spent my tenth thanksgiving in walnut creek with family friends, making this easily my longest running consistent holiday tradition. cooking was accompanied by cocktail exploration where we made great use of our rosemary-honey, and the spread of w types of two kinds of stuffing, two preparations of potatoes, two kinds of gravy, sweet potatoes, parsnips, rutabaga, and more was incredible. i made my usual bake brussels with shallots and prosciutto (or not, for the vegetarians). and the turkey was easily our best effort yet! brined overnight in a homemade veggie stock with herbs, peppercorns and a cup of captain morgans, before being cooked with garlic, fresh herbs and lemon until falling apart tender. and lets not forget the dump cake or vegan chocolate pecan pie.
dobbs ferry is a newly opened hayes valley eatery, in great space that sits on two sides of a corner, offering a west coast take on east coast italian food. as far as cocktails and food go they just opened so it seems they’re still ironing out the kinks in both, although they’re off to a good start.
the shrimp cocktail was simple and classic. salad and green beans with chili flakes and parmesan were okay. and eggplant parm pizza was well executed, unique, and definitely the best thing we tried.
sf indie spirits is an expo of small batch and artisinal spirits, and a great opportunity to meet distillers, owners and brand reps while sampling an incredible array of products. the event was filled to the seams, and we left before general admission even got into full swing. (so grateful for the vip ticket hookup!)
square one vodka – locally based and female owned. cucumber vodka and basil vodka are both refreshing and unique.
fair vodka – quinoa based vodka, only single distilled to keep some of the body and earthiness of the quinoa, drinks almost like a white whiskey. incredible in an old fashioned (and the brand ambassador shared his rosemary honey recipe with us!)
pur spirits – german made line of liquers and spirits, all with really clean flavor and light mouth feel. to be classified as a liquer a product has to have 8-30% sugar, while most people lean higher on the spectrum, pur does only 8% sugar and the difference shows. also do a really interesting distilled beer
209 gin – san francisco made, overall delicious and the flavors work well in a martini or mixed cocktail
bloom gin – made by the only female master gin distiller, at englands oldest gin distillery
bootlegger 21 vodka – based out of new york, possibly the cleanest vodka i’ve ever tasted
i had the pleasure of assisting the gf on a calendar/promo photoshoot for lupec sf (ladies united for the preservation of endangered cocktails) at hotsy totsy club in albany. the bar is an incredible little retro box with a free jukebox, very random art, vintage videos, and killer cocktails. the 20+ ladies–all bartenders, bar owners, booze PR powerhouses, or owners of their own booze or syrups line–transformed with vintage wardrobe, hair, make-up and a bowl of punch. once the shoot wrapped we enjoyed tacos, burritos and ceviche from the taco truck outside, paired with one of bar-owner jessica’s creations, ‘bitter rivers:’ gin, aperol, splash of grapefruit and lime juice, club soda, and rhubarb bitters. it was lights and refreshing with the right balance of bitter.
joined a visiting chef friend for the last leg of her day-long san francisco eating tour, and while i was jealous to have missed a day’s worth of sf must-try bites i was glad to be in much less of a food coma!
started at the recently opened wo hing general store for cocktails which were pretty good. the dry sherry punch, with gin, manzanilla sherry, orgeat, cointreau, lemon, and cucumber was light and refreshing. i also peaked at the menu and couldn’t resist trying the shanghai dumplings (they are one of my favorite things in life after all.)
from there we made a quick stop at locanda for cocktails and a bite. as always i couldn’t resist the nonna del diavolo and jewish style artichoke. for pasta we had the casarecce – trotter sugo, green tomatoes, parmigiano. i still have no complaints.
our main stop of the night was flour + water, where we were joined by a few local cooks, drank some wine and tried literally half the menu. the absolute standout dish for me was the celery root tortelli with lobster mushrooms. the celery flavor was rich yet subtle and the mushrooms added the perfect texture to create balance in the dish. it was, overall, a delicious meal, and the perks of dining with chefs really can’t be beat!