Gone with the Wine


The recap of my San Fran trip continues….


….in wine country! Matt and I got on the road nice and early on Friday and made it to the Russian River Valley around 11. Our first stop was a small, family owned winery called Arista.


Arista was definitely my favorite winery of the day because of the Japanese-inspired gardens and the spicy Zinfandel.

We also made a quick stop at De La Montanya for some funky red blends and great conversation, before heading south to Kendall Jackson.


At KJ, Chef Matt led us through a three course food-wine pairing that included seven tastes of reserve wines and farm fresh food.

The first two pairings were white wines – a very neutral chardonnay with a salmon, cheese, and artichoke cake and a buttery chardonnay with a crab and pumpkin bisque. I don’t love chards, but the flavors all went perfectly together. I was surprised to see pumpkin on the menu, but Chef Matt explained that it has been unseasonably cold in Sonoma and the pumpkins have been perfectly preserved.

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The second course was by far my favorite because all the tastes involved perfectly cooked meats and tasty reds. We tried a buckwheat crepe with smoked harm and local Carmody cheese, a sweet tea brined pork belly slider with picked cucumbers and Syrah hoisin sauce, and braised oxtail over North Carolina (!) grits.

The pork belly slider was PERFECT, def. my favorite of the meats. My favorite of the wines was the Trace Ridge Cab that was paired with the oxtail.


I was pumped that the tasting included dessert wines because I really love them, but I rarely order them in restaurants. The Late Harvest Riesling was paired with an apricot + pecan tart with a meyer lemon sauce. Loved the Reising, but I would have enjoyed the tart more if it had been warm. This homemade caramel corn popcorn was paired with the Late Harvest Chardonnay. I thought popcorn was a bit of a boring choice…until the first crunch. It was covered in really sticky and thick caramel and was so good with the less-sugary chardonnay.

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This was such a sweet ending to an amazing tasting. It looks like someone else has been doing a little tasting – Jack the cat is a bit overweight:)

We made one last stop at Ledson on our way back to the city. Though I was impressed by the beautiful grounds and castle-like structure, I didn’t think the wines were as good as some of the others. We did get to taste a tawny port that was fantastic.

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Once back in the city, we met up with my college friend, Emily, and took a nap in her gorgeous condo before getting a second wind for tacos at the fabulous Tacolicious.

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San Francisco just gets better and better – everything we had was great, from the unique margaritas to the grilled plantains to the fun dipping sauces that arrived with our THREE DOLLAR fifty cent tacos.
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I had a local fried cod and a potato + chorizo taco. Have I mentioned I love everything in the Mexican food genre?
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And because it was Friday, we made one last stop at the cutest pub, the Tipsy Pig, for a brilliant combination of bourbon, apricot-riesling jam (!!), bitters, brandied cherries, and blood orange juice. Who thinks of this stuff? Yum.
It’s back to work in the AM, but I’ve got one more recap of my last day in the city of food coming tomorrow.
Anyone watch the Oscars?
  • Kath
    February 27, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    I feel like I’m reading my own blog during Foodbuzz week – KJ, Arista, Tacolicious! Better make your travel plans now!

    • Laura
      February 27, 2011 at 10:04 pm

      You went to Tacolicious??? We only found it because it was the only place without a wait!

  • Mom
    February 28, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Great photos. Love the handsome kitty!