What's great in wine, beer, fine dining,
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in California State

Presidio of San Francisco from the air in 2008 PicmonkeyPresidio of San Francisco from the air in 2008

TASTE News Service. San Francisco, May 6, 2015 - The Presidio Trust has announced the selection of James Corner Field Operations (Field Operations), a New York City-based firm, to design 13 acres of new Presidio parkland at the Golden Gate.

A military presence was established on this northernmost tip of the San Francisco Peninsula by Spanish troops in 1776. Subsequently, the land was used by the Mexican Army until assumed by the American Military in 1848. Long the headquarters of U.S. 6th Army, The Presidio was ceded to civilian control of the National Park Service in 1994.

Field Operations, best known for leading the design and construction of the High Line in New York City, is celebrated for its work transforming urban sites into treasured public spaces. Field Operations was selected from a group of five internationally-renowned design finalists. The New Presidio Parklands Project is a partnership between the Presidio Trust, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy and the National Park Service (NPS).

“In 2001, with generous community support, we transformed Crissy Field from a former military refuse area into a beautiful shoreline park that is now enjoyed by more than a million visitors each year,” said Greg Moore, President and CEO of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. “We believe the New Presidio Parklands Project is the capstone to over a quarter century of park making in the Presidio which will reconnect Crissy Field to the Presidio's Main Post and become a resplendent site for recreation, relaxation and exploration.”

The new Presidio parklands will be created by replacing Doyle Drive, an elevated highway, with an at-grade roadway covered by beautifully landscaped tunnels. The new land above the freeway will reconnect two Presidio destinations: the historic Main Post and the Crissy Field waterfront at San Francisco Bay. Once completed in 2018, the new landscape will offer visitors an unparalleled experience of the Golden Gate.

Crissy Field sunset from east beach PicmonkeySunset from below Doyle Drive project“I could not be more delighted with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said James Corner, Founder and Director of Field Operations. “I feel both honored and humbled by the challenge. This is an extremely significant opportunity for the people of San Francisco to create a dramatic new legacy for future generations – a place where the Presidio meets the Bay, a place where the City can reflect back upon itself, a place where urban life meets the most amazing natural resources, unparalleled by any other city. Through sensitive and thoughtful design, we can together create a beautiful center-point for new forms of community, engagement and interaction.”

Public input will continue to be essential in shaping the final concept for the New Presidio Parklands Project. Workshops starting in early 2015 will invite broad community participation.

“Now that we have identified a team, we encourage the public to share their ideas about what they would like to see at the New Presidio Parklands,” said Frank Dean, Superintendent of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. “This is an opportunity to shape what will be a park site for the ages, and which will also allow a cohesive and rich visitor experience of the resources of this former military post.”

The Presidio Trust

The Presidio Trust, a federal agency, is an innovation in the management of a treasured American place. The Trust was created to save the Presidio and transform it for a new national purpose. The Trust's vision is that the Presidio will forever be a public place: vital to the Bay Area, important to all Americans, and recognized for achieving broad benefits for the nation. Today, the Presidio welcomes visitors, is home to a vibrant community of residents and tenants, and inspires greater good through programs that draw on its history and natural resources. The Presidio Trust serves the public with events, lodging, venues and recreational opportunities. To learn more, visit www.presidio.gov.

Sunday, 03 May 2015 13:12

San Francisco Hits Culinary Homer

Benu.StreetView.EricWolfinger PicmonkeyA peek through the window at Benu

TASTE News Service May 3, 2015 - It's been a banner year for San Francisco, and not just for the World Series Champion Giants. The city has received high praise for its restaurants from a variety of esteemed sources.

Travel + Leisure

In Travel + Leisure magazine's November survey of America's Favorite Cities, San Francisco came in first for Wine and second for Wine Bars. According to the editors, “A culinary scene to rival New York City's, eye-popping design, and a laid-back, outdoorsy ethos are just three reasons to visit San Francisco right now.”

Michelin

San Francisco's reputation for great dining was again confirmed in October as Michelin awarded two of its restaurants with its highest rating in its 2015 eating guide. Benu and Saison in the city's SoMa district joined the French Laundry In Yountville and the Restaurant at Meadowood in Napa in the top three-star category for "exceptional cuisine."

Michelin rates restaurants in 24 countries and its stars are an internationally recognized sign of quality dining. There are just over 100 restaurants worldwide with the three-star distinction. Michelin, which has been reviewing restaurants in San Francisco and the Bay Area for eight years, handed stars to a record 40 restaurants in San Francisco and the Bay Area after its reviewers sampled 46 types of cuisines at 474 eateries. Michelin placed six San Francisco restaurants in its two-star "excellent cuisine" category with Acquerello joining the roster in its latest guide. The other two-star restaurants included Atelier Crenn, Baume, Coi, Manresa and Quince. The one-star restaurants in the city of San Francisco alone are Ame, Aziza, Boulevard, Campton Place, Gary Danko, Keiko à Nob Hill, Kusakabe, La Folie, Luce, Maruya, Michael Mina, Sons & Daughters, SPQR, Spruce and State Bird Provisions.

EsquireTosca Cafe Picmonkey

San Francisco seemed to be everywhere in Esquire's 2014 Food and Drink Awards. The list of Best New Restaurants in America included Tosca Café (especially the summer minestrone with Jerusalem artichokes, favas, english peas, basil pesto which was on Josh Ozersky's All-Star Dinner) and The Commissary.   The Best New Food in America included the beef-tallow fries at The Cavalier; the crispy hazelnut and sea salt candy bar from Nuubia Chocolat, and the smoked almond brittle from Craftsman + Wolves, all of San Francisco, plus the Buffalo Milk Gelato from Petaluma's Double 8 Dairy and New Orleans iced coffee from Oakland's Blue Bottle.

Trip Advisor

Also in October, three restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area were named in Trip Advisor's list of Travelers Favorite Fine Dining Restaurants in the United States, Restaurant Gary Danko in San Francisco was third on the list of 25, The French Laundry was named at number 18 and Chez Panisse in Berkeley came in at number 22.   San Francisco received more mentions than any other U.S. city except New York.

Saveur

The readers of Saveur, the definitive culinary and culinary-travel magazine, voted San Francisco the Best Culinary Destination, Large Domestic in the second annual Saveur Culinary Travel Awards in the September issue.

FiveThirtyEight

Later in October, La Taqueria in the Mission district was declared to have America's Best Burrito by ESPN's FiveThirtyEight.

The James Beard Foundation

Chef Charles Phan PicmonkeyCharles Phan of Slanted DoorThe James Beard Foundation named Charles Phan's The Slanted Door the Outstanding Restaurant in the country in May. Daniel Patterson of Coi was named Best Chef for California, Nevada and Hawaii. Quince was honored for Outstanding Service.

