Side Dish

Ahead of the Times
Hate to spill the beans, but I just caught wind of an article that's coming out soon in the venerable New York Times' Sunday travel section. It's yet another feature on our lovely town -- more specifically, on the five best new places to eat in San Francisco.

Send me your top five guesses on which houses of culinary splendor rate mentions in the article, and I'll try to get you dinner at one of 'em. Honest. All entries must be received by 5 p.m. Friday, April 23. You can't win if you don't play ....

Shake 'n' Bake
Is there a baker in the house? The world and the city lost one of its culinary lights when it lost Mary Jane Rathburn, aka Brownie Mary. Mary, a co-founder of the Cannabis Buyers' Club, baked to relieve the suffering of AIDS patients, lacing each goodie with something extra sweet for their ailments.

My copy of A Child's Garden of Grass suggests Betty Crocker's Fudge Brownie Mix as the ideal vehicle for ingestion. But Brownie Mary would have none of that, being an old-school scratch baker, and devised her own delicious formula. The recipe is in safe (and secret) hands, waiting for a new generation of bakers to rise up and take the mantle ... spatula ... whatever.

Fresh Juice
The Upper Polk area has become a nice place to visit, and in the coming weeks you'll have one more good reason to swing by. A friendly new neighborhood cocktail lounge named Tonic has bubbled to the surface in the old Union Polk Cafe space. Rick Monetta and Ron Kirkpatrick, both most recently at Infusion, are the friendly faces behind the rail and the owners of this new endeavor. It's just what we all need to soothe us in these troubled times: a nice place for a good drink among honest people.

Au Revoir, Not Adieu
Eddie Heintz, the last of the seat-of-your-pants front-of-the-house managers, is saying "Mahalo" and jetting off to the Big Island. (Seems they have restaurants there, too.) Eddie left his mark on spots like Harry's Starlight, Scala's Bistro, and, most recently, Florio. He's bucking the old trend and taking his heart with him -- but he's holding onto his apartment in the City By The Bay. We can only hope this means he'll be back soon.

And the Winner Is ...
Congratulations to Michael Zanfagna, winner of Harry's "Put the bottles in order" contest. The correct order, from smallest to largest, is:

Magnum
Double Magnum
Jeroboam
Imperial
Salmanazar
Balthazar

I've got to say it was a pretty weak showing in general. But Michael's got an edge -- he's married to Amy Townsend of Far Niente Winery. Now that's some grape juice I'd like to supersize.

By Harry Coverte

Know something Harry doesn't? E-mail Coverte@aol.com and sweep the dirt out from under the rug.

 
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