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Saturday, February 24, 2018

A San Francisco Classic: Cliff House

In an effort to dine at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants(850 and counting), my wife Linda and I recently had the pleasure of dining at Sutro’s at the famous Cliff House.
The rich Cliff House history goes back to 1858 when it first opened. With stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and Ocean Beach, it is a favorite destination for locals and tourists. It is no wonder that City Guide named it “best view restaurant in the city.”

There is a casual Bistro restaurant that does not require reservations and a more elegant one called Sutro that requires a reservation. 

Sutro’s 2 story windows allows memorable vistas, sunrises and sunsets over the deep blue Pacific to be eternally deposited in your memory bank.  In 1896 former mayor and wealthy businessman Adolph Sutro opened the Sutro baths on this property. The Sutro Bath was the largest indoor public swimming pool in the world.  It was open to the public and remained open until 1966 when a fire destroyed the facility.

We enjoyed a window table at Sutro that immediately removed any stress one may be feeling from the rigors of modern life.  Our server was very helpful and radiated with joy feeling fortunate to work at this famous restaurant. There is an exceptional wine and beverage list and extensive variety of foodie delights.  We always bring our own wine and the corkage fee  is $25.00.

We began our dinner with the Ahi Tuna Tartare with pine nut, Asian pear, mint, quail egg yolk, habanero infused sesame oil, and Aleppo pepper that was as soothing as watching the waves crashing on Ocean Beach outside our window view table.  For the main course, Linda ordered the bacon crusted Scottish Salmon with pink lady apple, full belly farm rainbow chard, potato purée and whole grain mustard sauce that was presented perfectly and tasted even better.  I ordered the Sakura Pork Chop“Crepinette” with pistachio parsley crust, grilled broccolini, guanciale cauliflower purée and toasted cumin pork jus that was sensational.  For dessert, we shared the Carmel Apple Cheesecake with roasted apple compote, apple chip and salted carmel sauce that was a regal ending  to a great meal.

At the end of the day, the iconic, classic Cliff House perched high above the “great city by the bay” is a “must do” for lucky people that live nearby and for tourists visiting from all over the world.

For more informative n and to make a reservation go to:


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Larkmead: One Of The 4 Original Napa Valley Titans

In an effort to to visit all 600 Napa wineries(350 and counting),  my wife Linda and I recently visited Larkmead Winery in Calistoga. Our wine staff Ron and Josiane Hable also joined the fun. From our Danville home, it is a 1 hour drive.

Established in 1895, this is one of the oldest family run wineries in Napa. Proprietors  Cam and   Kate Solari Baker continue to preserve the rich history.

Before prohibition this 150 acres of beauty was considered one of the 4 titans in Napa Valley along with BV, Inglenook and Beringer.  One of the original owners was Lillie Hitchcock Coit. Lillie was a free spirit who loved the firemen that rescued her in a few devastating fires.  When she passed away, she left a fortune to the city of San Francisco to build the famous  Coit Tower replicating a fire hose and proudly overlooking the “great city by the bay.”

Our host today was John Hamill who is a worldly person with a zest for life and love of wine. He explained to us the elaborate “no press” wine process that won winemaker Dan Petrowski  2017 San Francisco Chronicle Winemaker of the year.
In addition to sharing the winery’s rich history and wine process, he told us the name Larkmead came from many meadow larks that were originally on the property. Simply the meadow lark bird name was reversed and the name Larkmead was born.

We enjoyed tasting 4 of Dan’s great wines in the elegant Howard Backen designed tasting room with a warm fire burning overlooking the vineyard graced by the yellow mustard in full bloom.

We began with the 2015 100% Cabernet Sauvignon Proprietary  Red that was bursting with flavor and smooth finish. It was a very enjoyable blend that warranted taking home a bottle  with us.
The next carefully crafted gem was a 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon that was 93% Cabernet and 7% Petite Verdot. It was also a refined blend of excellence.  Next, we tasted 2014 Dr. Olmo and 2014 Solari.  We enjoyed these 100% Cabernets in a side by side tasting. There are 7 types of soils on this rich land and these were from the “A Block” which is the vortex of this heavenly property.  Both were described by John as having “angels in your mouth” but after careful consideration, we decided to take a bottle of the Dr. Olmo home with us.

