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Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: Palette Tea House, Rico Rico Taco, The Kitchen Table

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Check, Please! Bay Area, season 17, episode 1, airs Thursday, May 5, at 7:30 pm, on KQED 9. See other television airtimes, and never miss an episode by subscribing to the video podcast.

In San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square, Palette Tea House takes a new approach to modern Cantonese cuisine, elevating traditional dim sum along with live seafood and creative cocktails. Rico Rico Taco, located near Lake Merritt, is the latest in an East Oakland taco dynasty. Featuring classic fillings wrapped in handmade corn tortillas, this charming spot whips up flavorful al pastor from a traditional trompo alongside other typical taqueria favorites. Finally, San Rafael’s The Kitchen Table is a love letter to comforting, country-style Italian food, combining seasonal, locally sourced ingredients with delicate, housemade pastas.

Host Leslie Sbrocco joins guests Francis Kong, Mary Richardson and Alex Carapanos from KQED in San Francisco.

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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.

2013 Moët & Chandon ‘Grand Vintage’ Rosé Extra Brut Champagne
France, $100
Celebrating a special occasion? This splurge-worthy bubbly is worth the price tag. A vintage Champagne from France is unique in the sense that most Champagnes blend multiple vintages (vintage means the year the grapes were harvested). A single vintage means the grapes are kept separate as that year was exceptional. The 2013 vintage qualified as extraordinary, and this Grand Vintage Rosé is only the 44th made in the winery’s 270 years of history. Crafted from the three signature grapes of the Champagne region – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier – it's sumptuously stylish. Red-fruited aromas and a hint of spice carry through on the palate, which is lush and full-bodied. The finish is dry and refreshing. Go ahead, treat yourself to this remarkable wine…you deserve it.

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2021 Alma de Cattleya Sauvignon Blanc
Sonoma County, California, $22
When spring has sprung and summer is coming, this is an ideal wine to span the seasons. Named for the Spanish word for "soul" and the national flower of Columbia, winemaker Bibiana González Rave pays homage to her heritage and home country with her Alma de Cattleya wines. This zesty white jumps from the glass with its citrus-laden aromas and juicy flavors. It’s a wine to pair alongside garlic prawns, chicken curry, goat cheese salad or lemon cream pie. Or forget the food and simply pour a glass to enjoy while watching a beautiful sunset.

2019 Adelaida Cabernet Sauvignon
Viking Estate Vineyard, Adelaida District, Paso Robles, California, $125
When thinking of world-class Cabernet Sauvignon in California, most people gravitate towards those from Napa Valley. For this cellar splurge, it’s time to look south and head to the emerging yet historic Paso Robles region on the state’s central coast. Originally founded in 1971 as a retreat for the Van Steenwyk family, the organically farmed property now known as Adelaida Vineyards, is iconic in the area. With an innovative viticultural approach that encompasses its regional roots, Adelaida is a name to know and a star among the top wineries of California. This deep, rich and complex Cabernet Sauvignon can be aged for more than a decade, but you can unwrap its beauty and drink now by decanting it for several hours.

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

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