perks for your palate.


CUESA (credit: Amanda Lynn)


La Cocina

On the Blackboard: March 21

By Trevor Felch

Spring is here—time get out and enjoy the exciting and delicious offerings that are arriving with the warmer weather. The next few weeks are full of celebrations, from Passover to Earth Day to the Hindu Holi festival, so whether you’re a cheese fan, a wine taster, or a late-night happy hour owl, you have something to look forward to. Welcome the sunshine and springtime with these seven events and specials around San Francisco.

La Cocina’s F&B: Voices from the Kitchen
On Friday, April 7, the city’s non-profit female food business incubator is holding its spring edition of this twice-yearly evening of bites, cocktails, and discussion sharing the less-often heard voices and stories from communities of color, immigrant communities, and women in the restaurant industry. This installment's theme will examine race through the lens of food, from the Black Panthers Free Breakfast program to the racial meaning of the ubiquitous Chinese chicken salad. The $50 event is held at the Castro’s Swedish American Hall, and the cocktails and eats come from chefs such as Traci Des Jardins and Ryan Pollnow (Aatxe).
Neighborhood: Duboce Triangle MAP

Black Cat’s late-night happy hour
This popular cocktail spot/supper club/jazz lounge in the Tenderloin has a new chef—Alicia Jenish-Mc Carron, formerly at Grand Café and Kitchit—and a new late-night happy hour that’s welcome addition for jazz fans and night owls alike. Until 1 a.m., you can snack on steak tartare, smoked trout, and caviar toast; this is definitely not your normal greasy midnight grub. Black Cat also has one of the leading under-the-radar wine lists in the city, and several bottles of bubbles are half-off after 11 p.m.. A celebratory addition to a night of jazz—let’s toast to that.
Neighborhood: Tenderloin MAP

One Market

Tonya’s Flight of the Month at One Market
Can’t choose which glass or bottle to order from master sommelier Tonya Pitts’ list at this Embarcadero fine dining stalwart? We don’t blame you. It can be overwhelming—in a delightful way. That’s why Pitts came up with her wine flight concept, which changes each month. With three half-glasses for $20, it’s a great way to explore different wine subjects, and a great value, too. Right now the flight includes a rare sparkling sauvignon blanc, a Müller Thurgau (similar to Riesling) from Italy instead of the usual Germany, and a cinsault from the barely-known Itata region of Chile. If you’d like to sample the recommended dishes with each wine, pairings are available, too (for an additional price).
Neighborhood: Embarcadero MAP

A Toast to Science: CUESA’s Spring Cocktails of the Farmers Market
Cocktail making is an art—and it involves lots of science. On Wednesday, April 19, the Ferry Building’s Grand Hall becomes a cocktail discovery lab with unlimited sample-size drinks and three full-size cocktails made by a who’s-who list of city bartenders (from 15 Romolo, Flores, Whitechapel, and many more). The science theme ties in with Earth Day celebrations and CUESA’s emphasis on sustainable and seasonal produce. Hors d’oeuvres also stick to the science theme, with bites by notable restaurants such as Belga, Dosa, and Marla Bakery. Tickets are $55 for early birds and $60 for general admission.
Neighborhood: Embarcadero MAP

August 1 Five

Holi celebrations at August 1 Five
The Civic Center area’s popular contemporary Indian restaurant may only be four months old, but it’s ready to celebrate its first Holi, the Hindu spring festival of colors. From now through April 13, diners can sample some very colorful holiday-specific dishes and cocktails that are literally a kaleidoscope on plates and in glasses. Enjoy dahi bhalla, a fermented black lentils, tamarind and beet dish, with the rum-based Purple Kush cocktail, tying together pineapple, cinnamon, and—as probably a first for a drink in SF—butterfly pea flower.
Neighborhood: Civic Center MAP

A weekend of cheese at the California Cheese Festival
A weekend devoted to all things cheese—what could be better? Now in its eleventh year, the state’s marquee cheese festival at Petaluma’s Sheraton Sonoma County is bigger and better than ever. Spanning three days, the events range from elaborate wine and cheese pairing dinners to educational seminars and tastings. The main event on Sunday, March 26 is the Artisan Cheese Tasting and Marketplace, where $45 provides access to over 90 small-batch producers of cheese, cider, beer, wine, and other specialty foods. And if you ever wondered whether gin or whiskey goes better with bleu cheese, check out the new $40 Cheese & Cocktails tasting on Saturday, March 25 featuring local small-batch distilleries pairing their cocktails with local cheeses.
Neighborhood: Petaluma MAP

Comal’s fifth annual Passover dinners
Berkeley’s always-packed mid-scale Mexican restaurant once again is offering executive chef Matt Gandin’s unique take on Passover seder in the private dining room. On Monday April 10 and Tuesday April 11, enjoy the multi-course $80 menu (including service charge but not drinks) served family-style starting at 6:30 p.m.. Start with rock cod “gefilte” fish cakes and lamb barbacoa quesadillas before digging into beef brisket in adobo and a fun take on matzo ball-chicken soup with jalapeño motzo balls. Of course, a margarita or two are all but mandatory to complete this special dinner.
Neighborhood: Berkeley MAP

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