When you’re the type of person who makes spreadsheets of favorite chocolates, coffees, cocktails or food/drink highlights in every neighborhood of your city and every country or city you travel to, some might call it obsession. When you can look through Zagat, or any other food guide or best-of list, and barely find any places left you haven’t been to, you’ve got an addiction. When you add all that with passion for writing, eating and exploring the world, you have to share it, and that is what I do.
WHERE I COME FROM
I’ve been a San Francisco resident for a decade, living in the New York City and Los Angeles metropolitan areas previously (born in Oklahoma City, then lived in Missouri until age 6).
I am the lead Food/Drink Writer for the San Francisco Bay Guardian (one of the nation’s oldest – and one of the few independent – alternative weekly newspapers), where I have my column, Appetite, and work part time.
My Perfect Spot newsletter is an even more detailed account of what I’md iscovering every two weeks, distilling highlights (or sometimes low points) for you, both in SF and all over the US and world. I have an insatiable hunger to dig deep and go broad, finding something special in every neighborhood and category I can get to. I don’t believe in having any food prejudices or dislikes so my philosophy is not only try anything once, but try it multiple times (and from the right hands) until I convert to it. I thrive on colorful people, music, settings, tastes… when these fuse together, it’s magic.
I have filled in as San Francisco editor for both Eater and Grubstreet websites when their editors are out of town. I’m regular writer at Blackboard Eats and have written magazine articles on food, drink or travel in 7×7 Magazine, WHERE magazine & Guestbook, and 944 Magazine. I write “best of” lists for NBC’s The Feast, and have written for sites like Daily Gourmet.
I once worked at the California Culinary Academy with emerging chefs and hospitality managers, and have been a judge in a number of cocktail and chef competitions.
THE CONVERGING OF LOVES
Though music is one of my life’s greatest loves, you can likewise find me talking books, film, theater, culture, history, religion, and travel for hours on end… my love of food, travel, drink and writing converge here.
Writing -I’ve been writing since I was girl, illustrating and writing my own books, reading day and night (I still read constantly), assembling my own collection of poetry, taking writing classes and a member of writing groups in Berkeley.
Food – Part Sicilian, part German, with a little English and Swedish thrown in, I’ve naturally grown up with an appetite. My Sicilian Mama daily made me and my three siblings home-cooked meals. Moving to New Jersey, just outside NYC, at age 14 from Southern California (after being in Kansas City and Oklahoma until age 6), I grew up in many parts of the country with varying foods and cultures, usually the first in our family to go back for seconds. New York City awakened my love for cities and the world during those high school years… I came alive whenever I was in the city.
My love for food evolved to the next level when I first traveled overseas. In 1998-99 I spent three life-changing months in Vietnam and Thailand working in orphanages and slums. I then traveled Europe and Morocco alone for three months. When I returned to Southern California after a year away, I would never eat (or live) the same way again. Hunting for “the real”, I avoided chain restaurants like the plague and begin to look for the local and authentic (not an easy feat in Orange County!)
Moving to San Francisco soon thereafter, where I’d previously lived for three months, accelerated my love for food, infusing every day with endless discoveries in this truly unique city.
I travel with as acute a hunger as I live my day-to-day life (check out my Wandering Traveler section). I’ve…
- eaten my way through mountain towns and dined on impeccable lake fish and cheeses in Switzerland
- journeyed on a two week BBQ road trip through the South, ingesting the various sauces and styles of ‘que
- evolved my love for classic cocktails in New Orleans where master bartender, Chris McMillian, changed the way I drink, and every locally-created dish is a revelation
- chowed down in pho bars and on bahn mi all over Vietnam
- fell in love with people, cuisine and countryside of Ireland, tasting Irish whiskey straight from barrels at the famed New Midleton Distillery
- explored all the wine regions of Bordeaux, France, from Medoc to Saint-Emilion
- traversed Chianti and Tuscan hill towns where some of the most beloved Italian wines are made, and have eaten my way through Tuscany, Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Lake Como region, Cinque Terre, Italian Alps (some locations multiple times)
- ate couscous and lamb with my hands in Morocco
- savored Austrian wines and cuisine in Vienna and Salzberg
- watched tequila production amidst agave fields in Jalisco, Mexico
- visited many gin distilleries in London and roamed it’s restaurants, markets and food events
- braved haggis and pubs in Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland
- pushed my spice/heat tolerance to regions beyond over two months in Thailand
- sampled beers and sausages in Munich, Mainz and Berlin, Germany
- dove into beach towns and local foods in Oahu and Kauai (Hawaii)
- ate the lushest fruits on the Venezuelan coast
- paired sangria with paella in Barcelona and the south of Spain
- sipped champagne with buttery snails or made picnics of baguettes, cheese and wine in Paris
- fell in love with Tyrolian food on the Italian/Austrian border
- became a coffee snob and gelato-obsessed all over Italy
… and the list goes on and on. Besides the Bay Area, NY and LA areas are a huge part of me as I’ve spent a great portion of my life in both (with close friends and family still there). I’m deeply connected in spirit to New Orleans – the music, spirit, people and food (I consider NY, SF and Nola the ‘holy trinity’ of US cities). I know the cocktail and food scenes well in all three of these cities. England and Italy are my roots and where I ever long to return. Never do I feel quite as at home with a people as I do in Asia.
You’ll hear me mention The Renaissance Man in my newsletter… he’s my husband and best friend, whom I’ve known for fifteen years, married to for eight. He’s truly a renaissance man who’s a theater acting major, musician (plays three instruments), writer, photographer and makes much of his own clothing. He shares my passion for travel, food, drink and peoples of the world, so together we’re an inseparable team. He taught me how take photos (I take my own now) and helps me edit them or take them on press trips, he created this website, and is the perfect partner in tasting and exploring.
Yes, I cook and love to experiment with cocktails at home, often entertaining with classic or creative cocktails and spirits’ tasting for friends. My husband is better at cooking technique than I (I’m still sloppy at chopping), but I relish digging for recipes, shopping for ingredients, while we cook together.
Writing pays so little it’s tragic… my main income is from being a manager part time at the Guardian. As a self-sustaining culinary imbiber and freelance writer, I’m paid for freelance articles and columns, but still buy many of my meals/drinks, spending a small fortune to explore places daily. Though in the mix with industry events and meals as press, I am not given freebies to write favorable reviews. I’m fiercely devoted to honesty in my assessments, though I tend to not write about a place if it thoroughly disappointed me – there are too many great places to focus energy on. If I’m doing a detailed review, I might have one media dinner, but will go on my own for additional visits to round out my assessment. I appreciate invitations to attend events or meals as it helps when spending a large portion of my income on ‘research’, giving me the ability to try more, thus increasing my knowledge of and ability to recommend a place or specific dishes.