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Eat + Drink

If You Find This, Buy It



Laphroaig 10-year cask strength scotch whisky is no longer to be sold. But you should snap it up if you encounter it, as it’s a hell of a dram—a violent wallop of peat smoke and brine gently sleeping in rich warm blankets of honey and toffee with a pillow of sweetness. It’s incredible stuff. I recently picked up the last bottle at a Bay Area Bevmo, but know that there’s more out there . . . just not for long. Make sure to add a squirt of water, though, because cask strength means it’s never been diluted and thus comes to you at a whopping 111 proof.

Good luck.

Macvin



It sounds like something that might be served at a McDonald’s in Marseille, but Macvin du Jura is actually a delicious sweet, fortified wine from the south of France that you might consider for your seasonal winter feasts.

It’s unusual but also sumptuous, coming in red and white, with flavors ranging from orange peel to quince to ginger to figs. What’s also interesting is that it can hardly be called a wine as there’s no real fermentation going on.

Invisible Cities

One of my favorite novels by Italo Calvino is Hidden Cities, which is imagined as a conversation between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan and includes Polo’s fantastical and imaginative descriptions of 55 cities he’s seen on his travels.

I had a hidden-cities moment myself the other day, when I was led to a party in a particularly fantastical backyard, behind a row of houses near Duboce Park. The yard, shared by several residences, was a marvel and to emerge from an ordinary back door to gaze upon it was similar to feeling like Alice after falling down the rabbit hole.


Thanksgiving Drinks

I can’t really tell you what we drank, but here’s what we ate.


Shroomin’



I had the great pleasure of spending the last couple of days in Mendocino, relaxing, eating and spending time searching through the woods looking for one of my favorite mushrooms—the venerable porcini. Oh, and did I mention eating?


La Gitana at Laiola



Two Saturdays ago, the incessantly rainy one, I finally made it to Laiola, though it took a bus from Union Square and a splashy mad dash in the rain down five puddle-ridden blocks to get there. Owner Joe Hargrave greeted my dripping pate inside the door, pulling a clean napkin off the shelf so I could dry off. The restaurant was packed and filled with a warm, convivial hum. The napkin gesture alone might have been enough to at least place this joint on my good side. But there was more.


Minty Fresh



Friday was the unveiling of Mint Plaza. Being that it was a busy day for me, I almost skipped the ceremony. But, when I heard there was going to be free Blue Bottle coffee, ‘Wichcraft’s peanut-butter sandwiches and a Gavin appearance, I figured I could squeeze in a visit.

This stretch next to the old Mint on Jessie St., off of Fifth St., is a major improvement over the sketchy alley it once was. Now, sparkly chic and artsy, it’ll attract shoppers from the San Francisco Center and offer green space for the residents of the restored commercial buildings that have been turned into lofts.

Animal Instinct

Ah, the life of a food writer. One moment you're dining on lobster and caviar, the next moment you're in a hotel's chilly fluorescent-lit windowless basement pastry room, among racks of lemon meringue petit fours, squinting as you try to make the world's tiniest eyes out of black fondant and attach them to some fondant hybrid of a duck and a chick (a chuck?) that you've come up. A lot of cursing is involved.



Making fondant pigs is harder than it looks.

Fry Me a River (of Smelts)

Here are the things I dig about the new Bossa Nova on Eighth Street in SoMa.

1.    The supercool website, which will make you want to book a flight to Rio in about two minutes flat.
2.    The live music every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, courtesy of Brazilian hottie Antonio Guedes.
3.    The $7 caipirinhas, especially the classic.


Bossa Nova's fried smelts + caipirinhas.

Feeling Crabby


Photograph by Stefanie Michejda
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