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  1. Hey! That's me! So, wow -- a hunnerd bucks for the stuff, eh? I'm surprised -- the by-the-glass price seems like a bargain by comparison. (I think it was $12, which is not out of range for grappa.) Our server mentioned they were planning to use it in cocktails, and that certainly seems like a great application. Or, a single drop served from an eyedropper under the tongue as the last thing you put in your mouth at the end of the meal. But any more than that is seriously too hardcore perfumey.
  2. Best is such a subjective term ... my list may not be best as in highest-end or most sophisticated, but rather places I most enjoy and frequent (or would like to frequent more than I do), in no particular order: Aziza Delfina Range Incanto Aqua
  3. Right-o, as promised, I've posted my thoughts on Ame. I'm afraid we didn't have quite the stellar service experience you did ... not awful, just hiccupy. But on the whole a top-notch establishment.
  4. I've long since lost my taste for the groaner breakfasts, but on the occasions when duty calls (*cough*hangover*cough), I have a few haunts (caveat: I live in Noe Valley): Fattoush (Church btwn Clipper/26th) They swap out their Levantine menu for more standard brunch fare on weekend mornings. On sunny days, they have a sweet little garden in the back. Very civilized. Le Zinc (24th btwn Noe/Castro) A place I like generally, but the brunch is quite nice indeed. Try the brik. Red Grill (18th btwn Hartford/Castro) Offers up a decent brunch menu and also has a nice little back garden area. They also have a charming mimosa kit -- a bottle of bubbly with three little pitchers of different juices hanging off the side of the bucket. I'm neverendingly amazed that places like Boogaloo and Chloe's can sustain themselves on brunch alone, and that people line up for it. There are so many alternatives. And funny story in the "don't take a European there" category: Our good friend Franca from Rome has been here a number of times and has fallen in love with American breakfast. Skinny as a whip, she can really put it away. On her last visit, late last year, she went to Sparky's nearly every day and would order two full dishes -- large stack of pancakes and a full egg dish. The waiters were very amused by her. * Edited to add location data
  5. Shhh! It's my neighborhood favorite, and although I really want it to prosper, I also want to be able to drop in a find a seat whenever I want. Ditto -- up until 1.5 years ago, I lived around the corner from Delfina. When they opened, the owners effused over local business, assured that we'd have a table whenever we wanted, yada yada yada ... until the reviews hit, and we couldn't get in for love or money. On the rare occasions I've returned, I've found the food perfectly respectable, but not worth the wait. Now, we live in Noe Valley, and Incanto has become a regular haunt for us. It's not uncommon for us to sidle up to the bar and have some wine with a salad and app or even a full meal, tho we have never had difficulty snagging a table. I support the other comments on this thread -- the service, food and wine selection are hard to beat, at least in a neighborhood joint. As for its relative popularity apropros Delfina, I think location has a lot to do with it, plus Delfina seems to have a serious PR machine working for them. I'm pleased to hear that Incanto is getting the attention it deserves. As long as I still get a table.
  6. We're going with a couple friends on 2/23 -- will report back!
  7. Charanga was one of our favorite restaurants for years and years, but the last time we went I felt it had gone a little flat. Not bad, mind you, just not as wow as it was before. But I'd gladly go back. Platanos, as well, I like a great deal, tho I have not been since they retooled. I'm surprised no one has mentioned Colibri -- which my other half and I were turned on to by Scorched Palate in December. I thought it was very good indeed, and I really look forward to returning, if only to sit at the bar and have a margarita with those heavenly tortillas and salsa.