How long can this winning streak run? As long has San Francisco has the most talented chefs working with the freshest local, seasonal ingredients in an environment of diversity and innovation, it could go into extra innings.

Editor’s Note: Good resources for those planning to visit San Francisco for a culinary holiday include the city’s official marketing organization http://www.sanfrancisco.travel and the Resource Directory of Taste California Travel, where you’ll find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to Wineries and Craft Beer Purveyors.

Chef David Bazirgan of Dirty HabitPrince of Porc David Bazirgan

TASTE News Service April 16, 2015 — Cochon US Tour has announced the SF winner of the 10-city traveling culinary competition. Chef David Bazirgan of Dirty Habit was crowned the Prince of Porc on Sunday, April 12 at Fairmont San Francisco and advances to Snowmass/Aspen for a double-hit weekend in June, including Grand Cochon and Heritage Fire. Going on its seventh year, Cochon 555 showcases the best bites, chefs and who’s who of the good food movement. The signature event featured an all-star lineup of chefs, judges and sponsors to celebrate family farms, heritage breed pigs and today’s emerging chef community.

Dirty Habit menu Cochon555This year’s competing chefs included Evan and Sarah Rich of Rich Table, Salvatore Cracco of Trou Normand, Thomas Kalb of Cafe du Nord and Robin Song of Hogs and Rocks alongside winner David Bazirgan of Dirty Habit. The chefs prepared show-stopping dishes using whole heritage-breed pigs from family farms in a head-to-tail showcase for a crowd of pork-loving gourmands. Chef David won the event with a critically rare breed of pig called the Gloucestershire Old Spot raised by Love Family Farm. Originating from England, the Old Spot is known for its distinctive layer of back fat, yielding an overall succulent flavor, providing Chef David ideal meat for his winning menu of five uniquely created delicious bites. Dishes included Chorizo Crostini with Pickled Date and Manchego, Pork Loin Ceviche, Foie Gras, Pork and Duck Tourte, Trotter and Jowl Ravioli, Smoked Pigs Ear and Fried Belly Lumpia and Acorn Cannoli with Ricotta, Ham, Strawberry and Lard.

Adam Sobel, 2013 King of Porc and Richie Nakano, SF 2014 Prince of Porc, alongside John Stewart & Duskie Estes of zuzu restaurant + farm, Matthew Accarrino of SPQR, Dave McLean of Magnolia Pub and Brewery and many more helped to select the 2015 “Prince of Porc.” Chef David will go on to represent San Francisco against the other nine cities’ winners in Grand Cochon at Snowmass/Aspen in June where the grand champion will be rewarded with a 4-day wine experience in Rioja, Spain’s most prominent wine region.

"It’s always amazing to be in San Francisco; it was an honor to be surrounded by such a diverse and talented group of chefs” said Cochon founder Brady Lowe. “A big thank you to Fairmont San Francisco, the host of the event, to everyone who participated and a much-deserved congratulations to winning Chef David. It was such an amazing turnout, we had three completely sold out events and I’m truly honored to have collaborated with a team of amazing chefs, sponsors and partners who worked together to put so much energy toward the good food movement.”

About Cochon 555

Cochon 555 was created in 2009 by Taste Network’s Brady Lowe in response to the lack of consumer education around heritage breeds. Each year, the Cochon US Tour - a 20-city, premium good food tour, draws from the biggest names in the hospitality industry. The series of hyper-local events supports education, awareness and growth of family farms raising heritage breed pigs. Since its launch in 2009, Cochon 555 and its programs, such as Chef’s Course, have created a responsive movement nationwide with people who care about local food made by honest people. The tour has invested over 1 million in farms, culinary schools and charities across the country. Further information can be had at www.cochon555.com

