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The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco: Find the Right Spot for Every Occasion.

This week's tablehopper: city lights.

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The bar at Devil’s Acre, ready for garnish action. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Okay everyone, let’s pause D’Angelo for a second, and take a peek at what’s going on in the city this week. The first thing I’d love to draw your attention to is that we are in the final hours of the Indiegogo fundraiser for the Bay Guardian to print a final commemorative issue, and to preserve the 48 years of archives. Everything helps, thank you!

Beginnings, endings. Sunday night I swung by The Devil’s Acre in North Beach for the first night of their soft opening (check out our piece in the lush today), and then headed over to the Empress of China for Charles Phoenix’s quirky-fun holiday slideshow and to say farewell to the Empress, which is closing in a couple of weeks, I hear on New Year’s Eve. Sadness.

Back to beginnings: tonight marks the first night of official service for The Progress (you can read my in-depth preview here), which is now taking reservations (release the hounds!).

Today is also the first night of Hanukkah—here’s our post from last week with some “Hanukkah helpers” and happenings for you.

Keep dry, enjoy some eggnog, see you Friday.
Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Dec 16, 2014

A Sneak Peek of Burma Superstar, Opening Soon on Valencia

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The dining room at Burma Superstar on Valencia. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

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The bar area. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

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The bar. Photo: Dana Eastland. © tablehopper.com.

A report by Dana Eastland. It has been almost three years since we first reported on ~BURMA SUPERSTAR~ coming to Valencia Street, and after numerous check-ins with the staff (and Karl Hasz for construction updates!), we’re happy to say the opening will be just after Christmas. This is the fourth location for the local chain, joining the original on Clement Street, in addition to outposts in Oakland and Alameda.

The space is polished and comfortable, with a wall of warm-hued scallop tile in the dining room and bar. The scallop motif is repeated in a metal open-work wall against the back wall that separates the kitchen from the dining area without completely closing it off. The tables and chairs are made of warm, smooth wood, while the banquettes are a cool gray leather and the floor is a gray poured concrete. There are some Burmese antiques and objects throughout the space, as well.

The menu doesn’t differ from their other locations, but there is the exciting addition of a full liquor license and therefore a cocktail menu. Cocktails are all priced at $10 and are not overly complicated. Check out the Green Point (rye, sweet vermouth, yellow Chartreuse, and Angostura and orange bitters) or the Momo (tequila, lime, fresh tamarind juice, and Cointreau). There is a separate bar area off to one side, which is certainly welcome given the restaurant’s popularity and famously long wait times.

They’ve begun with some friends and family dinners this week while the kitchen ramps up for an opening planned just after Christmas. Some finishing touches are still being added to the space, as well. When they do open, hours will be 5pm-11pm daily, and lunch will be added in a few months. We’ll let you know! 211 Valencia St. at Duboce.

Hogwash Now Open

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The interior of Hogwash. Photo by Michael David Rose Photography courtesy UrbanDaddy.

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The impressive taps at Hogwash. Photo courtesy Hogwash.

A report by Dana Eastland. ~HOGWASH~, a new beer hall downtown, became the latest place for suds when it opened on Saturday December 13th. As we first mentioned in September, this beer bar comes from owners Nick Rothman and Paula Thompson, and offers a major selection of beers on tap (Rich Higgins assembled the list). There are 30 in all, from far and wide, including Hitachino White Ale (Japan), Fuller’s London Porter (London, believe it or not), and Monk’s Café Sour (Belgium). There are also lots of domestic taps on offer, including locals like Almanac, Lagunitas, and Magnolia. Here’s the whole list, with a handy glassware guide, too. The beer selection will change often, but the goal is to make sure that it is well rounded and that there is something for everyone, from the intense beer nerd to the casual sipper. Thompson emphasized that they are focused on hospitality and welcoming everyone, because really, beer is all about socializing, right?

The space was designed by Lauren Geremia of Geremia Design and has a modern, sleek feel, with warm touches. Eater snapped some great pictures last week, if you’d like to see a slideshow. There is a lot of oak and steel, as well as some warm brick touches and mod white paneling on the walls that keep it from falling into the ubiquitous reclaimed-everything trap we see so much of. The stunning high ceilings have been stripped to reveal exposed timbers, with modern globe light fixtures and wall sconces keeping the space geometric and clean. The taps behind the long wood bar are backed with marble, too, which is one of the touches that makes the space feel more sophisticated than the average beer hall.

