Food Fight!

These are not the figs you're looking for. Flickr photo by stoicviking.

These are not the figs you're looking for. Flickr photo by stoicviking.

While chefs in New York think they can trash San Francisco’s food scene from 3,000 miles away, some of us here in the Mission beg to differ.

On Friday The New York Times ran a piece on Bay Area chefs responding to critiques from their colleagues in New York, centering on Anthony Bourdain and David Chang’s “I Call Bullsh-t!” discussion where they slammed cupcakes, pork belly and Alice Waters.

And yes, San Francisco.

“F-ckin’ every restaurant in San Francisco is just serving figs on a plate. Do something with your food,” said Chang as part of the discussion.

Huh? Are you talkin’ to us? Obviously you’ve spent little time in the Mission, the incubator of food trends. Innovations? We’ve got it in the vegan, the street carts serving up everything from adobo chicken to lamb curry with fresh rotis, the ice cream from Bi-Rite’s Mexican chocolate with salted peanuts to Humphry Slocombe’s creamy bourbon and cornflake concoction, the pastas from Flour + Water and the flavors of the Mediterranean via Ethiopia at Radio Africa & Kitchen. This list goes on and makes us hungry!

And it’s all served up at prices a good chunk of eaters can afford. Yes, we like to dine in New York, but after a couple days, the wallet hurts. And, the knockoffs from the Bay Area, like Blue Hill, just don’t stand up.

Folks can talk trash about Alice Waters all they want, but walk your mouth into Chez Panisse and it’s gonna be damn happy on the way out. And, if you eat upstairs, you’ll still be able to pay your child’s college tuition bill. Yeah, we too have wondered why anyone would ever order greens with goat cheese—anywhere—when you have so many other options on a menu, but those are the mysteries of taste.

“Produce in the Bay Area is so good that many chefs and diners are content to do nothing to it,” writes Jordan Mackay in his piece. Sounds like Italy to me. Get me there quick.

To make a good dish, you need good ingredients. And with our Bay Area network of local farms we get some of the best in the country.

The New York Union Square organic market compared to the Ferry Building farmers market is just plain sad. We light a candle out here for New York farmers.

One of the forerunners of the haute street-food movement, Anthony Myint, a former “high-falootin'” line cook at Bar Tartine, and his wife Karen Liebowitz, started Mission Street Food by renting out the Antojitos San Miguel cart on Thursday nights and setting up at 21st and Mission.

Offering up haute cuisine at prices befitting a recession, Mission Street Food moved from the street to the storefront, playing the experimental venue for a guest chef from a different restaurant every week, often with a different theme.

This past week, they even did what Chang and others say San Franciscans are loathe to do–“f*ck with Thanksgiving dinner.” Their “Foreign Invasion of Thanksgiving” involved za’atar-dusted turkey wings, mashed potatoes with beef mole, and sake-mirin creamed corn. Oh, and unlike Momofuku, they always keep vegan-friendly options on the menu.

How’s that Mr. Chang? At least one of us is headed to New York in a few weeks to check this Momofuku out.

8 Comments

  1. John K

    1) Vegan options should never exist on a menu. Vegetarians should only be put up with long enough to get them in bed, then kick their ass out the next day and send then back to Greens. The vegans should just be beaten like baby seals at the first mention of “soy.”
    2) The mention of several food trends does nothing to argue David and Tony’s points about SF restaurants. Go back and read what they’re saying instead of being a(nother) hipster jackass whining that somebody talked crap about Alice Water’s idea of food which should totally be put out to pasture.
    3) If you still have the “Go SF” pompoms strapped on, go read Daniel Patterson’s thoughts on the subject from several years ago.

  2. jackieg

    Here’s the deal. If you ask Joe or Jane Californian what’s your favorite kind of food they’ll say Vietnamese, or Mexican or Ethiopian, Indian… In New York City? Italian. Wha? SpaGHETti? fig-envy I’d say.

  3. sarah

    I far prefer the food here to NY, having lived in both places, and I don’t think comparisons are usually worth getting into – these towns are yim and yang. But honestly, the street food thing is a joke. NYC has had a robust street food culture, from dogs to soup to rotis to curries to yes, bahn mi, for years. We have a few jokers in Dolores Park with twitter accounts dodging cops. Room to grow, people.

  4. alex

    I don’t need to read anything, the Bay Area wins the food fight hands down. The only thing I envy in NY are bagels, which we somehow can’t figure out over here. More figs please…

  5. cody

    Let ‘em argue until they’re blue in the face. Meanwhile I will continue to eat like a champ in both cities.

  6. Lou

    Gimme a break! A couple of New Yorkers make some off the cuff comments about SF and the people out here who are acting all butt hurt aren’t SF chefs themselves, but members of the esteemed alternative “media.”

  7. lol

    It’s a well known fact that everyone in New York has to constantly be talking about how great NYC is to avoid facing the actual reality.

    Similarly well known is that this never stops being funny to everyone else in the US because it’s one of the easiest and most satisfying trolls there is.

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