Virginia Miller

Appetite: 2 intriguing new food memoirs

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Just released in early March, here are two new reads I'd recommend not only for foodies but for fans of the absorbing, well-crafted memoir.

>>Life, On the Line by Grant Achatz & Nick Kokonas: When Alinea's chef genius Grant Achatz writes a memoir, it's destined to get buzz among foodies. When this visionary chef was diagnosed with stage four tongue cancer, threatened to lose his tongue and taste buds (something devastating to anyone, much less a celebrated chef), it was news well beyond the food world.Read more »

Appetite: Betelnut's secret Malaysian menu, March 8 until May 8

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Foodies, take note. If you like offal, Malaysian food, or adventurous eating, there's a "secret" offal menu through Blackboard Eats. Sign up for the Betelnut special on March 8th only. You'll get a passcode to give to your waiter at the restaurant during any dinner until May 8th. Read more »

Appetite: Three reasons to visit Gitane

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Sexy, sultry Gitane had me at “hello” when it opened over two years ago. There is no other place in SF with quite its seductive charm. (In the neighboring alley to Gitane’s Claude Lane, Irish Bank is a festive, beer-soaked hang-out.) Gitane lures you into its tiny space with sherry cocktails and Spanish-Moroccan food. Read more »

Appetite: Gin for a winter's night

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A favorite experiment: gather a few industry and non-industry friends, taste a specific spirit side-by-side, sample it in the same cocktail recipe, and compare notes. Gin seemed appropriate for a rainy winter's night.

While gin is fabulous all year 'round, there's something about its bracing herbal and citrus qualities that evoke winter, particularly in Northern California where crisp air and sunny days mingle to create the mild backdrop that spawns our wealth of citrus at its peak. Read more »

Live Review: Paula West brings the best things to the Rrazz Room

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There's a short list of outlets for female crooner aficionados these days. Sure, there are winning classic vocals from the likes of Madeleine Peyroux or Jane Monheit. But I've yet to witness the poignancy of Billie Holiday, the sass of Eartha Kitt, the sultriness of Julie London, or the sheer perfection of Ella Fitzgerald, in any current-day singer.

Though Paula West may not be a legend, she has become a leading international jazz vocalist and local treasure. Watching her perform every year for the past decade, I can vouch: she keeps getting better. She hasn't recorded an album since 2002 and those she does have fail to fully capture the essence of live performance. Live, her impeccable breath control and diction shine, as does her soulful longing and contrasting wry humor. Read more »

Appetite: Lovely visit, with vino

Exploring the farm and winery at Long Meadow Ranch, St. Helena

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Long Meadow Ranch Winery does it all in Wine Country: grass-fed beef, heirloom fruits and vegetables, eggs from their chickens, lush olive oils, and, of course, wines. Seeking to grow everything used in their restaurant and winery, they continue to push boundaries, currently exploring a dairy and cheese-making.

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Appetite: 1 Bourbon, 1 Scotch, 1 Beer

Drinkers, get thee to the Boothby Center for the Beverage Arts

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We San Franciscans are lucky to have a place like the Boothby Center for the Beverage Arts. Debuting last year at SF Cocktail Week as home base for the Barbary Coast Conservancy of the American Cocktail, this year sees the launch of Boothby classes, tastings and events on all things drink. Read more »

Appetite: Uni dreams

Exploring sea urchin creativity at three local restaurants

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Slick, tongue-like uni, or sea urchin (part of the same clan as sand dollars and sea cucumbers), earned its urchin moniker from a Middle English term for hedgehog due to their similar spiny exterior. Uni is an acquired taste. My adventurous palate took a couple years to come around to appreciating its briny richness (to be fair, the initial uni I tried was less than fresh, tasting more like a stale tidepool - yes, it matters where you have it). Three upscale dining destinations have been sourcing immaculate uni and giving it the inventive treatment.Read more »

Delicious love

Just in time for Valentine's Day (and the requisite romantic dinner), SFBG food writer Virginia Miller picks her favorite new restaurants of the past year.

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V-DAY What if this year Valentine's paired romance with a visit to one of SF's best new restaurants? Here are new additions to the local dining scene in 2010 that will please food lovers (and who isn't, in this city?) while offering a range of price points in love-worthy settings.

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Appetite: A tale of two (French) bistros

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On a cozy winter’s night (admittedly not forefront in anyone's mind given the weekend we just had), French bistro fare becomes supreme comfort food. Whether it’s a cassoulet of duck confit, white beans, and sausage or a steaming bowl of les moules with a side of frites, the French are masters of satiation. While my favorite bistros in the city remain Chapeau and L’Ardoise, recent visits to two provided gourmet sustenance with authentic French cheer. P.S. They are both taking Valentine’s Day reservations...

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