What's great in wine, beer, fine dining,
places to stay, & places to visit
in California State

Tuesday, 25 April 2017 14:28

The Old Bartender Blues

The Old Bartender Blues 2 Picmonkey

A Day in the Life of Maurice Amzallag is ultimately a story about a state of mind of being an octogenarian who is 84 years young and actively bartending.

Sunday, 27 March 2016 22:44

The Mystery of Almond Boneless Chicken

Chinese Chicken Almond Dish Zester Picmonkey

By Tina Caputo (Zester Daily) -

March 28, 2016 - It's been more than 20 years since I moved from a suburb on the east side of Detroit to San Francisco, and there are a few things I miss about my childhood home. When I say "a few" I mean three: my family, warm summer nights and almond boneless chicken.

Chef Sophie Uong of Pican Rest PicmonkeyChef Uong plates the lamb riblets.Lake County, CA – Shannon Ranch natural grass-fed lamb received the People's Choice Award at the American Lamb Board's 4th Annual San Francisco Lamb Jam, held at the Golden Gate Club. Chef Sophie Uong of Pican Restaurant in Oakland created the winning dish of Smoked Lamb Breast with Collard Greens and Lamb Riblets, featuring Shannon Ranch natural grass-fed lamb. "The lamb from Lake County's Shannon Ranch is simply stellar," said Chef Sophie. "The lamb is consistent in size, flavor and is absolutely delicious."Shannon Ridge Family of Wines currently runs about 1,100 head of breeding ewes in the vineyards. Each season, approximately 1,500 lambs are born on the property and begin life with a natural diet of mother's milk and grass. As they grow, they enter the vineyards and graze on grape shoots, clover and other grasses and herbs. As a result, the meat is naturally lean, tender and extremely flavorful. It is also sustainably and humanely raised without any hormones or antibiotics.Lamb Riblets PicmonkeyLamb riblets as presented.Grass-fed lamb is recommended by the American Heart Association as part of a heart-healthy diet. Research shows it is lower in calories and contains larger amounts of vitamin E, beta-carotene and a number of health-promoting fats, including omega-3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Shannon Ranch grass-fed lamb is available locally in farm-to-table, artisan restaurants, at the tasting room, and on the Shannon Ridge website.About Shannon Ridge Family of WinesThe Shannons are committed to preserving their land, not only for the great vineyard sites but also for the bear, elk, mountain lions, eagles and other creatures which live there. Of their approximately 1,850 acres, only about 35% have been converted to vineyards. The balance of the land has been preserved for the wildlife which wanders through the property from the expansive wilderness areas adjoining the ranches. The vineyards were carefully planned out, leaving corridors open to migrating animals and protecting sensitive nesting areas.

Lincoln Park Golf SFLife24 SMALLFairways at Lincoln Park offer spectacular views. 

The U.S. Open Golf Championship was held in San Francisco for the fifth time on June 11-17 of 2012. Clearly, the United States Golf Association knows where to go to make the U.S. Open “the most rigorous, yet fair and complete examination of golf skills, testing all forms of shotmaking.” Yet San Francisco is perhaps the most unexpected great golf destination in the world. Nestled amongst a population of some 800,000 residents are six unique and outstanding golf courses, ranging in scale from executive to championship.

What’s even more unexpected is the contrast in experiences available off the course. Most golf destinations offer dining, spas and shopping opportunities. San Francisco has famous icons like the Golden Gate Bridge, world class performing arts and museums, and cuisine that is some of the best anywhere.Here are some examples of how far a day – and night – in San Francisco can take you.

