Posts for January 24, 2013

Check Out the Menu and Interior at Hillside Supper Club, Opening Tonight

Last week we spoke to chef-partner Tony Ferrari about the opening of Hillside Supper Club (300 Precita Avenue) in Bernal Heights, and tonight is the big debut. It's a cozy spot with a simple and modern look, and they had a little neighborhood gathering last night so we snapped a few photos. And below is the opening menu, from Ferrari and co-chef Jonathan Sutton.

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Almanac, a New Gourmet Fast-Casual Concept, On Its Way to Spear Street

The logo

Today Grub Street has the exclusive news about a sophisticated but speedy lunch option on its way to the Financial District. It's called Almanac, and it's a project of two first-time restaurateurs with a passion for food, Caleb Canning and Adrian Albino. They're aiming for an April 1 opening in the former Pasta Paradiso space at 180 Spear Street, which they're in the process of renovating. The menu will feature a mix-and-match set of vegetable and grain salads, seasonal sandwiches, and soups, all made from scratch and using high-quality local ingredients. "We wanted to bring the Bay Area philosophy of great ingredients, honest cooking, and a healthier lifestyle to the one place it's hardest to find: downtown," says Albino. "It's an area dominated by conventional delis and fast-food chains, and we wanted to provide a better option."

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Gourmet Grilled Spam With ‘Flamin’ Hot’ Cheetos Actually Looks Pretty Good

Save room for dessert.

Jerky canapés, Red Bull reduction sauce, pan-seared Spam with Tostitos "queso-dip" mashed potatoes, and other assorted snack-size garnishes make up this stunningly beautiful bodega-sourced tasting menu at the Bold Italic. It can't all be farmers' markets and heirloom beets, writes Jessica Saia, because "life's about as fair as the trade of these ingredients." At least there's a lot of Pepto, poured into stemware of course, served as a digestif. [The Bold Italic]

Actually Pretty Awesome: The Doc Hopper at Absinthe

The Doc Hopper cocktail.Photo: J. Barmann/Grub Street

We have Tasting Table to thank for turning us on to this one. It's a new drink called the Doc Hopper created by Absinthe bar manager Matt Conway to highlight a new spirit from Anchor Distilling, Hophead hop vodka. It's a twist on a shandy, essentially, but Conway tells us he was also inspired by the Burma Cooler they make with beer and ginger lemonade at Burma Superstar. "I wanted to use a hoppy ale to go with the hop flavors and give it more structure," says Conway, "But I also wanted it to be super balanced and refreshing like that lemonade."

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No More Mystery Fish: McDonald’s Will Use MSC-Certified Sustainable Seafood

Okay, so they lied about selling halal food, but redemption is right around the corner for McDonald's: Now you can eat their fish sandwiches guilt-free (provided that your only reservations about eating a Filet-o-Fish stem from seafood sustainability issues). McD's will become the first national restaurant chain to adopt the Marine Stewardship Council’s (very attractive!) blue ecolabel on its fish packaging in restaurants nationwide, a hallmark of responsible sourcing practices. The marketing technique is going swimmingly so far!

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Metal Shards Prompt Recall of Annie’s Homegrown Frozen Pizzas

The Berkeley-based maker of organic and natural pastas and pizzas has announced a voluntary recall on its entire line of frozen pizzas. According to an FDA press release, a "fine metal mesh screen" at a third-party vendor became loosened during the milling process and disintegrated into the flour that eventually became Annie's dough, and while no illnesses or incidents have yet been reported, the manufacturer warns that small pieces of metal mesh may be out there, lurking inside frozen pizzas stamped with "best before" dates ranging from "09Jan13" and "14Sep13." Full refunds for all pizzas potentially affected are being issued; more information is available here. [Annie's, USFDA]

Help Marian Brown Celebrate Her Birthday Tomorrow at the Sir Francis Drake

We mentioned the other week how one half of S.F.'s iconic Brown Twins, Vivian Brown, had died after complications from Alzheimer's. Her surviving sister Marian, however, remains healthy and the Sir Francis Drake is throwing her a birthday party tomorrow, January 25, at 6 o'clock. She'll be 86. There will be cake. You should go. [SFist]

Here Are Ten Photos of Vegetables Being Used to Operate iPhones

A little mushroom three-way action.Photo: Fun!

You're probably aware that the surface of your iPhone responds to fingers, but not pens, because of the capacitors that are built into the layered screen. Other than a few inconvenient workarounds, it was thought that few options outside of expensive styluses were available, until a man named Norihide Nishi figured out that the cheap, sturdy, and organic king oyster mushroom did the job just fine. Nishi's photo of the mushroom stylus in action was retweeted more than 8,000 times, which of course inspired other users to see what worked. And hey, look at that — all sorts of other veggies have the natural capacitance to operate the iPhone's screen. You may now use baby carrots to get through Temple Run 2.

