Category Archives: Spirits/Cocktails/Beer

Sensational Sips, Part I

A pretty-in-pink gin.
A pretty-in-pink gin.

Malfy Gin Rosa

Have you ever spied a pink gin before? Me, either. At least not before receiving a sample bottle of Malfy Gin Rosa, an Italian gin that’s tinged a very pale pink from grapefruit.

Inspired by the Amalfi Coast, this gin gets a subtle citrus and bitter pith edge from Sicilian pink grapefruit, along with lemon. Juniper berries add characteristic pine and almost anise-like notes without veering into medicinal-tasting territory.

Just know, though, that because the color is so light, it won’t be visible once you add any kind of mixer.

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Cheers to The New Year With An Arugula Gimlet

A riff on a classic with a festive bold hue.
A riff on a classic with a festive bold hue.

What more festive way to celebrate the holidays and usher in the new year than with a great cocktail.

A vibrant green one at that with a deeply peppery taste.

“Arugula Gimlet” is a recipe in the new book, “Every Cocktail Has A Twist” (Countryman Press), of which I received a review copy.

It’s by the Sonoma-based couple, Carey Jones, a food and spirits writer who was the managing editor of Serious Eats, and John McCarthy, a mixologist and sports writer.

What makes this book especially fun is that it includes recipes for 25 classic drinks, but then goes further to provide 200 variations on them.

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Dining at the New Rollati

The divine eggplant rollatini at Rollati.
The divine eggplant rollatini at Rollati.

Roll into Rollati in downtown San Jose, the newest restaurant from Chef Roland Passot’s Vine Hospitality.

That’s just what I did a couple weeks ago, when I was invited in as a guest to this handsome, bright, and spacious restaurant on the ground floor of the Miro luxury apartment building.

The first Italian-American restaurant from Passot and Vine CEO Obadiah Ostergard, it features both indoor and outdoor dining, plus a small marketplace to buy pantry staples and prepared foods to-go.

If you’re lucky, you might just hit it on a night where there’s a trio of musicians playing in the bar-lounge, too.

The bar.
The bar.
Live music in the lounge.
Live music in the lounge.

Ostergard’s nephew, Chef Sam Gimlewicz, a Culinary Institute of America graduate who went on to work at the acclaimed Nina June restaurant in Maine, designed the menu that’s overseen by Chef de Cuisine Christian Luxton, formerly of Berkeley’s Hotel Shattuck Plaza.

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Dining At The West Coast’s First Chotto Matte

Chicken karage with gochujang at Chotto Matte.
Chicken kaarage with gochujang at Chotto Matte.

If you’ve been wanting to experience a mesmerizing infinity room, you don’t have to trek to a museum. Just head to dinner at San Francisco’s new hot spot restaurant Chotto Matte that opened in October.

Step inside the first floor entrance of what used to be Macy’s Men’s Store and be greeted by floor-to-ceiling glossy walls that reflect colorful pendants hanging from the ceiling, making them appear as if they go on forever.

The entrance, where you'll find the elevator to take you to the rooftop restaurant.
The entrance, where you’ll find the elevator to take you to the rooftop restaurant.
The host stand at the restaurant.
The host stand at the restaurant.

Just exercise caution after taking the elevator up to the restaurant, though, as the same black polished walls are used in the unisex bathrooms, creating such an entrancing effect that my husband, as well as the person walking in behind him, nearly walked into a wall.

Chotto Matte is definitely flash and panache, a fun-house dining experience.

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Dining At Yokai, San Francisco’s New Hi-Fi Bar & Restaurant

Grilled mackerel with pickled mustard seeds and honey-preserved ramps at Yokai.
Grilled mackerel with pickled mustard seeds and honey-preserved ramps at Yokai.

Chef Marc Zimmerman was majoring in music engineering in college in Indiana before he decided to scrap that for a career in cooking instead.

Now, however, he’s managed to combine both those passions into one: Yokai, his second San Francisco restaurant, which opened in September, just four blocks away from Gozu, his first that debuted in 2019.

Located in the SOMA neighborhood, Yokai is named for the Japanese word for “ghosts or spirits,” which is appropriate given its extensive bar program that spotlights Japanese and American spirits.

At the host stand.
At the host stand.

The music emphasis is apparent right when you step inside to find the host stand outfitted with two turntables and shelves of vinyl records. You can’t miss the large speakers behind the bar, too. But the music, while lively, is not intrusive, as I found when I dined as a guest of the restaurant last week, when jazz was very much the music of choice on that weeknight.

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