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Robin Rinaldi

Eating Obama

Today is President's Day, and with Barack Obama on a roll for the Democratic nomination, it's a great time to ...  volunteer on a campaign? educate yourself? read up on your history? Nope. Eat chocolate.

Specifically, check out the delicious espresso-cognac nibble imprinted with Obama's mug, made nearby in Oakland by Cosmic Chocolate (which has one of the coolest websites ever). It's part of Cosmic's "Icons" series, which also includes Oprah (raspberry ganache), Madonna (red-hot cinnamon caramel), Bono (limoncello ginger) and, of course, Snoop Dogg (mint grapefruit).


Eating Your Way To Tahoe

Word on the street is that every San Franciscan and her brother are heading up to Tahoe to ski for the coming long weekend. Given that the drive can take five to six hours, depending on traffic, you’re going to need repast along the way. Every regular ski commuter has a few favorite stops. Here are three of mine:

3 Superbowl Parties

I won’t be in town this coming Sunday when the New York Giants take on the New England Patriots for the biggest football game of the year. But if I were, I’d put my bet on one of these food-and-drink-oriented Superbowl parties. Why go to any old sports bar when you can go to a real restaurant or a nice hotel?


Enrico's patio lets you watch the game outside.

Mini-Mandarin Mania



Photo by Stefanie Michejda.

Italian in the Afternoon

I must have tried getting a seat at minuscule L'Osteria del Forno in North Beach about half a dozen times in the last few years. It's never possible—the few tables are always full and the wait at least a good half hour. And my husband refuses to wait in line for tables. So I had the brilliant idea of having a long holiday lunch there with a dear friend instead. Lo and behold, the place was empty on a Friday at 1 p.m., save for a lone two-top near the window.

Apple Strudel Done Right

I don’t have extra space to say much this week, other than the fact that on Christmas Day at my friend’s house, I ate one of the best things to ever enter a human mouth: her German mom’s homemade apple strudel. I learned that true strudel is (1) painstakingly difficult to make and (2) more similar in consistency to a baked pasta than a pastry dough. You will probably never attempt this at home, and neither will I, but isn’t it good to know that a recipe this authentic and delicious is being preserved for eternity on the Internet?

Hedy’s Apple Strudel
Makes three strudel rolls, each about 13 inches long.

For the Dough

Top 7 in '07

My favorite local dishes of 2007, in no particular order:

1.    At Ducca, gnocchi with chunks of oxtail, jus and … a genius move … red grapefruit.


Ducca's oxtail gnocchi.

2.    At South, the bushman’s plate, an Aussie version of antipasto: especially the tempura-coated mussels.


The bushman's plate at South.

They've Got Sol

As if cozy accommodations, free cruiser bikes and aromatic, bake-yourself mud treatments weren’t enough, Solage Calistoga, the new wine country hotel, has also got a fabulous restaurant—Solbar, headed up Chef Brandon Sharp, who comes by way of Gary Danko and French Laundry.

Solbar has a casual vibe, but the attention to detail and execution that goes into the menu is anything but. You can almost feel Chef Sharp and his team sweating it out in the kitchen while you sip a nice Viognier and gaze at the modern sculpture-cum-fireplace.


Solbar's beef short ribs.

To a Tea

There are so many things to love about Samovar Tea Lounge, especially during this dark, rainy, wintry time of year. Primarily, of course, there are the teas, virtually any kind you can think of: fair trade, organic, kosher, ancient (picked from trees more than a thousand years old!); green, white, black and even Pu-erh, a rare and extremely rich tea from China.
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