This week's tablehopper: spice girl.
Michelada and salsa at Don Pisto’s.
How the hell is it August 20th. Really? REALLY? I’m very happy with my tomatoes and peaches right now, but the whirring calendar is freaking me out a bit. I guess this Gorillas in the Mist summer of ours is making me mourn its departure because it barely showed up—I’m left banking on a couple months with some blasts of Indian Summer heat. Show me the money.
In the meantime, it’s looking like Saturday’s SF STREET FOOD FESTIVAL is going to include some Mission sun. Maybe. Hopefully. Please?
And speaking of the event, have you had a chance to look at the tablehopper item in the silent auction? It’s a night on the town with me, tablehopping to four different restaurants (through their generous donations), and traveling in style through Carried Away. So, you wanna know where we’re going? Oh yeah you do, check it out: you’ll start with some bubbles from the Carried Away ladies, and then we’re off to Thermidor for appetizers (hello pommes dauphine!), then Prospect for our main dishes, to the lovely lounge at Coi for some of Bill Corbett’s stellar desserts, and then a post-prandial cocktail at Comstock Saloon. Can you handle it? I know, it’s one hell of a night. And I’m the last person who will get cranky with you for taking pictures of your food! Here’s where to place your bid! Bidding ends August 26th! Let’s hit the town.
This week was pretty epic: got to take a dear young lady out for her 16th birthday to Farallon (happy birthday dear Olivia!)—she got to experience her first tastes of caviar and foie gras, while yours truly got spoiled with tastes of a 1960 Mouton Rothschild and 1962 Château Margaux from a couple of fab-u-lous guests with an epic wine cellar. Meow. Wednesday was all about making meatballs for another friend’s birthday, and last night my sis and I gorged on the menu at Don Pisto’s in North Beach. Whole lobster cooked in rendered pork fat, can you believe? Ay yi yi.
Since it’s Friday, I thought I’d include some lush-worthy hitting-the-town news, where to get your big gay ice cream on Sunday, and I have a review for you of a little gem in the Inner Sunset, Curry Village—in fact, they’re launching a weekend dinner buffet this Saturday, so you could check them out for a paltry $13.99.
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Double Rainbow All the Way Across the Sky! It's in My Front Yard!
No, not that double rainbow, nor this one, but Sunday is all about some serious rainbow power, and ice cream, because Douglas Quint of Manhattan’s Big Gay Ice Cream Truck is comin’ to town! Quint will be serving a special sundae created with Humphry Slocombe’s Jake Godby. (Since The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck is known for their soft-serve ice cream with toppings like wasabi pea dust, or dulce de leche, you know that sundae is going to be creative.)
And just to add some extra SF campiness, Beach Blanket Babylon’s Glinda the Good Witch (Chavé Alexander) will be there to help pass out the sundaes. And that’s not all: The Go-Go’s Jane Wiedlin will also be in attendance for the premiere of her never-before-heard theme song, “The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck.” I mean, come on—someone might explode into a glitter cloud. It all goes off this Sunday August 22nd at 7pm at Humphry Slocombe. 2790 Harrison St. at 24th St.
Humphry Slocombe - 2790 Harrison St. San Francisco - 415-550-6971
Last Day to Vote for Who's Your Butcher?
It’s down to the wire: the voting on the top 20 videos for PROTEINU’S WHO’S YOUR BUTCHER? ~ contest ends tomorrow, Saturday August 21st, with the contest winner announced on Sunday. Local Bay Area talent includes Dave the Butcher, Mark Pasternak of Devil’s Gulch, Mark Dommen of One Market, and Scott Brennan of Café Rouge, so check it out! The winner will receive an all-expenses-paid, four-day trip to an “all-star” butcher retreat August 29th-31st at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. Additionally, the winner will come out for Primal Napa on September 23rd-25th in St. Helena at Chase Cellars. Good luck to all.
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
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New Restaurant Reviews (I'm looking for somewhere new to eat)
When my sister and I traveled to India, we knew it was going to ruin us on Indian food once we returned to SF. And, well, it kind of did. I can’t even find a replacement for the shockingly good samosas we had at Cream Centre in Mumbai, or the paper-thin paratha with tomato and onion we had in Goa… but there is a Northern Indian place here in the city that I was happy to return to: CURRY VILLAGE. When owners Kamal Barbhuyan (who is from East India) and Nimmi Bano (from Loucknow) had their place in the Tenderloin, Little Delhi, it was always the place I’d send people for really delicious Indian food. Sadly, they had to leave that location, and all was dark in the kingdom (sob). After some prolonged time away, they finally found a place in the Inner Sunset where they could reopen and get Kamal back behind the stoves.
Now, there are four other Indian places within a two-block radius, but this quality place is the spice hut you should beeline too. Don’t be deterred by the tattered sandwich board out front, and once you’re inside, the Indian videos and musical entertainment on the TVs will (hopefully) be at a manageable volume. The large dining room is a bit eclectic style-wise, but really, let’s get to the important stuff: the vittles. If you eat beef, the shammi kebab ($4) appetizer is such a score. Spiced (halal) beef and lentils are minced and cooked into the smoothest texture, loaded with flavor from garlic, chili, ginger, and spices, and then topped with spiced scrambled eggs and minced red onion. It also comes with Kamal’s spicy red sauce that you drizzle on top—I actually had the house pack up the rest of the sauce for me to take home, and I put it on everything that week. It’s a unique dish, and I think a stronger choice than the fried samosas and pakoras that I found too doughy and oily. The sheek kebabs ($5) are also delicious appetizers—the ground meat is spiced and seasoned, and maintains a nice juiciness and smokiness once it comes out of the tandoor and off its skewer. (I want these in a wrap.)