Tuesday, 24 February 2015 17:17

San Francisco Bay Area Gets in the Spirit

St Geo Terroir Gin Picmonkey

By Adrian Spinelli

February 24, 2015 - There’s a world-class craft spirits scene in San Francisco and the Bay Area, one founded on both tradition and innovation. On one end of the spectrum, there’s a traditional distiller who’s been in the business for more than 30 years and on the other, there’s a young company making whiskey distilled from beer. The grain-to-glass movement is picking up steam and there’s much to discover throughout the region.While only a few of these distilleries have an operating tour and tasting room, their bottles are available at hundreds of bottle shops and bars throughout the area. In a city known for fine food and wine, it’s only logical that one can find outstanding spirits here too: Fine single-malt American whiskeys, craft vodka and liqueurs, some of the best gin in the world.     St. George Spirits (Alameda)The granddaddy of them all. St. George has been making craft spirits in the Bay Area for more than 32 years and the company has been in its massive Alameda warehouse for the past eleven. This impressive distillery offers tastings and tours from Wednesday through Sunday and it’s a sensory experience of the highest order.Originally started as an eau-de-vie operation making brandy and liqueur, St. George gradually expanded over time. The Terroir Gin, which seeks to emulate the feel of Marin County’s Mt. Tamalpias with its Douglas fir, bay laurel, coastal sage, fennel seed, juniper and wok-roasted coriander botanicals, ushered in a reinvention for St. George. Now you can enjoy everything from single malt American whiskey and a divine pear brandy, to a chicory-infused coffee liqueur and four types of gin. Master distiller Lance Winters says, “The point of being a small distillery is doing something that the big distillers won’t do,” and this is about as well-developed of a small distillery as you’re going to find.” Local tips:  Take the San Francisco ferry to Alameda and bike or walk the half-mile to the distillery on a Saturday or Sunday. Make a reservation in advance just to be safe, but it’ll easily be the highlight of your weekend.Cocktail suggestion: St. George Terroir Gin with a squeeze of lemon over ice.   Distillery No. 209 (Mission Bay, San Francisco)One of the most recognizable bottles in San Francisco, Distillery 209’s fine craft gin has been produced at Pier 50 since the early ’00s, but the company’s history reaches far beyond that. Owned by the Rudd Vineyards family (who previously owned fine foods purveyor Dean & DeLuca), No. 209 is named after the original property in Napa that housed the nation’s 209th distillery founded in 1882. Today, “Ginerator” Arne Hillesland makes a modern gin, with less juniper and the inclusion of South Asian spices like cardamom and cinnamon-y cassia bark.The whole operation is made possible by Rosie, a 24-foot-tall Scottish alembic pot still with a 1,000-gallon capacity. The resulting spirit is more citrusy than earthy, uniquely spiced, and “sweeter than your grandfather’s gin” according to the Ginerator himself. Distillery No. 209 also boasts a line of kosher gin and vodka as well as barrel-aged gin, aged in both Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon barrels.Cocktail suggestion: 209 Gin & Tonic. No.209 Gin, Fever Tree Indian Tonic Water and a squeeze of lime. Seven Stills (Dogpatch, San Francisco)Whiskey distilled from beer?  Two-year-old Seven Stills distillery has made this idea a reality. Its raw materials are the same as Bay Area favorite Pacific Brew Labs and the result is a unique whiskey that’s an homage to the Bay Area. In fact, the sign in front of the Whipnose double IPA whiskey at K&L liquors asks you to “Imagine if Pliny the Elder were a whiskey.” It’s a whimsically accurate description of this wonderful and complex spirit, which along with the Chocasmoke oatmeal stout whiskey, comprise the up-and- coming lineup of Seven Stills. It’s a small operation that has a unique take on craft whiskey, and distillers Tim Obert and Clint Potter even launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise money for a line of bitters using seasonal locally sourced ingredients.Cocktail suggestion: Whipnose whiskey neat, in a Glencairn glass. Raff Distillerie (Treasure Island, San Francisco)Carter Raff is a fifth generation San Franciscan and built his Treasure Island pot still with his bare hands – everything from the woodwork to the welding. He’s your prototypical spirits savant and his subtly anise-flavored Emperor Norton Absinthe Dieu is done in the true French style with wormwood imported from the commune of Pontarlier in France. “The absinthe is my star child,” he says of the100% grape-base spirit.Raff’s nationally recognized Bummer & Lazarus Gin (also grape-based) is citrusy and floral with a unique creaminess. You might recognize the bottle from the beautiful Anthony Auston–designed label – depicting San Francisco’s legendary dogs Bummer and Lazarus – from one of 175 available San Francisco locations. Be on the lookout for Raff’s Barbary Coast Rhum Agricole (made from 100% cane juice) and vodka, out next year.Cocktail suggestion: One part Emperor Norton Absinthe Dieu, one part water. No ice, no sugar.   Anchor Distilling Co. (Potrero Hill, San Francisco)Anchor Steam’s spirits operation has been in operation since 1993, when former owner Fritz Maytag was inspired to produce America’s first pot-distilled rye whiskey. Today, Anchor has a handsome lineup of proprietary spirits, headed up by distiller Bruce Joseph, that include the Old Potrero whiskeys, Junipero, Genevieve, and Old Tom gins, as well as Hophead vodka and even a deliciously spiced Christmas spirit at holiday time, made from the same ingredients as Anchor Steam’s yearly Christmas Ale.The Old Potrero 18th-century-style whiskey seems like something the characters on HBO’s “Deadwood” would drink. Along with the Single Malt Old Potrero Rye, it’s aged in uncharred American oak barrels. The Junipero gin is very traditional and juniper forward, whereas the Old Tom gin uses wormwood and stevia and pleasantly comes across with a soft absinthe quality.Cocktail suggestion: Old Potrero Manhattan: Old Potrero Rye, high-quality sweet vermouth, dash of bitters, garnished with a cherry. Shake over ice and enjoy. Bender’s Rye Whiskey (Treasure Island, San Francisco)Carl Bender and Christopher Cohen are blending real Canadian rye on Treasure Island. Cohen is originally from Canada and they’re sourcing rye directly from Alberta. The result is a strong and beautiful seven-year whiskey with vanilla and raisin tones. It’s aged in new American oak, which comes through on the palate masterfully and this is the kind of mean whiskey you might want to drink along with your favorite Pilsner beer. It’s also a fine whiskey for creative cocktails.The excellent seven-year-aged Batch 001 of Bender’s Rye is still floating around bars and bottle shops in town, but the stronger and more complex nine-year-old second batch is one of the most unique and realized new local spirits.Cocktail suggestion: Order the Rye Grin at the Cabin on Polk St. It has Bender’s Rye, Fernet, mint, lemon, and house simple syrup.   Workhorse Rye (The Mission District, San Francisco)For now, this one is San Francisco’s unicorn: Tough to find, but it’s a big reward once you do. Workhorse’s “Redhorse Rye” is 70% rye, 20% barley, 10% wheat, and 100% organic. It’s aged in French oak, Merlot/carignane wine barrels, which gives the whiskey a deep amber caramel color. It has unique, smooth chocolatey tones and is a truly beautiful local spirit. Distillers Rob Easter and David Gordon originally started Workhorse in the Mission, but have since been distilling at more robust facilities around the bay. They now even have a line of bitters highlighted by a Salted Cacao variety made in collaboration with Dandelion Chocolates and Coffee Rye bitters made in conjunction with Four Barrel Coffee. Happy hunting — and be on the lookout for two new whiskeys from these guys on the near horizon as well.Cocktail suggestion: Workhorse Manhattan: Redhorse Rye, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth, high quality bitters, and copious amounts of Workhorse Coffee Rye Bitters.  Stillwater Spirits/Moylan Distilling Co. (Petaluma)You might know Brendan Moylan as the owner and operator of Marin Brewing Company. But he’s been the general manager of Stillwater Spirits in Petaluma as well for 11 years. Available in both Marin and San Francisco, the Stillwater/Moylan’s line of whiskeys includes three single malt whiskeys. Barley instead of corn is used before adding the ingredients to a copper pot still from Kentucky to produce a four-to-five-year-aged whiskey with an eight-year-aged cask strength and another eight-year double-barrel cask strength variety. “The barley is like caramel candy,” Moylan says, and it sets these whiskeys apart from others that use corn spirits. Also available are a full lineup of craft vodkas, American gin, and eau de vie spirits like grappa, schnapps and brandy.Cocktail suggestion: Mandarin Orange Single-Malt Vodka and soda. Spirit Works Distillery (Sebastopol)A champion of the grain-to-glass movement, Spirit Works Distillery’s operation has been growing under distillers Timo and Ashby Marshall. Grain to glass means every aspect of the spirits is produced with local ingredients. Their gin uses 100% red winter wheat from the Sacramento Valley, and the citrus is freshly zested not into the pot, but into a net above the pot, so as the vapors come up from the still, they capture the essence and boast distinct orange blossom notes.Their whiskeys will be available in 2015, but the real winner here is the Spirit Works Sloe Gin. You might be familiar with that overly sweet bar mixer liqueur but this one is tastefully made by macerating sloe berries into Spirit Works gin. The result is a divine digestif that is elegant enough to mix into delicious cocktails. Spirit Works’ distillery tour and tastings are available Friday through Sunday.Cocktail suggestion: Lady Blackthorn: Spirit Works Sloe Gin, sparkling wine, fresh lemon juice and simple syrup. Sutherland Distilling Company (Livermore)A nice little offshoot of a Livermore Valley wine tasting tour, Sutherland Distilling is currently open for tasting and tours of its fine Diablo’s Shadow Vodka and Silver Rum. Sutherland is another grain-to-glass-style distillery and the corn for its 90 proof vodka is sourced from the San Joaquin Valley “in the shadow of Mt. Diablo,” hence the name.The Diablo’s Shadow rum was the first spirit made by Sutherland and it’s a reflection of a meticulous process. It uses 100% Morena cane sugar, yielding a sweet and smooth flavor. While distribution is currently limited to mainly the East Bay, make an appointment to go visit the tasting room in Livermore!Cocktail suggestion: Diablo’s Shadow caipirinha: Diablo’s Shadow rum, muddled lime and sugar, served over ice. Sutherland’s rum is sweet enough to replace the usual Brazilian cachaça.

