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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Interval is the Most Erudite Bar in Town

Posted By on Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 3:52 PM

A Brooklyn Heights (with the orrery in the background) - PETE KANE
  • Pete Kane
  • A Brooklyn Heights (with the orrery in the background)

An orrery is a scale-model of the solar system, usually an elaborate, gyroscope-like contraption with concentric rings. It’s the kind of thing you might find in an eccentric aristocrat’s personal library, but there’s one waiting to greet you at the Interval, the Long Now Foundation’s bar-café-event space in the Fort Mason Center. Like a nine-year-old-boy with a joke book, I was instantly smitten the moment I stepped in and saw it.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Drink of the Week: Getting a Kick out of the Baltic Mule at Delarosa

Posted By on Fri, Nov 16, 2012 at 9:30 AM

  • Lou Bustamante
The after-dinner drink is one of those old world traditions that Americans, even the most culinary obsessed, never seemed to have embraced. Our lack of interest in eau de vie, grappa, and aquavit, those potent spirits meant to act as digestifs after a big meal, may be due to the pace of our lives, rather than our taste. But put into a cocktail, and suddenly we're aware of the nuances, flavors, and aromas.

See Also:

- Tennessee Margarita at Pican

- Jasper's Orchard Malt Mule

- Cucumber Collins at Goose & Gander

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Drink of the Week: Apple Brandy Sour at Presidio Social Club

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2012 at 8:40 AM

  • Lou Bustamante
With apple season in full force, and the weather kicking its final throws of Indian Summer, the cold weather cocktail season officially begins. At Presidio Social Club, bar manager Tim Stookey is adding two new drinks to the line up designed to unfog our lenses for a bit.

The fall leaf red Picante Pisco Punch ($10, pisco, lemon, lime, pineapple, rocoto pepper syrup) braces against the cold with the slow building and warming heat of Peruvian rocoto peppers that use the pisco punch as the delicious delivery system. The warming glow quickly turns to light sweat, but thankfully keeps the heat at a low simmer rather than a full boil.

See Also:

- The Presidio Social Club's Tim Stookey Turns Back Time

- Comstock Saloon's Pisco Punch

- The Vida Vieja at Zero Zero

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Mamacita's "La Hora Feliz" Has Cheap Margaritas, Duck Confit Tacos

Posted By on Mon, Jul 23, 2012 at 9:30 AM

Mamacita's camaron al pastor tacos. - TAMARA PALMER
  • Tamara Palmer
  • Mamacita's camaron al pastor tacos.

Happy hour at Mamacita runs Monday through Thursday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. and Friday until 6 p.m., and features taco and drink specials that don't break the bank without the annoyance of an after-work meat market prowl -- even though it's in the Marina.

Tacos are typically served three to an order for $13 to $15, but they're two for $6 during "La Hora Feliz." Choices are pollo taqueria (crispy chicken), camarones al pastor (achiote-spiced prawns), carnitas cerditas (pulled pork), carne asada (skirt steak), and pato à la plancha (duck confit). They're tiny but surprisingly filling, particularly the duck, stuffed so full it's a challenge to eat them without half the meat spilling out.

Fancy margaritas are a specialty of the house and run from $8 to $12, but you can down a pint of original ($4) or pomegranate margarita ($5) for half price. Other happy hour drinks include a classic mojito ($4), sangria ($4), or Tecate with fresh lime and salt ($2).

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cedar Hill Kitchen + Smokehouse Has Flashes of Greatness

Posted By on Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 8:17 AM

Cedar Hill's barbecued chicken, brined and smoked over white oak. - MELISSA BARNES
  • Melissa Barnes
  • Cedar Hill's barbecued chicken, brined and smoked over white oak.

West Coast barbecue, almost any Southerner/Texan/Missouran/carnivore will tell you, is not known for its excellence. But lord, do we keep trying. San Francisco's BBQ boom -- I can count nine restaurants and food trucks in the past 18 months -- has brought in a couple of promising newcomers. One of them, Cedar Hill Kitchen and Smokehouse, is the subject of this week's full-length restaurant review.

Jon Rietz and Emily Lai opened the Marina restaurant after working together at Memphis Minnie's, arguably the city's most polished barbecue stop. Rietz, a Texas native, is smoking a variety of meats Texas-style over white oak: brisket, ribs, chicken, pulled pork. The restaurant is frustratingly uneven -- especially when it comes to its brisket, which by rights should be the restaurant's focal point -- but his pulled pork is often fantastic and his barbecued chicken, downright awesome. I'm hoping that, as with the best pit masters, time only improves Rietz's barbecue.

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Number 25: Cobb Louis Salad at Nettie's Crab Shack

Posted By on Tue, Apr 10, 2012 at 12:30 PM

Cobb Louis salad at Nettie's Crab Shack, $25. - JONATHAN KAUFFMAN
  • Jonathan Kauffman
  • Cobb Louis salad at Nettie's Crab Shack, $25.

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


"Arrange lettuce leaves around the inside of a salad bowl, with a few sliced leaves on the bottom," writes Victor Hirtzler, chef of the St. Francis Hotel, in his 1910 recipe for Crab Louis. "Put crab meat on top of the sliced leaves, and a few slide hard-boiled eggs and sliced chives on top of the crab meat. In another bowl, mix one-half cup of French dressing [ed note: vinaigrette] with one-half cup of chile sauce, two spoonfuls of mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and one teaspoonful of Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the salad, and serve very cold."

