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Cabbages Trump Potatoes on St. Patrick's Day
By Laura McHale Holland
Long before the first St. Patrick's Day, and long before Viagra, the Irish drank mead. It is a honeyed wine that was valued for its purported medicinal and fertility-enhancing properties. There's still mead aplenty in County Clare on the Emerald Isle, but it's scarce in Noe Valley. You will, however, find other things Irish to help you bring in the green this St. Patrick's Day.
Festivities planned at the Dubliner bar on 24th Street include live music, Irish dancers, bagpipers, and free corned beef and cabbage. "We have the friendliest bartenders and the best Guinness in San Francisco," boasts Vincent Hogan, the establishment's owner. The fun starts at noon on Monday, March 17, and continues until 2 a.m. If you want to wow your fellow patrons, greet them with "Dia duit! Conas ta tu?" (pronounced "Gee a gwitch! Cun ass ta too?"). It means, "Hi! How are you?" in Irish.
On Saturday, March 15, St. Paul's Men's Club is hosting a St. Patrick's Day dinner in the St. Paul's parish center at 29th and Church streets. "We'll have corned beef and cabbage, soda bread, and a cash bar. Doors open a 6, dinner's at 7, and everybody's invited," says parishioner Marie Helms. "There will also be hot dogs for kids who don't want corned beef," she adds. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $6 for children ages 2 through 12. Tickets are available at St. Paul's rectory on Valley Street and at the church on Sundays. You can also call 641-4829 for reservations.
Sadly, members of St. Philip's on Diamond Street will not be hosting their annual St. Patrick's Eve party this year, because the church's parish hall is being renovated and can't be used.
"It will be the first time since the parish was founded that we aren't planning a St. Pat's party," notes Father Michael Healy, the church's pastor. "Our parish started in 1910 with a little wooden structure on Elizabeth Street. Back then, Twin Peaks was farmland. That's hard to imagine now," muses Healy. "It's a pity [there's no St. Patrick's event] this year because we'll miss Jack Hart, who serves his wonderful corned beef and cabbage, and we'll miss the soda bread," he continues. "But it's still early. You never know what people will come up with."
If you are planning to host your own celebration, both Noe Valley Bakery and Bread Company on 24th Street and Drewes Market on Church Street are happy to help. The bakery will be selling shamrock cookies and three types of soda bread. "There's plain, current-caraway, and scallion," says Pat Askam, the bakery's manager. "We'll have a good supply here, but if you want to special-order, we'll be glad to take it. A couple days' notice for the breads is good," she adds. The bakery's number is 550-1405.
Drewes Market is giving away a free head of cabbage to customers who place advance orders for corned beef. "We'll have three cuts available," says Josh Epple, who co-owns the market with his brother Isaac. "Brisket's the old-fashioned traditional. It's stringy and falls apart easily. Bottom round is a little bit leaner, more solid. And then we have the eye of the round, which is the leanest." Price per pound ranges from $3.29 to $4.29.
Also, as people line up at Drewes' counter on St. Patrick's Day, Irish pipers will be performing outside the store beginning around noon. "Last year, we had about a dozen drummers and bagpipers. The street was packed," recalls Epple. Drewes' number is 821-0515.
To showcase the literary side of the people who produced such proverbs as "The older the fiddle, the sweeter the tune" and "It's no use carrying an umbrella if your shoes are leaking," San Francisco's Main Library has some free offerings this month. A panel called "Lavender and Green: Queer Irish Writing," moderated by Kevin Killian on Saturday, March 8, from 1 to 3 p.m., will feature readings by Jamie O'Neill, James Liddy, and Eileen Miles.
On Saturday, March 15, an Irish-American Literary Festival will offer readings, discussion, and music in two programs. The first, "Ireland and the Caribbean: Islands in the Gulf Stream," moderated by Margaret McPeake, will include readings by Kate McCafferty, Jacqueline Bishop, and Maria McGarrity, and will run from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Then, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., you can hear "Irish Women's Voices" and readings by authors and poets Nuala O'Falain, Ann Saddlemyer, Sarah Berkeley, and Emer Martin. This second half of the festival will be moderated by Elgy Gillespie.
All events will take place in Koret Auditorium on the Main Library's lower level, 100 Larkin Street, at Grove. For more details call 557-4277.
Whether you celebrate the day or not, here's a wee bit of Irish wisdom to put in your cap: "Your feet will bring you where your heart is." h