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Monday, August 23, 2010

Ever Pretended to Be a Restaurant Critic's Relative to Get Better Service?

Posted By on Mon, Aug 23, 2010 at 4:01 PM

Saying you're our BFF won't move you through the Farolito line any faster. - JUSTIN S./YELP
  • Justin S./Yelp
  • Saying you're our BFF won't move you through the Farolito line any faster.
We read Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer's harrowing blog post about desperate diners masquerading as his relatives in order to curry special treatment at restaurants. There was the story about the "two gals" at The Tipsy Pig:
At one point they said to the server, "Do you know who Michael Bauer is? Well he's my uncle and he asked me to come in and review the restaurant for my blog. I'm going to tell them that this place sucks and that his reviews were wrong." The last straw was when they asked the server for a menu item that didn't exist, and asked, "How hard is it to make a f***ing grilled cheese sandwich?" when they were told the kitchen couldn't do it ... . The management finally had to approach the table to tell them they were unable to accommodate their requests. They got up and stormed out of the restaurant without paying their bill. On the way out, they continued to drop your name saying how "you guys are in deep s**t with Michael Bauer."
Then there was a report from Wayfare Tavern. Just last week, Tyler Florence dropped Bauer an e-mail:
"Not sure if she's a friend or trying to get a table. Funny... We're getting 'lots' of friends of yours."

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Friday, August 20, 2010

S.F.'s Blissmo Urges Foodies to Go Green via Web Discounts

Posted By on Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 4:03 PM

The flash sales marketer wants consumers to support what it deems good-guy businesses.
  • The flash sales marketer wants consumers to support what it deems good-guy businesses.
According to a Change.org article published this week, "flash sales," or e-mail and Web operations offering time-sensitive discounts on products, are "the hottest segment of the consumer web market." How has market top-dog Groupon managed to do over $500 million in revenue this year so far? By not only enabling participating businesses to score profits on their discounted products and services, but by guaranteeing them exposure to a fresh crop of customers.

Fresh-faced San Francisco newcomer

Blissmo may follow a similar model, but the goal is different: to encourage conscientious shoppers to support sustainable, good-guy businesses by drawing attention to them and making their products affordable. The first week's promotion is almost over, and with it the opportunity to enjoy (with a swift button-click) a 50 percent discount on a two-person tasting at Sonoma County's green J Vineyards and Winery.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Waterbar Adopted a Peach Tree. So Can You

Posted By on Wed, Aug 18, 2010 at 4:41 PM

Peach tree at Masumoto Family Farm, making "take me home" eyes at you. - BENKETARO/FLICKR
  • benketaro/Flickr
  • Peach tree at Masumoto Family Farm, making "take me home" eyes at you.
In the grand tradition of adoption ― highways, children ― Embarcadero restaurant Waterbar has assumed responsibility for a tree, a lovely Elberta peach ensconced at Masumoto Family Farm south of Fresno.

The tree's sweet fruits will play a prominent role on the menu in the coming weeks. Planned dishes include Elberta peach salad with ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms, wild arugula, and truffled honey; and summer melon and pickled peach, served with Serrano ham and Marshall's Farm honey.

If you'd like to adopt your own Elberta, click on the application at the Masumoto website, steel yourself for a serious background scan, ready your $500 check, and be prepared to find something to do with 400 to 500 pounds of peaches.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Should S.F. Doctors Write Prescriptions for Farmers' Market Produce?

Posted By on Tue, Aug 17, 2010 at 10:08 AM

In Massachusetts, doctors at three clinics are giving patients coupons for fresh produce. - JODI HILTON/NEW YORK TIMES
  • Jodi Hilton/New York Times
  • In Massachusetts, doctors at three clinics are giving patients coupons for fresh produce.
Let's see: A bottle of codeine syrup, some Nasonex, and a bunch of arugula. Doctors at three health centers in Massachusetts aren't just telling their patients to eat their vegetables; they're handing out coupons making it more affordable for them to do so, calling it "prescription produce." In a project sponsored by Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited, the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture, and Wholesome Wave, these clinics are working to fight the fast food-induced obesity that so often plagues lower-income families. According to a New York Times story about this operation, the coupons add up to about a dollar a day, which will probably go a long way towards not only helping folks get better nutrition, but also demonstrating how inexpensive and increasingly easy it is to obtain fresh, healthy produce. The effort, notes the Times, "may also help farmers' markets compete with fast-food restaurants selling dollar value meals."

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mission Bean Guy Pops Up with Cali-Style Taqueria in Brooklyn

Posted By on Wed, Aug 11, 2010 at 10:26 AM

Bean evangelist Mark Andrew Gravel is taking it Cali-local under the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • Bean evangelist Mark Andrew Gravel is taking it Cali-local under the Brooklyn Bridge.
Last time we had a taco in Brooklyn, it came on a crunchy tortilla shell, topped with ground beef and cheddar cheese. We know better Mexican options exist in New York, but anyone seeking a little California in that big, brutally hot city on Monday, Aug. 23, need only look, like Anthony Kiedis, under the bridge.

On that day, Mission bean enthusiast Mark Andrew Gravel is hooking up Black and Cream, a temporary taqueria beneath the Williamsburg Bridge. For $8, customers can enjoy tacos made with local black beans and fresh cheese, pickled vegetables, greens courtesy of rooftop farmers, Blue Bottle coffee, and Mast Brothers chocolates.

