L.E. Leone

Fresh ranch





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” . . .



“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





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.


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

1253 Vine, Ste 12, LA

(323) 469 9522

No alcohol

Cash only




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…



Sattdown strike



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.


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

11320 Ventura Boulevard, Studio City

(818) 766-3696


No alcohol



Popping up



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


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.


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.


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.


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

499 Castro St., SF

(415) 252-9500


No alcohol


Lots going on



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.


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.



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.




Don’t take the knee



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 . . .


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:


Open daily: 10 am-10 pm

239 Clement, SF

(415) 379-9008


Beer and wine


Avast ye


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 …


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.


Daily: 7am-2pm

375 Taylor St., SF

(415) 567-4031


No alcohol





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.


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.


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

1058 Valencia, SF

(415) 401-8442


Beer & wine


Serendipity, with saba



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.



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.


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


Beer and wine


All in the call



CHEAP EATS I won’t sleep in a dead man’s bed, but I will use his razor to shave my sweater.

“She walks like a little farmer,” Hedgehog’s gram told Hedgehog while I was not in the room.

Gram, recently widowed, is in a nursing home in Bloomsburg, PA. We visited every day at least once a day while we were there. We brought her fudge from the fair. We brought her caramel corn, corn, “penny candy,” and a pork sandwich. I did her nails.

Then we went back out to the fair and got her another pork sandwich. Above and beyond the call of grandfilial duty-in-law, I know, but if you saw what they were feeding her for lunch! . . . A sorry looking disk of “Swiss steak,” plop of instant mashed potatoes, and chopped beets that reeked of can.

I’m not bragging. Anyone with half a heart in their chest would have sprinted at the sight of such unsavoriness out into the world for something real. Well, Hedgehog and I have at least two full hearts in our combined chests. Ergo: two pork sandwiches for Gram.

Of course, they don’t call them pork sandwiches in Central Pennsylvania. They are “barbecue.” You can indeed get real barbecue at the Bloomsburg Fair, but those vendors come up from Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and other delicious Points South, trailing their pitched-black smokers. The locals tend to shun these in favor of May’s steam-table-cue: either pulled pork, chipped ham, or shredded chicken on an enriched white bun with sweet relish. And the pork one is awesome, by the way, in spite of its apparent lack of relationship to smoke, or even fire.

But being that as it May’s, the Bloomsburg Fair is my new favorite thing. For the food alone. In a small town where what’s-for-dinner is not always necessarily exciting, I got to get down and greasy with my new favorite hot sausage sandwich, Pennsylvania Dutch chicken-and-waffles, venison jerky, not-bad jambalaya, bad Mongolian barbecue, great American barbecue, smoked turkey legs, wedding soup, potato pancakes, pierogies, hot-off-the-press apple cider, cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, and, of course, funnel cakes.

For four days, the closest we came to anything healthy was fire-roasted sweet corn dipped in butter. The only other way to get vegetables was deep fried. Speaking of which, there was a deep fried Oreo in there somewhere, although I promise I only had one bite — oh, and a deep-fried Snickers bar wrapped in bacon.

That comes with its own whole other story, but I’m not going to tell it because it’s time for:

CHEAP SPORTS (Bloomsburg Fair Edition)

by Hedgehog

On the topic of the replacement refs’ absurd botching of that “Fail Mary” last Monday Night Football: What about the bad pass interference call that set up Green Bay’s TD on the drive previous? The Packers may have been robbed, but it was robbing Peter to pay Paul, way I seen it. Reap what you sow, Green Bay. Not to mention get what you pay for, NFL.

Speaking of questionable calls: the fiddle contest Tuesday night at the fair. The last fiddler was going to obviously take first place because she was an adorable sixth grader who played “Danny Boy” like she had a lilt and washed with Irish Spring. Which would drop the amiable fella with two originals and a twangy rendition of Gershwin’s “Summertime” down to Silver. We all agreed: she would win, but he would deserve to.

Sure enough, the cutie took first, but second went to some young buck we didn’t even figure to place. Highway robbery! It was the talk of the entire midway for about a minute. Then, once the formality of the extra point (or in this case, all-star jam of “Orange Blossom Special”) was dispensed with, we all browsed the master pumpkin carver’s work in the farm museum, and it started to seem like a bad dream.

Welcome back, “real” refs!

Cheap Eats continued

Other things we ate included chicken and dumplings (which they call chicken pot pie), and peach pie (which they call peach dumplings). Well, what do you expect from the land where green bell peppers are mangoes, and mangoes are — what, where did you get that?

The reasons I walk like a little farmer, Gram, are twofold. One, I am bow-legged. I don’t know why. I only rode a horse once in my life. And, two, I am a little farmer.


Roll with it



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 . . .




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.


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

1309 Solano, Albany

(510) 525-7899


No alcohol


Oh, the cutlery



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.


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


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.


Daily 8am-8pm

933 Ashby, Berk.

(510) 704-9555


No alcohol


Nailed it



CHEAP EATS Hedgehog got me this Groupon for a fancy pantsy mani-pedi at a place in San Mateo puts flower petals and orange slices in your feet water! It’s hard for me to hold a grudge, however, because at the time-of-purchase we were living in New Orleans. For all she knew, San Mateo was a suburb of San Fran, like the Sunset or the Richmond.

Nope. You have to drive.

So I was driving back, all relaxed and pretty and shit, and there was Candlestick … and it was very nearly (at the time) football season … and the only thing I don’t like about getting my nails done is the way you smell for the rest of that day. I mean, I am, at heart, a chicken farmer. Lookswise, I can handle being beautiful, but it’s my nature to smell like hay. Not mimosas.

