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Robin Rinaldi

Cream of the Crop

Take it like a man.

photograph by Aubrie Pick.
A bottle of Orange Blossom Cream Ale from Buffalo Bill’s Brewery in the East Bay came across my desk last week—well, it actually came across Eat+Drink editor Sara Deseran’s desk. But when I saw it I immediately begged her to let me be the official Food Team Tester, because I am a sucker for “girly beers” of all types. If it has a hint of fruit (21st Amendment’s Watermelon Wheat comes to mind), then chill it, slap it in a glass, and let me have it.

Because the Night

Last week the Westin St. Francis  implemented a really great idea: a more civilized version of happy hour. Just like its predecessors, this happy hour occurs between 5 and 7 p.m. (Tuesdays through Saturdays) and is a good deal for the money. But this one takes place in Caruso’s, the St. Francis’ refined lobby bar, instead of a noisy pub, and features delicate amuses-bouche instead of buffalo wings—plus a touch of wine education.

Baked Nirvana

Heaven in a box.

Bran New Day

The Grove: home of one really good bran muffin.
photography by Stefanie Michejda

I happened to find myself in on Fillmore yesterday and stopped in to The Grove (2016 Fillmore St., 415-474-1419) with a mission in mind: I wanted to see if their bran muffins were still as good as I remember.

I Dream of Chocolate

Drinking up dreams.

As the office insomniac, I had the honor of testing out a new locally made product this week: Dreamerz, a flavored milk spiked with melatonin, that supposedly promotes restful sleep. It’s made right here in Mill Valley  and besides melatonin, it contains a recently patented, naturally derived milk-based protein called Lactium.

Pasta Comeback

Perbacco’s agnolotti filled with roasted veal and savoy cabbage
Photograph by John Benson
I fancy myself immune to food trends, but lately I’ve had to admit that the low-carb mania of a few years back has insidiously snuck its way into the deeper, more permanent layers of our collective psyche, including mine. There was a time when I ate pasta for dinner nearly seven days a week. With crusty bread. After eating a muffin for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch! I mean, who does that anymore? No one I know.

High-Low Country

Scotch to Start, Bacon for Dessert

photograpy by Frankie Frankeny

I’m a big fan of liqueurs, and an even bigger fan of food photographer Frankie Frankeny, so when she invited me to an “Amber Tasting Lab” at her SoMa studio last Monday, I was there—along with a few dozen of the city’s best bartenders and pastry chefs. They were making samples of cocktails and desserts they’ve created using Macallan Amber: a liqueur made from Macallan single malt scotch, flavored with pecan and maple.

Red Hot Chili Peppers

When I find myself in the Southwest, one of my favorite things to do is visit the tiny old towns up in the hills. Last weekend, it was Tortilla Flat, population 6, a century-old former stagecoach stop in the Superstition Wilderness on a highway called the Apache Trail. I mean, could it get any more Unforgiven?

Heavenly Food in the Midst of Hell

I dislike Costco as much as any good latte-sipping, intellectually-superior blue-stater. It’s the only place on earth where I start to believe there is indeed a culture war going on in this land—a war between smart, slim, urban people and their opposites. It’s an ugly, us-versus-them reaction brought on by fluorescent lights, over-stimulation, long lines and screaming kids.

So why do I belong to Costco, you ask? Because I needed a flat-screen TV. And like all good liberal elitists, you can bet your sweet patootie that bargains matter more to me than retail atmo. But that’s another story. The real story, for our current purposes, is that Costco has good food. Damn good food. Food that would make a Chowhound blush.
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