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SF Chronicle Food Section Roundup: Valentine's Day Menu, Mayonnaise, and Chinese New Year

In Dining high on the hog for Chinese New Year, Olivia Wu discusses traditional foods of the day, how lavishly the New Year is feted in both Asia and in San Francisco, and lists ten mission critical tips to booking and ordering a private banquet at a fine-dining Chinese restaurant. This one is I think potentially most useful: "Ask for the restaurant's fixed-price menus for a 10-course meal. They can start at around $350 and go up to $650; some restaurants have menus composed for each price level. This is a good idea, especially if you don't know the restaurant and the chef doesn't know your tastes, or you don't know how to organize and pace a 10-course meal."

Other highlights:

Forgot it was Valentine's Day or too busy to make plans? Marlena Spieler put together a last minute Valentine's Day menu, from appetizer through dessert. The Cumin Lamb Chops with Sweet Potatoes & Tomato-Ginger Chutney sound delicious!

"Mayonnaise is one of the five mother sauces," says Nathan Peterson, chef-owner of Olivia restaurant in Berkeley. "It crosses through all of the classic cuisines, and when done right, is truly one of the most wonderful things in the world." Melissa Swanson explains why we should stop underestimating mayonnaise, and why and how we should make it at home ourselves.

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