Bernal Neighbor Creates Redeeming Recipe for Kugel


The holiday season is upon us, which means it’s time for seasonal holiday foods, like gingerbread, and fruitcake, and (for our Jewish friends) kugel.

What’s kugel? The Wikipedia sayeth:

Kugel (קוגל kugl, pronounced IPA: [ˈkʊɡl̩]) is a baked pudding or casserole, similar to a pie, most commonly made from egg noodles (Lokshen kugel) or potato. It is a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish dish.

Kugel is basically a sweet noodle dish, but what the Wikipedia fails to mention is that many contemporary Jews don’t really like kugel all that much… because it’s a sweet noodle dish.

Enter Bernal neighbor Julia Weber from Joy Street. Neighbor Julia is on a mission to redeem kugel for the 21st century. Neighbor Julia’s kugel with apricot nectar (recipe right here) — which comes from a recipe created by Rachel Breuer in the Excelsior — was recently discovered by the foodie scouts from The Food Network magazine, which also gave her contributions to the kugel arts a special shout out in the December 2014 issue:

Kugel seems to be the underdog of Hanukkah staples: Everyone talks about latkes and jelly doughnuts this time of year, but few people seem to give the traditional noodle casserole a second thought, until the Kugel Nosh Down came along. Friends Rebecca Weiner and Julia Weber dreamed up the cook-off two years ago, and they have launched a full-on kugel craze in San Francisco.

Want a taste? Neighbor Julia invites you to the 2014 Kugel Nosh Down this weekend to benefit the religious school at Congregation Sha’ar Zahav. Get your tickets here:

2nd Annual Kugel Nosh Down – Sunday, December 14, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m

Join us for an afternoon of kugel sampling and fun! Competitors will show off their skills with savory and sweet kugel samples. Prizes will be awarded! Help us choose the most delicious kugel and join family and friends while raising money for Beit Sefer Phyllis Mintzer, our fabulous Shabbat and Hebrew school for kids K-8!

Here’s the plan for the afternoon

3:00 p.m. Tasting begins with kugel, drinks, additional fabulous snacks, and more (entertaining surprises await!)
4:15 p.m. Voting concludes
4:45 p.m. Prizes awarded
5:00 p.m. More kugel tasting and event wrap up

Want to enter your delicioius kugel? Questions?Contact us at

Adults: $25 in advance; $30 at the door. Kids under 12, $5.00
Please note: $12.50 of each adult ticket may be tax-deductible.

Congregation Sha’ar Zahav
290 Dolores (at 16th Street)
San Francisco, CA 94103

PHOTO: Neighbor Julia’s Kugel with Apricot Nectar via The Food Network

Sad Food Critic Complains Because Service at Red Hill Station Is Very Friendly


As you know, Red Hill Station is the wonderful new(ish) seafood restaurant on Cortland opened by Bernal neighbors Taylor Pederson and Amy Reticker. It’s delicious. Also, it’s now open for both lunch and dinner. And food critics are starting to take notice. Zagat loves it, but Anna Roth, a critic with SF Weekly, published an odd review last week. The biggest problem with Red Hill Station, Roth says, is that it is too friendly.

To be sure, Roth really enjoyed her seafood:

There are a lot of highlights on the seafood-heavy menu. Red Hill served one of the best sandwiches I’ve had in recent memory, stuffed with albacore that had been slow-poached in olive oil and studded with capers and lemon juice. The oily tuna, bolstered with garlic aioli, melted into its buttered, toasted Acme roll, its juices dripping onto the plate and coating my fingers with every bite. I couldn’t stop eating it, even as I complained about how full I was. I had similarly strong feelings about the bay shrimp that accompanied the Caesar salad. Heavy on lime juice and tossed with toasted garlic and bread crumbs, the tiny, flavorful shrimp wouldn’t have been out of place at a Vietnamese restaurant.

Roth felt the vegetables at Red Hill could use some more love, but her main gripe had nothing to do with the food:

The most objectionable thing about the restaurant was the service, which was so aggressively friendly that it strayed into intrusive. Waiters inserted themselves into and hijacked conversations more than once, grinding them to a halt. It seemed to be a misplaced use of the friendly, small-town attitude of Bernal Heights, and the spot has already become a gathering point for the close-knit neighborhood. The restaurant was full on both visits, and the servers greeted many of the patrons by name. But all this extroversion can also be off-putting to outsiders, especially when dishes hover around $20 a plate.

