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9 innings, 20 years

3

le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

A giant hawk swooped down from the tall trees along the right field line. Against the blazing white San Francisco sky, it seemed all wing span and tiny-headed. And jaggedly, viciously beautiful.

The pickoff play was on.

Greg Snyder, caught completely off guard, dove back to third. Lucky for him, third-baseman Johnny Bartlett was also caught off guard, and the throw glanced off his glove and rolled to the chain link fence in front of the third base dugout, West Sunset Playground.

So I guess that means the pickoff play wasn’t on. Except in the pitcher’s mind. And maybe the hawk’s.

Eskimoed inside my furry-fringed corduroy coat in the stands, I watched with the hawk as Bartlett retrieved the ball. Snyder, with no thought of advancing, knelt on third base and looked at his fingers. The first joint of his right pinky was bent away from his hand at an unnatural angle. He’d jammed it on the bag. First Bartlett, then Sean Paul Presley, the pitcher, came over and had a look, and both turned away, wincing, while Snyder calmly torqued it back into place.

Then, yeah, the game went on.

When we talked later, in the stands, top of the seventh, Snyder had the pinky taped to the ring finger of his throwing hand with a thin strip of dirty white tape.

“Can I get you some ice?” I said.

He said, “Nah.”

“I have ibuprofen,” I said, reaching into my purse.

“No thanks,” he said. “I have some in my car.”

But I never saw him get it. Although he had pitched the first few innings for the visiting team, by the time of the finger thing, he was catching. And continued to catch — six more innings, to the end of a wacky, back-and-forth, 11-inning game.

In the bottom of the tenth, he threw out a runner trying to steal second.

Greg Snyder is 47 years old.

Carter Rockwell, 24, picked up the win in relief, and also hit a home run off his older brother, Will.

Doc Magrane, 69, did not play. But not because of age. He and chemo have recently whipped a little bone cancer into complete remission. He still suits up for pick-up games, puts on some of the extra catchers’ gear, and umps.

Tony Rojas brought a sweater for his dog, Dee Dee. He showed me before the game: black with white skull and crossbones.

“Nice. Does she like it?” I said.

“No,” he said. “She hates it.”

The sweater went on and came back off of Dee Dee, and then she started to shake and shiver and Rojas became worried, which affected his play. He threw high to first, swung at bad pitches . . . had she gotten into something? he wondered.

“We could use a field ump, too, you know,” Doc Magrane called out to me, between innings.

I didn’t know yet that I was a sports writer.

“No thanks!” I hollered back anyway.

It’s been twenty years now since the Mission Baseball Club, as it has come to be called, started. Maybe 21.

In 1992 (or 3), four or five Mission District musicians and poets, myself included, gathered at Jackson Field at the foot of Potrero Hill one day a week to play catch, field grounders, and take batting practice.

Six or seven, eight . . . Once there were nine, we could split into threes and play tiny three-way games, with right field foul and “imaginary runners.”

At twelve we opened right field, and any more than that meant we could have a catcher, so we bought some catchers’ gear.

For a few years there in the mid-90s, the Mission fielded a team in the city’s Roberto Clemente League. We were a ragtag crew, and the only team in the league with women on it. No one asked. We just did it.

Twenty years later: this. Eye black and uniforms. Field reservations. An umpire. As it turns out, a reporter . . . Two teams of 11, arbitrarily decided, share one dugout each week. And the range of play varies. Widely. Some have played college ball. One played in the minors.

Jen Ralston (a.k.a. Hedgehog, a.k.a. my Hedgehog), who at 42 is playing the first baseball of her life, lined a two-strike curve into shallow center: her first hit ever. I asked for the ball.

Eventually she came around to score, and commented later, over fish, that the bases had been softer than she’d expected.

“Are they always like that?” she said.

I said that they were.

Sink and swim

0

le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS At first we called her Papa, and then Center. Not only was she the central figure of a particular circle of friends, she was also the center on our football team. Then she and our quarterback split up, which happens — only afterwards it was too hard for poor Center to have her ex’s hands all up in her stuff, saying “down” and “set” and so forth (I am speaking metaphorically) so she quit the team, and since then I don’t see her as much.

Which sucks, cause I really, really like her.

And now I am going to change her name to Sinker because she doesn’t. She swims. But we’ll call her Sinker in the same spirit in which really gigantic people are sometimes called Tiny. Against all odds and crazy currents, Sinker swims. She swam Alcatraz. Next, she told me over lunch at My Father’s Kitchen, she swims from bridge to bridge.

That’s six miles! In the bay, which is (as I understand it) not no swimming pool.

I am thinking of taking up water polo. Does anybody know how to play water polo? I don’t, but if I get to choose sides, my first two picks will be Sal the Pork Chop and Sinker. My two badest-ass bay-swimming buds.

Anyway, after dating herself (as she puts it) for the past year-plus, Sinker has started to step outside of that relationship. You can see this just from looking at her. She’s glowing a slightly brighter shade of “gettin’ some” these days.

She showed me a picture of her lucky co-getter, who was for sure a babe, but I was more interested in the dating herself thread.

“So, did you bring yourself flowers?” I said. “Did you eat alone in nice places on purpose?” I wanted to ask a million other questions: Where did they meet? What did her mother think of her? Did she ever go out on double-dates with other people who were dating themselves, and then swap partners?

But before I could ask most of these stupid questions, she set me straight: This was more just a way of looking at things. Taking care of business, getting good with yourself, which everyone has to do at some point if not many many points in life, turning self-hatred into self . . . well, likedred, in my case.

What I love is pho.

So, yeah, My Father’s Kitchen. Vietnamese comfort food. It’s a tight, warm, friendly li’l place on Divis near Sutter, in the Medical District — where I have to go for physical therapy for my knee, or in this case a mammogram. Before and after which, comfort is a pretty good idea. Right?

There are only twelve things on the menu, and three of those are appetizers. I got pho, and Sinker got imperial rolls with rice noodles. How she stayed happy, I don’t know. For 12 clams, it was just imperial rolls with a plop of plain vermicelli next to a pile of lettuce and mint. No grilled pork. No chicken.

And she needed comfort food, too, having just had a weird time with a second-string gynecologist.

They did look good, though, those imperial rolls. Just a little bit paler than golden, but still crispy. And I think Sinker said, in fact, that they were great. But I forgot to get me a taste.

I was a little overly focussed on pho.

To warn you, my fellow soup-dwellers: if you plan to drown any medical sorrows (or brace yourself for getting your boobs squished) in a giant bowl of pho, this ain’t that. It’s northern Vietnamese style, meaning small means small.

So get the large.

Also: The rice noodles are wide ‘uns. BYO basil and bean sprouts, if you are a devotee of the southern-Vietnam style pho, which is apparently what we are accustomed to here in this here country.

The broth was subtle but delicious, once I tacked on a couple jalapeno slices. And no, I didn’t mind the absence of everything else. It was the not-at-all-rare rare beef — and not a lot of it, at that — that discomforted me.

But not as much as what was to come, damn the heavy-handedly careless crank.

MY FATHER’S KITCHEN

Mon-Fri 9am-7pm, Sat 11am-7pm

1655 Divisadero St., SF

(415) 829-2610

AE/D/MC/V

Beer & wine

 

Punting for Peru

0

le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS First time she touched a football it was a wonky, bouncing punt, and she plucked it up and ran it back 180 yards to the five-yard line. I say 180 yards because there was a lot of zigging and zagging involved. Coach’s grillfriend Zeezee is a professional surfer, and ever since that punt return (October), I have had newfound respect for the athleticism of professional surfers. Not to mention which, a bouncing punt is the hardest kind of football to pick up cleanly.

So . . . nice hands!

Her dad down San Diego way teaches surfing, as far as I know, and music. He made a cajon, which is that Peruvian box drum that you sit on while you play. I’ve seen Zeezee play the cajon, and she played the kaboodle out of it. In fact, ever since then I have had a newfound respect for punt returners. As musicians, I mean.

Anyway, Zeezee lives in S.F. now, so we get to have her for a full season this Spring, so long as she doesn’t get a job. That’s right: If you are looking for a rad-ass surfing teacher with great hands and cajones, look away. Please. We need her. Sunday mornings, at least.

For Hedgehog’s birthday I bought a cajon from Zeezee’s dad. It’s beautiful enough to be furniture, and Hedgehog has been spending a lot of time on it. She uses her hands, uses brushes, wears her washboard . . . Somehow I knew she would know what to do with a beautiful box.

But there is something about February makes me mad. Maybe because you never really quite get your money’s worth, rentwise. I don’t know. Or Valentine’s Day, which bugged me this year very literally. One of my cute little charges got sent home from school on account of lice, and me and her mom had to pick through her and her sister’s hair looking for and yanking out nits.

Then their mom went through my hair and found one there, too, so I had to sit on the edge of the tub just like them and get sprayed and combed and just all around humiliated. All on account of one lousy nit, yuk yuk.

And also, yuck.

So that was how I spent my Valentine’s evening: at the laundromat, washing our clothes and towels and bedding and everything, while the lovers passed two-by-two on their way to Delfina.

My own lover was in New Orleans, out with her single work friends. I called her, I was so depressed, and she sang “You Are My Sunshine” to me — wisely leaving out the verses. The day before she had sent me flowers with the sweetest little note attached. I forget what it said, but I read it again that night once everything was finally folded and put away, and I went to bed.

Her birthday is the real holiday, and she was back for that, like I said, slapping out straightforward 4/4 rhythms, as she ain’t Peruvian. She’s rock’n’roll. But for dinner we went to her favorite restaurant (and mine), Limon Rotisserie — not even thinking that it completed the Peruvian circle.

Next morning I woke up a little later than usual, threw on some clothes, sprayed my hair down with tea tree oil, and risked life and limb and driving record only to get to work two hours early. I had forgot (as usual) to look at my work calendar.

And this is where Olivia’s comes in. Olivia’s Brunch and Fine Dining. In Bernal Heights, down from Holly Park on Mission. Instead of driving all the way back home, during rush hour no less, I decided to kill two hours with two eggs.

Huevos Rancheros!

Good ones! With pinto beans, avocado slices, ranchero sauce, a corn tortilla underneath, and a whole damn quesadilla on top. Note: That’s two meals in one. Yeppers, Olivia puts the unch back in brunch. Which wasn’t exactly what I needed, since it was still pre-9am. But it did help kill the time.

