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Toque of San Francisco July 2012
By Carol & Joe Davis
Dining Detectives

Pebble Beach Food & Wine 2012

Sam Choy

We had the good fortune this year on a beautiful sunny and warm Saturday, to be able to attend The Fifth Annual Pebble Beach Food and Wine Grand Tasting Tent. This was a well-produced small portion of the four day April 12-15, 2012 event which featured 250 Wineries, 75 Celebrity Chefs, Cooking Demonstrations, Dinners, Celebrity Golf as well as Wine and Spirits Tastings. Thousands of Foodies from around the world came to Pebble Beach to maximize culinary indulgence and to mingle, mix, sip and taste. Having attended quite a few “Tasting Tents” over the years so we know that is important to have a Plan and to wear stylish comfortable shoes. The first thing to accept is that you will never ever be able to eat and drink everything in the three or four hour timeframe which is generally the length of these Tent events. This realization will take away the feeling of being rushed. Avoid the urge to run in and find the first wine pourer, even if they are featuring $200 a bottle Cabernet Sauvignon. Spend a few minutes to review the Program, see the layout, ask where there are areas to sit, check the schedule of Cooking Demonstrations and Book Signings then pick out your “must do’s”. Of course we always enjoy the food first! The Chefs are busy creating and plating but there will be opportunities when they will be proud to talk about their creations, sign autographs and allow you to take pictures. This we’ve found to be the real value, adds to the fun and gives you some creative ideas for your next dinner party and will be excellent memories from the event! While tasting the cuisine, note the location of the wines that you would like to taste, so on your second time around you know where you want to stop. By the way....they never run out of wine. Look for places to sit down and relax and soak in the total experience. Don’t be afraid to linger and let others in your party go off on their own for a short period of time while you just chill. Chat with others about what they thought was outstanding, found unique and consider a third trip around. This plan lets you maximize your experience and avoids the “I Wish I had” or the “If Only”. Of course you always have the option of coming back for a second day and some “Tent” events offer two day passes at reduced rates.

Wayfare Tavern's Tyler Florence

The Celebrity Chefs who created dinners or tastes at Pebble Beach were notably the best of the best from the USA and resorts around the world. They included Jacques Pepin, Guy Fieri , Food Network’s Anne Burrell , Top Chef Judge Johnny Iuzzini , French Laundry’s Thomas Keller , Boulevard’s Nancy Oakes , Wayfare Tavern’s Tyler Florence , Bottega’s Michael Chiarello , Meadowood’s Christopher Kostow , Calistoga Ranch’s Christian Ojeda, Mustard’s Cindy Pawlcyn , Spago’s Sherry Yard , Incanto’s Chris Cosentino and Lukshon’s Sam Yoon to name a few. The tastes were all spectacular presentations and definitely world class. Sam Choy’s Crab Soup was our overall favorite taste. The shellfish from Miami Joe’s Stone Crab’s Andre Bienvenu was also outstanding.

Claire Smith Belvedere Vodka
Spango's Sherry Yard

The participating wineries were international and ranged from world class like Opus One and Dom Perignon to local Monterey Bay wines like Bernardus and popularly priced favorites like Kim Crawford New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Ferrari Carano Alexander Valley Fume Blanc. We enjoyed tastes of Grgich Hills, Capture, Plumpjack and Silver Oak as well.

We found the ultimate place to sit down for a while at the Belvedere Vodka Lounge. There were three bartenders who were keeping up with a feverish demand for cocktails made with this luxury Vodka from Poland. They also had a waitress that was serving both within the lounge and made stops around the tent serving to the chefs. We had a chance to enjoy their latest flavored vodka made with all natural ingredients called Belvedere Lemon Tea and learned that all of their vodka is made with Dankowskie Gold Rye, pure artesian well water and has no additives. We chatted with Claire Smith who is the Head of Spirit Creation and Mixology. She was very personable and knowledgeable having worked for Belvedere for more than ten years. She mentioned that there has been an explosion of flavored vodkas over the past five years and how exciting it was for her to help create them while respecting the grain and using all natural ingredients. We also learned a few Bartender tips like rolling lemons or limes on the bar for easier juicing and adding salt to cocktails to boost complexity. We asked for comments from some of the other attendees in the lounge. Several had not tried Belvedere before but would certainly order it in the future as it was light, smooth, had no bite or strong alcohol taste. Some enjoyed the cocktails and some loved it neat.

We had an excellent time at the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Grand Tasting Tent. The event was not oversold so it was not too crowded. Most people we talked to afterward felt that they had a unique culinary experience, met and chatted with the Chefs, had unique tastes of excellent cuisine, tried many wines and enjoyed the Belvedere Cocktail Lounge. We look forward to returning next year as this is a world class event.