The Front Nine: 1. TPC Harding Park – Named after avid-golfer and President Warren Harding and opened in 1925, TPC Harding Park is comprised of Harding Park (18 hole) and Fleming (9 hole) Golf Courses. Designed by golf course architect Willie Watson, who also designed the nearby Olympic Club, the 163-acre course takes advantage of existing topography, contours and vegetation including Monterey Cypress Trees. A frequent PGA TOUR stop in the 1960’s, the newly renovated TPC Harding Park is once again attracting big name tours – host to the 2005 World Golf Championship and the 2009 President’s Cup. http://www.tpc.com/tpc-harding-park 2. Presidio Golf Course – Established in 1895 as part of the former Army base, the Presidio course opened for public play in 1995 and quickly gained a reputation as one of the nation's top public courses. Located just minutes from downtown San Francisco, this 18-hole course plays 6,500 yards of challenging golf winding through beautiful Eucalyptus and Monterey Pine trees in the city’s trademark hills. Originally designed by Robert Wood Johnstone, the course was expanded in 1910 by Johnstone in collaboration with Wiliam McEwan and redesigned and lengthened by the British firm of Fowler & Simpson in 1921. Arnold Palmer Golf Management keeps the course in top form. http://www.presidiogolf.com 3. Gleneagles at McLaren Park – Built in 1962, this challenging course was named one of the 20 Best Nine Hole Courses in the U.S. by Golf World Magazine in 2010. Located on the south side of the city, with 5,860 yards, Gleneagles is home to tough topography, slick greens and one of the most beloved 19th holes anywhere. http://www.gleneaglesgolfsf.com 4. Lincoln Park Golf Course – This par 68, 18-hole course, designed by Tom Bendelow and opened in 1928, is 5,149 yards long. The course is moderately forested with mature cypress and pine trees and native landscaping on rolling and sometimes steep hills. Distant greens disappear into the fog on some days. The course encircles the Legion of Honor museum with its statues on the back side. The 17th hole is famous for its view east to the Golden Gate Bridge and north to the Marin Headlands. http://sfrecpark.org/FindAGolfCourse.aspx 5. Golden Gate Park Golf Course – Built in 1951 on the sand dunes that sit beneath Golden Gate Park, this 9-hole, par three course is where many San Franciscans first learn the game. Still, it remains a challenge even to seasoned golfers.  An added treat is the Ironwood BBQ, offering beef brisket, pork, roast, chicken and ribs slow cooked on a Wham Turbo BBQ Pit from Memphis, TN. http://www.goldengateparkgolf.com/golfcourse.html 6. Sharp Park Golf Course – Located in Pacifica, this course is actually owned by the City of San Francisco and over 71% of its players make the short drive down from the city. The course, opened in 1931, was originally designed by famed architect Alister Mackenzie and landscaped by John McLaren. The par 72 course is 6,299 yards long and offers fabulous views of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding areas. This is a walkable inland and seaside course lined with Cypress and Pine trees that wraps around Laguna Salada, a natural lake ringed with reeds, cattails and tulles. Living in the marsh are a variety of birds including mallards, coots and red-winged blackbirds. http://sfrecpark.org/FindAGolfCourse.aspx 7. To the North – Legendary Napa Valley, verdant Sonoma County and dramatic north coast seashores beckon golfers and, well, everyone.8. To the East – Play year round from the island of Alameda all the way to the Sierra foothills. Expect lots of blue skies even some vineyards. 9. To the South– How do you get to Pebble Beach? “Practice.” Or head south through the golf-rich communities of Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Monterey and Carmel.

The Back 9: This whole city is the 19th hole.1. The Icons – The Golden Gate Bridge, the cable cars, Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf. You can’t leave without seeing at least one of them. Even the neighborhoods are iconic, like Haight Ashbury, the Castro and the Mission.2. The Performing Arts - Symphony, Opera, Ballet, Theatre. – What other golf destination lets you go play, then go see a play? World premieres, world class companies. Explore at www.sanfrancisco.travel and www.sfarts.org.3. Museums & Attractions – Stretch your mind as well as your backswing at places like the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Asian Art Museum, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, the California Academy of Sciences, the Museum of the African Diaspora, the Exploratorium and the Walt Disney Family Museum. 4. Dining – San Francisco is sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean, a state full of fresh produce, and California’s best wineries. No wonder it tastes so good. Find out what Michelin Guides, the James Beard Foundation and Zagat already know. 5. “Beach Blanket Babylon,” “Teatro Zinzanni” and Comedy clubs – The world’s longest running musical review changes bits practically weekly and still packs them in nightly. “Teatro Zinzanni” promises “Love, Chaos & Dinner,” opening in a new location this fall. 6. Nightlife & Clubs – Speakeasy or dance hall? A couple of each in one night? You’re on! Dive into a classic cocktails at the Redwood Room. Have some Southern cuisine with your tunes at Biscuits & Blues. Rock on at the historic Fillmore. Go for laughs at Cobb’s Comedy Club or the Punch Line. Or catch a classic cabaret act at the Rrazz Room or jazz at Yoshi’s.7. Shopping – A closet full of logoed golf shirts calls for some retail therapy. Find the top designers and truly unique boutiques from Union Square to Union Street and all around the town. For a truly unique memento of San Francisco, look for products from SFMade.8. Spas – Tired muscles and weathered skin are no match for the city’s experts. Influences include European, Asian, Russian, organic and all of the above.9. Hotels – At the end of an amazing day, retire to a luxurious suite, an edgy little boutique hotel or a room above the city lights. Rest up – you can do it all again tomorrow. Book it at www.sanfranciso.travel.