  8. So I've just returned from my trip to Italy. I did in fact arrange a one-day class with Carmelita of CookItaly.com this past Friday, Oct 8. I would highly recommend this to anyone visiting the area. Carmelita is an absolute treasure trove of information on the food of the region; shopping with her through the mercato centrale is a phenomenal experience. Though not a native Bolognese, Carmelita knows everyone and everything in the market, and explains all of it in direct, erudite terms. We tasted everything from straight-up lardo (herbed pork fat) to fiche carmelizzate e squaquerone romagnolo (caramelized figs with a fresh, loose cheese, kind of like cottage cheese), a popular dessert. She explained the differences between the various balsamic vingars, and we tasted several to compare. Back at her place, a charming studio apartment in the center, just across a piazza from a lovely medieval church, we prepared panna cotta with fresh berries and raspberry coulis, polpettone bolognese (Bolognese meatloaf, spiced with cinammon and lemon zest) with caramelized onions, green beans and Roman broccoli with a cream sauce and, necessarily, handmade tagliatelle with mushroom sauce. My partner and I have made pasta by hand a number of times before, but had never achieved quite the right texture and flavor. This time, the pasta was perfect. Carmelita's techniques were simple and easy to follow, and we produced a massive meal for the three of us within a couple hours. It was all in all a delightful way to experience a different, more personal side of Bologna. Off-topic, while in Ravenna, we had the best meal of our trip at a small place not far from the mausoleum of Galla Placida called Ristorante Osteria del Tempo Perso. We stopped for lunch, and ordered from the menu del giorno, splitting each an antipasto, first and second course. We started with thinly sliced smoked capon with pancetta lardons stewed in balsamic on a bit of rucola salad, then delicious capelleti (a type of stuffed pasta) with a faint yet always present truffle essence, and lastly strips of poached chicken tossed in a light sauce with roasted potatoes on the side. Fantastic, and very reasolably priced. Highly reccomended!
  9. Well, I've just come back from Vegas, so I'll just list my most recent SF restos here: * Last night at Fattoush with friends visiting from out of town. Great Turkish-esque food for the price. * Last Wednesday at Il Cantuccio, perennially one of my two favorite Italian restaurants * Not long before at Incanto, my, um, other favorite Italian restaurant. Seriously, though, it's good stuff.
  10. I did in fact Google, and came up with the same results -- I think I'll check that out. Also, if anyone has any particular suggestions for dining in Bologna or any nearby cities (we're definitely going to Ravenna, am now deciding between the others, i.e., Ferrara, Parma, Modena), I'm all ears and taste buds.
  11. I'll be in Bologna the first week of October, using it as a homebase to explore Ravenna, Parma, Modena, etc. I'd like to take a 1-day or half-day cooking class while in the area, to get the highlights. Any recommendations?
  12. Ooh -- Bombay Bazaar -- how could I forget that? It's also important to note that Lucca does carry a goodly amount of Argentinean product, as there was a significant influx of Argentines after the economy crumbled a couple years ago. There's a major Italian emigrant culture there, and so now you can find both anchovies in oil and dulce de leche at Lucca and around the Mission. There's loads more in the Mission, as noted, especially along and around 24th street, but I don't have many specific recommendations. I just poke my head in here and there.
  13. For Italian, I'd go to Lucca on Valencia before A.G.Ferrari -- the latter is way expensive, though they do have gorgeous stuff. I recently have fallen in love with 24th Street Cheese Co. in Noe Valley, which has oh so much more than cheese (but plenty of that stuff too). For great used pots, pans and whatnots, Cookin' on Divisadero is the place, but the owner is a bit of a freak. Not sure where to find a density of Arabic stuff -- there may be areas in the Bay Area that have lots of that, but there's not really a visible presence in SF per se.
  14. Poggio is a delight. Larry Mindel's the owner, and he brings his 20-plus years of restaurateurship with him. There are views as long as you sit near the windows, but the place is very warm and inviting throughout. I would recommend the pappardelle with ragu and the herb-crusted lamb. Maybe not very original dishes, but well executed. There's a cluster of up and coming restaurants on the SF waterfront too. Butterfly abandoned its Mission digs and took over a space on the piers wedged between Pier 39 and Teatro Zinzanni; I haven't been to the new place, but the food at the Mission location was always terrif. There's another place next door that gets good marks too (the name escapes me). Further down, in a pinch, there's the aptly named Waterfront, which is a bit stuffy and over expensive for what it is, but you can't beat the views.
  15. I'll second (ok, by now it's like twelfth) the Campari & Soda bit -- but I order that quite frequently here. Campari has gotten quite popular in the US since the recent marketing blitz. Another Campari concoction I adore is the Negroni, which is roughly equal parts Campari, sweet vermouth and gin, on the rocks with a slice of orange. Very refreshing, and I hate gin. When in Sorrento, though, I fell in love with Cynar, an artichoke liqueur. It can be used basically the same as Campari, and I like it just on the rocks. Not impossible to find here, but often difficult.
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