In the name of health, salads get a pass. We'll blithely fork up woody, spindly arugula and mushy ancient grains tossed in a wincingly vinegary dressing because it's all supposed to be GOOD FOR YOU. Tell me you haven't had some kale that required you to chew…and chew...and chew. But the salad I had yesterday at Reveille Coffee's North Beach cafe was both noble and absolutely delicious. Imagine that! Tender baby arugula, plus roasted squash and cauliflower, pumpkin seeds and radishes. It's not on their online menu. You'll have to go and experience it for yourself. —S.D.
Dumpling house Mama Ji's is just a couple blocks from my home in the Castro and it's where I first discovered Red Blossom Tea's Tung Ting charcoal-roasted tea which is roasted over longan wood. The result is a tea I could bathe in it smells so sweet and caramely. You can enjoy it at Mama Ji's, along with their excellent lo mai gai (my favorite around town), or you can buy it at the family-owned Red Blossom which is located in Chinatown but does a brisk mail order business too. —S.D.
Since last October, Saint Frank has been making some exceptional coffee on Polk Street. Or at least that’s what I’m told, because I’m not a coffee drinker. I am, however, an enthusiastic consumer of coffee shop pastries, which is why I got myself over there yesterday to try both a chocolate chip-sea salt cookie and a cherry-chocolate-lavender muffin from Mr. Holmes, the very new bakery that is currently wholesale only. Both muffin and cookie were excellent, with the muffin just slightly edging out the cookie for my affections thanks to its immaculately tender crumb and crunchy, almost streusel-like dome. Unlike just about every muffin that has ever been sold in a coffee shop, it also wasn’t too sweet, which is perhaps why I was able to eat both it and an entire cookie without going into a hyper-glycemic coma. —R.F.M.
Last night I found myself on the corner of Guerrero at 16th at Elixir, surveying their spanking-new spring cocktail menu. Although I’m not typically a fruity-cocktail person, I was won over by a concoction called Blackbeard No. 3. Two types of rum are stirred up with blackberry puree, lemon juice, agave nectar, and soda water, and then garnished with a pair of actual blackberries. It’s an incredibly balanced drink, not too sweet, not too boozy, and made a mellow, refreshing complement to the warm weather. I could have downed one after the other, but fortunately for all involved, I didn’t. —R.F.M.
Eggplants are such glorious things, and yet they're so often abused by cooks who do horrible, misguided things to them and in so doing unjustly frame them as slimy and/or bitter and/or undercooked. That's one reason why the eggplant salad sold by the Pasta Shop is such a triumph: it's full of big chunks of the stuff, cooked to velvety perfection, tossed with peppers and cherry tomatoes, and marinated in a light, tangy vinaigrette. Simple, elegant, joyous. —R.F.M.
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