It takes about 30 minutes to drive from San Mateo to the Mission.

Around about Candlestick, I’m saying, enough became enough. Deciding finally to change the smell of my fingernails, I swerved off the freeway in search of barbecue. In search, specifically, of Franks, where I had eaten once recently on account of another goddamn groupon, this one courtesy of Earl Butter. Who, to his credit, did apologize for eating all the brisket off our three-way-combo before Hedgehog and me ever even knew what hit us.

Turns out the brisket is Frank’s best meat! It’s tender, smoky, and doused in a really good, hot (if you ask for it) basic barbecue sauce, I now know. I got it to go, and they gave me a fork.

But I used my fingers….


by Hedgehog

Sunday’s baseball was Mission vs. Mission at Balboa. In my copious notes I dubbed the home team the Good Guys and the away team the Better Guys. Chicken Farmer and our friend Long Tall Phil were playing for the Better Guys, hence that side’s upgrade.

Unfortunately, I don’t know many of the other players’ names and resorted to nicknaming them mostly based on what they were wearing, who they reminded me of, and the few scattered facts I remembered about them from previous games. For example, there was Big Blue, Hairdo, Walnut Creek, Old Timey, Lost Horizons, and In’N’Out. After a while, my play-by-play reads more like I’m calling a horse race.

Anyway, I don’t know how many folks are interested in rec league games, but I think more are probably into Fantasy Baseball. Then again, I don’t know which side of the fence the readership of Cheap Eats falls into demographically so I’ll cover both bases with one bird and say that in my opinion, Fantasy Baseball should allow for at least one Rec League player per team. My reasoning is as follows:

1) Rec Leaguers steal a ton of bases. I am in a Stolen Bases race in my Fantasy League right now and if I had In’N’Out or Gray Shirt Tony, or even Chicken Farmer herself, I wouldn’t need to put all this imaginary pressure on Michael Bourn to do what I’m pretend-paying him for.

2) Rec Leaguers are almost all multi-positional and thus, very useful when setting your lineup. I mean someone who plays left field, short, third, second, catcher and pitcher? And steals three bases in one game?! I mean come on…

3) Major league starting pitchers don’t hold a candle to Rec League pitchers. Unless you count speed, accuracy, or variety of pitches. But the Good Guys starter pitched a complete game! And the Better Guys pitcher went seven innings. Colorado Rockies: take note.

Better Guys, 4. Good Guys, 7.

After the game we went to my new favorite barbecue, which isn’t Franks, but only because you can’t walk to it from our house. You can walk to Southpaw. What my beloved and bristly sportswriter couldn’t have known from the press box was that the whole game in the dugout we were talking about barbecue.

The box score for the Mission’s new smoke house reads: weak, weak ‘cue. At least the ribs and brisket. Go for the sides, which are awesome. Pulled pork with beans and (get this) bechemel over warm potato chips, brussels sprouts with bacon, and my favorite: smoked goat served with fry bread. For that, I will be back.


Mon, Wed-Fri 5-11:30pm; Sat 3-11:30pm; Sun 11:30am-11:30pm

2170 Mission, SF

(415) 934-9300


Full bar

Koi hooey



CHEAP EATS Coach’s dad said it was the best Chinese restaurant in the world. The world being a pretty big place, and one which includes all of China, we went. Him, her, me, Hedgehog, Indiana Jake, and a Random Texan.

Daly City. Koi Palace. Pffft.

I’d retract that last little almost involuntary and entirely uncomplex sentence in deference to Mr. Coach, him being a respected figure among us, but come to find (over appetizers) that he didn’t say it was the best Chinese restaurant in the world; some guy did.

Some guy in an interview on NPR, turns out. He had eaten at 5,000 Chinese Restaurants (which is a lot, by even my standards) and Koi Palace in Daly City was his favorite.

OK. If that guy wants to take me there and order what he ordered, I’ll go back. But I happen to consider myself the High Halushki of Hyperbole, and I’m here to tell you that, no matter what Coach’s dad told Coach he heard some guy tell some interviewer, Koi Palace isn’t even the best Chinese restaurant in Daly Goddamn City, let alone the Bay Area, let alone the big fat world.

Why, it’s not even cheap! The kind of portions and quality you pay $8-10 for at the best Chinese restaurants in my world, you can expect to pay $16-18 for at Koi Palace.

And that, in a nutcase, is why I don’t listen to the radio.

Come to think of it, though, the pork and oysters clay pot…

(continued later this page, after sports section)


by Hedgehog

Next week I’ll have an actual pickup baseball game to write up. This week, though, I attended my first ever flag football practice. While it’s true that I already broke my arm at a flag football game, I had never actually practiced before. Which evens out since the practice I attended this week was for a team I don’t play on. I don’t play flag football anymore. Or ever. Since I broke my arm just thinking about playing once. Did I mention my arm is broke? Well it is.

Turns out, once you have a broken arm, there isn’t much you can do at a flag football practice. In the beginning, I tried kicking a soccer ball around, and the team initially joined me but finally got wise to my distractions and pulled out the pigskin.

So then I snapped the ball to Stringbean while the rest of the team ran passing routes. And then the Chicken Farmer and I played defense while the offense ran plays. Every play, one of us would blitz Stringbean and the other would drop into pass coverage. But whichever job I had, I kept putting my broken hand up to block the ball, so I decided it was safer to pull that arm into my shirt and run one-armed.

But when I blitzed Stringbean like that she just stopped and laughed and said I was the most “unintimidating” thing she’d ever seen.

She’ll rue the day.

