Apr
01
2009

Top Tastes

As always, a taste-rich month in my city. Visited old favorites like Tommy’s for champion margaritas, Little Delhi’s savory Indian in the Tenderloin (glad they now have chaat on the menu), brunch and cocktails at classy, retro Presidio Social Club, hit-the-spot cheeseburgers at Sam’s, and Pho Ga at Turtle Tower. Then there’s new spots that didn’t quite grab me upon first visit: I dig Outerlands‘ woodsy, rustic charm, accepting vibe and staff, and daily fresh concept, but found the food a little bland; Mission’s The Corner is a cool spot to linger over a book, and such friendly staff, but my lunch sandwiches were, again, bland – I prefer their breakfast of coffee cake and Four Barrel coffee; The Tipsy Pig, despite great bar food and drinks, heady library room and casual back patio, is ruined by the literally screaming din of Marina-ites out to play (maybe when they’re open all day one can find a quiet hour?) Now for some favorites this month:

BREAKFAST

Incanto

Incanto

•    I couldn’t be happier about my fave Italian restaurant starting Sunday brunch. The menu walks the line of Incanto classics (like Rustic Pork Ragu), Chef Chris Cosentino’s fantastic Boccalone meats and hearty egg dishes. I’d trust the “Butcher’s Treat”, which changes weekly (c’mon – be adventurous!) Three slices of hearty Beef Tongue was a recent “treat” ($15) served with perfectly poached eggs, piquant salsa verde and buttery grilled bread (Chris is the offal master). A crowd-pleaser is surely the amazing Milk Toast ($9), like French toast without the “eggy” factor, soaked and plumped-up in raisin juice, citrus peel and mascarpone.

•    Got out to the recently oft-blogged-about Trouble Coffee (a couple blocks from the ocean in the Sunset) for a triple-threat breakfast of Cinnamon toast, Coconut and Coffee ($7). Toast is buttery and thick, accented by the fresh simplicity of juice straight out of a coconut, but the local coffee was a letdown for me. Watery and flavorless, I could barely drink half of it (strong and robust for me, thank you). Three cheers for funky garage sale decor in this closet-sized space and for the playful breakfast idea. Too bad about the coffee.

SAVORY – VEGETARIAN

•    Midi just opened in the former FiDi Perry’s space, two levels devoted to chic Pan-Asian food with Cali/Euro flair. Cocktails are surprisingly good with housemade syrups aplenty. I found the Fava Bean & English Pea Puree Sandwich ($13) with shaved gruyère and lemon oil, a refreshing lunch.

SAVORY – SEAFOOD

•    Still in its soft-opening run in showpiece Frisson space (the retro-riffic dome of that former interior intact), A5 Steak Lounge‘s food is surprisingly better than I expected given the lax attitude in service and clientele. I like the option of a small 7 oz. cut of NY steak ($15), though you can upgrade to 8 oz. Kobe for $29. A generous Mac ‘n Cheese side ($7) is cheesy, piping hot, covered in bread crumbs. Common as it sounded, my fave may have been the Crab Salad ($12) – fresh crab meat with avocado, blood oranges, mache and what tasted like pomegranate drizzle.

SAVORY – MEAT

Kitchenette

Kitchenette

•    I’m lucky to work near Dogpatch’s covert garage/ weekday lunch outfit (getting quite the buzz in less than two weeks of opening), Kitchenette, as one visit already has me craving more. With daily changing menu, here’s hoping I’ll again see the perfect Bahn Mi-like sandwich of Beer Tangerine roasted Berkshire Pork ($8) with cilantro, jalapeno, cabbage and a side of macaroni salad. Paired with tart Meyer Lemon/Tangerine/ Blood Orange juice of the day ($2)… watch out!

•    Mission’s bright new hole-in-the-wall, La Oaxaquena, is a Mexican bakery and eatery serving a range of Oaxacan specialties like tlayudas (a crispy flatbread covered with everything from beans to meat), spiced Oaxacan Hot Chocolate ($1.35), and Chicken Mole Enchiladas ($8.50). The latter is two enchiladas, beans and rice, with tender, shredded chicken, cooked to perfection in a downright addictive chocolate mole sauce that’s balanced with spices.