There’s food, too, mostly in the form of housemade sausages and snacks. Morgan Hamm of Le Beau Market crafted the menu, which includes a breakfast-style pork sausage served with a fried egg, a lamb sausage, and even a vegetarian option made with squash and barley. There are also salads and a few snack bites like fries, pretzel bites, and fried pickles. Check out the menu right here. For now, they are open daily 6pm-1am, but plan to add lunch service soon. 582 Sutter St. at Mason, 415-361-5500.

Sightglass Coffee Coming to Divisadero in Summer 2015

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Justin and Jerad Morrison of Sightglass Coffee. Photo: Michael O’Neal.

The Divisadero Corridor is about to have another icon of our local coffee roasting scene join the coffee klatsch: ~SIGHTGLASS COFFEE~ is going to be opening a café in the former KJ Produce Market on Divis at Page. I spoke with brothers Justin and Jerad Morrison, who just returned from a sourcing trip to Ethiopia, and they confirmed the news—they just secured the space a couple of months ago. They have actually been talking to the landowner for more than a year and are so excited to be opening one of their cafés so close to where they live (they both live nearby).

Their plans for the 2,000-square-foot space (it’s double the size of their recently opened Mission location) are still being fine-tuned, but one thing they are very sure of is they want to maximize it as much as they can. They are keen to create a space that will accommodate as many people as possible, giving the community a place to hang out and enjoy getting together over a cup of something delicious—which means there won’t be roasting on site. Justin alluded to a couple of fun features that will be coming, but they can’t reveal just yet what those things are. #teaser

Boor Bridges will continue to be their architect of record for this location, and it looks like they will have access to the space in early February—it’s currently being structurally upgraded. Realistically, we can hope to enjoy a shot of Owl’s Howl around the end of summer. Hoot! 301 Divisadero St. at Page.

More Cawfee Tawk

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The exterior at Weaver’s. Yelp photo by Susie W.

Hoodline reports that the Castro has yet another spot for caffeination, ~WEAVER’S COFFEE & TEA~. It’s the second location from the San Rafael-based roaster John Weaver, who was a roaster at Peet’s before starting his own company. The glassy space is in the same building as Fitness SF and also has a patio out front that should be open in the spring. Hours are Mon-Thu 5am-12am, Fri 5am-11pm, Sat 5am-10pm, Sun 6am-9pm. 2301 Market St. at Noe, 800-328-1178.

Tidbits: Lale Opens, a New Project from 1300 on Fillmore Team, Burmese Kitchen, Fire at TBD and La Paz, More

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The interior of Lale. Yelp photo by Cherylynn N.

Hoodline reports that the former Villa Romana, which closed earlier this year after almost 60 years, has reopened as ~LALE~. The fabulously vintage space has been completely redone, sadly, and the result is rather generic, though reportedly the enclosed back patio has been revamped, which is nice. The owner is Suzan Sarikurt, who is looking to her Turkish heritage for inspiration. The menu offers breakfast dishes like omelets and eggs Benedicts, as well as Turkish-inspired lunch options including wraps and flatbreads. They are also doing a lot of baking in-house, with many daily specials on offer. Recently, housemade English muffins and jam were on the menu. Hours are 8am-3pm daily; dinner service should be coming soon. 731 Irving St. at 9th Ave., 415-566-8814.

David Lawrence and Monetta White of ~1300 ON FILLMORE~ have a new project in the works, according to ABC license activity. Scoop reports that details are slim (there’s not even a name yet), but that a barbecue project is rumored (considering the name on file is Black Bark, it makes me hope for some brisket). We do know that the location is across the street from 1300 on Fillmore, and they hope to open in April. 1325 Fillmore St. at Ellis.

As reported last month, the Tenderloin’s ~BURMESE KITCHEN~ had to close after a landlord dispute. In an interesting turn of events, it looks like Burmese Kitchen will now be opening in the former To Hyang space, which closed earlier this year, also due to landlord issues. The Burmese Kitchen website calls the move a temporary pop-up, but they’ve also applied for a liquor license, which seems to suggest a more permanent situation. 3815 Geary Blvd. at 2nd Ave.

Here’s some very unfortunate news: it seems that the Fire Department had to pay a visit to ~TBD~ twice last Thursday. Eater reports that their fire suppression system went off during a corporate holiday party around 7pm in the evening, spraying the kitchen with foam and setting off lots of alarms. The Fire Department came and gave them the all clear, though they did have to send all the guests home. Then, around 1am, employees at AQ saw smoke coming from the building. It looks like there was a fire between TBD and neighboring De La Paz Coffee Roasters, and both buildings sustained significant fire and water damage. TBD is closed until further notice, though they hope the repairs will only take a week (though it’s a big week, with holiday parties and festivities). De La Paz is also closed, but will be roasting at Four Barrel in the meantime, so there shouldn’t be any issues with their bean distribution. 1077 Mission St. at 7th St., 415-431-1826.

