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Haight, Upper and Lower

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

At Buyer's Best Friend, You Can Sample Any Food in the Store

Posted By on Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 8:30 AM

  • Christina Spittler

Nestled among the vintage stores and tie-dye of the Upper Haight is a new food nerd-friendly destination with a unique culinary purpose: to let you taste all of the inventory.

Operating initially as an online wholesaler and broker of gourmet and specialty products, Buyer's Best Friend Wholesale and Mercantile has now expanded its scope by adding a brick-and-mortar retail component to its business in hopes of sharing the extensive product catalog with a wider audience. And should that audience become hungry as they peruse the shelves stocked with Jade Chocolates, imported truffle flour, Saucy Mama mustard, and Stumptown coffee, shop associate Adam would be more than happy to offer samples of almost everything in the store. In fact, his unabashed enthusiasm about giving out said samples is second only to the tasty tidbits themselves.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Get Your Agave On: National Tequila Day and Boozy Fun

Posted By on Tue, Jul 24, 2012 at 12:30 PM

Blue agave growing in Jalisco, Mexico - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • Blue agave growing in Jalisco, Mexico
With National Tequila Day hitting us smack dab in the Tuesday, you now have a thinly veiled excuse to go out and have some margaritas or tequila at brand new Copita, Tommy's Mexican, Mosto, or Tres for lunch and dinner. The rest of the week is boozy too, and we have a look at where to quench your thirst over the humpday and beyond.

National Tequila Day Celebration at Copita

Where: Copita, 739 Bridgeway (at Anchor), Sausalito, 331-7400

When: Tuesday, July 24

The rundown: At Joanne Weir's new Mexican restaurant and tequila bar, the celebration is happening with tequila flights. Six dollars get you a taste of three Herradura tequilas including the blanco, reposado, and añejo for the great way to celebrate the day. If straight tequila isn't your thing, belly up to the bar for one of their house margaritas.

Mezcalistas Pop-up Mezcaleria

Where: The Bold Italic, 34 Page (at Franklin)

When: Wednesday, July 25, 6:30 to 9 p.m.

Cost: $60, tickets available online

The rundown: Mezcal, tequila's rustic cousin, is making serious headway into bars, and for good reason. Gone is the "worm at the bottom of the bottle" rotgut as the only choice, and now craft spirits from small villages are becoming more filling bar shelves. Learn more about the spirit, its production, and a tasting of mezcals by the Mezcalistas bloggers. Included with entry are tacos from Tamarindo restaurant's El TacoBike, and cocktails. Included in the tastings are Alipus (this will be its U.S. premiere), Pierde Almas, Del Maguey, Metl (espadin and madrecuishe -- not currently available in the Bay Area), and Wahaka.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Coffee Invasion: Augie's Storms San Francisco, Flywheel Roastery Hits the Haight

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Flywheel Roastery: newly opened, and still a work in progress. - JONATHAN KAUFFMAN
  • Jonathan Kauffman
  • Flywheel Roastery: newly opened, and still a work in progress.

It seems sometimes that San Franciscans grow too used to the reigning coffee regimes. Blue Bottle, Sightglass, Ritual, etc. have been prominent for so long that it's easy in the city to forget that the Bay Area and beyond (both North and South) is home to a bevy of up and coming coffee companies.

In an effort to keep a bead on the quickly evolving coffee scene, we've gathered up the news of the newest roasters to poke their heads in to the scene:

The Upper Haight is the newest neighborhood to be sucked in to the vortex of high-end coffee, or at least that's the idea behind Flywheel Roastery, the upscale cafe next to Whole Foods on Stanyan that threw open its doors on Friday. Word is to expect iced mochas, frappés, and sweet treats. Beans will be roasted on site once a roaster arrives, and baked goods include pumpkin bread and a homemade bread budding.  

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Drink of the Week: The Nauti' Mermaid at Maven

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2012 at 12:21 PM

Nauti' Mermaid with the Monterey Calamari - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • Nauti' Mermaid with the Monterey Calamari
Wine and beer have been natural companions with food for centuries, cocktails are notoriously challenging to pair (with the odd exception, like Margaritas and Mexican food). Higher alcohol can wreck havoc on delicate flavors, and the higher acidity typical of juice-based drinks can throw a meal off balance. Even with a move to sherry and lower alcohol cocktails, things don't always work as well as a glass of wine. But just because it doesn't usually work doesn't mean it can't be done well.

