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Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: Baia Restaurant, Mare Island Brewing Co. Ferry Taproom, À Côté

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Check, Please! Bay Area, season 18, episode 6, airs Thursday, September 14, at 7:30 pm, on KQED 9. See other television airtimes, and never miss an episode by subscribing to the video podcast.

Saucy, savory Italian comfort food… without the meat? The menu at Baia Restaurant, located in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood, boasts all the familiar favorites – pastas, pizzas, and parms all have prominent placement – with a twist: They’re entirely plant-based. Then, tucked along the scenic Vallejo shoreline, Mare Island Brewing Co. Ferry Taproom is home to simple, savory and oh-so-satisfying pub fare, nearly two dozen taps, and unbeatable views of Mare Island. Finally, in Oakland’s Rockridge district, À Côté offers eclectic, family-style Mediterranean small plates and a carefully curated list of European wines in an intimate, charming setting. Reporter Cecilia Phillips closes out this week’s episode with a visit to the country’s oldest cheese company, Petaluma’s Marin French Cheese Co., for a lesson in cheesemongering, beekeeping and honey harvesting. This historic creamery crafts artisan cheeses by hand, employing the same traditional French cheesemaking techniques first used by its founders in 1865.

Check, Please! Bay Area host Leslie Sbrocco joins three local guests on set to discuss local restaurants.
Host Leslie Sbrocco joins guests Deb Levine, Mark Snyder and Thomas Brungardt 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.


2020 Etude Pinot Gris
Carneros, California $32
Etude is a classic producer known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but the Pinot Gris is my personal favorite in their lineup. Pinot Gris is a white grape usually known by its more famous moniker, Pinot Grigio. This wine, however, has nothing in common with light, racy styles dubbed Pinot Grigio. The Etude Pinot Gris is reminiscent of plush, aromatic styles from Alsace, France. A white with explosive floral and citrus aromas that might make you think the wine is sweet (it’s not), the vibrant acidity balances its supple mouthfeel.  A uniquely dry yet fruit-driven white to sip alone or with dishes from grilled sausages to pork loin or lemon-drizzled fish.

2022 Whispering Angel Rosé by Caves d’Esclans
Cotes de Provence, France $22
In the heart of southern France’s Provence region, Chateau d’Esclans, is a stunning property that’s home to an iconic wine called Whispering Angel. More than 15 years ago, Sasha Lichine, began a renaissance of Rosé and brought the beauty of high quality, dry and delicate pink wines to American palates. We fell in love. The 2022 vintage of this classy wine carries on their tradition of quality. Made with grapes such as Grenache, Cinsault and Rolle, this stylishly dry yet fruity pink is a favorite among wine drinkers because it’s beautiful to look at and drink.

2021 Lang & Reed Cabernet Franc
North Coast, California $45
Lang & Reed was founded three decades ago in Napa Valley by John and Tracey Skupny to explore the beauty of a French grape variety named Cabernet Franc. Heralded in France in the blends of Bordeaux and in red Loire Valley wines, Cab Franc is a grape that creates sleek and unique wines. This layered red sports dark berry and mineral notes with a touch of rose petal aromas. Sipping it is like drinking silk – lush yet vibrantly lovely. If you’re looking for a red with style, seek out this stunner and either decant to drink immediately or stash in your cellar for years to come.

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

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