Bitter melon! How come you scroll so good? »

Rachael Ray Yet Again Denies Salacious Rumors About Her Husband

The (allegedly) happy couple.Photo: Getty Images

Today the web is abuzz with a fresh rumor about Rachael Ray's husband, John Cusimano, and his alleged affinity for the Checkmate Club, a swingers club in Manhattan. Rumors have swirled about Ray's marriage pretty much since it began, all of which Ray and her PR team have vehemently denied. For instance, just a year into their marriage, the Enquirer published a piece interviewing a sex worker who claimed Cusimano had hired her multiple times to spit on him and put her feet in his mouth. Divorce rumors then swirled for several years, forcing Ray to issue multiple denials and tell various talk shows how "flattering" all the negative publicity was. And now, the Enquirer reaches back "several years" again with these sightings of Cusimano at Checkmate. But, boring as it may be, the fact remains that Ray and Cusimano remain married after seven and a half years, and they remain gazillionaires. The end. [NYDN]

Bauer Still Mostly Likes Claudine, Post-Chef-Shuffle


Michael Bauer does an update on Claudine (8 Claude Lane), two months after the departure of chef de cuisine Caleb Jones. He finds everything just fine, but not quite as good as it was when he reviewed the place last March and gave them three stars for food. His favorite meatball soup isn't quite as perfect, the chicken was over-sauced, and the service was extra-slow. Still he lets them keep their two and a half stars. [Chron]

Criminals Ransack Girl Scouts’ Cookie Cash Boxes


The first sighting of Girl Scouts is one of the happier moments of the winter season. It's the excitement of Groundhog Day, times ten. The troops are huddled outside a bookstore, in the freezing cold, hawking some of the best packaged cookies ever made — while building a lifetime of skills and confidence! This is our country at its best. But a few awful Americans see this as an ideal time for crime. Two men allegedly stole nearly $400 from a Girl Scouts cash box at a Massachusetts store, and they're being held on charges of unarmed robbery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and shoplifting.

There's more. »

Watch the Mythbusters Popcorn Explosion That China Is Apparently Obsessed With

While this country continues frittering away precious productivity time scrutinizing panic-stricken squirrels and an ever-expanding procession of Grumpy Cat memes during the workday, a video of Americans blowing up a popcorn-maker is burning up bandwidth in China. The clip, which comes from an episode of Mythbusters, has become such a hot topic that Chinese Central TV — the most watched news network on Earth — recently devoted a segment to it. In it, the Mythbusters crew, with the help of Alton Brown, takes on an antiquated, and potentially explosive, popcorn popper that’s popular with Chinese street vendors.

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Top Chef Seattle Recap: David Rees on Naked Sushi and Human Centipede Chicken

The real Steve Zissou probably makes a mean fried chicken.Photo: Bravo

Kristen’s absence hangs like a druid’s shadow over the Top Chef kitchen. The chefs still can’t believe Kristen refused to throw Josie under the bus. Meanwhile, Josie picks at her sock while justifying her behavior during last week’s elimination — she admits she feels a little guilty. On the other hand, she reminds us “I’m not here to lose,” which is said by all reality-show contestants to justify their ungodly behavior. Just once I’d like to hear someone try this line on St. Peter. They’d be sent straight to hell in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.

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Central Station, Featuring Fresh Bread Dough To Go, Coming to North Beach [Updated]

A rendering of the storefront.

A new Italian grocery and deli, is seeking Planning approval today to move into a retail space at 728 Vallejo Street in North Beach. This is the aforementioned deli project that had been hinted at by Don Pisto's Pete Mrabe, but the investor behind it is Giovanni Toracca, longtime neighborhood fixture, co-owner of Sotto Mare and owner of Grant & Green Saloon. (Sidebar: Toracca may or may not have had past ties to the San Francisco Mafia, such as it is, but was only ever prosecuted for failing to file a tax return in the nineties, to which he pleaded guilty.) Toracca's been working on the deli project for the last several years, and he wants not only to offer standards like cured meats and fine olive oils, but also a fresh dough program selling pizza dough, bread dough, unleavened flatbread dough, and, of course, fresh pasta.