This one just came through just in time for inclusion today, and it’s an inspiring one. ~HULI HULI HAWAIIAN GRILL~ is opening in Bayview early next year. The project is run by Project Bayview, a residential ministry committed to helping people in the neighborhood stay on track and building community within the neighborhood. Director Shawn Sanchez, who hails from Bayview, says they wanted to fund the ministry’s projects through work, so the idea for the restaurant was born. They’ve been working on the back garden of their building (it’s more than 100 years old), as well as the interior, and plan to open in February 2015. The food is Hawaiian-style barbecue, using high-quality meats and produce. They’ll also be offering healthful vegetarian options, including a kale salad. To keep everything accessible, they’ll keep menu prices around $8. Sanchez said that though they do have a good story, they want to be known first for their excellent food and inclusive atmosphere, and the story is secondary. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on this project’s opening! 4100 3rd St. at Hudson.

1300 on Fillmore - 1300 Fillmore St. San Francisco - 415-771-7100

New Service: Lunch at farmerbrown, Brunch at The Hall, Tuesdays at Ramen Shop, and Reservations (GASP!) at Mission Chinese

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The pulled pork sandwich on farmerbrown’s new lunch menu. Photo from Facebook.

~FARMERBROWN~ is now open for weekday lunch, Monday through Friday from 11am-2:30pm. It’s really nice to see them get some daytime action, after holding down that corner for so many years. On the menu, you’ll find their seasonal soul food, including the famed fried chicken and waffles, and salads and sandwiches including a pulled pork sandwich and a burger. This also means that the bar will be open all day, beginning at 11am until closing, serving drinks and snacks like barbecue chips, pickled okra, and spiced nuts. In April, they plan to add weekday breakfast, too—score!

Looking for a good brunch spot for groups? ~THE HALL~ is now serving brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-2pm. All the vendors have special brunch menus on offer, with dishes like baked Moroccan French toast, a goat cheese and egg tagine, and classic eggs Benedict. They’ve also got bottomless mimosas, micheladas, and shandies for $10.28, and live music. Fun! 1028 Market St. at 6th St., 415-558-8293.

~RAMEN SHOP~ is now open on Tuesdays from 5pm-10:30pm, which means they can now take care of your noodle-slurping needs seven days a week.

Things really are changing around here. ~MISSION CHINESE FOOD~ is now accepting reservations, according to a tweet.

Mission Chinese Food - 2234 Mission St. San Francisco - 415-863-2800

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the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
Dec 16, 2014

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Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Dec 16, 2014

The Devil's Acre Is Now Open in North Beach

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The Clover Leaf cocktail. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The main bar. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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Various vintage pharmacy items. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The vintage cocktail shaker. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The main room at Devil’s Acre. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The downstairs bar at Devil’s Acre (Remedie). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

On Sunday evening, I swung by the ~DEVIL’S ACRE~ in North Beach for the first night of the bar’s (very quiet) soft opening—the official opening is Wednesday December 17th. “The Devil’s Acre” was a nickname a section of the neighborhood used to have (it wasn’t just known as the Barbary Coast). More fun trivia: did you know the word “hoodlum” originates from the area as well?

The spacious project is in the former Jazz at Pearl’s, a location that was vacant for some time, just next door to Tosca and Specs’. The Future Bars team (Bourbon & Branch, Tradition, The Wilson, Local Edition, Cask, and the upcoming Tupper & Reed in Berkeley) gutted the space and completely built it back out as a Barbary Coast bar—at one time it was a hotel and pharmacy, with a jewelry shop and Chinese-American cigar-rolling shop upstairs.

The vibe is very much a pharmacy-saloon-apothecary hybrid, with one wall lined with a collection of vintage pharmacy containers, and many little remedy bottles above the bar. The bartenders wear cowhide aprons that mimic old pharmacist aprons, which had to be sturdy enough to protect them from corrosive substances (fun fact: the aprons are the same cowhide as the padded rail along the bar). And about that amazing bar: it was originally from Pennsylvania, and then was shipped to someone in Hawaii, who never did anything with it, so now here it is in San Francisco. It’s a beaut.

