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Friday, December 3, 2010

Sugar Meets Science Geekery at Exploratorium After Dark

Posted By on Fri, Dec 3, 2010 at 4:40 PM

Creme Brulee Man Curtis Kimball. - MATT BAUME
  • Matt Baume
  • Creme Brulee Man Curtis Kimball.

Last night's first-Thursday Exploratorium After Dark party took a serious insulin dive as it focused on sugar, with food historian Michael Krondi holding forth on desserts and Alexandre Trouan spinning sugar art, all haunted by artist Scott Hove's Cake Vault, a monstrous candy house ― even street food represented (see above). Matt Baume documented the sweet science geekery in photos; click through his glittering slideshow over there on the right. We've extracted a single frame here just to entice.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Ken Ken at The Corner: Gentler Broth, Tastier Pork

Posted By on Fri, Nov 19, 2010 at 5:57 PM

Miso ramen, $11. - LUIS CHONG
  • Luis Chong
  • Miso ramen, $11.

Ken Ken's re-launch last night at new location The Corner attracted many Mission residents (and a few neighborhood restaurant owners) eager to sample the goods.

Approaching the entrance on 18th Street, we spied Ken Ken's signature red paper lantern: We were in the right place. We fell in love with the new venue. The tight space with black chairs and tables resembles ramen shops in Japan. And The Corner's waitstaff is clearly more professional and competent than the staff at Panchitas #3.

Meals start similarly, with complimentary edamame, but last night's ice-cold pods were in stark contrast to the warm, spicy garlic edamame of the old pop-up. The taste revealed that they'd been boiled in garlicky broth.

It didn't take long to get our bowl of miso ramen. Those of us who got the opportunity to taste the original version could tell right away that last night's broth was not the same. Chef Miyazaki's was similar to the gentle, balanced flavor of the broth at Suzu Noodle House (maybe he was influenced by his fine-dining experience cooking at Bushi Tei). Taka Hori's broth is closer to the style at Katana-ya: more traditional, a bit more salty.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Craft Brews Illuminate Deli Classics at Saul's-Shmaltz Mashup

Posted By on Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 4:20 PM

Smoked herring on potato coins, paired with Shmaltz's Genesis Ale. - ALEX HOCHMAN
  • Alex Hochman
  • Smoked herring on potato coins, paired with Shmaltz's Genesis Ale.

Here's the shocker about last night's Shmaltz beer and Jewish foods pairing at Saul's Deli: It completely worked. As a deli purist who drinks only Dr. Brown's or plain seltzer with a pastrami sandwich and potato knishes, I was skeptical. Shmaltz's Zak Davis tells me he thinks younger Jews are getting into the craft beer movement, and that events like last night's might help turn them on to old-school deli classics. Conversely, he's hoping that Shmaltz's regular presence on the Saul's beer list will introduce traditionalists to multiple brews.

We started with a sliver of chef Jon Bradbury's house-smoked herring served on a Genesis Ale-poached potato coin, matched with a glass of the same ale. The herring was intensely smoky ― a good thing. Both in potato and liquid form, the crisp ale acted as a palate cleanser, meaning our second and third bites were as thrilling as the first. A hunk of Marin Sun Farms pot roast had a mellow nuttiness thanks to a braise in Messiah Bold Nut Brown Ale, which we drank alongside.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

When Pink Ice Cream Isn't Gay Enough: Tranny Smackdown at Humphry Slocombe

Posted By on Mon, Aug 23, 2010 at 10:21 AM

One. Tranny. Mess. - JONATHAN KAUFFMAN
  • Jonathan Kauffman
  • One. Tranny. Mess.
Last night, the corner of 24th Street and Harrison transformed into 110 percent queer space: A rainbow arch of balloons. A DJ spinning crackety-queen house. A Beach Blanket Babylon star in a giant pink dress. A waifish sailor in dress whites. Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Gos. Dolled-up drag queens ― when two or three of you gather in our name, Suppositori Spelling always appears. 

All this was Humphry Slocombe's way to honor Big Gay Ice Cream Truck's Douglas Quint, in town from New York for the day to participate in the SF Street Food Festival conference. Quint was in full relax mode, drinking beers and chatting with the crowd; one woman showed up in one of his T-shirts, earning herself an extra-big hug.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Bar Agricole: California Redux

Posted By on Fri, Aug 13, 2010 at 2:41 PM

A server passes fritto misto at last night's Bar Agricole friends and family party. - JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall
  • A server passes fritto misto at last night's Bar Agricole friends and family party.
It's been trendy in some quarters to bash the pure product of Bay Area foodism, all that minimal tweaking of ingredients, the short jog from farm to table, and a cookbook shelf that makes an even shorter walk from Elizabeth David to Alice Waters. But last night at the crazy clusterf%*k that was Bar Agricole's friends, family, and media christening, I had pretty much one thought: California Cuisine is back, baby. Unabashedly, too.

