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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Manos Nouveau Is the Castro's Most Upscale Brunch

Posted By on Thu, Jul 2, 2015 at 2:30 PM

Grilled salmon - PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
  • Grilled salmon

After taking over the space that Pica Pica vacated last year, Manos Nouveau in the Castro has quickly established itself as one of the better higher-end establishments in a neighborhood that’s been on a sustained rampage with better dining options over the last two years. Chef Gualberto Nic Camara and Sous Chef Francisco Morales churn out consistently excellent Central and South American food prepared with French techniques, and they manage to do so in a weird location next to a gas station on a quasi-dead-end block that sees a precipitous drop-off in foot traffic from nearby Castro and Market Streets.

And now there’s brunch.

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Care For Some Guacamole, Guv'nor?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 2, 2015 at 11:20 AM


Unless you didn't go on the internet at all yesterday, you heard about the kerfuffle caused by a New York Times tweet that offered an unusual addition to a California staple. I'm talking about Guacamolegate, or more specifically, Peacamolegate. It's not nearly as offensive as Donald Trump's remarks about Mexicans, but coming from the same publication that endorses monocles and electronic bidets, it's another in a long line of culturally tone-deaf face-slappers.

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More Coffee Options to Come to CUESA Markets

Posted By on Thu, Jul 2, 2015 at 9:27 AM

Highwire Coffee's "The Core" espresso beans. - HIGHWIRE COFFEE
  • Highwire Coffee
  • Highwire Coffee's "The Core" espresso beans.

For the last few weeks, caffeine junkies have been fighting long coffee lines at CUESA’s popular Saturday Farmers Market. The departure of Blue Bottle’s two outside stalls has left a void, leaving only the single Sightglass Coffee cart to feed the herds of zombie-like morning market visitors. However, all that will be changing this week. Huzzah!

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Crafty Fox Replaces the Former Woodward's Garden

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 5:00 PM

  • Barry Smyth

In the space formerly occupied by Woodward’s Garden comes the Crafty Fox Ale House, a warm and wood-filled space that expects to have 36 rotating beers on tap by the time the doors open, along with four California wines. (That’s eight workweek’s worth of happy hours on the first rotation, right there.) Fieldwork, Altamont, Firestone, Triple Rock, Berryessa, Henhouse, Track 7, Magnolia, Boulevard, and Almanac are just a few of the breweries that’ll be there — and when it’s warm enough, you can drink them in the outdoor beer garden.

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Don't Panic: Bender's Is Not Losing Its Tots!

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 12:45 PM

  • Rebekah T./Yelp

Giordano Bros.' North Beach location is shuttering, which means that the French fry-stuffed sandwiches will soon be available only in the Mission shop. Elsewhere in the Mission, another starchy, potato-based emergency was averted when, as Uptown Almanac reports, Bender's is keeping its tater tots in spite of losing its chef and getting a new menu. The pieces fall into place tonight, for Whiskey Wednesday.

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Trending: Wine-Barrel Finished Whiskies

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2015 at 8:00 AM

Hooker's House Sonoma Style Bourbon - BRAD JAPHE
  • Brad Japhe
  • Hooker's House Sonoma Style Bourbon

'Straight' bourbons and ryes are among the most tightly regulated spirits on the planet. To carry the term on the label, the juice inside can't contain any additives or coloring, and it must be produced from grain consisting mostly of either corn or rye, come off the still and go into the barrel and the bottle at specific proof points, and be aged for no less than two years in previously unused American white oak. With all of these stringent guidelines, you'd think there would be very little wiggle room to play with flavor. Innovative distillers have found a way. It involves finishing their whiskey in all sorts of notable wine barrels. Examine the shelves at the local bottle shop and it's plain to see, the movement is gaining momentum. 

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Eat This: Dragon Beaux's Duck Burrito

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2015 at 2:10 PM

Duck burrito - MARY LADD
  • Mary Ladd
  • Duck burrito

Dim sum all day is one reason to check out Dragon Beaux, the newish San Francisco lovechild of the Koi Palace & M.Y. China restaurant empires. Of the scores of items, heed the call of the duck burrito — even if technically this offering is more of a roll versus an actual burrito by California standards.

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Speakeasy Debuts Baby Daddy IPA at Its 18th Anniversary Party

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2015 at 2:00 PM


San Francisco’s Speakeasy Ales & Lagers isn’t quite old enough to drink yet, but after 18 years, it’s definitely smoking. To celebrate its 18th Anniversary, Speakeasy has released the delicious new Baby Daddy Session IPA, which packs some serious citrus and pine hop aroma and flavor into a very drinkable 4.7% ABV beer. Not only does it taste great, it’s available in a very nicely designed can that is beach- and park-ready.

