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Sunday, February 17, 2019

Must Do Italian Cuisine: Vino Lafayette



In an effort to dine at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants ( 1000 and counting), my wife Linda and I recently traveled to Vino in Lafayette.

This charming restaurant has been bringing foodie fun and joy to loyal customers for 40 years. It is a very small venue and open for dinner Wednesday thru Saturday 5-8. Reservations are a must. 

Gregarious owner Castro Ascarrunz is the chef, waiter and entertainer playing the piano and accordion for happy patrons.  83 years young, he sang, played the piano and served us great food.


We began with a house salad and glass of house merlot with fresh bread, olives and homemade meat balls. The meat balls were very tender and mildly spicy and the best we have ever eaten.   For the main course, we split the chicken Parmesan with fresh noodles and vegetables that was served steaming hot and a picture-perfect presentation. 

Our meal concluded sharing a ricotta cheese cake that was silky, soothing, and sensational. 

In conclusion, we would highly recommend this restaurant. The food is fresh and very reasonably priced.  Castro is also an accomplished musician and enjoys entertaining happy Bay area Patrons as you savor his great Italian cuisine.  His energy and zest for life at 83 years old is a unique and very special experience. 

For more information and to make reservations go to:
http://www.restaurantevino.com/

Friday, February 1, 2019

Iconic Slanted Door Restaurant Arrives At The San Ramon City Center

In an effort to dine at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants (900 and counting), my wife Linda and I recently enjoyed the iconic Slanted Door Restaurant that just opened in the new San Ramon City Center. We were also celebrating our son MJ’s birthday.

We are fans of Chef Charles Phan and have been to his Slanted Door in the San Francisco Ferry building many times. We have also enjoyed his Hard Water restaurant on the Embarcadero featuring Cajun food and a large selection of whiskeys.

His San Ramon location lived up to his renowned reputation that has pleased San Francisco foodies for many years. The 7500 square foot restaurant features high ceilings surrounded by 14 feet glass walls with a large open kitchen designed by Olle Lunberg.  It has a clean feeling of joy and excitement enhanced by the sensational aromas from the large open kitchen.  It was full of energy and happy patrons enjoying the sophisticated wine and drink menu and perfectly presented food.

General Manager Bobby Quintong said “the restaurant has been packed every night since it opened.”  Reservations for dinner start at 5:30 with plans for lunch in the near future.

We especially enjoyed the warm slanted door spring rolls, shaking beef, barbecue ribs, and famous noodles designed to be shared with your foodie friends.   For dessert, we savored the sweet potato donuts with blood orange creme fraiche curd and coriander sugar. Smiling with joy, MJ said, “this was much better than a birthday cake.”


In conclusion, we would highly recommend this new foodie treasure for any special occasion and look forward to returning soon. 

For more information and to make reservations go to:
https://www.slanteddoor-sanramon.com/

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Fab 4 Living the Napa Dream: AXR Winery


 
In an effort to visit all 600 Napa wineries (400 and counting), my wife Linda and I recently had the pleasure of visiting AXR winery in St. Helena. 
 
We met one of the Fab 4 owners Don Van Laeken at a “Wine for Wheels” fund raiser held at David Behring’s house (President of The Wheel Chair Foundation) in Blackhawk a few months ago. He and his 3 friends ala the “Fab 4” had a dream and now produce world class wine in St. Helena.  The Fab 4 are Kelly Trevethan, Mark Schratz, Don Van Laeken and consulting wine maker Jean Hoefliger.


Named after the rootstock AxR (Aramond  x Rupestris) was prominent in building the modern California wine industry. It eventually succumbed to phylloxera and most of California was left with a blank canvas.
 
From the web site, “the estate has a rich 134year history to become a brewery, restaurant, Inn, saloon and winery. Today the winery pays homage to this history and blazes the trail of excitement and innovation in Napa Valley as the pioneers before us.”
 
Our hosts were Ritchie Cooksey and Fab 4 owner Don Van Laeken. We began with a tour of this beautiful property enjoying AXR Ganzin and V Madrone Chardonnay.  Both wines were crisp and refreshing as we strolled around this mystical setting of redwood trees and rich vines gracing this historic estate dating back to the 1800’s.


In the elegant and recently renovated tasting room, we sampled the 2014 AXR Cabernet Sauvignon and 2015 V Madrone that were both full bodied wine sensations. We especially enjoyed the 2015 Cabernet and took a few bottles back to Danville with us.  As Winemaker Jean Hoefliger says, “we enjoyed the moments that truly matter, with those that matter most” and will soon return to visit this great winery.