There was no one else in the place to talk to. Just Mona Lisa, a painting of a mounted deer head, a charging elephant, and a very crooked picture of our lord and savior Jesus Christ pulling some crazed dude out of a pretty turbulent sea. Either that or pushing him back in. No no, he’s got him by the arm. See? They don’t call Him lord and savior for nothing.

Nice place. Good food for under 10 bucks. Boom, back to work.

OLIVIA’S

Mon-Sat 8am-2pm, 5-9pm; Sun 8am-3pm

3771 Mission St., SF

(415) 970-0375

AE/D/MC/V

Beer & wine

 

Up the game

0

le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS K-3PO lives right in the neighborhood and claims to have played ping-pong with me in the ’90s. He also claims to have photographed my old band, and on this score I believe him.

We write at the same coffee shop. Right now, for example, I’m writing about him and he’s sitting across the room from me, either oblivious or not. Who knows?

He doesn’t have a cell phone. He has a weekly planner, with a black cover.

“Remember these?” he said, trying to make a dinner plan with me.

“Oh yeah. You’re old-fashioned,” I said, and he feigned offense. “I mean that as a compliment.” (The truth.)

Anyway, yeah, we had tried to go eat barbecue one night last week at the new neighborhood smokehouse, Hi-Lo, and luckily for all of us — but especially Hi-Lo, I’m thinking — they were closed for a private function.

I buy my pork steaks at that divey little market, 19th and Mission, and my bread at Duc Loi, so I walk past Hi-Lo pretty often, “doing the block.” There’s always some kind of friendliness marking the spot, lately. Like, a couple weeks ago a guy was standing outside and Hedgehog had already told me that barbecue was going in there, so I said: “Open?”

“Not yet,” he said, “but go on in and look around.”

I did. It must have been like a dress rehearsal, or something. Waitresspersonpeople were everywhere, the kitchen was all a-bustle, smelled like smoke . . . The one thing missing was customers. Of which I would have gladly been one, if they were open open.

I also wish they would have showed me to the basement, where they keep their three-ton smoker, but that didn’t seem to be going to happen, so I went on ahead to the market and got my pork steaks, and to Duc Loi, and home.

Then, when we tried to go with K-3PO, there was a sign on the door saying closed for private function. I must have looked sad, cause someone came out and gave me a little paper bag of cookies.

Those cookies were good! They were not barbecue, but they were sweet and salty. And buttery. I ate them at Baobab, while we were waiting for our red curry prawns, red curry chicken, and some other kind of chicken. With black-eyed peas.

None of which was barbecue, either. But: good. But, according to K-3PO, overpriced. I give up on anything ever being cheap anymore, in the Mission. I just wish that places would step up their game a little, to earn it. In addition to going, OK, it’s the Mission so let’s charge 20 to 30 percent more, go: it’s the Mission so let’s also make our food 20 to 30 percent more amazing.

It’s too close: I will, eventually, give Hi-Lo a chance, but people on Yelp are saying 15 clams for three to five slices of pretty dry brisket, without any sides. So they better step up their game. I can get friendliness and cookies for a lot cheaper than that, even without leaving the ‘hood, and I have a smoker of my own. Albeit not a three-ton one.

Wait. Why would you want a giant smoker? If the idea of barbecue is to impart smoke to meat (and it is) . . . seems to me that smaller spaces full of smoke would make meat smokier than bigger ones. But there’s probably something I’m not factoring in.

Anyway, this isn’t a review of Hi-Lo.

It’s a character study of K-3PO, who — this is what he’s been up to: “watching hundreds of archived mental hygiene films from the ’40s and ’50s,” he said.

Because that’s what he does. Here in the teens. He makes mentally hygienic films, hisself. I saw one, one time. It was freakin’ beautiful.

Another thing we talked about was almost dying, and how each of us has done it, in life. K-3PO told the story of a hike he took in Israel, in the desert, when he and a friend got stuck on the trail overnight and almost froze to death.

Hedgehog, turns out, just missed being torpedoed by an exploding fire extinguisher while she was in film school.

And I … I ate too many pancakes.

Bowled over

3

le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS It started when our friend Stringbean texted that their mom and pop were going to New Orleans, where should they tell them to eat? Hedgehog was preparing a long, thorough, annotated email response while I texted back one word: Bacchanal. And then we both looked at each other and started to cry.

The two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl were tough — even tougher than the two days after. I actually listen to sports talk radio, see, on my way to and from work, and all anyone was talking about, even more than football, see, was po’ boys, etouffe, jambalaya, and gumbo.

And even when they weren’t, they were talking about Hurricanes and Pimm’s Cups and how many everybody had and then-what-happened. Until I even started to miss that side of it — which I never much participated in anyway.

Almost by accident, on Super Bowl Sunday morning, we had brunch at the Front Porch, and I’m trying not to say “new favorite restaurant” anymore; but sweet baby Jesus the shrimp and grits!

Poor Hedgehog is still kicking herself for going with chicken and waffles. Chawing on her fingers, rending her garments, and thrashing in her sleep . . . you would think she called for a fade route on fourth-and-goal at the five, or something.

“We get to go back,” I keep telling her, over me-made chicken and other anti-depressants. “Possibly as soon as next weekend!”

But I do see her point. It was one of the wonkiest mal-orders in Meal History. She’s gluten-free, and so are shrimp and grits. Whereas waffles are not. San Francisco A.G. (Anno Gravy’s) is not a fried chickeny town. It’s just not, and probably never will be. I can go on and on: she wasn’t hungry. We’d just had breakfast and were going after brunch to Binko’s Super Bowl party, where there would be giant vats of chili gurgling on the stove.

She even asked me if she should order the chicken and waffles and do you know what I said? I said, “No!”

But she audibilized at the line-of-scrimmage and the rest is mystery.

Possibly she was distracted by the radiance of our brunching companion, Lalalala “Happy” Valentina, one of my favorite people to sit around a campfire with, although we haven’t sat around one for several years. Her dad played pro baseball. Made it briefly to the majors, I forget who with, and Hedgehog gets flustered around the progeny of ex-major-league-baseball players.

So there was that.

Luckily, I kept my own wits about me and ordered what Hedgehog should have ordered: shrimp and grits. So good. So so so so . . . whereas the fried chicken was just so so. I mean, sustainable, free-range, vegetarian, home-schooled chicken, no doubt, but that is exactly why we will never be a fried chickeny town. We care too much.

Even I do.

But at least it was fried to-order. You know because they warn you it takes 25 minutes. Fine. Hedgehog and Happy had a lot to talk about. For a long time they’ve both been on the nuts-and-boltsy end of making TV and picters, and both have big, good, sometimes somewhat similar ideas about writing and producing. One gets the feeling if they put their big good heads together, either amazing things or lawsuits will happen.

I’m telling you: best shrimp and grits I’ve had this side of Luke. Fluffy and flavorful, with a poached egg nestled into the top of it. As you read this, I’m realizing just now, writing it, Hedgehog will be eating at Luke without me. It’s already in our calendar: Happy Valentine’s Day, dang it. She’ll be in New Orleans, working for a week, and I’ll be here haunting the Front Porch.

Beignets, fried okra, gumbo, red beans and rice, even po’ boys . . . all of it’s at least a little overpriced, but what I love is the atmosphere is down-to-earth. The front porch itself. The checkered floor, wooden tables, what Happy’s li’l son calls “the chocolate bar ceiling” . . . Wait, there’s nothing down-to-earth about a chocolate bar ceiling. Or any other kind, come to think of it.

I just can’t believe it took me this long to get there.

THE FRONT PORCH

Dinner: Mon.-Sat., 5:30-10:30pm; Sun., 5-10pm; Brunch: Sat.-Sun., 10am-2:30pm

65A 29th St., SF

(415) 695-7800

AE/D/MC/V

Full bar

 

Ride ’em

1

le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS “It’s amazing how Ohio still exists,” said Shawn Shine out of the blue. I think it was in Salt Lake City that an old woman, on her birthday, referred to him and my brother Phenomenon as “a couple of real cowboys” — and this made their day.

Phenomenon of course is a real cowboy — as surely as I am a real chicken farmer. It’s what he does, in other words. Puts on a western shirt, a bolo tie, boots, and a hat, and he sings “Home on the Range.” Shawn Shine plays the banjo and stomps his feet or slaps his thighs. He wears flannel shirts and a trucker-style baseball cap with the letters ROY G. BIV embroidered on the back of it.

Couple a real cowboys, yipee-kai-yai-yay.

Technically, Shawn Shine is more of a trail blazer. For real. I’m pretty sure he actually gets paid to blaze trail for National Park Service, sometimes. He gets a job, then he takes a train to somewhere, sleeps out on the trail, under the stars — with his ROY G. BIV hat pulled down over his eyes, as I imagine it.

Hedgehog and I befriended the bejesus out of Shawn Shine while we were all on that cute little tour together last month. In one of his songs he sings the line: “Now I can’t hug you goodbye if you’re covered in bees.”

Every night I’d hear him sing that with his eyes closed and some other place’s light reflecting off his glasses, and I would just squiggle and squish inside with admiration and respect for my new friend, the real damn cowboy, Shawn Shine.

Come to find he wrote that line about Jean Gene the Frenchman, my other brother! Shawn Shine explained the whole thing to me and Hedgehog at Thai House 530, other night.

Like a lot of people I meet here, or even in other parts of the world, Shawn Shine is already in with my whole kooky family in Ohio — where the weird ones stay. See, between trails once (pronounced wunst), he took him a class in cob bench making — I don’t know, I guess because he wanted to make cob benches, or something — and the teacher turned out to be Jean Gene the Frenchman. Then the next thing he knows he is helping my brother tear down some old gangster’s house around the corner from my mom’s. Something historical, from the 1800s, hammered together with what Shawn Shine called “Jesus nails — you know, with four corners.”

Anyway, they were recycling what they could for my other other brother’s house around the other corner from mom’s. Some beams, some posts. But the walls of the house . . . instead of insulation and wires or even dirty money, they were filled with billions of bees. And of course Jean Gene got it into his amazing head to recycle the bees, too. (Hot damn do I love that brother!)

