Thursday, January 15, 2004
WELCOME TO MY LIFE…Hello there everyone, and welcome back to this regular weekly grind-it-out stream of semi-consciousness. My last three columns were cranked out (crazed publishing elves on crank) before the holidays. But before I get to more current events, I’d like to flash back to a great annual event Sweet Thing and I had the pleasure of attending on Dec. 18.
Every year, those wonderful Old Bath House folks (think about that phrase without the O capitalized) throw a luncheon to say “thank you” to all the industry people who support them throughout the year. David Bindel, Dorothy Maras-Ildiz, Boris Ilabaca, Gary Vandendries, Ryan Stanley, Matt Fagan, Mark Lotz, George Barker, Heather Upton, David Biswanger and the entire staff of OBH rolled out the red carpet of professional service, food and ambiance. Another reminder of why Old Bath House is still on top after all these years.
ROOM AT THE FACTORY…It’s winter, and that usually means slow times for most businesses around here. Many restaurants close for a week or three during the winter to catch up on repairs, painting, replacing carpets, etc. to the nth degree. It is simultaneously tough/rewarding for owners and employees. Everyone gets to catch their collective breath and heal a little from the day-to-day emotional and physical pounding of restaurant work, but no one is earning any money—a true Catch-22.
One revamping during the winter season I am strongly looking forward to is the Sardine Factory’s conversion of their entire front room into a lounge area. As anyone living here knows, the bar/lounge area at SF is one of the best places around to hang for cocktails, apps, after-dinner drinks and the like. The only drawback has been the relatively small area available. Now, sophisticated adults who enjoy a great lounge scene—whether before or after dinner at the Factory or elsewhere—can enjoy all the great ambiance and flavor of that special landmark. Right on, Sardine Factory.
WHERE’S THE VEGGIES…I was hanging out at Salud, the little offshoot of Whole Foods in Del Monte Center, last night after a talk by Anna Masteller of Food in the Nude. Food in the Nude is a company devoted to promoting raw, unadulterated nourishment in the form of delectable, uncooked goodies made from organic, vine-ripened fruits and vegetables. Anna’s recommendations for helping to convert to a better, more healthy eating lifestyle include eating only fruit before noon as a continuation of the body’s natural inclination to cleanse itself during the sleeping “fast” period. Then, for the first meal of the day, regardless of your style of eating, begin with a large green salad with homemade raw dressing. It should be the main dish at least once per day. With the hundreds of mouth-watering salad variations available, along with the endless supply of fresh fruits, these two simple changes will yield amazing benefits.
After the talk, Sweet Thing (who had also given a talk), Anna, Jody Emerson Quintana from Whole Foods, Lynda M Jasper-Vogel and Elizabeth S Mountford (no one was allowed to hang out with us unless they had long, multi-syllabic names) and I sat around discussing the eating-out possibilities for vegetarians. We concluded that there really aren’t any serious dining establishments with extensive vegetarian and/or raw food menus.
Chez Panisse in Berkeley and Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago are the two most obvious that come to mind, and both are in giant urban markets. However, there might be room here for a portion of some very good restaurant’s menu devoted to and promoting vegetarian dishes. Let’s go, all you restaurateurs out there, get your thinking toques on! Meanwhile, call Food in the Nude at 620-0520 for info about catering, chef training, meal delivery, classes, etc. or catch Anna Masteller twice monthly (next one, Jan. 16) at Salud.
PARAISO AT BILLY’S…On Jan. 21, lunatic chef Todd “somebody duct tape me to the stove” Fisher of Billy Quon’s will pair up his delicious cuisine with the stellar wines of Paraiso Vineyards. Winemaker David Fleming will be teaming up with Todd to present four of his increasingly recognized wines. If you have never tasted Paraiso wines, there can be no better launch pad than upon the fabulous food and fun provided by Todd Fisher. This one will be a humdinger, guaranteed. The cost is $75/person (don’t know if that includes tax and tip, but go either way). Call 647-0390 and hurry.