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Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: Roosevelt Tamale Parlor, Bravas Bar de Tapas, International Smoke

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Watch More of Season 14

Check, Please! Bay Area Season 14 episode 13 airs Thursday, September 19 at 7:30pm on KQED 9. See other television airtimes. And never miss an episode by subscribing to the video podcast.

To kick things off, we head to San Francisco’s Roosevelt Tamale Parlor, a Mission district institution established in 1922 that serves an updated version of its Mexican-inspired menu. Up next, we savor an evening of delicious Spanish bites in Sonoma wine country at Bravas Bar de Tapas in Healdsburg. Finally, we land back in San Francisco for International Smoke, a bustling Financial District spot helmed by famous food personalities and featuring a blend of globally-inspired offerings and Southern comforts.

Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests on the set of season 14 episode 13.
Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests on the set of season 14 episode 13. (Grace Cheung/KQED)

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Host Leslie Sbrocco sipping wine
Host Leslie Sbrocco sipping wine (Courtesy of Leslie Sbrocco)

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.

2014 Orsi Family Sagrantino, Dry Creek Valley, California $34
When I first saw the diverse lineup of Italian varietals being made by California’s Orsi Family winery, I was pleasantly surprised. Their unique wines are a study in Italy’s native grapes and an ode to the family’s Italian heritage. They have a smile-inducing, tongue-twisting lineup of whites, but this red stole my heart.


Sagrantino is an inky purple variety grown in Montefalco in Italy’s Umbria region. When I visited there years ago, I left with an appreciation for powerful reds paired with hearty food. This Sonoma county version is a worthy complement to its Italian cousin. Deeply-hued with dark berry fruit and grippy tannin, it begs for lamb chops or meat ragu pasta.

2016 Flora Springs Trilogy, Napa Valley, California $85
Flora Springs is a Napa Valley classic with a rich history. Trilogy is their flagship wine and is considered an icon of California Bordeaux-style blends. Hailing from the Komes-Garvey family estate vineyards, it’s a marriage of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with Petit Verdot and Malbec.

Like the three sides of a triangle, there is ideal balance and structure in this blend. Smooth and sumptuous, it’s a wine to enjoy now with a grilled steak dolloped with blue cheese and smothered in mushrooms. Or, age for up to a decade and let it gain even more complexity.

Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut sparkling wine, North Coast, California $29
As one of California – and the world’s – top sparkling producers, Schramsberg brings its depth of experience and benchmark of quality to Mirabelle. Known for their vintage bottlings of bubbly, this is the wine producer’s multi-vintage blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Always delivering elegance layered with complexity, Mirabelle is a sparkler ideal for weekend celebrations and Tuesday with takeout.

Bently Heritage Source One Single Estate Vodka $40
As someone who only drinks vodka sparingly, I rarely get excited about the category in general. But, when I discovered the unique gin from Bently Heritage – a new, impressive distillery in Minden, Nevada – I wanted to sample the vodka. It’s well worth it. Made with oats as the main grain, there is a textural component to this spirit that sets it apart from others.

2017 Alara Barbera Rosé, Central Coast, California $25
As a pink wine aficionado, I’m always searching for new bottles to buy. This pretty-in-pink wine made from Barbera is a winner. Spicy, succulent and refreshing, it’s an enjoyable sip with packaging to match its sense of whimsy. The owner of the brand, Janu Goelz, has a fascinating past full of passions from fashion to film (the alluring label is, in fact, from fashion designer Malene Grotrian) and she has crafted a Rosé with a story to tell.

2016 Sea Smoke ‘Southing’ Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills, California $100
Pinot Noir inspires people because it’s such a difficult grape to make into great wine. When its planted in the right place and made with care and commitment, though, the resulting wine shines like no other. Such is the case with Sea Smoke. It’s a magical slice of vinous heaven perched on in the mist-laden coastal Santa Rita Hills.

Their bottling dubbed ‘Ten’ is arguably their most coveted Pinot, but I have long been a fan of the ‘Southing.’ It’s a Pinot that elicits emotion with red-berry finesse and savory undertones. I feel like I’m draped in silk just sipping it.

Wine and spirits that guests drank on the set of season 14 episode 13.
Wine and spirits that guests drank on the set of season 14 episode 13. (Grace Cheung/KQED)

Thirsty for more beverage advice? You can find some of my wine, beer and spirits tips for you here

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