Category Archives: Spirits/Cocktails/Beer

What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 3

Discover Gin Mare, a fabulous gin from Barcelona.
Discover Gin Mare, a fabulous gin from Barcelona.

Gin Mare

When I first turned 21 — and ahem, probably slightly before then, if I’m being honest — gin & tonics were my drink of choice.

With their breezy nature and not overtly boozy taste, they hit the spot, especially in summer. But as my palate matured, gin & tonics were supplanted by wine.

Until now.

When I received a sample bottle of Gin Mare ($40), a unique Mediterranean-style gin from Barcelona, it reignited my passion for gin & tonics.

Packaged in a weighty and distinctive bottle, it’s distilled from barley with such botanicals as Arbequina olives, thyme, rosemary and basil.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout Of Late, Part 1

Such a treat -- beignets from The Village Pub.
Such a treat — beignets from The Village Pub.

When shelter-in-place first took hold, I took it to heart, cooking all my meals at home from pantry and freezer ingredients, and from grocery deliveries, so I wouldn’t have to venture out needlessly. But wanting to support my local restaurants, I also bought gift cards and donated to GoFundMe campaigns.

As restrictions have lessened, though, I’ve felt more at ease about getting food to-go. I prefer to pick it up myself rather than going through third-party delivery apps that tack on an extra charge to restaurants. Plus, after listening to a highly informative “The Tim Ferris Show” podcast with guest Nick Kokonas, co-owner of Alinea restaurant in Chicago, I also realized I now needed to use those gift cards pronto. Kokonas, who owned a derivatives trading firm for a decade, explained that while the revenue from gift cards help restaurants in the short-term, they remain a debt on their books. Indeed, the worst-case scenario would be for every well-meaning patron who bought a gift card to descend upon that restaurant the first week it reopened to use them when the establishment had no revenue coming in.

So I’m making a point to use those gift cards I purchased in March for food to-go now, and to even order more beyond the card’s amount to give the establishment an extra boost.

Here’s where I’ve picked-up food in recent weeks, paying my own tab.

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Find Your Way to Tapas Tokki

Fried tofu with spicy pork and kimchi at Tapas Tokki.
Fried tofu with spicy pork and kimchi at Tapas Tokki.

You have to be in the know to find Tapas Tokki. Even then, you may be rather confounded when trying to find the location of this small, tucked-away Korean small-plates restaurant in Santa Clara.

Chef-Owner Jin Jeong says even people who do find their way, sometimes poke their head in the door apprehensively, and timidly ask, “Is this a restaurant?”

Why, yes it is. And a delightful one at that.

Not only is it located in a compact, nondescript strip mall you could easily drive by without a second glance that also houses a beauty salon, a Filipino restaurant and the Eritrean Community Center, but it’s in a spot that you might never think to venture to.

Just look for the sign to find it.
Just look for the sign to find it.

It is located in the alleyway to the side of the mall. The fact that there’s no sign with its name on it doesn’t make it any easier. But once you spot a sign with a leaping rabbit on it, you know you’ve found it.

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Where’s the Beef At Gozu? It’s In Practically Everything

At the new Gozu -- dining is like theater with the kitchen its stage.
At the new Gozu — dining is like theater with the kitchen its stage.

Much like you wouldn’t expect to a half chicken set before you at a yakitori restaurant, don’t come to the new Gozu in San Francisco craving a brontosaurus-sized steak.

Nope, you won’t find that here.

Unlike so many Wagyu-focused restaurants of late in the Bay Area, this one doesn’t focus solely on the primo primal cuts. Instead, Chef-Owner Marc Zimmerman employs a nose-to-tail philosophy here, making use of far more parts of the Japanese specialty-breed, heavily marbled cow than a typical steakhouse ever would.

You’ll find him burning the bones as charcoal, rendering the fat to make sauces and to preserve vegetables, and using lean cuts to even make a house-made version of shoyu.

Charcoal-grilled skewer of the flat-iron of Hokkaido A5 Wagyu Snow Beef.
Charcoal-grilled skewer of the flat-iron of Hokkaido A5 Wagyu Snow Beef.

Zimmerman got the idea for this unique restaurant about five years ago when he was the chef at Alexander’s Steakhouse in San Francisco. He would regularly travel to Japan to source Wagyu from farmers there. But back then, he was only buying the loins, which prompted the farmers to question when he would buy the entire animal. After all, a farmer can’t make a living by only selling part of a cow. The only way to maintain a sustainable business is to make use of every bit of what you’re raising.

It got Zimmerman thinking, and agreeing that it only made sense to buy the entire animal.

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Telefèric Barcelona Opens With A Sizzle in Palo Alto

The Catalon G&T at the new Telefèric Barcelona in Palo Alto.
The Catalon G&T at the new Telefèric Barcelona in Palo Alto.

There’s no doubt that Palo Alto’s Town & Country Village is a happening place. Just try to park there most any time of day or night, and you’ll be hunting for a parking spot because that’s how busy it gets.

Now, it’s bound to get even crazier than the long lines there for Boba Guys. That’s because the new Telefèric Barcelona just opened its doors last week, with plenty of Spanish flair, pulsating music, and flaming cocktails lighting up the dining room.

It’s the second Bay Area locale for the Telefèric Barcelona Restaurant Group of Barcelona, joining the original Telefèric Barcelona that opened in Walnut Creek in 2016.

Brother and sister, Xavi and Maria Padrosa took over the original restaurant in Barcelona, which their mother had started. They were lured to bring their concept stateside by a Walnut Creek developer.

Xavi Padrosa had long wanted to open a restaurant in Palo Alto, a city close to his heart since he lived there for seven years while attending Foothill College in Los Altos Hills and Golden Gate University in San Francisco.

Just inside the entry way.
Just inside the entry way.
The bar.
The bar.
Seats right in front of the open kitchen.
Seats right in front of the open kitchen.

The contemporary Palo Alto restaurant is all clean lines with a long bar, sleek open kitchen, colorful Spanish tiles, and basket-like light fixtures. When it’s full, as it was for a friends-and-family and media dinner that I attended the night before it opened to the public, it can be very loud. You will have to lean over the table to converse with your dining companion.

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