Sate Your Thirst and Appetite at Smokestack

A sampler at Smokestack.

A sampler at Smokestack.


Smokestack at Magnolia Brewing Company in San Francisco specializes in B2B operations.

That’s beer-to-barbecue to you and me.

Think the usual suspects of ribs and chopped pork. But also the out-of-the-norm pastrami. Yes, New York deli-proud pastrami.

The soaring warehouse-like space in the Dogpatch neighborhood sports a bona fide brewery in the back, and a barbecue joint in the front that features an expansive bar complete with shelves of liquor stacked so high, the bartenders need to climb a tall wooden ladder to reach the top ones.

Done up in an abundance of reclaimed wood, exposed concrete walls and steel pipes, it’s a festive spot that draws a crowd, as I witnessed recently when I was invited in to dine as a guest.

On the top shelves is a zany display of assorted rubber work boots.

On the top shelves is a zany display of assorted rubber work boots.

You order at the counter, then find a seat among the several communal tables, until your food is brought to you.

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My Vietnamese Escargot Vongole

A little bit Italian, a little bit Vietnamese.

A little bit Italian, a little bit Vietnamese.


Inspiration comes in many forms.

Reading a clever turn of phrase that captivates. Feeling the bracing spray of the ocean against your face. Viewing the magnificence of a rocket-red sunset.

For me, it came in the form of snails.

Escargot, actually. Loaded up in a saucy dish at Cassia in Santa Monica to be exact.

Chef Bryant Ng melds French and Vietnamese influences in his dishes. His charred naan-like flatbread with a side of chopped lemongrass escargot, which I enjoyed at his restaurant earlier this year, is nothing short of spectacular.

My husband and I attacked the dish, finishing every last drop and crumb. All the while, I kept thinking how amazing this escargot would be tossed with pasta.

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Join the Food Gal and Dan Gordon of Gordon Biersch For A Cooking Demo

MacysDanGordonYou know you’re in for a rousing good time when Dan Gordon is in the house.

Join me when I host the South Bay’s famed brewmeister and founder of San Jose’s Gordon Biersch Brewing Company for a cooking demo, 2 p.m. Aug. 21, at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara.

Gordon recently revamped his original Gordon Biersch restaurant in downtown Palo Alto, turning it into Dan Gordon’s, which specializes in barbecue and brewski.

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You’d Be Wise To Stop In At Wise Sons

Wise Sons chocolate babka to make you weak in the knees.

Wise Sons chocolate babka to make you weak in the knees.


I did not grow up in New York. But I can still appreciate a good bagel, nevertheless.

A native San Franciscan, I found my standard bearer to be the home-grown House of Bagels.

While there has been a proliferation of bagel chains lately, too many disappoint. Ginormous bread bombs, bagels should not be.

Wise Sons of San Francisco, however, is an exception. Its bagel bakery opened at 1520 Fillmore St. in January. And it is the real-deal.

They make them in the wee hours of the night, the time-honored way by boiling them before baking them.

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Yossy Arefi’s Soft Chocolate and Fig Cake

You'll fall hard for this chocolate fig cake. I sure did.

You’ll fall hard for this chocolate fig cake. I sure did.


Imagine a deliriously, deep, rich chocolate-y cake that’s like the love child of a brownie and a molten lava cake.

It’s the stuff of dreams, isn’t it?

It surely is my fantasy come true, especially with its scattering of plump fresh figs on top. So much so that I can’t stop myself from digging a fork into it again and again in utter bliss.

That’s what “Soft Chocolate and Fig Cake” will do to you.

This incredible — and incredibly easy — cake is from the new cookbook, “Sweeter Off The Vine” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy.


It’s from the super talented Yossy Arefi, a Brooklyn-based food photographer, food stylist and baker, who created the charmingly named blog, Apt. 2B Baking Co., where she chronicles her baking endeavors.

This is one of those must-have cookbooks. And I don’t say that lightly, not when my shelves are already groaning under the strain of too many cookbooks. But if you’re like me and love to bake, you will find yourself bookmarking practically every page because these are down-home treats with a personality all their own that are in no way an ordeal to make.

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