Marchesi De’ Frescobaldi
700 Years of Italian Wine Making

We were pleased to be invited to join one of Italy’s premiere wine makers, Lamberto Frescobaldi, at North Beach Restaurant in San Francisco for lunch where we enjoyed delicious Prosciutto, Veal and Tiramisu while we tasted a few of his family’s wines. The Frescobaldi’s have been making wine in Tuscany, Italy for 700 years and Lamberto who is responsible for viticulture and winemaking represents the 30th generation of this winemaking dynasty. He shared some very interesting history with us, as they have sold wine to the Royal Courts of Europe, gifted wine to the Church and because wine has always been taxed that they still have invoices signed by Michelangelo!

Lamberto Frescobaldi

Frescobaldi’s wines take three to five years to release and each vintage has its challenges even though the weather conditions are generally consistent in Tuscany. We enjoyed the reasonably priced 2008 Nipozzano Riserva Chianti Rufina. Rufina is the smallest of the Chianti regions. It lies above the Sieve River east of Florence and they enjoy perfect weather with long, warm, dry summers. Chianti from this region is highly regarded and the Nipozzano Riserva was excellent. It is interesting to note that the 2007 vintage of Nipozzano Riserva Chianti Rufina was rated #1 out of the top 100 wines in the world by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

We also enjoyed 2007 Castel Giocondo Brunello Di Montalcino, the 2009 Tenuta Frescobaldi Di Castiglioni but our favorite was the premium 2007 Mormoreto. This limited production excellent blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot has a deep red color, berry, spice and vanilla nose and is a worthy rival to the better Napa blends.

We certainly enjoyed tasting and learning more about Italian Wines and now make a point to go to the Italian Section of our favorite wine shops to explore. We must agree with Lamberto, now that we know more about Italian wines.... the more unfaithful we may be to California wines. It is always exciting to broaden your knowledge and experience.

Original Joe’s
Fine Italian Dining & Cocktails

Everyone in San Francisco is thrilled that Original Joe’s has re-opened in North Beach. First opened in 1937 the same year as the Golden Gate Bridge, it is the innovator of the “Joe’s Concept” of classic reasonably priced Traditional Home Style Italian American Comfort Food. They pioneered and still have an Exhibition kitchen where diners can sit at the counter and watch cooks preparing the food. They also created the Joe’s Special on a late night when a cook added hamburger meat to a spinach omelet. The Duggan family runs the restaurant and still uses many of the same local purveyors as their grandfather, original owner Tony Rodin. The first thing that you notice is the beautiful retro décor and that the waiters are all in Tuxedos. This “Rat Pack” Style setting makes you feel like you are in a classic movie. The main dining room has comfortable red booths, artifacts from the original location and the walls are filled with their history in family photos. The Bar area has a piano, green Naugahyde banquettes and a fireplace made with salvaged bricks from the original Taylor Street location.

Classic Booth
Spinach & Artichoke Dip with Crostini

We started with a Greyhound made with vodka and grapefruit juice which was a refreshing classic cocktail inspired by their 1950 Cocktail Menu and a contemporary Cosmo made with fresh lime juice which was perfect! While we looked at the menu we enjoyed Boudin San Francisco Sour Dough Bread. Our favorite Hot Starter was
The Spinach & Artichoke Dip with Crostini which was spicy, flavorful and not too rich. Next, we had the amazing Boston Clam Chowder. It was just perfect with plenty of clams, slightly rich but not too thick. The hearty Meat, Fish and Chicken entrees are all served with a choice of sides. We loved the 9 ounce Filet Mignon which was prepared rare perfectly and was also so reasonably priced. The side of Mashed Potatoes was fluffy and yet dense at the same time with wonderful flavor! We added a side of sautéed mushrooms and onions which were fantastic and enjoyed fresh horseradish as well, with our steak. The classic Veal Parmesan was exceptional too. The veal was lightly breaded and topped with parmesan cheese, mushrooms and flavorful tomato sauce. It was delicious and so thin that you could cut it with a fork. A side of Original Joe’s Ravioli was the perfect compliment.

Veal Parmesan
Bombolini & Affogato

The Wine List features a nice selection of mostly Italian and California wines by the bottle or the glass. We really enjoyed the 2009 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, the 2007 Barbaresco Marassino from Piemonte and the fabulous 2006 Calabrone Bastianich Friuli. We are learning more about and have a greater appreciation of the complexity of Italian wines. Save room for dessert as you must have the Bombolini & Afogato We are still trying to figure out how Italian doughnuts with espresso and vanilla Gelato could be so light!

Original Joe’s is an instant (75 year old) success where nostalgia runs deep. The cuisine is classic Italian American with some healthier modern influences. As we looked around the main dining room we saw local celebrities, families, young and old which made us think of memories of family dinners back in the day. This was one of our favorite dining
experiences in a long time! There will be sidewalk seating starting this Spring, reservations are recommended and there is Valet Parking which is a necessity in North Beach. Bring the family, friends or come alone as you’ll feel the warmth of being with family when you Eat at Joe’s!