The bar menu is a booklet designed like an almanac, and in between the cocktail sections (“Period Specific Classics” and “Barbary Coast Originals”) are ads for neighboring businesses, like Comstock Saloon, Tony Nik’s, and Naked Lunch. (Classy, that.)

The bar is a partial homage to Jerry Thomas’ How to Mix Drinks: A Bon Vivant’s Companion, the first cocktail book, which was printed in 1862. Partner Doug Dalton says the goal was to put a spin on some of the cocktails and make them more palatable, and also serve other drinks of that era. Bar leads Darren Crawford (who has lived in North Beach the past 10 years and has worked at Tony Nik’s) and Jay Pouliot (Tradition, Alchemist, Cotogna, Beretta) include a pisco punch, bourbon crusta, and sherry cobbler (Harry Johnson, 1888) on the menu.

I tried the Clover Leaf (inspired by Harry MacElhone and the old Waldorf Astoria, 1910), shaken with jonge genever, Carpano bianco, lemon, grenadine, egg white, and a mint leaf, an ideal cocktail to start the night with. The Golden Era features gin, applejack, dry vermouth, lemon, aromatic bitters, and an orchard syrup that was was potent with the flavor of apple and spice—it’s a bewitching, fragrant, balanced cocktail.

Further into the almanac is a soda fountain section, where you can enjoy that same orchard syrup in a soda, along with a root beer, a lemon-lime soda, ginger beer, and other bubbly drinks made with real syrups. Sodas were how pharmacists used to serve bitter medications, and I know exactly where I’m heading the next time I have a nasty hangover: I’ll try the ammonia Coke, which was once used as an antacid.

There is also a section of pharmacy remedies and elixirs: you can order an aromatic elixir or surfeit water (a cordial) with an immunity tonic, or maybe an energy boost is what you need? There’s even a love potion. (You can also add some of these remedies to your cocktails.) Isn’t this fun? And just wait until you see the vintage mechanized cocktail shakers on the bar.

There’s a lot of seating in the main room (perfect if you’re waiting for your table at Tosca), and the large windows that look out on Columbus keep it from feeling like a hidden speakeasy. There are so many quality details, from the beautiful wallpaper to the elaborate medallions on the ceiling, plus chairs with striped silk backrests, and inlaid in the wood floors are reproductions of pharmacist pill tiles (which they would use to prepare medications on).

Downstairs is the Remedie room, which will be open all the time (unless someone has a private buyout). It’s the perfect private party room, with its own bar, and vintage chairs and tables. Open Tue 5pm-2am, Wed-Sat 3pm-2am, Sun 3pm-12am, closed Mon. 256 Columbus Ave. at Broadway.

Fun Bar Events: Celebrate Jerry Thomas Week, 15 Romolo's Sherry Christmas

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Some of the sherries at Sherry Christmas 2013. Photo by Balthazar Digital Media via Facebook.

December 15th marked the 129th anniversary of the death of Jerry Thomas, the famed bartender and pioneer of American cocktailing, and the author of How to Mix Drinks: A Bon Vivant’s Companion. He was a champion of genever, the Dutch spirit that was a predecessor to gin, and to celebrate, Bols is hosting several events all around the bay this week. Until December 21st, check out specials at bars including Prizefighter in Emeryville, Bocanova in Oakland, and Lolinda, Rich Table, and Comstock Saloon in San Francisco. Check out the full lineup of participating bars here, and raise a glass to a true spirits pioneer!

Here at tablehopper, the belief is that you can never have enough sherry, and ~15 ROMOLO~ agrees. This year, don’t miss their Third Annual Sherry Christmas celebration, when they offer a special menu of food designed to pair with a selection of 18 different sherries by the glass. Check out the menu here. 15 Romolo Pl. at Broadway, 415-398-1359.

Let's Do Shots: Quick Bar Updates

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The exterior of Specchio (then Piattini, now Buffalo Club). Yelp photo by Thomas R.

As previously mentioned on tablehopper, the team behind Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem and Tonic has taken over the former Specchio/Piattini in the Mission. The new project is called ~BUFFALO CLUB~, and the partners are Duncan Ley, Ben Bleiman, Mark Devito, and Joshua Callen. Devito says the concept for this location will be a bit less themed than nearby Dr. Teeth, though it will still be fun and visually interesting. They’re keeping the Italian spirit alive, with mostly pizza on the menu, along with some charcuterie and salads. They’ve been working on a sourdough-style dough, and toppings will be creative, beyond the usual pepperoni. Devito wasn’t prepared to divulge too many details, but he did say there would be at least two pizza offerings that were in the piadine vein, with fresh greens on top of the crust.