So, yeah, they started a sort of a shuttle service for bees — as best as I can picture it, using their bodies as busses. And every songwriter in the world wishes they were there for that, I would imagine. But only this one was, bless him: Shawn Shine, everybody.

Most of the Bay Area, to think, doesn’t even know yet how happy they are to have him here! When Phenomenon drove back to Ohio after the last show last month, he left Shawn Shine behind. In need of a room in a house, by the way, and work. For between roundups.

Meanwhile, dinner’ll be on us. At Thai House 530, as I was saying. Over and over again, since I’ve latched on to that nasty head cold going around, and duck soup is my medicine. Plus the waitressperson there had the very good sense to compliment Hedgehog’s T-shirt, not knowing Hedgehog was not only wearing her T-shirt but had dreamed it up and had it made! To sell off the stage at our shows, even though it doesn’t say Sister Exister anywhere on it.

“I love her,” Hedgehog whispered to me, when she went to put our order in. I did not feel threatened. Just sick.

Hedgehog’s grilled pork was fantastic. The duck soup cleared my head a little bit, but not enough. Perfect: I would have to go back the next day, and the next. It’s good medicine: deep, dark, and greasy with plenty of duck, cilantro, sprouts, and scallions. In a bowl shaped like a football!

Or a boat, I suppose. Would be another way of looking at it.

Eat here on your way to Lost Church this Friday:

THAI HOUSE 530

Sun-Thu noon-10:30pm; Fri-Sat noon-11pm

530 Valencia, SF

(415) 503-1500

AE/D/MC/V

Beer & wine

Continuity

0

le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS Hoolibloo lives next door, where Elsa the Very Very Old Peruvian Woman used to live. I changed light bulbs for Elsa in the ’90s, and reset her clock every time the time changed or the power went out. Or a battery died.

Then, when I moved back into the building 10 years later, she didn’t recognize me. A lot had changed. I tried to explain, but she didn’t understand, but maybe she did and I didn’t understand her understanding. Her ability to speak English started and ended with asking for help and bragging about how very very old she was. And my understanding of Spanish is limited to the meats. So a typical conversation between us would go something like this:

HER: Please can you help me?

ME: (helping her) Carnitas, Elsa. Carnitas!

HER: I am very very old. Very old.

ME: (finishing up with the helping her) Carne asada. Um, pollo.

HER: Thank you. Thank you very mucho.

ME: De nada, Elsa. Hasta lechuga.

And all of us, everyone in the building, would help her up the stairs. Whereas Hoolibloo, my friend who moved in when Elsa (sniff) moved out, takes the stairs by herself — often even briskly.

“Here, let me help you,” I say, out of habit. But she turns me down, arguing that she’s 25.

Fluently! She doesn’t even have to draw the numbers in the air, like Elsa used to do. But I guess that’s the difference between Chicago and Peru, coming-fromwise. Not to mention 50 years.

In spite of her relative youthfulness, Hoolibloo does not play on my football team, or even in a band. Still, she is our closest friend. When Hedgehog and I sit on our couch and she sits on hers, we are only two sheets of drywall and six inches of insulation apart.

She helps Hedgehog make movies, and me find restaurants. Why, just the other day she showed me to Poc-Chuc. We were both working at home, and were craving sandwiches, only when Hooli called up Ike to place our order they said it would take about an hour, that’s how crowded they were.

So then we started to crave empanadas instead.

One thing I love about hanging with people half my age is they talk about interestinger stuff than I do. I’m all, Oh, my knee is gone! I blacked out in the bathroom! What’s wrong with my butt! . . . and meanwhile they’re working out what to do with their life.

Which makes much more lively dinner conversation.

Lunch too, come to think of it.

Over Empanadas we discussed guns, Israel, guns in Israel, and writing. Hoolibloo would like to write something, she said, but not necessarily a whole book.

“You’re talking to the right person,” I said. I start and don’t finish books with a level of expertise seldom seen outside the world of professional bowling.

But that kind of wasn’t what she was talking about.

She had just come back from Israel, where her grandma lives, and was fixing to fly off somewhere else. Her dream job would entail a lot of travel. And autonomy. “But I also really like to be part of a team,” she said.

“I can teach you football,” I said. Ever the recruiter.

Poc chuc, the signature dish of Poc-Chuc, is thinly sliced pork marinated in citrus, grilled, and served with onions, tomatoes, rice, and a small bowl of pureed black beans that I almost forgot to even taste, everything else was so freaking delicious and plentiful.

I don’t normally like empanadas, but I loved Poc-Chuc’s ones. They were less doughy and more flavorful than most, maybe because of the same black bean puree. Which also found its way into the Panuchos. And believe me, as someone who changes diapers for a living . . . black bean puree in the panuchos? That’ll happen.

Really though: really really awesome Mayan food. The Panuchos, which also feature shredded turkey, avocado, and pickled red onions, were fantastic. Kinda somewhat similar to empanadas, only fried.

I can’t wait until Hedgehog comes back from L.A. so I can show this to her.

POC-CHUC

Mon-Wed 10:30am-8:30pm; Thu-Sat 10:30am-10pm; Sun 4-9:30pm

2886 16th St., SF

(415) 558-1583

AE/D/MC/V

No alcohol

 

Quarterback sack

2

le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS Mz. Grizz is tall and beautiful with a gleam in her eyes that says both I have something funny to add and, if you put a football in her hands, I will knock you over like a freight train hitting bowling pins.

If we played tackle instead of flag football, she would lead the league in yardage and touchdowns, and probably a lot of people would quit. As it is, her area of dominance is the defensive line. And the bowling pins are the opposing team’s O line.

I know I wouldn’t want to quarterback against her. Other hand, if I am totally honest (which I mostly totally am), I haven’t always exactly loved being Mz. Grizz’s teammate either. There’s the generational gap that bebaffles me to most of my teammates at least some of the time, and there was this thing I overheard her say once on the sideline: “I don’t care whether we win or lose,” she said. “I’m in it for the personal glory.”

Which statement bristled me for a while, even though I knew she was saying it to be funny — a twist on it’s how you play the game.

I must have been in a bad mood. Meaning: we must have just lost. Because for me, partially, it is whether you win or lose. That’s what makes it sports. And, in particular, team sports. Supposedly, although spelling is not my forte, there is no I in team. But this was a long time ago.

And, alas, there is an I in time.

Like a lot of our team, Mz. Grizz is a med student. Still, she manages to make more practices than anyone. And games. And she plays and practices –- and eats, it turns out — with an endearingly fierce and bearlike voracity.

Coach’s 35th birthday party was not the first time I got to eat next to Mz. Grizz, but it was the one that won me over. All the way, and in spite of any previously held differences of opinion regarding queer politics or English spelling.

Hers was the biggest plate of food I have seen since the days of Ann’s Cafe. And the way she pinned her ears back (in the parlance of pass-rushing specialists) and tackled it … it earned my undying respect and admiration. It was, in fact, glorious. And I understood.

I mean: first of all, we’re talking Celia’s — which should change its name to Surrealia’s — in San Rafael. I forget what they called the plate, but it had tacos, enchiladas, flautas, chile relleno, steak, beans, rice, and just basically all-things-Mexican all over it. And Mz. Grizz picked up her fork and knife with this super-sexy look, and fucking sacked its ass. I’m not saying it was quick. Or easy. You could tell she was using all her moves: the spin move, the stunt, the club, the rip, the hoop, the inside-out sock…

And those were just the ones that I saw! For the most part my attention was drawn to the wide-screen TV at the opposite end of Celia’s banquet room, on which the 49ers were all-of-the-above-ing it to the Green Bay Packers.

Also I had my own plate to deal with: big, yummy grilled shrimps with beans and rice and a big ball of salad dolloped quite pleasantly, thank you, with pico de gallo.

Everything was great. Warm, fresh-made chips and hot table salsa kept coming, margaritas happened, and Coach presided very thirty-fivishly at the head of the table, until the mariachi band came over from the main dining room behind a small flan with a single lit birthday candle in it.

They sang in Spanish. They sang in English. And by the time Coach wished for another winning season this Spring and blew out the candle, her birthday dessert was mostly melted wax. Yum!

While everyone else was woohooing her, I hugged and high-fived Mz. Griz, who was just then putting the finishing hurt on her quarterback. I think it was called “The Perfecto Special.” Look into this.

“You’re my hero,” I said.

Then, very mysteriously, everyone started disappearing into the restroom in pairs and coming back with each other’s pants and shirts on. Kids! Then they all went bowling across the street, but Hedgehog and I, being old, came home.

CELIA’S

Mon-Thu 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat 11am-10:30pm; Sun 4-9:30pm

1 Vivian, San Rafael

(415) 456-8190

AE/D/MC/V

Full bar

 

Going down

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CHEAP EATS As we were walking to the car we decided: it was not only the best pozole, it was the best thing either of us had ever ate. I should have gone back and told her so, but when we’d left Sal the Pork Chop’s penthouse sweet it was almost midnight and she was in her pajamas. She’d already fallen asleep in the middle of the season premier of “Downton Abbey,” and we’d had to clear our throats and knock on her head after, just to say goodbye. It was a knockout pozole, really and truly.

I love my Secret Agent Lady for a lot of reasons, and now this: We were halfway down the hall when she called us back. “I forgot to give you the leftovers,” she said.

I pinched myself. Hedgehog swooned.

“Steady,” I whispered, hooking her arm and holding on while our hostess and best friend ever was filling up a yogurt container. “We don’t need two faller-overs in the fambly.”

Sal the Pork Chop, everybody . . . New. Favorite. Person. Ever. And (not entirely coincidentally) maker of the pozole that changes everything.

True, she is not technically a restaurant. But then, I am not exactly all-the-way not on strike, either. I mean, agreement was reached, I am thrilled to say, over salt-and-pepper prawns and clay pot chicken at my new favorite restaurant in Chinatown.

Agreement = check’s in the mail. It is not, however, in my hands. So let’s just say that relatively real restaurant reviews are in the mail . . . and keep talking about Sal the Pork Chop’s pozole.

Or let’s hear from Hedgehog first: Dear Sir or Madam or etc. etc.:

Youse’re going to miss me when I’m gone. Like, by the time you read this, you will already be missing me. The long strike of twelve dash thirteen will be over! And right on time, too. I just contacted the accountant, in preparation for the annual clenching of the jaw and wrenching of the wallet and found out that, due to our domesticational partnership status, and additionally due to our residing in the state of happy cows, I get half of what Chicken Farmer doesn’t make, whether I write half of her column or not. It’s called “community property.”