Editor's note: If you're planning to explore craft distilleries during a visit to the San Francisco Bay Area you may first want to check out Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options.

TASTE News Service November 9, 2014 - Just because the price of craft cocktails is steadily climbing doesn’t mean there’s no fun to be had for the budget-conscious traveler. Here’s nine (or more) fun ways to experience the city without breaking the bank.

1.  Cable CarsCable Car Picmonkey

It only takes $6 to ride San Francisco’s iconic cable cars, the National Historic Landmark that moves. When you’re done, stop by the one-of-a-kind San Francisco Cable Car Museum to learn more about their inner workings. In the historic Cable Car Barn & Powerhouse, the site where the cable system has operated since 1907, you can see the actual cable winding machinery as it reels 11 miles of steel at a steady pace of 91/2 mph. Antique cable cars are also on display, including the first one, invented by Andrew Hallidie, dating from 1873. Museum admission is free.

2.  Awesome Blossoms

Whether or not you’ve got a green thumb, it’s easy to appreciate the art of nature at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Situated in Golden Gate Park, the 55-acre spread is home to more than 50,000 plants from around the world. If you want to stop and smell the roses (or the orchids, lilies and irises), head to the Conservatory of Flowers in the northeast corner of the park. Tickets for the Botanical Garden or the Conservatory of Flowers are $8 for adults and $5 for kids; or get in for free on the first Tuesday of every month.

3.  Free Festivals

During the summer and fall, San Francisco’s cultural calendar is packed with amazing cultural events — many of which are free! For music fans, People in Plazas, the perfect pick-me-up at lunchtime, presents 130 free concerts featuring all local performers, July-October. Locations are in downtown plazas on or near San Francisco’s main stem, Market Street. There’s also the Stern Grove Festival, which includes free concerts every Sunday from mid-June through mid-August. Or, check out the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, a free weekend of bluegrass, Americana and other traditional styles every October. If you prefer theater, soak up some culture at Free Shakespeare in the Park, which performs in September at the Presidio of San Francisco.

4.  Murals Galore

San Francisco is home to plenty of public art, but its inventory of murals is truly exceptional — and free to enjoy! The iconic Coit Tower (closed until April for restoration) is home to famed murals completed during the 1930s as part of the first New Deal program for artists. The murals at the Rincon Annex Post Office were painted by artist Anton Refregier around the end of World War II and depict a stylized (and some say overly radical) history of San Francisco. To experience the epicenter of murals in the city, head to the Mission District where Balmy Alley and Clarion Alley have been canvases for public art and social change since the 1970s. Diego Rivera murals are also located in the City Club, City College (Phelan campus) and San Francisco Art Institute; City Guides offers free tours of many mural locations throughout the year.

5.  The Presidio

The former military outpost has been under the control of the Spanish, Mexican and American governments since it was first founded in 1776. But nowadays the 1,491 acres of land adjacent to the Golden Gate Bridge have some of the best views in the city. There’s also plenty of free fun to be found, including hiking trails, special explorer guides for kids, bike paths, picnic sites and military artifacts.

6.  Bridge PartyGoldenGateBridge 2 Picmonkey

There’s a toll (electronic) if you’re driving into the city, but for cyclists and pedestrians, the Golden Gate Bridge is free. It’s one of the most photographed structures in the world, so be sure to bring a camera to capture shots of both the bridge and the amazing views of the city. You might also want to bring a jacket because it can get chilly out there, even in the summertime. For bonus points, wander down to Fort Point, which offers more great views of the bridge. With the completion of the new East Span of the Bay Bridge, cyclists and pedestrians also now have access to the mid-point of the span from Oakland and Emeryville.

7.  Locally Made

Get behind-the-scenes to see how some notable local products are made — you’ll likely find some free samples along the way, too. One of the city’s oldest brewers, Anchor, offers beer lovers a walking tour of its facility on weekdays (including tastes for those over 21). Before you hop on over, know that advance reservations are required. For another tasty use of yeast, explore the long, delicious history of sourdough bread in San Francisco with a museum and bakery tour at Boudin.

 8.  Maritime National Historical Park

Explore the seafaring history that was such a crucial part of San Francisco’s development as a city with a trip to Fisherman’s Wharf and the Maritime National Historical Park. The park’s historic ships include 19th-century vessels like the Balclutha, a square-rigger with three masts, and an early steamboat, eureka, among others. Self-guided tours of the ships cost $5 for adults and are free for accompanying youth ages 16 and younger.

9.  Adventure in Curating

Take a trip back in time at the Musée Mécanique near Fisherman’s Wharf. Admission is free to the antique arcade and games range in price from a penny to a dollar, so you can arm wrestle a robot or be serenaded by a mechanical barbershop quartet without breaking the bank. Or, head over to the Dogpatch neighborhood for a visit to the Museum of Craft and Design ($8/adults, $5/kids, free on the first Tuesday of the month). Explore the intersection between fine art and functionality with exhibits that range from sacred carvings to modern furniture design and beyond.

Editor's note: If you're planning a visit to San Francisco, first check out Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. There you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options. Also listed are links to the sites of local craft beer specialists and nearby wineries.

Tartine Cookbooks Picmonkey

TASTE News Service August 2, 2014 - San Francisco’s Tartine Bakery was recently named one of the 25 bakeries to should visit before you die. While the popularity of their morning buns and the long lines their country bread creates every morning are well known, Tartine is not the only bakery in town that is a bread winner. Below is a list of some of the best bakeries in San Francisco by neighborhood (including Tartine).

 

Bernal Heights

Sandbox Bakery833 Corltand Avenue, http://www.sandboxbakerysf.com/From the former pastry chef of the James Beard Foundation Award winning Slanted Door, Sandbox Bakery was originally intended to be a kid's bakery.  Due to space restrictions and the adult clientele in the neighborhood, they began baking fresh pastries and serving drip coffee. What's popular: Morning Buns. What you should get: Chocolate banana hearts.

 

Castro

Thorough Bread & Pastry248 Church Street, http://www.thoroughbreadandpastry.com/Opened in 2008 by Michael and Evelyn Suas, Thorough Bread makes everything from scratch and only uses natural ingredients. What's popular: Almond croissant. What you should get: Mini baguettes.

 

Chinatown

Golden Gate Bakery1029 Grant AvenueOnly in San Francisco could a bakery located down a nondescript alley that is open odd hours could only have a cult following.   And that's Golden Gate Bakery. If it's open, it's worth the trip. If it's not, you won't know until you're there. That's the fun. What's popular: Egg tart. What you should get: Egg tart.

