Eat + Drink
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The Flip-Top Shaker -- The best innovations in the world of cocktail in the last few years have been historical, archival in nature. That is, the recovery of old recipes, techniques and ingredients through the scholarship displayed in such books as David Wondrich's Imbibe and in events like The Alembic's occasional Savoy Cocktail book nights, where guests are invited to choose antique recipes from the great compendium of the 1930s. Recently, though, I was sent a sample of the Flip-Top cocktail shaker from a company called Metrokane.
Sure, an orange at the toe of the stocking is still a nice touch, but here are seven other goodies to slip in the sock.
1. At Christopher Elbow’s Hot Chocolate Lounge in Hayes Valley, you can enjoy a rich mug of any number of his signature drinking chocolate—treat yourself, then buy a tin and treat a friend. $16, available at the shop (401 Hayes St., 415-355-1100) or online.
Cask popped up quietly, though spirits junkies and bartenders around town have been awaiting its opening for some time. The specialty spirits and bartender-supply shop opened by the good folks who have given us Bourbon and Branch, Swig, and Anu, seems slightly out of place next to the Subway sandwich joint at Third and Market (17 Third St is the exact address), but once you pass under its burnished wooden sign, you enter a world away from the big corporate retailers that otherwise populate most of the area.
Dan Aykroyd is going to be a the Jug Shop on Polk and Pacific today btw 4-6. Yes, that Dan Aykroyd. He's pimping his new line of wines and you can meet him in person this afternoon at the Jug Shop. If you like sipping the wine and hanging out with the celebs this is the event for you.
Here are the details from the press release:
Chef Eric Ripert of NYC’s Le Bernardin was in town last week to promote his excellent new cookbook, On The Line (Artisan). Co-authored by Christine Muhlke, it’s a look behind the scenes (danger, drama!) at one of the country’s most revered fine-dining restaurants. Twenty years into it, Ripert has a lot to say.
Ripert is close friends with chef Laurent Manrique of Aqua, so he’s spent more than the usual amount of time eating around SF. Ripert and I sat down for dinner the other night and had a chat. Turns out he's a seriously nice, soft-spoken guy.