Chances are you live a stone’s throw away from a Thai restaurant in your neighborhood, and you’ve got a go-to local favorite for pad thai. These days I often find myself traveling north of Berkeley, where there’s quite a few wonderful Thai eateries clustered in Albany, El Cerrito and San Pablo locales.
Andrew is from Louisville, Kentucky. He lives in San Francisco, plays music, works with kids, and writes for a variety of magazines and newspapers, including The Oakland Tribune, The Contra Costa County Times, Wine Enthusiast, The Onion, and Thrasher. Pro: hush puppies, green garlic, caramel ice cream, Japanese sweet potatoes, smelts, Larb Ped, beer, wine, cocktails, and assorted dumplings; con: milk, chips, and candy.
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Brunch-positive people work hard and play hard. They see brunch as a soothing extension of the partying they did the night before, a necessary putting back together of things that were dislodged — a ritual well worth the inflated price of pancakes and a lengthy wait. Brunch-negative people think waiting for food they could make at home for a fraction of the cost is a waste of a day’s best hours. There are two sides, and San Francisco’s boutique-lined streets — Haight, Church, Valencia — are divided between them.
For five years now, Manivanh, a smallish place on 24th Street near Hampshire, has been one of my very favorite neighborhood restaurants in town. It’s a completely unremarkable-looking Thai joint unceremoniously dumped at the grimiest edge of the Mission District, out of step with the strip’s bevy of taquerias, hair salons, and, more recently, art galleries and hipster donut stands.
The film doesn’t sufficiently sell Julie’s decision to blog about cooking her way through Child’s celebrated book. That on-screen moment is weak, her impetus glossed over like ripples in a cake’s frosting. Once Julie gets going, her resolve blossoms into a slightly creepy, worshipful obsession.
Then, I started slipping.
The process was slow but steady and natural. Animal by animal, each meaty notch on my fork, the fresh flavors and the associated stories, people, and places, has marked my memory. I’ve returned again and again to this timeline of tines, to reflect upon my gradual path — from devout vegetarian to comprehensive meat-eater.
We may be approaching gastronomic Thunderdome, a new quasi-post-apocalyptic condition of eating through recession, where restaurants, having struggled, gradually shutter and practically disappear altogether, surrendering the pitted scene to scrappy, subsistence-level free-agents — wagon-pushers and van vendors — with no regard for increasingly irrelevant health code regulations, much less entrepreneurial convention.
Pie Truck is one of the latest freelance foodie endeavors to garner city-wide attention and, as it turns out, it’s a lovely, deserving operation.
One day last week, the lady and I had plans to visit Schmidt’s for dinner. When we’re deciding what to eat, we tend to favor collaboration and compromise, at least I do. Sometimes, rarely, our tastes don’t intersect, and I always want to find dishes we both want, even if it means passing on something I’d really, really like to try. In the case of Schmidt’s, a sleek, two month-old German eatery in the Mission District, I knew what I wanted, and would accept no proxies: hasenpfeffer, a red wine-soaked saddle and leg of rabbit with braised lingonberry-sweetened cabbage.
Amid billowing black stove-staining clouds of digression, I suppose what I’m really coming to, here at the end of this roundabout stew-stirring, is another question, one stretching a bit beyond the scope of the original subject: if food, in the right hands, with the right software, can become music, can music, in a listener’s right frame of mind, feel, not literally, of course, but metaphorically, like food?
18 Reasons, the Bi Rite-affiliated gallery space on Guerrero near 18th Street, has made such conscious, well-examined consumption its mission, offering exhibitions, lectures, tastings, and classes to draw clear bright lines between food, people, and place, existing essentially as the embodiment of its intention, as a local meeting spot for people who love food and want to talk about it, share what they know, and learn from others. The gallery has received some local press love but this summer’s offerings deserve special mention.
In keeping with another current trend, that of back alley catering and restaurant-esque entities sprouting up all over town, d.i.y. barbecue operations churning away on the edges of the local food scene actually best the likes of Baby Blues, Memphis Minnie’s, and Big Nate’s. There’s definitely something appealing about outlaw status, and barbecue wears it especially well, even here.