Dec
15
2014

December 15, 2014

“[The first drink of the day} marks the end of the working day when you put worldly cares to one side and embrace good cheer and company. It is when the soul opens and we are seized by the need to chat. We are liberated… The first drink also has a physically restorative effect. I find I can spend all day complaining about being tired, listless, lacking in energy, desperate for sleep. Then at six, in the pub or at home, with a pint of foaming nut-brown ale before me instead of a computer screen, I will suddenly perk up… And with one drink, the wage slaves of the day are transformed into thinking, feeling, laughing, independent human beings. We are our own masters once more.” – How to Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson

Faith & Flower in LA (see Wandering Traveler)

Faith & Flower in LA (see Wandering Traveler)

Christmas and the new year are fast approaching. I wish a beautiful season for each of you, knowing it is a tough time for missing those we love, just as it is a time to be reunited with them. I am very much looking forward to visiting both my families (including in-laws) this season in varying parts of the country. In the meantime, Happy New Year to each of you!

Here is my first article on my recent Asia travels: my top 10 Hong Kong cocktail bars (many of them new) at Food Republic.

This issue:

Seed+Salt vegan, a Marina newcomer

Seed+Salt vegan, a Marina newcomer

Top TastesMy Food Articles, December 1-15: 14 of my current Zagat articles on new restaurants, vegetarian and vegan menus, pizza newcomers and year-in-review coverage.
Imbiber My Drink Articles, December 1-15:  of my current Zagat articles on two new beer bars, cocktails in Napa & SF and a sherry list.
Wandering TravelerLos Angeles Cocktails: The best — and the worst — in cocktails from my recent return to LA.
Imbiber5 Wine Picks for December: 5 wines I’m drinking (and liking) now, by the bottle and on restaurant menus.

As your personal concierge who tells it like a good friend would, I also create personalized itineraries: trips, meals, explorations (under “Services“).

Virginia

CLICKABLE LINKS to Social Media & Articles:
Zagat
Food Republic
Liquor.com
Editor, Distiller Magazine
SF Bay Guardian Critic (Weekly Column: 2009-2013)
Spoonwiz
Freelance:
The Times London, Eater, PureWow, Drink Me Magazine, Citysearch, NBC’s The Feast, Blackboard Eats, Tasting Table, Grubstreet, Where Magazine

www.facebook.com/ThePerfectSpothttps://twitter.com/ThePerfectSpotwww.linkedin.com/pub/virginia-miller/2/295/33a/

**Unless otherwise noted, all photos by Virginia Miller**

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Written by in: Intro Letter |
Dec
01
2014

December 1, 2014

“Not many years ago, it was access to information and movement that seemed our greatest luxury; nowadays it’s often freedom from information, the chance to sit still, that feels like the ultimate prize. Stillness is not just an indulgence for those with enough resources – it’s a necessity for anyone who wishes to gather less visible resources… Going nowhere … isn’t about turning your back on the world; it’s about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.”The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer

Squab tikka masala at Farmer & The Fox, St. Helena

Squab tikka masala at Farmer & The Fox, St. Helena

Hope you all had a restful Thanksgiving with those you love… I’ve been savoring a week with family in LA & Orange County, and catching up on the latest in LA.

Meanwhile, here’s what’s happening in NorCal with yet another slew of new openings:

This issue:

Crystal Jade cocktails

Crystal Jade cocktails

Top TastesMy Food Articles, November 16-30: 12 of my current Zagat articles on new restaurants, East Bay & Wine Country openings and more.
Imbiber My Drink Articles, November 16-30: 5 of my current Zagat articles on 3 new wine bars and 4 new cocktail and sherry menus in SF and Napa.
Imbiber3 Spirits Picks for November: My top new spirits releases this month: mezcal, a cacao spirit, an agave spirit and a single malt whiskey.

As your personal concierge who tells it like a good friend would, I also create personalized itineraries: trips, meals, explorations (under “Services“).