•    Cortez is often forgotten or underrated in my estimation. Yes, portions are sometimes small and pricey, but over the years, even with a chef change, I find it a place of consistent quality and taste married to creativity. Daily changing soup shots are winners, desserts some of the best in town and plates like Shrimps a la Plancha are richly satisfying. Despite the overabundance of Pork Belly on menus these days, I rave about Cortez‘ version ($16) accented with tart Rhubarb slices, a little frisee and Honey-Mustard emulsion.

DRINK

Pirate Cat Radio

Pirate Cat Radio

•    Pirate Cat Radio has a Bacon Maple Latte ($5) I won’t soon forget (can’t spend that much on coffee on a regular basis!) Adding African cayenne? Shot it to the stratosphere. My day couldn’t help but be right after that savory breakfast dream of a drink. Now for a side of scrambled eggs.

•    On a weeknight at Heaven’s Dog (which I only recommend for cocktails from the all-star bartender lineup), I took a Whiskey Freedom from Choice (bartender’s discretion – you choose the spirit), as pro, Jackie Patterson, shook up two lovely versions of the brown stuff in herbal, then citrus form. My latest choice on the regular menu is a 1932 recipe of Tiger’s Milk No. II, a frothy blend of Spanish brandy, rum, sugar, cream and nutmeg. That’s what I call a nightcap.

•   At Nirvino’s Mixology Contest at Tres Agaves on 3/31, Josh Harris, of newly re-opened/refreshed 15 Romolo, made my favorite creation of the night, which thankfully won: “Eye in the Sky“, Cielo Blanco Tequila, Yellow Chartreuse, Velvet Falernum, fresh lime and pineapple, Peychauds, topped with fresh grated nutmeg and a spanked sage leaf!

•    Bourbon and Branch has become quite my regular spot over the years and I await each new seasonal menu with expectation. Spring debuted last week with highlights being Joel Baker’s balanced beauty, Pear Sonata (Old Tom Gin, Elderflower Liqueur, Pear Eau de Vie, Dry Vermouth, Lemon, Pear-Elderflower Foam) and Ian Scalzo’s crazy, smoky Mariachi (Mezcal, Yellow Chartreuse, Cointreau, Lemon, Orange Bitters). But the best drink at B&B this March was a St. Patty’s Day-only special (again, from the brilliant Joel Baker): Finnegan’s Wake ($12), a savory, creamy dessert of Bacon Rasher-infused Black Bush Irish Whiskey, turbinado syrup (turbinated sugar made from sugar cane extract), egg white, Bitter Truth aromatic bitters with a bacon-redolent skewer of baked beans. All I can say is, Wowplease be a permanent fixture! Honorable mention goes to to Martin Cate’s Port Light (bourbon, passion fruit, honey), of my beloved Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge, who was mixing it up for B&B’s “Tropics in the Tenderloin” party the last two nights!

Written by Virginia in: Top Tastes | Tags: ,
Aug
15
2013

On the Town

SF Chefs Sean Brock & Daniel Patterson - Virginia Miller

Exploring cooking on both coasts with Charleston’s Sean Brock (Husk) & SF’s Daniel Patterson (Coi) during an 8/2 cooking demo

SF CHEFS – AUGUST 2013

Article and Photos by Virginia Miller

Good humor and rapport between Chefs Patterson (left) and Brock (right) on 8/2 cooking demo

Good humor and rapport between Chefs Patterson (left) and Brock (right) on 8/2 cooking demo

SF Chefs is one of my more anticipated food and drink events all year. Partly because it is now in its fifth year, it runs like a well-oiled ship, a buzzy flow of seminars, classes, luncheons, tasting events and parties, the four main Grand Tastings being held in an entirely tented Union Square, which always feels like a party in itself.

