, however, has had enough of this umami talk:

Despite the fact that umami is frequently translated from the Japanese

as "deliciousness" or "savoriness," it's really neither; like salt, it's

best used as a flavor enhancer. Salt doesn't taste good by itself, even

in its most expensive and exalted volcanic-smoked crystal form; but put

it with something else, and it immediately makes that other thing

better.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Heart of the City's Soul

Posted By on Mon, Jan 17, 2011 at 6:52 PM

WENDY MACNAUGHTON/THE RUMPUS

Our favorite morsel from the blogs.

At The Rumpus, Artist Wendy MacNaughton offers a graphic window on what it takes to be a vendor at the Heart of the City farmers' market, one of the city's oldest. See more from MacNaughton at her website, wendymacnaughton.com.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Contact me at John.Birdsall@SFWeekly.com

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Amuse Bouche Vendor Finds New Amusements

Posted By on Wed, Jan 12, 2011 at 5:22 PM

The Celibi-Ariners in Paris: They've sort of moved on. - MURAT CELEBI-ARINER/MISSION LOC@L
  • Murat Celebi-Ariner/Mission Loc@l
  • The Celibi-Ariners in Paris: They've sort of moved on.

Our favorite morsel from the blogs.

Plus ça change. In late 2009 the city's card-table street-food scene glowed under the lights of TV crews, and stopping the deportation of Amuse Bouche street vendor Murat Celebi-Ariner became the Mission's cause célèbre. Yesterday Mission Loc@l's Octavio Lopez Raygoza filed a followup on Celebi-Ariner and his wife, Pelin, a U.S. citizen who followed her husband to Paris after ICE booted him. (Funny story ― Celebi-Ariner overstayed his temporary visa, then procrastinated on his green card application.)

But in the same way S.F. street diners have moved on from apartment-baked muffins and chai from pump pots to chef-grade food from trucks, the Celebi-Ariners seem to have moved on from the whole incident. They have 4-month-old kid, Murat works in a comic book store, Pelin teaches English, and ― well ― Parisians don't really get street food. Mission Loc@l:

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