Restaurants & Bars
Ground zero for Tales of the Cocktail was the Hotel Monteleone, which is where most of the seminars took place and where most everybody stayed (I did not). But ground zero of ground zero was definitely the Carousel Bar, right off the old lobby. As you can see from the place’s publicity shot (below), it's built of an old circus piece.
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).
Last week, Serge Hochar (above right), proprietor of one of the world's most unusual wineries, was in town to do a vertical tasting. His winery is Chateau Musar, improbably located in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. About 7,000 years ago, this area was perhaps the world's first fine wine region, as its products were exported around the Mediterranean, even to Greece, which already bustling with wine. Hochar has managed to steer the winery out of trouble, miraculously guiding it through Lebanon's 15-year civil war of the 1970s and '80s while losing only one vintage (1976).
Few dining opportunities make me happier than the Japanese triple: a glass of sake, a Japanese beer and some fish. This photo was taken at Sebo in Hayes Valley. The beer, Orion, one of my favorites in the world, is brewed on Okinawa, in the south of Japan. The sake was Wakatake Onigoroshi (I believe . . . it was ordered for me), a Junmai Dai Ginjo. I had two. And the fish . . . it was the first of many bites.
I'd been meaning for some time to get over to Epic Roasthouse to try the cocktails of the illustrious Camber Lay, who made a name for herself at Frisson back in the day. As long as I've known her, Camber has been one of the most inventive bartenders in the city, daringly combining disparate ingredients, playing with things like vinegar and unusual rims.
I'd been meaning to post on this for month's, but kept getting sidetracked until I was reminded of this by seeing Helen Roy's column in a recent Tablehopper. The wine, bar and beverage director for SoMa's new InterContinental Hotel, Roy (above) has turned its Bar 888 into a temple to one of her favorite substances: grappa.