How We Eat Lecture Series at The Commonwealth Club

In conjunction with the slowfoodnation events, The Commonwealth Club has been hosting How We Eat, a series of food related lectures. A few of the ones coming up piqued my interest.

Monday, August 25th @ 5:15 pm
Jenni Ferrari-Adler
Alone in the Kitchen with Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone

Is there a stigma about eating alone? We all cook alone at one point or another. Jenni Ferrari-Adler lets us know that other people are as hung up on it as we are. Her essays make good company: They’re meant to inspire, entertain, comfort and provide practical help in the form of recipes for one. Please note: This event will take place at the Commonwealth Club, 595 Market Street, 2nd Floor. Admission is free for members, $8 for non-members. Check-in is at 4:45 pm. For reservations and information, please call 415-597-6705.

Tuesday, August 26th @ 6:00 pm
Marion Nestle and Davia Nelson
Pet Food Politics and Hidden Kitchens

There’s more than meets the eye in that box of Meow Mix. The pet food industry links matters as diverse as global food safety, health policy, international trade, and corporate and governmental influence. Marion Nestle’s examination of the 2007 pet food recall developed into an expose that revealed glaring gaps in food safety between the United States and the developing countries that produce the food. She will speak about her research, which follows tainted pet food from its source in China to its destination—feed for pigs, chickens and fish in the United States. Please note: This event will take place at the Commonwealth Club, 595 Market Street, 2nd Floor. Admission is $12 for members,  $18 for non-members. Check-in is at 5:30 pm. For reservations and information, please call 415-597-6705.

Family Winemakers 2008 San Francisco tasting event

Fw2008 It’s time for my favorite San Francisco wine tasting event of the year — Family Winemakers of California Taste 2008.

Not as overwhelming as the ZAP! zinfandel tasting, and with varietals ranging from marsanne to sangiovese, to viogner and back again. This is the place where I have found all sorts of new lovse — like the Heidrun sparkling mead at the 2005 tasting.

My only constructive criticism about this event every year is I wish for more non-trade tasting hours. Take a look at the printer-friendly version of the participating wineries list and start planning your limited time now.

Personally, my hit list would include:

Sunday, August 24
12:30-2:00 p.m. open to the trade only
2:00-6:00 p.m. open to the public and the trade
Monday, August 25

1:00-6:00 p.m. open to the trade only
Fort Mason Center
TICKETS: Ticket price is $45 in advance, $40 for groups of 10 or more, $55 day of the event, plus ticket fees.

slowfoodnation taste workshops

SO many great sounding events. It’s going to be tough to pick just a few…

slow food nation Taste Workshops

Saturday, August 30; 10:00am – 9:00pm | Sunday, August 31; 10:00am – 9:00pm | Cost: $10 – $20 each | Fort Mason Center, Building C

In-depth guided gastronomical and educational experiences led by experts and food producers who share the stories behind the taste.

Each workshop is one-hour long.

Saturday Taste Workshop Schedule

  • 10:00 – 11:00am
    Presidium Coffee Cupping
    Throw a “Slowtail” Party for 6 Friends for Under $60
  • 12:00 – 1:00pm
    The Apple in the Pig’s Mouth
    Rare Flavors of the South
  • 2:00 – 3:00pm
    Tasting California Olive Oil
    American Artisan Cheeses and Microbrews
  • 4:00 – 5:00pm
    Bounty from the Midwest
    Heritage Pork and Sparkling Mead
  • 6:00 – 7:00pm
    Sustainable Stories: Associations of Wine and Food
    Slow Wine & Food Pairings
  • 8:00 – 9:00pm
    Coro Mendocino Wines & Organic Cheeses
    Celebrating American Raw Milk Cheese

Sunday Taste Workshop Schedule

  • 10:00 – 11:00am
    Exploring Coffee and Chocolate Pairings
    Slow Food Meals on a Budget
  • 12:00 – 1:00pm
    Fermented Delicacies
    Northwestern Sips & Morsels
  • 2:00 – 3:00pm
    Mendocino Pinot Noir
    Heirloom Tomatoes with Wines from Lodi
  • 4:00 – 5:00pm
    A Traditional Taste of Southwest Heritage Foods
    Eat It To Save It, Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste
  • 6:00 – 7:00 pm
    Slow Sips & Charcuterie Snacking
    Biodynamic Wines
  • 8:00 – 9:00 pm
    Slow Spirits

SF Cocktail Week

It's been cold and gray in the City off and on for the past few days. But news of the upcoming SF Cocktail week certainly warms my cold, libations-loving heart.

Held May 13-19, and ranging from the free cocktail at the "opening gala", to the cocktail-themed dinners around town on the 15th, it's enough to get me to pull no a sweater and venture out on a weeknight. I'm most tempted by the $15 demonstration of cocktail techniques at the Ferry Building on Wednesday the 14th. Get your tickets through Brown Paper Tickets.


Dine About Town Returns to SF

Once you’ve recovered from the holidays’ overabundance of food, you’ll be ready for SF’s Dine About Town, January 15-31 2008. If you’re new to this annual event, it gives you an excuse to try out one of the City’s restaurants at a reduced price. The 3-course Dine About Town menu at the participating restaurants goes for $21.95 lunches, $31.95 dinners. My recommendation from the list is Maya, one of the city’s best showcases of fine Mexican cuisine (i.e. this is a place for great mole, not for a burrito.)

Eat Local Challenge in September

My work schedule, combined with our online game’s raiding schedule, means it would be pretty hard for me to participate in a month-long "Eat Local" challenge. There’s just no way to be sure everything my local Indian delivery place makes comes from locally sourced ingredients, and making dinner at 10 p.m. is not fun for anyone.)

