No matter how long you’ve lived in this area, if you call San Francisco “Home” then let’s just admit it: we’re really lucky. Anyone who shares my passion for food and feels a constant craving for culinary exploration (…I suddenly feel like a cross between Magellan and KD Lang…) is well aware of how lucky we are to be in such a gastro-centric city. Much like how amazing attractions like Alcatraz or Giants games get taken for granted because they're are so many amazing things to do here, it's easy to overlook just how lucky we are. It's rare to take a step back and think, "Whoa, buying goats milk butter for my day-to-day needs is not normal. That's pretty cool." For me, one of those wake-up calls came when I was introduced to the man I consider the finest sommelier I’ve ever known. His name is Yoon Ha, he works at Benu, and let me tell you my friends, he is one of the finest industry all-stars you’ll ever meet...Continue Reading
I'm a very lucky girl. Not only do I have one of the coolest, kickin', Sicilian grandmas the world has ever known, I also have a cool, kickin' grandma who happens to live in St. Helena. So, for me a trip to grandma's house is extra special because not only do I get to spend quality time with her, I also get to refine my wine palate in the downtime...and get a little tipsy in the process.
In the last three years I've visited many of the lesser-known, excellent wineries in the area and have fallen in love with many of those found along Spring Mountain. Most of these wineries are small productions, each with their own specialty wines that can be difficult to find if you're not a member of their wine club or on their mailing list. Almost all of them also require you to make an appointment for a tasting well in advance, and charge a fee large enough to scare off visitors who aren't particularly serious about their wine. Luckily, I'm a very, very serious person, and I also happen to know that any high-priced fee can be waived when you purchase a bottle. Drink up! Because of this, I stumbled onto what is now my favorite winery in Napa: Behrens Family Winery, previously known as Behrens and Hitchcock...Continue Reading
You know what I find most exciting about dining out? It's not the dressing up, or chatting with industry folk, or even laughing with close friends. It's the unknown. Whether it be not knowing what's on the menu before walking in the door, ordering a tasting menu dotted with unexpected treats, or flying blind and leaving my meal in the hands of the chef, the things that take me by surprise are the things that stand out the most. So, unlike the typical diner who becomes a regular because of one or two particular dishes that keep them coming back for more, I keep going back to my favorite restaurants because I have no idea what will be on the menu next. All of my favorite restaurants constantly evolve, and there is no better example of evolution than Aziza.
Anyone who has dined at Aziza in recent years knows that, other than its location, the restaurant has undergone some radical changes. The menu moved away from being tied to traditional Moroccan food to one which embraced California cuisine from a Moroccan angle. What that means, in less generic language, is that less emphasis was put on staying true to the exact ingredients necessary to create traditional Moroccan flavors and more was put into building a Moroccan flavor profile using local, seasonal ingredient. Little by little, this shift in philosophy transformed the restaurant's cuisine into what I fell in love with (and wrote about) back in April of last year. Now, over one year later, I'm compelled to write again because, after 10 years, this evolution is still happening: portions are more refined, the proportion of each ingredient on the plate is more balanced, the presentation is, well, exquisite, and the food itself? Let me tell you, it's only getting better...Continue Reading
I've lived in San Francisco for the past four years, a period of time which I fondly refer to as my prime drinking years. I don't say this to give the impression that I'm just a drunken party animal, at least not all the time. I'm pointing this out because when you think about it, there's a pretty large drinking evolution that takes places from your early to mid-twenties. For example, I used to call Blondies and Beauty Bar my favorite bars in the City. I also used to pre-party, down shots, and not know what the hell a "well drink" was. But like most people, my appreciation for good wine, thoughtful cocktails, and bars where you can move without getting mauled by some sweaty, drunk chick, has grown. Not just grown, it's blossomed. After four years of trying a majority of the City's most respected bars, I'm now happy to say that I have a go-to spot where the cocktails are crafted and the people are adults. That bar is none other but Bar Agricole...Continue Reading
Survey: raise your hand if you've ever ordered French Onion Soup from a restaurant envisioning a bowl of richly flavored broth, filling the room with the smell of caramelized onion, and topped with all the Gruyere your little heart could desire. Now raise your hand if, instead of a bowl of ambrosia, you received the equivalent of a slightly more aromatic chicken stock topped with a few sad, half-melted strands of pre-grated Safeway Swiss, alongside a chunk of day-too-old baguette. If you associate French Onion Soup with chain cafés, believing that this is a quintessential example of this dish, you probably haven't been super motivated to attempt it on your own (sorry Panera Bread). Or maybe you've never thought of it because, frankly, it just doesn't sound that interesting - I mean it is just onion, bread, and cheese in a simple stock, right? Wrong...Continue Reading
I've lived in the Mission for over three years now, and for whatever reason, last night it hit me: for the number of restaurants the Mission has to offer, it's shocking that an amazing sandwich shop, specifically one that stays open past lunch, is almost non-existent. Peruvian food? No problem! Indian food? The city's best is just a few blocks away! Japanese food? Yakitori or vegetarian, take your pick! Italian food? Obviously. But a killer, simple sandwich? Somehow that has almost slipped through the cracks. Almost...Continue Reading
To all of the cupcake fanatics out there, who have been anxiously awaiting part 2 of my epic cupcake saga, you can now leave all of those sleepless nights behind and breathe a sigh of relief. The time has arrived to reveal the West Coast rival to Magnolia Bakery. A bakery that not only rivals Magnolia, it may even surpass it. If you didn't already guess it's name from the glaringly obvious hint located within this article's title, then it's time for the big reveal. The answer to all of my cupcake hopes and dreams is a little shop aptly named Sibby's Cupcakery...Continue Reading
First, a bit of history. 2007 marked the first time that I visited New York City with a single, clear mission: eat the entire city. Seeing as how that was slightly unrealistic, I focused on finding anything in the New York food scene that, at that time, could not easily be found in the Bay Area. This meant two things: grand, luxurious, metropolitan fine dining, and cupcakes. At the time I thought the latter sounded just as silly as it does in that last sentence, but thanks to my little obsession with SNL's Digital Short "Lazy Sunday," I had to see what all the fuss was about. And I knew where I needed to go: Magnolia Bakery...Continue Reading
Ahhhhhhhhhhhh.....That's me, breathing a sigh of relief. After many months of somewhat lackluster meals, meals which led me to depend on my all-time favorite restaurants to get me through the holidays, I finally stumbled into a dining experience that revived me from the dining dead. Thank you Local Mission Eatery for reminding me how exciting even a casual weekday meal can be when the menu is thoughtful, the ingredients are fresh and well-sourced, and every plate is perfectly executed. At last, I've found the motivation to write!...Continue Reading