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Clean Shaves: Another Victim of the Economic Crisis

Beards and their slightly-less hirsute brethren, the manly moustache and chin-hugging goatee, are making a comeback, according to a recent story in The Wall Street Journal. But don’t give all the credit to Brad Pitt and George Clooney, both of whom have been spotted donning facial fur in recent weeks. No, as with so many other things these days, the real blame lies with the nation’s flagging economy.

Cheers! Our Champagne Recommend

If you're looking for a fine, but reasonably priced Champagne for the holidays this year, I recommend this new-ish offering from the famous Champagne house Taittinger. It's made entirely from Grand Crus-rated vineyards (ones that score 100% in the Champagne AOC's system), and it's 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. it's got great structure and length, but is marked by an elegance and a citrusy juiciness that makes it hard not to guzzle. I think the price of $50, which you can find at K&L, is a bargain for Champagne of this quality.

Ode to the Vertical Rabbit

The Vertical Rabbit -- I pretty much exclusively use a simple waiter's corkscrew when opening a bottle of wine. Simple, compact and effective, it always gets the job done. Years ago, when the first Rabbit corkscrew came out with its lever and its single pump action to both extract the cork and twist it off the worm. It looked good, but was clumsy and difficult to use. I stuck to my waiter's corkscrew. But this year they came out with the vertical rabbit--it's much smaller and more compact and actually works much better than the original. With it, it's easier to obtain leverage and its general action is much smoother. For the individual bottle, I'll stick to my pocket-size opener. But if I'm going to be opening more than one or two, the Vertical Rabbit is the way to go.

Last-Minute Gift Ideas for 11th Hour Shoppers

‘Twas two days before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.... That’s because they were out, racing through the streets in frenzied madness, trying desperately to hunt down last-minute gifts. Grr. Let us help you in your endeavors with 7 spots where you can easily snag something for anyone on your last-minute list:

American Cheeses: Clark Wolf Hates Intolerance

Sliding in one day too late for my unofficial holiday gift guide for the foodie is American Cheese: The Best Regional, Artisan, and Farmhouse Cheeses (Simon & Schuster, $25) by Clark Wolf. It arrived on my desk the other day and I finally got a chance to look at it.

Top Chef's Jamie Lauren on NY vs. SF (Who's Better?)

One of the things I've noticed over the past seven years that I have been in San Francisco is the clear differences between foodie culture here versus New York City—my hometown. Since I’m just finishing up a visit (snowed-in as we speak), I thought I’d weigh the benefits of two cities dear to my heart.

5 Tips for Making Holiday Travel Less of a Nightmare

If you're not from California, chances are you're one of the projected 8.1 million travelers who will be heading home by plane this holiday season. Which means--sorry to break it to you--you'll likely be spending more time than necessary sitting in the airport or on the tarmac, dealing with weather delays, air traffic, mechanical issues or overbookings. But your experience doesn't have to be miserable. Here are a few tips that will hopefully make your holiday travel a little less painful.

20 Ways to Spend New Year's (The Eat + Drink List)

Chef Hoss Zaré hosts a five-course dinner at Zaré at Fly Trap on New Year’s Eve, featuring Persian-inspired dishes paired with wines from around the world (along with a complimentary glass of champagne at midnight, of course). Festivities take place from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Dinner costs $105 for the first seating and $125 for the second seating; wine pairings are an additional $42 per person. 606 Folsom St., 415-243-0580 or visit zareflytrap.com

Gift Idea: Vintage Fashion Illustrations from Lost Art Salon

Counterintuitive as it may seem, meaningful gifts for the fashion fanatics in your world don’t have to be wearable. After all, the most devoted style hounds consider fashion an art. So why not gift them with art that’s all about fashion?

You can find that very sort of gift at Lost Art Salon, which houses owners Rob Delamater and Gaetan Caron’s library of some 3,000 art works from 1900 to the 1960’s. Among them are numerous fashion and costume illustrations in pen and ink and watercolor and ink that were created for print publications and advertisements during the mid-20th century.

Pottery Tips from Sasha Wingate of BellJar

Sasha Wingate, 36, owner of Mission District home accessories shop, the BellJar, invites us into her home in the Excelsior district to view her collection of dainty white pottery and milk glass. The early 20th-century pieces run the gamut from hobnail vessels to ruffle-edged bowls by McCoy to classic 1930s cornucopias—an impressive, and decidedly feminine, grouping that adds a soft edge to Wingate’s midcentury-inspired home.

Do you have an elusive piece that you covet?

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