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**

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Written by in: Intro Letter |
Aug
15
2014

August 15, 2014

Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.” – Louisa May Alcott

Red Hill Station in Bernal Heights (see "Top Tastes")

Red Hill Station in Bernal Heights (see “Top Tastes”)

Another full round of recommends from the continual stream of new openings (I hit them all), forgotten (or never discovered) classics and notable drinks, from Napa to the East Bay, and around Manhattan.

This issue:

Top TastesMy Top Food Articles, August 1-15: 16 of my latest Zagat articles on new restaurants, underrated spots, weekend escapes and noteworthy events.
ImbiberMy Top Drink Articles, August 1-15: 6 of my latest Zagat articles on cocktail menus, quality drinks around the Bay Area, highlights in wine and beer.
Wandering Traveler: My 10 Best Meals in NYC 2014: In one of my second homes, my best from this year’s return visits to NYC.

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 |
Aug
01
2014

August 1, 2014

“It’s not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out.” – Vaclav Havel, former Czech president

Lolo Cevicheria

Lolo Cevicheria

Another late comer but packed full of recommends from the continual stream of new openings (I hit them all), forgotten (or never discovered) classics and notable drinks, from Napa to the East Bay.

This issue:

Top TastesMy Top Food Articles, July 16-31: 21 of my latest Zagat articles on new restaurants, underrated spots, weekend escapes and noteworthy events.
ImbiberMy Top Drink Articles, July 16-31: 11 of my latest Zagat articles on cocktail menus, quality drinks around the Bay Area, highlights in wine and beer.

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 |
Jul
15
2014

July 15, 2014

“I am the rain coming from the dew
that causes the grasses to laugh with the joy of life.
I call forth tears, the aroma of holy work.
I am the yearning for good.”
– Hildegard of Bingen

Stones Throw's stellar summer menu

Stones Throw’s stellar summer menu

This newsletter is going out a bit late (I apologize), but I’m shooting for the next one to be on time. Just back from New Orleans and savoring these balmy San Francisco nights, I’m a bit behind on work but grateful to be home as I was to gather the pieces of home I always feel keenly in NOLA.

This issue:

Top TastesMy Top Food Articles, July 1-15: 15 of my latest Zagat articles on new restaurants, underrated spots, weekend escapes and noteworthy events.
ImbiberMy Top Drink Articles, July 1-15: 11 of my latest articles on cocktail menus, quality drinks around the Bay Area, highlights in wine and beer.

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 |
Jul
01
2014

July 1, 2014

“There is a vitality, a life force that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.” – Martha Graham

Nico low proof cocktails (see Imbiber)

Nico low proof cocktails (see Imbiber)

Here’s hoping you’re experiencing rich summers thus far… as I work on articles from recent travels in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, Seattle and NYC, I also head to New Orleans for my annual (if not more often) trip to one of the great food cities on earth where I am also a judge this year for Tales of the Cocktail’s international Spirited Awards.

In other news, here is my recent interview on the Dining Around show talking cocktails with the charming Joel Riddell…

This issue:

Saison - interview with Chef Josh Skenes (see Top Tastes)

Interview w/ Saison chef Josh Skenes (see Top Tastes)

Top TastesMy Top Food Articles, June 15-30: 15 of my latest Zagat articles on new restaurants, underrated spots, weekend escapes north and east of SF, new East Bay openings and an interview with Josh Skenes of Saison.
ImbiberMy Top Drink Articles, June 15-30: 9 of my latest articles on new cocktail menus, quality drinks around the Bay Area, the best beer gardens, wine lists and more.

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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