Of course, Bar Agricole's visuals are anything but Panissean. The original 1900 Jackson Brewery has been repainted in a thick coat of Dwell modern, all concrete booths, glass-straw skylight sheaths, and urbanscape photo murals. But chef Brandon Jew's Judy Rodgers-meets-Paul-Bertolli passed nibbles (fritto misto with aïoli, gougères, melon and prosciutto, rillettes), the biodynamic compost in the herb-and-lettuce garden up front, the bar's obsession with sourcing ― it all seemed to celebrate the aesthetics of figs on a plate. Without apology.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Scenes from Last Night's Dine About Town Kickoff Party

Posted By on Thu, Jan 14, 2010 at 10:53 AM

Fish & Farm's Ben Sebastien (left) and Chad Newton. - M. LADD
  • M. Ladd
  • Fish & Farm's Ben Sebastien (left) and Chad Newton.
Yes, there was pig belly, but you had to wait for that one-ounce wine pour. Less than half an hour into last night's sold-out Dine About Town launch party under the Westfield San Francisco Centre dome, the lines for wine were 18 to 20 deep. The food was for the most part, meat-centric. Chouchou won the prize for variety (three offerings); Fish & Farm's pork belly and Luce's beef cheek slider tied for best meaty delight. Other restaurants dishing it out included Café Andree, Chez Papa Resto, Lark Creek Steak, and Urban Tavern. Dine About Town starts tomorrow; check out Jonathan Kauffman's advice for negotiating the options. Additional chef shots after the jump.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Yo-Ho-Ho and a $13 Cocktail: Opening Night at Smuggler's Cove a Rum-Soaked Taste of Excess

Posted By on Wed, Dec 9, 2009 at 11:07 AM

Downstairs at Hayes Valley's brand-new tiki bar: A blur of insiders and rum geeks. - C. ALBURGER
  • C. Alburger
  • Downstairs at Hayes Valley's brand-new tiki bar: A blur of insiders and rum geeks.
All three floors of Smuggler's Cove -- Hayes Valley's new ode to tiki libations without high-fructose corn syrup -- were packed to the gills at last night's opening. Owner Martin Cate said an eager throng of some 30 insiders and rum disciples showed up as the bar opened at 5 p.m., placing them into a slammed frenzy right from the start. "We're busier than any of our pre-opening preview nights," he said.

Veteran mixologist Jackie Patterson concocting one of the elaborate drinks. - C. ALBURGER
  • C. Alburger
  • Veteran mixologist Jackie Patterson concocting one of the elaborate drinks.
Sipping on a $13 Zombie (rum, lime, grapefruit, spices, Herbsaint) made by bartender Dominic Venegas confirmed allegations that SC is unlike most tiki bars. The quality of ingredients in these complex rum masterpieces is unprecedented in most of the U.S. Balk at the price tag, but know that this drink has the power and of two-in-one. You'll find a first glimpse of the menu's contents ― an encyclopedic account of rum through the ages ― and a sample of the bar's Exotic Cocktails From Legendary Tiki Bars after the jump.

Last night, cocktail geeks gushed over Cate's concoctions, while those who simply wanted to grab a drink and chill complained they didn't want to read a witty paragraph about their beverage before ordering. Others made jokes about the looong wait at the bar. But generally, the crowd proved San Francisco's tolerance when it's time to hold out for an expertly shaken, muddled, or, in this case, blended boozy concoction. (Makes us wonder where this stalwart resistance goes in the face of a temperature drop ― shiver me timbers!)

Some of Cate's drinks include upwards of eight ingredients ― not to mention requisite blending ― placing them firmly into bartender bad-guy territory. But Venegas and downstairs bar pal Jackie Patterson seemed to offer up their grumbles to the tiki gods. Cate mentioned Tuesday will be the regular night for these two. So if you want to try some of the best tiki drinks in the country prepared by some of San Francisco's most skilled bartenders, Tuesday's your night to dip into the SC sauce.

