Virginia Miller

Barrel-aged beauties

New barrel-aged spirits for 2012 include 1512 rye and Bols Genever. Plus: our cocktail picks from the revamped lounge at Fifth Floor

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Here are two new barrel aged beauties worth seeking out, plus more to look forward to in 2012.

1512 SPIRITS BARREL-AGED 100% RYE

I've enthused about small production 1512 Spirits (www.1512spirits.com) rye before, crafted by Salvatore "Sal" Cimino with a unique custom still up in Santa Rosa. During the day you'll find him giving shaves and cutting hair in his classic Nob Hill barbershop, at 1512 Pine Street (www.1512barbershop.com).Read more »

Fresh and fancy-free

3 fantastic new thrifty dining options: Chubby Noodle, Roostertail, Galette 88

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Despite all its high-end culinary buzz, San Francisco is loaded with amazing cheap eats (as my colleague L.E. Leone has been documenting for decades for the Guardian). Here are three new places I consider worth adding to your go-to list.

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Appetite: Cocktailing the East Bay

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In this week's paper we poured out our thoughts on two delicious new additions to the East Bay bar scene, Honor Bar and the New Easy. Below, we glass up some other exciting East Bay drink destinations we think are worth your swizzle:

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Easy honors

The East Bay cocktail scene continues to rise with Honor Bar and the New Easy

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Shining season

AQ lights up SoMa with high creativity and affordable prices

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE In its opening weeks, AQ in SoMa* reminds me of lauded Commonwealth and Sons and Daughters. At all three restaurants, precision marries inventiveness — at a reasonable cost. AQ's starters are $9 or $13, while entrees are $24. After dining in cities the world and country over, I can vouch that it is rare to see this level of skill and creativity at this price.Read more »

Dishes for a winter's night

From Sonoma duck ragout to creamy chestnut soup; culinary cheer for the chills

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APPETITE As we arrive at the end of 2011, here are a few dishes of soothing comfort for a winter's night from four under-the-radar places.

EGG NOODLES IN A JAPANTOWN CULINARY RESPITERead more »

Toasts with the most

Affordable champagnes, ciders, and wines for the season that will help you raise your glass -- without lowering your standards

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE We seek wine recommends the year 'round, but never more than the during the holiday season. Here's some affordable sipping assistance for ringing in the new year or decking the halls with friends. (Key local shops like K&L Wine Merchants, Jug Shop, Arlequin, Bi-Rite, or SF Wine Trading Co., may stock these bottles or can likely get them for you).

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Cream of the crop

Appetite goes down on the farm for a delicious visit to the Straus Family and Cowgirl Creameries

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE On a recent misty morning in Point Reyes, and then during a Petaluma afternoon inland, I visited two of our most beloved creameries. The damp earth of a dairy farm in dark, early hours is oddly intoxicating, while sampling fresh cheese in various stages of ripening is sheer pleasure. These dairies make me proud of the familial, forward-thinking, humane food practices that have been going strong in the Bay Area for decades.

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Hey, hey, Hayes

New Valley treats: Taste, Dobbs Ferry, Two Sisters, Proxy, Gourmet and More, and more

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Appetite: Winter delights

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Our favorite holiday Scotches

In this week's paper I shared a few dynamic new spirits releases across categories, from creme de menthe to Scottish gin. This round, it’s Scotch sips for a winter’s night. While I continue to sip Mortlach 16 and one-of-a-kind bottles from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society I recently brought home from Scotland, wishing they were available in the States, here are four producers that are available and would be gladly received as holiday gifts by Scotch whisky lovers in your life.

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