Original Joe’s
601 Union Street
San Francisco, CA. 94133

La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
Authentic Peruvian Cuisine

International Restaurateur /Chef Gaston Acurio opened La Mar Cebicheria Peruana in Lima, Peru seven years ago and has expanded to San Francisco. They feature Peruvian Cuisine made with local and organic ingredients, Peruvian spices, fresh seafood and meats prepared with Peruvian, Japanese, California and Chinese influences. The atmosphere and décor are upbeat, colorful and comfortable. There is a separate bar area in the front, large dining room and counter seating which is great for watching preparation and plating in the exhibition kitchen. They also have all weather dockside outdoor seating for dining and cocktails on the pier which has a water view and beautiful flowers in hanging baskets. We sat in the main dining room and started out with two Peruvian cocktails. The Pisco Sour made with Pisco Quebranta brandy, lime juice, simple syrup, and dash of egg white and a drop of bitters was quite unique and the Santa Maria Cocktail made with Pisco Quebranta, pomegranate infused tequila, ginger syrup and lemon juice was wonderful! We spoke with Executive Chef Diego Oka, a native of Peru, who was part of the team that opened the first La Mar in Lima, Peru. He was pleased to now live in San Francisco and enjoyed the vibrancy of The City.

Executive Chef Diego Oka
Tasting of Cebiches
Tasting of Causas

Our first course was the Cebiches Tasting which was a sampler of Cebiche Ciasico, Cebiche Mixto, Cebiche Chalaco and Cebiche Nikei. Cebiche, the national dish of Peru, is made with 100% sustainably caught fish and shellfish then marinated in “leche de tigre”. They were all fresh and delicious and our favorites were the Cebiche Ciasico made with California Halibut in a classic leche de tigre with red onion habanero and Peruvian corn and yam and the Cebiche Nikei with tuna, red onion, Japanese cucumber, daikon avocado, nori, and sesame in tamarind leche de tigre. The Tasting is a great option for sharing and the presentation was beautiful.

Lomo Saltado
Trio de Postres
Gaston Acurio

There are over 500 types of potatoes grown in Peru, so we knew we needed to taste their traditional Causas which are whipped potatoes topped with seafood or vegetarian ingredients. The presentation of the Tasting of Causas was lovely as well. We particularly enjoyed the Causa Limena which was fresh Dungeness Crab on potato with avocado puree, quail egg, cherry tomatoes, aji Amarillo huancaina sauce and basil cilantro oil and the Causa Nikei which was Tuna Tartar with avocado puree on top of Rocoto potato with creamy rocoto sauce and Japanese nori. The Causa Camaron which was Sweet & Spicy Poached Shrimp and fried onions on top of Rocoto potato with leche de tigre aioli and the Causa Casera Vegetarian made with Yellow Potato, artichokes, asparagus, avocado and tomato confit with basil cilantro oil were also delicious. The texture of the potatoes was light and perfectly whipped to be the platform for the variety of these delicious toppings.

We chose two classic Peruvian entrees to try this evening. We loved the Arroz Jugoso made with prawns, clams, mussels, calamari, white fish ,vegetables, Arborio rice and Peruvian ajis which was served with rocoto aioli and toasted bread. It was delicate and absolutely perfect with a very generous amount of seafood. We also loved the Lomo Saltado which is Peruvian Style stir-fry sautéed beef tenderloin with onions, tomatoes, cilantro, soy sauce, garlic, fried potatoes and rice. The steak was prepared medium rare and was juicy, tender and flavorful. There is an International Wine List and of course we wanted to try Peruvian Wines but we were advised that other South American, California and European Wines were better. The 2010 Vevi La Mar Rueda Spain Verdejo paired perfectly with the Cebiches and the 2010 Achaval Ferrer Mendoza Argentina Malbec paired perfectly with the beef. We enjoyed both of our desserts made by Pastry Chef Astrid Gutsche. The Trio de Postres was a delicious trio of maracuya, pie de Limon and arroz con leche and the excellent Panna Cotta had a unique presentation. A Tuaca after dinner drink and a Double Espresso with excellent crème were the perfect finish to this excellent dinner.

La Mar Cebicheria Peruana serves excellent Peruvian Cuisine. The service was perfect and the atmosphere was lively and fun! We appreciated that there was parking right on the pier and maybe next time we’ll come with some boating friends and use their private boat dock to tie up when we come for lunch or dinner.

La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
Pier 1.5 Suite 100 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA. 94111

Rouge et Blanc
Coffee by Morning -Wine / Whiskey Bar by Night

San Francisco is known for quality establishments where one can enjoy a beverage and light fare. We had heard that Laurent Manrique’s Rouge et Blanc on Grant Street had added some new menu items and Whiskies to their food and wine offerings and knew we needed to stop by to check it out. Rouge et Blanc has been open for four years serving light breakfast, lunch salads and sandwiches and afternoon/evening finger foods including cheeses, charcuterie and pate. They are known for their International Wine list with over 150 selections and you can purchase the wines to go at 30% off of the Wine List price. The stylish interior includes interesting chandeliers, edgy art, bar seating as well as comfortable chairs, couches and high tables.

