Tasting craft-distilled spirits at St. George (Hangar One)

Last weekend Teel, Joe, Alex and I headed out into the rain and went to St. George Spirits in Alameda.  (And, yes, we followed St. George with that crazy food bender on Monday…love out of town visitors!)

Alameda Point is the decommissioned military base at the end of Alameda island.  The whole area is amazing.  The base shut down in 1997 and has been more or less vacant ever since.  A few of the former aircraft hangars are leased out, but for the most part it’s acres of asphalt.  One of the hangars is occupied by St. George Spirits, which is most well known for its Hangar One vodka.

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On a pastry-ice cream-coffee mission in the Mission

This afternoon I pushed aside my books and hit the streets of San Francisco’s Mission district with my sister and her boyfriend, who are visiting from New York City.  Our goal?  To sample as much pastry, ice cream and coffee as humanly possible.  We started at the 24th St BART and headed toward pie.  Here’s an overview:

Stop 1. Mission Pie

We kicked off the day by ordering up one slice of Lemon Shaker (highlight: full slices of lemon cooked in the pie!) and one of Walnut.  Each was selling for $3.14 in honor of Pi day.  Amazing.  I’m looking forward to going back and sampling some of their savory pies.

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Starr Ranch Winery and Crooked Road (part 3 of 3)

This is the last post in a 3 part series on drinking wine in Paso Robles.  If you missed parts 1 and 2, you may want to start there.  Part 1 is an overview of Paso Robles as a wine region.  Part 2 tells you about all the wineries we visited during our trip.  This final part showcases Starr Ranch Winery, one of the wineries we visited on our trip.

Our last stop of the day on Saturday was Starr Ranch Winery.  Before going to Paso, while we were researching where to visit and scouring every corner of the internet, this winery didn’t come up much.  We found Starr Ranch because of a conversation at Turley — the sweet woman who was pouring for us mentioned we could find her son, Ryan, making wine there.

Starr Ranch was scheduled to close at 5:00p and we pulled into the driveway at about 4:55p.  In the rush to get in the door, I only took terrible, blurry photos.  So, instead, here’s a picture of the Starr Ranch property that’s shown on their website (though, this is pretty much how it looked for us, too).

The path up the driveway and through the hills around the winery was gorgeous.  Next time we’ll try to picnic somewhere around there.

We walked into a big barn, down a corridor lined by wine barrels, and up to the tasting bar just as a group of people were finishing up.  We nervously asked the woman behind the counter, whom we later found out was owner Judy, if we were too late.  She shook her head and happily agreed to pour for us.

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Wine touring in Paso Robles (part 2 of 3)

If you missed Part 1, you might want to start there: Part 1 is an overview of Paso Robles.  This post is about each winery we visited.  Part 3 is photos of wine barrels and tanks at Starr Ranch Winery.

Here’s a scan of the map that’s given out everywhere around town (thank you Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance).

Here I zoomed in and circled the wineries we visited.  I had to write in Epoch, a new winery we visited.  I also included a couple food places (see Hot Tips in Part 1).

We split up the tour into 2 days.  We weren’t entirely organized.  Saturday we were able to make it to a lot of different wineries and Sunday…we were moving a little slower…so we only made it to a few spots.

Before we go any further, though, it’s only fair to be clear about our wine preferences.  Alex and I think that what makes for a great bottle is the quality of wine + the quality of the experience.  For us, the contents of the bottle absolutely matter, but what takes a wine from good to great is related to who we’re with, how we’re feeling, the weather that day and the food we’re eating.  Neither one of us would want to drink a 1961 Cheval Blanc out of a Styrofoam cup all alone at McDonald’s (yes, I made a Sideways reference…help me).  What are we looking for?  A high quality product plus a casual and intimate setting where we get to interact with people who are excited about what they’re serving and want to teach us a little about what they know.  But, everyone’s tastes and preferences are different.

We like wine and drink a lot of it, but we’re hardly qualified to judge its finer points.  Alex actually has a good enough palette that he can pick out those odd wine flavors, like “pineapple” and “barnyard,” but I definitely don’t.  So, instead of talking about the details of the wine too much, we want to show you what the wineries of Paso Robles look like, tell you some of the highlights of each winery we visited, and let you know where we’re planning to go back on our next trip down there (yes, there will be a next trip!).

And we’re off!

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An airport oasis: Icebox Cafe

Located around D8 in Miami International Airport (and apparently also South Beach).

I had a 4 hour layover in the Miami airport today. I was so hungry I was about to chew my arm off. After walking from one end of the airport to the other, I was super bummed about the veggie food options (not that this is a new problem – every vegetarian knows that veggie road food is typically, um, wanting).  That is, I was bummed until I spotted a cute food counter with wine bottles, freshly baked goods and a chalkboard wall with the day’s specials. Whaaat? In an airport?!

Here’s a view from one side of the counter:

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