Appetite: Beer-battered rings, French on the fly, and a chef bacchanal

Pub date May 28, 2009
SectionFood & Drink

Every week, Virginia Miller of personalized itinerary service and monthly food, drink, and travel newsletter,, shares foodie news, events, and deals. View the last installment here.

Oh yes, there shall be chef: SF Chef. Food. Wine. period.



August 6-9: SF Chefs.Food.Wine (calling food, wine and spirits lovers)
Start saving pennies, mark your calendar and buy your tickets now for an unparalleled event coming up in August I’m quite excited about, the first of its kind in our fair city. SF Chefs.Food.Wine is going to be a Pebble Beach/Aspen Food and Wine Classic- reminiscent event but right in an urban city center at a fraction of the price (though you’ll still shell out $150 for a one-day pass). Union Square will be turned into a sea of tents housing not only Bay Area food, wine, beer, and spirits vendors offering day-long tastings (beer garden, cocktail samplings, wine tasting, food), but each day offers over 20 sessions/panels/classes appealing to food, wine and spirits cognoscenti and uninitiated appreciators alike.

An example of just a few sessions over three days:
FOOD – "Haute vs. Bistro" cooking demo from Hubert Keller (Fleur de Lys) and Roland Passot (La Folie); "Heirloom Tomatoes" with Gary Danko and Joanne Weir; interviews with cooking luminaries and authors like Martin Yan, Joyce Goldstein, Georgeanne Brennan; a cooking competition between Jamie Lauren (Top Chef/Absinthe) and Chris Cosentino (Incanto/Iron Chef America).
SPIRITS/COCKTAILS – "Green Cocktails" with Scott Beattie (author of Artisanal Cocktails), H. Joseph Ehrmann (Elixir) and Thad Vogler (Bar Agricole); "Agave Academy" with Rebecca Chapa (Tannin Management) and Julio Bermejo (Tommy’s).
WINE – "Raid the Cellar" with Rajat Parr (Michael Mina restaurants) and Larry Stone MS (Rubicon Estate); "Sparkling Personality" with sparkling wine masters from Schramsberg Vineyards, Domaine Carneros and Roederer Estate.

These are just a few examples… there are sessions on chocolate, sushi, oysters, cheese, eggs, making the perfect coffee, beer brewing, trends in wine and spirits, marketing, design and service, food reviewing and everything of interest to those who love food and drink.

Evenings are equally enticing: the Opening Reception highlights Rising Star Chefs and Bar Stars from the SF Chronicle’s last five years of winners, as well as an advance screening of Julie and Julia, the highly anticipated Meryl Streep film. Galas run nightly, like a Pacific Rim feast from Charles Phan, Martin Yan and Arnold Eric Wong; an LBGT culinary gala at Orson with Elizabeth Falkner, Emily Wines, Harry Denton; American Culinary Pioneers Awards given to Joyce Goldstein, Judy Rodgers, Patricia Unterman, Emily Luchetti, Patrick O’Connell; a dinner honoring Master Sommelier, Larry Stone; a bluesy rock party from chefs with musical ties.

Convinced yet? The hard part now is choosing which events, days and sessions to splurge on. This surely creates a problem when your choices are this good and plentiful. Go online and take a look at the line-up and whether you’re a cocktail hound, wine imbiber, beer brewer or food fanatic, you’ll want to be a part of this momentous event.

$40-250 (discounts for Visa Signature card holders)
August 6-9




Spencer on the Go!
Maybe the food cart mania is getting to you, or, like the rest of us, you’re ever thrilled to find gourmet food on-the-cheap popping up around town. Well, here’s one we haven’t seen before. Laurent Katgely, Chez Spencer’s talented chef, launched Spencer on the Go! last Thursday night outside of Terroir wine bar, offering fine French fare from a shiny, converted taco truck with Spencer’s chic logo on the side. It was a long wait for food debut night, and Frog Legs and Curry were sadly sold out by the time I got there, but I hear waits have already improved, the crowd was friendly and festive, and I dig the Grilled Sweetbreads and amazingly addictive Escargot Puffs (escargot, breaded and on a stick)! With a menu all under $9, pair French snacks with Perrier and cookies or take it across the street to Terroir and order a glass of wine. Watch for the truck to soon be at Tuesday and (upcoming food cart-centric) Thursday farmers markets at the Ferry Building. It’s the bon vivant’s ideal "fast food".



Urban Burger
It’s time for a new burger joint on Valencia near 16th, Urban Burger opened last week in the tiny, former Yum Yum House space, now brightly painted sporting white leather stools, orange walls, and playful signs with phrases like "Nice Buns". Besides build-your-own burger options, there’s a list of ten hefty special burgers like a Breakfast Burger loaded with cheese, bacon, fried egg and fries (yep, all together), Mission Heat, with chilies, pepper jack and chipotle, or a Cubano with grilled ham and swiss. Opening day, I enjoyed the Buffalo version with blue cheese and hot sauce. Want it a bit lighter? Choose turkey, gardenburger, or Portabella mushroom instead of beef. But if you’re downing a hearty burger, why not pair it with a Mitchell’s milkshake and beer-battered onion rings?
581 Valencia Street