We look forward to returning soon for their spring and fall party as we also joined their wine club.

For lunch, we enjoyed another great meal at “Reliable” Rutherford  Grill in  nearby Napa.  All of their food is fantastic and the first bottle of wine has no corking fee. There are no reservations and usually a short wait to be seated in this popular Napa bistro.

As you enter this high energy restaurant filled with happy people, the sweet smell of their famous barbecue ribs radiates from their open kitchen. It brings an immediate smile to your face in anticipation of a great foodie experience.  We highly recommend the hot steaming corn bread served in a cast iron pan to start your meal. It is a perfect way to compliment a fun day of wine tasting.

For more information and to make reservations to visit Larkmead go to:

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Spring Mountain Magic: Vineyard 7 and 8

In an effort to visit all 600 Napa wineries(350 and counting), my wife Linda and I recently had the pleasure of visiting Vineyard 7 and 8 on Spring Mountain. Our wine team Ron and Josiane Hable also joined the fun.

The Steffens Family acquired  this 40 acres of beauty in 1999. Proprietor Launny Steffens love of finance and numerics was an inspiration for the name of this great winery.  The number 7 represents good luck in the Western culture and the number 8 represents prosperity and happiness in the Eastern Culture.

Our host for the tasting was Julia Moretti who was a wealth of wine knowledge and proud to share this fine wine with us. In the elegant tasting room overlooking the hillside property,
we sampled the 2014 Chardonnay and enjoyed side by side tastings of the 2010, 2012 and 2014 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from grapes grown at this magical Spring Mountain setting.
Winemaker Martha  McClellan and Estate Director and Assistant Winemaker  Wesley Steffens have created some  high quality wines.

The 2014 Chardonnay was smooth, sensational and one of the best we have ever tasted. It was so great that we all took bottles of this clear joy back to Danville with us
The side by side tasting of the Cabernets  were also elegant and very enjoyable. The 2010 was rich in flavor and would be perfect when paired with your favorite steak.
  2012 is a big aggressive wine with complex flavors soothing to your palate.  2014 was an approachable and bright blend of sweet fruit.  All of these wines have been rated in the mid 90’s by Robert Parker.
We especially enjoyed the 2012 and took some back to Danville with us.

For lunch, Julia recommended the new Charter Oak Restaurant, which is located where the former Tra Vigne Restaurant was, for their famous cheeseburger. The restaurant was recently renovated and reopened last June. We were not disappointed and enjoyed the cheeseburger, professional service and modern decor.

For more information and to make reservations to taste these great wines go to:

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Calistoga Ranch,Frank Family Winery and Bennett Lane: Napa Valley Luxury

In an effort to dine at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants and visit all 600 Napa wineries, my wife Linda and I recently traveled to Calistoga Ranch and enjoyed a few days of Napa luxury.

The 50 room Calistoga Ranch has been rated Top 5 Resort in the world by Travel and Leisure Magazine. 
The 157 acre Ranch features its own restaurant, spa, hiking trails and a team of dedicated employees who pride themselves in treating every guest like royalty. In addition, the location is close to many wineries, golfing, and hot air balloon rides for the more adventurous spirits.

We combined a visit to this Napa treasure with a stop at Frank Family Winery before we checked in at the Ranch.  Sal our host at Frank Family was very knowledgeable and proud to serve us their great wines.  Winemaker Todd Graff has been with the winery since 2002. The winery will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year and makes great juice from its 350 acres of grapes.

We began with a toast to Dennis long time host at Frank Family. Many patrons have stories about Dennis who enjoyed tastings with him. He passed away a couple of years ago but his spirit is still alive and well as he enjoyed  sharing stories with wine lovers getting “Tanked  at Frank.”

We had an extensive tasting beginning with the 2013 Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine produced in the secondary method of fermentation followed by a 36 month aging period. The wines are then hand riddled to remove the yeast. It was very refreshing and retails for $55.00. We then sampled the 2015 Carneros Lewis Vineyard Chardonnay named after owner  Rich Frank’s first grandson Lewis. The wine has a creamy mouth-filling texture that coats the palate and leads to flavors of lemon meringue pie. It retails for $65.00. 