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Castro Sausage Grill Likely Heading to 18th Street

A rendering of the Castro Sausage Grill below the Castro Country Club.Illustration: Courtesy of Tecta Associates

A small new sausage shack is looking to move in to the ground-floor garage space at 4058 18th Street, home of the sober oasis known as the Castro Country Club. The gathering spot for friends of Bill W. will remain upstairs, and building owner George "Jorge" Maumer is looking to legalize the non-profit space, which has thus far been operating in a residentially zoned space for 30 years. The proposal goes before the Planning Commission today, as the Bay Area Reporter notes. Maumer owns the Castro Street video store Superstar, which is in the process of liquidating its inventory and closing. He says that opening the Castro Sausage Grill in the 18th Street building that he purchased a year ago is the only way to keep the Country Club's lease from being unaffordable.

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Wahlburgers’ Reality Show Will Air on the History Channel

An icon of our times.Photo: Getty Images

The esteemed network that has brought us such classics as Pawn Stars and Swamp People will also air the historically significant Wahlburgers reality show, per the New York Daily News. "Walhberg brothers Mark, Donnie and chef sibling Paul have begun filming on a reality TV show that will follow the entrepreneurial family as they build their burger brand, aptly named Wahlburgers," they report. Because, you know, it's gripping to watch complete unknowns make history struggling to hit it big!

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Pabst Blue Ribbon Is Really Maybe Buying Twinkies

A new hipster food group emerges from the rubble of bankruptcy.Photo: Ubcule/Wikimedia,

They threatened as much last November, and now it really seems that the private-equity firm that owns Pabst Brewing Company is going for it and will make a bid to buy Twinkies from the liquidating Hostess Brands, creating the most potentially formidable confluence of hipsterdom and nostalgia to ever enter the free-market economy. “We are working diligently to get a deal done,” a representative from the company tells Bloomberg, which means it could only be a month or so before everyone will be bringing Ho Hos, Ding Dongs, Fruit Pies, and Devil Dogs to your next house party along with twelve-packs. In six months, Drake's Cakes may even replace Irish whiskey shots and accompany shotgunned-PBR at bars across the country. [Bloomberg, Earlier]

Chef Moves at Ad Hoc and Poggio; Both Chefs Plotting Their Own Things

Thomas Keller's temporary Yountville restaurant that just never went away, Ad Hoc, is seeing a changing of the guard in February. Dave Cruz, who's been heading the kitchen since the place opened seven years ago, is moving on and planning to open his own restaurant, as the Chron reports. His replacement will be Katie Hagan-Whelchel who's been there since last summer and was previously at Bouchon Beverly Hills. She says she plans to keep the comfort food core of the menu and "expand upon it." Cruz's plans will likely keep him in Napa (he hasn't found a piece of real estate yet), and he'll continue doing casual, family-style fare with "his own take" on the genre.

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South American Airline Surprises Bocanova Diners With Free Flights

Everyone who was eating at Bocanova in Jack London Square last night got a sweet treat in the middle of their meal: Executives from LAN Airlines who were in attendance stood up and announced, Oprah-style, that everyone in the room was getting a free round-trip voucher to go anywhere in South America. This happened during one of chef-owner Rick Hackett's wine dinners, and someone from HuffPo happened to be there. We're not bitter, really. [HuffPo]

Ranch Dressing Is Ruining America’s Endangered Chicken-Wing Supply

Who eats chicken wings with ranch dressing?Photo: iStockphoto

Your halftime snacks are in the danger zone: Thanks to last summer's drought, chicken-wing prices are up to an average of $2.11 per pound in the Northeast. The USDA says that's the highest recorded price ever, and we believe them. (As a comparison, three years ago the all-time high was $1.47 per pound.) This means a mere 1.23 billion chicken-wing segments will be consumed during the Super Bowl, LiveScience reports, down 12.3 million from last year.

A conspiracy of Ranch dressing manufacturers. »

A Different Kind of Soda War: Violent Dispute Over Big Peach

An ugly fight erupted in Dallas yesterday, and it all started over an argument about Big Peach soda. But we're still not quite sure why a Dallas man and woman were fighting over the soft drink. Maybe one person was guzzling it and not sharing? Or one supports Coke's anti-obesity ad while the other is team Pepsi? But the fight sounds brutal; a box of chicken, a glass jar, a tire iron, and a pillow were all used as weapons. The man is being held on a charge of aggravated assault. [Earlier, Earlier, Dallas Morning News]


Recent reader reviews on MenuPages

  • Lucca Food Store See the menu

    “Billy's Philly”

    Billy is only there after 5 pm but if you are around go there and ask for his billy philly, the best philly you'll find this side of the Mississippi.

  • Le P'tit Laurent See the menu

    “Elegant Sauces & Fabulous Bread”

    It is the place me and my love go for every intimate moment.

  • Hidive See the menu

    “Are you kidding?”

    You have to be totally drunk to think that this is even acceptable as a public watering hole.


Jay Barmann
NY Mag