Virginia Miller

A spirited winter

Hip Bittermens, Tempus Fugit crème de cacao, Scottish gin ... deliciously new and unusual liquors make gifting a treat

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Whether hunting for the latest unusual spirits as a gift or searching out an ice-breaking pour for holiday festivities, these brand new products — a number of them local — are standouts from my incessant sampling.

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Scrumptious mornings

Spice-dusted doughnuts, scramble platters, and Irish bacon break your fast in style

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APPETITE San Francisco has long been a brunch town, and brunching is a weekend sport. But we also excel at that mysterious (for many of us) weekday meal called breakfast. Recent rising, shining, and exploring has yielded three newer breakfast options (which also serve on weekends), and one Sunday-only brunch so good I just had to include it.

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Contemplating Appetite

Food writer Virginia Miller introduces her new weekly column in the Guardian -- and gives us her favorite restaurant openings of the year

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Appetite: Insects and mezcal

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A new twist on the tequila worm at Don Bugito dinner at Headlands Center for the Arts

Nestled near the ocean in the wilds of the Marin Headlands sits Headlands Center for the Arts, an artists' haven in a reclaimed military barracks that is inspiring just to be in, as it must be for its artists in residence. Known for the culinary care and special event meals they host in their warm, open kitchen and dining room, I was intrigued to check it out. So what better excuse than for a five-course insect and mezcal dinner?

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Confit basteeya, garlicky marrow

Four standout meals: Aziza, Prime Dip Sandwiches, Grill House Mediterranean, and the Haven preview dinner at Plum

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Here are four recent standout dishes or meals, offering affordable hole-in-the-wall charm or upscale creativity.

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Wine tales

Tasty new wine bars, contemplating Grand Cru at To Kalon, and a lively new book about vino

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE The wine scene never rests, particularly during harvest time. Besides traveling to Bordeaux for harvest a couple weeks ago (where I picked grapes with the harvesters one day in Sauternes), and continued weekends in Napa and Sonoma, I've been savoring the city's latest wine bars, wine books, and a rare panel for Robert Mondavi staff of key Napa winemakers discussing Napa's premier soil.

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Lime Rickeys and sourdough sundaes

Sweet -- and surprising -- explorations at Citizen Cake Ice Cream Parlor, Pisco Latin Lounge, and Jasper's Corner Tap

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APPETITE Though my sweet tooth has diminished over the years, it only means I can't stomach sickly sweet. I still take immense pleasure in a fine dessert. Here are some desserts so good they threaten to surpass the meal that came before.

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Fall fresh

New places, new tastes: Notable dishes at Park Tavern, Canela, and Umami Burger

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APPETITE These three new places just opened; these early dishes jump out.

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Appetite: Recapping Whiskyfest 2011

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Another year, another WhiskyFest. I've been attending a number of years now, ever relishing an opportunity to try unexplored whiskies, refresh my taste memory on others, and connect with whisk(e)y industry folk and distillers here from Kentucky to Scotland.

A number of options listed as VIP tastes (more than ever this year) were not, in fact, available at all. Some purveyors said these bottles -- like Isle of Jura's Shackleton or Pierre Ferrand Ancestrale Cognac -- hadn't reached the States yet. I find this a problem, particularly for those paying more to hit VIP hour for these rare tastes ($135 regular tickets; $185 for VIP hour).

One that WAS there however, was the soft, layered, fruity yet slightly oaky, Tamdhu 30 year from Gordon and MacPhail.

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Korean wave

Eel ssam, bibimbap, and hefty beers -- new spots for Seoul food abound. Appetite columnist Virginia Miller takes us on a tour of the best

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Growing up partly on the East Coast (New Jersey) with close Korean friends exposed me to the pleasures of kimchi and burning hot ssamjang (a Korean hot sauce) early in life. In Flushing, Queens, I savored endless incredible Korean restaurants, often filled only with Korean customers. I was first hooked on those crispy, comforting Korean pancakes, pajeon, and my fondness for the cuisine grew from there.Read more »