Editor's note: Readers thinking about visiting San Francisco may want to check out Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. In it you'll find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to Northern California wineries and brewpubs.

Sunday, 06 January 2013 15:53

June 25-Aug 27, 2017 Stern Grove Festival

Region: SF & Bay Area     City: San Francisco     Contact: www.sterngrove.org

Madison Bumgarner Picmonkey

 

World Series Champions San Francisco Giants meet the Arizona Diamondback in their home opener at AT&T Park.

Most of the 2016 squad return, including Madison Bumgarner, who won his 100th career game last season, as well as showing plenty of pop with his bat.

 

Region: SF & Bay Area     City: San Francisco     Contact: www.sfgiants.com

Sunday, 06 January 2013 01:00

February 10-19, 2017 SF Beer Week

Region: SF & Bay Area     City: San Francisco     Contact: www.sfbeerweek.com

Thursday, 27 December 2012 20:52

December 28, 2012 Beer Pick of the Week

Anchor Steam BeerAnchor Steam Beer bottle and glass Picmonkey

 

Producer: Anchor Brewing

Location: San Francisco, California

Style: A hybrid lager/ale*

Alcohol: 4.9%

IBUs: 32

Serving type: 12 oz. bottles and draft

Availability: Distributed year-round across the U.S.

 

 

Appearance: Light amber to medium copper color. Creamy white head.

Aroma: Won't show much if beer is too cold. At ideal temperature there's some nice citrus with a hint of spice.

Taste: Opens malty with some subdued bitterness in the background. There seems a brightness throughout. Finishes crisply.

Food Affinity: More food-friendly than most IPAs, it would complement many dishes. This time of year we'd suggest fresh cracked Dungeness crab and a loaf of sourdough French bread. There—three wonderful San Francisco traditions in one sitting! Though it's from Iowa, we'd also put some Maytag blue cheese on that table in honor of Fritz. During the summer, Anchor can be a fine accompaniment to barbecue (garlicky grilled chicken is a favorite pairing).

General Background: Anchor is a San Francisco tradition, brewed under that name since 1896. The “steam” in the name doesn't relate to vapors from boiling water, but to a brewing process once common in America's West, in which no refrigeration or ice was used. A better explanation of the process and the beer itself is available at www.anchorbrewing.com. In 1965 the Anchor Brewery was on the ropes and about to close when Fritz Maytag (of the cheese and washing machine family), a Stanford grad in his late 20s, bought in and saved it from extinction. Anchor was a micro-brewery and a craft brewery before those terms had been coined. They have trademarked the “Steam Beer” identity and others making similar products may use “California Common” as the brewing style's definition. However, in talking to Omar Kamal, a Tap Room manager at the Anchor facility in San Francisco, I find that the brewery is comfortable describing the style as a “lager/ale hybrid.”*

 

mug of Dan  Picmonkey

 --Anchor Steam Beer was reviewed by Dan Clarke, now a writer and editor in Sacramento, California, but a man who remembers having to wait outside in the Hudson while his grandfather and a pal visited a bar in San Mateo in the early 1950's. It was a little out of the way, but it served the Steam Beer that Grandpa Ed favored.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012 17:40

The Cafes of San Francisco

The Cafes of San Francisco

TCB Café Publishing

ISBN 978-0967489889

soft cover, 192 pages, $15.95 www.cafeandre.com

 

the cafes-of-san-fran

Subtitled "A Guide to the Sights, Sounds, and Tastes of America’s Original Cafe Society," The Cafes of San Francisco satisfies on several levels.