Virginia

CLICKABLE LINKS to Social Media & Articles:
Zagat
Food Republic
Liquor.com
Editor, Distiller Magazine
SF Bay Guardian Critic (Weekly Column: 2009-2013)
Spoonwiz
Freelance:
The Times London, Eater, PureWow, Drink Me Magazine, Citysearch, NBC’s The Feast, Blackboard Eats, Tasting Table, Grubstreet, Where Magazine

www.facebook.com/ThePerfectSpothttps://twitter.com/ThePerfectSpotwww.linkedin.com/pub/virginia-miller/2/295/33a/

**Unless otherwise noted, all photos by Virginia Miller**

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Written by in: Intro Letter |
Nov
15
2014

November 15, 2014

“My meaning simply is, that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all my heart to do well; that whatever I have devoted myself to, I have devoted myself to completely; that in great aims and in small, I have always been thoroughly in earnest.”David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

Savoring fall in Napa Valley

Savoring fall in Napa Valley

Fall is my favorite season — and the most stunning time in Wine Country. Invigorated by the vibrant reds, yellows and oranges of the vines in Napa Valley this weekend, I share nearly 20 new articles I wrote these last two weeks, including a big feature on 12 Essential Sonoma restaurants, covering a range of prices and food categories around the County.

This issue:

Liquid nitrogen dish at Square Root in New Orleans

Liquid nitrogen dish at Square Root in New Orleans

Top TastesMy Food Articles, November 1-15: 13 of my current Zagat articles on a number of new restaurants, under-the-radar spots and more.
ImbiberMy Drink Articles, November 1-15: 4 of my current Zagat articles on new cocktails at Alembic, a wine sailing adventure on the Bay, 3 new beer bars you should know, and more.
Wandering TravelerNew Orleans: In my annual return to my beloved Nola, standout dishes at 8 new and established restaurants.

As your personal concierge who tells it like a good friend would, I also create personalized itineraries: trips, meals, explorations (under “Services“).

Virginia

CLICKABLE LINKS to Social Media & Articles:
Zagat
Food Republic
Liquor.com
Editor, Distiller Magazine
SF Bay Guardian Critic (Weekly Column: 2009-2013)
Spoonwiz
Freelance:
The Times London, Eater, PureWow, Drink Me Magazine, Citysearch, NBC’s The Feast, Blackboard Eats, Tasting Table, Grubstreet, Where Magazine

www.facebook.com/ThePerfectSpothttps://twitter.com/ThePerfectSpotwww.linkedin.com/pub/virginia-miller/2/295/33a/

**Unless otherwise noted, all photos by Virginia Miller**

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Written by in: Intro Letter |
Nov
01
2014

November 1, 2014

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history.”Aldous Huxley

Artful food at under-the-radar Napa gem (see Top Tastes)

Artful food at under-the-radar Napa gem (see Top Tastes)

Just returned from an unreal trip to Hong Kong and Japan, I am right back into long days of writing and savoring the warm, sunny days and invigorating fall air of home.

This issue:

Top TastesMy Food Articles, October 16-31: 18 of my current Zagat articles on new restaurants, under-the-radar lunches and comfort food dishes, and more.

Brittany-style crepes in the Haight (see Top Tastes)

Brittany-style crepes in the Haight (see Top Tastes)

ImbiberMy Drink Articles, October 16-13: 4 of my current Zagat articles on a new coffee destination, wine and spirits in Napa, a carbonated draft cocktail menu, and more.
Wandering TravelerNew Orleans: In my annual return to my beloved Nola, standout cocktails at new and established bars.
Imbiber3 Spirits Picks for October: My top 3 new spirits releases — a gin, rum and Scotch — this month.

As your personal concierge who tells it like a good friend would, I also create personalized itineraries: trips, meals, explorations (under “Services“).

Virginia

CLICKABLE LINKS to Social Media & Articles:
Zagat
Food Republic
Liquor.com
Editor, Distiller Magazine
SF Bay Guardian Critic (Weekly Column: 2009-2013)
Spoonwiz
Freelance:
The Times London, Eater, PureWow, Drink Me Magazine, Citysearch, NBC’s The Feast, Blackboard Eats, Tasting Table, Grubstreet, Where Magazine

www.facebook.com/ThePerfectSpothttps://twitter.com/ThePerfectSpotwww.linkedin.com/pub/virginia-miller/2/295/33a/

**Unless otherwise noted, all photos by Virginia Miller**

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Written by in: Intro Letter |
Oct
15
2014

October 15, 2014

“ I dreamt of Japan long before I went there. Moss gardens, straw-mat rooms, wooden bridges arching in the moonlight, paper lanterns with the fire glowing inside.” ― Cathy N. Davidson, 36 Views of Mount Fuji 

Under-the-radar dive bar brunch burger (see "Top Tastes")

Under-the-radar dive bar brunch burger (see “Top Tastes”)

As I write this, I am in Hong Kong and Japan, a lifelong dream finally happening… with articles on the many incredible finds coming soon. In the meantime, I have plenty to share about food and drink in the Bay Area and Seattle.