Next we sampled the 2015 Lewis Vineyard Pinot Noir. It is enticing on the nose  with notes of dark cherries, baking spices and a hint of smoke. It also retails for $65.00.

The 3rd selection was the Reserve Zinfandel. It features generous flavors of fresh plums and sweet cherry pie meld that lasts through a long finish. It retails for $55.00.

The wine kept flowing with a tasting of the 2014 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon. This full bodied wine envelops the palate with flavors
 of blackberries, clove and leather. It can be enjoyed now but will benefit from 5-10 years in your cellar. It retails for $95.00.

The highlight was tasting the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Patriarch named after Rich’s father and introduced on his dad’s 98th birthday. His father passed away one year later at the age of 99.

For lunch, we enjoyed nearby Sam's Social Club an upscale casual restaurant with a variety of great food and craft beers. It was named after Samuel Brannan, California’s first millionaire and founder of the historic Indian Springs Resort located on the 17 acre piece of property next to the restaurant.

We then checked into Calistoga Ranch. You are welcomed to this pristine and peaceful resort with a glass of wine and taken to your room in a golf cart. The property is heavenly and our room featured an indoor/outdoor fireplace, hot tub and outdoor shower. If you fall in love with this piece of paradise, you can purchase fractional ownership.

We had dinner at the private lake restaurant that is for guests only, which had an extensive menu and selection of cocktails, wine and beer.  They offered  a 4 course  price fixed menu and also a bar menu for those that are not as hungry. We split a wood fired pepperoni  pizza that was very tasty and fulfilling after an intense day of wine tasting.

You may also choose to either have an elegant breakfast served in your room or make a trip to the “chicken coop “ and take fresh eggs to the restaurant to have them prepare them for you. 
We chose to select fresh eggs from the chicken coop. It was a unique and very fun way to enjoy a memorable breakfast with VERY fresh eggs.
The entire Calistoga Ranch experience is very special and it is no surprise that it has been rated as one of the top 5 resorts in the world.

After breakfast, we went to nearby Bennett Lane Winery for another private tasting.
Our host was Donna who was passionate about the Bennett Lanes wines. Former Blackhawk resident Randy Lynch and his wife have owned the winery for 14 years. Winemakers  Rob Hunter and Rachel Gondouin pride themselves in making great red wine.

We began our tasting with a 2015 Reserve Chardonnay aged in French Oak with aromas of honey, melon and pumpkin. The wine finished in perfect balance and retails for $53.00.  Next the 2012 Maximus is a blend of 74%Cabernet Sauvignon, 18%Syrah, 4%Petit Syrah, 2%Malbec and 2%Merlot. It is an elegant blend of fruit driven finish and enough tannin structure to age perfectly. It is also a great value at $48.00. 
Finally, we did a side by side tasting of the 2013 and 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon. Both were flavors of cherry and had an elegant finish. We enjoyed both but decided to take the 2014 home with us. The 2013 retails for  $62.00 and the 2014 sells for $63.00.

Before we returned home, we stopped at the Model Bakery  in St. Helena which features an array of sugar delights and their famous English Muffins. You need to go early as the Muffins are usually sold out by 10:00 am.

To complete this Napa trip, we stopped at Gotts Roadside Grill and ordered their famous cheeseburger that was cooked to perfection. It is no wonder why people wait in line every day for this special burger. In addition, they have great milk shakes, Fish Tacos and Crab Sandwiches.

In conclusion, we would highly recommend “all” of these places on your next visit to heavenly Napa.

“Napa Rocks!”

For more information and to make a reservation go to: 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Famous Chef Michael Mina and Ayesha Curry “Smokin” In the City By The Bay”

In an effort to dine at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants( 875 and counting), my wife and I recently dined at" International Smoke". Famous chef Michael Mina has teamed up with Golden State Warrior world champion Steph Curry’s wife Ayesha to offer some great cuisine. Ayesha loves food and is the author of her own successful cook book. 

