Hooray! The Holiday Market has begun! Every kind of beautiful handmade thing you could wish for, lovingly displayed all around; sparkling lights and faux evergreen; folk music and feral kids running amok through the crooked isles. Shopping like this certainly is hungry work.
Luckily, in the heart of it all are the Saturday Market food booths we've come to know and love. One perennial favorite is Ritta's Burritos. Years of practice and love have let Ritta and her crew perfect the burrito craft, and the market is the perfect place for it. A former brief shopfront in Sweet Life Patisserie's current spot wasn't as successful, but at the Market there's always a line. You can get a regular for $4.50, deluxe for $5, or a small version for less. Ritta's also offers punch cards, if you're a big fan. Fill half the card, get a free drink, fill the whole card and get a big fat burrito on the house.
Ritta's is not fast food: musician Danny Dolinger got through two songs by the time my name was called and my burrito was delivered. It was heaping full of a saucy salsa, sour cream, avocados (which come on the deluxe version — always get them if you can), sprouts and plenty of flavor. It satisfies on a deep and primal level, and will run down your chin and even your elbows without the proper precautions. If you order one, be sure to find a table and some napkins. Sharing it with a kid, it took me nine paper napkins to keep the mess in check.
Dessert at Dana's, located conveniently next door, was quicker and cleaner. The cheesecake is classic. Creamy and smooth, a layer of lighter cream on top, crumbly cookie crust below. The crust is always light and crispy; I'm not sure how they do that. The cheesecake is even available in eggnog flavor for the holidays. Dana's also provides great coffee and even has a jar of metal forks available (while they last) in addition to the plastic ones. The slices of cake are always good and fresh as well.
10 am-6 pm SA & SU through Dec. 24. $.
$ — under $7, $$ — $7 to $12, $$$ — $12 to $17, $$$$ — over $17
Back to Top
Fuelish behavior in the land of the Bush Mandate.
BY JIM MOTAVALLI
Are you doing your patriotic duty? Did you consume your fair share of gasoline today? That's the law, or at least it seems that way in the era of the Bush Mandate. Drive an economy car like the Toyota Echo and, as writer Alan Bisbort puts it, "risk detention at the nearest homeland security compound, for possible unpatriotic impulses and failure to emit enough pollution in the grand American tradition."
Despite constantly evolving technology that could turn today's cars into fuel misers, the average 2003 car gets only 20.8 miles per gallon, 6 percent below the pre-SUV high water mark for American fuel economy in 1987 (22.1 mpg). As Technology Review points out, the 2002 Chevy Blazer gets a miserable 18 mpg, two mpg less than its 1985 counterpart. But according to a coalition of environmental groups, it would be economically and technically feasible for automakers to meet a standard of more than 40 mpg by 2012 and 55 mpg by 2020, nearly a 75 percent increase compared with today's fleet.
John DeCicco, a senior fellow at Environmental Defense, thinks that SUVs could average 40 mpg (up from the current dismal 21 mpg). Some two thirds of the savings could come from improving the powertrain, and even more from reducing weight and rolling resistance of these bricklike objects. The Sierra Club concurs, and is pushing such fuel-saving technology as the gearless continuously variable transmission (CVT). To achieve these savings would cost $1,000 to $2,000 per car, but consumers would get their money back in five years through savings at the gas pump.
The Ford Motor Company knows how to do it, and is bringing out a 40-mpg version of its Escape SUV next year. Will people buy it in quantity? It's hard to tell, but some 74 percent of voters in industry-friendly Michigan favor increasing fuel economy standards for cars, according to a recent poll.
|THE H2 HUMMER: WHO CARES ABOUT FUEL ECONOMY?|
The problem isn't just the car companies. Consumers are making bad choices, and it's leading Detroit to stop caring about fuel economy. One of the big best-sellers today is General Motors' H2 Hummer. Here's owner Bill Kramer, quoted in the New York Times: "If you can afford a [$50,000] H2 you're not going to care if it gets 10 miles to the gallon." It actually gets nine mpg, but who's counting? The Sierra Club is planning a campaign against the Hummer, similar to its "Ford Valdez" campaign that helped bring down Ford's mammoth Excursion.
Another problem is obfuscation. Industry and its nonprofit supporters have mounted their own campaign, opposing any changes to Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE), and consequently it has remained frozen for more than 15 years.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute scares car buyers by citing a National Academy of Sciences report claiming that federal fuel economy standards contribute to the deaths of 1,300 to 2,600 people in traffic accidents each year. CAFE "simply kills people," says CEI attorney Sam Kazman. But how many people die because SUVs are on the road? No studies exist, but there's ample evidence that SUVs are no safer than cars, when rollover risk is factored in.
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers scares people too, by saying that "energy legislation would effectively eliminate SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks." The American Iron and Steel Institute says that "increasing CAFE would be counterproductive in terms of energy savings and would interfere with market forces." And the Heartland Institute adds that higher CAFE standards would not result in less energy consumption but would simply prompt people to travel more (italics added). We're in the land of overt silliness here, but it's winning friends and influencing congressmen, while we slowly choke and run out of gas.