At Maven, bar manager Kate Bolton does an impressive job working with the kitchen, led by co-owner David Kurtz, to ensure that flavors and textures find a complementary balance. The Global Warming ($11, aged gin, sake, reisling, absinthe sorbet) has tart and herbal quality that sets off the shiso and apple in the Scallop Crudo ($12) making the dish even more impressive, as does the after-dinner drink and the dessert duo of the Beach & Hyde ($9, Four Roses Bourbon, Firelit Coffee Liqueur, vanilla, egg white, orange) paired with the Mayan Chocolate ($6, chocolate cake with cardamom ice cream).

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

While the Restaurant Is Being Built, Hapa Ramen's Doing More Pop-Ups

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 3:11 PM

  • Gil Riego, Jr.

While we wait for Hapa Ramen's permanent location at 1527 Fillmore to open this summer, preview pop-up dinners will have to suffice. Chef-owner Richie Nakano said things are moving slowly because of permits.

The next one takes place next Tuesday at Wing Wings in the Lower Haight. At this dinner, Nakano will go beyond ramen to offer a variety of smaller items including something sauteed, something fried, and something raw (Nakano says that he doesn't have a menu set because he likes to "fly by the seat of his pants.")

Teaser from the last popup: potato chips and Thai beef salad.
  • Teaser from the last popup: potato chips and Thai beef salad.

Because of the small space, which has about 10 seats for guests, expect to-go friendly plates. The dinner is cash only, and you're free to bring your own beer. "Anyone who's been to our pop-ups before will see a different side of our food at these dinners," Nakano says. "We're trying to simplify things on our end. We used to get technique-heavy, but are now working toward giving guests more of what they want." He's planning future popups once a month; stay up to date with the restaurant's progress by following Hapa Ramen's Twitter feed.

Hapa Ramen Popup

Where: Wing Wings, 422 Haight (at Webster)

When: Tuesday, May 1, 6-10 p.m.

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Number 29: 18-Hour Brisket From Memphis Minnie's

Posted By on Thu, Apr 5, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Memphis Minnie's brisket, in sandwich form. - IANN IVY
  • Iann Ivy
  • Memphis Minnie's brisket, in sandwich form.

When your plate of 18-hour smoked brisket slides over the glass shelves at Memphis Minnie's, your stomach might balk a bit. This is an intimidating spread of food. In one corner: a bright-yellow cornbread muffin and two ramekins of vinegary slaw, smoky beans, or whatever else you might have chosen. In the other: a daunting pile of spice-crusted ovals of Memphis Minnie's signature 18-hour smoked brisket.


SFoodie's countdown of our favorite 50 things to eat and drink, 2012 edition

Though the claims of 18 hours of slow-smoked goodness seem impressive (and they are), brisket, the superficial and deep pectorals of the cow, are well-used muscles. Without lengthy cooking, the cut has a tendency to stay tough and stringy. Memphis Minnie's avoids even the suggestion of dry meat, by smoking it on-site over white oak. What emerges is a flat boulder of blackened meat, perfectly encrusted with a secret mix of dry ingredients and lightly charred meat. Once thinly sliced, the reward for this lengthy cooking period emerges. The meat itself is tender enough to be torn apart by the desperate fingers of a starved barbecue lover. 

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Upper Haight Farmers' Market Opens Today

Posted By on Wed, Apr 4, 2012 at 2:15 PM

What: Upper Haight Farmers' Market opening day

Where: Waller Street at Stanyan Street

When: Wed. April 4, 3-7 p.m.

Cost: Free

The rundown: Bigger is usually better, and this year's Farmers' Market in the Upper Haight offers just that. Stefan Robinson, Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association marketing promotions manager, told SFoodie that this season's opening day is expected to draw an impressive, turnout much like last Sunday's Glen Park Farmers' Market opening.

"More people are using the Farmers' Market as more of a grocery store rather than a place to hang out," said Robinson.

