Pizza on Wheels

All this talk about new style street food carts and taco trucks modified into gourmet street food destinations has me hungry. Also, I’m thinking of these totally bad-ass variations on the mobile wood-burning pizza oven I saw last weekend in Paso Robles.

Check it:


This first pizza trailer is owned by Full of Life Flatbread, and they make delicious pizzas wherever they tow this thing. The colorful tiles are a nice touch.


These next shots are of Rob Hunter’s totally awesome combo pizza oven trailer and kitchen (with taco truck style serving windows, natch). Rob and his wife Jill owned a fantastic restaurant called Pangaea in the Pacific Coast hamlet of Gualala for a few years (pics from a somewhat recent visit). They’ve since closed the restaurant but have continued to cook out of this mobile kitchen. As you can see, it’s a great set up.



Below: Partygoers cram into to the kitchen doorway line-up for a just-fired pie.



SF Street Food Meets Terroir

Or, Terroir, welcome to SF street food.


(Above: An empty taco truck lacking signage is parked in front of Chez Spencer)

Via Inside Scoop, one of the bestest, greatest things ever in the San Francisco Chronicle: Looks like plans are in the works for a Chez Spencer taco truck, erm, make that a frog truck, to park itself across the street from Terroir. Which makes sense; after all, two of Terroir’s owners used to work there.

Within a week or two, look for the Spencer on the Go truck across the street from Terroir Natural Wine Merchant & Bar (1116 Folsom St., at Langton) on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, when visitors can take their plates of skate braised with capers ($8) and frog’s legs with curry ($9) inside the wine bar and order a glass. Katgely aims to keep all prices less than $12 and rotate the menu often.

(Go here for the whole thing)

Exciting news, and just in time for summer too. Sigh, there go my dreams of fitting into my vintage swimsuit…

*Note: If you don’t know Terroir, check out this article I wrote last year for the Chronicle.

(Thanks to Rob for the tip)

Big Bottles


What can I say? I’m a bit of a size-queen when it comes to magnums (or bigger) of wine.

Large-format bottles age better than 750s, the greater volume making for subtle and slow aging thanks in part to a low ratio of oxygen to wine. Perhaps hindering the desire to age your magnum is the fact that big bottles just look more enticing: Nothing quite says “party” like 1.5- or 3-liters of wine.

Found myself at NOPA this past Sunday where a friend had gathered a group of survivors from the annual Rhône Rangers tasting here in the city. I skipped the tasting myself, shackled as it were to several deadlines that needed immediate attention. Pity, as there were some lovely wines to be tried. (Check out Jon Bonné’s write up here.)

But that’s not to say I wasn’t feeling Rhônish, so I brought along the above magnum of 1999 Clos de Cuminaille Saint-Joseph from Pierre Gaillard to share. I picked this wine up years ago over in the East Bay at North Berkeley Imports, and it’s been stashed away since. Anyway, it tasted great, starting off minty but closed and then loosening up with some partial decanting. It grew more aromatic with air, and after a couple hours showed fresh pepper, dried rose, cranberries and a slightly meaty funk. A minerally beast too, as the vines are planted in decomposed granite soils. Aging beautifully, with several more years ahead of it. Mmm, Syrah.

We raided NOPA’s magnum list for the rest of dinner, starting off with Gaston Chiquet’s 1998 Club Millésimé a.k.a. Special Club (okay, we ordered two 750ml-sized bottles of that because it’s freaking awesome); then the 2005 Privat Riesling from Nigl (precise and focused, even for such a warm year; still a baby); and the 2001 Riserva Montestefano Barbaresco from Produttori del Barbaresco (pictured above, really aromatic and floral at this point in its life, elegant and silky and then quite gripping on the finish; another baby).

* The dinner menu at Nopa is quite good right now (rockin’ cod: thanks Richie!)