The food can take a little while to come out, but that’s because they’re making your order from scratch, yo. (Just nibble your complimentary pappadums and trio of chutneys and chill.) And do not act all Rambo and order your food spicy, because the kitchen is not messing around. They will pummel you with chilis, violently and mercilessly, so unless your tongue is made of asbestos, exercise some restraint and order it medium spicy. For reals. If things get too hotsie totsie, cool off your maw with a salted lassi.
Sure, you can order some tikka masala, a much-adored and over-ordered dish in this wonderful world of ours, but variety is the spice of life, man. How about some goat? Go for the goat do pyaza ($10.99), which sports a complex sauce that will transfix you with its sweet undertones against its spice, with the flavors of mint, garlic, and a rich mouthfeel. The meat is flavorful and tender (my first-time goat-eatin’ friend gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up), and the meat is a savory match with the tomatoes in the sauce. There’s also an excellent lamb vindaloo ($9.99), a rich and decadent (and spicy!) dish, with tender cubes of lamb and potato, with hints of lemon in the sauce. Kamal has a balanced touch with his wonderful and wicked sauces.
The menu is extensive, with enough different executions that you’ll have plenty to explore; the vegetarian section includes dishes with their homemade paneer, and some lesser-seen dishes, like okra ($8.99). I love the complexity of the baigan bharta ($8.99), studded with tomato, carrot, and green peas. Its creaminess begs to be sopped up with some naan ($1)—which comes a bit thick here. The onion naan ($2), styled with herbs, has a lacier texture—and be watchful of the garlic version, which has so much raw garlic in it that it can overwhelm whatever you’re eating.
At this point, you should be getting rather full. The servings are quite huge, very generous, so be prepared to bring home some leftovers unless you’re in a party of four (I would totally come here with a big group). The biryanis are special here, one of Kamal’s specialties (and passions). The chicken Hyderabadi dum biryani ($9.99) was a favorite—with a dark and dusky color, hinting at its fullness of seasoning and flavor—but I learned it’s sadly off the menu now (Kamal said customers didn’t care for its richness—a shame!).
It’s doubtful you’ll have room for dessert, but in case you do, you can get pistachio kulfi ($4) (or mango if you want something sweeter). You might be able to get a taste of what they served at the lunch buffet that day as well—sometimes sweet fruits or rice puddings. Speaking of the lunch buffet, sadly I have not been able to make it over for lunch, but I hear it’s quite the spread, and only $8.99 Mon-Thu, and $9.99 Fri-Sun. (At the time of this review, they were also just launching a dinner buffet for $13.99 Sat-Sun.) Beer and wine has also just been added. And you should know that when you return (and you will), Kamal and Nimmi are quick to adopt their regular customers like family, happy to welcome you back with a piping hot mug of chai or a mango lassi, asking, “Where have you beeeeeen?”
Curry Village - 1386 9th Ave. San Francisco - 415-731-2388
Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Guest Bartender Night Returns to Jardinière
New shooter, coming out! The editor of San Francisco Daily Candy, Karen Palmer, will be guest bartending at J Lounge at JARDINIÈRE next Wednesday August 25th! She will be making The Sweet Tart: gin, St. Germain, Campari, and fresh lemon juice, shaken and strained into a champagne flute and topped with Prosecco, for $9. And since that sounds so delicious that you just may be inspired to drink too many of them, easy tiger, there will also be Hoffman Farm chicken and cheddar sliders with a Star Route field greens salad for $9 with a Sweet Tart drink purchase. Sweet, indeed. Karen will be behind the stick from 6pm-8pm, swing by!
Jardinière - 300 Grove St. San Francisco - 415-861-5555
Natural Wine Week at A16: with Cali Wines!
SF NATURAL WINE WEEK kicks off on Monday August 23rd, running through the 29th with all kinds of events around town. But one that really caught my eye is at A16. I was really happy to see them choose to feature seven natural winemaking leaders from California instead of their usual Italian roster—and not only will A16 be pouring these wines by the glass, carafe, and bottle, but the masters behind these great wines will be there!
Monday August 23rd features Palmina Wines with Chrystal and Steve Clifton; Tuesday August 24th features Robert Sinskey Vineyards with Robert and Maria Helm Sinskey; Wednesday August 25th is Bonny Doon Vineyards with Randall Grahm; Thursday August 26th is Unti Vineyards with Mick and George Unti; Friday August 27th is Whetstone Wine Cellars with Jamey Whetstone; Saturday, August 28th is Peay Vineyards with Andy Peay; and Sunday August 29th features Brown Estate Vineyards with Deneen Brown and Stefanie Kelly . I know, that lineup is crazy. Cheers!
A16 - 2355 Chestnut St. San Francisco - 415-771-2216