 

Embarcadero

Acme Bread CompanyAcme Bread poster Picmonkey1 Ferry Building, http://www.acmebread.com/Since 1983, Acme Bread Company has been striving to make the best bread possible. Calling the Ferry Building home, this bakery now serves more than 100 different products. What's popular: Pain au Levain. What you should get: Olive Bread.

 

Fisherman's Wharf

Boudin Sourdough Bakery160 Jefferson Street, https://www.boudinbakery.com/index.cfm  The Boudin family came to San Francisco in 1849 and struck gold of the culinary kind. When they exposed yeast that was going to be made into French bread to the San Francisco air, sourdough bread as we know was created. What's popular: Sourdough bread. What you should get: Sourdough bread.

 

Hayes Valley

20th Century Café198 Gough Street, http://20thcenturycafe.com/  Modeled after cafes in Vienna, Prague and Budapest, 20th Century Cafe whets the appetite of those looking for their Hungarian grandmother's baking. What's popular: The knishs. What you should get: Russian Honey Cake.

Miette449 Octavia Street, https://www.miette.com/  With two San Francisco Locations, Miette is the place to find rare European brands of sweets, such as their legendary macaroons and seasonal cakes. What's popular: Macaroons. What you should get: European candies.

 

Lower Pacific Heights

b. patisserie2821 California Street http://www.bpatisserie.comOpened by a former Gary Danko and Manresa pastry chef, b. patisserie is described as a "heavenly" French bakery by its loyal following. What's popular: Kouign Amann. What you should get: Any almond croissant.

 

Mission

La Victoria Mexican Bakery2937 24th Street, http://www.lavictoriabakery.com/  One of the many panaderias that dot the Mission District, La Victoria stands out for delicious empanadas and pan dulce while supporting and fostering the community in the neighborhood. What's popular: Pan Dulce. What you should get: Flourless Coconut Macaroon.

Craftsman & WolvesCraftsman and Wolves Picmonkey746 Valencia Street, http://www.craftsman-wolves.com/Although it’s one of the newest bakeries on the block, it already has lines out the door. The menu changes with the season. For the summer, they unveiled their very own, haute dog and the Rebel Within, a soft-boiled egg within a muffin. What's popular: Rebel Within. What you should get: Rebel Within.

Tartine Bakery600 Guerrero Street, http://www.tartinebakery.com/    A James Beard Award winner, Tartine is the original new-wave bakery that started the resurgence of San Francisco’s half-baked love. Arrive early to snag a spot in line for their insanely delicious morning buns. What's popular: Morning Bun. What you should get: Lemon Cream Tart.

Mission Pie2901 Mission Street, http://www.missionpie.comGood pie is worth sharing. This is Mission Pie's top promise and they deliver on it with 28 sweet and savory pies. What's popular: Banana Cream. What you should get: Strawberry Rhubarb.

 

Noe Valley

Noe Valley Bakery4073 24th Street, http://www.noevalleybakery.com/Noe Valley Bakery was serving cupcakes before they were a thing, but that’s not what makes them amazing. It's their fresh-baked challah, window display of trains and amazing customer service.  It’s well worth the trip up the hill from the Mission. What's popular: Red Velvet Cupcakes. What you should get: Challah or blueberry scones.

 

North Beach

Victoria Pastry Company700 Filbert StreetA Princess Cake is everything a princess wants when she gets a sweet tooth ­- a layer cake consisting of alternating layers of sponge cake and strawberry or fruit jam with whipped cream and pastry cream. Look no further than Victoria Pastry to deliver the city's best. What's popular: Princess Cake. What you should get: Almond Cake or Canoli.

Liguria Bakery1700 Stockton StreetIn San Francisco there are bakeries, and then there's Liguria, a focaccia-only bakery in North Beach. What's popular: Focaccia. What you should get: Pizza or the rosemary garlic focaccia.

 

NOPA/Western Addition

The Mill736 Divisadero Street, http://themillsf.com/The Mill is a delicious venture from Josey Baker Bread and Four Barrel Coffee. Contributing to the “toast craze,” all of Josey Baker's Bread can be sliced into a thick-cut piece and served with a seemingly endless amount of toppings. The space is perfectly designed to let gorgeous light in at all times of the day. What's popular: Cinnamon Toast. What you should get: Birthday Toast or Peanut Butter Toast with Honey.

 

Richmond

Pretty Please Bakeshop291 3rd Avenue, http://www.prettypleasesf.comPretty Please Bakeshop is an independently and locally owned bakery located in San Francisco's Inner Richmond, specializing in custom cakes and classic treats, with a modern sensibility and baked in-house, from scratch, using only the finest ingredients. What's popular: Twinks and ding-dongs. What you should get: Cheesecake.

Marla Bakery3619 Balboa Street, http://www.marlabakery.com/ee/index.php/site/  The newest bakery on the block, Marla Bakery was opened in June 2014 by a husband and wife team who met at NOPA (the restaurant North of the Panhandle) Which is also the space where they got married.  They now serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. What's popular: Cherry-lemon scones. What you should get: Candied-orange pain au chocolat.

Heartbaker1408 Clement Street, http://theheartbaker.com/Heartbaker comes from pastry chef Sybil Johnson, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. Her handcrafted baked goods combine professional refinement and homemade flavor to produce explosions of flavor.  Check out this item on the menu:  An Italian doughnut with the word "bomb" in it. What's popular: Bomboloni. What you should get: Candied-orange pain au chocolat.

Schubert's Bakery521 Clement Street, http://www.schuberts-bakery.com/schuberts-most-popular-cakesKnown simply as the House of Cakes, Schubert's Bakery has been in the city since 1911. At its current location since 1940, Schubert's has continued to make cakes the artisanal way with traditional flavors and the addition of new items over the years. What's popular: Neapolitan and the Opera Cake. What you should get: Swedish Princess Cake.

 

SOMA

Pinkie's Bakery1196 Folsom Street, http://pinkiesbakerysf.com/Pinkie's should actually be called the House that the Bacon Brioche Built.  Cheryl Burr heads this SOMA spot, dishing out savory and sweet treats that have been named some of the best this side of the Mississippi by many national publications. What's popular: Bacon Brioche. What you should get: Bacon Brioche and the lemon bars.

 

SunsetArizmendi Bakery Picmonkey

Arizmendi Bakery1331 9th Street (there's another location in the Mission on Valencia and 24th), http://www.arizmendibakery.com/A disciple of Cheeseboard in Berkeley, Arizmendi Bakery is a cooperative that started in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2000. Like Cheeseboard, Arizmendi has delicious baked goods and a pizza of the day – different every day and 100% vegetarian. Even meat eaters can't say no.  What's popular: Pizza of the Day. What you should get: Pizza of the Day.