(continued from before the sports section)

…was pretty good. And the seafood noodles, I thought, were great. But the country vegetables and the eggplant dishes were boring, the pork cheeks were at least as weak, and the spicy chicken wasn’t spicy. At all.

But mostly how I can tell when I really don’t like a restaurant is I wake up in the middle of the night that night, not feeling sick so much as cheated. Or maybe disturbed would be a better way to put it.

I have nightmares.

My mouth gets awful.

I mean no disrespect to Coach’s dad, who I kind of idolize because his whole family pretty much breathes football — with the possible exception of Coach herself, who is in it for the babes — but I’ve been so thrown by Koi Palace that I might need to go find some dollar-fifty steam-table fried rice for lunch. By way of a reset.


Lunch: Mon-Fri 11am-2:30pm; Sat 10am-3pm; Sun 9am-3pm; Dinner: Sun-Thu 5-9:30pm; Fri-Sat 5-10pm

365 Gellert Blvd., Daly City

(650) 992-9000


Full bar


Finger waves



CHEAP EATS Oh, I have so many sporty things to tell you about! To my surprise I am playing baseball again, football season starts (for girls) on the same day it starts for the 49ers: next weekend! Meanwhile, the Giants and A’s are both very much “in it,” entering September. Steroid busts . . .

Next week I am going to hire a dedicated sports writer for Cheap Eats. Mine will be the very first cheap eats newspaper column with a sports section in it.

This makes sense, trust me, food and sports being intrinsically intertwined. As any old dog will tell you, chasing a ball makes you hungry. And as any old Hedgehog will tell you, watching people chase a ball makes you hungry too.

For hot dogs! For chicken wings! Pizza . . . What does intrinsically mean?

Well, whatever, this week is this special food issue thing, so I thought I would clue you into this great new brick oven pizza place where I ate with my pal Earl Butter one day while Hedgehog was out in the world. She’s been brought in to try and rescue a horrible horror movie, you see.

Popcorn . . .

Yes, in honor of the occasion, I will devote the rest of this column very very exclusively to this new, cool, quiet pizza place. Except, as I am also (as of this moment) going on my own private writer’s strike, you’re going to have to do most of the work.

Here’s how:

Stand in front of a mirror, please, and make a fist with your right hand, except for the pinky. Now, go on ahead and poke that there teacup-tipping pinky of yours into the palm of your other hand.

Got it? Did you do that? Do you feel kind of goofy? Do you know where I’m going with this?

Sorry: where you’re going.

I’m on strike.

You, my friend, are going to punch yourself in the throat, sort of. Not hard. Just touch that same teacup-pinkied fist to your neck, sidewise, so that your thumb and index finger encircle your Adam’s apple even as the side of your little finger touches your soul patch.

Nicely done, you hipster you!

Next we are going to . . . Next you are going to lose the fist and bring the palm of your hand to your heart, you pledge allegiance to the flag, and so forth. Don’t be afraid to love your country. This is important. We don’t have the best healthcare situation in the world, but we do have Bruce Willis.

So bend your left arm at the elbow and hold it to your stomach, palm up, if you will, as if cradling a baby. Or a watermelon or something. Now scoop your right hand, palm up, over your left hand and on up toward the opposite collarbone.

Do you ever wonder what is wrong with you? Well, start! I don’t recommend all-out hypochondria; just a healthy sense of wonder. Why, for example, are you a scab?

Don’t give me the finger! Give me the opposite of the finger. That is, bend your middle finger down and — all those other ones, even the thumb — give me those. Give me everything but the finger. OK?

Now tap that middle knuckle against your chin. That’s all I’m asking. Is that so much to ask?

And there is yet one more thing you can do for me, Ms. Picket Line Crosser. Cross your fingers for luck. Lord knows we can use it. There are elections coming up later this fall, as well as football seasons.

There are everyday dangers to be avoided, like crossing the street and riding your bike to work.

I’m saying, cross your fingers on your right hand and draw yourself a little Fu Manchu mustache, just the sides of it . . . Yeah, leave the upper lip alone. Just two straight lines, first down the right side of your jaw, then the left, with your fingers crossed. For luck.

Yeah. Like that. Okay.

Now. You know what you need to know.


Tue-Thu 5:30-10pm; Fri 5:30-11pm; Sat noon-11pm; Sun noon-10pm

3228 16th St., SF



Beer & wine


Dishing the dirt



CHEAP EATS I didn’t do justice to Curry Boyzz, my new favorite restaurant, in last week’s review; I realize that. I completely and utterly neglected to mention who I ate there with!

Well, Hedgehog.

Moving right along …

Wait, there was someone else at our table, I feel certain. But Hedgehog, who is the half of our family that remembers things, is at work. She is also the half of our family that works.

With headphones on! So I am going to have to figure this out for myself, think think think … It was somebody skinny, I’m thinking, and so probably a vegetarian. Super skinny. With dreadlocks, and wearing a kind of cardboard hat or scarf, or something. With a price tag on it.

Doh! It wasn’t a vegetarian so much as a mop. Our spanking new, microfiber, swivel-headed dust mop that we’d just picked up at Cliff’s Hardware. I remember now: we wedged the handle through a chair back and its green dreadlocked head kind of watched over our meal, kind of hungrily. In fact, while Hedgehog used the bathroom, it spoke to me.

“That Tikka Masala looked pretty good,” it said.

“Yeah, well,” I said.

And in other news, I did a thing I haven’t done since the ’90s: I ate three Mission burritos in a week, and — funny thing — this was the week we were chicken-sitting in Alameda. When we are stationed in the Mission, Hedgehog and me, and our mop, we don’t eat burritos.

