Pardon Me Do You Have Any Grey Poupon?
Ahh, nothing like a trip out of the city. Sonoma during the Mustard Festival reminds me of an overgrown lawn just before the gas mower coughs into life. Spring is on the way! I didn't dig up too much in the clayey vineyard dirt, but I did get out and about to enjoy one amazing meal at Glen Ellen's Girl in the Fig, and another at Don Giovanni's -- though I must say it would be a challenge to work under someone at once so eye-popping and on the ball as GM Frieda Klebaum.
Hospitality major-domo Skip Smith over at Gloria Ferrer gave me the cellars grand tour -- complete with a hilarious demonstration of the riddling technique. He topped it off with a tasty flute of Brut Rose, now de rigueur for Bay Area weddings. And my incessant pinot noir cravings were sated at Robert Sinskey's place on the hill. Harry even got his sunset fix from the deck at Auberge de Soleil, a great spot rain or no, but he's nevertheless glad to be back in the land of fog and buses.
Full Moon Fever
Harry is always happy to attend the tasting dinners that preface most restaurant openings. The staff is usually nervous, and the kitchen far from consistent, but it's a chance to preview a new place, eat a lot of free food, and openly criticize everything with no fear of retribution. But at Moonshine's recent preview dinner, my inner critic was kept well at bay. The service was friendly and confident and the cuisine was, for the most part, excellent. The crab-filled hush puppies and pit-baked beans from Wesley "Big Daddy" Saunders' kitchen almost eclipsed his delicious smokehouse treats. Of course, some of the waiters came off as frumpy in their suspenders -- but then, not all of us can look comfortable in a pair of braces.
One of Us
I was going to tell y'all about a cool new watering hole that just popped up in the Mission District, but then, sitting at the counter at Chow having a delicious bowl of orechietti with braising greens and bread crumbs, I overheard a conversation that made me think better of it. Two young Montgomery Street types were bantering casually about moving into the Mission, driving up coffee prices (not to mention rents), and taking up precious parking spaces. Now, I don't begrudge people the right to live the way they like and where they want, but for now I'm going to keep the whereabouts of my new favorite bar hush-hush.
Feed the World
The building that houses Rumpus just off of Stockton Street caught fire last week. No details were available at press time, but I do know there was extensive water damage to this fave lunch spot. The day after the flare-up, Rumpus was to play host to Cabs on Cue, a wine tasting and auction to benefit Family House. The Rumpus crew were too busy mopping up their carpets, so the guys at Oritalia offered to lend their services. The show must go on, and it did. They're renaming the annual event "Rumpus Aid."
Inch by Inch Hamburger Mary's has a new autographed picture on the wall since Jeff Stryker, master thespian, and his chirpy cast came in for a post-show bite. (He was a perfect gentleman.) The photo's inscription? "Hamburger Mary's is the place for meat." Guess he'd know.