Serrano Ham Tart

We started out with cocktails. The Rouge et Blanc Cocktail made with Idol Vodka, Cava, Chambord and lime basil was excellent! We also enjoyed a fabulous Divorce Cocktail which was made with Pineau des Charentes, Cognac and a cucumber slice float. There was a story behind this cocktail’s name change to Divorce but we knew it was best to just enjoy the drink and the play on words. The Finger Food is actually quite gourmet as one might expect and can easily be dinner, as it was for us. We enjoyed the Imported Olives which were marinated with Thymes and Rosemary. The Serrano Ham Tart on thin crispy flatbread with spicy tomato pesto was perfect. We loved the Foie Gras de Canard which included a lovely presentation of Duck Foie Gras Pate, bread, pickles and fruits. A sweet Chateau Rieussec Sauterne from Bordeaux, France paired perfectly.

Selection de Fromages d’Artisan
French Macaroons

Sliders are a new addition to the menu and our favorite was the fresh Dungeness Crab Cake Slider topped with aioli and baby spinach. The 2010 Napa Valley Emmolo Sauvignon paired perfectly. The Duck Leg Confit Slider with caramelized shallots and baby spinach was also quite nice. The 2007 Chateau Haut-Beausejour, St. Estephe, Bordeaux, France was delightful with the duck. We met General Manager Olivier Daridon who told us that adding Whiskies to their menu was just a natural extension of their wine offerings and that he felt pairing cheese with whiskey was his preference and that it allowed the flavors of the cheese to be enhanced. With that recommendation, we knew what our next course would be. We ordered three cheeses from their Selection de Fromages d’Artisan and asked our knowledgeable waiter to pair whiskies. The mild Vall ee d’Aspe Goat Cheese from Pyrenees, France was paired with the Japanese Yamazaki 12 year old whiskey which had smoky honey tones. The Cont e, Hard Cow Cheese from Savoie, France was paired with the Templeton Prohibition Era Recipe Small Batch American Rye which had a nice nuttiness. The Ossau Iraty Sheep cheese from Pays Basque, France was paired with the Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon which was very smooth. We now have great appreciation for this type of pairing.

Sweet French macaroons in chocolate, lemon and saffron were the perfect finish, as we sipped our whiskies. We chatted with some tourists at the next table who were enjoying their visit to San Francisco from the East Coast and Scottsdale which added to the lively evening. Rouge et Blanc has upped the ante by adding rare whiskies and some new delicious finger foods. We look forward to returning soon and may never be able to enjoy wine and cheese again without longing for whiskey.

Rouge et Blanc
334 Grant Street
San Francisco, CA. 94108

Blowfish Sushi To Die For

Blowfish Sushi To Die For has been open for over 15 years in San Francisco serving Japanese Fusion Cuisine with European and California influences. Executive Chef Ritsuo Tsuchida who is originally from Japan, recently saw the palates of his customers start to change and decided to revise the menu keeping “Favorites” but adding new menu items to stay ahead of the curve. The restaurant features an exhibition Sushi Bar where you can dine and watch the Sushi Chefs prepare your meal. You can also watch both classic and animated Japanese Movies on the flat screen behind them. There is a welcoming Bar with table seating that offers cocktails, Sake, wine and beer. The main dining room is spacious and there is outdoor seating weather permitting. We enjoyed the edgy art paintings by Lee Harvey Roswell on the walls throughout the restaurant. Sunday thru Thursday you can enjoy a live DJ spinning ultra contemporary indie-electro music.

Pyramid of Tartare
Halibut Crudo
Black Cod
Olitalian Parfait

We arrived early for our reservation and enjoyed cocktails at the bar. We loved both the Drunken Goose made with Grey Goose La Poire, St. Germaine and Prosecco which was ultra smooth and the Kosmos made with Kettle One Vodka, ginger, lime, pom and triple sec which was very lively! We were seated and our first course was the ever popular Fanny Bay Fire Oysters which were fire roasted, then grilled with pesto, melted jack cheese, wasabi tobiko and a drop of Tabasco. Another unique appetizer with fabulous presentation was the Pyramid of Tartare made with fresh tuna, salmon and avocado with a side of honey tartar and sweet ginger sauce served with house made potato chips. We loved the spicy Fiery Bincyo Sashimi which was seared albacore topped with sriracha bits, flash fried jalapeno chilies and spicy ponzu. Lastly, the delicate Halibut Crudo which is thinly sliced halibut drizzled with truffle oil and mango salsa with wasabi and American Caviar was delightful. The entrée that we loved was the Black Cod which was marinated in saiko miso on top of shemji mushroom risotto which came with a small salad. The cod melted in your mouth and the risotto was perfect! The 2009 Sonoma County MacMurray Pinot Gris paired perfectly with the entrée.
We saved room for desserts and they do take their desserts very seriously. The Zen Garden Kyo style green tea cheesecake with green ice cream and matcha sauce was delicious and the Olitalian Parfait made with layers of creamy mascarpone, genoise cake, crunchy bits of sable, topped with fresh blueberries frothy raspberry puree and blood orange sorbet was decadent and absolutely beautiful! Dragon Cracker Green Tea finished off our delightful dinner perfectly. Blowfish Sushi To Die For continues to lead the way with cutting edge Japanese Fusion cuisine and has an upbeat fun atmosphere! We look forward to returning soon.

