Lefty O’Doul’s – 333 Geary Street, San Francisco

Francis Joseph “Lefty” O’Doul was a home-grown San Franciscan who played for the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, as well as the New York Giants and went on to manage the local San Francisco Seals from 1937 to 1951. He is credited as being instrumental in spreading baseball’s popularity in Japan, serving as the sport’s goodwill ambassador before and after World War II. The Tokyo Giants, sometimes considered “Japan’s Baseball Team,” were named by him in 1935 in honor of his affiliation with his New York team.

Lefty opened his hometown restaurant and pub on Geary Street in 1958. The place is dark and woody, crowded with baseball memorabilia, and throngs of patrons who clearly feel at home and no doubt crowd the place on a regular basis.

The term “watering hole” may not have been invented for this place, but it certainly applies. Ask the guy next us at the bar who was about 3003 sheets to the wind (“I’m forty-fooour… of course next year I’m gonna be forty-threeeee…. I look pretty good for forty-nine, don’t IIIIIIIII?“) And of course, this was at about 11:30 in the morning. The lengthy bar and comfy stools stand directly across from a steam tray line where cooks serve up hand-carved roast beef, ham and pastrami, filling the stomachs of the business district at lunchtime.

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Harvey Wallbanger

Let’s hear it for Harvey!

This is a drink I’ve been curious about all my life. If my parents weren’t drinking it in the seventies, they were certainly referencing it in conversation as a popular beverage among the kings and queens of the shag carpet set. It was brought up on Match Game routinely. And remember that character actor on Bewitched? The one who played the drunk who was always settled at the bar where Darrin, Larry and their important client would go to lunch as Samantha popped in surreptitiously to investigate and then pop out just as quickly – leaving him to double-take, eye the bottom of his glass questionably and then sputter, “Hey Floyd… another Harvey Wallbanger!”

This drink is fabled in my consciousness. A litany of childhood pop culture references, a sunshiney-day disposition, and one of the best hedonistic names of all time!

The legend of the naming of the Harvey Wallbanger is questionable. The story that, if not true, is certainly the most circulated centers on a Manhattan Beach surfer named Harvey who loved to add Galliano to his screwdriver (which, sadly, is all a Harvey Wallbanger is – oj, vodka and a little Galliano). Poor old Harvey had one too many one night and went slamming into a couple walls on his way out of the bar. True or not, the story’s quirky and disreputable tone is a perfect match for the drink name.

Galliano is a sweet, vanilla-ish liquer named after Giuseppe Galliano, an officer in the Italian Army during the first Italo-Ethiopian War (1895-1896). I possess no Collins glass, which is the glass you’re supposed to serve this in, but I’m sure the Bewitched town drunk wouldn’t have turned down a Wallbanger in a Pilsner beer glass, so why should anyone else mind?

  • one ounce vodka
  • four ounces orange juice
  • 1/2 ounce of Galliano

Pour vodka and orange juice into a Collins glass filled with ice.  Stir, and then float the Galiano over the top.  “Floating” is also known as “layering” and works like this: pour Galliano into the drink over the back of a bar spoon so as to keep it at the top on its own separate layer (so obviously don’t stir the drink once the Galliano is present). It will remain separate from the rest of the drink because of the difference in density and sugar content.

Arguments about whether or not to garnish the drink abound, but I went ahead and did it. A great sweet, tangy morning or mid-day beverage, this little Wallbanger is.

And for the Bewtiched purists out there… that “town drunk” who also turned up at local parks, local jails and random bus stops on the show was played by Dick Wilson, better known to America as “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin” pitch man, Mister Whipple.

Huevos Rancheros and Tequila

Fresh homemade salsa has become a regular thing with me lately, and any dish I find that can accommodate it is going straight to the top of my “to do” list. More often than not, I’m racing to finish a leftover stash of it from a previous night’s meal. Any more than two days sitting in the refrigerator, and the salsa loses its potency, becomes too watery and stands in the refrigerator merely as a reminder of my inability to reduce recipe measurements when I’m only cooking for myself and MG and not the entire office.

So when I see a recipe or a blog entry (in this case, Smitten Kitchen, yet again that makes room for the salsa, I’m pretty sure it’s to cook up in my kitchen.

Add to the fact that egg dishes are usually pretty easy to conquer, fast to prepare, and good morning, noon and night, and this recipe even had more going for it.

And if you can find an excuse to squeeze in some tequila on a Wednesday night too, well…!

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String of Pearls

This is a sweet, smooth, dare I say “cozy” after-dinner drink to serve on a night you’re staying in with a movie on the big screen TV.  They also might fit alongside the Sidecar, Whiskey Sour and Horse’s Neck at a 1940’s Prohibition-themed party. The creme de cacao and the half-and-half pretty much sweep any alcoholic bite right out of the glass, so be careful.  They go down fast.

I have made this drink a couple times now for MG.  Not sure how he feels about the actual drink, but he’s certainly loving that I’ve regularly got bags of Hershey almond kisses in the kitchen cupboard.

  • 1 1/2 cups of cracked ice or 6 ice cubes
  • 1 1/2 ounces of vodka
  • 1/2 ounce white creme de cacao
  • 1/2 ounce of half and half
  • 1 chocolate kiss or chocolate-covered coffee bean

Fill a cocktail shaker with the ice and then add the vodka, creme de cacao and half-and-half.  Shake vigorously to blend and chill

Place the chocolate kiss in the bottom of a chilled martini glass.  Strain the mixture into the glass and serve

Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary (Part 2)

Several weeks ago, I started buying low-sodium V8 vegetable juice to keep on hand as an alternative to orange juice. An 8 ounce glass has ten grams of carbs, only fifty calories and ZERO grams of fat. It’s a little thicker on the palette than I’m used to, but it didn’t take long for it to replace orange juice as my breakfast compliment. Then, all of a sudden, here’s MG at every turn with a glass of vegetable juice and a suspicious stalk of celery sticking out of it. Turns out my baby is a fan of the Bloody Mary. I thought they were more or less a Sunday brunch beverage or morning hangover cure, but MG seems to be fond of them in the early evening, so I thought I’d have one ready for him when he showed up the other night. And of course, I thought I’d do a little research on the subject as well… because knowing how to make them is nice, but knowing who made them first is totally impressive.

Click here for the Classic Bloody Mary Recipe

Homemade Guac and Salsa for Chicken Soft Tacos

There is a lot to be said for swinging around a knife.  Stabbing vegetables is a great method for chasing away the blahs.  The only thing better is chowing down on the delicious results.  I promised MG and Michael, our dinner guest to supply the homemade guac and the salsa, plus season up some chicken if MG agreed to employ his trademark secret for cooking the tortillas just long enough for sturdiness without burning.

I used to just chop the hell out of everything and mix it together, sweeping the excess mix into a single container for the fridge, but now I keep the ingredients separated by family – onion family, pepper family, and things that are green but not a pepper family member.  As I mix a little of each in and try the resulting flavor of the salsa and the guac, I’m starting to learn what combination produces the most kick.