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Domaine Tempier Rose: Sunday in the East Bay with Jonathan

Last weekend, Christie and I ventured to the East Bay for a dinner party at the house of Jonathan Waters, the wine director of Chez Panisse. As with any trip to a foreign land, we prepared by getting all the necessary shots and vaccines and loading up our vehicle with water, dried and canned goods, ammunition and flares. We hardly ever go to the East Bay, so you've got to prepare for the worst.

Luckily, none of the above would be necessary. Jonathan put out an unbelievable spread. The pièce de résistance was a huge, vegetarian paella that he expertly cooked over a roaring backyard fire.


New Orleans Report: Oyster Po'Boys and Abita Beer (to Go)



Just a block from the Monteleone was the famed Acme Oyster House, purveyor of New Orleans seafood since 1910. I stole over there one day by myself for lunch and sat at the bar for an oyster po'boy. Gulf oysters are not my favorite--a little big and mushy for my taste--but they're good when baked, sautéed or, in this case, fried. Despite the sandwich's almost ideal appearance, I didn't love it. Even a whole layer of extra dill pickles didn't save it from being a little bland and soft.


New Orleans Report: A Spirited Dinner at August

Thursday night, I was fortunate enough to have wrangled an invitation to one of the many spirited dinners going on throughout town, in which fine food and cocktails were paired on a fixed menu. Then my good fortune continued as I was able to end up at a table with Jen Colliau (sorry about the blur) of the Slanted Door, John Santer of Beretta, and Jill Santer of Laszlo. Always nice to dine amongst friends in a distant place . . .

New Orleans Report: The Hit Restaurant, Cochon

The hit restaurant of the festival was Cochon. It seemed to be where everyone was going all the time. With its slightly elevated down-home Cajun cuisine, Cochon represented a pinnacle of well-executed but un-gussied greatness. It was where I went within 30 minutes of getting to my hotel. Scott Beattie of Cyrus fame went with me, and we ran into Amanda Washington, a bartender at Rye along the way (the Big Easy was so loaded with SF bartenders that, wherever you went, you couldn't swivel your head without seeing at least two or three).

Summertime Wines

So, I spent the Fourth in Seattle with my sister, brother-in-law and little Clementine (who's almost two now). We did it right, by barbecuing these friggin' enormous steaks.



I mean, they were huge and, as if I needed it, I was given the fattest one, which you see here dwarfing an ear of corn (and, no, that's not a baby corn--it's normal sized). Needless to say, I could only eat about a third of it.


Dessert Wines: Sweet, Fizzy and Red

Last night, for a birthday dinner for a friend, I was asked to bring some Champagne to go with the dessert course. Now, for any wine pairing with a dessert, you must know the simple rule that the wine should always be sweeter than the food. If you get it wrong, it makes both the wine and the dessert taste bad. The most common example of this understandable error is at weddings, when dry Champagne is served with wedding cake. No wedding that I have ever attended when this faulty pairing has occurred has ever resulted in a successful marriage. It is why, at my wedding, we avoided cake altogether.

Hukilau Restaurant: A Little Bit of Hawaii on Geary

So the other day I went to check out Hukilau, that rather nondescript yet somehow noticeable little restaurant on the corner at the big intersection of Masonic and Geary. I'd been wondering about it for a long time and, as one of its bartenders, Kimmie, has come into Cantina (where I sometimes tend bar), I decided to see what it was all about.

Happy Hour at O Izakaya




I hadn't been to a true happy hour in years, but the other day I stumbled into the one at O Izakaya. Beers, well sake and well drinks were each $3, which seemed like a pretty good deal (I drank Sapporo). What was a great turn on, though, was the food, priced on a special happy-hour $5 list. We sampled the seaweed salad, ultra-fresh hamachi and the tempura/beer-battered onion rings and loved all of it.


What Wine Goes with Indian Food?

This question came up while I was lucky enough to be having dinner with Rajat Parr at his house. Rajat is the wine director for the metastasizing Michael Mina Group, which seems to have a new restaurant going up somewhere in the world about every 15 seconds. Known as a miraculous blind taster and to have a deeply knowledgeable mind about wine, Rajat--and this is unknown to many--is also a world-class chef who graduated from the CIA in Hyde Park before deciding to devote his life to pairing food with wine instead of cooking it.
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