Meaning, conversely, that she communally appropriates half of what I make, as well. I’m trying to train her to become an Emmy-winning sound editor, but I suspect she won’t be kicking in as much labor on my job as I have been on her’s when the time comes so … so long, suckas. It’s been swell, but the swelling’s gone down now.

Most sincerely, etc. etc.,

Hedgehog

P.S. VIVA LA EL CHEAPO SPORTOS!

Yeah but mine has not! Swelling, that is, and gone down, that is, respectively. We decided we liked my face better like this, and I did not let the nose doctor “set” my nose. He showed me how to rub it so the swelling would go down, but I don’t.

I just …

So the pozole: she made it mostly in a blender, she said. The saucy part, which had about eighty cloves of garlic in it and I forget what she said else. This she then fried in a pan, as I understand it, and that she poured into some chicken broth and other things, in which were then simmered legs and thighs until heaven happened, and was garnished at the table with cilantro, radish, cabbage, avocado, and a squeeze of lime.

There. Now you know how to make, more or less, the best thing I ever ate. But I forgot to mention she roasted some poblanos in her broiler and then threw them in at the end. Christ, I wish I’d been paying better attention.

It was my first meal back from the three-day dead I was in. My second was the melty juicy crunchy salt-and-pepper prawns I savored with jalapeno slices in the company of my favorite living Bee Gee, at a big round table in the small, square second-floor Chinatown Cheap Eats gem:

HONG KONG CLAY POT CITY RESTAURANT

Lunch: Thu-Tue 11am-3pm; Dinner: Thu-Sun 5-9pm; Closed Wed

960 Grant Ave., SF

(415) 989-2638

MC/V

Beer & wine

Street music

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CHEAP EATS It’s like a rubber band. It breaks.

CHEAP MUSIC


by Hedgehog


Happy Current Year from the not-too-distant past! We celebrated New Years Eve at the Manse de la Cooter with good luck sausages, kale, and (for some of us) perhaps a little too much vino.

Oddly, it wasn’t Chicken Farmer who over-indulged, though I expected her to drown her sorrows in the grape since earlier that day her knee doctor broke the news. Or rather, he tore the news: ACL.

"In the wind," as McNulty would say. Only permanently. Like, Chris escorted her left knee’s ACL into a "vacant," and Snoop followed behind with a bucket of quick lime and a powder-actuated nail gun, you feel me?

But, in spite of her bad case of S.A.D. (Sad ACL Discovery) the farmer stoicly sang and storied the Chunks de la Cooter to sleep, and soberly designated drivered me home, where we’ve been burying our heads ever since, recording Sister Exister music.

And so, in deference to my honey’s questionable sports future and entirely unsporty present, I’m going to focus my portion of the column on the thing I now know more about than I did last week: music in San Francisco.

What’s that? The BG already has music writers? So? They already have a food writer, too. My new twist is: Us! That’s right, it’s 2013 and Sister Exister (sisterexister.bandcamp.com) is primed for world domination. We are everywhere. We tweet, tumble, face the book, kick the songs, camp the band, and cloud the sounds with our patented brand of "What the hell was that? Are they serious?"

And it is thanks to my self-appointed role as the band’s link to all things digital that I’ve discovered — gasp — we are not the only band in San Francisco. This epiphany was mostly Soundcloud’s doing, since we never go outside, let alone to bars, let alone to bars playing loud, live, amplified music.

But maybe in 2013 we should because . . . The High Witness Co. (www.soundcloud.com/highwitness)? Digging the "Leonard Cohen and Calexico in a blender" vibe of "Borrowed Time." And the Street Eaters (www.soundcloud.com/streeteaters)? Fuck yeah! And not just because of their name, either.

Chick drummer, fella plucking the bass, and that’s it. And they sound like a full orchestra! OK not really but dang, only two people? Yowza. Check out their track "Blades" and forget what I said about there being only two people in the band. And then be amazed when I say again: all that energy is coming out of only two people!

This, and then all the bands we already know with all the people we already know in them, like the Verms, Yard Sale, the Low Rollers, 17 Reasons . . . In fact, everybody in the greater Bay Area is in a band! If this isn’t true, if you in fact are not in a band then guess what? You, like us, have got a lot of audiencing to catch up on!

CHEAP EATS continued

Yeah but now I can’t go out because I look like Rocky Balboa. I lasted just one round with the bathroom floor yesterday morning and now I have a broken nose, a black eye, and a swollen eyebrow full of dried blood, in addition to my depressing ACLessness. So I can’t even dance, let alone be seen.

For now.

Go on ahead without me, Hedgehog.

I’ll be here on the toilet, where I’ve spent most of 2013, when I wasn’t Hillary Clintoning off of it.

She found me, dear reader, in a puddle of blood. Not Hillary — Hedgehog. And that awesome moment was the highlight of my year this year so far.

Oh. This morning I ate a half of a bagel with jam on it, and I held it down!

Or up, as it were. Other than that it’s been white rice and dry toast on my menu. But you don’t want to hear about this! Go give a listen to happier times, courtesy of Hedgehog . . .

Wait!

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CHEAP EATS Anna Yamo has been trying to catch me for it seems like a year now. When she calls it says Restricted Number and that’s how I know it is her, but I am always in New Orleans or Seattle or the bathroom.

“Restricted Number,” it said.

I was sitting on my couch. San Francisco!

“Hello?” I said. This time.

“Danielle!” she said, with her characteristically loaded laugh, which tells me I’m a hard person to catch hold of. And in her characteristic accent, which is, of course, Thai: “When we have lunch?”

“Sunday?”

“Where you want to eat?” she said, then (also characteristically) she told me where: at this crepe place on Valencia, across from City College. News to me.

“It’s a date,” I said, thinking that — who knows — maybe there’d be a check for $3,300 in my mailbox, and I’d be going back to work. Stranger things have happened, although admittedly they usually involve badgers.

Anna and I hadn’t seen each other in over a year and there were so many things I wanted to talk to her about: her son’s restaurant and did she think we could shoot a short movie there … would she teach me how to make duck noodle soup … and why doesn’t she move to Youngstown, Ohio, the town of my birth and the last US city of any size to not have a Thai restaurant in it.

Let the record also show: I love crepes, and these ones were very very very

 

CHEAP SPORTS

by Hedgehog

The rain. That’s all I have to say about sports this week. Jesus H. Christ is in a mother fucking raft, as my mother always proclaimed He would be. And even He is standing in line for Tartine. Or floating. I know what you’re thinking: He doesn’t need the raft, for He can walk on water, but even our Lord and savior likes a good sit-down now and again (see the Book of Mark, 16:19. Also, the Book of Eames, 12:34).

Neverminding the weather, I’m sick of the line at Tartine. I never go in because I refuse to stand in it. I stood in it once. (Once!)

And not for the stupid goddamn morning rolls (which have too much orange zest in them), but for a sandwich. This was back when I ate things like sandwiches, so you know; it was awhile ago.

Anyway, Chicken Farmer had introduced me to the Tartine pastrami sandwich without making me stand in that god-awful line and I wanted to repay the favor by going and getting them the next time. So I “queued up” (as they would say on Downton Abbey) and 30 minutes later, it was finally my turn to exchange money for goods. But the peopleperson behind the counter cut me off, mid-order, to inform me that they don’t take sandwich orders until 11:30.

It was 11:17.

It was a Five Easy Pieces moment if ever I’ve had one, and I’m all for making a scene, but the 30 minutes of anticipation and herd-member-like treatment backfired and the rage shut down my brain. We got takeout from Pakwan instead.

So when I say “I’m sick of the line at Tartine” (like I just did, up there somewhere), what I mean is, “I’m sick of looking at the line at Tartine.”

We have big windows. And a lovely window seat. Overlooking the line at Tartine.

On Christmas day, after we blew the candles out on the pot roast and dished up the traditional Brussels sprouts, our rag-tag group of holiday orphans were entertained for hours by the comings and nose-pressings and then forlorn goings of a steady stream of Tartinian acolytes. Behold: even Thine Holier Than Thou Bakery is closed on this day.

But the day after, it was busy-ness, as usual. Can you see us in the windows, looking down judgmentically at you from our ellipticating albatross?

Well, enough about what’s-their-faces. We got a Christmas tree! And it nearly caused us to divorce before we could even marry. But that’s neither eats nor sports, so…

R.A. Dickey is now a Toronto Blue Jay.

 

CHEAP EATS CONTINUED

Wait a minute! I like Tartine, and — being a people peopleperson, love looking at the line. Though I agree their morning buns are overrated. 

DOWNTON ABBEY

www.pbs.org

Fresh ranch

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CHEAP EATS CHEAP SPORTS

by Hedgehog

Greetings from Portland! Oregon! Chicken Farmer would be writing this, but we have a show tonight and she needs to rest her voice.

I, on the other hand, can talk to youse now because I’m not the greatest singer in the world. There: I admit it. Also, I’m not on strike. But anyway, singing: When you get me in my car with the iPod set to my “singalong” folder and no witnesses, I can “shred,” as the kids say. But if a song is shredded when there’s no one there to hear, does it really shred? No. Clearly not. Because in front of people, it’s a different story.

I had just about got where I could play an instrument, sing on key, and occasionally glance up and show my face to the audience without making the whole house of cards come tumbling down.

Then we got in the car and went on tour. And on I-5 North Chicken Farmer says to me one word: harmony.

Harm what now? No, see, I sing along with the radio. I’m not a barbershop quartetist. But Chicken Farmer (a.k.a. The Experienced Musician) says it will sound awesome. It will, in fact, shred, if I can harmonize with her.

And so it has been for the last few hundred miles now, in the car, singing the same chorus over and over and over again with my right index finger in my right ear, so as to hear myself over Chicken Farmer. It’s hard. Life on the road is hard.

I have a newfound respect for Justin Bieber. Ha. No I don’t.

Anyhow, we drove up here from pretty near where you are right now and our first stop foodwise was La Plazita Taqueria in Madison. That was a cool place. What’s-Her-Face had a carnitas burrito and I had a chicken taco and a beef taco. They have foosball. Nice folks . . .