Devil's Teeth Baking Company3875 Noriega Street, http://devilsteethbakingcompany.com/Located in the sleepy neighborhood of Outer Sunset, Devil's Teeth is worth the trip. Opened by a wife whose husband complained about the lack of good breakfast sandwiches, DTBC is home to one of the best in the city. This baking outpost was one of the first in its neighborhood’s rejuvenation and you can feel the unique energy here. What's popular: Breakfast sandwich. What you should get: Beignets or the doughnut muffin.

Trouble Coffee & Coconut Club4033 Judah Street, http://www.troublecoffee.com/contentTrouble Coffee is a small coffee shop that specializes in three things: coffee, toast and coconuts. What's popular: Coffee and Cinnamon Toast. What you should get: Coconut and Cinnamon Toast with Nutella.

 

Union Square

Tout Sweet170 O'Farrell Street, http://www.toutsweetsf.com/Located within Macy’s, this patisserie was opened by former “Top Chef” and “Just Desserts” winner Yigit Pura. What's popular: 5th Element Macaron. What you should get: Orange Creamsicle Macaron.

 

Cioppino Simmons Rest PicmonkeyCioppino, a San Francisco tradition

TASTE News Service August 1, 2014 - The Simmons family's restaurants in San Francisco (Fog Harbor Fish House, Wipeout Bar & Grill and Pier Market Seafood Restaurant) have announced the completion of a two-year transition resulting in menus that now showcase all sustainable seafood offerings aligned with the Monterey Bay Aquarium's "Seafood Watch" guidelines.

Comments Scooter Simmons, “We undertook this transition based on a commitment to best practices, even in the absence of any specific demand from our customers. It was important to our family and everyone in our company to do the right thing and lead by example. There are surprisingly few area restaurants that have made this choice."

Three generations of Simmons' are a part of the history of San Francisco's hospitality industry. Warren Simmons was the creator and developer of PIER 39, which opened in 1978, and his son, Scooter, daughter-in-law, Nancy, and his grandchildren, Nicki and Ryan, now work running the four PIER 39 businesses still owned by the family.

Simmons family restaurant menu highlights include garlic roasted whole crab, fresh seafood cioppino, mesquite grilled lobster tail, red curry steamed mussels, and Anchor Steam battered fish and chips. In addition to the sourcing of sustainable ingredients for all seafood dishes, there is a general menu focus on seasonality and the use of local purveyors.

Editor's note: Taste California Travel's Resource Directory has links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options in San Francisco, as well as links to Bay Area purveyors of craft beer.

Friday, 25 July 2014 21:12

San Francisco''s Oldest Bars

TASTE News Service July 25, 2014 - In a city that is steeped in new technology, San Franciscans are still traditionalists at heart. They love their bars with a sense of history. The San Francisco Travel Association, marketing arm of the City and Country of San Francisco, has forwarded some of their favorite bars from this category.The Horseshoe Bar Sign Picmonkey

These spots preserve the city’s history, cultural identity and make some darn good drinks.

SF Heritage, which works preserve and enhance San Francisco’s unique architectural and cultural identity, has compiled a guide to more than 130 “heritage bars and restaurants” throughout San Francisco. For a more comprehensive picture of these historical drinking establishements visit www.sfheritage.org/legacy.   

Here is a collection of some of these oldest, most remarkable bars, which San Francisco Travel suggest are worth a visit.

Bernal Heights

Wild Side West,  Established: 1962424 Cortland Ave., www.wildsidewest.com This lesbian-friendly bar was named after the Barbara Stanwyck film, “Walk on the Wild Side.” In the 1970s, this bar was vandalized when broken toilets and sinks were thrown through the windows and landed in the backyard. Out of the destruction came one of the city's best outdoor patios, which still exists today. A bar that welcomed Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin back in the day welcomes everyone who walks through their doors.

The Castro

Twin Peaks Tavern , Established: 1935401 Castro St., www.twinpeakstavern.com An emblem of the gay community, Twin Peaks was designated an historical bar in 2013. The bar is the first known gay bar to feature full length plate glass windows, openly revealing the identities of their patrons. Sitting at the intersection of Castro and Market streets, Twin Peaks stands as a gateway to the neighborhood.

Cafe du Nord , Established: 19082174 Market St., www.cafedunord.com Sitting in an area where the Swedish community once thrived, Cafe du Nord occupies the basement of the San Francisco Swedish Society. The bar itself has one of the two music venues in the space (the other being the Swedish American Hall). For more than 100 years, Cafe Du Nord has maintained its intimate mood of a speakeasy with rich, dark colors of red and black. In 2013, the lease changed hands and the property has been undergoing renovations. Cafe du Nord plans to reopen in the Fall of 2014.

Tony Niks PicmonkeyTony Niks in North Beach

Chinatown

Red's Place , Established: 1960672 Jackson St., www.redsplacesf.com Known as "Cheers" of Chinatown, Red's Place was the site of the annual firecracker tradition when the Chinese New Year Parade would march by. Although the original owners have passed, the bar is still owned and operated by the family.

Civic Center

Great American Music Hall,  Established: 1907859 O'Farrell St., www.slimspresents.com  Sitting on the border of Civic Center and Nob Hill sits Great American Music Hall. In 1907 it was a restaurant and bordello.  Today it is a music venue that has hosted acts from Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan and Count Basie to Van Morrison, the Grateful Dead, Arcade Fire and Patti Smith.

 

Dogpatch

Dogpatch Saloon , Established: 19122496 3rd St., dogpatchsaloon.com Originally the site of a revival saloon, Dogpatch Saloon became a "soft" drink store when Prohibition was passed. After Prohibition, the bar was quickly started serving alcohol again. In the 90s, “Dogpatch” was added to the title, making it the first to include the name of the neighborhood into the business name.

The Embarcadero

Old Ship Saloon,  Established: 1851298 Pacific Ave., www.oldshipsaloon.comThe oldest bar in San Francisco (Elixir will have something to say about that), Old Ship Saloon is a bar made out of a ship hull that ran aground during a storm off of Alcatraz. It was later towed to the current location at the beach. Since renovated, the bar still preserves the memory of the ship.

Fisherman's Wharf

Alioto's #8 , Established: 1925Eight Fisherman's Wharf, www.aliotos.comA tourist hotspot and a classic San Francisco bar all rolled into one. The restaurant began as a fresh fish stall on San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf in 1925. Little has changed since then. Alioto’s restaurant is a culinary landmark that is still owned and operated by the descendants of Nonna Rose Alioto, showing the care and commitment of running a restaurant bearing their name.

Haight-Ashbury

Aub Zam Zam , Established: 19421633 Haight St., zamzambar.comOnce referred to the "Holy Shrine of the Dry Martini" by Herb Caen, Aub Zam Zam holds a special piece of history with the city. The owner, Bruno Mooshei, was so historically ornery that it became a game among patrons to see who could stay in the bar the longest. Bruno would throw someone out for something as trivial as putting the wrong song on the jukebox or not ordering a drink he liked. Today they are certainly friendlier.  Cash only.