But we were going to watch that movie in Dolores Park with some buds, so we went to Cancun first. And we were going to a baseball game in Oakland, but I was in SF for some reason, and stopped at El Toro on my way to BART.

And Papalote, on a different day, but now I’m mad at them. Hardly any meat on my carne asada burrito: for shame, considering its relative expensiveness! And it was rolled all wrong, so that, cross-sectionally, one side of the burrito was just pretty much rice, and the other side had a few fairly tasteless beans and occasional chunks of meat. Pfft.

Lucky for them, they’re still my favorite taqueria, the orange salsa’s so goddamn good. I’ll just never eat there again, is all.

Hedgehog’s idea is to buy jars of Papalote’s overpriced orange salsa to take home and put on Cancun burritos.

So you see? You see why I love that lesbian? Even though she’s gluten free and dairy free, and made me eat at Radish for lunch today just because they had gluten free po-boys.

But at least she eats meat. Unlike some mops that I know.

So it shouldn’t surprise longtime readers of this column that her new favorite restaurant, like mine (after all these years), is Cancun. Specifically, the one on Mission and 19th, where I gained 20-some pounds in my thirties.

But it’s a 20-year tradition of mine not to review Cancun. To dwell on it, but never to actually review it. Therefore, I give you my other new favorite restaurant, Radish, the thing that finally happened across the street from the Lexington Club. Where I don’t drink, ’cause I’m too old.

But on our way to Cancun, we have to walk past one or the other, and lately it’s been Radish, so’s Hedgehog can look at their menu. We tried to eat there on a weekend but the line was too long.

Today (a weekday), I got the fried oyster po-boy, and it reminded me of Papalote’s carne asada burrito in that there were only about four or five oysters in it. And they weren’t very well battered. They just kind of crumbled.

But the bread was good! It was slathered with what they call “Cajun dirt.” I’d hoped that this would be the same thing Cajuns call “dirty rice,” which is chopped up giblets and liver and stuff, but no. It was reminiscent of muffuletta spread, which is more Italian than Cajun: chopped olives, onions, and lemon.

Good. But the best thing about Radish, as far as we could make out, was the homemade root chips: potato, taro, and yuca — yum!


Mon-Tue 5-10pm; Wed-Thu 10am-10pm; Fri 10am-11pm; Sat 9am-11pm; Sun 9am-5pm

3465 19th St., SF.

(415) 834-5441



Beer & wine


Friends, love, leftovers



CHEAP EATS Georgie Bundle is my new favorite person. My ever-loving bassist and keeper of my records, he has at various times during our many years of friendship impressed me with his barbecued things and bass lines. His harmonies, his goosey Christmases… He once accepted custody of some hand-me-down chickens of mine and built a coop for them on his lunch break. It was next to the steps, under the avocado tree, as if my old ex-chickens’ existence wasn’t cartoonish enough.

Well, yesterday evening we stood on those steps in North Oakland, after work, and reminisced. We have such a rich and rhythmic history, but the subject of our nostalgic reverie was a fried chicken dinner he’d cooked up two nights before.

I was there! I love it when people make fried chicken, because it’s something I have never myself been able to do. In fact I only know, personally, a handful of people who have managed to fry the chickens in the comfort and coze of their own little kitchens: Kentucky Fried Woman (obviously), Ruberoy “Shortribs” Perrotta, Wayway…

And now this. Now Georgie Bundle. Dude bought $70 worth — in fact, “bought” might not suffice — dude fucking purchased $70 worth of healthy, grass-fed Sonoma County chickens, brined them overnight, dredged them through some kind of fancy-pants specialty gluten-free flour, bathed them in buttermilk, and then flour again before they hit the hot oil.

When we joined his Southern-themed dinner party, with our Hedgehog-made cornbread and my me-made okra and tomatoes, Bundle was three paper towels to the wind, pinballing between the counter, the stove, and the sink, high on peanut oil fumes. He had a thermometer in the oil, and did the breasts all together at one temperature, and then the wings, legs and thighs at an altogether different temperature.

I don’t know if I ever hugged a host or hostess harder.

Long story short, the chicken was the best chicken ever, but this weird anti-Jesus thing happened where, after everyone had cleaned their plates and licked their fingers and (if they were me) their wrists and forearms, there weren’t any seconds.

Hedgehog is a lot of wonderful things, but “the most gracious guest in the world” isn’t one of them. When she came back outside with a second helping of Everything But, her disappointment was palpable.

Sadness, she calls it now. “Mostly I was just sad. I went up there with hope in my heart,” she said, when I interviewed her for this story. Just now, in the kitchen.

Mr. Bundle and our very dear Yoyo were sad too, and confused.

“I don’t know what happened,” Bundle said. “It seemed like so much chicken while I was cooking it.”

“It was the best fried chicken ever in the history of the world,” I said. “That’s what happened. We disappeared it. Everybody got some.”

There were so many great sides, like roasted carrots and greens and mac and cheese, that nobody stayed sad for long and everyone went home happy.

Short story long: Next day I get an email from Georgie Bundle titled, “there was MORE chicken!” He had put a whole tray of it in the oven to keep warm, and then forgot about it. And here’s where the superhero comes out in him. He offered to deliver more chicken to anyone who wanted it. “Even if you don’t email me I might just show up with some chicken,” he said. “You’ve been warned.”

I did email him, of course. I’m not proud. And it really was awesome, awesome fried chicken. But we had been chicken-sitting in Alameda when the dinner happened, or we probably wouldn’t have been invited. In fact, I’m not sure we were, technically, invited. The point is, it was an East Bay thing. And by the next day we were back home in the Mission, so I was sure there was no chance of a Late Night Trans-Bay Leftover Fried Chicken Delivery.

