Food and Drink

Portuguese delights at the Secret Wine Shop and lenga|lenga

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Up on the second floor of an industrial warehouse in SOMA, you can find a small, stylishly decorated loft filled with secret spirits. I'm not talking about a haunted house. I'm talking about the Secret Wine Shop. It's also the home of owner Christy Bergman -- and homebase for her endeavor to bring unique and delicious wines to an eager audience, in a nontraditional and extremely intimate environment.

On July 25, I went to Bergman's Portuguese food and wine event, which was a collaboration with lenga|lenga, a new catering biz specializing in traditional Portuguese flavors.  Needless to say, it was one secret that deserves to be shared.

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SFBG Video: Devil's Teeth Baking Company is sinfully delicious

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See video

Ariel Soto-Suver visits 2011 Best of the Bay winner Devil's Teeth Baking Company ("Best Beelzebubian Beignets") - and digs into the Sunset shop's heavenly offerings. Powdered sugar: w00t! 

Appetite: Jasper’s menu brightens up the Corner Tap

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All photos by Virginia Miller

You heard it here a couple weeks ago: Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen is going to be a drink destination, no doubt about it. Pair its all-star bartender line-up and impeccable cocktail menu with 18 beers on draft (like Telegraph Reserve Wheat from Santa Barbara), a fine wine list with playful categories like “Flower Power” and “We’ve Got the Funk”, satisfying bar food, (eventually) open-all-day hours – and plunk the whole thing down next to Union Square, a perfect tavern space for your downtown rendevous? The set-up is already screaming hit.

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Bastille Day at Sous Beurre? Oui, oui!

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I'm sure all the travel stories in this week's issue are making you jealous, especially when it's raining fog outside and acting rather un-summery. But I have a secret to tell you. One of the best things about traveling is the food, and if you can find a restaurant here in San Francisco with authentic enough dishes in their kitchen, eating out can be almost as good as getting a new stamp in your passport. Here is one of them.

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Appetite: Time for tea

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Ever a fan of a civilized (and delicious) respite for afternoon tea, here I present to you two divergent ways to raise your pinky in the city.

Kettle Whistle at Burritt Room: A gourmand's pop-up tea

Currently scheduled to take place on the last Saturday of every month through October, Kettle Whistle launched its inaugural tea this past week in the spacious back room of Burritt Room's turn-of-the-century-style bar, tucked upstairs in the Crescent Hotel. Read more »

Appetite: Dining with two European winemakers

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There's nothing quite like dining with the person who made the wine you're drinking -- intimate and focused, it gives one a special insight into what's in one's glass. Earlier this month, I met with three Napa-Sonoma winemakers. Recently, I had the chance to spend time with two Europeans from the unparalleled regions of Bordeaux and Kamptal. Look for these wines in local wine shops -- or ask that your shopkeeper stock them, they're that good.

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Carrot coladas: Vegan happy hour, anyone?

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A short list of cocktails that are not vegan: Irish coffee, anything involving Drambuie or Martini and Rossi vermouth, cheese-garnished Bloody Marys. (Thanks Barnivore.)

This spring, I interviewed six SF vegans on the state of animal product-free lifestylin' out here in the Bay. They agreed it was all pretty awesome, given the kitchen creativity and commitment to healthy eating that lives out here. But they identified one thing that our hills and valleys are lacking: a strong sense of vegan community. 

And what's a better community builder than alcohol? Read more »

Summertime Fernet-drinking just got its video anthem

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There was a time when ordering a shot of Fernet Branca was weird, when your friends would screw up their faces (if they actually knew what the stuff is) and waft a glass of Cuervo under your nose: “now this is a shot!”

Oh hold up, that's actually still how it is – but at least now you have a dope song featuring a legit San Francisco soul legend to bawl back at the haters when they're questioning your libation election. Read more »

Appetite: Napa's affordable eats and surprising treats

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After countless weekends in Napa over the years, I'm flush with recommendations for worthy restaurants and hotels. It's not always the most affordable area, but my recent visits north have revealed a number of delightfully reasonable options within the bounds of Napa and Yountville, both new and established. 

They've also uncovered a few unexpected dishes – and in the case of one restaurant with a new chef, a whole range of them. Read more »

Appetite: Island bites, part four

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I spent some brilliant days -- and the first three of five installations in my Hawaiian series -- exploring Oahu. But based on what every traveler I'd ever met had told me, I knew it could only get better with Kauai. This time around, let's talk the restaurant scene on Kauai – next time, I'll feature its hotels and drink. 

But first, the ugly: traffic jams are jarring shocks on the island's east side near Lihue, particularly in Kapaa. One-lane roads at a dead stop along stetches of strip malls are downright irritating. I almost missed my flight home when it took one hour to go 10 miles from Kapaa to Lihue Airport (the day before the same route took 10 minutes). Read more »