Marina District

Bus Stop Saloon,  Established: 19001901 Union St.Still going strong since the turn of the century, the Bus Stop Saloon has gone through four generations of family ownership. Wall-to-wall TVs, pool tables, buckets of beer and a Pac-Man console attract a young, rowdy crowd that is sure to keep this bar kicking for generations to come.

Mauna Loa Club , Established: 19393009 Fillmore StreetA tribute to the Hawaiian volcano, Mauna Loa is a blue-collar bar in the trendsetting neighborhood of the Marina. The 1980s saw the inclusion of a pool table and Pop-a-Shot, but the bar still retains much of its charm.

Horseshoe Tavern,  Established: 19342024 Chestnut St. www.horseshoetavern-sf.com

A regulars’ bar if there ever was one. The original owner was a former football player of the team that would become the 49ers. Located on an upscale street in San Francisco, the "Shoe" remains a San Francisco classic.

Mission District

The Homestead , Established: 19062301 Folsom St., www.homesteadsf.com Opened in 1906 as the "Old Homestead," there's evidence in this Mission bar that it was a speakeasy during Prohibition. There's a private room in the back – it doesn't get more obvious than that. Of all the old bars in the city, the Homestead maintains much of the same decor that was around during at the turn of the last century.

Elbo Room,  Established: 1935647 Valencia St., www.elbo.com  Since 1935, the Elbo Room has been many things: a Spanish restaurant, a western bar and one of the nation’s first lesbian dance clubs, Amelia’s, which became the anchor for the lesbian community. As the community diversified, Amelia's no longer thrived. Since 1991, the Elbo Room has been open with the first floor operating as a bar and the second floor a performance/dance space.

Elixir , Established: 18583200 16th St., www.elixirsf.com  At 16th and Guerrero sits arguably the oldest bar in the city, Elixir. Since the Wild West days, Elixir has been transformed into many things. In 2003 the bar and décor were fully restored, returning it to its original glory.

Shotwell's , Established: 1891Shotwells BarShotwell's in the Mission District serves only beer3349 20th St., www.shotwellsbar.com Shotwell’s originally opened as a grocery store saloon by German immigrants with a backroom for beer drinking. Today it's simply known as Shotwell's, a place where people come to meet, drink beer and play pinball. It serves only beer, but its beer that is well curated to include many micro-brews from the Bay Area.

Nob Hill

Gangway Bar , Established: 1910841 Larkin St.Billing itself the oldest gay bar in the city, Gangway was around long before the Castro became an LGBT neighborhood. In the 60s, the Gangway was part of the Tavern Guild, a coalition of gay bar owners and liquor wholesalers, paving the way to host numerous community events. Today the interior pays tribute to many famous figures throughout the LGBT community's history.

Ha-Ra Club , Established: 1947875 Geary Blvd.Opened in 1947 by a former boxer, Ha-Ra Club has been anchor for the neighborhood. Today, the interior displays memorabilia reminiscent of the past. This bar has the essentials: liquor, a pool table and a jukebox.

North Beach

Mr. Bing's,  Established: 1967201 Columbus Ave.Mr. Bing's is a dive bar with a spectacular view of Broadway and Columbus streets.  People still keep coming back for the inexpensive drinks and shrewd bartenders.

Vesuvio Cafe,  Established: 1948255 Columbus Ave., www.vesuvio.comA regular hangout of beatniks Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsburg, Vesuvio was the seat of the hippie revolution. As the neighborhood has evolved, the bar has become a tribute to jazz, art and poetry. 

Spec's Twelve Alder Museum Cafe,  Established: 196812 Sayoran PlaceAnother staple of Bohemian culture in North Beach, Spec's has been an enclave of that has become a haven for artists through the years. The interior serves houses Spec's curated collection of zany artifacts.

Northstar Cafe,  Established: 18821560 Powell St.The oldest bar in North Beach, Northstar is a comfortable neighborhood bar with a lively character, including such eccentricities a customer-of-the month award and a perpetual supply of free popcorn for its happy patrons.

Gino and Carlo Cocktail Lounge and Sports Bar , Established: 1942548 Green St., www.ginoandcarlo.com  This is a true classic North Beach sports bar and lounge, family-owned for more than 50 years, Italian and proud of it.

Tony Nik's Cafe , Established: 19331534 Stockton Street, www.tonyniks.com  When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, Tony immediately opened Tony Nicco's Café, one of the first bars in North Beach. Tony Nicco's was called a café because, at that time, food was required to be served with alcohol. Step in and step back in time. Entering Tony Nik's will bring you back to an era of friendly and professional bartenders, ice cold beer, delicious cocktails and drinks served just the way you like them.

La Rocca's Corner , Established: 1934957 Columbus Ave.This sports bar has a history steeped in baseball lore as Joe DiMaggio's favorite hangout. During the 1940s and 50s, local mobsters were known to frequent La Rocca’s as well.

The Saloon , Established: 18611232 Grant St.The oldest "saloon" in the city, the Saloon has been has been a great place to grab a drink and get your dance through the 2860s, 1960s and today.

Richmond District

Trad'r Sams,  Established: 19376150 Geary St.Before the heyday of the tiki craze in the 1960s there was Trad'r Sams. On top of the kitschy drinks they serve here you'll get a geography lesson. The seating areas are named after tropical islands.

South of Market/SOMA

The Endup , Established: 1973401 Sixth St., www.theendup.com Home to San Francisco's after-hours crowd, the Endup has two indoor bars, an outdoor bar and food stand, a lounge with a pool table, a high powered sound system and a dance floor with provocative lighting. What was once a club that catered to gay San Francisco now welcomes all walks of life.

Hotel Utah Saloon , Established: 1908500 4th Street www.hotelutah.comA relic of the Barbary Coast era, Hotel Utah was a favorite among gamblers, thieves, ladies of the night, politicians, hustlers, gold seekers, charlatans, police, and fancy miscreants when it first opened in 1908. Since then it has attracted celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, Bing Crosby, to comedians Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg. Today, the Utah is the home to the most intimate concert venue in the city.

House of Shields , Established: 191239 New Montgomery St., www.thehouseofshields.com One of the city’s most famous speakeasies during Prohibition, House of Shields didn't actually open up as a bar until 1944. How famous? There's an urban legend that President Warren G Harding died at this bar and then was taken through the tunnels underneath to the Palace Hotel where he was found.. House of Shields now stands as a shining example of expertly poured drinks.

Sunset District

Little Shamrock , Established: 1890s 807 Lincoln Way The oldest business in the Sunset, Little Shamrock has been a favorite watering hole of visitors to the nearby Golden Gate Park for more than a century. Legend has it that the Shamrock first opened in 1893 in another neighborhood entikrely but relocated to its current location by 1896, where to this day, people love to have a beer and play darts.

