The restaurant scene is roaring back to life in the South Bay and a common theme among them is restaurants featuring a unique bar program paired to a dining menu equal in creativity. While the concept of bringing together your favorite bar with gourmet bar bites is no new feat, here are 15 top-notch gastropubs in the South Bay.
"My passion for food began young."
I am the editor of the influential website www.EatLocalChallenge.com which encourages readers to support local farmers and producers.
I began my personal website, Life Begins at 30, in 2003.
I have been published in Edible San Francisco and Fine Cooking, write regularly for Bay Area Bites, Serious Eats, and have been quoted in many nationwide publications. Photography is a passion, and I have had photos printed in National Geographic Traveler and Travel + Leisure.
I contributed to a Williams-Sonoma cookbook: Cooking from the Farmers' Market, which was released in February 2010.
I live in San Francisco, California and can often be found at local farmers markets seeking out the best of what's in season and chatting with farmers.
Jennifer Maiser's Latest Posts
I am an absolute freak for ginger. Anytime you see me, I will have one or two different ginger candies on hand and love trying out new types of candies. I personally love the taste, and find that it helps if I am feeling motion sickness on public transportation or in a car. Ginger is used in Chinese medicine and is recognized for multiple health benefits including increased circulation and help with digestive problems.
Last night, I took a quick cab ride home from Bourbon and Branch, where I had gone to have a drink from the amazing Martin Cate. Cate was the genius behind Forbidden Island in Alameda until a few months ago. He is fighting the good fight — keeping the tradition of impeccably executed Tiki drinks alive.
I am sure I am not alone in examining all parts of my budget during this time of economic strife. (In fact, this post was late because I am in the midst of epic research on how to cut down my phone bill.)
Since I believe so strongly in buying good, sustainably raised food from local purveyors, it can sometimes be a challenge to reign in spending.
Walking through the Ferry Building recently, I couldn’t pass up locally foraged chanterelle mushrooms from Far West Fungi. Chanterelles first become available to us in the fall, being foraged from the Pacific Northwest. They arrive with the first rains, and they begin to grow closer to San Francisco as we get into wintertime and cooler, rainier weather. Because chanterelles grow as the result of a symbiotic relationship between fungus and host plant (usually a tree), they are always found in the wild and don’t grow outside of a forest environment.
I should have known that when my ultimate food friend, Melanie, invited me to her house in Cloverdale this weekend that the days would be filled with chowing my way through Sonoma County. When not hanging out at her house chatting by the fire and drinking delicious wine, we were cruising the county having nibbles and bites in Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Cloverdale and the surrounding areas. I reported on Part I of my trip last week, which included Downtown Bakery, Willie Bird Turkeys and Matos Cheese Factory.
I should have known that when my ultimate food friend, Melanie, invited me to her house in Cloverdale this weekend that the days would be filled with chowing my way through Sonoma County. When not hanging out at her house chatting by the fire and drinking delicious wine, we were cruising the county having nibbles and bites in Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, Cloverdale and the surrounding areas.
Though I am getting some of the recipes straight — I can make a mean cocido and my albondigas are coming close — my every day cooking tastes very different than grandma’s. Until I had a revelation recently. For most any dish that I make, I cut up fresh garlic and use it along with any fresh herbs, alliums and other flavor builders. The other day, I was completely exhausted so I made a very fast pork stew by tossing the pork with salt, pepper, and something I never use: garlic powder. I had a small container that I had purchased from Penzey’s for a particular recipe or two, and that sits in my cupboard mostly ignored.
One of the great things about living in San Francisco is that perfect pairings are available in all parts of town. Let me explain what I mean by this term: often, an evening out for me will involve dinner and drinks before or after at a location that is in the general vicinity of dinner. When the food and the drinks combine to make for a perfect dining experience, I consider this to be a “perfect pairing.”
But the 826 Valencia store only scratches the surface of this non-profit’s mission — to support children with their writing skills and to help teachers get their students excited about the writing. Dave Eggers, local writer, was one of the founders of 826 Valencia, and its impact has spread nationwide.
While at the store, I picked up a copy of Seeing Through the Fog: A Gateway to San Francisco, which is one of the projects to come out of 826 Valencia last year. It is a tour guide of San Francisco of sorts, written by 72 seniors of Gateway High School. Essays cover a wide spectrum of the city.
When I was invited to a pig roast by some good friends this weekend, I tried to figure out the perfect spicy condiment that was going to enhance the pig without overpowering the delicious flavor. I settled on giardiniera, which is a concoction of pickled vegetables marinated with spicy peppers.
Today, I will be ushering in the inauguration at the Civic Center with throngs of San Franciscans who want to watch history together, in a collective group.
The sustainable food community has high hopes for an Obama administration. Food security, organic farming, dialing back of subsidies, and support of small farmers are all on the collective wish list for discussion. In October, Michael Pollan wrote an 8000-word letter to the incoming President-Elect outlining the policies that he hoped the new President would take into consideration.
In addition to some personal New Year’s resolutions, I have a couple that have to do with lowering my impact on the earth and shrinking my carbon “foodprint”.
I am pretty proud of my low-impact ways: I eat locally, I car share, I recycle, and I buy bulk from the co-op. In short, I live a lot of my life taking the environment and my impact on the environment into consideration.
But I’ve known for a while that I could do more, and have tailored a couple of resolutions to that end.
This is the third year in a row that I have published a list of my favorite tastes of the year. My personal rules for the tastes: they have to be something that I first tried in 2008, and they must knock my socks off. I am lucky that every year I am able to taste new dishes that completely change my culinary point-of-view. This year I delved more into Thai food, and spent a lot of time in San Francisco so not many dishes are from out-of-town.