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Cocoa-Crazy



I’m making (eating is more like it) my way through Fort Mason. First it was the Slow Food event, next was Pinot Days and just this past weekend was the Chocolate Salon—the first major chocolate show to take place on the West Coast in years.

The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease


Flight Essentials: Pedigreed Peaches

I’ve been meaning to recount this story for a few weeks now, ever since I returned from Alaska. You know how flying can be the most terrible, soul-sucking, depressing experiences ever? And you know how terrible it is to watch poor souls jockeying for the precious few amenities offered by the bankrupt airlines?

Gary Farrell Sighting

I went up to Healdsburg for the 25th anniversary dinner for Gary Farrell winery. Gary Farrell, the winery, if you don't know, is one of the top, top producers of Russian River Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. It's one of my faves. But Gary Farrell, the man, is also famously reclusive and shy. He never leads tours of the winery, never shows up to tastings and, generally, makes no appearances.

Though there are pictures of him here and there, I've always questioned whether or not the image in the photos was really Mr. Farrell or just some actor that they got to pose as him. I even began to question whether he even existed or if the idea of this reclusive winemaking genius was just a clever marketing ploy.

Tequila's Madre

Those who know me know that mezcal is one of my favorite spirits. What is it? It's known as the mother of tequila—that is, mezcal is what was produced in Mexico before tequila became a region or an entity. In fact, tequila is mezcal, but not all mezcal is tequila. (To be tequila, it has to be produced in one of the designated regions.)

Anyway, the point of this post is to say that mezcal had earned a bad reputation as rotgut stuff that will make you hallucinate, which is nothing but hooey. The fact is that ever since one company started marketing mezcal with a little worm in the bottom of the bottle, the quality and expectations for the brand have gone way downhill. While tequila ascended, mezcal descended—mostly because of marketing.

Tequila Shots


The bar at Colibri

Most people think of tequila as a shot or an ingredient that gives a margarita its kick, but it’s actually unique in the spirits world. While it's distilled just as vodka or whisky, the fact that it comes from a plant (instead of grain) that has to ripen gives it qualities that are wine-like. That’s what make it one of the most complex and diverse spirits on the planet.

Happy (belated) Bastille Day!



I spent Saturday involved in very un-French pursuits—no petanque, profiteroles or pommes frites for me, unfortunately. Years ago, when I was working at a cooking school in France (an experience that was in equal parts miserable and glorious) we celebrated Bastille Day by producing 1,000 gougeres (cheese puffs) and 1,000 palmiers (elephant ear pastries fashioned from puff pastry that we made from scratch) for the celebration in the town square. By the end of it I was so tired and so sick of pastry that I didn’t even attend the party.

Chabon's Temple Reading

photography by Heather Wiley for Drew Altizer

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon read from his most recent novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, at The Temple of Wings in Berkeley last Sunday. Proceeds from the sold-out event were donated to the Berkeley Public Library.

Hangar 1 Vodka

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