holiday gift guide

2016 Wine Lover’s Holiday Gift Guide

It’s that time of year again! Time to wonder what to get the boozehound in your life… you know, the one who loves their wine, thinks craft beer is the only beer and loves a nip of an interesting liquor. Well have no fear, my holiday gift guide is sure to impress with the spirit of the holidays. (See what I did there? Spirit? Ha)

So without further ado, I bring you the 2016 Wine/Spirit Lover’s Holiday Gift Guide.

Flora Springs “Holiday Kisses” $57 

This gorgeous hand-etched bottle is home to a beautifully juicy cabernet blend, joining the flavors of Flora Springs’ estate vineyards. Bring it as a hostess gift to that holiday soiree or save it for the holiday table, but either way, enjoy both the beauty of the bottle and the wine within.

Holiday gift guide flora springs

 

California Classics

california wines holiday gift guide

 

This trio of California Classic wines features the 2014 Groth Chardonnay, 2014 Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel, and the 2012 Goldeneye Pinot Noir. Each of these wines is a standout on their own, but would make a great gift basket all together, especially to showcase the beautiful wine that California has to offer.

The 2014 Groth Chardonnay $30 is a well-balanced example of true California Chardonnay, aged in a mixture of old and new barrels, which gives it layers of complexity. Grab a bottle for your favorite white drinker or just sip while you contemplate all the holiday wrapping you have to do.

2014 Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel $32 – At this price point, you should be grabbing a bottle of this complex and spicy Old Vine Zin for everyone on your holiday gift list. Heck, forget the bottle, grab a case.

2012 Goldeneye Pinot Noir $58 – For a little more of a splurge, try this classic Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley. With help from the Mendocino Coast, this wine is the créme de la créme of the Goldeneye harvest and is a truly elegant gift for any Pinot lover.

Give a Little Gifft

With the influx of holiday parties, gift baskets to give and general merriment of the holiday season, it’s always nice to arrive a bottle in hand. The Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($75) is a beautiful wine, highly aromatic and the perfect gift for the discerning wine lover in your holiday gift giving lineup.

On the white side of things, the Gifft Pinot Grigio 2015 is full of lush tropical flavors, bright acidity and at $20 is an elegant choice to bring to any holiday party, to drink or for the hostess to save for herself.

Kosher Wines for Hannukah

Need to bring wine to a Hannukah celebration? Terrenal Wines are Kosher and non-mevushal, which means the wine is actually delicious. And available at Trader Joes for an amazing price point (under $10).

Grab a few bottles of the Cabernet Sauvignon or the red blend, excellent wines from Spain and enjoy the celebration of lights.

 

Get into the Holiday “Spirit”

Holiday gift guide Tequila Gin

Looking for a boozier option for your holiday gift? Look no further than G’Vine Gin ($34) or Blue Nectar Tequila ($60).

G’Vine Gin($34) is a modern-style French gin, infused with vine flowers and over 9 different botanicals to give it a smooth, herbaceous taste, with hints of juniper, cardamom and ginger.

Blue Nectar Tequila Reposado, Extra Blend ($60) is the cognac of tequilas. A sipping spirit for the true Tequila connoisseur,  Blue Nectar is silky smooth, with notes of vanilla and nutmeg and other holiday spices.

 

Trendsetting Spirits

 

Do you know someone who sports a beard? Wears flannel yet doesn’t work in forestry? You might have to buy a gift for a hipster. If that’s the case, try these super-interesting small batch spirits from Northern California.

No: 209 Barrel Reserve Gin ($47) is a gin with “wine country roots”. Aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels, this gin is spicy, with notes of toffee and caramel and is sure to impress the trendiest trendsetter in your life.

Re:Find [e] Vodka ($35) is another unique barrel aged spirit, but instead of wine barrels, this vodka is aged in whiskey barrels. This process creates a vodka that can be sipped like the finest whiskey. Unique? Totally. Trendsetting? Yes. Delicious? Absolutely.

The Party Pack

Butter Toast Jam Jam Cellars Holiday Gift Guide

Want to show up at your party with a party-pack? Look no further than Butter, Toast and JaM. This trio is not only adorable for gift-giving, but the wines are truly delicious. Butter ($16) is a true California Chardonnay with a creamy texture and an oaky, vanilla finish. JaM ($20), the red-head of the group, is %100 Cabernet and all plum, dark berries and vanilla. Toast ($25) is the party girl, toasty and effervescent with notes of peach and honeydew. This trio might sound good for breakfast, but is the perfect accompaniment to all of your holiday party/planning/gift giving needs.

Nibbles

crack'd toffee holiday gift guide

I’d love say that we have a product shot for this amazing toffee. But I ate it all. In like two seconds. The minute I opened the package.

So, with that in mind, if you have a sweet tooth, or know someone who does, Crack’d Toffee ($29) is the BEST present for them. It’s buttery and rich, with a variety of toppings, from white chocolate to dark. YUM.

