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Bar Bites: Medjool

MedjoolDPaul had a colleague in town last night from DC. This fella actually travels with a cooler so that he can bring home cheeses and other delicacies from San Francisco. We brought him to one of our perennial faves, Medjool.

There’s little about Medjool I don’t like. I love the hip, lofty space with the jumble of Morocccan lamps; the clever cocktail menu (I had the Rose Hip, with rose-infused vodka and a float of cava); and mostly the diverse menu of small plates inspired by the cuisines of the entire circumference of the Mediterranean. There’s been hardly anything I haven’t enjoyed there, but highlights last night were the chicken in almond-pomegranate sauce (with a healthy dose of cumin) and the zhoug-marinated prawns with spicy tomato jam.

Small plate dining works for me on a lot of levels — I enjoy the diversity of flavors and the ability to order a lot or a little depending on the mood. Medjool fits the bill, whether you want to sit down to a full meal or just have a cocktail and some nibbles. On nice days (such as we’ve been having), the rooftop Sky Terrace can’t be beat with its 360º views.

2522 Mission St, x 21st St

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Mmmm … beer

Bit of a bummer, but I didn’t know until today that February is Strong Beer Month here in good ol’ Ess Eff. Brew pubs and bars around the city are showcasing their heaviest, strongest beers, such as barleywines and imperial stouts; 21st Amendment and Magnolia have specially crafted brews for the occasion — the former leading the pack with the strongest, the cannily named Lower de Boom.

A couple of years ago, a group of us piled into a limo and made a circuit of the city’s microbrews. It was a great way to sample the wares, contrast and compare. I’ve always been a big 21A fan; I was surprisingly impressed with Gordon Biersch; but I gotta say, I did not love Magnolia. But that’s just me — they rose to the top of the list for a couple of our tasters. Most interestingly, there was exactly zero concensus on which brewery was best. In my mind, it means we have high-quality microbrews to suit every taste.

SFGate Culture Blog! thoughtfully notes that these beers are tailor-made for the chilly, rainy days of February. Too bad, I guess, then that we have been topping 70º for several days in a row. On second thought, I’ll take the glorious weather and hoist a hefty stout to Mother Nature.

Say hey to Strong Beer Month [SFGate Culture Blog]Strong Beer Month [SF Metblog]Strong Beer Month [Gridskipper]

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Popcorn tea

ShirakikuMy favorite part of the food section every week in the Chronicle is Taster’s Choice, where they compare broadly available products for quality. This week, stepping a bit out of the box, they compare brands of genmai cha, green tea with toasted rice kernels. Genmai happens to be my favorite tea, with the possible exception of lapsang souchong, although for entirely different reasons. I like green tea generally, but the addition of the toasted rice rounds out the grassy, astringent notes and makes it more balanced and satisfying.

Because the rice sometimes pops in the toasting process, making little white puffs, a friend of mine refers to it as popcorn tea, and the comparison is apt both in appearance and flavor.

The Chron picks Shirakiku. I guess I have a trip to 99 Ranch in my near future.

Taster’s Choice: Genmai cha

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To cork or not to cork

Excellent volley of discussion over at Vinography over the controversy on Delfina Pizzeria’s decision not to allow diners to bring in outside wine and be charged corkage. Despite the fact that the sister restaurant next door does in fact charge you $20 corkage, at the pizzeria you must choose from their (reasonably priced) list of wines by the bottle or the glass, or do without.

I’m fairly indifferent to this subject — I’m generally inclined to order off the list anyway. But what I love most is that this, in San Francisco, is a subject that is worth really caring about. It has generated some amazingly impassioned, even vitriolic banter. Over whether you can bring in your own wine. To a pizzeria. I mean, really.

The questions raised: Is it a way of preserving their margins on wine sales? Certainly not. If they extended the $20 corkage to the pizzeria side, they would almost positively make MORE money than what the make per bottle on the mostly-below-$40 wine list. Is it the owner’s stanch adherence to the conceptual pairing of particular wines to his Napolitan-style pizzas? I find that hard to digest. Even, or especially, in Italy, you would pretty much pair house wine with pizza — or, more commonly these days with the younger set, beer. Is it a way of turning tables faster? Admittedly, it’s a small space and it would serve them well to move the crowd along. But when we’ve been there there were plenty of bottles — from the list — on the table. I don’t know their exact motivations, and I don’t know the Stolls well enough to speculate. But I do know that they are not stupid, and that this is publcity money cannot buy.

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Gussy up a Shuffle

Juan_bigThose mavens of queerness at Queerty posted this before I had the chance …

I heart my Shuffle, but have always lamented the calibre of the accessories available for it. To the rescue come decals featuring characters from Andrew Georgiou’s always chucklesome comic strip, Mr Gisby’s Totally Gay Pet Shop. Made of high-quality vinyl, they allegedly leave no residue when you remove them, and you can evidently even reapply them so you can change out your look and keep it fresh. Choose from Gus the leather fetish gorilla, Madame Chicolitta the dominatrix chicken, Irving the cross dressing gerbil and Juan Jose the gay butch bull. Or don’t — I intend to get them all. And they go on sale tomorrow. Shufflesome also offers a number of other designs that are all very arty but not nearly so cute or gay.

OK, so maybe this doesn’t fit into the food, drink or San Francisco categories, but accessorizing always makes for good living, and accessorizing your accessories doubly so.

Mr Gisby’s Totally Gay Pet Shop
Queerty: Pet Shop Boys 

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