Virginia Miller

Pläj

Traditional Swedish dishes interpreted with a fresh regional spin

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE The world has become hooked on New Nordic cuisine in recent years, thanks to Copenhagen's Noma, often referred to as the world's best restaurant for three years straight, sparking a global interest in all things Scandinavian and a new generation of chefs.Read more »

Appetite: Under the stars in Guerneville

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Amid towering redwoods, summer heat, and parties along the Russian River is the small town of Guerneville, one of Sonoma’s most unique towns, with its vibrant gay community, laid back river culture, and haunting redwood state park. On a recent idyllic summer weekend, barbecues and live, twanging bands added color to the bustling main street.

Foodies have a destination cafe-restaurant in Guerneville's Big Bottom Market, which was opened last summer by co-owners Michael Volpatt and Crista Luedtke (the latter owns neighboring boon hotel + spa and boon eat + drink restaurant). Read more »

Korean commotion

Kimchee, Tang, porno posters, and awesome flavors -- we're happy to ride the wave of new Korean spots

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE The nation's on a kimchi kick. Truth be told, California has long been home to some of the country's densest Asian populations, so here in the Bay Korean cuisine is at a crossroads — is it a staple? Exotic novelty? With the help of a few new openings, the answer may be shifting. Despite a smattering of Korean BBQ joints in SF and a concentrated Korean population in Oakland, it hasn't been until the last few years that I've witnessed local Korean eateries offering much beyond barbecue.Read more »

Cocktales

Notes from the Oscars of beveraging

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virginia@sfbg.com

FOOD AND DRINK It was another humid, sweltering year at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. The world's biggest cocktail event drew thousands of attendees July 25-29 for a week of nonstop tastings, seminars, and parties in the great queen of the South.Read more »

Appetite: Southern taste adventures in Louisville, KY

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Kentucky: land of bourbon, the Derby and Mint Juleps. I’m ever delighted to return to the South, although I’m connected to some areas more than others (ah, New Orleans, my love). I recently spent a week in Louisville, on the judging panel for ADI’s (American Distilling Institute) annual awards. It was an honor to judge with key spirits and cocktail industry folk, spending days tasting (blind, of course) through the latest in a broad range of small US craft spirits – winners here.

In my off time, I roamed Louisville, from downtown to Bardstown Road. Louisville is a small city, not exactly visually beautiful or dense like other US cities, but its distinctly Kentuckian treasures do unfold. The historic Brown Hotel was my home base, its player piano welcoming me with strains of Gershwin and old world elegance in the beautiful lobby.

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Maverick

The seven-year-old favorite's New Southern cuisine improves with age (and a new chef).

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE Opened on July 13 way back in 2005, Maverick is a longtimer by modern day restaurant standards. I'd posit that it's better than ever with new executive chef Emmanual Eng, brought on last year by owners Scott Youkilis and Michael Pierce (who is also the general manager and wine director). In contrast to its more casual, younger sister Hog and Rocks, Maverick's food has grown more sophisticated and focused over the years.Read more »

Double visions

Inspired pairings: a recent spate of star chef collabs yielded gorgeous dishes

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Appetite: Bar talent and rare bourbon barrels on 16th Street

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Sixteenth Street between Valencia and Guerrero in SF is packed with good food and longtime dive bars. As classic cocktail dens and mixology menus are the norm rather than the exception in this town, it’s easy to forget that some of our great ‘tenders continue to serve the quality drinks we crave without fuss. On this stretch of 16th, there are two spots in particular that have a lot going for them, including cocktail talent.

As with any bar, who is tending makes a difference and these gifted few craft their own robust creations while nailing down boozy classics. Chat them up about what they’re working on lately or ask for one of these recent pleasures, including a rare, single barrel bourbon collection.

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Appetite: Sipping caramel, tasting pastry breadth at Craftsman and Wolves

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Media hype has been fierce for pastry chef and owner William Werner’s new Craftsman and Wolves, a unique Mission bakery-cafe-patisserie for creative baked goods and sweets, changing sandwiches and salads, Sightglass Coffee, Naivetea, crave-inducing Valrhona drinking chocolate and (you’re hearing right) dreamy, sippable caramel made with salted butter and mini-croissant crostini to dunk.

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Fresh slices

Gioia, Bakeworks, Del Popolo, Nick's Pizza ... a survey of hot new pizza parlors 

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virginia@sfbg.com

APPETITE San Francisco is obsessed with pizza (particularly the Neapolitan kind). A recent indulgent survey of pie joints took me from Oakland's recently opened Nick's Pizza (www.oaklandstylepizza.com) — the highlight there actually being local Temescal Kombucha in jars — to brand new Bakeworks in Hayes Valley (www.bakeworkssf.com), with its potato quinoa crust pizzas. Big kudos for the Bakeworks business model: providing employment and training to those at risk or with disabilities.Read more »