After that, we drove to Ashland, Oregon, where we played at a piercing studio and ate at Taroko. It’s an Asian Fusion place. A little pricey, but the food was good and the portions of pho were HUGE. What was odd was I ordered eel maki and got salmon skin instead.

You know how when you take a big gulp of water thinking it’s vodka and the shock makes you choke and sputter? Yeah, that. But the highlight so far has been Laundromat Thai, just around the corner from Johnny “Jack” Poetry’s Portland pad. It’s actually got a name, but gets called Laundromat because it shares a building with one and hipsters are too cool to just call things what they are. Tasty red curry, robust massuman, zesty shrimp salad and a friendly drunken noodle. But speaking of Johnny “Jack” . . .

 

CHEAP LIT

“Potato Salad”

by Johnny “Jack” Poetry

The sky, too, needs to be white, not exactly an oboe awash in Debussy but maybe a clarinet basking in a Hoagy Carmichael chromatic progression & lolling about in mid-register where the clouds are practically smoky curtains—

& a tenor ukulele strummed in a green canoe in a pond where those clouds are floating topsy-turvy amidst the patches of duckweed—

cilantro, chopped fine, is crucial—the odor of leafing thru sheet music in a used bookstore San Francisco late 90s & the musty pages & the breezes off the Pacific slightly green with kelp—

some brand of delicatessen mustard—poignant with horseradish—neglected words on any lemonade June day when it seems there are light years at least to say them while a guitar transmits watermelons bicycles Dorothy Sayers’ mysteries beyond the bluish & optimistic horizon—

which is also white though with a yellow patina—the potatoes are Yukon Golds & some say chop them larger & some say smaller—when we were young we were so extraordinarily young like the strings on a baritone uke strumming Blue Moon like a Ferris wheel & the picnic table beside the lake stands empty as the long twilight starts to edge down—

tho really only fresh Ranch dressing will do—the buttermilk warmth— & plenty of ground black pepper—& the sky, too, needs to be blue as worn denim or blue as a Crayola sky blue crayon melting for hours & hours over Golden Gate Park—

& not thinking too much how it all slowly goes into indigo as the clarinet sighs down to low G & below & deeper blue as is most everything else—

 

Boy Howdy

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CHEAP EATS This.

CHEAP SPORTS


by Hedgehog


I love my editor/column hostess. And not just because I’m domestically partnered to her (though that helps).

My loyalty running as deep as it does in her general direction, when I see her overworked, I want to unburden her. Tonight, she made pork chops. They were delicious: on a bed of leftover basmati rice from an unfortunate delivery job earlier in the week, with a side of sauteed string beans. Best dinner of the day, hands down. And then she says to me, she says "Confound it, Hedgehog. My column’s due again."

"Has it been a week already? Well don’t fret," says I (we always speak like old-timey prospectors after dinner), "it’s still early. You can write your column aftern you do the dishes."

"No," she says. "By the time I finish doing all of these here dishes — dishes which, mind you, were dirtied in service of a meal you specifically requestered — I’ll be too tired to type let alone think of some other meal I ate somewheres else and review it."

So here I am, writing her review for her while she does the dishes. And to make sure my editor’s editors know I mean business, I’ll give you not one but two reviews for the price of none this week.

First there was this Vietnamese place we went to called Oriental Something or Other. That’s not really the name but I’m not really a food reviewer so I forgot to grab a menu and I can’t rightly bother the actual food reviewer while she’s elbows-deep in lemon-scented bubbles. Anyway, it was in Berkeley. You can find it on Yelp, I’m sure.

And when youse’re done reading everyone else’s uneducated opinion there, here’s one more: it was really good pho. And a really disappointing shrimp spring roll. Mostly rice noodles, one little shrimp splayed open like that dude Hannibal Lector hung from the rafters (not Pembry, mind you; the other one), and a little wilted lettuce.

But the pho — woah. And cheap, too. So that’s a good place. You should eat pho there. But not rolls.

Second, Chicken Farmer was very impressed by a place I took her to in Los Angeles the other week. It was the meal we had before we went to win our award. Place called Sabina’s European Restaurant, on the corner of Vine and Fountain in one of those strip mall things that constitute 90% of Los Angeles.

The other 10% being Joel Silver’s ego.

Anyway, Sabina’s does not actually represent all of Europe, cuisine-wise. It’s exclusively Romanian.

So exclusively, in fact, that they don’t even know what pierogis are. What they do know is how to stuff a cabbage and paprika up some chicken. And dumplings! Boy Howdy do they ever!

And get this: everything on the menu is $5.75 or cheaper. Yes, it is still 2012! Huge portions, too! Just ask Kayday. We couldn’t finish everything and still fit into our red carpet gowns, so we took it to go and left it in her rental car while we went in to the event and achieved everlasting fame and glory.

And man, did that car smell funky when we got back in it.

CHEAP EATS continued

Whoa, Hedgehog. Whoa! Do you really want to drag Hannibal Lector into this? Not to mention Boy Howdy.

Still, it’s your best Cheap Sports yet, in that you didn’t say Word One about anything sporty. If I didn’t know better, I might think you were finally making your play for my job.

Wait … Are you?

If so, next time focus on the jalapenos. I would have said how we only needed one little slice to spice up the whole big bowl of pho to a sweat-inducing, sinus-scouring, head-spinning pitch. How often are jalapenos even hot at all, let alone rip-roaringly hot. So hurray for Oriental for knowing how to pick out a good one.

But, really, Berkeley be damned, my new favorite restaurant is Sabina’s, in Hollywood. So let’s make another movie. Quick.

SABINA’S EUROPEAN RESTAURANT

Tue-Thu, Sat-Sun 11am-8pm; Fri 11am-7pm, closed Mon

1253 Vine, Ste 12, LA

(323) 469 9522

No alcohol

Cash only

E-capitulation

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CHEAP EATS Do you want to know how to settle a strike? Here’s how to settle a strike: Capitulate. It’s

fun and easy — just … give ’em what they want. In this case, the letter ‘e.’

Hedgehog, I says, henceforth, you can spell youse however the hell you want. In fact, you can spell all the other words however you want, too. I trust you to get the thing said, however you spell it. We’re all good communicators here.

In fact, we’re in the goddamn bidness of communication, ain’t we.

Yet, my last couple missives to higher ups at the B.G., Maurice and Robin, have been more-or-less dismissived.

If it were me — which it is, but let’s say if, for example, it were me who owed somebody else say, for the sake of argument, $3,300 for services rendered, and I knew it and knew that I was good for it but couldn’t decide which of my bank accounts to take the money from, I would just … pay.

Fun! Easy! Settled! The owe-ee(eee) is all squared away. Then, my lower-downs having been seen to, hypothetical me sleeps real nicely at night. Or, hyperhypothetically speaking, Maurice, Robin, the alive one, or, hell, even Andy for all I care, coughs up the Amount Owed, and then they can bicker amongst themselves until the cows come home.

And sleep at night, if that makes sense. And I kinda hope it doesn’t. Hedgehog?

CHEAP SPORTS Good morning from last Friday! Did youse miss mese like Ise missed youse?

Today I’m thankful for the Chicken Farmer. She’s asleep at the moment but yesterday, when she was awake, she smoked a turkey, baconed up some Brussels sprouts, and baked a gluten-free pie — all in honor of our first little movie taking third prize at the “little movies made in a big hurry” contest down in Hollywood. That her celebratory act of catering happened to fall on Thanksgiving is only a coincidence because she happens to feed me well all the time. It’s not just when the rest of youse are honoring the arrival of the pilgrims and blah blah.

Normally there would be three “blahs” up there, but I’m on a strict word count this week. Because I need all my available words to tell you this:

We’re buying an elliptical. Or not. It’s all very confusing and frustrating and, quite frankly, annoying. The romantic-musical-comedy-sometimes-road-trip that is usually our lives has this albatross circling over it, threatening to dump a load at any moment.

See, Chicken Farmer (aka the Athletic One), tweaked her knee several columns back. And then she spent a lot of time icing it. And then it felt better. And then she tweaked it again. Rinse and repeat for over a month and the end result is a fat Hedgehog. Because, as it turns out, hedgies don’t exercise unless their farmer’s take them out and make them. I don’t have anyone to play racquetball with. Or soccer. And my recently unbroken wrist has not been feeling so great about the bat finding the ball lately. I would ice it, but all available ice has been allocated to Chicken Farmer’s knee and we can’t afford to buy more ice. So naturally, turning our studio apartment into a fitness center is the only way either of us can see out of this morass.

Not that we can afford an elliptical machine either, but the free one at the Mission Rec center is wobbly and sticky and we need to put on clothes in order to get to it. There are elliptical machines in other places (they are called “gyms”) but you have to pay to use them. They are not wobbly or sticky, but you still need to wear clothes and then also, the money. Of which we are low.

So here’s our desperate plan: we’re going out, for the first time in either of our little lives, into the despair that is Black Friday. We’ll drive around until we find a sports supplier in need of a mob. Then we’ll rush in, waving our arms and making lots of noise (so as to give the impression that there are more of us) and run straight to the ellipticals. We’ll pick the one with the best stride length and degree of incline and assure the salesperson that we have the money for it; we just don’t know where exactly we put it.

Surely any salesperson worth their sale-salt will see what good consumers we are and reward us with an interest-free loan and free delivery on-the-spot. Right? That’s how companies do business. Right? Chicken Farmer?

CHEAP EATS continued…

Huh?

 

Sattdown strike

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CHEAP EATS Dang it, my sports writer has gone on strike. Over something really stupid, too. Really really stupid. How stupid? A couple columns ago, I changed her spelling of youse to yous. Why?

Oh, you escape my meaning entirely, don’t you?

Youse. Yous. The former preferred by Hedgehog, whereas I like the latter.

Understand, dear reader, if you dare (for it’s bad luck, allegedly, to stand under latters): either word, according to expert wordstress Miriam Webster, is an acceptable misspelling of y’all. But before you leap to inclusions, let me tell you for a Cheap Eats fact that yous is better.

“No!” insisteth Hedgehog. “You don’t understand. I researched this. In Central Pennsylvania, where ‘yous’ is said, I asked a lot of people how to spell yous, and they all said yous: y-o-u-s-e.”