Was the crab louis (and its poorer cousin, the shrimp louis) invented in San Francisco or in Seattle? And who was Louis? Given the absence of proof, you're free to invent your own myth -- but the salad has been served in this city for more than a century. Over the years, the salad has evolved and then devolved again, often spotted as a gloomy mass of iceberg and frozen crab drenched in sugary orange glop, with canned black olive rings and hard-boiled eggs strewn over top.

It would be unthinkable for a San Francisco restaurant with a name like Nettie's Crab Shack to pass over the Crab Louis. It would be equally unthinkable for the cooks to let the salad stand on its reputation, such as it has fallen. So they've combined elements from another historic salad (the Cobb, invented in 1930s Los Angeles), and dressed a giant bowl of romaine up like a spring frock: jade-colored avocados and cucumbers, beets in swirly rose and gold hues, splotches of saffron-colored egg yolks, and at least a half-pound of pale-pink Dungeness crab meat. Everything is sweet and crunchy-crunchy, pitched to keep the flavor of the crab at the forefront. And the salad dressing is spiked with just enough Tabasco to sparkle, but reminds you that mayonnaise, in its pre-jar days, once played an honorable role in American cuisine. 

Eating the salad is like reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time and realizing that Jane Austin's acid-etched characters and sly humor are far more interesting than Masterpiece Theater made her out to be. 

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Exploratorium After Dark: Gastronomy

Posted By on Mon, Apr 2, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Making science fun at the Exploratorium - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • Making science fun at the Exploratorium
Where: Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon Street (at Marina)
When: Thurs., April 5th, 6 p.m.-10 p.m.
Cost: Free with general admission to museum; 18 and over

The rundown: The big brains at the Exploratorium have teamed up with Maxime Bilet, head chef and co-author of the Modernist Cuisine for a special night exploring the magic behind cutting-edge cooking techniques. A few of the cutaway pieces of equipment used in the book's striking photos will be on display, along with plenty of experiments. Bilet will be discussing the culinary applications of centrifuges and homogenizers, along with how adding hydrocolloids and emulsifiers to your pantry can make dinner a lot more dazzling.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Off The Grid Returns With More Space And Vendors

Posted By on Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 9:00 AM

It's the Disneyland of food truck roundups - GIL RIEGO JR.
  • Gil Riego Jr.
  • It's the Disneyland of food truck roundups

What: Off The Grid: Fort Mason Center reopening

Where: Fort Mason

When: Fri., March 23, 5-10 p.m

The rundown: If bacon and egg flavored popsicles, a beer garden, and live music by the Ferocious Few aren't reasons enough to come to the largest mobile food market in California, organizer Matt Cohen says most foods are under $10. With 20 percent more space for tents and trucks, there is more protection from the elements, and 35 vendors will serve up variations of Asian and Latin cuisine, each offering a specialty food that will only be served at Off The Grid.

Among the new faces this year are Belly Burgers, ancient Mayan food by Don Paquito, and what Cohen says are the best fish tacos from Cholita Linda. If you manage not to stuff yourself and have room for a brew, local bars Alembic and Magnolia will be at the beer garden.

Admission is free and an ATM is available since most vendors are cash only.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tacos For Tots: Tacolicious Fundraises For Public Schools

Posted By on Tue, Mar 13, 2012 at 10:00 AM

A few tacos can go a long way for SF public schools - DON BARRETT/FLICKR
  • Don Barrett/Flickr
  • A few tacos can go a long way for SF public schools
What: Tacolicious School Project Spring Session 2012

Where: Tacolicious in the Mission and Marina (2031 Chestnut St.) locations

When: Every Monday through May

Cost: See menu

The rundown: Tacolicious owners Joe Hargrave and Sara Deseran are donating 15 percent of the total money earned every Monday at their Mission and Marina locations to nearby public schools.

From 11:30 a.m. until midnight, 11 p.m. for the Marina location, you can put an end to your grumbling stomach and, hopefully, furlough days. Whether it's drinks with friends or a family dinner night, it's all for a good cause.

The project is only fitting with Hargrave and Deseran's three children in San Francisco Community Schools. Deseran's parents are also educators. Money raised from the Marina location will go to the after school program, buildOn, at the Galileo Academy of Science and Technology. Proceeds from the Mission location will fund Mission High School in March, San Francisco Community in April and Buena Vista Horace Mann in May.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Off the Grid's Auditioning Aspiring Street-Food Vendors

Posted By on Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 2:15 PM

This food-delivering arm could belong to you. - GIL RIEGO JR.
  • Gil Riego Jr.
  • This food-delivering arm could belong to you.

It's sort of -- well, vaguely -- like an episode of San Francisco's Next Top Food Truck. Matt Cohen, founder of the Off the Grid street-food gatherings, is in the process of putting together the lineup for Off the Grid's flagship Friday events at Fort Mason, which will begin again in late March. And they're taking applications for new vendors who are interested in occupying one of the 10 "tented" spaces -- in other words, people who are selling from a stand, not a truck.

"This is our once-a-year opportunity for people thinking about doing something professional with street food," Cohen says. "We want to get people interested in making a nine-month commitment, bringing in decent money, and turning their idea into a real thing."

Off the Grid is looking primarily for people selling food with Asian or Latin flavors -- traditional or tweaked -- and Cohen says he's committed to helping first-timers navigate the regulatory process, just as OtG did last year with the Musubi Kings. "You'll need to work out of an approved commissary [otherwise known as a commercial kitchen] and have your food handling certificate," he advises. For more information on this process, read through SFoodie's "going legit" series from last year. The online application is posted on Off the Grid's website, and the deadline is Friday.

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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