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They've Got Sol

As if cozy accommodations, free cruiser bikes and aromatic, bake-yourself mud treatments weren’t enough, Solage Calistoga, the new wine country hotel, has also got a fabulous restaurant—Solbar, headed up Chef Brandon Sharp, who comes by way of Gary Danko and French Laundry.

Solbar has a casual vibe, but the attention to detail and execution that goes into the menu is anything but. You can almost feel Chef Sharp and his team sweating it out in the kitchen while you sip a nice Viognier and gaze at the modern sculpture-cum-fireplace.


Solbar's beef short ribs.

7 Memorable Meals of ’07

After a year of what felt like non-stop eating, I thought I’d reduce my many (many) meals into a concise list of the seven most memorable. As you’ll see, some are old standbys while others couldn’t be duplicated—at least not without considerable effort.

Here goes, my year in review:

Live Uni – Just-out-of-the-water uni at Sushi Groove

The uni was so fresh, it was still moving.

Spice Is Nice – 5 Spices, 50 Dishes cooking class

Beignets at Brenda’s

Last Wednesday morning was rainy to say the least, but a winter deluge wouldn’t stop this online team from trekking to the Tenderloin for our holiday breakfast. That’s right, we dined in the Tenderloin—but no need for pity here—there’s a little gem of a spot known as Brenda’s French Soul Food on Polk between Eddy and Turk.

Basement Dining

There are quite a few holiday traditions that I’m not entirely sure about, and those having to do with shopping are the most perplexing. I don’t understand why, for example, people head to the mall on “Black Friday” and then grumble about the crowds—similarly, I don’t understand why everyone heads back to the mall to return gifts the day after Christmas. I mean, wouldn’t you rather be sitting at home, gazing at the tree and eating cookies? Well, now you know where to find me. But I guess some people just don’t like to spend that much time at home with their families. In which case—if you must, you must.

Freeze Factor



I’m not sure what’s going on with our weather here, but I’d venture to say that I’m cold about 75% of the day (which comes to about 18 hours, six of which are in bed under lots of covers). I’ve come to accept bundling up when I go outside, but I draw the line at wearing full wintertime gear—a hat, scarf and jacket—when sitting at a table at any given SF restaurant. That’s why I’m echoing Sara D.’s plea in Open-Door Policy:

Restaurateurs: TURN UP YOUR THERMOSTATS!

Life After Christmas


Cheap lunch at A16? Sign me up.

Here is my hint of the week. You’re all probably totally bogged down with holiday shopping, cooking and planning (and traveling!) but this is one of those early bird = worms type of situations that it would be a shame to miss out on. The seventh annual SF Dine About Town is on—January 15-31st. For those unfamiliar with the Dine Around concept, let me explain: participating restaurants offer special menus (for lunch, dinner or both) throughout that period for rock-bottom prices—a multi-course lunch for $21.95, dinner for $31.95.

Top 7 Desserts of ‘07

Since I’ve started working here, I’ve noticed that everything in my life now runs in sevens or multiples of seven, so it’s no surprise that when I sat down to reflect on some of my favorite eats this year (2007—seven, get it?), I came up with… surprise… a list of seven. Here’s the rundown (in no particular order):

1. Strawberry rhubarb crisp at Universal Café—I forgot to take a picture of it before diving in; it was that good.


Kona Blue


Me and the Kona Blue folks

Aquaculture gets a bad rap, and sometimes for good reason—there’s a lot of sloppy practices out there—but when many fish are becoming commercially depleted to the point of extinction, aquaculture needs to get more consideration. That’s why I was especially intrigued about Kona Blue’s Kona Kampachi®, who’s well-deserved slogans include: “Good for the Ocean. Good for You.” and “Sustainably Delicious.” I’d add: “Kobe beef of the ocean,” based on the care and effort that Kona Blue puts into the kampachi.

Being a Locavore

I’m loving the organic-seasonal-local trend that’s swept the Bay Area, but I must admit that it perplexes me. Why is this a trend at all? When did we get so far removed from our food and food sources that we now only get a gold star if most of what we eat comes within 100 miles of where we live?

Extinct Food

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