“That’s great, but wait’ll you read how I write what you just said!” I said. “Besides, this isn’t Central Pennsylvania. It’s Cheap Eats. And Cheap Eats has its own Manual of Style, just like Chicago.”

“Then I’m going on strike.”

“You can’t!” I screamed. I kicked, bucked, clucked, and sputtered to this end and that one — the crux of my argument being that Cheap Eats was already on strike, and that, Cheap Sports being my sophisticatedly subversive and top-secret way of being on strike and still getting paid, going on strike from the very strike of which she was, in effect, the expression, would create a profoundly dense expressionlessness on this page, which blank hole, if it fell into the wrong hands, could (for example) wipe Austin, Texas off the map.

And do you know what she said?

“Mwa-ha-ha,” she said, the evil and cuddly animal, “ha!”

And she walked out. Just like that. Over one lousy letter, albeit a pretty popular one, Cheap Sports walked out on my walkout, engendering an all-out word stoppage the likes of which this column has never known.

Thus the ramble. Because I can’t exactly bring you a relevant restaurant, can I? Under the circumstances.

Lucky thing, I am in Los Angeles. Eating hot dogs and hot dogs at Pink’s, and other things at other Bay Irrelevant places.

Tomorrow night a short film which I catered is up for an award down here. Oh, and I’ll bet Hedgehog would have loved to have written that last sentence instead of me, since she was also peripherally involved in the project — writing, directing, videographing, editing, mixing, and just generally producing it.

If we win (as I understand it) we will be awarded $60,000 worth of whisks, pans, and Brillo and things, so please keep your fingers crossed for me. Us, technically. Or “use,” as Hedgehog would have it.

In fact, had she not walked out on my walkout, over e, my everloving life partner and future ex-sportswriter (if she doesn’t come off strike soon) would have by now told you all about her first ever real live baseball game. That she played in, I mean.

Since there’s no sports section this week, however, how will you know whether she ripped her first fastball down the right field line for a triple or dribbled a grounder back to the pitcher? How will you know whether she made diving catches in the outfield or merely got the ball back into the infield in a timely and generally athletic manner?

I wish I could just publish a picture I took instead of all this gobble-de-gravy, Happy Thanksgiving, but if you want to see how friggin’ hot Hedgehog looked in her baseball uniform, stepping up to the plate for her first time ever, with a cheekful of sunflower spits, you will just have to ax/axe. (Hint: pretty friggin’ hot.)

My knee was monked, or I’d of been out there on the field with her — maybe even throwing her big slow curves — instead of standing behind the fence with her camera, photographering.

BTW, my new favorite restaurant in Los Angeles is not Pink’s famous hot dog stand, which I loved, but the Jamaican joint on Ventura where I had curry goat with roti for the first time in a long time and it was awesome.

Does anybody know? Where is Penny? She could end this madness. She could.

SATTDOWN

Tue.-Thu., 11am-8pm; Fri.-Sat., 11am-9pm; Sun. 4-8pm; Closed Mon.

11320 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City

(818) 766-3696

AE,MC,V

No alcohol

www.sattdownjamaicangrill.com

 

Popping up

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CHEAP EATS Another new restaurant has sprung up at the corner of Castro and 18th St. across from Walgreens. Korean, this time.

CHEAP SPORTS

by Hedgehog

There are several problems inherent with writing a pirate sports column embedded within a “food” column in any free weekly paper, even when the “food” column isn’t written by your domesticated partner. Which mine is. And don’t think I haven’t suspected that’s how I landed the gig in the first place.

In the second place, local politics is what passes for sport in this paper. You all don’t really care about rec center racquetball, pickup soccer, baseball, or women’s flag football. And that list pretty near completes the length and breadth of my sports experience around here. It’s enough to make me want to hang up my cleats and walk out on Chicken Farmer’s strike. But enough about me. And you. And the Bay Area sports scene.

Last week, while I was in Los Angeles, Kristy Kreme told me about something I’d never heard of or ever even imagined possible:

Trampoline dodge ball.

For the uninitiated, I’ll elucidate: I’m talking about dodge ball, but played on a trampoline.

What?

Yes. It really happens! Kristy played it in the Valley but it can occur anywhere there is a trampoline park. These are giant rooms of interconnected trampolines, so that you have a basketball court-sized bouncing surface. On which to play dodge ball. How brilliant is that?

Here is where I leave the purview of underappreciated so-called sports writer and offer up my opinion in the civic arena, editorialist-style: Can we get some of that there Prop B money allocated to convert the now-dormant Mission playground swimming pool into a trampoline park? Now? It would be one sure way to silence your detractors who cried “fiscal irresponsibility” and so forth.

Trampoline dodgeball.

Pretty please?

Cheap Eats continued …

Yeah! A free one, because the House of Air in the Presidio costs like 15, 16 clams an hour. Per person! Most people I know can’t afford those kinds of clams-per-hour, not to mention per person.

But speaking of the metric system, my friend the Maze has moved to Palo Alto and I had the honor of helping him pack his kitchen. Not to mention pick up lunch.

And that is how I knew that there was a new Korean restaurant called Kpop at the corner of Castro and 18th, where that stupid soup place used to be, and before that I forget what.

Well, so I grabbed an order of kimchee fried rice and an order of bulgogi on my way to the Maze’s box-strewn mess of an ex-place, and we had us a little mid-afternoon lunch break.

OK.

The place wraps its takeout orders like microwave hospital cafeteria food: in plastic containers with plastic wrap stuck over the top, which is weird and hard to open.

And pointless.

What are you trying to prove, Kpop?

The sausage in the kimchi fried rice was pretty weak. It kind of seemed like little pieces of hot dogs, only not as yummy. And the fried egg on top of the fried rice … somehow it managed to be both overdone and underdone at the same time. There wasn’t hardly any juice at all left to the yolk, yet the sunny side was still slimy.

The bulgogi was alright. Nothing special.

Gasp, it’s not my new favorite restaurant; but I will give it another chance, because it’s only been open for a couple weeks. And I love the idea of Korean food a short walk from home.

I just wish this one had bigger portions, or at least better portions. Or, hell, the same size and quality of portions for a slightly smaller price. I would settle for that.

KPOP

Mon-Thu, Sun 11am-11pm; Fri-Sat 11am-2am

499 Castro St., SF

(415) 252-9500

MC,V

No alcohol

 

Lots going on

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CHEAP EATS Oh the horror!

Oh the hilarity!

Oh the black bean and chicken chili, spaghetti and meatballs!

No, it wouldn’t look good, journalismically, for me to review Hedgehog’s second li’l movie myself, being after all her ever-loving domestie. Not to mention my three (3) credits, for catering, co-production, and co-score. So, for once I have decided to do the right thing: ask my dad to review it for me.

CHEAP FILM

by Peaches Leone

Having lived 78 years and weathered numerous careers (gas station attendant, softball pitcher, ditch digger, guard rail painter, mail sorter, school teacher, cartoonist, imaginary basketball star, stay-at-home dad, composer, composter, memoirist, country music performer, poet, etc.) I thought I’d try my hand at film reviewing.

Since I’m new at this, I’ll start with a critique of a nine-minute film, “The Chain,” written and directed by Hedgehog (of “Treme” fame), starring the wonderful character actor Earl Butter, the Maze, and Long Tall Philip, with music by Bikkets and Chicken Farmer, Bullet LaVolta, and Daniel Voigt. It begins with Bob (Butter), sitting before his TV waiting for the big game to begin. Soon his friend Jeff, played perfectly by the Maze, arrives with a stash of beer and his cell phone.

I won’t give away the final eight minutes (no spoiler alert here), but it’s scary and surprising. And the music is probably very good.

Cheap Eats continued

Speaking of big games, I of course couldn’t keep my nose out of the World Serious brouhaha. First I hurried home from Lost Weekend for socks and my winter coat, then I went back out into the mayhem, looking as clueless as possible, and asking as many revelers as would meet my eye, “Excuse me, do you know who won?” And other such dada doozies — none of which achieved their desired effect.

Worse, at the bonfire at Mission and 22nd, I must have brushed up against some fresh graffiti, because my favorite white winter coat woke up ruined.

Oh well. Destruction is how we say “yay.” No?

As usual, when the bottles started to fly, I headed home and tried to sleep, beep beep.

 

CHEAP SPORTS

by Hedgehog

The Giants won the World Series! I’m sure you already noticed that since you were in San Francisco at the time and buses were on fire outside your house and shit. Me? I was (and still am) in Los Angeles.

My beloved Chicken Farmer needs a new pair of shoes — and now, it turns out, a new winter coat, to boot. Since she’s on strike, that means it’s time for me to look for a real job which, in my line of work, means going to Los Angeles.

Or Skywalker — but I’ve yet to learn their secret handshake so… Traffic wasn’t bad, thanks for asking. I listened to the first four innings in the car on the way in to town. And by the time things really got heated up (the 8th), I had put in enough face time with Kristy Kreme, my Valley bestie, and my hosts (Groovy and Julie of the Julies), that it seemed appropriate to turn on their huge plasma TV and ignore them for a while.

They have 3D! It makes everyone look like colorforms when the programming isn’t 3D though, so I watched Sergio Romo strike out Miguel Cabrera in only two dimensions, like most of the rest of yous.

Here is LA’s reaction to SF’s win: Kristy said “Fuck yeah.” Julie declared she was in awe. Groovy grilled steaks.

If you work at Skywalker/Disney, please rescue me from this warm, sunshiney place with wide lanes and ample parking. I’m homesick and you’re my only hope.

Cheap Eats continued

Here! Here! No matter how you spell it, it’s better than there there.

New favorite restaurant? …

Don’t have one, deal with it.

THE CHAIN

www.vimeo.com/52043639

 

Don’t take the knee

1

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CHEAP EATS And then one day my left foot stuck to the planet and my left knee, under the influence of the opposing team’s cornerback, bent backwards. First, two of my teammates tried to help me off the field, and both of them are med students but one is much shorter than me and the other much taller, so the refs tapped us all on the shoulder and said “here. Let us.”

They made a kind of a chairlift out of their arms and carted me away. “The fireman’s carry,” they called this, but I knew that it was not.

“You realize,” I said, with an arm around each of these tall dudes’ shoulders, “how embarrassing this is going to be when I come running back on the field two plays later.”

“That’s okay,” they said, depositing me on the sideline, and they mentioned a famous basketball player who famously did the same.