Of course, the kind of California scene Gravel's project looks to evoke has more to do with the intersection of Alice Waters and social sculpture than a plate of Mission-style tacos. That shouldn't trouble anyone. The bridge has shade, after all.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Joanne Weir, Looking in the City ― with Lunch

Posted By on Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 5:39 PM

Joanne Weir (second from left) and a lot of strangers at Mijita in the Ferry Building. - EEKIM/FLICKR
  • eekim/Flickr
  • Joanne Weir (second from left) and a lot of strangers at Mijita in the Ferry Building.
We first met Joanne Weir in the fall of 2002. No, not in person. We were avid watchers of KQED's Saturday morning cooking shows then, and the only thing half as funny as Julia Child and Jacques Pepin bickering in the kitchen was Weir's Chez Panisse-ified and weirdly stony Cooking in the City, in which she rolled through farmers' markets and dropped in on city chefs like a ginger-haired Mister Rogers.

In a lead-up to this year's Travel, Food, and Photography conference, Weir is curating a "day of culinary inspiration" this Wednesday. The class will meet at 9 a.m. at Book Passage in Corte Madera and proceed by ferry to the San Francisco Ferry Building for an in-depth tour of shops, plenty of samples, and, lastly, a lunch at Mijita. If you're attending the conference, the class is $100; if you're not, $150, please.

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Soak Up Shanghai's Wine-Steeped Cooking at Asian Art Museum Demo

Posted By on Mon, Aug 9, 2010 at 10:29 AM

Jai Yun chef Nei Chia Ji. - ASIAN CULINARY FORUM
  • Asian Culinary Forum
  • Jai Yun chef Nei Chia Ji.
Shanghai cuisine can be described as lush, and not just because it revels in the abundance of vegetables and livestock gleaned from the Yangtze River Delta and seafood hauled from the surrounding coastal provinces. Booze plays a prominent role, exemplified in dishes like drunken chicken with Shaoxing wine.

Next week, the Asian Art Museum is linking up with Asian Culinary Forum to present Drunken Dish, a cooking demonstration and appreciation party, part of the museum's MATCHA series. Famous television personality Martin Yan and chef Nei Chia Ji of Jai Yun will prepare three alcohol-logged dishes: vegetarian "goose" with bean curd and rice wine, pickled cucumber in Huang Chiew wine, and that famous drunken chicken. Guests can sample bites of these dishes while relaxing to the musical stylings of DJ Friendly Traveler and swilling drinks from the cash bar.

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Art of Eating's Ed Behr Shares His POV at Omnivore

Posted By on Fri, Aug 6, 2010 at 5:13 PM

The Art of Eating, Ed Behr's prescient preoccupation.
  • The Art of Eating, Ed Behr's prescient preoccupation.
If Art of Eating editor and publisher Ed Behr were the subject of a feature film, Taste is the Place wouldn't ― with apologies to Sun Ra ― be a bad title. Since launching his quarterly 24 years ago, the former carpenter has made the connection between the taste of food ― everything from albondigas to vin jaune ― and where it comes from (as well as the people behind its creation and preparation) his focus. It's a preoccupation that feels fairly prescient, considering the perspective's current prominence. Behr will be kicking it at

Omnivore on Thursday, August 19, talking taste with all comers. It's a small place, as you likely know, so show up early.

Art of Eating's Ed Behr at Omnivore

When: Thurs., August 19, 6-9 p.m.

Where: Omnivore Books on Food, 3885a Cesar Chavez (at Church), 282-4712

Cost: Free

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Chris Cosentino's Gluttony Pants Expand to Fit Your Lack of Self-Control

Posted By on Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 6:05 PM

Chris Cosentino, in the binge-accomodating pants he helped design. - BETABRAND
  • Betabrand
  • Chris Cosentino, in the binge-accomodating pants he helped design.
It's only fitting that Incanto's Chris Cosentino ― a chef known for marrowbone salad, brains risotto, and porchetta ― would be helping to design a pair of pants infused with the gluttonous spirit. As the first entry in its seven-part series of designs based around the Deadly Sins, local online-only clothing company Betabrand is issuing a partly Cosentino-conceived trouser the hue of a roasted chicken's burnished exterior. Along with whimsical, theme-appropriate graphics sewn into the waistband and lining, the pants have three buttons, allowing the serious eater room for gut expansion over the course of dinner.

We're intrigued, but wonder if a truly dedicated and frugal glutton might eschew good taste and just go with baggy sweats or those super-stretchy polyester short-shorts our old basketball coaches wore.

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Don't Ask Michael Bauer Where to Eat Mexican. Ask Us

Posted By on Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 1:08 PM

Antojito sampler at Haltun in the Mission. - JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall
  • Antojito sampler at Haltun in the Mission.
On his blog this morning at Inside Scoop, Chronicle critic Michael Bauer misses the Tex-Mex combination plates he devoured in his Dallas days ― and bemoans the fact he can't find a good Mexican place in the Bay Area ― which seems tantamount to failing to see a blade of grass in Golden Gate Park.

In response to a reader's query about where to find some good Mexican food, Bauer leads with a bold quote ("I've always said if I was going to open a restaurant in San Francisco it would be Mexican because the cuisine is underserved"), but fails to convince us he's done enough research. Inside Scoop reader, if you're out there? Here's our advice:

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