For lunch, we enjoyed the newly opened RH restaurant in charming Yountville. This elegant decorated restaurant features great burgers, service, art and furniture gallery and sophisticated wine tastings with massive fireplaces and chandeliers. 

RH is located near Thomas Keller’s famous French Laundry Restaurant. We also visited Thomas Keller’s famous Bouchon bakery for dessert and checked out his new Spanish/Mexican restaurant Calenda next door that just recently opened for dinner and a “must do” on a future visit. 



For more information and to make an appointment at AXR Winery go to:


https://www.axrnapavalley.com/




Friday, December 28, 2018

Albatross: A Great New Danville Foodie Experience



In an effort to dine at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants (900 and counting), my wife Linda and I recently had the pleasure to dine at Danville’s latest Albatross.

Albatross has only been open 3 weeks and the ambience, service and food reminded you of being in a great restaurant in the “city by the bay”.  They have an extensive wine list and if you decide to bring your own charge a $20 corking fee.

Founder Mehrasa Bagheri’s first successful restaurant was Primavera in San Ramon. As a world traveler, she found peace in cooking and brings perfection and passion to her sensational, soulful foodie creations.

We especially enjoyed the beet salad, tiger eye beef stew, Spanish oysters, salmon, Hanger steak and delightful, decadent desserts. Each order was prepared with Monet like beauty by Chef Brian who has culinary roots in high end places like Michelin star rated Meadowood. 

It is great to have this classy new restaurant open in our great town of Danville.  Currently they are only open for dinner but are planning a lunch/brunch menu. 
It is definitely a “must do”.  We will definitely return.

For more information and to make a reservation go to: 


San Francisco Nob Hill French Classic: Rue Lepic


In an effort to dine at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants (900 and counting), my wife Linda and I recently had the pleasure of dining at Rue Lepic.

In Paris, Rue Lepic is a famous street in the artist community of Montmartre. We enjoyed the many shops, restaurants and artwork when we were in Paris a few years ago. In San Francisco, Rue Lepic is a cozy, romantic French restaurant located on Nob Hill near the Fairmont and Mark Hopkins hotels.


Fabulous service and great food are served on elegant white table cloths accented with fresh flowers. Chef Michiko Boccara has been pleasing loyal patrons, many famous celebrities and tourists for many years. We recently dined at this San Francisco treasure and were not disappointed.

They offer an extensive wine selection or if you bring your own charge a $25 corking fee. The menu also has a great selection of entrees.

We would recommend the 5-course menu. It includes a seafood pasta, soup, salad, your choice of entree and dessert. I chose the rack of lamb that was seasoned and cooked to perfection and Linda had the salmon that was also fresh and fantastic.


It is no wonder this restaurant has been successful for almost 40 years. We would suggest you put it on your “must do” list next time you are in the “great city by the bay”.

For more information and to make a reservation go to: 
http://ruelepicsf.com/

Friday, October 26, 2018

San Diego: America’s Finest City

In an effort to dine at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants(900 and counting), my wife Linda and Hall-of-Famer son MJ recently traveled to sun splashed San Diego to experience food, golf, wine and fun with lucky friends who live there. 

From the Oakland Airport,  it is an easy 1 hour flight.  Southwest Airlines offers many choices to meet your travel needs. 

We stayed at Morgan Run Resort in Rancho Santa Fe offering “something for everyone” to fill your day.  The Resort is an easy 40 minute drive from the San Diego Airport.  They offer 69 reasonably priced boutique rooms located right on the golf course.  The rooms are nicely appointed with fireplaces, spacious, and close to the spa, tennis courts, golf pro shop and Gene Littler Lounge.
  Famous golfer Gene Littler is also a resident and is often seen mingling with the members and guests. 

The Littler Lounge has a fascinating picture gallery of his many golf accomplishments and 2 of his favorite golf clubs.  He was known as “Gene The Machine” inducted into the World Golf Hall Of Fame and won the prestigious US Amateur and a US Open.  Great food, exotic drinks, wine, micro brews and multiple large screen TV’s make it a great place to unwind after a round of golf, tennis or spa treatment.  There is also outside seating and fire pits with great views to enjoy the low humidity perfect year around weather.

The golf course features 27 nicely manicured golf holes. It is a very friendly course to walk for those who want more exercise and do not like to ride around in a golf cart. There are 4 tee choices to meet every golf skill level.  Linda found the lady’s tees to be very friendly and fair.  She experienced “golfing joy” when she got a near ace and birdie on a very challenging par 3.

