1. Spring Sprouting
This is that great time of year when root vegetables and caramelized braises give way to signs of spring. We’re seeing some of the seasons’ finest vegetables making their debuts on menu around town: Jardinière is serving Prather Ranch lamb with fava beans and spring onion, Millennium has artichokes al cartoccio with roasted fennel; spring garlic; spicy seitan sausage and Meyer lemon, and at Pizzeria Delfina you can order a side-dish of first-of-the-season asparagus topped with lardo butter.
Last weekend I judged at the SF International Spirits Competition, a great event that brings spirits experts from around the country to taste and judge which are the best vodkas, gins, whiskeys, piscos, liqueurs, etc. Many of the best spirit bottlers in the world do submit their products, so, yes, it can be a great tasting experience. However, with the great also comes the not-so-great, as can be seen in the flight this poor panel was tasting. I'm not sure which category this rainbow of artificial coloring fell under, but it couldn't have been fun to put these things in one's mouth.
One of the country's most celebrated chefs lives in
our own back yard.
Green beer. Everyone makes fun of me for having my ritual St. Patrick's Day toast with a glass of chromatologically-enhanced beer. And of course, it is a silly and cheesy practice, but that's why I like it. Beer just seems to taste good when it's green and the day is the 17th of March. Naturally, I'm listening to the Pogues’ If I Should Fall from Grace with God (their best album, and don't even try to tell me otherwise) as I write (and drink). Green beer also tastes better when consumed with a shot of Jameson before noon on St. Patrick's Day.
courtesy of Stefanie Michejda
1. Night School
If your shaker is looking a little rusty, it might be time to enroll in Bourbon & Branch’s Beverage Academy, their series of 2-hour evening classes covering attention-holding topics as “Gin: from bathtubs and back alleys to the upper class,” “Tequila: the spirit of Mexico,” and “Whiskey Confidential.” Sign up for their upcoming classes on March 24th and 25th, held in the B&B library.
2. Carnivores Unite
I have to write a brief report on the craziness that was La Paulée, the big Burgundy party in which everyone brings a great bottle (or ten) to share. There was so much great wine at this year's dinner, held on March 1, that had it not been so delicious, it would have been sickening. It was all collected in a back room at the Westin St. Francis, where the army of sommeliers (somewhere around 60 of them, from all over the country) would fetch it and pour it for the guests who brought it.
courtesy of United Irish Societies of San Francisco
Yup, it’s that time of year again, where normal people don leprechaun outfits, drink ridiculous amounts of green beer and claim to be at least 1/18th Irish. If you’re so inclined, feel free to cram yourself into a local pub where, come midnight, some jerk will start belting out “Danny Boy.” But should you be looking for a slightly more, uh, refined way to celebrate the Emerald Isle, check out the following.
1. Who's on Top?
The season premiere of Top Chef airs tonight at 10 p.m. on Bravo, and this season has four local contenders. So pull up a chair, order some take-out and get ready to play favorites. Wonder who we think won? Click here for our completely uninformed spoiler.
courtesy of Stefanie Michejda
This was a dinner I attended during the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers up in Napa. It was a good three days, and I gleaned some valuable information about publishing. More than that, however, I made some excellent new friends. Not a bad use of time, particularly for people who are just starting their career.