Six authors are credited with its reviews of countless cafes. Two other writers are listed as having provided "other text." Beyond that, comments from observers of the café scene, past and present, San Francisco and beyond, are included.

Crack open this book with a frame of mind too literal and logical and things may seem unfocused. Descriptions and great photos of cafes in San Francisco proper and the surrounding Bay Area provide solid foundation. Additional text, including celebrity quotes, recipes and several days entries in a café habituée’s diary may seem extraneous at first, but their presence goes a long way toward painting the big picture for the reader.

Primarily organized by San Francisco neighborhoods, The Cafes of San Francisco gives back-of-the-book listing of all its cafes alphabetically and by specialty. Live music in general, jazz, Bohemian atmosphere, poetry, dinner service and other emphases all find their own sub-listings.

Just what a café is may not be defined precisely in these pages, but plenty of individual interpretations are exposed. The gamut ranges from four Peet’s Coffee & Tea locations to Plumpjack and Zuni, which are much more restaurants than coffee vendors. Ten food recipes are included in a Cafe Cuisine section—hardly enough to be comprehensive, but they may add to the reader’s enjoyment generally and, in some way, to his overall feel for the café environment.

San Franciscans are frequently accused of an infatuation with their city and themselves. Quotes in these pages from Oscar Wilde ("It is an odd thing, but everyone who disappears is said to be in San Francisco. It must be a delightful city, and possess all the attractions of the next world." --Lord Henry in The Picture of Dorian Gray), and Rudyard Kipling ("San Francisco is a mad city—inhabited for the most part by perfectly insane people whose women are of a remarkable beauty.") tend to support that view, but they’re fun just the same. Also included is a less flamboyant commentary—and certainly a more contemporary one--from Spencer Christian, long-time national television personality who in recent years has relocated from New York City to the San Francisco Bay Area, "San Francisco has the best cafe culture that I’ve personally experienced outside of Europe. In fact, I have often found that the only one I can really compare it to is the cafe culture in Paris, which I often do. You can simply stroll down so many of San Francisco’s sidewalks and find cafes, unknown and unadvertised, where you are able to drop in and have a very nice time."

And what could be wrong with having a very nice time? The Cafes of San Francisco provides entertaining preface to such endeavor.

 

--reviewed by B.J. Shepherd

The Food of Fisherman's Wharf: Cooking and Feasting from San Francisco to Montereyby A.K. Crump

 

TCB-Café Publishing

ISBN: 0-9674898-9-XSoft cover, 192 pages $19.95http://www.cafeandre.com/

 

The Food of Fishermans Wharf

To this third-generation San Franciscan, the name Fisherman’s Wharf conjures just a limited strip of that city that borders the Bay. That’s a parochial view, though, and limiting. Countless settlements on the water must have their own fisherman’s wharves and Monterey, some 115 miles south of San Francisco on the Pacific, would be one of them. Many of the restaurants profiled by A. K. Crump would be on or near the fisherman’s wharves of these two cities. Others in the book are not, but are near water and would certainly be encompassed by the subtitle “Cooking and Feasting from San Francisco to Monterey.”

Over 300 color photographs give the reader a good feel for the restaurants featured and for the 24 recipes that are included. “The Food of Fisherman’s Wharf” might be a worthy souvenir for tourists who have visited the area or dined at any of the restaurants featured. It might also whet the appetites of out of state residents contemplating a visit.

Recipes included concentrate on—but aren’t limited to—fish and seafood themes. They seem fairly straightforward and are all credited to restaurants in the area, if not always to their specific chefs. Such references provide the home chef with opportunity to try signature dishes—or adaptations of them—from some very popular restaurants.

 

--reviewed by Dan Clarke

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