On the way from the San Diego airport, we stopped in nearby and sensational  San Diego to explore the famous San Diego Gas Lamp District.  After strolling around, we decided to dine at Los Ponchos De Charly  and enjoy their 17 year history of great Mexican food and music.  We sat on the patio and enjoyed people watching, great weather, Cadillac Margaritas, Quesadilla’s and their wet burrito that were all prepared to perfection. 

The Gas Lamp district is a fun, fantasy foodie collection of great restaurants, jazz clubs, hotels and interesting shops. 


Morgan Hill Resort is also located very close to Jake’s Del Mar Restaurant located right on the beach of the clear, blue Pacific Ocean. It has a vibrant atmosphere and always packed with happy patrons watching the surfers and sensational sunsets. Reservations are highly recommended.

This was “Déjà Vu” for us as we were there in 2008 for the US Open held at famous Torrey Pines.   Torrey Pines is also scheduled to host another US Open  in 2021.  We were guests of the Golf Channel in 2008 when our son MJ won the essay contest for the" Fathers Day US Open Contest".  His essay was selected from 25 thousand essays submitted. We were also recognized on National TV on Father’s Day during the final day of the US Open.

Jake’s Del Mar Restaurant  brought back these vivid, magical memories eternally deposited in our rich memory banks.  We enjoyed fish so fresh that you thought it was just caught in the ocean that was only a few steps from our table.  We especially enjoyed the crispy calamari, lobster spring rolls and lightly pistachio crusted Mahi Mahi with a side order of perfectly seasoned cauliflower.  The meal was highlighted with their  famous" Hula Pie" dessert.  This sinful creation is made with creamy Macedonia nut ice cream,  a delicate chocolate cookie crust and a generous amount of heavenly hot fudge.  It is a very large proportion and recommended to be shared with 2-4 people. 

On our final day, we enjoyed “fun in the sun” at nearby La Jolla. This classy Oceanside town features pristine beauty, a variety of boutique shops and great restaurants.

We dined at George’s On The Cove and enjoyed exceptional views and foodie fun created by Trey Foshee. Trey has been voted one of the best chefs in America and we were not disappointed.  We dined on the third floor ocean terrace and enjoyed stunning views and carefully crafted food presentations.  They are open for lunch and also offer elaborate price fixed dinners in the evening.  Reservations are also highly recommended at this well known foodie refuge.

We enjoyed an elegant lunch beginning with George’s Famous soup made with smoked chicken, broccoli, and black beans and shared  George’s fresh albacore fish sandwich, fish tacos and crunchy french fries that was enhanced with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean Cove and soft, warm sunshine.

In conclusion, It is no wonder that many corporations have conferences in San Diego and many tourists visit from all over the world. 


 “America’s Finest City” has perfect year around weather filled with happy, proud residents and a “must do” to add to your bucket list. 
To make reservations at the Morgan Run Resort  go to:  
http://www.clubcorp.com/Clubs/Morgan-Run-Club-Resort

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Somnium Winery: Danica Patrick Living The Dream


In an effort to visit all 600 wineries in Napa( 400 and counting), my wife Linda and I recently had the pleasure of visiting Somnium  owned by famed female car racer Danica Patrick. 
Danica Patrick’s motto  in life is to “dream big”. 
She recently retired from car racing with a Hall Of Fame resume. She now has a new passion with her Winery in Napa called Somnium which is the Latin term for “dream”. 

She says, “wine is about relaxing, eating great food and friendly conversation with your friends. I fell in love with everything about Napa on my first visit there. My dream of owning a winery is now a reality with Somnium.”

The 22 acre vineyard in located on famous Howell Mountain.  Vintner Aaron Pott is making world class wines for Danica.

Our host today was General Manager Tracy Smith. She is very knowledgeable and bubbling with wine energy. We had an elegant tasting on the top of Howell Mountain that was a heavenly experience. We tasted the  2015 and 2016 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Both were bold expressions of excellence with smooth finishes. We especially enjoyed the 2016 that will be released in December. 

For more information, go to:



Saturday, October 6, 2018

Biscuits And Blues: Live Nightly Music And Southern Cuisine In The Great City By The Bay




In an effort to dine at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants (900 and counting), my wife Linda and I recently had the pleasure to experience Biscuits and Blues.

Located near Union Square in the heart of San Francisco,  Biscuits  And Blues offers live blues music in an intimate venue from local, regional and national bands.

It is a fun experience of great music, southern inspired cuisine, salads, New Orleans gumbo and a unique drink selection. We enjoyed the gumbo, biscuits and a drink called the Kings Sazerac. This drink was a blend of Bullet Rye Bourbon,  Bitters, Pernod and lemon peel that complemented the music perfectly. 

