November 19, 2012
August 16, 2012
After traveling, tasting and judging, the culinary experts at Bon Appetit have announced their picks for "The Hot 10: America's Best New Restaurants." Two of them are in California.
Taking the No. 1 spot is State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, co-owned by husband-wife Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski.
The small plates "arrive on either a dim sum-like trolly or a tray," says the Bon Appetit review. "Each dish is identified with a price: whipped smoked trout with croutons and peas, $5; duck neck dumplings, $6; crispy kimchi pork belly in a broth with clams and tofu, $8."
The California state bird is the quail, and State Bird Provisions has an interpretation of it: "Dusted in pumpkin seeds and breadcrumbs, deep-fried, and served with onion jam and Parmigiano-Reggiano."
We called the restaurant, but no one picked up. However, Bon Appetit quoted Brioza: "Eating should be fun. We want to throw a sense of adventure into the dining experience."
State Bird Provisions is at 1529 Fillmore St.; (415) 795-1272, www.statebirdsf.com.
Recipes and reviews accompany each pick at www.bonappetit.com.
The nine other winners are, from No. 2 to No. 10:
Blanca in Brooklyn
Battersby in Brooklyn
Luce in Portland
Catbird Seat in Nashville
Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis
Little Serow in Washington, D.C.
Oxheart in Houston
Baco Mercat in Los Angeles
Cakes & Ale in Decatur, Ga.
The eye-opening check at the end of the meal seems not to be an obstacle for high-rolling foodies with a penchant for high-end restaurants.
Now the online Daily Meal - which reports on all things food and drink - has compiled its list of "The 25 Most Expensive Restaurants in America." Nine of them are in California, named here according to their rankings. Not surprisingly, most hold Michelin stars.
The No. 1 spot goes to Masa in New York City, where the average check is $1,269.
April 26, 2012
Some whisky isn't just whisky. Over the past 20 years or so, fine bourbons have become the American versions of French cognacs. Imbibers of high-end bourbons have been advised to sip them slowly, savoring their complex characteristics.
Kentucky is the birthplace of bourbon, declared by Congress in 1964 as "America's only native spirit." As much as bourbon connoisseurs love the fiery, amber-colored liquid, it's not likely that many of them will make the pilgrimage to Kentucky's bourbon country to tour the distilleries.
Perhaps the next best thing is "The Kentucky Bourbon Experience: A Visual Tour of Kentucky's Bourbon Distilleries," with informative text and dramatic photographs by Leon Howlett (Acclaim, $39.95, 192 pages).
Inside, we tour eight bourbon distilleries and get to know their heritages and bourbon-making techniques. Professional photographer Howlett adds drama with striking photos of the countryside surrounding the distilleries. This is a fine visual cocktail.
The bourbon-makers covered in the book are Barton, Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Heaven Hill, Jim Beam, Maker's Mark, Wild Turkey and Woodford Reserve. Cheers.
More information: www.bourbonexperience.com.
Columnist Marilyn Hagerty's quaint review of the new-to-her-town Olive Garden restaurant in the March 7 edition of the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota caused a firestorm across cyberspace (www.grandforksherald.com).
Those observers with not enough to do were quick to show how clever they are by parodying the 85-year-old reporter's straightforward assessment of the restaurant, one of 750 franchises in the national chain.
The negative viral response to her review served to partially pull back the curtain and reveal some of the insular arrogance infused within the national sideshow of uncredentialed culinary snobbery
Then a legion of her defenders (including "No Reservations" host Anthony Bourdain) stepped up, calling Hagerty's review a refreshing reality check. .
Hagerty became an instant celebrity, her review a hot topic. She made the rounds of TV talk shows and was treated to a whirlwind dining tour of New York City. Her casual lunch at a hot dog stand there was duly covered by the New York Times. Still, Hagerty says she remains puzzled over all the fuss.
We took a cue from her review and dropped in on the Olive Garden in Folsom, sort of an "in the footsteps of Marilyn Hagerty" dining adventure.