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TONIGHT: A Mexican Pop-Up at Wing Wings, with Richie Nakano

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2015 at 11:00 AM

  • The Bold Italic

Wing Wings is known for hosting Tuesday night pop-ups with terrific stuff, such as Richie Nakano’s original Hapa Ramen and all the fried Irish things at Gillian Fitzgerald’s Fish & Chips. In that vein, tonight only, Nakano will return to the Lower Haight wingatorium for a Mexican evening of chimichangas, sangria, and a 6.33 layer dip.

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When Is A Rare Bourbon Worth The Price of Admission?

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2015 at 8:00 AM

Knob Creek's 2015 Belmont Stakes Commemorative Release - BRAD JAPHE
  • Brad Japhe
  • Knob Creek's 2015 Belmont Stakes Commemorative Release

Threats of an impending bourbon shortage hang like a dark cloud over the whiskey world. Consumers have yet to see evidence of a dwindling supply, however. Quite the contrary, in fact; bottle shops seem to dedicate increasing swaths of real estate to America's native spirit. Considering the time and space necessary for proper barrel-aging, it's nothing short of a small miracle that many exceptionally crafted bourbons of the day retail for well under $40. Then, of course, there are those that command more than 10 times that price. Are they necessarily 10 times better, or is the bottle just ten times prettier? Here are some factors to take into consideration before investing in a premium or potentially rare bourbon to add to your liquor cabinet.

Be mindful of hype. At this point, virtually every whiskey drinker is aware of Pappy Van Winkle and how impossible it is to obtain. Bottles of the 23-year expression can be found online for $200 — empty bottles. If you want a filled one, good luck. You'll need about $4000 and a prayer. But the very same whiskey retailed for $150 just six short years ago. The only thing that's changed since then is that Anthony Bourdain called it the best whiskey on the planet, and irrational hype snowballed from there. Even the younger varieties, like Lot B — aged for 12 years — can fetch $500 at your local liquor shop. As has been well-documented, it's pretty much the same exact juice as W.L Weller 12 Year — a bourbon made at the same distillery, aged for the same number of years in the same exact warehouse. When consumers caught wind of this, the Weller doubled from $50 to $100 a bottle, seemingly overnight. It's still a relative bargain. And probably a smart investment, as it is now tangentially connected to so-called Pappy Mania.

#nofilter - BRAD JAPHE
  • Brad Japhe
  • #nofilter

Age plays a role
in price, of course. But most casual drinkers fail to realize that older isn't always better. The 'sweet spot' for bourbon is commonly accepted to be in the 10-15 year range. Anything older than that risks taking in too much flavor from the oak in which it rests, drowning out the gentler notes of the grain that went into the whiskey itself. Sorry Pappy 23 lovers, but most bourbon distillers would prefer a younger, and far cheaper alternative. 

Limited bottlings can be a smart move for collectors and connoisseurs, alike. Take, for example, Knob Creek's 2015 Belmont Stakes commemorative release. This one-off was on the shelves for a few weeks with a label that will never be reproduced. The juice inside is exactly the same as regular, everyday Knob Creek bourbon. It's a sensationally complex, 9-year-old whiskey well deserving of its $35 price tag. After American Pharaoh won the Triple Crown, bottles of the special release flew off the shelves. Unopened, it's value is likely to increase greatly as a collector's item. Here, though, as is so often the case in high-end spirits, the bottle is more important the juice itself.

Rip Van Winkle Whiskies at Buffalo Trace Distillery - Frankfort, KY - BRAD JAPHE
  • Brad Japhe
  • Rip Van Winkle Whiskies at Buffalo Trace Distillery - Frankfort, KY

If you truly enjoy what's in the bottle, scarcity of supply should be your primary concern. Sometimes a shortage is artificially manufactured, to drive up demand, but other times, a stash of exclusive barrels is "uncovered" in the back of a rickhouse, allowing enthusiasts to obtain an old expression that, once depleted, will never be available again. Such is the case with Blade and Bow 22-Year. It slept for over two decades in Louisville's now-defunct Stitzel-Weller Distillery. Although no new whiskey has been created there since the early '90s, it has served as an operational barrelhouse ever since. It wasn't until recently that they opted to release some of their oldest remaining stock, from which came the undeniably clean, vanilla-rich, Blade and Bow 22. It's already been named "Best Straight [aged two years or more] Bourbon" at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, earlier this year. If you have your eyes set on the elusive Pappy 23, a $179 bottle of 22-year-old Blade and Bow is a sensible — and far more attainable — alternative. The former, although in severely limited quantity, is still released every autumn, the latter is a one shot deal. Imagine how it might be valued once it's gone for good?

As it's appeal continues to broaden amongst the general population, all bourbons potentially run the risk of becoming scarce. So you might as well appreciate your $30 bottles while they last. You can also do your part to stave off disaster: discourage your vodka-drinking friends from ever sampling the brown stuff.

Wild Turkey Rickhouse - BRAD JAPHE
  • Brad Japhe
  • Wild Turkey Rickhouse

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