We had the pleasure to experience Pryor Baird. Pryor is originally from California and made his mark in Nashville. He gained national recognition when he was a semi finalist on the popular Voice Talent show.  His voice was soothing  and packed with power just like our Kings Sazerac libation.  It is no wonder he did so well on the Voice. We went to the 7:30 show and arrived at 6:30 to enjoy dinner before the show. There is also a 10:00 pm show.

We would highly recommend this long time San Francisco icon. It is a great place to enjoy live music and great food for any business gathering, special occasion, holiday or birthday celebration.

For more information and to make reservations go to:
https://biscuitsandblues.com/


Cafe Jacqueline: The Chef with the Sparkle in her Eye


Cafe Jacqueline: Serving Sensational Soufflés Since 1979

In effort to dine at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants(900 and counting), my wife Linda and I recently had the pleasure to dine at Cafe Jacqueline. Located in the heart of foodie heaven, North Beach, Jacqueline Margulis has been making her soufflés since 1979.
Jacqueline is now in her young 80’s and still makes each soufflé for her many happy patrons. The charming restaurant has been voted one of San Francisco’s most romantic restaurants. Matthew the server has been working there for 25 years providing attentive, excellent service.  In addition to soufflés, they have a nice selection of beer and wine and onion soup that will soothe your soul. Some patrons just go there for the onion soup, glass of wine and dessert soufflé. 

Jacqueline was born and trained in Bordeaux, one of our favorite foodie city’s and makes her light heavenly masterpieces 5 days a week. If she is on vacation or sick, the restaurant closes.

They have an open kitchen and she loves to talk to you while she works with precision and effortlessly like a world class surgeon preparing these masterpieces.
I went into the kitchen and had the pleasure of watching her eyes twinkle with joy as she prepared our gruyere cheese soufflé and grand mariner dessert soufflé that she recommended for us. The soufflés are large and served for 2 people.
She said, “I love seeing the joy and happiness that my soufflés bring to my patrons. I don’t know how much longer I can do this but I hope it is for many more years. It keeps me very happy and young.”

We hope she can continue for many more years. In our “high tech, hurry, hurry” life, the process to create these heavenly works of art takes around 2 hours. So if you are not in a hurry and want to enjoy something sensational and special, this is a “foodie must do experience”. 


To reserve your table, go to:
http://www.cafejacqueline.com/

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Trefethen: 50th Anniversary Tasting

In a effort to visit all 600 Napa wineries(400 and counting), my wife Linda and I recently had the pleasure to experience Trefethen’s 50th Anniversary tasting.

As you enter the beautiful tree lined entrance, you are filled with joyful anticipation to experience this great winery producing world class “juice” for 50 years.  The Trefethen Family prides itself in being one family, one estate, and having one passion since 1968. 

We were lucky to have Christina host our tasting in the family villa surrounded by gardens, flowers, trees and elegantly decorated. If you could imagine a picture of heaven, this would be it.

We sampled 6 special wines in expensive, hand blown Zalto wine glasses from Austria. All of the wines were unique and very enjoyable.

We began with a 1991 and 1996 Library selection Chardonnay and 2011 Chardonnay. All of them were lively, smooth and rich.  We then sampled a 1996 Library Cabernet Sauvignon and 2006 and 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon. Each of them were intense, refreshing and lush.   

We then tasted the 2016 Dragons Tooth, 2015 Malbec, 2015 OKD(Oak  Knoll District)and 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon.
The 2015 Cabernet is rated 95 and the 2015 OKD is a unique blend of 63% Petite  Verdot, 19% Cabernet Franc And 18% Cabernet Sauvignon.

We enjoyed all of these wines and took a bottle of each back home to Danville.

The winery has the largest acreage of Malbec in Napa and the 100% 2015 Malbec had a bright opening with plum and dark fruit aromatics that were followed by ripe red fruits and cherry on the palate.

The 2016 Dragon Tooth is a blend of 47% Malbec ,27% Petite Verdot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Merlot. This wine is a tribute to Katherine, John Trefethen’s mother who passed away in 2007. The aromas, blackberry taste and elegant finish is enough to disarm the fiercest of dragons.
 
For lunch, we enjoyed a great meal and service at nearby Don Giovanni serving great food for 25 years and jointly owned by local resident and famous golfer Johnny Miller. He often eats here and also owns nearby Silverado Country Club.

Napa “Rocks” and we would highly recommend this great winery and restaurant on your next visit to this special place. 

For more information and to make a reservation go to: