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Sunday, June 08, 2008


Gestalt Haus

view of lights on the ceiling of Gestalt on 16th Street, San FranciscoIt's not often that I comment on a bar, but it's not often that a bar offers both a wide range of beers on tap that I am willing to drink AND vegan sausages cooked on a separate grill/sandwich press from the animal sausages. This is noteworthy enough that it merits mention here.

Gestalt Haus is just a block or so down 16th Street from THE favorite dive of one of my favorite "mean law firm girlfriends" (as I advertise them), and after a round at that dive and commentary on bars to avoid in the area, we both realized that we hadn't been to Gestalt to drink, either together or separately. She was concerned that, being a "German" bar, it might be too meat-oriented for me, but I had already has assurances from a brown-eyed, hipster bike-boy in the office that vegan sausages are available there. And how many places can you say that about?

My girlfriend was immediately thrilled: she drinks Speakeasy beers, of which there is an unusual abundance of there, and so she had a wide range of choices that she loves. I had some trouble choosing from the dozen or more taps that were protruding over the heads of the boys with uncombed hair at the bar, but only because there were so many of them. (Both uncombed boys and beers.) I went with Blue Moon, a wheat beer that I adore, but I could have also happily had Fat Tire, or Franziskaner Weissbier, or... other good choices that I have forgotten, but which were promising. (Yes, I like white beers, wheat beers, and Belgian beers, but actively dislike regular beer. My immediate family would look over their Buds with me in confusion.)

There were two vegan sausage options, Italian or Kielbasa, and about 8 meat sausage options, all of which come on organic rolls. I went with the Italian vegan with sauerkraut and a bit of mustard, which was exactly what I needed. As with all good vegan sausages, it did not taste like icky meat, but was its own tasty thing. My girlfriend assures me that her animal sausage was both enormous and delicious.

I've actually spent a lot of time in the space where Gestalt now is. I loved Cafe Macando (in which the walls were covered with odd colors of paint and framed black and white photographs of left-wing heroes) and Cafe La (L)Onda (which carried over the mismatched tables with individual, mismatched bedside table lamps, which gave the place a warm, comfortable glow that I swore I would one day commit to paper with pastels, but never did), and was really bummed when the latter closed. Now, I am not as bummed, as I would happily spend time at Gestalt also.

The music was fine. No one hassled us for having combed our hair. My girlfriend got to watch the A's game, and we both were amused by the skateboard videos.

Bonus: the reviews of Gestalt Haus on Yelp are a riot. Everything they say about the bathroom is true.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)9:15 AM

Saturday, September 01, 2007

  Valencia dining. I love the food at Dosa South Indian Cuisine (, but perhaps I like even more that it is so novel to the neighborhood that it has lines out the door nearly every night it is open. That distracts people from taking up table space that I want at Herivore ( just a few doors down.

This means other people are standing in the street, while I'm sitting down with a soju ginger cocktail and a steaming plate of lemongrass noodles: rice linguine piled high with grilled sweet peppers, zucchini, oyster mushrooms, and other veggies, tofu, and a heavenly lemongrass-ginger sauce. It is absolutely heavenly. I've never had a bad thing on the Herbivore menu, but as fabulous as many of the other dishes are (lasagna!), 'lemongrass noodles' is the dish I remember when I'm walking down Valencia, heading there.


As an added bonus, Herbivore (and Dosa) are just a few blocks away from Dog Eared Books ( and my favorite Mission District bookstore, Modern Times Bookstore (

This most recent trip to Modern Times, I found two items I couldn't resist (and then fled the store before caving in to others). The first is Theme Magazine (, which is a magazine of "global Asian culture." This primarily means it's a magazine about Asian designers, illustrators, and authors living in the northern hemisphere in hip cities. I bought it because it had a section on journals and sketchbooks, topics of great fetishism for me. It isn't that I didn't know that professional illustrators keep lovely personal sketchbooks, but I wanted details, and the magazine delivered - which was pleasant to see. The magazine was attractive throughout, and I was only teased by my partner briefly for buying an Asian culture magazine, what with my past "honorary Asian" status and all. (Thanks, Andy. :-)) Westernized Asian culture is quite familiar to me, and has probably been the dominant cultural influence out of many, many cultural influences I had while growing up.

As I was reading it, I had to wonder: what would a magazine devoted to MY global culture look like? Would it be a magazine devoted to bi-racial and/or multi-racial women, or multi-racial people in general? And, would our art (and our diaries and sketchbooks) look any different from anyone else's? Theme was full of photos of Asians, but I don't know that hypothetical publications I produced would be exclusive ethnically - heck, I don't know that many of my kind! I look at my work and my cousin's work, and I don't think anyone would guess what we are right away - even the photos of bears (the big hairy men, not the bruins) at various SF events would only hint a bit about my cousin, but not tell anyone about our ethnicity.

I think we're culturally more big-city (and thus naturally more multi-cultural) in our subjects than many people. I'm going to have to give that some more thought, and perhaps conspire with my cousin to see what he thinks.


Also from Modern Times, Raw by Roxanne Klein and Charlie Trotter (, a gorgeous food preparation book with coffee table book styling. I bought it primarily for the gorgeous food pictures, but also because of the fact that it is full of vegan recipes, and that means they are all available to me.

Years ago, I stopped buying cookbooks containing meat recipes, since it didn't make sense to buy a book for a mere chapter or two of things I could use. My ongoing slide toward veganism makes even some vegetarian cookbooks less useful to me. (I had actually gone to Modern Times specifically to buy an encyclopedic cookbook on a wide range of cuisines, which I had long resisted because I didn't think I'd use most of the recipes. A few intriguing recipes in it had won me over, but Steven randomly opened the book to a chapter on eggs, and pointed out the uselessness of that entire section... How many years has it been since I bought an egg? There are eggs in dishes I eat outside of home, especially at crepe places or dessert cafes, but I don't cook with eggs at all.)

I have a girlfriend who goes for various periods of time eating almost exclusively fresh, uncooked foods, which it has an obvious appeal here in a place where we can get some really GREAT fresh produce. There are some obvious health advantages to eating fresh, unprocessed foods, and the book appears to be full of clever recipes for non-salad dishes that I would never have come up with on my own. So I'll give these dishes a try, and will report on how they turn out.

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posted by Arlene (Beth)10:00 PM

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