As San Francisco’s food and wine classic, the event features solid wines, though the selection at Pebble Beach Food & Wine Classic is far stronger, as one comparison. But the food at SF Chefs is excellent and varied at any of the grand tastings from key Bay Area chefs.

In past years, the cocktail portion has been stronger with local bars representing SF’s long-established cocktail culture throughout the tent. This year, 8/1 atop the Westin was meant to be the cocktail and bites-focused night. Real estate has become too valuable in the tent, so besides Elixir, pulling out all the stops with a changing menu of five different cocktails during each Grand Tasting, and cocktail catering/consultants, Ananas and Rye on the Road, cocktails during the Grand Tastings were all brand-sponsored, with cocktails made by local bartenders.

Via photos, just a few of the best food, drinks and moments from SF Chefs 2013:

8/1: Bar Bites atop the Westin St. Francis

8/2: Fifth Anniversary Opening Celebration in the Grand Tasting Tent

SF Chefs Chris Cosentino - Virginia Miller

Chris Cosentino (Incanto) slices up Berkshire pigs stuffed with truffle mortadella, pâté de campagne, and smoked liverwurst

Rye on the Road presented a menu of four different (blissfully boozy) shave ice flavors, including

Rye on the Road presented a menu of four different (blissfully boozy) shave ices, including this winner of roasted cantaloupe syrup, poblano chili tincture, sweetened condensed milk, Espolon tequila

Betelnut’s raw day boat scallops marinated in nouc cham sauce with kaffir lime peanut brittle and sweet black sesame purée on black sesame rice crackers

Roman BLTs on pizza bianca with juicy Early Girl tomatoes and guanciale from Locanda

Locanda’s Roman BLTs on pizza bianca with guanciale & Early Girl tomatoes

SF Chefs Cynar - Virginia Miller

Perfection: espresso & Cynar (Italian artichoke liqueur/amaro) shots at the Campari cocktail cart

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Ananas Consulting’s Lillet shots: Lillet Blanc & Rose, pisco, rosewater; Lillet Rose, Campari, watermelon; Lillet Rouge, plum liqueur,  Del Maguey mezcal

 

Chef Peter Armellino's luxurious caviar cannoli as my first bite of the night. At one end peeked a black head of California Hackleback caviar, donated by the California Caviar Company. At the other, diced chives decorated the filling of smoked sturgeon mouse, creamy with mascarpone and crème fraîche.

From the Village Pub in Woodside: sweet corn & Summer truffle fritters

Roasted White Chocolate Crémeux from Absinthe How does one roast white chocolate? For this innovative and irresistible dessert, pastry chef Bill Corbett cooked the white chocolate in a water bath over low temperature to gently toast the mild solids. His method turned the crémeux a pale shade of pumpkin and gave it a caramel flavor. This slightly-sweet pudding accompanied a mild tarragon foam and juicy raspberry compote mixed with a little fennel. Crumbled chocolate cookies stepped in for crunch

Absinthe Pastry Chef Bill Corbett’s roasted white chocolate crémeux – I’m not even a white chocolate fan & I loved this dessert; the roasted effect gave it a caramelized taste, topped with tarragon foam, raspberry compote, chocolate cookie crumble

8/3: The Five Tastes: Bitter, Sour, Salty, Sweet & Umami in the Grand Tasting Tent

8/3: Decadence After Dark, The Menu is In the Music in the Grand Tasting Tent

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Farallon’s Louisiana prawn & scallop sausage w/ whole grain mustard creme fraiche

Chef Michael Mina poses for photos as he serves food

Chef Michael Mina poses for photos as he serves food

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Thanks, Bluestem Brasserie, for Torchon of Hudson Valley Foie Gras w/ peaches on brioche, atop a turntable

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alexander's Steakhouse

Alexander’s Steakhouse’s silky steak tartare decadently topped with chicharrones

Sens

Sens’ tasty sweet-savory apricots stuffed w/ chicken tagine, pistachios, spiced yogurt

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Gitane’s Butifarra Negra: blood sausage decadently topped with raw scallops, sweet corn, pickled onions

Written by Virginia in: On the Town |
Sep
01
2012

On the Town

OUTSIDE LANDS, August 10-12, 2012

Misty, dreamy lighting changes colors, illuminating Golden Gate Park trees at night

Photos and article by Virginia Miller

This year’s Outside Lands, a three-day extravaganza of some of the top musical acts in the world, quality food and drink (this is SF, after all), all in the beauty of Golden Gate Park, felt more packed than ever. But despite throngs descended on SF from all over the country, turning Golden Gate Park into a sea of trash (the clean-up crew are saints) and no shortage of rude attendees, Outside Lands magic happened each day.

