Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: Curry Up Now, Falafel Stop, Nick's On Grand
This week, it’s all plant-based plates for our vegetarian guests! In San Francisco’s Mission District, Curry Up Now dishes out fast-casual Indian street food in funky packages: fried ravioli, sexy fries, and loaded burritos. Then, we devour fried falafel and freshly baked pita made from imported Israeli dough at Sunnyvale’s Falafel Stop. Finally, in South San Francisco, sisig, lumpia, and other Filipino classics are given the meatless treatment at Nick’s On Grand.
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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.
2018 Umani Ronchi Pecorino ‘Vellodoro’ Terre di Chieti IGT
Abruzzo, Italy, $17
I’m a fan of Italian white wines – especially those made with obscure grapes like Pecorino. The name of the variety refers to the “grape of the sheep” because it traditionally comes from areas in central Italy where sheep-farming and agriculture dominate. Pecorino (yes, there is a sheep’s milk cheese with the same name) is a deliciously crisp, high acid wine that still carries roundness and weight on the palate. The Vellodoro is one of the best white wines I’ve sipped all year long.
Frank Family Vineyards ‘Rouge’ Sparkling Wine
Carneros, California, $55
Sparkling red wines have a rich history, but they’re enjoying a renaissance of sorts with examples from around the globe. This one from bubbly superstar, Frank Family Vineyards, is deep ruby in color with succulent, layered flavors. Made in the traditional method from a blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with the intense color and dark-berry character coming from Petite Sirah grapes, it’s a unique fizz that will surprise and delight. Try it alongside dark chocolate raspberry tart or a selection of cheeses served with plum jam. Deliciously decadent.
Jardesca Red Apertiva
Sonoma County, California, $35
Aperitifs are classic before-dinner sippers in Europe, but the tradition is just developing here. This delicious drink falls somewhere between a wine and a spirit in terms of richness and alcohol levels. Jardesca Red Aperitiva blends three different California red wines with Zinfandel as the main variety. It’s then fortified with Eau de Vie and soaked with a selection of ten botanicals such as ginger, tangerine and cardamom. I like to drink it simply poured over ice with a twist of lemon, but it’s also stellar with a splash of soda or tonic. Red AND refreshing!
2018 Raeburn Pinot Noir
Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, $22
As a Pinot Noir lover, I’m always on the hunt for affordable treasures. The Raeburn is one of them. The name refers to an Olde English saying meaning “the river where one goes to drink.” The river that influences these wines is the Russian River. Warm days and cool coastal breezes combine to get Pinot Noir fruit growing there ripe yet maintain its vibrancy. This wine captures the best of the grapes and drapes them with a touch of new oak barrel ageing to keep balance and elegance in the final wine.
2017 Silver Ghost Cabernet Sauvignon
Napa Valley, California, $40
For car and wine aficiandos, this is a bottle to seek out. The founder of Silver Ghost, Weston Eidson, has a deep family history with world-famous automobiles and wanted to honor that background through wine. This Cabernet bottling is a nod to the 1909 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost – a family favorite. Hailing from Napa Valley, it’s a classic style with complexity, structure and lushly intense dark fruit notes. It will age beautifully for years, but with such a silky texture is ready to uncork and enjoy now.
Thirsty for more beverage advice? You can find more of my wine, beer and spirits tips for you here.