I pretended I knew what they were talking about, but basketball is not my sport.

Anyway, it took more than two plays; it took 10 plays, and all of halftime, but I did make it back onto the field, and played the whole second half. Adrenalin is like this.

On the last play of the game, which sealed our victory, I intercepted a pass over the middle, and very foolishly tried to run it back.

Well, there was one woman between me and six (unnecessary) points, and when I made my cut: boom. That same damn knee wasn’t there for me. Strangely, it didn’t hurt; it just wasn’t exactly there.

So I went about my business as usual, give or take ice and Ibuprofen, and a hot bath asizzle with Epsom salts.

I drove to Berkeley, played with the Chunks de la Cooter, helped Crawdad hang some lights over their patio, smoked a slab of ribs, made a homemade barbecue sauce for them, coleslaw like I like it, and played with the kids some more.

Hedgehog, Sal the Pork Chop, and the Jungle Boy were on their way. What was special about this night: Hedgehog’s cowrote episode of Treme was coming on, and the de la Cooters have HBO.

Now, I’m not a TV reviewer. I’m a sportswriter reviewer, and I think someone owes us a retraction. Or . . .

CHEAP SPORTS

by Hedgehog

So the Giants done got their shit together in the 25th hour of the NLCS and pulled a trip to the World Series out of their collective ass. Anything to make me look bad, huh?

I admit it was fun to watch them win those last three games — over pork tacos and natchez at Southpaw (with Long Tall Philip), in the Lost Weekend basement cave (on my way to barbecued ribs with Chicken Farmer and the Family de la Cooter), and again at Southpaw, over smoked goat and fry bread (with the Chicken Farmer herself.)

Despite South Paw winning my NLCS comeback mini-series 2-1, I’m going to declare my post-season MVP to be Lost Weekend’s basement cave by a landslide. Here’s why: movie theater seating for about 30 and the baseball projected on the wall with the sound — all for the price of a suggested donation. There’s no waitperson in your face trying to guilt you into drinking more empty calories or giving you the stink-eye.

In the cave, you just sit and cheer. And clap and high five. And listen to baseball nerds wax rhapsodic about who’s breaking ball is on and which sportscaster needs to retire already. It’s a done deal — they are sweeping my World Series viewing this year.

And since by the time you read this it will be too late for you to join me, fear not: I will donate early and often, so that the tradition will be in place next year, in time for us to watch the A’s go all the way together.

Cheap Eats continued

You should of seen her episode! I was never more proud of my sportswriter truly, until last night when she played soccer for the first time since sixth grade. And all I could do was watch. Medically, the news had been good, considering: nothing torn, two weeks.

New favorite restaurant? Trust the name, go for the pho, and avoid lunch specials:

GOOD NOODLE RESTAURANT

Open daily: 10 am-10 pm

239 Clement, SF

(415) 379-9008

MC, V

Beer and wine

 

Avast ye

3

CHEAP EATS Crawdad called me on speakerphone, like she does: in the car, with the childerns. “Will you tell us the story of Moby Dick?” she said.

“Moby Dick,” I said, about as meaningfully as one can say, into an Android, Moby Dick. As it happens, I had just hung up with my dad, who (as it further happens) is an actual, dyed-in-the-whale Melville scholar. Me, no. Not so much. I’ve read it, of course, but . . .

“Dang, is traffic that bad over there?” I asked.

“No. We’re going to get ice cream,” she said. As if that explained everything.

“OK,” I said. “Ice cream.”

I said, “Kids . . . listen up: Moby Dick.”

And while clearing the dishes I proceeded to abridge one of the substantialest-ever works of American literature into four sentences:

“This guy Ahab goes out in a boat to get some whales, and in particular this big old one name a Moby Dick. But Moby Dick is so big and so old that he outsmarts Ahab. Anyway, he outsizes him. He busts up Ahab’s boat and most if not all of his crew, The End.”

I forgot to mention Queemquack, or whatever his name was, but — no worries — I’m de la Cootersitting tomorrow, so I’ll have all day to bring them up to speed.

Poor kids. Even without any knowledge of Queemquack, they were speechless.

“Why did people fish for whales?” Crawdad asked.

“I think maybe they made lamp oil out of their fat, or something,” I said, rendering the kids even speechlesser.

“You have to understand, Chunks,” I added, “this was before the age of light bulbs. People couldn’t just flip a switch and see things; they had to go out and kill giant whales and split their heads open. There was this oil in there that they needed for their lamps, so they could stay up late and read Moby Dick.”

Without which — a century and a half later — my father would never have been able to feed his family. Which reminds me: I would love to tell you about the not-great hashbrowns and sold out “Millionaire’s bacon” at my new favorite restaurant in the Tenderloin, but after all I’m on strike, so …

CHEAP SPORTS

by Hedgehog

It’s been hard to rally any interest in the Giants lately in the Chicken Farmer and Hedgehog household, I’ll admit. It’s not that we wouldn’t be thrilled to hug and high five strangers on the street should they go All The Way, but it seems we left our baseball hearts in Oakland this season — somewhere under the cheap seats in the Coliseum.

It’s been looking like the Giants lost theirs somewhere other than San Francisco, too. Maybe in St. Louis? We went out tonight in search of a TV screen with 49ers on it, and at Hogs and Rocks on 19th they had two screens: one for the 49ers and one for the Giants.

By way of play-by-play, I eavesdropped on a conversation between a father and his small son, sitting across from us.

“The Giants have given up,” declared Father.

“What do you mean?” asked Son in an innocent little voice.

“They’re playing like a team that’s lost its heart,” Father said.

“There’s still time to win I know,” said Son (bottom of the seventh, Giants trailing 8-1). “I have never gaven up in baseball. Ever. I can steal home, it’s so easy. It’s how I make runs!”

I think maybe this kid has figured something out that grown-assed men who get paid way too much to play games haven’t. At least on this side of the bay.

Cheap Eats continued…

Yes, my dear, I just hope your cute little eavesdropee doesn’t grow up to be a whaler. Because in life as in Moby Dick, sometimes it is better to give up than to fight. Call me chicken.

No …

Call me Chicken Farmer.

TAYLOR STREET COFFEE HOUSE

Daily: 7am-2pm

375 Taylor St., SF

(415) 567-4031

MC,V

No alcohol

 

Bat-hurt

10

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CHEAP EATS After the game we went to the Pilsner Inn to drink with the other team and watch the 49ers. Who, btw, ended up winning that Sunday by twice as much as we did.

Our relatively new li’l football team, like the big ol’ San Francisco one, is developing an identity as a defensive powerhouse. I like this. It was the talk of the opposition, down the bar: how we had befuddled the bejesus out of them, to the tune of four interceptions, two returned by Stringbean for touchdowns, and a fumble recovery.

Their quarterback, who sat next to me at the bar with a gigantic oozing turfburn on her leg, revisited these frustrations smilingly, and with compliments all-around. I doubt the Bills were so gracious, bellying up to the bar with the Niners later that afternoon, but I imagine they oozed too. Football is a tough sport, even when you play it with flags.

But baseball hurts more.

How I know is the next day I was at the Mission Playground with Hedgehog playing one-on-one baseball on the basketball court, and she lined one off my arm, then another one into my stomach, and then a third off the top of my knee.

Now that she’s been cleared to swing a bat, she just won’t leave me alone. She’s making up for lost time, baseballwise. But gets bored easily with soft toss, which is a shame, because really that’s the safest way to perfect your swing in an outdoor basketball court.

So now I am blacker and bluer than ever. And I am soaking in the tub with a package of frozen edamame on my knee, listening to postseason baseball and reading Great Expectations. Re-reading. Technically, if you must know: re-re-re-re-reading.

CHEAP SPORTS

by Hedgehog

I missed Chicken Farmer’s FMOIBWFIOBPFFL (female, male, or otherwise-identified bio-women and female-identified other-bodied persons flag football league) game on Sunday because I had a pre-production meeting with Pork Chop Sal, my right hand gal (Chicken Farmer gets the left because she broke it. And because I’m left-handed so, you know…) We’re in pre-production on the next short movie.

Yes: already.

And no, you’re not working on it.

Why not? You really should be. Chicken Farmer caters, I boss people around … It’s just like any other day in the Chicken Farmer/Hedgehog household except there’s a camera rolling and Earl Butter sits on our couch more, often with the Maze, cracking wise.

Anyways, Sugoi Sushi popped up at Hill and Valencia back in July-uary, around about the same time we popped back into town. Like us, they decided to stay. Which is good because it took us a while to get there. It took us until Monday, when the sushi mood struck. And then again on Wednesday, because Bikkets and her mister were in town and the sushi mood struck them, too.

I’m no food writer but both times the sushi was fresh, the ramen was firm, the waitstaff was friendly, and they brought little treats to the table. For free! Can’t get cheaper than free. The things with prices attached aren’t overly pricey, either. It’s Chicken Farmer’s new favorite restaurant. But be warned: spicy doesn’t mean the same thing to Sugoi as it does to the rest of the world. So don’t expect much heat out of the spicy sausage.

It’s more like smoky, teeny kielbasa.

Cheap Eats continued

But delicious nonetheless. It reminded me a little of longanisa, those little Filipino sausages I so love.

It was the treats I took issue with. A mayonnaise-having dynamite roll one night, and mushrooms the other. And if there are two things that start with m that I don’t like, those are them.

But Hedgehog is right: You can’t argue with free.

As for her over-acronymization of the SFWFFL, I can argue … but won’t.

SUGOI SUSHI

Mon-Thu 5:30-10:30pm; Fri-Sat 5:30-11pm; Sun 5-9:30pm

1058 Valencia, SF

(415) 401-8442

AE,D,MC,V

Beer & wine

 

Serendipity, with saba

1

le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS The number of severed duck heads in my compost bucket currently stands at eight, but I am open to more. Did anyone else accidentally go to Louisiana and shoot some ducks, bring them back, put them in the fridge, and then not have time to deal with them?

If so, I’m here for you. If you want, I’ll even share the resultant gumbo. Just ask the de la Cooters.

A lot of people don’t like to eat ducks. Especially wild ‘uns, which, in comparison to their domesticational counterparts, tend toward tough and gamey. That’s why you have to gumbo them.