I took a bath.

I fell asleep, as usual, in the bathtub. And when I came back upstairs to get into bed with Hedgehog, my phone was blinking. Georgie Bundle. Are you still up, can I bring chicken? I’m in SF.

So you see what I mean about superhero? Georgie Bundle is my new favorite person.

New favorite restaurant?

Curry Boyzz

Sun.-Thu. noon-11pm; Fri.-Sat. noon-2 am

4238 18th St., SF

(415) 255-6565



Beer and wine


Liver or leave ‘er



CHEAP EATS Kayday came back down to town and for letting her stay in our bottom apartment, she treated Hedgehog and me to Chinese food, and just me to Japanese. The Japanese was at Izakaya Yuzuki, which I can see out my window right now cause it’s just across the street, kitty-corner-wise.

Small plates. Big bucks. Not the kind of place I would ever dare to go to if there weren’t at least a 67 percent chance of someone else picking up the check. In this case there was a 100 percent chance.

I’m not saying that this is a review of Izakaya Yuzuki, but this one dish . . . I never got its name, but it was squid marinated in its own liver and something really very salty.

I love liver, and that includes every kind of liver I have ever had, including squid liver, but the really remarkable thing about this dish was that the squid didn’t go away when you chewed it. It didn’t grind, crush, tear, or otherwise respond to mastication in any of the usual ways. You couldn’t even call it chewy. It just kind of immediately . . . shrunk. It retreated into itself and became a small, condensed blip in my mouth.

My first thought was, it’s alive.

But it wasn’t, of course.

This is a review of Salumeria, where once I shared a prosciutto-on-pretzel sandwich with Stringbean the Person, my beloved quarterback, because really if there’s one person in life a wide receiver needs to eat with, it’s her quarterback. Nothing says “throw me the ball” more than sharing a sandwich and pickle board at an outside table on a sunny Mission day.

She insisted on paying for her sandwich though, dadburn it.

“Throw me the ball,” I said, thrusting her wadded up ten back at her. She wouldn’t take it — maybe because of some quarterbacky code I don’t know about.

But, anyway … yeah: pickles. As in pickled things — maybe some of the same ones that were conspicuously missing from my beans a couple weeks ago in this column. Salumeria delivers. Salumeria comes through, on the pickle front. Okra. Green tomatoes. Beets …. Pickles!

And the sandwich came through too. It was prosciutto on pretzel, and it was dee-fucking-both-licious-and-lightful. I’d never had pretzel bread before. And I’m not sure I ever had that much prosciutto, either, on a sandwich. Fantastic!

The Person had to go to Rainbow Grocery after lunch, she said, to return things. “What are you returning?” I said. She told me she’d accidentally bought an overpriced foodie magazine for $11, and something else overpriced for $11 — I think she said vitamins. “I’m going to return them,” she said, “and buy $22 worth of sausage.”

Seldom in my life have I heard such sound economic theory laid out before me, like pickles on a board. I was touched.

I was moved.

I loved my quarterback right then, and felt proud to be one of only a handful of people in life who gets to catch her balls. I mean, 11 + 11 = 22, forever and always, but when you express this mathematical truth in terms of sausage attainment, it kind of sizzles and pops. Like poetry.

And when I first met Stringbean, bear in mind, she was a skinny vegetarian! Speaking of which, I did feel a little badly for my many skinny vegetarian friends down at Rainbow, because of course they don’t sell sausages. Which gave me an idea.

“Bean, wait right here,” I said, and I ran back into Salumeria to buy her a homemade salami. For (what? whoa!) 10 bucks. Ack! I couldn’t pull the trigger, even though I had a 10-dollar bill I didn’t really want. Which gave me an even better idea.

I ran back outside and handed the 10 to Stringbean. “I bought an overpriced salami for you,” I explained. “But then I returned it for cash to add to your sausage fund. Here.”

She looked at me like I was crazy and would not take the ten.

“Throw me the ball,” I said.


Daily 9am-7pm

3000 20th St., SF

(415) 471-2998

AE, D, MC, V

Beer and wine



Eat these words



CHEAP EATS One by one I am finding my old friends and hugging them. Last night at the Giants game, for example, I found El Centro, who — by the time you read this — will have sailed to Alcatraz and swum back to San Francisco. I’m so proud and impressed, and excited because, assuming she doesn’t drown and/or get eaten by sharks on her way home, there’s going to be a barbecue after at her house.

El Centro will be my second friend to have attempted this feat; not the barbecue, the swim.

How cool is that? To swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco — are you kidding me? It’s so cool, I’d need to wear a wet suit just to write one more sentence about it.

My own adventures have been more pedestrian, of late.

Hedgehog and me needed to get a neighborhood sticker for Angelo Joe, our gigantic and hard-to-park Honda Fit cargo van, and this required a long walk down to Market and South Van Ness. Along the way, we held hands and argued about geometry.

Hedgehog thinks that just because she remembers more words (in particular: hypotenuse) than I do, she is always right about math. I argue that, vocabulary-be-damned, the shortest distance between two points is always a straight line and never turning right on 14th St. and then left on Mission. (Except maybe in rare instances like Market St. has a parade or protest on it.)

BTW, I won that argument — as anyone save the staunchest surrealist and possibly airline pilots will plainly see. Even so, we were late for breakfast.

You know me. I can’t stand in line on an empty stomach, so I had asked Hedgehog to find us something good down there to bite into. She did that magic little thing she does with her thumbs and a cell phone and came back with my new favorite restaurant.

