Gaia Gaja with Mauro Cirilli
Next winemakers to come into town was Gaia Gaja (the first and last name are actually pronounced the same way), the daughter of perhaps Italy's most famous winemaker, Angelo Gaja. Here is Gaia, sitting next to Mauro Cirilli, Perbacco's terrific sommelier.
The Gajas, father and daughter, produce many different wines, but are best known for the Nebbiolo-based wines from the Piedmont region of Italy, as well as for Brunello di Montalcino, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cortez reopened on Tuesday after closing the dining room for repairs, and it's no coincidence that there's a renewed sense of innovation in the updated dining menu and excellent cocktail list. If you can't get into Bourbon and Branch for a drink, swing around the corner to Cortez because B&B's bar manager, Todd Smith, used to be the man at Cortez, and a lot of the drinks continue to reflect his creativity and good taste.
I finally managed to get over to Poggio last week, where I'd been hearing good things about the cocktails, wine list, after-dinner drinks, and, yes, even the food. I wasn't disappointed. No driving is necessary--take a shuttle boat from the Ferry Building and it's only a few paces over to Poggio's front door.
I spent a couple of days over the weekend perusing the Anderson Valley and the Mendocino coast. Naturally enjoying all that pristine beauty on a sunny day with a cleansing breeze and pounding surf, one gets thirsty. So I searched up and down the coastline up there for the perfect spot to have a beer.
Enough about Texas--it feels good to be back in the place I really love.
Now, perhaps my future as a drinks writer was predictable given my childhood love of root beer. I loved it so much as a 10-year-old that I was consistently able to taste the root beer blind at restaurants and accurately guess the producer--Fanta, A&W, Mug, whatever it may be. That deep love lives on, so it's hard to convey how pleasantly surprised I was to find homemade root beer at the Magnolia Brewery and Pub. Creamy and delicious, one of its best attributes is that it's not too sweet.
No doubt, there is some very good barbecue in San Francisco. I'm a fan of Memphis Minnie's on Haight Street, as well as Lily's (formerly Brother-in-Law's) on Divisidero. But, in my opinion, you can't get better barbecue than in Texas, specifically in the Austin area. Texas Monthly magazine has consistently rated three bbq joints in central Texas among the top four in the state. So with my, yes, brother-in-law, sister and niece (all visiting from Seattle), mom and wife, we made the hour-long pilgrimage from Austin to Llano to eat at the venerated Cooper's BBQ.
It's hard to imagine what vegetarian wine lovers have to go through for one simple reason: What do they eat with your Cabernet Sauvignon?
Considering that Cab and its Bordeaux brethren is what we got the most of in California and that it turns up pretty ubiquitously from France, Chile, Argentina, and Australia (to name a few) we have to devise dishes that accompany it well. But, sadly, to me there's really only one thing that always goes well with Cabernet and it is described in two words: red meat.
It's January 2, and after two full nights of New Year's revelry, I feel like a hollow shell of a human being. For me, nothing revives a hangover-ravaged body like an ice cold bottle of root beer. From the first sip, I can feel the calming, soothing energy flow from my tummy into my tired arms and legs. My head begins to clear.