Blowfish Sushi To Die For
2170 Bryant Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
415-285-FUGU (3848)

Mediterranean Kitchen & Wine Bar

We love our day trips to the Napa Valley, as it always feels like we are on vacation. The ride on the scenic Silverado Trail to visit small production wineries like William Harrison and enjoy the views of the vineyards is so beautiful year round, rain or shine. The charming towns of Calistoga, St. Helena, Yountville and Napa along Highway 29 offer interesting shops and are known for excellent restaurants. We recently had a great lunch in Yountville at the popular Mustards Grill and we learned that Restaurateur Cindy Pawlcyn had just opened another restaurant in St. Helena called Brassica. The focus at Brassica is Mediterranean Cuisine made with fresh, local seasonal ingredients, so we knew we’d have to try it!

Poster Art

Brassica has a large open dining room with comfortable well-spaced seating, a large bar area for cocktails and dining and offers outdoor patio dining weather permitting. The décor features large whimsical poster art and windows all around overlooking the lovely Napa Valley as well as a beautiful antique marble topped bar. We ordered Pellegrino Italian Sparkling Water and enjoyed marinated olives, as we reviewed the menu. We noticed that there was an extensive wine list featuring Napa Valley and Mediterranean wines with over 70 Wines by the glass in 2 oz. and 5 oz. pours. You also have the option of purchasing any wine by the Bottle to take home and receive a 25% discount. There is also a unique Wine Tasting opportunity called the Brassica 12 Vintner Splash. On Saturday Nights, a local winemaker walks around the dining room and provides complimentary pours and answer questions about their wines. We enjoyed our taste and chatting with Benjamin Sharp from Capture Wine who shared his joy making this bright and fruity 2010 “ Tradition” Sauvignon Blanc.

Filet Mignon
Strawberry-Rhubarb Dessert

The starters at Brassica’s are a great way to begin and are all also quite reasonably priced. We really enjoyed the wonderful Hummus with Ful which consisted of excellent authentic hummus, Ful made from fava beans, cooked eggs and red onion served with pita bread. The Eggplant Fries were unique and delicious, as they are spiced with thyme and sesame and served with a perfect yoghurt dipping sauce. You must have the Fried Bacon Wrapped Dates which were sweet, rich and amazing! We relaxed for a while, enjoyed our wine then ordered Entrees. We loved the Winemaker Pork made with Greek oregano, garlic, roasted sweet peppers and trahana. The sweetness of the peppers and the tenderness of the pork made this an excellent choice. We also enjoyed the 5 ounce Filet Mignon special which came with asparagus and bacon wrapped leaks. The steak was rare as ordered and the vegetables were delicious.

We sampled a number of the small 2 ounce pours and particularly enjoyed the 2010 Robert Sinskey Los Carneros Napa Valley Pinot Gris which paired perfectly with our starters and the 2009 Arietta Quartet Napa Valley Cabernet Blend, which paired perfectly with our entrees. Of course, we saved room for dessert. We loved the Strawberry-Rhubarb & Hazelnut Tart served with Vanilla Ice Cream. The flavors of the fruit shined through perfectly and the tart was very light. An espresso was the perfect finish to a most enjoyable dining experience.

Brassica serves all day seven days a week from 11:30 AM until closing. The menu has something for everyone. If you want a light meal you have the option of the wonderful starters, a selection of pizzas, pastas or sandwiches. The wine list is impressive and the service was professional, very personable and there when you wanted them. We look forward to coming back soon with friends for lunch, dinner or just for a glass of wine. Also check out Cindy’s newest book…Cindy’s Supper Club which has 125 global recipes. We tasted a few of the dishes from the book at her book signing and were very impressed!!

641 Main Street
St. Helena, CA 94574

Revival Bar & Kitchen- Berkeley

We enjoy dining and drinking in downtown Berkeley as we always feel the good vibes and have had many lively discussions with the mix of foodies, students and Cal fans. Revival Bar & Kitchen located in an historic 1901 building with its Saloon/Bordello atmosphere is the perfect fit for the neighborhood. Executive Chef/Owner Amy Murray offers a seasonally inspired menu using locally sourced and mostly organic ingredients. They are proud of their close relationships with local producers, farmers, ranchers, coffee roasters and winemakers and Chef de Cuisine / Master Butcher Travis McConnell makes all of their Charcuterie, sausage and bacon in-house. There is a large bar area where Head Mixologist Nat Harry loves to create Modern Interpretations of classic cocktails. You can also have Premium Liquor Flights which is a great way to sample and decide side by side which you like best. We ordered cocktails and enjoyed James Bond’s classic “Shaken not Stirred” Vesper that went down easy and a perfectly refreshing Cosmopolitan.

