Bay Area Bubbles: Wrapping it up at Roerderer Estate

Categories: Road Trip, Wine

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Lou Bustamante
The last in the series of Bay Area Bubbles wraps up at another one of my favorite places: Roerderer Estates.

My first introduction to Roerderer Estate came at a time when I was looking for a good local bubbly that I enjoyed by itself, but also came at a price where I wouldn't feel bad about mixing it into a French 75. This search led me to their Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut, a multi-vintage sparkling wine made from estate grown pinot noir (40%) and chardonnay (60%) in the cool Mendocino climate. Much like in the Russian River Valley and Carneros region, the proximity to the ocean provides the cool nights provide optimal conditions for the grapes. And at about $20 a bottle, aged en tirage for a two years, and made in the same style as the parent company Champagne Louis Roederer in France, it's a total deal.

See also: Bay Area Bubbles: From Rubble to Bubbles at J Vineyards
Bay Area Bubbles: Scharffenberger Cellars
Bay Area Bubbles: Mumm's Tour and Oak Terrace Make It Worth a Visit

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Brew Tour: Let's All Go to Chico and Have Ourselves a Sierra Nevada

Categories: Beer, Road Trip

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Pete Kane
Once it runs out, DevESTATEtion will likely never return, unless Mother Nature wreaks havoc on Sierra Nevada's barley again.
We've all been on tours that go south. Sometimes the docent is an up-talker with stale jokes who can't handle a follow-up question, and you learn only after you've already paid that the good part is closed for renovations, and you're just bored out of your skull. Or you fell in the chocolate river only to have moralizing Oompa-Loompahs chronicle your misdeed in song.

Short of the Sistine Chapel or Angkor Wat, the Sierra Nevada Brewery tour is one of the best -- and it's free! (The 90-minute Brewhouse Tour, that is. A separate, "Beer Geek" tour runs for three hours and costs $25.) If you've got a hankering to get out of the city for a day or a weekend, Chico, Calif. is stunning in its autumnal splendor, and this particular fall happens to be a great season at America's second-largest craft brewery.

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The Evolution of Mission Chinese Food's New York Counterpart

Categories: Palmer, Road Trip

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Tamara Palmer
Inside Mission Chinese Food's Manhattan location.
Not that we're a total Mission Chinese Food groupie or anything, but when the restaurant opened a second restaurant on the Lower East Side of Manhattan last May, we were literally the first customer through the door. It opened with about 80% of the same menu items as what can be found in San Francisco, but a fresh visit almost a year later finds the East Coast counterpart working toward defining its own identity.

See also: In Praise of the Peas at Mission Chinese


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It's Not Too Late To Book a Chef's Holiday Dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite

Categories: Road Trip

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Kenny Karst
How can you not want to go to The Ahwahnee in winter?
Itching for a snow outing with magnificent views of Half Dome, Glacier Point and Yosemite Falls ... and an easy drive? Consider Yosemite instead of the usual Tahoe run. Hotel options can be Pricelined as low as $65 a night in neighboring Mariposa or you can pretend you are in your own personal Downton Abbey and stay at the more cushy Ahwahnee Hotel, which has hosted dignitaries since opening in 1925. The Yosemite area is snowy and beautiful right now, and on a New Years Eve visit, we were pleasantly surprised to find the park was light on other guests -- minus multiple deer and fox sightings.

See also:
- Top Chefs and Restaurants Come Together for Two Charitable Events

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Maker's Mark Pilgrimage: 24 Hours in Louisville, Kentucky

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Lou Bustamante
The story of how I got into spirits begins with bourbon in the 1990's. I had wanted to learn more about wine, but found the commitment to drink a bottle and the expense a significant barrier for a lone bachelor. A friend of mine had discovered whiskey and insisted I give it a try, and bought me a bottle of Maker's Mark. I loved its sweet flavors (from the wheat) and the fact that opening a bottle didn't require having to finish it to enjoy it at its peak. I had never made the pilgrimage to Louisville, so when Marker's Mark invited me to fly out and visit the distillery for a quick trip, I couldn't say no.