Thousands swarm the main stage lawn

It took place on Sunday when Jack White popped up for an impromptu set of a few songs, literally standing in the eucalyptus groves in the woods near Choco Lands. Magic happened eating local foods in a festival setting, like dreamy Italian Del Popolo pizzas (although hour-plus lines and daily sell-outs were a drag) or everything from Ryan Farr’s two 4505 Meats stands sustaining us on those long walks between stages with the perfect Damn Good Cheeseburger and Yum Yum fried chicken sandwich. Magic was felt in this year’s new Beer Lands, sipping craft beers chosen by none other than Dave McLean of Magnolia Pub & Brewery, while taking in Foo Fighters, Regina Spektor or Beck (though shame on the training given to those pouring beers, as one pouring for The Bruery on Saturday told me confidently that this incredible brewery from the OC was from San Diego).

Beck keeps the crowd happy at the main Land's End stage on Friday

Magic occurred when Metallica, flames, lasers and all, delivered the tightest, hardest rocking set of the weekend. Not long after the noon hour, fun. swept up the entire Polo Field in their rousing anthems. Magic reached its pinnacle in Stevie Wonder’s set on Sunday night. His voice sounding as tight and beautiful as ever, even at age 62. His joy and wisdom just radiated from the moment he took the stage, streaming out to a field full of thousands basking in waves of pink, blue, green lights, foggy, Pacific Ocean air, and the voice of a legend.

4505 Meats' greasy-good chicharrones bars, like Rice Krispy treats but made with Ryan Farr's unparalleled chicharrones, puffed rice, marshmallow, and choice of Apple Jacks or Cocoa Puffs

The hilarious, improvisational Reggie Watts rocked it with comedy and music Friday afternoon and in the media tent following his set

A fantastic addition this year, Lamb Lands, Michael Mina's RN74 and Bourbon Steak restaurants served some of the best food of the weekend, including whole roasted lamb gyros, lamb poutine, and RN74’s Chef David Varley's Brentwood sweet corn in lamb sausage crumbs and cotija cheese

Lamb Lands: under faux Victorian facades, an array of lamb treats were offered, with Chef John Fink of The Whole Beast grilling up and using 8-10 whole lambs per day (lambs from lambs from Superior Farms in Dixon, CA)

4505 Meats/Ryan Farr's ridiculously good Chicken Yum Yum sandwich understandably sold out on the last night of Outside Lands as one of the festival's best eats - watch for it at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

The Wine Lands tent impressed once again with 49 wineries, many small and Old World-influenced; highlights included Villa Creek, Robert Sinskey, Qupe, Kermit Lynch imports, Palmina, The Scholium Project, Wind Gap

New this year: Beer Lands tent with 16 CA breweries selected by Brewmaster Dave McLean of Magnolia and Alembic; highlights included The Bruery's brilliantly bitter Humulus APA and Sierra Nevada's special event beer, Outside Lands Saison

Saturday in the media tent, Dave McLean (center - Magnolia, Alembic) talks Beer Lands, John Fink (right - The Whole Beast) dishes on lamb,

Choco Lands is an enchanted, Tim Burton-esque fantasy in eucalyptus groves with Day of the Dead accents and an array of chocolate carts and treats

Outside Lands ends with best set of all: Stevie Wonder exudes joy and life to thousands in the Polo Field, his voice in top form

Written by Virginia in: On the Town |
Aug
15
2012

On the Town

Japanese whisky haven in a Warehouse District loft with Suntory

Highlights of 2012 TALES of the COCKTAIL

Photos and article by Virginia Miller

Ryan Fitzgerald and team accepts for Beretta, which wins Best Cocktail Bar in America at Tales' Barroom Brawl

It was another humid, sweltering year at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, the world’s biggest cocktail event, drawing thousands of global attendees for a relentless week of tastings, seminars and parties in the great queen of the South. Any reason to be in Nola is a good one and with the city overrun with some of the world’s best bartenders, brand ambassadors, writers and distillers, it was, as usual, one long party.

