Celebrate Black History Month with four days of sf|noir food and drink

Learn about cocktails from the annals of African-American history with Phil Shell (left) and Damon White of Otis on Feb. 21.

This month, you can observe Black History Month by attending a filmmaking discussion, a childrens dance class, by going to a lecture at USF -- check out this and this event rundown for inspiration. And given how food-oriented we are as a region, it was only natural that eventually you'd be able to eat and drink while celebrating African American heritage, not to mention the black culinary geniuses that add to it here in the Bay. 


Sample wines poured by the Sterlings of Esterlina Vineyards (top) and bites made by Michele Wilson of Gussie's Chicken & Waffles at sf|noir's Feb. 23 gala

The organization that is sponsoring the four-day extravaganza was born one afternoon at North Beach Jazz Festival, the nine-day affair that Herve Ernest organized for eight years. He realized that the crowd in attendance was really, really white.

"There was an African American band on stage, but I could count on two hands the amount of black faces I saw," he tells me in a phone interview. He realized that if African American culture was going to remain a presence in a city where black people were being rapidly displaced, concerted efforts would have to be made.

"That's when the conceptual idea for what became sf|noir started happening," Ernest continues. He started the organization, which sponsors read-ins, dance, and concerts, not only to get superlative cultural programming to black audiences, but also to "ensure the presentation of black arts and culture in San Francisco" -- a city whose black population has dropped from 12 to less than three percent in the 19 years since Ernest first settled here. 

This year, his group is offering days of events that highlight some of the area's most successful black food entrepreneurs. "It's something that is very relevant here," says Ernest. "It's a foodie town, food events happen all the time. We thought it was high time to create a food and wine event that looks at African American cuisine." 

So, belly up. Go here for more info: 


Three mixologists -- including Otis bartenders Phil Shell and Damon White -- present cocktails found throughout the African diaspora. Entry is free, you have to pay for your own drinks though. 

Feb. 21, 6-9pm, free. Otis, 25 Maiden Lane, SF

Wine tasting with Omar White

After 15 years at Chez Panisse, believe that wine consultant White has some knowledge about local vinos. He's lent his expertise to Pizzaolo and the East Bay's Hibiscus and is here today to teach about the in's and out's of the wine tasting process. Register in advance for this one -- participation is limited to 25 thirsty souls. 

Feb. 22, 6-9pm, $20. 18 Reasons, 3674 18th St., SF


Wine and Food Gala

Food from nine restaurants well-versed in African American cuisine (Farmerbrown, Cedar Hill, and tomorrow's brunch host Miss Ollie's for starters), 20 local and international winemakers, and two dessert specialists -- The Brown Sugar Lady and PieTisserie -- are all serving up at this four-hour dinner party. 

Feb. 23, 7-11pm, $60. The Atrium, 101 Mission, SF

Oakland Jazz Brunch 

Hibiscus' chef Sarah Minton has a new project in this Old Oakland corner restaurant. She'll be offering up the place's Carribean-toned menu for brunch today, while the Marcus Shelby Trio helps you finish the sf|noir series strong.

Feb. 24, 11am-3pm, free entrance, a la carte menu. Miss Ollie's, 901 Washington, Oakl. 

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