Little Griddle, of course. It’s just one block away from MTA, and they have those donut burgers like at Straw, with bacon and everything. Only their donuts are square. The Lucifer, they call it. They also have a giant double-pattied burger (the Evil Knievel), and one called the Hot Mess, featuring pepper jack cheese and jalapenos, and chipotle sauce. Plus cilantro and onions.

Thankfully it was a very breakfasty hour, or I would have been tempted. Instead, it was the Morning Star omelet that caught my eye — in particular the words “maple smoked bacon chicken sausage,” every single one of which is in my vocabulary.

This omelet comes with green pepper, yellow onion, tomato, and substitute spinach for mushrooms if you’re me. (Pssst. You’re not!) All that, plus cheese, and maple smoked bacon chicken sausage. Which is just one thing, mind you. With five words. Working backwards, it’s a kind of sausage, a chicken sausage. With bacon in it. Maple smoked bacon, to be precise.

Now is a very good time to be alive.

I’m serious. When a kind of sausage can have five words in the name of it, and every single one of those words is your all-time favorite word …

Those are the days. These.

I mean, it wasn’t as good as it sounds; but how could it possibly be?

Hedgehog ordered the Bits & Pieces scramble, which is basically the same ingredients minus cheese, scrambled. And you can get salad instead of hash browns so we got one with each and shared. Very good. Good, crispy hash browns. Good, crispy salad.

The coffee was good.

Coach came down on her bike and met us there, for support, and brought me a box of my favorite welcome home maple cream sandwich cookies from Trader Joe’s, and a black Champion skirt to play football in this season. She takes care of her players like that. Speaking of which …

Giants 3, Padres 2 — but I gotta tell you, even though the Giants are in first place and yeah yeah yeah, something even more exciting, baseballwise, is happening in Oakland these days. And it’s still easier to get to the Coliseum. And cheaper. Just saying.


Sat-Mon: 7:30am-3pm; Tue-Fri: 7:30am-5pm

1400 Market St., SF.

(415) 864-4292


No alcohol




CHEAP EATS I can’t tell you how beside myself I am to be back in San Francisco. I can tell you, but it will sound like it’s coming from over there. It’s not! I’m right here where I belong, typing at you from the warmth of my very own(ish) clawfoot tub in the bowels of my old dungeon-y hovel at 18th and Guerrero.

Upstairs, in the relative sunshine of our other, airier studio apartment, Hedgehog is pacing back and forth and saying to herself: We live in San Francisco. We live in San Francisco. Until finally she can’t take it anymore and shaves off her eyebrows.

You too, dear reader, must be pretty somewhat goddamn happy to hear this. It means instead of me writing about restaurants in Oakland and Berkeley all the time, not to mention points even farther east, I will likely go right back to hardly ever leaving the Mission.

Just last night for example, because neither of our two refrigerators had any food in it yet, we were stuck in one of those where-to-eat thingies, wherein I kept saying: Sichuan Home! And I kept saying: Halu! No, Sichuan Home. No, Halu. And Hedgehog kept sitting on our pretty red couch, looking daggers at me and altogether having eyebrows.

Then she said, “Let’s just go outside and walk around the neighborhood and find something. You haven’t lived here in almost a year. There will be new things.”

“Yeah sure,” I said.

We grabbed our jackets and stepped out into the hallway of our apartment building just as Scotty the House was walking by with a bass. “What?” we all said.

“We’re back!” I said.

He was going upstairs to get Earl Butter to practice for their cute little bandy. But first he wanted to tell us about where he’d just had dinner, and how awesome it was. New place. Small plates. Outside tables. Tacolicious.

Can there be a dumber name for a restaurant?

Please don’t be in the Mission. Please don’t be in the Mission, I repeated to myself.

Scotty the House is a vegetarian.

“Where is it?” Hedgehog asked.

Scotty the House lives in Oakland. “In the Mission!” he said.

It was just around the corner, on Valencia, he said, between 18th and 19th. So OK so that was where we eventually walked to.

We were not the discoverers of Tacolicious. In fact, there was only one table left, and it was outside.

“The heaters are on,” our hostessperson assured us, and we were sold so she led the way.

Outside is a nice little alleyway between buildings, with a big black-and-white mural of the city along one wall. There are words on the mural, too. And the heat was on and the chips were fresh-made and immediate, the salsa spicy and delicious.

Uh-oh. If I’m not careful, I’m going to like this restaurant, I thought.

I wasn’t careful. At $3.95 a pop, 4 for $13, we ordered one of everything, tacowise, give or take the vegetarian one. Give, to be precise. But to make up for it, we tacked on a taco of the week, which was achiote chicken, and a side of drunken beans that promised us both bacon and “pickled things.” Their words, not mine.

Problem being, we couldn’t find anything at all pickled in those beans. It was either an oversight, or a very subtle drunk.

Neverminding that, though, the tacos were, generally speaking, pretty great. Except I don’t much like mole so I let Hedgehog have almost all of that one. And the shot-and-a-beer braised chicken and chorizo-and-potato ones were also not my favorites.

I loved the carnitas, the cochinita pibil and the braised beef short rib tacos. The fried rock cod one was also especially wonderful: one nice-size lump of white fish delicately breaded and bursting with juiciness. Honestly, at first bite I wondered if they had injected the fish with melted butter or something. It was heavenly.

Oh yeah: bistec adobado, with big chunks of actually rare steak and pickled onions. You have to add a buck, it’s so good. Not cheap. But close enough.