Executive Chef/Owner Amy Murray and Chef de Cuisine Travis McConnell
Charcuterie Small Plate

Our first course was the Charcuterie Small Plate which included pork rillette, smoked duck breast, speck and a fabulous pork and pistachio pate. Next we loved the Roasted California Squid Flatbread made with anchovy, garlic and oregano pesto, squid ink aioli and pickled peppers. It was tasty but be advised that the squid ink will make you look like you have black lipstick on. Next we had a delicious and unique Sformatino made with spring onion, fennel, green garlic, and house made ricotta with arugula-fava salad and a pink peppercorn Meyer lemon vinaigrette. We highly recommend this dish. We also enjoyed the piping hot Roasted Turnip Soup with green garlic, chive blossom and crème fraiche which was subtle, silky and had excellent flavors. The entrees were both delicious and hearty portions. The McFarland Springs Trout with tarragon cream, grapefruit gastrique, toasted walnuts and braised chard was delicate, sweet and light. The Long & Bailey Farm Grilled Pork Chop with grilled artichokes, salt roasted fingerling potatoes and bourbon butter was extra tender and juicy. The Grilled Asparagus with sauce gribiche was some of the tastiest we’ve ever had and was an excellent side.

Grilled Pork Chop
Coconut Panna Cotta and Chocolate Mousse Cake

Revival Bar & Kitchen has an International Wine List with quite a few wines by the glass. We enjoyed the 2008 Spanish Lila Brut Cava with our starters and the 2010 Sonoma County Three Vineyard Stomping Girl Pinot Noir which paired perfectly with the pork chop. We picked two perfect desserts. The Coconut Panna Cotta with Mango, passion fruit coulis, pistachio dust and a citrus tuile had a superior lemon taste. The Backyard Meyer lemon and Chocolate Mousse Cake with cocoa tangerine meringue, cocoa Chantilly, chocolate ganache and cocoa dust was just our style as it was rich yet light. An Old Codger Tawny Port and a Blue Bottle Coffee Espresso was the perfect finish to our excellent dinner. Revival Bar & Kitchen is a fun, lively and friendly place. It is close to the Berkeley Repertory Theatre and is perfect for pre or post show dinner or drinks. There is Live Music on Thursday nights and Special Events through the year. We look forward to returning soon.

Revival Bar & Kitchen
2102 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA. 94704

District Wine & Whiskey Lounge-“I’ll Have Another”

We are always amused when those who don’t venture out much are surprised at how friendly and sophisticated Oakland is and especially how vibrant the dining and drinking scene has become. We had heard that the owners of District SF and Ironside in SOMA had just opened District Whiskey and Wine Lounge in Old Oakland and knew we had to check it out. A beautiful Horseshoe Bar made with Brazilian reclaimed barn wood is the centerpiece of this stylish, open and light restaurant/bar. Seating also includes high tables and comfortable couches and there is a Custom Video wall which screens vintage movies and sports.

Executive Chef Bob Cina
Caterina and Danny
Braised Oxtail Sombreros

District Wine & Whiskey Lounge features Specialty Cocktails with Bourbon and other spirits made by Bar Manager Danny Baker, an international Wine List created by Wine Director Caterina Mirabelli and a small plates menu with California, French and Latin influences created by Executive Chef Bob Cina. We sat at a high table and started out with a bottle of Saratoga Sparkling Water and a refreshing Bohemian Bluegrass Cocktail made with Four Roses Bourbon, blueberry, lemon, rosemary and maple syrup. The cocktail was original and wonderful! We enjoyed quite a few unique and delicious small plates. The Chipotle Deviled Eggs with pickled radish and baby arugula and sprouts were excellent. Next, we enjoyed the tasty Braised Oxtail Sombreros served on crispy corn tortillas with radish, lime and cilantro. The meat was very succulent and the presentation was fun. The Warm Local Asparagus with truffled poached egg, crispy house made pancetta and banylus vinaigrette was simply amazing and definitely a must! We loved the Ahi Tuna Tartare with Peruvian rocoto chili, cucumber and Meyer lemon dressing. The Seared Sea Scallops with candied jalapeno, caviar and ginger-orange mojo were also beautifully presented and definitely popular. The Crispy Fried Escargots with garlic- lemon parsley cream, grilled ham and wild mushroom salad was light and something different for escargot lovers. Make sure you save room for dessert and order it early as it takes some time to come .The Bourbon Bread Pudding with pecans, bourbon caramel and whipped cream was so light, fluffy and delicious that you would make a trip to just order it!