Being Tales’ 10th anniversary, the parties were particularly big this year, though for me none came close to the magic of William Grant & Sons’ party in a Garden District mansion at Tales two years ago. I found myself craving such an event in the midst of cacophonous, overcrowded blowouts, urging me to slip away with like-minded folk for conversation in quieter settings. Nevertheless, the week held numerous highlights:

1. SF REPRESENTED

Enrique Sanchez of Jasper's joyfully mixes cocktails as part of the Beretta SF team

Though Tales’ awards continue to be Europe and New York-centric (evidenced by the London-dominant wins at the Spirited Awards), this year SF made a dent, only hinting at our long-established cocktail culture that has set trends rather than been a recent comer to the nationwide renaissance of the last few years.

At Thursday night’s Bar Room Brawl, bars from six US cities represented with bar teams serving special menus as brass bands (and beyond) rocked on. The winner of Best Cocktail Bar in America? Our own Beretta. Ryan Fitzgerald, Jennifer Colliau, Enrique Sanchez, and a hard-working crew of SF bartenders ecstatically accepted a giant trophy, doing us proud.

Roasting a whole pig at The Bon Vivants' Pig & Punch BBQ fundraiser

The Bon Vivants (Scott Baird, Josh Harris, Alex Straus) deservedly won The John Lermeyer Award for Good Behavior at Tales’ Spirited Awards. It was a joy watching them win the first award of the night for their humanitarian work, which gives a good name to bartenders everywhere. Besides painting over 30 New Orleans KIPP Charter School classrooms with a team of volunteers, they threw their 3rd annual Pig & Punch fundraiser for the schools Saturday in Washington Square Park. With delicious barbecue (whole hog, y’all), Don Julio and George Dickel punches, and a crowd of over 800 people, they raised over $21k (they started this merely three years ago raising $1600). Impressive growth and a shining example of how to have fun and give back at the same time.

The stage set as a pub for the Spirited Awards

With two of the four nominees for Spirited Awards‘ Best Restaurant Bar being from SF (the other was the wonderful Bar Agricole), it was a delight to see the ever-talented Erik Adkins win for The Slanted Door, with equally impressive work behind Heaven’s Dog. I wish for more US bars to be awarded – and for nominees to be more current as Tales seems to often nominate places that were great or established years ago. Though I adore London and have been to all the nominated London bars, I can’t help but notice the US isn’t represented in London Cocktail Week, for example, so why wouldn’t we reserve at least a bigger section of the platform to acknowledge the fantastic bars nationwide?

2. JAPANESE WHISKY HAVEN

Single barrel Japanese whisky vials for mixing or poured on the rocks

A hearty thank you to Suntory and the fabulous Neyah White and Gardner Dunn (Suntory Brand Ambassadors) for what was THE highlight of Tales: an intimate, invite-only tasting room in a Warehouse District loft. Down a candlelit hall was a white room punctuated by glowing bar, decorative kimono on loan from a Paris museum, and mini-tables lined with vials of single barrel whiskies from the Suntory line for us to mix and pour over hand-cut ice. Making the experience even more memorable, Michael Mina corporate chefs, Lincoln Carson and Gary Lamorte, flew out from SF and Vegas respectively to cook four exceptional bites. I’m still dreaming of a 76 degree sous vide egg strained through a siphon, creamy and whipped, over vanilla brioche studded with bacon. Togarashi Fiddle Faddle popcorn was an addictive snack, and a cool banana mochi over golden raisin puree elicited a long, slow sigh of delight.