On the cocktail front, I recently judged a national cocktail competition with Perfect Puree of Napa Valley. Congrats to our winner, Egor Polonskiy (with a notable prize of $5000) from Untitled Supperclub in Chicago, for his red pepper puree, mezcal, lime and garlic and pepper Polugar-based “Back to Cali” cocktail.

This issue:

The new Marlowe in its new space (see "Top Tastes")

The new Marlowe in its new space (see “Top Tastes”)

Top TastesMy Food Articles, October 1-15: 15 of my current Zagat articles on new restaurants, cafes and brunches, re-openings of notable SF restaurants, Greek food, and more.
ImbiberMy Drink Articles, October 1-15: 8 of my current Zagat articles on two new cocktail pairing dinner menus, Greek spirits in cocktails, a Burgundy wine lovers’ dream cafe/wine bar, and more.
Wandering TravelerWhere to Drink in Seattle: Over 30 bar visits later in 3 Seattle visits over 7 months, here are my top 12 cocktail bars, quirky dive favorites — and a few not-so-great spots.
ImbiberWhiskyfest 2014: My top 8 tastes from this year’s Whiskyfest, most of them new releases.

As your personal concierge who tells it like a good friend would, I also create personalized itineraries: trips, meals, explorations (under “Services“).

Virginia

CLICKABLE LINKS to Social Media & Articles:
Twitter
Facebook

Liquor.com
Zagat
7×7 Magazine
Spoonwiz
Pinterest

**Unless otherwise noted, all photos by Virginia Miller**

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Written by in: Intro Letter |
Oct
01
2014

October 1, 2014

“Faith comes and goes. It rises and falls like the tides of an invisible ocean. If it is presumptuous to think that faith will stay with you forever, it is just as presumptuous to think that unbelief will.”
― Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor 

Hakkasan's new fall menu (see "Top Tastes")

Hakkasan’s new fall menu (see “Top Tastes”)

In a matter of days, I leave for Hong Kong (thinking of the locals daily as they bravely and peacefully protest for democracy) and Japan, a trip that has taken an immense amount of work to plan and is a long-held dream come true. I spent 3 life-changing months in Southeast Asia over a decade ago working in orphanages and traveling around to multiple regions but have yet to be in more than an airport in Japan. It’s an 11th anniversary celebration for myself and the Renaissance Man and will result in some forthcoming articles — stay tuned.

In other publications, here’s my recent articles at Blackboard Eats on top dishes to eat now (I wrote the second half of the list) and 6 top cocktails now (the entire article is mine). Also, my latest at Liquor.com.

This issue:
New cocktails at La Urbana (see "Imbiber")

New cocktails at La Urbana (see “Imbiber”)

Top TastesMy Food Articles, September 16-30: 13 of my latest Zagat articles on new restaurants, hot brunch and sushi spots, notable food events and classes and more.
ImbiberMy Drink Articles, September 16-30: 9 of my latest Zagat articles on new cocktail menus from SF to Oakland, Whiskyfest and Oktoberfest recommends, an unexpected tequila/mezcal haven in a strip mall in Sonoma County, and elevated cocktails at the new 49ers stadium.
Wandering TravelerWhere to Eat in Seattle: Dozens of places later, the good, the bad and the mediocre, after 3 visits to Seattle within 7 months.
ImbiberFacundo Rum Collection: A unique collection of 4 rare rums released in only 4 US cities.

As your personal concierge who tells it like a good friend would, I also create personalized itineraries: trips, meals, explorations (under “Services“).

