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Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: Big Country Kitchen, Denica's Real Food Kitchen, Mama's Royal Cafe

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Check, Please! Bay Area Season 15 episode 4 airs Thursday, April 23 at 7:30pm on KQED 9. See other television airtimes. And never miss an episode by subscribing to the video podcast.

Our show is all about breakfast, the most important meal of the day.  You’ll feel right at home at Concord’s Big Country Kitchen, a woman- and veteran-owned spot serving Southern favorites and featuring a whole table of hot sauces. Then it’s off to Castro Valley, for colorful, inventive morning treats like cookie dough waffles and giant mimosas at Denica’s Real Food Kitchen. We finish it all off at an Oakland institution that’s been serving all-day eggs and homefries for the past 46 years. Decorated with napkin art and old fashioned aprons, you can’t miss the one-of-a-kind atmosphere at Mama’s Royal Cafe.

Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests on the set of season 15 episode 4.
Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests on the set of season 15 episode 4. (Anthonia Onyejekwe/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’ll share my tasting notes about the wine, beer and spirits the guests and I drank on set during the taping of the show.


Prima Cuvée Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG
Italy, $18
Wine drinkers know (and love) the name Prosecco. They’re generally not as familiar, however, with the historic spot in Northern Italy where many of the best versions are produced: Valdobbiadene. The area’s steep hillside vineyards are a picturesque patchwork of green against a pristine blue sky. Planted to the variety, Glera, these white grapes give Prosecco its aromatic succulence. Bellenda Winery’s ‘Prima’ is flavorful fizz. Affordable yet impressive, it’s a stylish Prosecco ideal for special occasions or everyday sipping.

2018 Clarendelle Bordeaux Blanc
Bordeaux, France, $20
It's a treat to indulge in wines from one of Bordeaux’s famed names at a price that pleases. As owners of the classic (and expensive) first-growth, Château Haut-Brion, the Dillon family’s Clarence Dillon négociant wines are inspired by the great house. The Clarendelle line offers top-notch value with a focus on quality. This dry, elegant white wine is a blend of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Light and lemon-scented with a hint of honeyed richness, I call it a “twice-the-price” wine as its worth double the price tag.

2018 Villa Matilde ‘Rocca Dei Leoni’ Falanghina, Campania IGP
Italy, $20

Italian whites are some of my global favorites because they blend the ping of food-friendly freshness with unique minerally notes. In other words, they’re wines with more complexity than just fruitiness. This crisp white is made from a grape called Falanghina (pronounced fal-en-gheena). It’s hails from the southern Italian region of Campania surrounding the city of Naples where pizza was born. Try alongside a pesto-laden vegetable pie and take a sip-trip to Italia.

2018 5 String Partner's Reserve Petite Sirah
Paso Robles, California, $25
As a fan of reds from California’s Paso Robles region on the state’s Central Coast, this lush wine is a crowd-pleaser. Don't let the petite in the name fool you, this is a hearty big red. The grape variety produces powerful wines with peppery notes and full-bodied flair. As the Director of Sommology for Traveling Vineyard, I recommend pairing this wine with pulled pork in a sweet/spicy barbeque sauce topped with crunchy coleslaw. The combination will warm your heart with palate-pleasing deliciousness.

Gin Mare Mediterranean Gin
Spain, $40
Imagine gazing at pure blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea while sipping a gin cocktail and basking in sunshine on the Costa Brava. Well, this unique gin will take you there. It’s a virtual vacation in a glass. What makes it special? Hailing from Spain, the botanicals Gin Mare uses are a cornucopia of aromas from around the Mediterranean basin. Thyme from Turkey, rosemary from Greece, Spanish olives and Italian basil impart savory notes that I adore but rarely find in gin. It's the ideal base for two of my go-to cocktails, a Negroni and a Martini. Salud!

Wine and spirits guests drank on the set of season 15 episode 4.
Wine and spirits guests drank on the set of season 15 episode 4. (Anthonia Onyejekwe/KQED)

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

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