Wait… what? This complaint is as sad as it is laughable. It’s like going to New York and whining that the dining scene there is “aggressively competitive,” or visiting Tokyo and grumbling that the service was “aggressively formal.”  To whine about such things is to deny the essence of the place; the thing that makes the dining experience genuinely local. Of course, its fine to want something less local — McDonald’s created a very large business by assiduously stripping out all the local from the food, after all — but to complain about a chatty neighborly vibe in Bernal Heights is to miss the point of the exercise entirely.

Sure, to someone from off-hill, many of our local establishments may feel a little bit like stepping into an episode of Portlandia. But that’s precisely why we call Bernal’s main street Cortlandia, after all. It’s funny because it’s true.

Team Red Hill Station should wear this ridiculous criticism as a badge of honor. The food at Red Hill is exceptional, and the atmosphere inside is comfortable and relaxed. The data suggests this formula is working brilliantly for a great many happy, paying customers.  If aggressive friendliness is to be the ding against Red Hill Station — and against the very thing that makes Bernal Heights so Bernal — then its safe to say we’re all doing something right.

IMAGE: via Red Hill Station on Facebook

New, Hawaiian-Style Brunch Pop-up Coming to 903 Cortland


There’s a new weekend-only brunch pop-up coming to the space at 903 Cortland. The pop-up is called āina, and like the name, the food will be Hawaiian. The restaurant will open up to the public this Saturday, November 22, with plans to serve brunch every weekend,  Saturday and Sunday, 9 am-2 pm.

Team āina tells Bernalwood:

We are excited to provide a new brunch option for the Bernal Heights neighborhood at our new pop-up, called ‘āina (903 Cortland Avenue, CA 94110). ‘āina is from the Hawaiian language, and means land/earth. Jordan Keao, the chef, lives smack in Bernal; Jason Alonzo runs the front of the house, and he lives just down the hill.

Our idea is to incorporate all our past experiences and finally work for ourselves, allowing great creativity and responsible food sourcing. Everything we serve will be from the land or transformed from what the land has given to us. The food will have an Asian or Hawaiian influence with a breath of the classic breakfast dishes. We will cook with the seasons, using local ingredients from the bay area, as well as local ingredients from the chef’s home, the Big Island of Hawai’i. Our Facebook page has more information and a sample of our menu.

From Jordan (the chef) and Jason (front of house).

Here’s a sample menu:


PHOTO: Poached egg, smoked royal king trumpet mushrooms, kabocha squash puree, wild watercress with some Chinese sausage Lap Cheong on top, from āina via Facebook

New CSAs Offer Boxloads of Farm-Fresh Produce Near Precita Park


Neighbor Ian lives near Precita Park, and he’s spreading the word about a few new CSAs* that offer boxloads o’ fresh fruit to the Citizens of Bernalwood:

We still need a few more folks to sign up for the Frog Hollow Farm fruit CSA to get it off the ground. We had a great showing at our fruit tasting last weekend, and many neighbors got to sample the delicious Frog Hollow fruit, jams, chutney, olive oil, and sign up for box delivery.

Once we get a full roster, Frog Hollow will notify everyone on the waitlist and start deliveries. There is a lot of info on the Frog Hollow website about the CSA, the fruit, the size of boxes and the cost.

Need vegetables too? Our house also hosts a veggie box CSA for Full Belly Farms that people can sign up for as well. Sign up for either or both here:

Frog Hollow Farms fruit CSA (we are the Bernal/Mission site) Phone: 888.779.4511 option 4 (M-F 9a-4p)

Full Belly Farm vegetable CSA (we are Precita Park site) Phone: 800-791-2110

* Neighbor Mark asks, “Wait, what’s a CSA?” Fair question. Here’s a good summary and definition.

PHOTO: Some recent goodness from Frog Hollow Farm, via Neighbor Ian

Passing the Torch: La Terraza to Become Craft Beer Bar and Restaurant


There’s been lots of transformation on Mission Street in Bernal Heights, along the northern reaches of the La Lengua Autonomous Zone.

Anchoring the party, El Rio has (blessedly) been there since more or less forever, of course. More recently, the arrival of Blue Plate, Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack, Baby Blues BBQ, Iron and Gold,  The Royal Cuckoo, Virgil’s, ICHI Sushi+Ni Bar, the Pizza Hacker, and a few other 21st century foodie/drinkie institutions have steadily transformed the northern half of Bernal’s stretch of Mission into a destination for folks from all over our City.