Gumbo, by virtue of being gumbo, is good. Even health-food gumbo, like mine. I used okra and file instead of a roux, Hedgehog being essentially gluten free. I even used chicken-instead-of-pork andouille. From Trader Joe’s! And it was super spicy and delicious, so kudos to them.

Meanwhile, as much as I hate to dis the little guy: boo-hiss to RoliRoti for selling me an inedible half of a chicken yesterday at the Mission Market. What the? Everyone raves about this place, but I’ve had better chickens for half the price at the Safeway Deli. This poor li’l big bird was so dry, even the dark meat, we had to take it home and shred it into our now-giant gumbo.

 

CHEAP SPORTS

by Hedgehog

Months ago we bought $2 tickets for the A’s final regular season game, guessing it would be an important one. It turned out to be the importantest: not only was it a three-game sweep of the Rangers and a dramatic come-from-behinder, it also left the A’s in sole possession of first place in the AL West for the first and only time all season. Fortunately, it was the only day that first-place matters.

My orthopedist had declared my wrist re-unbroken mere days before that game, which was excellent timing on her part because I can’t even count how many high fives I gave to strangers on our way out of the Coliseum. And this may surprise you but some of the fans had impaired aim, so that the high fives were more like flunges and parries, but with wrists instead of foils. So a big Cheap Sports shout-out to my left radius, for getting its shit together in time for the big game.

Which doesn’t remind me: We made a five-minute movie last weekend. It was a lot of fun! So much so that another one or more will be in the can by the time you read this. We have a club! For making movies! A movie-making club! We are flush with writers and directors but if anyone wants to act, direct the photography, light, picture edit, or fund our endeavors, hit up the Farmer’s email addy above.

To see why we need you, “Finding Dee Dee” is now showing on a YouTube or Vimeo near you.

CHEAP EATS continued

Yeah, well, if Academy Awards were given for catering, I reckon I’d be working on my acceptance speech now. Instead of this.

But I do have a new favorite restaurant. It’s Tokyo Teriyaki, in Daly City, and we wound up there by accident with my Secret Agent Lady, who picked us up from the airport after last week’s column.

At rush hour! So 101 was bad, so we took 280, which was bad, but we were hungry anyway so we aimed ourselves toward Tani’s Kitchen. Which had a line with a 40-minute wait, it’s so cute in there. So we aimed ourselves toward Tokyo Teriyaki.

Which doesn’t sound as good as Tani’s Kitchen, and was only luke-warmly recommended by one of our fellow line-standers, but two-thirds of us were starving on East Coast time, so away we whisked.

Wow. If they’re waiting 40 minutes to eat at Tani’s, and the half-empty joint around the corner is this good … Wow. Daly City is my new favorite city.

Oshitashi made with napa cabbage instead of spinach: fantastic.

Seafood sunomono, which is a cucumber salad with raw shrimp, crab, and octopus: fantastic.

Tokyo Teriyaki is not expensive, precious, or popular; just friendly, great Japanese food, including sushi.

Best. Saba. Ever. I had to order it again, it was so dang good.

TOKYO TERIYAKI

Mon-Sat 11am-2pm; Mon-Thu 4:30-9:30pm; Fri 4:30-10pm; Sat 4-10pm; Sun 4-9pm

25 Southgate Ave., Daly City

(650) 755-3478

AE,D,MC,V

Beer and wine

 

Roll with it

0

le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS They said it would smell like a hamster cage. And it did, but we persevered. Our instructions were to go all the way to the back of the restaurant — past the cash register and past the kitchen, where there was another, much pleasanter room that did not smell like a hamster cage. And it didn’t.

It was a whole, secret, new favorite restaurant back there. With couches, plants, and wooden chairs with heart cutouts in the back. The floor was concreted river stones; small, pretty, shiny ones that I thoroughly enjoyed both walking on and looking at.

Hedgehog said it felt like a former Home and Garden Center, which was probably a pretty good guess. We sat at the table closest to the bookshelves, and she picked something out to read while we waited for our vermicelli.

My Milk Toof, by someone with a good sense of humor and a lot of time on her hands. She poses and photographs two kinda cute “baby teeth” named Ickle and Lardee into a comic strip. Now, I’m not a book reviewer, but Hedgehog was still reading their little tiny adventures, often out loud, even after our vermicelli bowls were served. So . . .

 

CHEAP SPORTS

 

By Hedgehog

Since I was going to be watching Chicken Farmer third-string quarterbacking Sunday morning and be at Candlestick for the 49ers home opener Sunday afternoon, I really wanted to write about baseball.

Unfortunately, none of the baseball players I tweeted questions to got back to me. Which is a shame, because I really did want to know Brandon McCarthy’s favorite restaurant and Omar Vizquel’s views on same-sex marriage.

Even though I wasn’t going to say anything about football, I will say this: Chicken Farmer’s team was short a player and had no subs the entire game and they still won by one point! Of course, I didn’t know what the score was until we were walking back to the car, but even when I thought they had lost, I could tell it was a real good game.

Also: there are more assholes per square foot attending professional football games than there are at professional baseball games. Even at the $2 A’s games. But watching football live is enjoyable (excepting for all the other people doing it, too) and it was only partially humiliating to walk around the parking lot for three hours beforehand, stumping for donations for the Children’s Book Project with a Dr. Seuss hat on.

Moving on to more important matters: I am pleased to report that the Mission Playground reopened last weekend, all but the pool (which they say will be ready in December — perfect timing, since it’s an outdoor jobbie). I am not pleased to report that the food trucks promised to be in attendance in the adverts were gone by 2pm, when Earl Butter and I finally made our collective way over there. In addition to the kiddie areas, there is an artificial turf soccer field, two tennis courts, and a basketball court. So now you know where to find us.

There, or the Mission Rec Center, which has free racquetball and ping pong, and where there is a women’s boxing class I wish I could take being taught by an Olympic lady boxer. Boxerette? Boxer ladyperson.

Cheap Eats, cont.

Pugilista, I believe, is the word she was looking for.

Our vermicelli bowls, lemongrass chicken for her and grilled pork for me, were top-notch ‘uns, with plenty of crisp lettuce, carrots, red onion, basil, cilantro, and peanuts drenched in a red-peppery fish sauce dressing. Oh, and one sliver of not-hot jalapeno.

Oh, and the meat was delicious. Juicy and just perfect.

Mysteriously, we had also ordered an order of spring rolls. Maybe because we were too hungry when we first came in. But the thing is, the spring rolls are essentially the contents of the vermicelli bowls, only wrapped in rice paper. Equally excellent, but redundant.

They also have banh mi and noodle soups. Awesome food, nice people, and a really cool place, once you get past the hamster cage.

KIM’S CAFE AND SANDWICHES

Mon. 9am-7pm; Tue.-Wed. 10am-7pm; Thu.-Sat. 9am-8pm; Sun. 9am-6pm

1309 Solano, Albany

(510) 525-7899

MC,V

No alcohol

 

Oh, the cutlery

0

le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS This bums me out: hearing straight-phobic comments from queers. It’s a San Francisco thing. I’ll leave it to better minds than mine to figure out why. But in New Orleans, among our queer community, I never heard anything like it. And in New York City, among Hedgehog’s … nope.

Nothing.

But here, home, in San Francisco, it happens repeatedly. And as much as it used to bother me, as a closeted queer, to hear straight friends (assuming my sameness), make trans- and homophobic statements and jokes, it hurts now to hear the reverse.

Plus which, it’s stupid. So stop it. Just: stop.

Seriously, if we’ve become so proud of being queer that we devalue and disrespect “other,” then it’s time to reread Dr. Seuss.

The one with the Star-Bellied Sneetches, I’m thinking. But really they’re all very good, even “Hop on Pop.” Theodore Dreiser may have been a straight white male, but — like a lot of straight white men, including my dad, and possibly yours — he fucking rocked.

See, so it’s never as simple as Us vs. Them. You, dear heterophobe, have allies — important, awesome, straight allies, like

continued after sports section

CHEAP SPORTS

by Hedgehog

Last week was very football-oriented in our little neck of the Mission, what with the NFL and the San Francisco Women’s Flag Football League both kicking off their seasons and all.

Sunday morning, Kayday and I sat on the sidelines and watched Chicken Farmer and the rest of the team play their season-opener, but between the lack of instant replay and the lack of microphones on the refs, we rarely understood what the hell was going on. According to Chicken Farmer, her team lost. We’ll take her word for that.

And I’d tell you all about the 49ers game Sunday afternoon but that would be pointless since, obviously, you all witnessed it with your very own ocular orbs, right?

So what does that leave me with by way of football-orientated conversation? Gay marriage, of course. The nutshell, for those of you who are communists or live in a sports-free cave, is that Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo supports same-sex marriage. Openly. A certain Maryland State Delegate name of Burns took exception to Ayanbadejo voicing opinions about politics and wrote a letter to the Raven’s owner requesting that he put a muzzle on Ayanbadejo.

Enter Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who is some kind of Good Will Hunting-type genius (except with words instead of numbers). He has a gay brother-in-law, and apparently is really stoked to see an honest man made of him some day because he wrote a doozy of a letter to this Burns fellow. Look it up. It’s the kind of letter that makes State Delegates blush and concede that maybe linebackers have First Amendment rights, too.

So there you have it, sports fans: 24 hours into the NFL regular season and I have not one but two new favorite football players.

continued from before sports section

….Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo.

But speaking of Dr. Seuss, Hedgehog and me get to don Cat-in-the-Hat hats and solicit donations for the Children’s Book Project at Candlestick before the home-opener Sunday. Meaning: Not only do we get to see the game, we get to annoy tailgaters beforehand.

Now, if only I can get Hedgehog a press pass (plus one), for the rest of the — Wait a minute. Isn’t there a connection now between the Guardian and the Examiner?

My new favorite restaurant is Spoon, that awesome Korean joint at the corner of Ashby and something-or-other in Berkeley, where we ate, coincidentally, with Spoonbender, my new favorite unprofessional football player.

I had this fantastic kimchi fried rice, with beef (or bacon), and topped with a sunny-side-up egg. Spoonbender had Jhap Chae, which she loved, and Hedgehog had (and loved) Kimbop and chicken wings.

Then we went to the park and played catch.

SPOON

Daily 8am-8pm

933 Ashby, Berk.

(510) 704-9555

AE,D,MC,V

No alcohol