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Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: Anaviv’s Table, Larb Thai Food & Tapas, Mister Jiu’s

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Check, Please! Bay Area Season 15 episode 12 airs Thursday, June 18 at 7:30pm on KQED 9. See other television airtimes. And never miss an episode by subscribing to the video podcast.

For a meal unlike any other, we start in a Richmond warehouse for a multi-course, farm-to-table communal dining experience at Anaviv’s Table. Then, tucked away in an El Cerrito stripmall, Larb Thai Food & Tapas concocts traditional Issan-style delicacies that are hard to find in the Bay Area. For our final course, we head to Mister Jiu’s in San Francisco’s historic Chinatown, where chef Brandon Jew celebrates Chinese cuisine with seasonal California ingredients and upscale sensibilities.

Host Leslie Sbrocco and guests on the set of season 15 episode 12. (Olivia Won/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.

Faire La Fête Crémant de Limoux Brut
France, $19
For affordably delicious bubbly, seek out Faire La Fête. It’s not Champagne (that only comes from the region of the same name in France), rather it’s French Crémant, which refers to sparkling wines made from around the country. This one happens to hail from the southern part of France where sparkling wine originated in 1531. Faire La Fête basically means having a party, so whether you’re toasting Tuesday night takeout for yourself or a Saturday soirée with friends, raise a glass of this crisp, fruity fizz.


2018 Emeritus Vineyards, ‘Hallberg Blanc’ Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, $40
Emeritus is a new class of classic when it comes to California Pinot Noir. It was founded in 1999 by famed vintner, Brice Cutrer Jones, after he sold Sonoma-Cutrer and bought Hallberg Ranch. A Pinot Noir master, Jones has crafted a version like no other with the Hallberg Blanc. It represents the best of both worlds because he’s made a white wine from red grapes. How? The juice is gently extracted from the red Pinot Noir grapes with little skin contact, which is the thing that imparts the purple hue to red wines. With melon and peach aromas, a kiss of oak richness and a sultry texture, it’s one of the best wines I’ve sipped all year.

2018 Louis Jadot Mâcon-Villages Chardonnay
Burgundy, France, $16
When it comes to well-priced Chardonnay with finesse, you can’t beat this wine from the noted house of Louis Jadot in Burgundy, France. Coming from the south of Burgundy in an area called the Mâconnais, it’s a fruit-driven Chardonnay capturing a streak of minerality from the vineyards’ limestone soils. No oak is used to make the wines making the purity of the citrus and stone fruit shine through. An all-purpose white, you can pair it with a brunch egg casserole, a lunch goat cheese salad or dinner rotisserie chicken.

2016 Spottswoode Estate Cabernet Sauvignon
St. Helena, Napa Valley, California, $225
Spottswoode ranks among the top wine producers in the world. For four decades they have consistently crafted cellar-worthy, but still enjoyable-upon-release Cabernets that define the best of Napa Valley. Their 2016 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is no exception. Uncorking it now allows for immediate indulgence in this silky red with seamless balance. But, aging for a few years will help the wine open up gracefully exposing even more complexity and elegance. The Novak women – Mary and Beth and Lindy – have been an inspiration to so many in the wine business. Not only did founder Mary Novak pass on her love of Spottswoode to her daughters, Beth and Lindy, who are now in charge, but with quiet strength she helped shape the historic property into the lauded star it is today.

Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin
Germany (375 ml), $45
As a gin lover, I appreciate the character of each gin. Much like a beautiful necklace crafted with a variety of stones pieced together to make a whole, gins use various blends of botanicals to achieve their final style. That’s why I adore Monkey 47 Gin. It’s exotic and distinct, but also simply delicious to sip. Made in Germany’s Black Forest using natural spring water from the area, they also utilize local ingredients such as lingonberries, angelica root and acacia flowers. These are only some of the 47 botanicals used, which impart its powerful and magnetic charm. Though it’s a serious spirit, the name and label are an ode to Max the Monkey who dominates the whimsical website and brand story.

Wine and spirits guests drank on the set of season 15 episode 12. (Olivia Won/KQED)

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

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