Smuggler's Cove 650 Gough (at McAllister), 869-1900; open daily 5 p.m.-close

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Tosca's 90th Birthday Party: Cappuccino, the Culterati, and Gavin

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2009 at 11:14 AM

It was a mix of the sliver-haired and the sliver-tongued. - M. LADD
  • M. Ladd
  • It was a mix of the sliver-haired and the sliver-tongued.
Last night was the 90th birthday party for North Beach institution Tosca Café (242 Columbus at Jack Kerouac Alley). By 6:30 p.m., the bar was crowded with silver-haired neighborhood denizens, journalists, and the local culterati (George Lucas, Carol Shorenstein Hays, Ward and Claudia Bushee, David Wiegand, etc.), as well as younger, leather-clad actor/dancer types. The $5 Anchor Steams were popular; so was a blend of cappuccino, chocolate, and brandy. The free spread included focaccia, olives, figs, tangerines, cured meats, and cheese.

Tosca owner Jeannette Etheredge glowed as she received a City proclamation from Mayor Gavin Newsom. She immediately took to the dance floor with friends, jamming to live music. Etheredge took over the bar in 1980. Since then, Tosca's not-so-secret backroom has welcomed Hollywood types of the likes of Sean Penn, Warren Beatty, Johnny Depp, and Clive Owen, to Pulitzer winners and international ballerinas. Ah, San Francisco. More pics after the jump.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Glitz, Glamour, and the Girl Fight That Almost Was: Who We Saw at SF Chefs.Food.Wine.

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 11:29 AM

M. Ladd
Circa's Erik Hopfinger, bearing tasty lamb chops.

At the opening reception for SF Chefs.Food.Wine. in Union Square last night, several attendees were giggling over reports that horns had trumpeted the appearance of Mayor Gavin Newsom minutes earlier. SFoodie spotted Michael Bauer and other Chronicle food and wine staffers chatting up Newsom near the BIG tent's front entrance on Powell Street. Time for a glass of Domaine Chandon, to kick things off, yes?


While the festive and fun Los Compas band played, attendees strolled, sipping (cocktails, wine, or Fiji water) and eating. Some brave dancers later hit the floor to strut their stuff.

 Many industry folks were in attendance, including chef Thomas Keller and Laura Cunningham (holding hands for much of the night), cookbook author Joanne Weir, Brock Keeling (SFist), Paolo Lucchesi (Eater SF), chefs Hubert Keller and Jamie Lauren, Patrick Haig (Citysearch), and catering maven Paula LeDuc. Bar stars included Brooke Arthur (her Smoke and Mirrors cocktail knocked us out in the best possible way), Martin Cate, Marco Dionysos, Reza Esmaili, Dominic Venegas, Thad Vogler, Neyah White, and Carlos Yturria.

M. Ladd
Swear to god, these sausages on a stick almost caused a fight.

Standout nibbles came from Erik Hopfinger of Circa, whose Moroccan-spiced lamb chops with chimichurri were succulent and tender. The scrum for a hot, spiced Eden Farms Pork Sausage with white Friulana polenta from Pizzeria Zanna Bianca almost got SFoodie in a girl fight (hey, we were there first, and had been waiting quite a few minutes).

SFoodie contributor Sam Prestianni may have caught him in a moment of pique

, but 5A5 Steak Lounge consulting chef Marc Vogel got plenty of love from Keller, who reportedly told the chef he liked his mushroom reduction appetizer best. It was flavorful, rich, and delicious. Besides, who are we to argue with Keller?

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Wild Boar Corn Dogs and Tequila to Kill For: Opening Night at SF Chefs.Food.Wine.

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2009 at 9:52 AM

Sam Prestianni
SF Chefs. Food. Wine.
Festival Opening Night 
Venue: A tent in Union Square
Better Than: Watching Hell's Kitchen from the sofa

Great idea: Bring together dozens of the Bay Area's top chefs, winemakers, and mixologists for a Dionysian dream date to spotlight San Francisco as the premier city of epicurean delights. Great causes: Feeding America, Meals on Wheels, the San Francisco Food Bank, and Project Open Hand, all standing to benefit from the inaugural four-day festival's pricey tickets. They range from $40 for late-night dessert and dancing ("Chocolate Enhancement") to $250 for a "Gala Dinner" at Union Square's posh St. Francis ("American Culinary Pioneer Awards"). The essential question: Is it worth it?

At the SF Chefs. Food. Wine. opening ceremony last night, Mayor Gavin Newsom lauded our one-of-a-kind city as a food and drink nirvana where "people come from all over the world" to intoxicate their palates with the city's "diversity, innovation, ... and entrepreneurial spirit." Of course, he was right. There was no shortage of exotic enticements in the spacious tent's various booths, which featured sufficient bite-sized tasties and classy adult beverages to satisfy sophisticated and ravenous gluttons alike.

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