November 15, 2011

“I’m advocating the lifelong investigation of pleasure, and this task requires all five of your senses… Sounds selfish, no? No, it’s not. For true generosity does not occur unless you give from your own surplus.” – Regina Thomashauer

Fall rushes on to Thanksgiving and I am happy to stay home for awhile, savoring the tastes and smells of fall that remain my most beloved seasonally.

Top Tastes reviews four recent stand-out dishes or meals, from affordable hole-in-the-walls (feta cheese pie and pastrami), to upscale creativity (Oakland preview dinner, Moroccan creativity).

Imbiber highlights three brand new bars with lush cocktails of the seasonal, amaro kind, playful beauties just right with Chinese food, and elegant Oakland sips in a poetry-lined bar.

Top Tastes, part two, breakfasts through the week at newer spots offering dishes from an Irish breakfast sandwich (loaded with all manner of sausages) to pumpkin pie-filled donuts.

On the Town takes to the oceanside hills of the Marin Headlands for a five course insects and mezcal dinner at Headlands Center for the Arts, highlighting dishes like buttery ant larvae with zucchini and avocado.

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Recent entries in my Bay Guardian column:
Insects and mezcal – a five course bug dinner
Confit basteeya and garlicky marrow: four standout meals
Wine Tales: New city-produced wine & wine bars, contemplating Napa’s “Grand Cru” terroir, vino reading

**Unless otherwise noted, all photos by Virginia Miller**