If you’ve ever worked with me before, you know that I’m passionate about the fruition of your heavenly culinary visions.  Well, the buck doesn’t stop here.  Passion courses through my veins for a great many things.  Here’s a list of five things I’m crazy for lately, inspired by my clients.  Agree, disagree, discuss? Yes, let’s!

  1.  Pop-Up Shops
    Ah, the Pop-Up…  the perfect place for visionaries to hone their delivery of niche goods.  (I love niche markets, in case you hadn’t noticed!)  One of my favorites is Umami Mart in Old Oakland.  From humble beginnings as a blog, Umami Mart opened in 2012 as a marketplace of Japanese bar & kitchenware.  Each piece is a divine blend of function and design, and I am thrilled to see what fabulous Yoko Kumano + Kayoko Akabori curate with each new shipment. I hope to see you next Tuesday the 25th at the Party of the Year opening of their new U-Mart combini, a mini Japanese-style convenient market!
  2. Demystifying Wine & Cocktails
    The spirits scene can get terribly pretentious, and sometimes simplifying the ins-and-outs of this industry can be a most elegant innovation.  Bluxome Street Winery is a veritable treasure chest of wine education, and in such an approachable way.  One of their most unique options is to purchase ‘by the barrel’, allowing hobbyists and other non-pro winemakers to take a legitimate stab at wine-making.  They provide the grapes and pressing, and you take part in the tasting and labeling process.  The final product is a barrel of your own label, bottled to your liking (and certainly an unforgettable experience).  Look forward to a special blend from your favorite ABC consultant one of these days (probably a peppery Zinfandel style).  Also, don’t miss their Friday Night Summer Music & Food Truck Series, which is as simply delightful as it sounds and more.
  3. Replacing OR with AND
    It used to be that you could go see great music OR eat & drink proper.  Thankfully, this is no longer the rule as venues and restaurants step up their game on both fronts.  Phil Lesh, yes that one, is having tremendous success at San Rafael’s Terrapin Crossroads, a venue with excellent food reviews and the stuff of music legend.    They offer a well-rounded menu and brunch offering.  Also improving on the typical venue experience, the boys at Monarch SF are consistently upgrading the space and providing an excellent craft cocktail program in an otherwise questionable neighborhood to hang out after dark, which brings me to my next favorite thing:
  4. Good Food in Bad Hoods
    Monarch does this particularly well, in bringing a good thing to a bad neighborhood without conveying an ignorance or delusion about the reality of these areas and their residents.  Other clients of mine have had great success in similar environments, namely West Oakland champion & media darling Tanya Holland of Brown Sugar Kitchen and now the absolutely delicious B-Side BBQ on San Pablo in West Oakland.  Chef Daniel Patterson has led the transformation of a main drag of Broadway in Uptown Oakland with the opening of Plum in 2010 and a Market Street neighborhood spot in Soma/Tenderloin of SF slated to open its doors this fall.
  5. Food Trucks
    I give much credit to the brick-and-mortar establishments, but in my mind the next culinary wave is going mobile.  (Bluxome Street Winery’s Friday night events bring together rotating food trucks and wine pairing from their stock.) I’m especially enthralled as the city and restaurateurs scramble to figure out how to license these premises for alcohol sales.  The possibilities are incredible… we can already enjoy beer, wine, or a rum n’ coke on the the Blue & Gold Fleet ferries, Amtrak cafe cars, or the ever-classy mini airline bottles.  Mix the food & bar industry’s obsession with quality and innovation with the proper vehicle (literally!) and I think we’ll see a revolution of culinary experience.
    Because the one thing that we can count on California chefs and restaurateurs for is innovation, that essential ingredient to succeeding out here in the wild west. And the dynamic industry provides a richness to life that I just wouldn’t want to live without.

Thanks for reading, my darlings. And please join me next time as I interview the San Francisco ABC District Administrator, Justin Gebb and hear a rarely given ABC perspective on alcohol beverage licensing as we know it. This is a must read!