Healdsburg’s J Vineyards has long made one of my favorite go-to sparkling wines.
Its new J Vineyards Cuvee 20 Brut NV ($38), of which I received a sample, is a total pleaser with yeasty, apple, and spice notes. Medium-bodied, it has a slight creaminess yet plenty of crisp acidity.
It would make magic alongside a cold seafood platter, a goat cheese salad with bitter greens, or even an egg salad croissant sandwich.
Cheers: This bubbly will ring in the New Year in style. Given the year we’ve had, you deserve to uncork a special bottle to mark the end of a supremely challenging 2020, and to toast to a hopefully much brighter and lighter 2021.
Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier 2019
You don’t often see a Chenin Blanc and Viognier blend on the market. In fact, Pine Ridge Vineyards founder Gary Andrus first created this as an experiment in the 1990s.
Dark and spicy as an intense holiday ginger cake, the just-released 46th annual Anchor Brewing Company Christmas Ale also boasts its highest ABV ever at 7 percent.
Yes, this is a hoppy, robust beer with a pronounced bitter coffee edge. I had a chance to try a sample of this festive beer that boasts a substantial body rivaling Santa’s. Pour it into a glass to appreciate its deep espresso-like color and cappuccino-colored foamy head.
Each year, the holiday beer gets a different tree design on its label. This year’s features The Three Graces, the three majestic sequoias from the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park.
This beer, available now through January 2021 or until supplies last, will definitely get you into the holiday spirit. Or make for a welcome gift.
It’s available in 6-packs ($10) and a gold-foiled 50.7-ounce magnum bottle ($14). Orders can be placed online for pickup at Anchor Public Taps in San Francisco.
Cheers: Anchor Brewing suggests enjoying the Christmas Ale alongside Thanksgiving turkey or rack of lamb. I think it’s pretty awesome with a slice of pumpkin bread, too.
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.
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.
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.