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Myth sang

Mythcafe

Though I work for the gayest company in the world (no, not that one … or that one), the lunch options in the neighborhood are far from fabulous. Sure, the occasional chicken-avocado sandwich from Piperade‘s takeaway window is a delight, and I don’t hate the sammies at Il Fornaio too much, but there’s a reason I end up eating salad from RJ’s Market pretty much every day of the week, and it has nothing to do with watching my girlish figure.

So when a coworker tipped me off to Cafe Myth, the casual lunchery adjacent to the eponymous restaurant, you just know I had to slap on a pair of sensible pumps and sashay down there.

Cafe Myth sits amidst the brick-façade edifices of the Jackson Square Historic District, among the  oldest sections of the city, and one of the few areas of downtown not utterly obliterated in the 1906 quake and fires. In fact, one building in the area famously survived the post-quake inferno:

If, as some say, God spanked the town
For being over frisky,
Why did He burn the churches down
And save Hotaling’s whiskey?

Amen, sister, because lord knows this town needed a good drink after all that.

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Anchor Oyster Bar

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(Sorry for the crappy cell phone shot. Didn’t have the camera handy.)

I grew up in the Northeast, in Schenectady, NY, which I often say is a nice place to be from. You’ll notice I don’t live there anymore. But it has many desirable characteristics — a deep and interesting history, access to locations of great natural beauty and relative proximity to the greatest city on earth, New York. It’s also just a few hours’ drive from the New England shores.

Because my mother is a beach addict and sun worshiper, nearly every summer involved at least one excursion to pray at the shrine. We lolled on the rocky shores of Rhode Island, gawked at mansions in Newport and ships in Mystic, CT, went whale-watching from Provincetown, MA.

Sensations from these trips are emblazoned in my mind. Hot sun prickling on skin. The ionic smell of salt air. Gulls calling overhead. The rush of adrenaline watching a 60-foot humpback whale hurls itself bodily out of the sea, landing in a dull, percussive whomp and casting an enormous watery plume.

And then there’s the seafood.

Crispy strips of fried clams. Cherrystones and oysters on the half shell. Filets of firm, white fish plucked fresh from the sea. To say nothing of the lobster rolls, which I have been pining after for years and which, as God is my witness, I will make this year. Hold me to it, people!

I’m not saying that we don’t get some of the finest seafood in the world right here in good old Ess Eff. But I am saying it’s a whole different kettle of fish than you get back east. But when I get nostalgic for New England seaside shacks, I know I can fix my jones at Anchor Oyster Bar.

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Queue Em, Too

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Nary an iceberg nor rogue wave in sight, I had the opportunity yesterday to board the Queen Mary 2 during her brief stay in San Francisco. The biggest, widest and most luxurious ocean liner in the world visited our fair city for a scant 24 hours.

In the interest of full transparency I must disclose two things: First, this opportunity arose because the company I work for owns a vacation and events company that targets the GLBT community. This same company has booked the entire QM2 for a GLBT Trans-Atlantic cruise this May, the first time a booking of such scale has ever occurred in the community. (And yes, we have already made all the Queen and Mary jokes imaginable about this. It gets old fast.)

Second, I hate cruises.

Why? Well, about four years ago, I embarked on a GLBT cruise (via a competing gay vacations company, with whom we had a more harmonious relationship at the time) for work purposes, promoting our products and services on board. It was the company’s inaugural Mediterranean cruise, with ports of call in Barcelona, Cannes, Florence (well, Livorno), Rome (aka Civitavecchia), Palmas de Mallorca and (inevitably) Ibiza.

Sounds like a dream come true, no? Well, for the paying guests it certainly appeared to be. But I was traveling without DPaul, and on the ship, there were effectively two communities: The singles and the couples. (There was some overlap there, but enough about that.) I couldn’t socialize well with the singles, as I was not interested in hooking up, and it was awkward to try to insinuate myself in with couples sans my apparently imaginary husband. And so, like Tom Hanks in that movie, I was effectively stateless for a solid week. And I was jet-lagged and cranky to boot.

So I know that my predisposition against cruises is my problem, not the Queen Mary’s. And anyway, I surely wasn’t going to turn away the chance to check out the superfabulous ship without actually having to set sail on it.

(Click any image to see the entire photostream of my images on Flickr, coworkers and all.)

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A tale of two dinners

I was just last night saying to a friend that in the two-plus years DPaul and I have been in our place, we underwent a radical shift from eating out several times a week to maybe a couple times a month. Of course, I said this over dinner out at the end of a stretch of two weeks when I had already eaten out three times. Hyopcritical, me? Never.

In truth, we eat in most nights. And when we do go out, we have a bad tendency to fall into the habit of revisiting the same places. But lately I’ve made an effort to try to get out and sample new places, at least new to us.

I don’t post about every meal I eat out. It has nothing to do with any grand mission statement about visiting a restaurant so many times before commenting. I am not a reviewer per se. I merely remark on my own experiences, and sometimes I feel the need to revisit a restaurant before I can forge a coherent opinion. Other times I’m just too damned busy or lazy to write one up. In this case, I’m cramming two restaurants into one post in part because of time constraints and in part because, as they were just two days apart, I came away with an interesting sense of contrast on the two places.