Warm Local Asparagus
Bourbon Bread Pudding

Wine is available by the bottle, by the glass (6 oz. pours) and tasting flights of 3 (3oz. pours) and is served in Riedel glasses which makes a tremendous difference allowing the true flavors of the wines to be appreciated. We enjoyed the Pinot Lovers Flight which included the 2008 Nelles Ruber Pinot Noir, Germany, the 2009 Joseph Drouhin Pinot Noir Chorey-Les- Beaune, France and the 2009 Stoller Pinot Noir Dundee Hills, Oregon. The larger than average pours allowed us to find a favorite which was the smoother French wine.

We had a great time at District Wine & Whiskey Lounge. The small plates were all delicious, the crowd was friendly and sophisticated, and the open, light atmosphere made you feel like having fun. We must return soon to try their Pizzettas, House Made Charcuterie and specialty cheeses. Try their interesting whiskey drinks or a flight of wine and don’t be surprised when you say to your server “I’ll Have Another”

District- Wine & Whiskey Lounge
837 Washington Street (Old Oakland)
Oakland, CA. 94607

Whitehall 10014 Bar & Kitchen

The dining scene in New York City is amazing. Every time we go there we find restaurants that exceed our expectations. A friend had advised us that there was a British Gin Bar called Whitehall that served excellent cuisine, so knew we had to go to Greenwich Village to try it. We sat at the bar, ordered some Fanny Bay Oysters on the half shell and enjoyed a few House Concoctions. We enjoyed an Old Speckled Hen Draught Beer and our favorite cocktail which was the classic Vesper made with Cocchi Americano, Plymouth Gin, Vodka, and Lemon Bitters. It’s fun to note, we were told that this classic cocktail was James Bond’s favorite “Martini” which should be shaken, not stirred.


Later in the evening, we moved to a comfortable table by the front windows which allowed us to see both the street and the bar area. We ordered Great Britain’s Hildon Gently Sparkling Low Sodium Water while we perused the menu. The Starters that we enjoyed were the Oysters Kilpatrick with smoked bacon and lively Worcestershire Dressing, the Pressed Duck Terrine with crackling Frisee and Homemade Mustard and the excellent Pan Roasted Squid with spicy pork sausage, fingerling potatoes, and gentlemen’s relish. The Grilled Entrees were quite tasty as well and were served with Cos Lettuce & Fried Garlic Rosemary Potatoes. We loved the both the Lamb Sirloin served with mushy pea fritter and mum’s mint sauce and the On the Bone Sea Bream with lemon and herb oil. The Roasted Asparagus with Pinenut Dressing as a side was also excellent. The Wine List is International and we enjoyed the 2007 Cloudy Bay New Zealand Chardonnay which paired well with the oysters and the 2009 The Hedonist McLaren Vale Australian Shiraz which paired perfectly with the Lamb.

We certainly enjoyed both the Bar Scene and dining at Whitehall 10014 and look forward to stopping in on our next visit to New York City.

Whitehall 10014 Bar & Kitchen
19 Greenwich Street
New York, New York 10014

Shree Indian Restaurant
Authentic Indian Cuisine

We love the vibrant and ever changing Dining Scene in Petaluma and always look forward to trying new restaurants soon after they open. Shree Indian Restaurant opened in March on Western Avenue and we had already heard good reports about the cuisine. We decided to bring a friend who had surprisingly never tried Indian Cuisine to see what his thoughts would be. Shree Indian Restaurant features classic cuisine from both Northern and Southern India made with fresh and local ingredients and spices from India and around the world. The portions are hearty and are perfect for sharing and allow you to try many items. We were told that their batters are signature garbanzo made in-house and that the Chef will prepare your food mild, medium or spicy. This was helpful, as we enjoy spicy but our Dining Assistants prefer food mild.

Executive Chef Arun Dangi
Vegetable Samosa and Chicken Pakora

We ordered Taj Mahal 22 oz. Indian Beers and started out with Appetizers which were served with three tasty chutneys, Tamarind, Green Spicy Mint, and Red Hot. Try the Papadum crispy clay oven roasted spiced lentil wafers which were fresh and delicious. We loved the tender Chicken Pakora which was battered, deep fried chicken breast pieces served mild. You must have the Vegetable Samosa which is homemade crisp hot pockets, stuffed with spicy peas and potatoes. They serve multiple types of Nan and we found the Garlic Nan to be excellent. Next we tried their soups. We enjoyed both the Dal Soup made with spiced lentils and garnished with vegetables and the Multani Soup made with spiced chicken and lentil broth.