See Also:
- Picán Royale Bourbon Society Kicks Off
- Cyrus Noble Bourbon Returns to San Francisco
- Fifth Floor's Deal for the Masses: Burger, Bourbon, and Beer

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Mendocino Beer, Wine & Mushroom Festival Starts Today

Categories: Palmer, Road Trip

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Flickr/CaliforniaTravelExpert
Mendocino Beer, Wine & Mushroom Festival

Where: Locations throughout Mendocino County (check here for full festival schedule)
When: Nov. 2-11
Cost: Varies, but many events are free

The rundown: If you're considering a road trip up to Mendocino County, consider going in the next week and a half during this annual celebration of fungi and light alcoholism. Wineries, brewpubs, and other businesses in the area have planned a plethora of events to consider. Activity levels range from passively drinking and tasting (several events) to paddling a kayak for three-hours to look for mushrooms (Nov. 3).

See Also:
- Shroomin': 10 Facts About the Strange World of Mushrooms

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Love Apple Farms Offers Workshops for Kitchen and Garden -- and a Great Day Away

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Love Apple Farms
Love Apple Farms is a biodynamic farm in the Santa Cruz Mountains that has become our default brain image of an idyllic garden ever since we visited last year. Renowned fine restaurant Manresa in nearby Los Gatos is the lucky beneficiary of much of the focus of operations, serving its produce exclusively every day. But Love Apple also generously opens its grounds to the public for special dinners, tomato seedling sales, and weekend workshops. If you're looking for a great day trip that will also arm you with solid kitchen and gardening techniques, this is your heaven on Earth, not too far from home.

See Also:
- Gardening Classes at Love Apple Farm, Source of Manresa's Magic

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Millennium Restaurant Hosts Special Dinner in The Field

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Tierra Vegetables
Millennium Restaurant will be recreated at Tierra Vegetables farm on October 28.
Hosting a dinner with a farm is not a completely unusual idea for San Francisco restaurateurs, but such events often feature a lot of meat and animal products, whether a display of whole animal utilization or simply a showcasing of products such as milk and eggs. And so it is worth noting that S.F.'s Millennium Restaurant, a fine vegan establishment, is planning a cruelty-free supper on one of the farms that supplies much of its produce.

See Also:
- Vegansaurus Just Launched a Sassy App for Bay Area Vegan Eating


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Fall is Here, Bring on the Pumpkins

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Stewart Putney
As we move into fall and the Great Pumpkin spreads its magic, pumpkin patches pop up all over the Bay Area. For both kids and foodies, Farmer John's Pumpkin Farm in Half Moon Bay is a good first stop. As owners John and Eda Muller note, "We are a pumpkin farm, not a pumpkin patch." And Farmer John's does forgo some of the touristy trappings of pumpkin patches, and instead features one of the largest selections of pumpkins, squash, and ornamental gourds in the Bay Area.

See Also:
- Tasting Blind, Great Pumpkin Edition


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California Candy Festival Expects 20,000 Revelers This Weekend

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Flickr/jvnunag
Fairfield's Jelly Belly hosts the annual California Candy Festival on Sept. 22-23.
A 45-minute drive is all that separates you from Fairfield's annual cavity-causing celebration known as the California Candy Festival, which takes place Sept. 22-23 at Jelly Belly Candy Company Visitors Center and the Lots of Fun (One Jelly Belly Lane).

An estimated 20,000 attendees are expected throughout the course of the weekend. And while it's easy to make Willy Wonka-type proclamations of an event such as this, the California Candy Festival actually has an "Oompa Loompa Stage" which will feature Oompa Loompa dance performances every few hours.

See Also:
- Taylor's Tonics Unveils The Fizzary Soda Pop & Candy Shop
- See Jelly Belly Portraits of Your Favorite Historical Figures
- Bean Scene: In which we tour the Jelly Belly factory and gag on the Harry Potter flavors


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