The space is being updated to have a bit of a retro vibe, sort of like “an old Brooklyn pizzeria,” with wood paneling. There are also lots of tributes to the buffalo, including a disco ball buffalo head. The space and menu will be group-friendly, and they want to make sure that the place feels like a good neighborhood spot to hang out, with great cocktails. And about those cocktails: Callen is running the bar, and though they are still working out the menu, look for delicious drinks that pair well with pizza and won’t take forever to prepare. At least two rotating house cocktails will be on tap, along with six beers. There will also be some wines. Right now, the plan is to open in the first week of the new year, so stay tuned for an exact date. To start, the kitchen will be open daily 5pm-1am, with the bar staying open until 2am. 2331 Mission St. at 19th St.

Back in October, we mentioned what was replacing the former Esta Noche, ~BOND~, and SFist reports it’s now open. To recap: it’s meant to be a neighborhood bar, with classic rock, straightforward cocktails, and Sunday football. 3079 16th St. at Valencia.

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the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Dec 16, 2014

More Christmas Eve Dining Options

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Big 4 offers a cozy space for a celebratory meal. Photo from Facebook.

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Festive noodles at Namu Gaji. Photo from Facebook.

Event Info

Wednesday Dec 24, 2014

We already covered all the places to celebrate Christmas Eve with the Italian tradition of Feast of the Seven Fishes, and Las Posadas at La Urbana. But if you’re not looking for seafood or Mexican food, there are plenty of restaurants that will be open! OpenTable has lots of places taking reservations, and here are a few standouts.

~SPRUCE~ is offering a special four-course menu for Christmas Eve, with entrée choices like Maine lobster en croûte with roasted kohlrabi, melted leeks, and white sturgeon caviar, or Flannery’s prime rib eye with potato-Époisses croquette, horseradish soubise, and smoked marrow jus. Oh, and local abalone to start, hi. Check the whole menu here. The dinner is $125 per person, not including tax and gratuity. Wine pairings will also be available.

For a Basque-inflected feast, head to ~PIPERADE~ for their three-course prix-fixe with choices. Entrée choices include a rack of lamb or New York steak; check them all out here. The dinner is $70 per person, and comes with a glass of sparkling wine (not including tax and gratuity). 1015 Battery St. at Green, 415-391-2555.

Looking for some seriously old-school San Francisco elegance? There’s no better spot than ~BIG 4~, where you can choose to order from either the à la carte menu or a three-course prix-fixe. The prix-fixe is $115 per person and includes a glass of Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut; here is the menu.

Downtown’s adorable ~HUXLEY~ will be open on Christmas Eve, serving their regular menu. The beef short rib potpie on a cold night? We can’t think of anything more festive. 846 Geary St. at Hyde, 415-800-8223.

For something fun and a little different, check out one of ~NAMU GAJI~’s famed noodle nights. They’re throwing a special one on Christmas Eve this year, with a limited menu available in addition to their noodle soups. All the soups highlight handmade noodles, including a Devil’s Gulch pork miso ramen, Dungeness crab tom yum, and beef tongue pho.

the matchmaker

Classifieds (let's get it on)
Dec 16, 2014

(Matchmaker): LOKL Seeks Kitchen Team Leader

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LOKL is a mission-driven business, committed to bringing important change to the food system with direct-from-farm sourcing and convenient access to farm-fresh food for consumers. LOKL is looking for resourceful, driven, and passionate people interested in joining us as we bring positive change to the food world. The LOKL kitchen team leader is responsible for running the operations of a LOKL store according to high-quality standards and in alignment with LOKL’s core values of integrity, accountability, and transparency.

Apply here.

(Matchmaker): Tacolicious Hiring a Sous Chef

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Tacolicious is a fast-paced and high-volume restaurant specializing in seasonally inspired Mexican food, drinks, and a fun atmosphere. We are committed to using quality ingredients sourced locally, sustainably, and organically. Our Marina location is currently looking for a sous chef with a love for cooking (especially tacos). This position is ideal for a candidate with six months or up to two years of experience in a high-volume, fast-paced restaurant.

Apply today.

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All content © 2014 tablehopper, LLC. I am more than happy if you want to link to my reviews and content elsewhere (thanks, glad you dig it), but republishing any part of them in any way, shape or form is strictly prohibited until we talk first. Please take a look at my Creative Commons license for more detail.