This popular 80 seat restaurant is usually booked but you can dine at the 20 seat bar without reservations and enjoy the fabulous and unique expression of unique food. Happy hour also begins at 4pm each day with a full menu.  The restaurant opened in November 2017. It is inspired by Michael Mina and Ayesha's heritage and travels. They explore global approaches to grilling and “smoke” to create fascinating and flavorful dishes. 

From the web site, “ the restaurant features classic dishes such as jerk-spice seasoned duck wings, sticky mango and Jamaican condiment known as green seasoning, lemongrass pork chop, thinly sliced and charred on the grill and served with stir fried clams, glass noodles soy and thyme. Banchotan grilled  lobster with Japanese curry-spiced yakudon with turmeric pickles and raita is another favorite.”

The “3 Little Pigs” is another specialty. 3 different preparations of pork are perfectly seasoned and prepared. This is a dish highly recommended and includes St. Louis Spare Ribs, Cuban Mojo Ribs, And Japanese Miso Ribs.

There is also a great selection of international beer and wine. We especially enjoyed the intimate ambience of this lively restaurant dining at the bar  called “Ribs and Rocks.”  This is a variety of Ribs and barbecued oysters at $3.50 each or 2 for $6.00. We really enjoyed the Cuban “Mo Jo” Ribs and citrus mojo and garlic butter basted oysters. For dessert we shared Ayesha's key lime pie that was a soothing ending to a fun meal.

International Smoke is a great combination of cooking skills with Michael Mina and Ayesha Curry showcasing their love of food to the lucky Bay Area foodies. We would  recommend you put this “smokin” experience on your “must do” list. 

For more information and to make reservations go to:

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Promontory: Bill Harlan’s Latest Napa Jewel

In a effort to visit all 600 Napa wineries(350 and counting), my wife and I had the privilege to visit Promontory Winery.

Promontory is the latest addition to famous winemaker Bill Harlan’s business empire.  His son, Will, continues to carry out Bill’s “200 year plan”  for his dreams on the project. The winery sits high above the hills of Oakville and the spectacular 840 acres of beauty produces fabulous Cabernets in the grand Harlan tradition.

As we entered  the Howard Backen designed winery, our private tasting began with a glass of Dom Perignon champagne and winery  tour.  Our host then escorted us into an elegant room with stunning views to taste the carefully crafted wines.  We felt very fortunate to taste this great wine with Charlie Williams, Director of Membership and Hospitality
and Wine Maker David Cilli, who is originally from Tuscany.   David fascinated us as he explained about the wine growing territory- the diversity of soil and  the elevation and climate impact on the grapes.

We had a side by side tasting of the 2009 and 2012 vintages.  Both were exquisite. The 2009 was the first vintage of this winery and full of elegance and energy. The 2012 was recently released and is approachable and ready to drink now. It will only get better as it ages with time. The winery is unique as it has a five year release time for the wine to evolve toward excellence.

This is definitely a “must do” for sophisticated wine lovers.

For more information and to make an appointment go to;

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Italy In The East Bay: Gianni’s Italian Bistro

In an effort to dine at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants and visit all 600 Napa wineries, my wife Linda and I recently had the pleasure to dine at Gianni’s Italian Bistro in San Ramon, Ca.

Italian chef Gianni and his wife Melanie offer authentic Italian food and an assortment of wine and drinks in a charming, cozy setting with excellent service.

A few years ago, they decided to help various non profit organizations raise funds with 
their “Tips For Change” program.

On Monday’s, their only day off, they host non-profits. 10% of all sales and all tips are donated to these organizations. Members of the the non-profits serve the attendees from 5-8 pm.

We recently attended a fund raiser benefiting “Youth On Course”an organization dedicated to helping young golfers in Northern California and rapidly expanding across the United States.

Ron Hable, President Of Blackhawk SGA(Senior Golf Association) and his board of directors served dinner to members of the SGA and their spouses. Last year the SGA awarded a $5000 scholarship to a worthy “Youth On Course”recipient. The goal is to double that amount in 2018.

The dinner was a smashing success as every seat was filled to enjoy an evening of genuine Italian cuisine benefitting “Youth On Course.”

Gianni told me the “Tips For Change” program raised over  $100,000 this year and  every Monday is already booked for 2018.