The Main Courses feature fish, chicken, lamb and vegetarian choices served in a variety of Indian styles and spicy if requested. Some give you a “Show” as they come sizzling to the table. We enjoyed two types of fish dishes. The Salmon Tikka Masala was delicious clay oven roasted salmon cooked in an exotic blend of spices and served spicy. The Fish Tandoori was tasty fresh salmon marinated in special spices and cooked on a bed of embers in a cylindrical clay oven called a Tandoor. Tandoori style is from Pujab and one of our favorites. This type of preparation made with yoghurt, mixed with saffron, chili powder and spices allows for these dishes to be tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. We also enjoyed the Chicken Tikka Masala which was delicious oven roasted chicken in a mild cream sauce. Lamb fans will enjoy the Kasmiri Lamb which is oven roasted boti with cream sauce. The Saag Paneer which is fresh spinach cooked with herbs and spices with homemade cottage cheese cubes was a tasty vegetarian dish and one of our favorites!


The International Wine List has something for everyone with a good selection of reasonably priced wines by the glass and bottle. We enjoyed the lively Millsreef New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc which paired well with the appetizers and the light McManis California Pinot Noir which paired well with the lamb and chicken dishes. We saved room for Desserts and enjoyed the house-made creamy Coconut Ice Cream as well as the tasty classic Kheer which was made with basmati rice cooked with sugar and milk then served cold with almonds and pistachio nuts.

We enjoyed our dinner at Shree Indian Restaurant. The cuisine was authentic, tasted great and we felt like we had eaten healthy food. We enjoyed chatting briefly with Executive Chef Arun Dangi and Sous Chef Chetan Chantal who gladly advised us on what to order and were proud of their new restaurant. Our Dining Assistant who had never had Indian Cuisine was quite pleased with the new tastes and suggested that we return for their lunch buffet in the future. We also appreciate that they have local delivery which is a big plus for nights that you don’t want to go out but want some tasty fresh cuisine. We look forward to returning soon to experience some of the other menu items.

Shree Indian Cuisine
220 Western Avenue
Petaluma, CA. 94952
707-775-4453 fax

New Orleans

We enjoyed a few days in New Orleans just before Mardi Gras and had some excellent cuisine. We particularly loved the steaks from Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse , the crab cake from Acme Oyster House , and the oysters from Le Bayou

Mardi Gras
Le Bayou Oysters
Acme Oyster House Crab Cake

Dickie Brennan’s Steak
Dickie Brennan’s Chef


SF CHEFS Culinary Event 2012
It’s that time again to Taste, Pair, Mix, Engage!
Celebrate local flair & regional flavor in the epicenter of culinary innovation. San Francisco’s Union Square will be transformed into an enchanting oasis of delights, entertainment and education featuring notable chefs, vintners, mixologists and culinary personalities. We really enjoyed this event in 2011 and plan to attend again this year.
Monday July 30, 2012 thru Sunday August 5, 2012 in Union Square - San Francisco
For more information and tickets:

Taste of Petaluma 2012
The Seventh Annual Taste of Petaluma takes place on Saturday, August 25, 2012 from 11:30 to 4pm from the central part of downtown over to the Theater District and all points in between.  It’s a walking tour, a culinary journey of all things wonderful about Petaluma.  Restaurants, galleries and shops will put their best feet forward to treat the public to something delicious for the eyes, ears and taste buds.  Look for tastes from the newest restaurants in Petaluma.
For more information and tickets:

Napa Valley Wine Wave
Napa Valley Wine Lovers will Attempt a Guinness World Record
for the Longest Relay Wine Toast on Sunday, October 7, 2012

The “Napa Valley Wine Wave” aims to beat the current world record set in
Guangzhou, China. The St. Helena Kiwanis Club, in partnership with the wineries of
Appellation St. Helena, CHEERS! St. Helena and the St. Helena Chamber of Commerce will attempt a Guinness World Record for the longest relay wine toast at the Charles Krug Winery on Sunday, October 7, 2012. To complete the Guinness World Record the relay toast must be done in sequential order, without interruption or mistakes. Upon completion, an Official Guinness Adjudicator will announce whether the new world record has been set. Participants will receive a world record medallion and other items to commemorate the event. Featured that day will be live music, food, wine tasting, and merriment for all to enjoy. Proceeds raised from the event will go towards scholarships in the agriculture, viticulture, winemaking, business and hospitality industries. The Napa Valley Wine Wave is open to participants and spectators for a tax-deductible entrance fee. .A limited number of Participant tickets are available for $100. Those who want to enjoy the event as spectators are invited to purchase Spectator tickets for $35. Both participant and spectator tickets can be purchased at or by mailing checks made out to St. Helena Kiwanis Foundation to P.O. Box 362, St. Helena, CA, 94574.

NOV. 14-18, 2012 Flavor! Napa Valley festival showcases the legendary food and wine talents of the Napa Valley - a region that earned 14 Michelin restaurant stars for 2012 – and offers a five-day series of epicurean and oenophile events, hosted at the Silverado Resort & Spa, the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone (CIA) and at local vineyards, wineries, restaurants, farms and artisanal food purveyors. Net proceeds from the event will support programs and scholarships at the CIA’s Greystone Campus.



Until we eat again…….


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