Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: Shinmai, Asmara Restaurant, The Ice Cream Bar
Our first stop, Shinmai in Oakland, features the refined casual fare of a Japanese izakaya with a modern twist. Next, we're off to a North East African eatery called Asmara Restaurant in Oakland that features shareable plates and a family style feel. Finally, we take a step back in time to a 1930's-style soda fountain and classic lunch counter called The Ice Cream Bar in San Francisco, where you can find filling meals along with signature sweet treats.
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My name is Leslie Sbrocco and I'm the host of Check, Please! Bay Area. Each week, I will be sharing my tasting notes about the wine, beer, and spirits the guests and I drank on set during the taping of the show.
2017 Fields Family Wines Grenache Blanc, Lodi, California $24
A trio of owners -- Russ and Melinda Fields and Ryan Sherman -- are doing delicious things in Lodi, led by their signature white. It’s heartwarming to see more Grenache Blancs being made in California and the Fields’ is one of the best. The white Rhone variety is one of my favored grapes as it brings aromatics and power together in one delectable package. With neutral oak-barrel aging that doesn’t mask the purity of fruit, this version is full-flavored with a core of citrusy brightness.
2016 Giovi, Etna Rosato DOP, Sicily, Italy $38
With #roseallday touting the joys of drinking pink, imbibers tend to lean towards the familiar southern French or California bottlings. But, the island of Sicily is a spot to seek out for Italian versions called Rosato. This refreshing, sun-splashed wine hails from the volcanic soils of Mount Etna on Sicily’s eastern shore. Made from an indigenous red grape named Nerello Mascalese, it’s delicate and juicy capturing the feel of an endless summer.
2016 Erse Etna Rosso DOC, Sicily, Italy $20
Etna Rosso is the darling of the wine cognoscenti. Why? Made from native Sicilian red grapes Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccino and Carricante, it’s a red that is transparent. By that I mean it’s a wine that speaks loudly of its high altitude, volcanic origins. With earthy aromas, a streak of minerality and intensity of fruit flavors, the Tenuta di Fessina Erse (which refers to the blue sky of Etna), offers great value for such a unique wine.
2016 Qupé Syrah, Central Coast, California $20
Named by founder, Bob Lindquist, as an ode to the native Chumash word for the California poppy flower, Qupé is a classic. From the cool climate Central Coast, their Syrah is made just the way I like it. It’s not a huge fruit bomb that makes you full after one glass. No, this Syrah falls on the elegant side of the scale with peppery freshness and succulent, lip-smacking fruit notes. Blending in a mélange of Grenache, Mourvedre and Tempranillo, this crowd-pleasing, affordable red is one to stock up on to drink all year long.
Thirsty for more beverage advice? You can find some of my wine, beer and spirits tips for you here.