Last Saturday we dined at RNM, somewhat spontaneously before a party. The following Monday, six of us went to Les Amis for a friend’s birthday. We may as well have dined in different cities.

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Papalote

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For 11 years, DPaul and I lived on Dolores Park, a hop, skip and a jump from some of the best taquerias in the Mission. Over the years, we must have spent several thousand dollars at El Toro, the smaller, saner sister to big boy Taqueria Pancho Villa. But when we moved over the hill to Noe Valley, it sort of forced us to refocus our attention on the lower half of the Mission. This is not a bad thing. In fact, I think that some of the best — and most underrated — food in the area exists in this part of town.

But it’s disconcerting to have to develop loyalty to a new place, and the sheer enormity of the number of taquerias in the Mission, not to mention the fervency with which each burrito buff extolls the virtue of their own favorite spot, can be overwhelming.

We first went to Papalote well before we had moved to Noe, and at first I admit I was not a fan. It was only after further experimentation that I came to realize Papalote’s greatness. The secret? Meat.

You see, at El Toro, my regular order was the Veggie #D. (Interestingly, D is evidently a number in Mexico.) That was beans, rice, lettuce, tomato, avocado and salsa. It was like a salad in a wrap, with big, meaty slices of avocado.

My first vegetarian burrito at Papalote was lackluster. Uninspired. I didn’t know that Papalote’s whole schtick, their raison d’être, was freshly grilled meats made-to-order for each burrito. As they say, knowledge is power.

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Sebo: C’est bon

The great thing about going to see a fellow food blogger in a theatrical performance is that you can totally make it look like you are out there supporting one of your own and patronizing the arts, knowing all the while that it’s a thinly veiled excuse to go eat someplace new.*

I had recently been told of a newish sushi place in Hayes Valley that had garnered some esteem from reliable sources. My sushi jones has gone largely unsatisfied for quite a long time now, especially in the hunt for the elusive and transcendent mirugai. I want my giant clam, and I want it now, dammit.

Joining us for the show was our friend Hugh, who, like me, is a complete and total sushi whore. Hugh and I have very closely aligned tastes when it comes to the stuff. Uni? Definitely. Ankimo? Bring it. No fish (or fish part) is too exotic or bizarre to escape our curious palates.

Because we had a show to catch, we arrived on the early side at Sebo, claiming the first table of the night (though the bar was already occupied). My first question, natch, was whether they actually had mirugai, or whether it was just on the menu, like so many cruel teases I had been tormented with in the past. Oh yes, our charming and knowledgeable server assured us, they had mirugai. In fact, they cultivated a relationship with their fish monger specifically to bring in more exotic and interesting fish to serve at the restaurant. Their philosophy, she said, was that if you are interested in California roll, there are 400 other places you can go for that.

You don’t say.

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Pescheria Joey & Eddie’s

Pescheria1 Tuesday night (last week), we baked for some friends who were going out of town. Wednesday night, we prepared for Thanksgiving. Thursday night, we consumed Thanksgiving. Friday morning we baked pies. Friday night, we consumed another Thanksgiving meal at a friend’s place. Saturday, we were sick of the kitchen.

Truly, from Tuesday evening straight through Friday afternoon, basically the only time we left our kitchen was to sleep or go to the bathroom. Now, we like our kitchen; we like it a lot. But by the end of the fourth day it began to seem cagelike.

Saturday, a gloriously sunny day, we made an excursion up to Acacia Vineyard. We’re members of the club there, and had to run up to pick up a shipment. We had a quick round of tasting, and a (now twicedepicted here) leftover turkey sandwich in the car. By the time we got home, we couldn’t bear the thought of cooking.

Having just emerged from two Thanksgivings, the very concept of meat was anathema. My palate wanted a 180º turn from turkey, stuffing and gravy. I wanted light, clean flavors. I wanted seafood.

We had been meaning to check out (the clumsily-named) Pescheria Joey & Eddie’s, which opened last month in the former Yianni’s space down on lower Church Street, but had given them some time to work out the inevitable kinks post-opening. This seemed like as good a time as any.

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supperclub

Supperclub

If the Basque Cultural Center is the blue-haired grandma with a touch of mid-century class, supperclub is her horned-up, juvenile delinquent, art-school dropout grandson.

Eight of us, including my mother, descended upon the place Friday night for my birthday (which is today, actually). I had mixed expectations, based on such reviews, user and otherwise, that I had read. I expected a lot of pomp and show, but little substance. Moreover, I expected that the food would play second fiddle to the overall experience. Still, I was intrigued enough by the whole concept and was confident that, at the very least, it would be fodder for conversation.

An additional layer of intrigue stemmed from the fact that this building was once my office, during the first year I was at PlanetOut. I was simply dying to know how the place had changed on the inside. (As it turned out, it was so much changed I could scarcely recognize the place once through the front door.)

Talking of which. As you enter, you check in at the host station and then slip directly into a smallish room with a round bar in the center and deep red, quilted-panel walls. Off to the side is a small hangout room with mirrored walls and a large white bed with chrome trim on it, like a sex club from Logan’s Run. Try the blackberry martini.

When the magic seating moment arrives, the doors open with a collective "Opa!" from the staff, and the game is afoot.

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