Delfina’s Craig Stoll Gives the Finger to Fox News


Apparently Craig Stoll of the James Beard Awarded Delfina and Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco was scheduled to appear on the Fox News morning show but walked out after hearing what the hosts – presumably quoting disgruntled Yelpers – had to say about his pizza. As reported earlier this month by local magazine 7×7, Stoll & Co. recently made t-shirts quoting negative Yelp reviews, and then gave them to staff to wear during service.

Here’s one of the shirts (via 7×7):


And now to do something I never thought I’d do: Post a clip from Fox News!

Wine Rumors: SF Restaurants Going Retail

Well, not exactly, but in the course of doing a little field research last night I learned that a hot, newish SF restaurant is planning to develop a wine program where all of their pricing is retail. Yep, retail… no 10% nor even 5% markup, but straight up retail. Signs of the times to be sure, but also a populist approach to restaurant wine pricing that I hope catches on.

In other news…


One of my favorite East Bay haunts for South Indian food, Vik’s, is moving next month. The new location is just around the corner from the original, and rumor is that it won’t change all that much. I wonder, though, if the move will increase or decrease the competition for street parking with the patrons of nearby Steamworks?

The Best Fish Tacos on the Central Coast

Playing hooky is something I learned the value of a long time ago. It often brings new perspectives through serendipity, which is exactly what happened this past Saturday during the annual World of Pinot Noir festival in Pismo Beach. Before the grand tasting started, a small group of us headed over to the charming hamlet of Avila Beach where we’d heard there was a good fish shack at the end of the pier, some place called Pete’s Pierside Café.

So off we went thinking, hey, beers and fish tacos, what could be better? We got that, but we got so much more.

pete's menu

As you can see from the menu of specials above, this was no ordinary pierside taco shack. Chanterelle enchiladas smothered in a vibrant green sauce, housemade chips, halibut tacos, wild salmon tacos (I raised an eyebrow at this, given the collapse of the Pacific salmon run), an array of pickled vegetables and salsas, and, seen below, pescado entero, a whole, crispy fried fish served with rice and beans and steaming corning tortillas. Shred with a fork, build your own taco.

whole fish

Note to Tyler: We talked about food and wine pairings here, but really, Tecate in a can is where it’s at! And yes, that’s a 22-oz can…

*We felt like copying the local seal population after lunch but as the little guy in the water can attest, there just wasn’t any room on the dock under the pier.


(NB: For another Central Coast hole-in-wall Mexican seafood experience, it’s hard to beat El Lugarcito in King City.)

The Beat on the Street

We all hear it these days. You work in the trade and there’s a constant refrain of consumers trading down in their wine purchases, especially at restaurants. The silver lining is that people aren’t abandoning wine altogether, they’re just spending less. Which makes sense: Wine prices were until recently ever so inflated. When things eventually settle down, look for more savvy consumers — people on the hunt for honest wines at fair prices.

Which leads me to a recent article in what’s left of the Los Angeles Times, by my friend and colleague Patrick Comiskey. Patrick’s report shows some of the challenges sommeliers and buyers face in today’s climate. The meat of the article I feel, hits at the oversupply in the distribution channels, especially at the high end:

Indeed, slower restaurant sales (nationwide, but especially in Las Vegas) coupled with a generally large vintage in 2005 and the huge proliferation of luxury brands from California and elsewhere have led to an unprecedented oversupply of high-end wine in the pipeline.

All of this has led to plenty of synergy between buyers and sellers. “Everyone got the memo,” says Eduardo Porto-Carreiro, the wine buyer at Grace. “The producers, they lower their prices and say to the distributors, ‘Here are the deals.’ The distributors go to the restaurants and say, ‘Here’s what I can do if you move this,’ and we pass it on to our customers. It’s trickle-down, but it works back up. Wineries need to move wine, distributors need cash flow. Everyone has to work together for it to make sense, and for now, it is.”

Go here to read the entire thing.

*Note: For a look at the downturn’s effect on the restaurant world from a server’s perspective, this post on the downspin of tipping is quite fascinating.