If the mustache is the measure of a bartender in San Francisco, then the mustache on Craig Lane is the one that every old-hand and newcomer has looked up to since he graced Bar Agricole with his dapper presence in 2010. Ok, maybe it’s not so much the mustache, but rather, his near 20 years of cocktailing experience that’s the real reason behind his behind-the-bar prowess…but we all know the mustache certainly doesn’t hurt. In all sincerity, it’s not the mustache or the experience that really separates him from the other distinguished talent in this city. Nor is it the impeccable quality of every drink that he pours – quality is clearly a given here. It’s his personable persona, his depth of knowledge, and the way in which every move he makes shows the pride he has in his chosen profession. With many a mixologist in this city, Craig Lane is truly an industry all-star…Continue Reading
Think fast: who is the person that makes the best cookie you’ve ever had? I’d bet cold hard cash that you’re about to throw down for your mom…although your grandma may also be a contender. Hell, maybe you’d even say yourself! But guess what? You’re wrong. It turns out that your mom doesn’t make the best cookies. Anthony does. Continue Reading…
I’ve been to Sons & Daughters twice over the years, first in 2010 when they were relatively new, and again in 2011 after they’d received their first Michelin star. Both times the food was tasty and modern, with a fairly unique approach to hyper-local, ingredient-driven cuisine. I left both meals feeling generally happy with what I had experienced, but in the back of my mind there was something missing; I felt as though the restaurant wasn’t reaching its full potential and that, with a few small tweaks, those meals could have been memorable instead of relatively unremarkable. That all changed last Sunday when, on my third visit to Sons & Daughters, I experienced a meal that wasn’t just remarkable, it was flawless…Continue Reading
Over the years I’ve gone from never cooking for myself (college), to cooking all the time, to hardly ever cooking because I’m too lazy or tired. I’m about to go over the edge of laziness, where walking more than a block for food is starting to bother me. Before I’m ordering terrible Chinese food because it delivers every night, I’m putting the breaks on and making a point to cook more.
I’m also finally ready to start eating a wee bit healthier – a few solid nights of eating salads and veggies instead of Phat Philly onion rings and pizza at Serranos is the plan. But I have one problem: I’m still pretty damn lazy and am easily deterred by long, involved recipes. “Long” and “involved” meaning longer than say 10-15 minutes. So what am I to do? Arugula and avocado salad. Boom…Continue Reading
Sadly, 2013 isn’t off to the best start. Why? Because one of my all-time favorite restaurants is changing, and in the process, dying. Mr. Pollo may not be closing, but with the recent, shall we say, “Hostile Takeover” of the space and the departure of the heart of the restaurant, Chef Manny Torres Gimenez, it’s certainly the end of an era (more details to follow soon, in a separate write-up). The Mr. Pollo we’ve all loved over the last three years is essentially gone, which means one thing’s for sure: it looks like I will be arepa’d no more…Continue Reading
It’s true that I go out to eat very often. More often than most. Because of this, many of the people around me have this misconception that I’m very picky and only go to “fancy” places (translation: restaurants where a complete meal for 2 will cost upwards of $100). But what they don’t realize is that when I’m not going out to “fancy” restaurants, I’m not preparing seasonal salads and roasted veggies. No, no, in reality I’m incredibly lazy, which means I secretly stuff my face with cheap, unrefined, unhealthy foods.
And I’m not even talking about a wide range of fatty mcfat foods either! Nah, I like to hone in on one thing that really hits the spot, and then eat it on an almost daily basis for a good month or two; a food that, at some point, has stopped just being a temptation and has become an actual problem. I call these my “problem foods” and, since the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem, I’m shedding light on my issues with this first post of my new “Uncontrollable Cravings” series…Continue Reading
It’s November. That time of the year when the leaves have faded from golden orange to yellows and browns, when roasted squash begins popping up on menus across the city, and when you can finally feel that late autumn chill in the San Francisco wind. That special time of the year that makes me want to talk about…sandwiches.
I don’t know about you, but in my world, it’s always sandwich season. Unfortunately, there seem to be fewer and fewer occasions where I’m truly blown away by such a ubiquitous food. I’ve had to ask myself, “Have I tried every deli sandwich that appeals to my sensibilities? Every Panini? Bahn Mi? Every Cubano?” I mean, I’ve been eating sandwiches on the regular for my entire life…what’s really left to impress?…Continue Reading
No matter how long you’ve lived in this area, if you call San Francisco “Home” then let’s just admit it: we’re really lucky. Anyone who shares my passion for food and feels a constant craving for culinary exploration (…I suddenly feel like a cross between Magellan and KD Lang…) is well aware of how lucky we are to be in such a gastro-centric city. Much like how amazing attractions like Alcatraz or Giants games get taken for granted because they’re are so many amazing things to do here, it’s easy to overlook just how lucky we are. It’s rare to take a step back and think, “Whoa, buying goats milk butter for my day-to-day needs is not normal. That’s pretty cool.” For me, one of those wake-up calls came when I was introduced to the man I consider the finest sommelier I’ve ever known. His name is Yoon Ha, he works at Benu, and let me tell you my friends, he is one of the finest industry all-stars you’ll ever meet...Continue Reading
I’m a very lucky girl. Not only do I have one of the coolest, kickin’, Sicilian grandmas the world has ever known, I also have a cool, kickin’ grandma who happens to live in St. Helena. So, for me a trip to grandma’s house is extra special because not only do I get to spend quality time with her, I also get to refine my wine palate in the downtime…and get a little tipsy in the process.
In the last three years I’ve visited many of the lesser-known, excellent wineries in the area and have fallen in love with many of those found along Spring Mountain. Most of these wineries are small productions, each with their own specialty wines that can be difficult to find if you’re not a member of their wine club or on their mailing list. Almost all of them also require you to make an appointment for a tasting well in advance, and charge a fee large enough to scare off visitors who aren’t particularly serious about their wine. Luckily, I’m a very, very serious person, and I also happen to know that any high-priced fee can be waived when you purchase a bottle. Drink up! Because of this, I stumbled onto what is now my favorite winery in Napa: Behrens Family Winery, previously known as Behrens and Hitchcock…Continue Reading
You know what I find most exciting about dining out? It’s not the dressing up, or chatting with industry folk, or even laughing with close friends. It’s the unknown. Whether it be not knowing what’s on the menu before walking in the door, ordering a tasting menu dotted with unexpected treats, or flying blind and leaving my meal in the hands of the chef, the things that take me by surprise are the things that stand out the most. So, unlike the typical diner who becomes a regular because of one or two particular dishes that keep them coming back for more, I keep going back to my favorite restaurants because I have no idea what will be on the menu next. All of my favorite restaurants constantly evolve, and there is no better example of evolution than Aziza.
Anyone who has dined at Aziza in recent years knows that, other than its location, the restaurant has undergone some radical changes. The menu moved away from being tied to traditional Moroccan food to one which embraced California cuisine from a Moroccan angle. What that means, in less generic language, is that less emphasis was put on staying true to the exact ingredients necessary to create traditional Moroccan flavors and more was put into building a Moroccan flavor profile using local, seasonal ingredient. Little by little, this shift in philosophy transformed the restaurant’s cuisine into what I fell in love with (and wrote about) back in April of last year. Now, over one year later, I’m compelled to write again because, after 10 years, this evolution is still happening: portions are more refined, the proportion of each ingredient on the plate is more balanced, the presentation is, well, exquisite, and the food itself? Let me tell you, it’s only getting better…Continue Reading