Not to Drink, but Still Wine-Oriented

So what do you get the wine-lover that has all the wine? How about gorgeous art, boxes or even a dog dish made from wine crates? Check out our newest shop here on the site for the opportunity to buy some of these amazing pieces!

Not Boozy but Still Beautiful

Statement jewelry is still a must-buy for any time of year, especially the holidays. Pick one of these unique and gorgeous necklaces from Serendipity Sellers and the Ruth Schaffer Wave for a truly special gift for someone you love.

Ruth SChaffer - Blue Green Wave

 

Whether it’s a gift of classic Californian wines or classy art made from wine boxes, there’s something for everyone on this list. Even with only a week and a half until the big day.

 

Happy Holidays!

Get Your Tickets for Check Please Bay Area Taste & Sip Event April 26!

The Check Please Bay Area Taste & Sip is just a week away! Do you have your tickets yet? If not, what are you waiting for???

 

 

Tickets, as usual, are going VERY fast, but there’s still a chance to come hang out with me Tuesday, April 26th! Last year was a blast and this should be no different, so grab your tickets and come drink and eat with me while we enjoy live music performed by the gorgeously talented Tiffany Austin courtesy of SFJAZZ.

Tiffany Austin

 

selfie tands

It’s a gorgeous event at the San Francisco Design Center and we have great fun every year. Join me, take a selfie or two on the red carpet and eat and drink to your hearts content!

 

CPBA_TasteSipLockup_02-400x164

This year’s Taste & Sip celebrates some of the Bay Area’s most delicious restaurants, wineries and distilleries! 

Food from :

31st Union1300 on Fillmore, Aly’s on Main, Bacon Bacon, Baker Street Bistro, Bistro Liaison, Bistro Viz,Boboquivaris, Buddy’s Bites and Brews, Bull Valley Roadhouse, Camber Montclair & Camber Uptown, Canela Bistro & Wine Bar, Chop Bar – Oakland, Cole’s Chop House, Copita Tequileria y Comida, Cosecha, Davey Jones Deli: Inside the New Bait Shop, Della Santina’s Trattoria and Enoteca Della Santina, DOSAencuentro, Farallon, farmerbrown, Gamine, Green Chile Kitchen, Hana Japanese Restaurant, Hog Island Oyster Co., La Costanera Restaurant, La Mediterranee, Lers Ros, Los Moles, Lovejoy’s Tea Room, M.Y. China, Marnee Thai, Maykadeh Restaurant, Mescolanza Restaurant, Nick’s Crispy Tacos, Old Jerusalem Restaurant, Old Skool Café,Pappo, Paradiso Restaurant, Perbacco, Picán Restaurant, PICANTE, Plaj Restaurant, Poesia, Poggio Trattoria, Sapore Italiano Ristorante, Sauce,Trattoria La Siciliana and Zatar Restaurant and Catering

Wines From:

B.R. Cohn, Balverne Wines, Giesen Wines, Iron Horse Vineyards, J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, Jamieson Ranch Vineyards, Joseph Carr, Josh Cellars, Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Matua Wines, McEvoy Ranch, Napa Cellars, New Zealand Winegrowers, Pernod Ricard New Zealand, Robert Oatley , Sebright Cellars, Sonoma Coast Vineyards andViansa Sonoma

Spirits From:

Distillery No. 209 Gin and Redemption Rye

 

 

Ashton-Keefe

LEMON & SALT: A MODERN GIRL’S GUIDE TO CULINARY REVELRY – An Interview with Ashton Keefe

 

Ashton-KeefeIf you don’t know Ashton Keefe, you are MISSING OUT. A classically-trained chef who is passionate about all things food, she has spent years cooking, baking, teaching and inspiring people with her love of the culinary arts. Throughout her career she has worked with some of the most recognized chef-personalities in the world, Giada De Laurentiis, Guy Fieri and Curtis Stone to name a few.

I am personally lucky to count Ashton as a friend who came to me years ago as the editor of ThirstyGirl.com. Now I couldn’t be happier to announce the launch of her first cookbook, LEMON & SALT: A MODERN GIRL’S GUIDE TO CULINARY REVELRY. In honor of this incredible achievement, we sat down with her to ask a few questions about her life, her new book and her love of food and drink.

When did you decide that food and wine were going to be your passion?

There wasn’t a particular moment, it felt like it was always just going to be the plan. My family was big into food and I worked in the catering world throughout high school and college. The decision to become a chef vs. being in hospitality took some thought – but again, not much. I’m a big believer that if you don’t have a Plan B, you won’t use it. 

What was the inspiration for your cookbook?

The inspiration came from a pretty funny reason – I was tired of being everyone’s “chef” friend. I was noticing that not only my friends, but women in my classes loved great food but were intimidated or simply not cooking at home. When I think back to the “why” I got into food it was because of those meals at home, simple home cooking and entertaining. I wanted to teach that type of cuisine to a generation only used to eating out! 

