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Tom,

As a Bay Area resident and longtime San Francisco Chronicle reader, I must tell you how much I enjoyed your restaurant reviews and food articles during your stint with the paper. Your direct style, your intelligent approach and lack of pretension made for an appealing combination. Frankly, that level of erudite culinary writing seems to have gone missing since your departure.

Since many of us miss you, might I ask: What, if anything, do you miss about this part of the world? In the ongoing "dueling coasts" debate, how would you characterize the "selling points" here versus those of the east coast??

Thank you for your time and participation.

Pamela

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What kind words! I’m blushing.

Do I miss the Bay Area? Most definitely. I still have a lot of good friends out in San Francisco and try to get out there twice a year or so to see them – and keep up with the food scene, of course. (And no matter how busy I might be, I always save time for a meal at Zuni Café. )

As a reporter for the Chronicle, I loved writing about trends just as they were emerging, often before they hit other markets; as a reviewer, it was a pleasure to write for an audience that cared so deeply about matters of the table. Trends seem to start on the West Coast and fully develop on the East

Coast.

Things I miss most: West Coast wine lists (often with boutique

stuff that never leaves the area), West Coast food shopping (long live

the Berkeley Bowl!), and the West Coast lifestyle -- what I call a "wine mentality." People do live to eat out there and take their restaurants seriously.

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Thank you, Tom -- I do appreciate your response. Yes, a meal at Zuni is indeed worth saving time for, and Judy Rogers' cookbook is as unique and compelling as the restaurant.

As to West Coast food shopping, it really is one of the great pleasures of living here. Berkeley Bowl is, of course, alone in its class; our local farmers' markets also offer a wealth of produce and ingredients not to be found in many other venues.

Again, thanks.

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