December 1, 2011

“An inordinate passion for pleasure is the secret of remaining young.” – Oscar Wilde

Here’s hoping you had a lovely Thanksgiving, as we rush swiftly on into December. I recently wrote about my philosophy behind my SF Guardian column, now also in print weekly. It’s good being back from my travels for a while to settle into this and savor life at home.

The magic of Ram’s Gate Winery, Sonoma, at night (see “Around the Bay”)

I am giving away two tickets (valued at $125 each) to Epicuria, the kick-off event during ZAP, a major, multi-day Zinfandel wine festival held in SF in January. This event is Thursday, January 26 at The Concourse. It’s a night of tasting, pairing Zins and food, with over 50 wines and food from restaurants like A-16, Fifth Floor, even Swan Oyster Depot and Radio Africa Kitchen, Mustards Grill in Napa, etc… Sign up 5 friends to this twice-monthly newsletter on my home page (or email my contact page to let me know who you’re signing up). I’ll draw a name to win a pair of tickets in January.

Featured Neighborhood visits (and notes early highlights) all the new spots sprouting up in Hayes Valley, from a French grocer with calvados-infused cheese, to a European-style cafe lined with books, opened by two sisters. Imbiber covers four notable cocktail menus, one at a revamped bar with new manager, another an underrated line-up at a Moroccan restaurant, then two releasing new winter menus.

Bruleed vanilla foam torched on cocktails at Harry Denton’s Starlight Room (see “Imbiber”)

Imbiber, part two, lists five exciting new spirits releases I’d recommend for gift giving or your own pleasure, including a game-changing creme de menthe and creme de cacao. With many recent Wine Country excursions, there’s ever more to share. In Around the Bay, I emphasize a few Napa & Sonoma snapshots, like a family-run coffee shop duo, a new winery with striking views and impeccable food, a winery run by brothers on Spring Mountain evoking a relaxed, non-flashy Napa of days past.

I’d love your feedback on any spots visited from my site. As your personal concierge who tells it to you like a good friend would, I also create personalized itineraries: trips, meals, explorations (under “Services“).

Let me guide you to the perfect spot,


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Follow my “best of” lists on NBC’s The Feast

Recent entries in my Bay Guardian column:
Contemplating Appetite – philosophy behind my SFBG column
A Spirited Winter – latest bottles, ideal gifts
Scrumptious Mornings – new breakfast spots and winning dishes

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