To make it a more user friendly experience, chef Mario Hernandez will be hosting tours and Q&A's of top produce picks. Tomatero Farm and the bakery Vive Le Tarte will present new organic offerings. As weather improves and more sun shines through, Robinson says more vendors will appear at the Farmers' Markets. Slated next for the season opening is the Mission Bay Farmers' Market next Wed., April 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Ice Cream Bar Is an Adult-Friendly Soda Fountain

Posted By on Wed, Mar 28, 2012 at 9:21 AM

An Ice Cream Bar soda jerk, and the mammoth pistachio milkshake (that's the one on the right). - LARA HATA
  • Lara Hata
  • An Ice Cream Bar soda jerk, and the mammoth pistachio milkshake (that's the one on the right).

And there are plenty of kids hanging around the scoops at Cole Valley's Ice Cream Bar -- the subject of this week's full-length restaurant review. But the space, a moody reconstruction of a Deco-era soda fountain, complete with 1930s fountain in back, feels like adult territory, especially after dinner time. Owner Juliet Pries and bartender Russell Davis are resuscitating an older notion of what a soda fountain is: a place where Prohibition-idled bartenders took to shaking up cream and eggs, where the fizzy drinks were once spiked with medicinal tonics such as cocaine and morphine, and where the sodas were made with a very adult level of attention to flavor.

Like the pre-Prohibition cocktails that SF's craft bartenders are reviving, the Ice Cream Bar's neo-fountain sodas are served up with an obsessive detail that borders on the ridiculous. But they can also be -- in the case of this pistachio milkshake, for example, made with imported pistachio syrup and served with a sour-cherry froth on top -- ridiculously good.

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Drink of the Week: Suck the Monkey

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2012 at 3:00 PM

  • Put the lime in the coconut and shake it all up
  • Lou Bustamante
Watching Mike Moran, co-owner and bartender at Hobson's Choice in the Upper Haight, make a Suck the Monkey ($10, coconut water, a blend of six rums, lime juice) by carefully using a drill and squeeze bottles on a coconut is both impressive and fascinating--besides the professor on Gilligan's Island, few people can take a coconut and turn it into something quite as unique.

The fun-factor is pretty amazing: a whole coconut gets filled with a flavorful blend of rums that produces one of the best combinations of fresh coconut water and spirits I've tasted, feeling neither thin, minerally, nor overly rummy. Served in limited quantities and rather sporadically (you need to check Twitter:@HobsonsChoiceSF to know what day) starting at 3pm, they go fast. Drinking one of these will get you a lot of questions, smiles, and drinking buddies so quickly that you'll feel anything but stranded on a desert isle.

Hobson's Choice, 1601 Haight (at Clayton), 621-5859

Lou Bustamante tweets at @thevillagedrunk. Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.
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Friday, February 10, 2012

Drink of the Week: A New Orleans Hangover Never Felt So Good

Posted By on Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 11:45 AM

  • Lou Bustamante

The tiny bar in the back of Ice Cream Bar, the Cole Valley spot that is attempting to revive the lost art of the soda fountain, is unlike most anything I've seen before. The assortment of tiny bottles, each containing a tincture or extract, lined up next to Boston shaker tins suggest a bar, while the soda jerks in crisp white shirts and paper hats conjure up the pop nostalgia of 1950s ice cream shops.

  • Lou Bustamante

The result is something unique, and although they don't serve cocktails or alcohol, the techniques employed to create the sodas, floats, phosphates, and lactarts come straight from the bar. With a menu designed by Rickhouse bartender Russell Davis and staffed by soda jerks who also work in bars, the approach is refined with recipes sourced from or made in the style of the 19th century.

Initially attracted to the name, the New Orleans Hangover ($8, chicory coffee syrup, soda water, golden eagle tincture--with saffron and St. John's Wort, house-made sweet cream ice cream), goes down like a lush version of the chicory coffee based cafés au lait served in the Big Easy. It may not save you from the pain of a night of overindulgence, but it'll unquestionably be the best hangover you ever had.

The Ice Cream Bar & Soda Fountain, 815 Cole (at Frederick), 742-4932.

Lou Bustamante tweets at @thevillagedrunk. Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

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