Cafe Society
According to a recent nationwide study, a table on the street beat out a room with a view 3-to-1 in terms of diner preference. Dish hopes the city's restaurateurs take note. Admittedly, we don't have as consistent a season for dining alfresco as many other places, but when the sun is shining and the arctic wind has quieted to a gentle wafting breeze, it would be lovely to have more choices. Mark McLeod of Enrico's told Dish the city's rules on outdoor tables have loosened in the last year, causing North Beach to positively blossom with outside seating options. He added that Enrico Banducci, founder of the eponymously named restaurant, was a pioneer in fighting for outdoor dining. At one point, in his frustration over the difficulty in getting the city to yield to his request for outdoor tables, Banducci reportedly hauled a Health Department official out to Mel's on Lombard to witness people getting service in their cars and demanded an explanation of the difference between eating outside in your car or at a table.

The Finest China
“Even a Mongolian warrior has to eat,” TV chef Martin Yan told Dish, explaining why he and six Chinese extras dressed up as Mongolian warriors, armed with weapons from a local museum, and galloped toward the Great Wall for his new series Yan Can Cook: The Best of China. “It was a good way to introduce the Mongolian hot pot [lamb cooked over charcoal].” Yan and crew spent over two months in China, traveling 35,000 miles and visiting 18 cities for the 39-part series, which airs on KQED Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. “We wanted to bring the food, culture, history, arts, and people of China into the show,” Yan said, adding that viewers will see places the average tourist can't go, like the kitchen of the Shaolin Temple. The trip also produced a companion book, Martin Yan's Culinary Journey Through China.

Wine on the Web
Finally, a reason to surf the Internet. Master sommelier Peter Granoff's company, Virtual Vineyards, is a wine shopping and information service that offers descriptions of each selected wine, a personalized question-and-answer page, tasting charts, and food-and-wine pairing suggestions. To access the service, users point their World Wide Web browsers to What's the next step? A virtual hangover?

Now It Can Be Told
Dish recently learned the secret of perfect french fries. When the fries are almost done, scoop them out of the oil and plunge them into ice water. Then drain them and pop them back into the oil. Guaranteed extra crispy.

By Barbara Lane

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