Daily: 11:30 a.m.-midnight
741 Valencia St., S.F.
(415) 626-1344
Full bar


Batter up



CHEAP EATS Hedgehog and me are on the road again. Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone Park, and the Mission lie ahead — by mere days! — and shrinking in the rearview mirror are both our families, several old priced-out-of-SF pals, 10 big states, four or five completely different kinds of barbecue, and many, many baseball games. Including big league ones, a minor league one, a semi-pro one, and a little league all-star game.

The American pastime, you will be happy to know, is alive and well on the other side of the bay. At PNC Park in Pittsburgh, for example, there are Polish Hill dogs, which are hot dogs with pierogi on them.

Earlier today, in a desperate attempt to be healthy, we both ordered grilled tilapia at a little family restaurant in Chenoa, Illinois. Make note, in case you are ever out Chenoa-way: “grilled,” in Chenoese, means breaded and fried.

You know me: I love these kinds of curveballs. But Hedgehog, who is still smoldering from the ears over a grilled pork chop disguised as a fried ham steak that occurred to her in Georgia three years ago, was less amused.

She has antiquated notions about the things she eats. She wants them to be what they are. That’s why I was surprised a couple nights ago in Youngstown, Ohio, my hometown, when she wanted to go to C. Staples barbecue.

The last time we were in Youngstown, a year ago or so, I took Hedgehog to C. Staples so she could experience the barbecue I lost my barbecue virginity to, which (and I warned her) isn’t barbecue so much as fried chicken slathered in a tangy, gritty sauce and served on white bread.

As I recall, she wasn’t amused.

So why did she insist on a do-over this year, on our way to the ballpark (Connecticut Tigers 5, Mahoning Valley Scrappers 4)? And why was C. Staples’ unbarbecued barbecue so freaking delicious this go-round?

I don’t have an answer.

And Youngstown was not the biggest barbecued revelation of our last thousand miles. That would be Pittsburgh, where, before the game, Moonpie and her man took us to Union Pig and Chicken. There, the truly smoked chickens and ribs and ohmigod the pork shoulder rocked my little world harder than it’s been rocked in a long time — by barbecue anyway. The brisket was only so-so, but that’s OK, cow being merely a special guest at Pig and Chicken.

San Francisco Giants 6, Pittsburgh Pirates 5.

We tend to root root root for the home team, so that game was kind of confusing for us. Not so Cleveland, where the Indians spanked the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 7-3. We met Kiz and her man beforehand at Hodge’s — a place fancy enough to bring out amuse bouches and unfancy enough for the amuse bouches to be tater tots. Crème fraiche for dipping.

There were lobster corn dogs with banana ketchup too, but that’s neither here nor there. Well, it’s there.

Here, we have the wonderfully fluorescent and blue collar Vientiane Cafe, on Allendale in East Oakland — which may as well be Des Moines to most City dwellers, I realize. But that’s OK. Go stand in line at San Tung.

We first discovered Vientiane last fall during our desperate search for a replacement for San Tung’s dry fried chicken wings. Angel wings, Vientiane calls them, and they come crispy and piled up on the plate, all second joints — which, as it happens, is both of our favorite joints, mini-drumstick be damned. Speaking for myself, I just like sticking my tongue between those two little bones, and getting the goods.

That joint reminds me of eating crawfish and crabs, and some other things. Vientiane’s dark, sticky sauce, according to Hedgehog, tasted like it belonged on Cracker Jacks.

Berwick 8, Danville 7.

Besides these angelic cracker jack wings, I love the papaya salad, which is almost too spicy and fish saucy, even for me. The menu has probably a hundred Lao, Thai, and Vietnamese dishes, and I hope to eventually try all of them. New favorite restaurant!


Daily 11am-9pm

3801 Allendale Ave., Oakl.

(510) 535-2218


No alcohol


Mega Millions



CHEAP EATS I still have some Berkeley wonders to tell you about. In fact, I’ve been saving the best for last: fried chicken and donuts at Rainbow Donut, which is my new favorite restaurant — and just down San Pablo from there, my new favorite restaurant: Smoke Berkeley.

Smoke Berkeley, or Berkeley Smoke as I call it for fun, is wedged between a car wash and a piano store. The advantage to which is that one can play a little Brahms while waiting for the line to die down, and, on the other hand, if you eat outside, you might get somewhat misted.

Most times, I know, being sprayed by a car wash during lunch will not seem like an advantage, especially in the Bay Area; but I’ve spent the last couple days driving through a southern-style heatwave and, believe me, I have missed being misted by car washes, even over barbecue.

Especially over barbecue.

So, yes, in Mississippi, Tennessee, and even Virginia, I did: I missed Berkeley Smoke. Strange as that may sound.

The restaurant doesn’t open until noon, and we got there at ten till, the li’l chunks de la Cooter going absolutely batty with excitement and hunger. And they weren’t the only ones.

The place has a following. It’s only about half a year old, but people are onto it. Crawdad and the chunks held down an outdoor table while I stood peering through the door at the menu, committing our order to memory. A line formed behind me. When it finally opened, I was at the front of that line, my nose pressed into the iron-grated screen door, very much enjoying the smell of the place.

Unfortunately, the door that was opened, upon opening, was not the one that I had applied myself to. Fortunately, Mr. Crawdad de la Cooter was waiting first-in-line at the right door. (I had wondered where he’d gotten to.)

Anyway: pulled pork and beef brisket. Normally there are ribs, but the ribs weren’t ready yet. We got pulled pork sliders for the kids. Those were actually pretty good.

The brisket plate was not — surprisingly, given the chef’s Texas connection. Maybe an off day. Maybe the wrong part of Texas. But the meat was dry. It had a nice flavor, the right amount of smoke, and the hot barbecue sauce helped, but — honestly — not oversmoking it would have helped even more.

Unanimously, we preferred the North Carolina pork.

