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Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: Bursa, The Italian Homemade Company, Rasa Contemporary Indian

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Watch More of Season 14

Check, Please! Bay Area Season 14 episode 15 airs Thursday, October 3 at 7:30pm on KQED 9. See other television airtimes. And never miss an episode by subscribing to the video podcast.

This week, we begin a culinary journey through the Eastern Mediterranean with falafels and kebabs at Bursa in San Francisco. Next, we head to Berkeley for The Italian Homemade Company, a fast-casual spot featuring an abundance of fresh, house-made pasta. Our final stop is Rasa Contemporary Indian in Burlingame for a celebration of traditional coastal Indian cuisine with a modern, Michelin-starred twist.

Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests on the set of season 14 episode 15.
Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests on the set of season 14 episode 15. (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.

Korbel Brut Rosé, California $13
Korbel is a California classic. As one of the most bucolic wineries to visit, it was founded in 1882 but has evolved with the times. They have remained one of the leaders of sparkling wine in the world marrying quality with availability and affordability. Their Brut Rosé is the best on wine on their roster.


Made with a unique blend of Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Gamay and Chenin Blanc, it’s fruity but dry. A brunch wine, a weekend aperitif, a cocktail mixer, or a dinner sip with Thai take-out, this versatile pink is a staple to have on hand at all times.

2017 Steele Pinot Blanc, Santa Barbara County, California $20
Jed Steele is one of California’s legendary winemakers. For more than 50 years he’s been a strong force in creating styles that have shaped the California wine landscape. Steele is a Lake County legend, but this succulent bottling hails from further south in the Golden State – Santa Barbara. Pinot Blanc is related to Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir and has viscous texture tempered with crispness and a nutty richness.

This Pinot Blanc is an ideal alternative to Chardonnay at the dinner table and beyond.

2016 Alara Pinot Noir, Central Coast, California $41
When you look at a bottle of Alara, the alluring labels might draw you in, but the wine inside the bottle is the star. The owner of the brand, Janu Goelz, has a fascinating past full of passions from fashion to film (the label designs are, in fact, from a fashion designer).

One of her passions is clearly Pinot Noir as evidenced by this silky, spicy red with a lush mouthfeel. It’s a bold style that aims to show the intensity of fruit. Drape yourself in this pretty-in-Pinot.

2016 Flora Springs Merlot, Napa Valley, California $35
When I think of Merlot what comes to mind is plushness – it’s the vinous equivalent of wrapping a cashmere shawl around your shoulders. Flora Springs’ version of Merlot is a beauty and ranks among California’s best. Using 100 percent Merlot lets the grape variety’s natural qualities shine.

It’s soft and round with dark berry fruit notes and a whisper of cocoa aromas. Drinking it on its own makes me happy. Pairing it with slow-roasted pork loin in a mushroom sauce or a piece of dark chocolate is positively swoon-worthy.

2016 Maçanita Douro DOC, Portugal $27
Think Portugal’s Douro regions means only sweet Port? No way. These days, it’s the hottest spot in Portugal for dry reds and the Maçanita is one of its superstars. Made from very old-vine Touriga Nacional (a grape used in Port) and a blend of other native red varieties, this wine is complex, earthy, and elegantly powerful.

It’s a red with a rugged personality, just like its birthplace. Crafted by the talented hands of Antonio Maçanita — one of the heralded young winemakers in the country — it’s hard to believe a wine of this quality is less than $30.

No. 209 Cabernet Sauvignon Barrel Reserve Gin $60
I’m a gin lover and No. 209 is among by top-tier picks. With the Barrel Reserve Gin, though, they have a unique drink that belongs not with tonic, but as a sipper with a cube. This amber-hued gin begins life as a clear spirit.

It’s aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels from top Napa Valley wine producers and transforms into a whiskey-esque drink to be savored.

Wine and spirits that guests drank on the set of season 14 episode 15. (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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