West Portal

Philosopher's Club,  Established: 1960824 Ulloa St.In the often overlooked but lovable neighborhood of West Portal sits the Philosopher's Club, the home of the man who started mixology, Jerry Thomas (he wrote the first book on the topic). Come for the history and the quotes on the ceiling, but stay for the drinks. 

About San Francisco Travel assoc

The San Francisco Travel Association is the official tourism marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. For information on reservations, activities and more, visit www.sanfrancisco.travel or call 415-391-2000.  The Visitor Information Center is located at 900 Market St. in Hallidie Plaza, lower level, near the Powell Street cable car turnaround.

Editor's note: Planning a visit to San Francisco? In Taste California Travel's Resource Directory you will find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options. Also in that directory are links to craft beer purveyors and nearby wineries. Another good source of information is www.sanfrancisco.travel.

Monday, 21 July 2014 20:32

Six Spots to Picnic in the Fog

People Dogs Romp by GG Bridge PicmonkeyPeople and dogs romp by Golden Gate Bridge

TASTE News Service July 21, 2014 - When visitors in other cities swelter in summer's heat and picnic plans are abandoned for air conditioned cafes, San Francisco's typical weather report is an invitation to gather up the picnic basket, blanket and head out. For a new take on the traditional picnic lunch in the sun, visitors can orchestrate their al fresco dining around San Francisco's fabulous spectacle of summer fog. 

Summer fog is common, but not an everyday event, so a bit of spontaneity works in favor of those in pursuit of a fog adventure.  Morning and evening fog rolls into San Francisco Bay from June to August, pushing its way through the Golden Gate Bridge towers, drifting and swirling up and over the Marin Headlands, and nestling up against shoreline piers.  Then, more often than not, it magically stops before consuming the city itself. Timing is essential, and layers are key.  By mid-day the sun has burned off the white wispy stuff so people shed their jackets and sweaters to bask in the sun before the fog rolls in again by late afternoon.

Here are a few suggestions on where to find fog-viewing spots.

Battery EastA grass-covered earthen work fortification built in the 1870s, Battery East offers pristine vistas of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean. Stake out one of the picnic tables located off parking area from Lincoln Boulevard in the Presidio and watch the curtains part on one of Nature’s most dramatic scenes.  www.nps.gov/prsf/planyourvisit/battery-east.htm

Crissy Field

This quiet stretch of shoreline is the gateway to San Francisco. Opened to the public in the spring of 2001, the West Bluff and East Beach picnic areas offer bayside tables. From Marina Boulevard, drive past Marina Green to the Presidio and bear right on to Mason Street. Not only is Crissy Field famed as a windsurfing site, it also offers some of the most remarkable views of the bridge, bay and city to be had.  www.presidio.gov/explore/Pages/crissy-field.aspx

East Fort BakerJust below the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge and Vista Point lies East Fort Baker.  This secluded recreation area with views of the bay is often sunny when the western park areas are fogged in.

Walk from the nearby Golden Gate Transit bus stop or drive down Bunker Road to East Fort Baker to find this treasure complete with a fishing pier, the innovative Bay Area Discovery Museum, historical brick fortifications of Battery Cavallo and concrete gun emplacements of Battery Yates.

The grassy parade grounds and coastal bluffs of East Fort Baker combine to make a protected picnic spot that is out of the wind, but still offers pristine fog bank views. www.nps.gov/goga/planyourvisit/fort-baker.htm

Angel Island, Sausalito and Alcatraz     The weather at Angel Island, Sausalito and Alcatraz isn't as predictable for fog fans; they can be terrific view spots or be totally socked in.  However, baycruise companies offer a choice of destinations and can usually give sure-fire suggestions for getting into or out of a fog bank.  www.angelisland.com. www.sausalito.org www.nps.gov/alca/index.htm.

Mt. TamalpaisJust 15 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands, Mt. Tamalpais' summit is less than a half-mile high.  But, the mountain rises almost straight up from sea level and offers 360¡ views of the entire Bay Area and west to the Pacific Ocean.  On foggy days, the meadows, grasslands, forests and creeks at lower elevations are sometimes enveloped in a dreamlike fog, yet other peaks are visible just above.  The park has numerous parking areas, trailheads, scenic overlooks and two drive-in picnic areas with day-use facilities.

The 20-minute descent on West Ridgecrest Boulevard on the northern flank of "Mt. Tam" affords a great road for a sunset drive when the fog is in. www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=471

Tilden Regional ParkAcross the bay and atop the Berkeley-Oakland Hills lies Tilden Regional Park.  Magnificent views are the reward for ascending the Sea View Trail.  Eucalyptus and Monterey pine trees line the trail that runs south from Inspiration Point off Wildcat Canyon Road and can be reached by car or AC Transit from the Berkeley BART station.  www.ebparks.org/parks/tilden.htm

Editor's note: If you're planning a visit to the San Francisco Bay Area, we suggest you check out the San Francisco and Bay Area listings in Taste California Travel's Resource Directory. There you'll find links to the websites of hundreds of Lodging and Dining options, as well as links to craft beer purveyors and nearby wineries.

Monday, 07 July 2014 10:38

July 4, 2014 Wine Pick of the Week

Wente Charles Wetmore Cab S 2012 Picmonkey

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon,

 “Charles Wetmore”

 

Wente Vineyards

Livermore/San Francisco Bay

Alcohol: 13.5%

Suggested Retail: $30

 

“Wente honors Charles Wetmore with this Cabernet bottling. Wetmore was one of the 19th Century pioneers of the California wine industry. His importation of vine cuttings from France in the 1880s set the tone for Livermore's wine industry. Though comprised of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, this Livermore Valley wine includes other grape varieties native to Bordeaux (9% Petite Verdot, 3% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc, 1% Merlot) and also a bit of Petite Sirah (9%). The result is a surprisingly rich and complex wine.

“Dark cherry and berry fruit aromas and flavors are set against a background of dark chocolate and mocha. Layers of subtlety from oak aging (some brown spice and vanilla notes). Kudos to the winery for producing a wine at 13-and-a-half alcohol, once considered the standard for a 'big wine' in another era. Here's evidence that the Livermore Valley can produce a very high quality Cabernet Sauvignon (and at a reasonable price).”

Food Affinity: “In a country known for the most complex and sophisticated cuisine, Steak Frites (beef steak with French fries) is still France's national dish and this wine would be a great companion to any grilled beef preparation, but how about the sticking with the Bordeaux theme? Try pouring the Charles Wetmore Cab with the classic Entrecôte à la Bordelaise, a good steak cooked quickly and simply in a bit of butter and served with a sauce from brown stock, shallots, herbs and red wine.”

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