If you want to experience “Italy in the East Bay,”  go to this web site for more information and to make a reservation.


Friday, November 17, 2017

Chinese Fondue in Dublin, California

In an effort to dine at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants and visit all 600 Napa wineries, my wife Linda and I recently traveled to nearby Dublin, Ca. We enjoyed a unique foodie experience at Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot Restaurant, recommended by a golfing friend.
Hot Pot is also known as “fire pot or Chinese Fondue” invented by Genghis Khan.  It is a colorful array of fresh ingredients, low in fat, sodium and calories and served in a fun and lively atmosphere. 
It is a great experience for friends and any family or business gathering. The service staff is also very attentive and helpful in deciding what to cook.
Hot Pot 101 Instructions are as follows:
Step 1. Choose your favorite soup base original, spicy or half and half. We chose the half and half.
Step 2. Pick your favorite meats, seafood, greens, noodles, and mushrooms.
We chose the assorted meats(beef, chicken, and lamb), shrimp meat balls, Napa cabbage and fresh noodles. 
Step 3. Cook the raw food in your pot in the center of your table and enjoy the heavenly smell and sensational perfectly  seasoned soup.
Step 4. After dinner, savor  one of the fresh desserts served with steaming hot tea. We enjoyed the freshly made Phoenix Yolk buns that were angel wing light and very tasty.
After your fresh and very healthy feast, you are supplied with plastic containers to take home the leftovers for another great meal. We took our soup home, warmed it up in our crock pot and enjoyed a second “hot pot” experience. 
In conclusion, we would highly recommend Little Sheep Hot Pot in Dublin, Ca. for fresh food that is healthy and fun.
For more information and to make reservations go to:

Friday, November 10, 2017

Kiawah Island: Oceanfront Opulence Near Charming Charleston

Recently my wife Linda and I traveled to Kiawah Island Resort.  This world class resort has been rated 5 stars by the Forbes Travel Guide. From San Francisco, we flew to Charlotte and then took a short flight to Charleston, South Carolina. From this charming Southern town, it is an easy 1 hour drive to this opulent Oceanside resort.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by a very proud and attentive staff with a " I love my job attitude” that provided you with fresh water and cool towels. The warm ocean breeze was also very refreshing after a long day of air travel from San Francisco. 
This 5 Star hotel offers well appointed rooms on the ocean, world class spa, bicycles to pretend you are 12 years old again and a rich Golf history with 5 great courses. There  are also larger villas for family  reunions  or business functions. 

We had an ocean front room complete with spectacular views from our balcony. After getting settled in our stunning room, we took the shuttle to the Atlantic Room at the famous Ocean golf course. It is around a 15 minute heavenly ride winding thru beautiful scenery and deer grazing along the way. The sunset also made for an elegant backdrop to the Ocean Club restaurant that also has an awesome selection of golf apparel at the Golf shop located next to famous Ryder Cup Room voted in the top 10 of 19th holes in the world. 

Chef Nick Torno and Sous Chef Stephanie Wampole prepared us a feast at this restaurant that specializes in seafood. There are many other food restaurants from sushi, barbecue and steaks to satisfy any foodie appetite. 

We had an oceanfront table and were pampered by our knowledgeable and professional waiter Brett. 

We began our dinner with a flute of champagne and the famous “crispy shrimp” with sweet chili sauce on a bed of Napa cabbage seasoned with Yuzu and black sesame. We now understand why this is their specialty as we both said “it was simply the best.”

We then ordered a bottle of Pahlmeyer Cabernet Sauvignon that was decadent, delicate and delightful.

This foodie frenzy continued with 2 types of Mac and Cheese. Lobster Mac and Cheese with béchamel, lobster Demi and herbs and truffle Mac and cheese that were both equally great. Our server Brett suggested to mix them together which made them even greater.

Next was Oysters on the half shell with cocktail sauce, mignonette, mango hot sauce and lemon were fresh and very soothing to the soul. 

Chef Stephanie highly recommended the “She Crab Soup” with North Carolina Crab, Sherry and Crab Roe that was rich, smooth and seasoned to perfection. Her recommendation did not disappoint and was better than fantastic.