Togarashi Fiddle Faddle

Alongside the space’s Zen peace and camaraderie with other whisky aficionados, the afternoon was landmark due to a bar of everything from Hakushu 25 year, Yamazaki 1984, Hibiki 30 year, and other extremely rare, unavailable in the US Japanese whiskies. The privilege was not lost on me, and while I would be hard pressed to chose a favorite, Yamazaki ’84 lingered on my palate long after I returned to the blinding heat outside.

3. FIRST TASTES OF UNRELEASED SPIRITS

Meeting with distillers, brand ambassadors and previewing unreleased spirits are key reasons I go to Tales, even if there wasn’t an overwhelming offering of the new this year. On the first day of Tales, I spent time with WhistlePig master distiller Dave Pickerell, who you may know as Maker’s Mark master distiller for 14 years. As Pickerell told me himself, I was the very first to try his upcoming October release, TripleOne. TripleOne is WhistlePig rye but at 111 proof (vs. 100), aged 11 years (vs. 10), and at $111 per 750 ml. bottle. The bracing TripleOne doesn’t boast quite as long a finish as the flagship rye, but it’s even more complex, surprisingly akin to applejack or Calvados at first sip, opening up into spicy rye body with citrus and chocolate notes. American whiskey fans, watch for this one. You’re going to want it.

4. AMARO/AMARI 

Agostino Perrone of London's Connaught bar serves amari

You say amaros, I saw amari (plural for amaro). The bottom line is amaro (Italian for “bitter”), the wide range of herbal liqueurs commonly sipped as after-dinner digestifs in Italy, has been hot the past few years and only continues to get hotter. Though there are still countless amari not yet imported from Europe, big names like Fernet and Cynar have ushered bitter liqueurs into the mainstream. Amari popped up all over Tales, most notably in the Fortified and Aromatized Wines Tasting Room highlighting port, sherry, etc… and some of the US’ best vermouths like SF’s Sutton Cellars and Imbue in Portland. The highlight of the tasting was Neil Kopplin pouring Imbue’s debut of brand new Petal & Thorn, a gorgeously bitter gentian liqueur using homegrown beets for color, alongside cinnamon and menthol.

Sipping amari with Spirit of Italy

On the Italian front, The Spirit of Italy (TSOI) threw a two morning brunch hosted by Francesco Lafranconi, featuring seven producers: Amaro Lucano, Luxardo, Moccia, Nardini, Pallini, Toschi and Varnelli. Lafranconi’s cocktails stole the show, like addictive:

Amaro Lucano-Bourbon Milk Punch
1 ¼ oz Amaro Lucano
¾ oz Bourbon Whiskey
4 oz Milk Punch Mix*
Method: shake ingredients with ice then strain into a tumbler.
Garnish: orange peel and sprinkle of nutmeg.

*Milk Punch Mix (keep refrigerated):
2 oz milk
2 oz half & half
5 drops of vanilla extract
½ oz rock candy syrup

Zabov NOLA Coffee

1 oz Zabov Liqueur
½ oz Cream-style Sherry
½ oz Chocolate Liqueur
2 oz Chicory Coffee Blend
2 tbsp. Zabov-flavored whipped cream*
Method: shake ingredients with ice then strain into a glass coffee mug.
Garnish: zested lemon peel and sprinkle of cinnamon sugar.

Zabov in a Nola Coffee

*Zabov-flavored whipped cream:
12 oz heavy cream
4 oz Zabov.
In a pint-size whipping cream syphon combine the ingredients, charge and keep refrigerated.

Zabov is essentially zabaglione (the Italian dessert of whipped egg yolks, sugar, sweet wine) in a bottle – a little sweet on its own but fascinating in texture and in the coffee cocktail. On the other end of the spectrum, Varnelli’s expensive ($52), uber-bitter Amaro Sibilla is a complex delight, unfolding with chestnuts, coffee, honey, and intense bitter notes – not for the novice amaro drinker.

6. INDIE SPIRITS ROCK

Evanston, Illinois' FEW at Indie Spirits That Rock

Kudos to Dave Schmier for Indie Spirits That Rock, a version of his Indy Spirits Expo, which I’ve been to every year in SF. Crowds thronged around small, independent spirits – they need a bigger tasting room next year. I was “tattooed” with an artful, temporary St. George Breaking & Entering Bourbon tat (which everyone thought was real) and even discovered a few new spirits I had not tasted before.

Smooth Ambler Gin at Indie Spirits

Standouts included West Virginia’s Smooth Ambler Spirits‘ (I’d had their Old Scout bourbon before) fascinating Barrel-Aged Gin, aromatic with orange marmalade, bitter subtleties, pine, cinnamon, and their Very Old Scout bourbon, earthy with oak, nuts, toast and butter. Few Spirits (from Evanston, IL) also offered an intriguing rye and bourbon, the former spicy, sweet, bracing, the latter smooth but not lacking in character. I look forward to revisiting each of these.

7. HANGING in FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA’s NOLA HOME

Inside Francis Ford Coppola's French Quarter home

Besides Suntory’s sacred den of Japanese whisky, the other haven from Tales madness and New Orleans’ Summer heat was Francis Ford Coppola’s French Quarter home. By invite only, we were merely given an address, entering a candlelit walkway into a classic New Orleans courtyard and hundred years’ old home with exposed brick walls, fireplaces, grand piano and jazz duo serenading us as we sipped Krug and Inglenook Wine. I stopped in more than once, grateful for a peaceful gathering on comfy couches where I ran into friends from New York to Ireland.

8. HOUSE SPIRITS’ MORNING COFFEE BAR

Courtyard at Coppola's home

Thanks to Portland’s House Spirits for the brilliant idea of a coffee bar – with booze, of course –  every morning at an art gallery across the street from the Tales’ home base of the Hotel Monteleone.

Iced Stumptown Coffee perked us up on those slugglishly hot, post-party mornings. And if one must add House Spirits’ coffee liqueur or aquavit to the coffee, so be it.

A memorable Spirited Dinner on 4/26 celebrating Sindey Frank Importing Co.'s 40th anniversary at Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse with drinks by (L-R): Sean Kenyon (Denver), Sean Hoard (NYC), Ivy Mix (NYC), Todd Richman (NYC), chef de cuisine Alfred Singleton

2012 TALES of the COCKTAIL
Spirited Award Winners

The John Lermeyer Award for Good Behavior:
The Bon Vivants 

American Bartender of the Year:
Eric Alperin
Charles Joly
Jeffrey Morganthaler
Joaquin Simo

Best American Brand Ambassador:
Erick Castro
Elayne Duke
Jamie Gordon
Jim Ryan

Best American Cocktail Bar:
Anvil Bar & Refuge – Houston, Texas
Clover Club – Brooklyn, New York
Columbia Room – Washington, District of Columbia
The Varnish – Los Angeles, California

Best Bar Mentor:
Bridget Albert
Wayne Collins
Francesco Lafranconi
Steve Olson

Best High Volume Cocktail Bar:
Beretta – San Francisco, California
Clover Club – Brooklyn, New York
Eastern Standard – Boston, Massachusetts
La Descarga – Los Angeles, California

Best Cocktail Writing, Non-Book:
BarLifeUK
Liquor.com
ShakeStir.com
Time Out NY

Best Cocktail Writing:
Gary Regan
Robert Simonson
David Wondrich
Naren Young

Best International Brand Ambassador:
Jacob Briars
Ian Burrell
Claire Smith
Angus Winchester

Best New Cocktail/Bartending Book:
The American Cocktail by the Editors of Imbibe
Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-all
Gaz Regan’s Annual Manual for Bartenders 2011
PDT Cocktail Book

Best New Product:
Chairman’s Reserve Spiced Rum
Cognac Pierre Ferrand 1840 Formula
Lillet Rose
Perlini System