Yet so far, this transformation has not extended south beyond 30th Street and our Taoist Safeway. By the time you reach the (Bernalistically symbolic) intersection of Cortland and Mission, for example, you’ll notice that the urban fabric today remains pretty much as it has been since the 1980s. Pretty much.

Now, however, comes news that evolution is coming to our southern part of Mission Street. InsideScoop broke the story yesterday, revealing that at 3472 Mission Street, a new bar/restaurant called Old Devil Moon will soon replace La Terraza.

Google recently captured La Terraza for posterity, in first-rate form, looking awesome and adrift in time:


InsideScoop sez:

Old Devil Moon is in the works at 3472 Mission Street, the location probably best known as La Terraza, which has been owned and operated by brothers Pedro and Isidro Navarette for the last 20 years. La Terraza will remain open for about three to four more months, until the liquor license transfers.

Old Devil Moon will be a craft beer bar, albeit one with a full liquor license and menu of Southern food. The folks behind it are a trio of beer nerds: Chris Cohen (founder-president of the SF Homebrewers Guild), Andrew Kelley and Will Marshall.

That’s Chris, Andrew, and Will in the photo up top (though not necessarily in that order).

At first blush, this probably looks like yet another in a contemporary series of awkward local tales about Old-Timers vs. New People. Gentrification! Hipsters! “Erosion of our San Francisco culture!”

Alas,  this isn’t really one of those kinds of stories. Instead, it’s is a tale of neighborly evolution and passing-of-the-torch.  Old Devil Moon’s Chris Cohen told Bernalwood how the change of ownership went down:

Pedro was my next door neighbor on Tiffany Ave for 5+ years, and I knew he owned la Terraza from talking over the fence over the years.

One day when we were both taking the trash out at the same time I asked him if he knew any bar owners who may want to sell (I’d been looking for a space for months). He said, “I’ve actually been thinking about retiring for a couple years, I’d love to sell you my place.” It took another few months to get the deal done and we finally just posted the ABC notice of license transfer in their window today. Everyone did well and is happy with the results of the deal.

It’s essentially similar to what happened with Emmy’s taking over El Zocalo, and the Nap’s/Virgil’s story. Nap was ready to quit the business, and his bar wasn’t doing as well as it used to because the neighborhood had changed around the business. The process and reason for the changes at our La Terraza location are similar.

Pedro and his brother Isidro have owned La Terraza for about 20 years and are ready to retire. They were happy to sell to a neighbor.

PHOTO: Team Old Devil Moon, via Old Devil Moon

Ye Olde Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack Closes Tonight; New Emmy’s Opens This Weekend


As you know, Miss Emmy Kaplan from the eponymous Spaghetti Shack recently announced plans to relocate her restaurant to a new location a few blocks north.

Now Emmy has passed word to Bernalwood that Old Emmy’s closes tonight, and New Emmy’s opens this weekend:

Want to let our Bernal neighbors know that Tuesday night will be our last at 18 Virginia St.

We are hoping to open to the public either Friday or Saturday night at our new location, 3230 Mission Street.

We hope to be accepting reservations through our Facebook page as soon as Friday morning and presenting a happy hour and late night menu in a week or two.

Hope to see some regulars and neighbors over there soon!

PHOTO: Emmy Kaplan with actual spaghetti, via Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack

A Few Spaces Left in Little Bee Baking Class This Weekend


Neighbor Stacie from Little Bee Baking on Cortland tells us she has just a few spaces remaining in her new baking class that gets underway this Sunday, November 9. This is your big chance to learn the ancient secrets of pie dough:

I’ll be starting to teach baking classes at Little Bee in November.

This has been an idea I’ve had since starting the shop – I love teaching and creating a fun and relaxed environment where people aren’t afraid to try baking.

My first class will be about making traditional pie dough and I hope to teach a new class each month or so. I encourage people of all levels to join in. All ingredients and equipment are included. Students will get to take home their doughs at the end of class, and we will enjoy fresh baked pie with coffee or tea at the end over a relaxed Q & A session.

Look for details on cost, timing, and sign-up logistics in the poster below.

In a follow up email earlier today, Stacie said:

I have a four spots left for the first class this Sunday. If there’s a lot of interest, I am able to add a second class if necessary the following Sunday, 11/16 from 6-9. I’m also planning a class for December as well on 12/14.


PHOTO: Top, Stacie Pierce from Little Bee Baking, by Telstar Logistics