For the entree, Linda ordered fresh grouper with creamed corn, sweet potatoes, Country Ham-Crab-Radicchio Salad and Cranberry Agro Dolce that was fresh and fantastic. I ordered the scallops with Farro, melted leeks, pea purée, tomatoes and radish that was presented picture perfect and tasted even better.

We concluded this great dinner with an assortment of sugar delights crafted by pastry chef Shannon Yelmoni. We enjoyed the spiced pumpkin macaroon with roasted apples, pecan crumbles and vanilla ice cream. Next we had the maple cold brew affogato with nutmeg biscotti, cocoa tuile, and carmel waffle chips. 

The highlight and grand finally was the Honey Cheesecake. Fresh figs, buckwheat oat crumb and blackberry thyme reduction made for a great ending. 

We began our next day with a stroll on the beach followed with lunch at the famous Ryder Cup Bar before we played golf at the world renown “Ocean” Course.

Before 12pm, it is a walking only course with required caddies. After 12,  you can take a cart and mandatory forecaddie. We chose to take a cart and played with another fun couple from Florida celebrating a birthday. There are multiple tee choices for every skill level and the ladies found their tees to be fair and friendly.

The Ocean course has a rich Golf history. In 1991, this Pete Dye designed gem, hosted the Ryder Cup and was billed as the “War On The Shore”. The United States edged Europe for a 1 Point Ryder Cup victory when Bernard Langer missed a 6 foot putt on the 18th hole. The Senior PGA Championship was held in 2007 and the PGA Championship in 2012 and scheduled again in 2021. 
Golf Digest rated this course as the number 3 public course in America and the toughest resort course. The winds rival courses in Ireland and require as many as 8 clubs more. We had an unusual “no wind”day and enjoyed the ocean views on many of the holes. 

After golf, we enjoyed a sunset dinner on Osprey Point at the Cherrywood BBQ and Ale House. We met sous Chef Toya who was beaming with joy after just winning the “Mac Off” for the 4th year in a row. 40 Charleston restaurants compete for this coveted award.  Cherrywood  was  crowned both the critics' choice and people’s choice  Champion. 

We began our dinner with this 4 cheese Mac and understand why they won as it was fantastic. We enjoyed a Napa Kendall
Jackson bottle of Pinot Noir with the USDA Prime brisket,  guadillo peppered rub, smoked overnight with fresh made cole slaw.  It was the “best” we ever had eaten.

We finished this barbecue feast with a cool slice of freshly made key lime pie.

In conclusion, Kiawah Island Sanctuary Hotel is a Sensational Southern Refuge that is a “must do” for your bucket list. 

After breakfast on the deck of Jasmine’s Porch Restaurant overlooking the Atlantic, we had a driver pick us up to continue our Southern Sojourn to the nearby town of Charleston. 

In Charleston, we stayed at The Restoration Hotel centrally located to shopping  and restaurants in this charming, historical Southern town. Assistant Manager Emre  Scarlata worked in San Francisco for 6 years and runs a first class show with a happy staff of employees with pleasing smiles proud to be working at this modern Charleston hotel. Richard, the concierge, was very helpful with information, directions and making reservations for us. 

The hotel offers a nightly happy hour, spa treatments and heated pool with great views. 

Richard also helped us rent a very fun carriage ride with an informative guide taking us to many places around the city. It only takes an hour and well worth the time to get an extensive education on Charleston’s rich history.

The enchanting mule drawn carriage ride is like being in a “live movie” seeing the multi colored homes on famous Rainbow Row, massive churches, and Southern Mansions including the one where the movie “Notebook” was filmed.

In the evening, we were invited to a 4 course wine tasting dinner at the Watch Restaurant on top of the hotel with stunning views of the city.  Before dinner,  we enjoyed a warm evening, southern sunset, live music and drinks overlooking Charleston.  The Watch also has other nightly activities to enjoy such as Monday Burgers and Wednesday Yoga. 

The wine dinner was hosted by a young Southern California winemaker from Santa Barbara Gavin Chanin that featured his Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines that were very enjoyable.   All of the guests at the sold out dinner enjoyed an evening of wine, food and lively conversation hosted by this impressive young winemaker working hard to make his mark in the competitive wine world.

Our final day in Charleston began with a breakfast that was served in our spacious suite with a private balcony overlooking the vibrant downtown area. The College Of Charleston is located near the hotel and adds to the youthful “Red Bull” feeling of this high energy city. 

We then enjoyed a “King Street” shopping experience with many name brand and local stores as well as the city market which features local merchants selling their hand made goods. Jewelry, silk scarves, handmade baskets, African soap, honey tasting, and lemon cookies were just a few of the items for sale. The lemon cookies have been produced since 1927 and provided us with a euphoric and sensational, southern sugar buzz. 

For lunch we went to the highly rated S.N.O. B. Restaurant (Slightly North Of Broad St.) featuring low country cuisine and outstanding service in a casual upscale atmosphere. 

Linda ordered the grilled salmon salad with arugula, couscous, feta cheese, toasted pine nuts, dried fruit, and lemon shallot vinaigrette that was over the top. I had the lunch express with butternut squash soup, pecan crumbles, local crème fraiche with the entree of the day roasted half chicken. It was served with warm bread, salad, roasted pumpkin, radish, cranberries, candied pumpkin seeds and Russian kale that was succulent and sensational. 

For dessert, we shared banana crème pie with caramelized banana and rum caramel that soothed our souls.

Our farewell to Charleston dinner was held at the Charleston Grille per the recommendation of Emre Scarlata. This charming gem is where world class jazz music is paired with mouth watering cuisine and spectacular service. 

Linda ordered the seared fois gras with crepes, blackberry preserves, and port reduction that brought a big smile to her face. We also split an order of Brussels sprouts with bacon-peanut vinaigrette that were heavenly. I ordered the Charleston Grill Crab Cake with Creek Shrimp and Lime Tomato Dill Vinaigrette that was also amazing. 

For dessert, we split the crème brulee prepared to perfection. We concluded our meal was a shot of “ice cold” Rumple Minze 100 proof peppermint schnapps. “One shot of Rumple Minze is fun and 2 your are done.”

At the end of the day, Charleston is a charming city filled with kind Southern hospitality, food and fun.  It is a definite “must do” to add your bucket list.

For more information and to make reservations go to:

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Covert Estate: Napa’s Underground Winery

In an effort to visit all 600 Napa Valley wineries( 350 and counting) and dine at all 3000 San Francisco restaurants(850 and counting ), my wife Linda and I recently traveled to Covert Estate in the eastern part of Napa Valley in the Coombsville Appellation. Our wine staff Ron and Josi Hable also joined the fun. 

Covert Estate is the result of collaboration of 3 wine loving families, Cal and Pam Nicholson, Dave and Laura Nestor and Julien and Elan Fayard. Julien is a winemaker with French roots and combines traditional Bordeaux winemaking to this great California winemaking culture.

This was an extra special time to visit Napa after the recent fires that destroyed many wineries and killed 41 people. Luckily Covert Estates escaped any damage from these fires and was very thankful to be operating and alive and well. 

Our host today was Kristi Devine who passion and knowledge of Covert wine is bursting with joy. We enjoyed our tasting in the underground cave that had a stunning view of the Napa hills thru the massive glass door entrance. We began tasting the gold foil labeled 2014 Covert Estates Coombsville that was very drinkable now and a great addition to your cellar for future enjoyment.

The second wine was the  2014 Cabernet Sauvignon " Clone 341" French connection vine that is available at only 10 Napa vineyards. It had a soft sensuous flavor and well worth a second taste and taking a few bottles home with us.

The last tasting was the 2014 Covert Estate Cabernet from Pritchard Hill. It had a distinct profile with deep color produced  from the iron rich Pritchard Hill volcanic soil.

This relatively new winery is producing some great wines and sure to be included in your "must have" wine collection. 

After the recent devastating fires that threatened God's wine heaven on earth,  it was a pleasure to see this winery and many others that survived smiling and open for business again. 

After our tasting, we enjoyed lunch at downtown Oxbow Market which has a variety of food and desert choices and can be described as the Napa Ferry Building of foodie fun.

 For more information and to schedule an appointment go to: