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Thomas In Charge

There are certain things you don't say no to: Like an invitation to an intimate multicourse dinner cooked by Thomas Keller, paired with Opus One and Mondavi cult wines, hosted by three generations of the Mondavi family at their estate located on top of a hill off of the Silverado Trail. To this, you say yes (knowing that some of your friends will be filled with a mix of envy and resentment and find your job obnoxious).

Pogue Mahon



Perhaps one of the reasons my zeal for WhiskyFest was a little subdued was that I had had a whiskyfest of my own the night before with my old pal, Jameson. The occasion was a performance by the Pogues, who played four straight nights at the Fillmore last week.

Half my blood is Scotch-Irish, meaning that when I get enough whiskey in me and hear the familiar reels of Irish folk-punk as spun by the Pogues and bellowed by their bibulous lead singer Shane MacGowan, I start to reflexively bounce off the f’in walls.

WhiskyFest Report



So, WhiskeyFest went down last week. As usual, the giant trade and consumer show had a ton of scotch, bourbon, Irish whiskey and more, arrayed on table after table in the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency.

There were lots that I’d tasted before, but standing out for me was a new distiller’s edition from Lagavulin, Stranahans Colorado whiskey, and the wheated malt from Buffalo Trace.


When Barflies Get Together

In last week’s post, Birth of a Great Lunch, I showed you what happens when sommeliers get together to celebrate—in this case a baby shower for imminent father Paul Roberts. Old, fine wines are uncorked, and civilized discussion occurs over the dinner table.


Game On


Aw, shucks.

My parents tell a legendary story (which we kids have all heard, by now, a half-dozen times) about going to a game supper one fall night in Vermont. There, curiosity piqued, they tried squirrel, bear, moose and deer, raccoon and grouse. They enjoyed everything, left the dinner full and happy, and then awoke in the middle of the night, stomachs rolling, sick. Was it the bear?

Independent Spirits

Tomorrow is one of the coolest shows of the year—the Independent Spirits Festival. Small-production, artisanal spirits are the name of the game, as these are some of the most exciting and delicious products on the market. I’m especially looking forward to seeing Ron Cooper, importer and mastermind behind Del Maguey mezcals (the greatest agave products on the planet), who I’m interviewing next week.

You can only buy tickets online today. Print out your confirmation and bring it to the W Hotel at 6:30 p.m. for the start of the show. It’s only $78 for a chance to sample hundreds of amazing products.

Talk, Eat, Listen


Michael Pollan is all smiles and ready for his big dinner at Fort Mason.

I’d make a horrible revolutionary. I don’t have the myopic focus of an Alice Waters or the drive of a Michael Pollan. Last night, I set down the latest Gourmet magazine, which focuses on the “farm-to-fork” movement, with a sigh. Instead of being moved, as I was a few years back, I felt tired. Even worse, I felt compelled to do something bad—like eat a pineapple.

Tasty Capes


As a kid, I used to accessorize with candy—ring pops and Smarties necklaces were all the rage—but these days, edible haute couture would be lost on me. With my ravenous appetite, all of my clothes would end up sleeveless (or worse). So I couldn’t think of a better idea than combining food and fashion on the runway (the clothes will be safe since most models don’t eat anyway).

Eater in the Dark

My mom just started her 43rd year of working at the Library of Congress. Right now she’s the Chief of the Network for the Blind and Physically Handicapped—going on maybe 15 years. I’m so proud of her. What does that have to do with eating and drinking in SF you wonder? Well, on Friday night I attended San Francisco’s first Dining in the Dark event put together by TasteTV and Million Dollar Dinner.


Servers equipped with night-vision goggles

God Bless America

Long ago, I got a chance to cook at the James Beard House. (Owned now by the James Beard Foundation, the renovated brownstone that Beard actually lived in serves as the facility for many a big-name-chef dinner and much more.) I certainly wasn’t famous, but it was my class’s graduation from Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School (now called the Institute of Culinary Education), and we were lucky enough to be aligned with the Beard House.
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