Virginia

CLICKABLE LINKS to Social Media & Articles:

Twitter
Facebook

Liquor.com
Zagat
7×7 Magazine
Spoonwiz
Pinterest

**Unless otherwise noted, all photos by Virginia Miller**

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Written by in: Intro Letter |
Sep
15
2014

September 15, 2014

“There is a great deal that either has to be given up or be taken away from you if you are going to succeed in writing a body of work.” – Susan Sontag in her diary, 1979

Truffles in Bologna (see Wandering Traveler)

Truffles in Bologna (see Wandering Traveler)

Enter fall, my favorite season and an always a gorgeous time in San Francisco. As I explore a range of new spirits, restaurants, cocktails and the 10 must-eat dishes to call yourself a San Franciscan, I also relive recent travels in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region in my first Food Republic article covering best eats, from bakeries and gelato to Michelin-starred restaurants, in and around Bologna.

I recently judged on this blind tasting whiskey panel with a great crew for 7×7 Magazine and also just spent a full day blind judging spirits from around the US for the Good Food Awards, with the awards ceremony and winners announced in January 2015.

This issue:

Wandering Bologna's ancient streets

Wandering Bologna’s ancient streets

Top TastesMy Food Articles, September 1-15: 11 of my latest Zagat articles on new restaurants, iconic SF dishes, underrated spots, Napa and Alameda recommends and new cookbook releases.
ImbiberMy Drink Articles, September 1-15: 6 of my latest Zagat articles on new cocktail menus at SF favorites, drinks on Alameda island, new spirits releases and a fantastic new cold press juice.
Wandering Traveler9 Top Places to Eat & Drink In & Around Bologna: Unforgettable tastes in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region.
ImbiberSt. George Releases 3 New Spirits: A whiskey, an aged rum and an apple brandy from the great Alameda distillery.
Imbiber3 Notable New Piscos

As your personal concierge who tells it like a good friend would, I also create personalized itineraries: trips, meals, explorations (under “Services“).

Virginia

CLICKABLE LINKS to Social Media & Articles:
Twitter
Facebook

Liquor.com
Zagat
7×7 Magazine
Spoonwiz
Pinterest

**Unless otherwise noted, all photos by Virginia Miller**

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Written by in: Intro Letter |
Sep
01
2014

September 1, 2014

“If your project has real substance, ultimately the money will follow you… There is a German proverb: ‘Der Teufel scheisst immer auf den grössten Haufen’ [‘The Devil always sh–s on the biggest heap’]. So start heaping and have faith. Every time you make a film you should be prepared to descend into Hell and wrestle it from the claws of the Devil himself. Prepare yourself: there is never a day without a sucker punch. At the same time, be pragmatic and learn how to develop an understanding of when to abandon an idea. Follow your dreams no matter what, but reconsider if they can’t be realized in certain situations.” – German Filmmaker Werner Herzog

Breathtaking

Breathtaking sunset (with no filter) at Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Taste of Sonoma

I hope you all had a lovely Labor Day weekend… this weekend I experienced Taste of Sonoma for the first time, part of Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, including Friday night at Francis Ford Coppola Winery with the stunning sunset above. Saturday was full of winning tastes from over 200 wineries and 70 restaurants and food outlets on the grounds of MacMurray Ranch. In the meantime, here’s almost 20 new articles on what’s happening in food and drink from SF to NY.

This issue:

Top TastesMy Top Food Articles, September 1-15: 12 of my latest Zagat articles on new restaurants, underrated spots, weekend escapes and noteworthy events.
ImbiberMy Top Drink Articles, September 1-15: 5 of my latest Zagat articles on a Sonoma-grown cider, top 5 beer cocktails now and new cocktail menus at Ramen Shop and The Commissary.
Imbiber5 Under-the-Radar New Spirits to Try: 5 new standouts, from gin to mezcal, Scotch to rye whiskey.
Wandering TravelerMy 8 Best Cocktails in NYC 2014: My best cocktails from this year’s return visits.

As your personal concierge who tells it like a good friend would, I also create personalized itineraries: trips, meals, explorations (under “Services“).

Virginia

CLICKABLE LINKS to Social Media & Articles:
Twitter
Facebook

Liquor.com
Zagat
7×7 Magazine
Spoonwiz
Pinterest

**Unless otherwise noted, all photos by Virginia Miller**

FacebookShare
Written by in: Intro Letter |

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