Do you pick the wine or the food first when planning a menu with friends? 

I’d love to say one or the other but I think it depends on the friends. It sounds funny! In my mind the most important part of entertaining is serving what your guests want, even if it doesn’t technically pair well with what you’re serving. Any type of beverage that you want to drink with the meal is the drink that pairs best. It just is! When I cook at home for me, it often depends on what season it is. During the summer I gravitate towards lighter reds, rosés and whites to pair with grilled meats or vegetable forwards entrees. During the winter, I crave warm comforting and big reds. To keep me warm, obviously. 

Best advice you could give someone picking up your cookbook for the first time with no culinary experience?

In short … YOU CAN DO IT! Even if you make mistakes, there is always wine. Here are my tips for culinary revelry. http://www.ashtonkeefe.com/blog/the-countdown-begins-1-week-until-lemon-salt

What’s your go-to drink when you hit the bar? 

That’s like asking what’s my favorite food! I did train at the Leslie Sbrocco school of wine and beverages, so you can never go wrong with pink, bubbles or … pink bubbles. I also love a really cold beer and a great burger. 

***

Want to get your copy of LEMON & SALT: A MODERN GIRL’S GUIDE TO CULINARY REVELRY?

Lemon&Salt-Ashton-Keefe

Get your Digital Download – Lemon&Salt or Hard Copy Here!

Celebrated New York based chef and culinary instructor Ashton Keefe identifies and solves the problem: why aren’t millennial females foodies cooking? Tired of being everyone’s chef friend, Ashton found her girlfriends and students were talking, writing, blogging and eating food – but not cooking. Why weren’t they cooking? This isn’t your grandmother’s cookbook. 

Ashton teaches simple techniques used by chefs in home kitchens to help a generation of girls define their everyday celebrations (brunch, date night, tailgating) in a use-what-you-have mentality. Simple, well-prepared food is delicious because of two things: acid and salt. That’s all you need.  That, and maybe a glass of wine. 

50+ approachable recipes with minimal ingredients and equipment with pictures for each recipe. This book is durable enough to handle heavy use in the kitchen but pretty enough for a coffee table.

“Ashton Keefe’s recipes are not only delicious but super fun and accessible for any aspiring culinary enthusiast. “Lemon & Salt” is sure to become a kitchen staple for many!” – Lauren Bush Lauren, Found and CEO of FEED Projects

My Favorite Eateries of Check, Please! Bay Area’s Past Seasons

 

We start shooting the newest season of Check, Please! Bay Area in a few weeks so why not catch up on seasons past? Enjoy a walk down memory lane of great restaurants, a jewelry extravaganza, and my ever-changing hairstyles (some pretty bad hair days in those early seasons…ouch).

The hardest part of my job on the show is that I don’t get to give my opinion even though I visit many of the restaurants before shooting. I clench my teeth sometimes when I think the guests have it all wrong, but there’s nothing I can do!

So for the first time, I’ve highlighted my favorite eateries from each season. (BTW: These are only chosen from the restaurants I’ve personally eaten at.) Let me know your thoughts.

Season 9

King of Falafel (SF), Hana (Rohnert Park), 20 Spot (SF), Murray Circle (Sausalito), Old Jerusalem (SF), Maykadeh (SF).

*This is my favorite season for the wine tips series. Don’t miss my tango ode to Argentina and a battle of Spanish wines.

Season 8

Copita (Sausalito), Live Sushi (SF), Bistro Vis à Vis (Greenbrae), Poesia (San Francisco), Willi’s Wine Bar (Santa Rosa), SPQR (San Francisco), Zare at Fly Trap (San Francisco)

Season 7

Park Tavern (San Francisco), Outerlands (SF),  Wexler’s (SF), Big 4 Restaurant (SF), 1300 on Fillmore (SF), Hillstone (SF)

Season 6

DOSA on Fillmore (SF), the girl & the fig (Sonoma), Paxti’s Pizza (SF), Risibisi (Petaluma), The Elite Cafe (SF)

Season 5

Panama Hotel (Marin), La Ciccia (SF), Butterfly (SF), Marnee Thai (SF), Farina Focaccia & Cucina Italiana (SF), Brown Sugar Kitchen (Oakland), Saha (SF)

Season 4

Mustard’s Grill (Yountville), Acquerello (SF), Poggio (Sausalito), Coco500 (SF)

Season 3

DaFlora (SF), NOPA (SF), Stella Alpina Osteria (Burlingame), The Slanted Door (SF)

Season 2

B44 (SF), La Folie (SF), La Forêt (San Jose), Sociale (SF), Buckeye Roadhouse (Marin)

Season 1

The start of it all! Kokkari Estiatorio (SF), The House (SF), Limon (SF)