Food and Drink

Appetite: New year sips

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Ringing in the new year is all about celebratory imbibing, but the sometimes dreary days of January likewise call for a cheering pour. It’s a month of planning towards a new year, reaching out for fresh horizons… good reasons to have something quality in the glass, whatever the category. Here are a few worthy bottles, from sake, wine, whisky, even cocktail bitters.

BITTERS

Medicinal and mixable, the glut of bitters released the last few years has all but assured oversaturation. But Brooklyn Hemispherical Bitters ($21 per bottle) stands out. Made in Brooklyn, the focus is on seasonal flavors like popular Meyer lemon, rhubarb or Sriracha. Heat radiates from their savory-sweet blackberry mole or spicy charred pineapple bitters, or a brisk, bitter chill from Icelandic bitters. These are some of the more inventive, elegant bitters on the market. 

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Going down

Pozole meets clay pot

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le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS As we were walking to the car we decided: it was not only the best pozole, it was the best thing either of us had ever ate. I should have gone back and told her so, but when we'd left Sal the Pork Chop's penthouse sweet it was almost midnight and she was in her pajamas. She'd already fallen asleep in the middle of the season premier of "Downton Abbey," and we'd had to clear our throats and knock on her head after, just to say goodbye. It was a knockout pozole, really and truly.Read more »

Banchan, ramen, and squid innards

Intriguing Asian hotspots Muguboka, Ramen Shop, and Roku arouse the senses

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Authentic Asian cuisine of every category is one of California and the Bay Area's strengths, with constant new openings, including Richmond's mellow Daigo Sushi (www.daigosushi.com) and Szechuan outpost Chili House (www.chilihousesf.com). These three spots stand out for one (or a few) reasons.

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Island breezy

Tasting Jamaican at Back A Yard and Miss Ollie's

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virginia@bayguardian.com

APPETITE Although I'm not an island girl, I crave sorrel — that cinnamon-spiced, rosy-purple juice made from the petals of a sorrel plant — or multi-colored Scotch bonnet peppers, both common in the Caribbean and ideal together, the sorrel cooling off the pepper's scorching heat. One of my closest friends is Jamaican and we've been exploring local Caribbean food for years, despite the lack of abundant local options.Read more »

Appetite: 12 reasons to love Nevada City and Grass Valley

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Imagine if the Wild West collided with a European village. There might be winding, narrow streets through neighboring towns, plotting through pine trees. Old West saloons, wood sidewalks and columns, classic homes in walkable small towns. Not far from Lake Tahoe, at the foothills of the Sierra Mountains, there are two such tiny towns. The Gold Country towns of Grass Valley, a charming, relaxed Old West town, and its sister merely four miles away, Nevada City, the smaller, more funky-artsy and visually striking of the two. Historically, I'd trek 30 minutes off the 80 on the way back from Lake Tahoe to spend an afternoon in these towns, particularly when fall leaves are at their peak. This fall, I decided to spend the weekend here instead of Tahoe - and a restorative weekend it was.

While you're in Grass Valley, foodies and cooks don't miss Tess' Kitchen Store, three floors of every cooking accoutrement you can think of, and Back Porch Market, a small but well-curated gourmet deli of cheese, salumi, wine and gourmet foods (P.S. inhaling the house pasta sauce cooking as you enter is intoxicating).

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Capo's

The new restaurant from Tony's Pizza Napoletana serves pizza and Italian treats you can't refuse

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Wait!

Surfing the Tartine line, digging into Downton Abbey

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le.chicken.farmer@gmail.com

CHEAP EATS Anna Yamo has been trying to catch me for it seems like a year now. When she calls it says Restricted Number and that's how I know it is her, but I am always in New Orleans or Seattle or the bathroom.

"Restricted Number," it said.

I was sitting on my couch. San Francisco!

"Hello?" I said. This time.

"Danielle!" she said, with her characteristically loaded laugh, which tells me I'm a hard person to catch hold of. And in her characteristic accent, which is, of course, Thai: "When we have lunch?"Read more »

We go together

Appetite: Ringing in 2013 with notable new pairings

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APPETITE A celebratory or comforting drink is just what we crave at this time of year. When it comes with an excellent bite, even better. Here are a few of the most noteworthy drinks, winter cocktail menus, and dishes in SF as 2012 passes into 2013.

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Appetite: More tantalizing sweet spots

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Last week, I indulged my sweet side with a romp through several notable new candy stores and dessert offerings -- here are several more to dive into:

While we await the menu launch at the new Dandelion Chocolate factory (read more in my recent chocolate article), the beautiful space sells Dandelion's exquisite bars, and boxes of collaborative chocolates with two other local greats, Feve Artisan Chocolatier and Kika's Treats.

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Sweet tooth

Appetite: Miso sesame rice crispies, chocolate-dipped peanut butter cupcakes, eggnog latte frozen custard, and more new sweets on the scene

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Earthy, savory desserts call out to me. Despite my diminishing tolerance for excessive sugar, ice cream and gelato remain my biggest weaknesses, and I'm as appreciative of baked goods and balanced, unique desserts as I ever was. There are a slew of new and noteworthy Bay Area sweets on my menu — and a couple older places worth revisiting. (Visit the Pixel Vision blog at SFBG.com to read about six more.)

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