Best Restaurant Bar:
Bar Agricole – San Francisco, California
Rivera – Los Angeles, California
Saxon + Parole – New York, New York
Slanted Door – San Francisco, California

International Bartender of the Year:
Zdenek Kastanek
Alex Kratena
Sam Ross
Dushan Zaric

World’s Best Cocktail Bar:
69 Colebrooke Row – London, United Kingdom
Black Pearl – Melbourne, Australia
The Connaught Bar – London, United Kingdom
The Varnish – Los Angeles, California

World’s Best Cocktail Menu:
Black Pearl – Melbourne, Australia
Callooh Callay – London, United Kingdom
Clover Club – Brooklyn, New York
Mayahuel – Manhattan, New York

World’s Best Drinks Selection:
Artesian Bar at The Langham – London, United Kingdom
Death & Co. – Manhattan, New York
Eau de Vie – Sydney, Australia
Salvatore Calabrese at The Playboy – London, United Kingdom

World’s Best Hotel Bar:
Artesian Bar at The Langham – London, United Kingdom
Clive’s Classic Lounge – Victoria, British Columbia
Clyde Common – Portland, Oregon
The Zetter Townhouse – London, United Kingdom

World’s Best New Cocktail Bar
: 
Aviary – Chicago, Illinois
Candelaria – Paris, France
Canon – Seattle, Washington
The Zetter Townhouse – London, United Kingdom

Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award:
Gaz Regan 

Written by Virginia in: On the Town | Tags: ,
Sep
01
2009

On the Town

EAT REAL FESTIVAL – August 28-30

Street food in the Bay Area is exploding this past year and we’ve had a few recent events to commemorate, none bigger than Oakland’s Eat Real Fest. Much has been written about the event this week, but I’ll just share a few highlights via photo. It was a dance of taste from one vendor to another, with nary a line on Saturday until around 2pm when some lines reached unbearable status in the heat. Thankfully, I arrived at 11am and savored three hours of feasting on $5 or less items, a fantastic beer selection on tap, and a welcome sneak peek of  Harvest Hall, the massive market launching in Jack London Square. Hopefully, this will become a tradition.

Seoul on Wheels' fabulous Spicy Pork Taco ($3) - maybe the best taste of the day (http://twitter.com/SeoulOnWheels)

Seoul on Wheels' fabulous Spicy Pork Taco ($3) - maybe the best taste of the day (http://twitter.com/SeoulOnWheels)

Tried most of Davis' Aisu Pops (http://www.fruitmeetsfun.com) - Thai Tea/Sweet Potato is tops, with Kaffir Lime Avocado a close 2nd

Tried most of Davis' Aisu Pops (http://www.fruitmeetsfun.com) - Thai Tea/Sweet Potato is tops, with Kaffir Lime Avocado a close 2nd

Jon's Street Eats (http://twitter.com/Jonsstreeteats) Heirloom Tomatoes w/ Buffalo Mozzarella ($5)

Jon's Street Eats $5 (http://twitter.com/Jonsstreeteats) Heirloom Tomatoes w/ Buffalo Mozzarella

Jon's Street Eats "Secret Menu" Mint Cocoa Nib Ice Cream ($3)

Jon's Street Eats "Secret Menu" Mint Cocoa Nib Ice Cream ($3)

Zella's Souful Kitchen $5 BBQ Chicken Sandwich (http://www.zellassoulfulkitchen.com)

Zella's Souful Kitchen $5 BBQ Chicken Sandwich (www.zellassoulfulkitchen.com)

SF Pie Truck's $3 Steak & Gruyere Pie (http://twitter.com/thepietruck)

SF Pie Truck's $3 Steak & Gruyere Pie (http://twitter.com/thepietruck)

Ritual's roving coffee cart

Ritual's roving coffee cart

Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q from Arkansas (http://www.jimnnicks.com) - Hot Link w/ Pimento Cheese & Serrano Peppers ($5)

Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q from Arkansas (http://www.jimnnicks.com) - Hot Link w/ Pimento Cheese & Serrano Peppers ($5)

Written by Virginia in: On the Town |

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