Loved the Cole slaw. The jalapeno cornbread was moist and good, and the jalapeno mac and cheese was great. The mayo eaters loved the potato salad, and the chocolate eaters loved the chocolate pecan pie, but I don’t fall in either of those camps, so . . . can’t say.

As for Rainbow Donuts: new favorite restaurant. Technically, it’s a fried chicken, fried fish, donut, and lottery shop, with an emphasis on the lottery. They have a couple of scratcher machines, a rack of scratchers behind the counter, and stations for Daily 4, Daily Derby, Mega Millions, and Hot Spot.

Fluorescent lights and ceiling fans, dirty red fast food tables . . . Like most donut shops, Rainbow has that down-and-out feel that I so love. There was a table of people sipping Cokes in utter silence and scratching scratchers kind of almost maniacally. And you know me — I eat that shit up!

But speaking of eating stuff up:

The fried chicken was awesome. A crispy, peppery breading with a perfectly succulent inner goodness. You have to specify you want it fried to order, though, or they’ll give you the crusty crap that’s been sitting in the display case.

They were out of biscuits, so she gave me an extra side. I didn’t want fries with my fish (also awesome), so she gave me an extra piece of chicken. And she gave me an extra donut for the hell of it.

You see? You see why I love this place?

And the mac and cheese was decent, the greens were alright, and the shrimp gumbo was good. It wasn’t particularly gumbolike, but I liked it. Probably, if I had that four-block stretch of San Pablo to do over again, I’d get my sides from Smoke, and my meat from Rainbow.

Not to compare fried and barbecue, but . . .


Tue-Sat noon-7pm

2434 San Pablo Ave., Berk.

(510) 548-8801


No alcohol


Mon-Sat 5am-8pm; Sun 6am-8pm

2025 San Pablo Ave., Berk.

(510) 644-2029

Cash only

No alcohol


Hot catch



CHEAP EATS Yeah, and part of the idea of going to New York City was to escape New Orleans’s heat, which would best be described (for those who haven’t been) as hot.

Hot hot hot hot hot.

As luck would have it, best laid plans and all, it was even hotter than that in New York while we were there, squeak squeak, fuckity fuck. It was hot hot hot hot hot hot hot. So as soon as we got back home to hot hot hot hot hot, we went camping.

In an air-conditioned camper. With our landlordladypersons, an adorable couple name a Pam and Cindy. Now Cindy, being a tried and true in the wool Cajun, has a brother name a Blaine only everybody calls him Bruno. And this Blaine (only everybody calls him Bruno) is my new favorite person because even though he knew we were crazy for camping on the edge of a swamp during mosquito season, he not only loaned us his trailer but drove it there. And parked it. He’s a truck driver.

Our campsite had been under water the previous weekend, and therefore vacant, so the mosquitos were happy to see us.

We heated our dinner in microwaves that first night. S’mores were not discussed. Next day, though, there was a breeze and we were able to sit outside all day and watch a hawk wrestle with a giant catfish that had been trapped in a puddle.

Hawk won.

Hedgehog took pictures, if anyone wants to see them. She also shot some alligators, and a sweet, tiny red parrot that had fallen in love with our friend Cherry’s roof rack.

I went around pulling dead sticks out of trees, and that night’s dinner happened over a fire. Here’s what I grilled: salmon, swordfish, boudin, turnips, tomatoes, peppers, pineapple, peaches, and garlic. The corn I soaked in its husks and threw on the coals.

On Sunday Blaine Only Bruno (or Bob, as I call him for short) came back and took me, Hedgehog, and Cindy to his crawfish pond. So, yeah, so that was how I spent the last part of my last weekend in Louisiana: having a complete pond-to-table crawfish experience.

We piled into this patchy li’l boat and sat on upside-down buckets. The traps are baited with sweet potatoes! Bob putt-putted us around the pond, pulling them up and dumping the crawfish onto a stainless steel sorting table, where we took turns wiping the angry ones through the square hole into net bags, and tossing the half-eaten or otherwise at-peace ones back into the water.

After, driving along the levee in his pickup truck with probably 50 pounds of crawfish for our dinner and then some, Bob told us about his friend’s crawfishing brother who looks like Z.Z. Top and had recently “caught a heart attack.”

Moments later, we ran into him, sitting in a pick-up truck of his own, eating a bag of potato chips and looking indeed like Z.Z. Top — the whole band. Pleasantries were exchanged. Potato chips were not.

Nevertheless, when we got to Bob and Cindy’s mama’s house, where the crawfish were to be boiled, I caught a stomachache — which is a horrible thing to have when you are about to eat 50 pounds of crawfish.

In a desperate attempt to get good again, I guzzled ginger ale. I ate a piece of dry toast. I sat in a recliner and closed my eyes, and missed the part where we boiled them to death.

Hedgehog was there. She said the secret was to not only add the seasoning to the pot, but to plaster them with it afterwards.

Well, they were spicy, and the best crawfish ever. Once I started eating them, I couldn’t stop. In fact, I’m still eating them. Packing up for the long road ahead: New Orleans to Frisco, by way of Pennsylvania and Ohio, or home to home, via home and home.

When I was there — home home — last time, Crawdad de la Cooter kept wanting to go to all these new Cajun restaurants popping up all over the Bay Area, even in Fairfax. I suppose after I’ve been back for a few months I will need these places, but for now I’d rather be eating pho and watching soccer at my new favorite Vietnamese restaurant and sports bar:


Lunch: Mon-Sat 11am-2pm; Dinner: Mon-Sun 5-10:30pm

2067 University Ave., Berk.

(510) 981-1789


Full bar