Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Beehive, Sibling Rivalry + Picco: a South End report

{When I was just a kid, the South End...which is not the same as South Boston, yo...was the up and coming gay neighborhood and, coincidentally or no, the place where food-with-a-capital-F came to town. Since gentrification of course, the gays moved away and the neighborhood has seen many restaurants come and go}

The Beehive was something I found out about right before I moved to SF and it's finally open. Housed inside the old Cyclorama, it's got a bar, live music, a funky downstairs dining space...and lots of noise. Too much noise for my mom and I to actually stay and enjoy a meal, not that the menu was anything we'd especially want to stay for. I really wanted to poke around--the Cyclorama's a gorgeous and interesting space, and I'd worked a couple banquet gigs there and wanted to see how they'd transformed the space--but we went for the food and it appeared to be one of the last considerations. The restaurant had a good management team with a strong background. The chef was ex-Via Matta/Michael Schlow. What could be bad? Evidently you need to have your priorities straight in opening a restaurant and the Beehive team seemed to be focused on getting young straight people drunk in a stylish setting.

We left and walked a few doors down to Sibling Rivalry, which is run by Chef brothers David and Bob Kinkead. The brothers split the menu between them, each developing a dish around a key ingredient: shellfish, tomatoes, bacon. Then you choose whose food you eat. Gimmicky if it weren't so well executed. This time we shared a ravioli appetizer with fresh pasta and the lightest, creamiest filling, a side of zucchini fries that tasted too fishy from the deep fryer, and a vietnamese style crispy squid salad which I agreed to try because my mother told me squid tasted like onion rings. I've actually never seen *her* eat it before but she swore she liked it. Sibling Rivalry used to have an awesome pastry chef who has since left, and the dessert menu only really tempted with orange blossom crepes with cheese and poached pears, so we headed down a few more doors to

Picco, an ice cream and pizza joint. My mother got peach, which was a mild vanilla base with some peach pieces. I got coconut and caramel peanut swirl...the coconut was delicious. It was smoothly textured and looked to have a vanilla bean in it (or what else would make it flecked?), but every now and then I'd get a mouthful of coconut flakes. The peanuts had me skeptical but they were nice (salty), if the caramel was a tad sweet.

Home for baseball-and-knitting. Challenging to remain calm when the Yankees are coming to town on Friday, even if we're five games up and tonight we were losing {to the Devil Rays, which is just pathetic} right from the start. I'd furiously knit in between batters and stop when the count reached 3-2 or if anyone hit anything. I make so many mistakes when I knit while watching baseball, but it's one of the only things that keeps me even tempered. Cooking while listening to a ball game...yeah, I'll let the timers beep and the milk bubble over if we're in a tight spot. Heh.

I love the people here. Get to know your local New Englander, if you don't already. I love how they talk. I love the Yankee-hating. I love the way we can never be optimistic especially when baseball is concerned. I love how humble people are here, how the greatest enthusiasm is tempered through all kinds of filters and registers only to the observer as casual interest. I love the way culture is underground, food culture especially. It's very different in SF. This is a town you need to know how to navigate. You need to know the rules. Even if you have lived here always.

That all said I just told someone I was ready to get back to SF, and it's true. I've seen or will see everyone. I'm ready to be in the kitchen again...my postage stamp, hot plate, FPFM-madness kitchen and the insanity of the Saturday market. see you there?

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