But the September "Eat Local" challenge, which is being co-hosted by Locavores, bears that in mind and gives slackers like me more ways to get into the spirit — even if we’re a few days short on our locally eating. Other ways you can get involved include:

  • Blog about the easy and hard parts of eating locally — either in your own blog or by sendng posts to their challenge blog
  • Support the challenge by adding the logo to your blog
  • Post photos of your local meals and farmers markets to their flickr group
  • Commit to making 1 all-loacl meal every week in September

Visit the Eat Local Challenge website for more details.

Dine About Town

I am always super excited about the Dine About Town promotion each January in San Francisco. A whole month with reduced prices for 3-course lunches ($21.95) and dinners ($31.95) at a slew of restaurants around town. It usually provides an excellent excuse to catch up with friends after the holidays, or get together a work group for lunch.

But after spending most of a lunch hour pouring over the list of participating restaurants downtown, and their menus, I was bummed. Too many places were offering chicken dishes that remind me of conference banquet food as one of their two entree choices. There weren’t that many new places downtown either.

Bah Humbug!

2005 Family Winemakers Tasting

For the first time in half a decade, I attended the Family Winemakers Tasting as a paying guest, rather than volunteering. The plus to paying the $35 in advance tasting fee, rather than tasting and then working a shift, was being able to leisurely taste, with my significant other in tow. The downside, other than the cost, is my notes were less comprehensive than they tend to be when I taste on my own. But I think it was the right decision all around.

The most interesting find of the event was the Heidrun sparkling mead. The avocado sparkling mead actually had a hint of avocados, while the Starthistle sparkling mead tasted as sweet and thick as the everyday Starthistle honey from Marshall’s at the Farmers’ Market. The one that really won me over, however, was the Ventura County Wildflower sparkling mead which had plenty of effervescence but was a little drier than the others we sampled. I am tempted to buy a case of it to give as holiday gifts this year.

To make navigating the several hundred winery tables more manageable, we decided to focus on Pinot Noir. Exceptions were made only for wineries I love. Interestingly, these exceptions pretty much proved to be less enticing than the newcomer/new-to-me wineries.

On the disappointment side, I wasn’t a fan of the 2001 release of the Astrale y Terra "Arcturus" Bordeaux blend which has historically been one of my favorite wines. I was bummed when they discontinued their merlot a few years back, but this blend had made up for it. Another disappointment was Turley’s Dusie Ranch zinfandel, which my notes recount as both weird and unpleasant. I’d fallen in love with Turley over a dinner at Delfina a few years back, but haven’t tasted anything from them in the past 2 years that can keep that flame alive.

Some favorites:

  • Davis Bynum Winery pinot noir. Made from organic grapes from 7 Russian River vineyards. Nice spicy cherry and plum.
  • Derbès Wines was probably my favorite producer at this event, and a winery I knew nothing about prior to tasting them. Their Les Pinots, a pinot noir and pinot meunier blend, was an outstanding, yummy juicy wine that would be a welcome addition to any dinner. And their pinot noir., which is due to release in November, was lovely, full-bodied and dense. I think I may buy one of each to take with me for Thanksgiving dinner, as these are special wines.
  • Flora Springs had two blends that we tasted. Their always lovely, though pricey, Trilogy was luscious and dark with lots of berry, while the Poggio del Papa, a Sangiovese-based blend, was a lighter, more spicy blend with a delightful floral nose.
  • Fritz‘s pinot noir was lighter than most of the others we tasted, but still had some dark fruit, but was not at all spicy.
  • Navarro has become a default choice when I want a pinot noir and nam not familiar with anything else on the list, and with good reason. They’re consistently good, and under $30 retail.
  • Opolo Vineyards was another new-to-me winery. Like Fritz, they had a lighter pinot noir, but it had a spicy kick to it.
  • Paul Hobbs Winery had a 2003 pinot noir that had some effervescence backed up with dark cherry.
  • Pisoni Vineyards and Winery had a medium bodied Gary’s Vineyard pinot noir that I liked quite a bit.
  • Roar Wines was another new favorite, with a spicy Gary’s Vineyard pinot noir that, unfortunately, is sold out at the winery.
  • Robert Sinskey‘s 2002 pinot noir was pretty light with an interesting candy nose and a a dry finish.
  • Toad Hall Cellars was new to the tasting, and had an awesome light, spicy 2003 Carneros pinot noir that had hints of Oak.
  • Truchard is an old favorite that hadn’t impressed me my last few times tasting at their winery. This time around, however, their La Storia meritage caught my attention, with its smooth, dark berries.

This tasting was not as crowded as the ZAP! annual tasting, which I attend regardless due to my love of zinfandel. There still wasn’t a lot of elbow room, but for the most part you did not have to wait very long to receive pours, and the lines at the cheese and cracker stations were also manageable.

Save the Date: next year’s Family Winemakers tasting will be August 20, again at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco.

A Year of Fine Dining for $20

CUESA, the folks who put on the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco, are having an amazingly clever (and tasty!) raffle in conjunction with their annual fundraising dinner this year. A $20 Raffle ticket buys you a chance to win one of three packages of gift certificates for 12 dinners around town.

The drawing will be held at their Sunday Supper on October 2,
though you need not be present to win. Tickets are available at the
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market Information Booth or by calling 415.291.3276 x.103.

Participating restaurants include:



Boulangerie Bay Bread
Café Rouge
Campton Place
Chez Nous
Chez Panisse
Fleur De Lys
Lark Creek Inn
Le Charm
One Market
Ritz Carlton
Rose Pistola
Teatro ZinZanni
the girl and the fig
Town Hall
Zuni Café