aq.

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wrapped up an incredible day with a little dinner date at AQ. the cocktails were absolutely incredible, and the space is beautiful and the perfect amount of cozy. dinner started with an amuse of lobster bisque, followed by cauliflower three ways, and a dish of cardoons and dungeness crab. we then had maple glazed parsnips with dayboat scallops, venison tartare with celeriac, coffee and mustard, and finished with a slow cooked beef short rib with bone marrow foam, turnips and capers. the meal was solid, but as far as uniqueness the standout was easily the venison tartare. the menu changes seasonally and i look forward to seeing what spring will have to offer.

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falling in love (all over again.)

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urban hike to corona heights. coffee from the blue bottle trailer in the castro. ferry building farmer’s market. burger from 4505 meats. bubbly, seafood and views of the bay bridge at waterbar. whiskey drinks, fries and a jukebox at 15 romolo. and thats just before dinner…

healdsburg, california.

spent a sunny, late-october sunday in healdsburg celebrating a friends birthday and it was definitely worth writing home about. we started with brunch at barn diva where i had the most incredible steak (filet mignon to be exact) and eggs i’ve ever had. i can’t stop thinking about them. not to mention a perfectly salty (for my taste) bloody mary, gorgeous fruit platter, and goat cheese and tomato jam croquettes with lavender honey that i happily snatched from the vegan-inclined side of the table. other menu items included caramelized scallops with tots, fried egg, bernaise and arugula; and eggs benny with crispt proscuitto, swiss chard, english muffin and hollandaise.

next was wine tasting at medlock ames. $20 gets you a wine tasting-pairing at a rustic picnic table in their garden overlooking vineyards, and all the snacks are either grown on site or sourced locally. and the wine is damn good too!

at 5pm tasting ends and the alexander valley bar, which sits hidden behind the tasting room, opens serving seasonal cocktails like the ginger thyme martini. cozy, dimly lit with a speakeasy feel and a $1 photobooth in the back. the building was the town general store for decades and they kept the bar from the original structure.

dessert was custom “where the wild things are” cupcakes from cups and cakes bakery.

and no wine tasting adventure is complete without a wholly unnecessary stop at a bar on our way home. we were greeted at spoonbar with three enourmous pitchers of mai tai, which did i mention, we didn’t need!

oh, and we were transported to do all this wonderful eating and drinking in our very own privately chartered mexican party bus: lola.

another month, another wedding!

the reason for my recent weekend jaunt to montreal was my cousin’s wedding, minus the cold and rain it was awesome, and we were spoiled by yet another wedding with great food. following the ceremony was a cocktail hour including gin+tonics with cucumber slices (in my opinion the best gin garnish), a sparkling fruit cocktail, and passed apps: scallop ceviche, crab cakes, cheese and chorizo croquettes, tuna tartar crostini, and foie gras w/ apple crostini.

the party then moved into the reception hall for a six course meal, wine, cocktails and dancing! dinner included: butternut squash soup, venison carpaccio, seared salmon with guacamole, goat cheese and beet salad, filet mignon with lobster tail, wedding cake, and a huge dessert spread (fruit, cheese, cakes, brownies, candy and more.) and we got to drink a hundred year old bottle of aquardente (portuguese firewater) that was incredible!

portus calle, montreal.

another meal i try to get in on my montreal trips is portuguese food; which is usually much more likely to happen when my dad is in town at the same time and we’ve both been starved of portuguese food in the cities we live. in montreal, my personal favorite is a spot called le vintage thats run by an old college friend of my dad’s and is like eating at a relatives house.

the past few trips, however, we’ve gone instead to portus calle, a favorite amongst our family and friends (and apparently half the city of montreal cause the place is constantly packed!) portus calle is on the upscale and pricey side, with a more contemporary take on portuguese food served in smaller, stylized portions. while i’m not sure the portions are always worth their cost, the food is good and they have a nice wine list and full bar.

our meal began with seasoned olives, bread with olive oil for dipping, and an amuse of beets. next, risoes de baccalau (cod croquettes), cherry tomatoes with goat cheese, chorizo stuffed calamari, and grilled chorizo. as entrees we ordered: the house baccalau (cod), aroz de mariscos (seafood rice), and giant prawns with tomato and curry rice (it was essentially two giant prawns with a side of the same rice as the seafood rice, definitely over priced.) expected the larger portions of visits past i didn’t ordered an entree and decided to share with everyone else, a decision i wouldn’t make again. we were there celebrating my brother’s birthday, and his friend in the kitchen sent us out a nice dessert platter accompanied, in true portuguese fashion, by a bica.

portus calle
4281, boulevard st-laurent
montreal, québec

nopa!

had an impromptu sunday night date at nopa with the gf. snagged two seats at the bar, as always, and enjoyed incredible food and cocktails, including a concoction by one of our favorite bartenders, the “dag-dammit.”

chicken soup, fresh herbs and smoked cayenne peppers
early girl tomato salad, feta, olives, garlic croutons and balsamic
flatbread of spicy fennel sausage, eggplant, mizuna and gruyere
avocado salad, spiced chickpeas, cucumber and cherry tomatoes
we also wanted the olive oil poached albacore with haricot vert, soft cooked egg and aioli, but we got too full (very sad!)

dag-dammit: evan williams single barrel bourbon, grapefruit twist, spoon of grapefruit juice, brown sugar molasses (like a bright old fashioned)
blue bottle espresso martini

nopa
560 divisadero (at hayes)
san francisco, ca