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Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: Arizmendi Emeryville Bakery & Pizzeria, LUNA Mexican Kitchen, Shizen

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Check, Please! Bay Area, season 18, episode 11, airs Thursday, January 18, at 7:30 pm, on KQED 9. See other television airtimes, and never miss an episode by subscribing to the video podcast.

First up, diners check out the East Bay’s Arizmendi Emeryville Bakery & Pizzeria along San Pablo Avenue. This worker-owned and operated neighborhood gem serves up a rotating selection of satisfying seasonal pizzas and tasty pastries baked daily. Then, in the South Bay, Campbell’s LUNA Mexican Kitchen is home to traditional Mexican dishes in cozy digs using fresh, carefully curated ingredients, including masa made in-house using the ancestral method of nixtamalization. Finally, in San Francisco’s Mission District, Shizen perfects their inventive sushi rolls with local and seasonal ingredients, serving up traditional izakaya favorites with an entirely vegan, plant-based twist. Reporter Cecilia Phillips rounds out this week’s episode with a visit to the Outer Sunset Farmers Market & Mercantile. Since 2014, this weekly pop-up has brought local bites, artists, libations and live music to the neighborhood.

Host Leslie Sbrocco joins guests Betty Magome, Joy Alexiou and Johannes Muckel 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.

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2021 E. Guigal, Côtes du Rhône White
France $18
Hidden treasures, when it comes to white wines, are those from the southern French appellation of Côtes du Rhône. Reds claim most of the fame from this region, but the beautifully blended blancs are among my white wine favorites. This one is worth twice the price. From the heralded producer, Guigal, it’s a blend of grapes including mostly Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne. Swirl the glass and smell notes of white flowers, pears and peaches followed by a sultry, creamy texture. It’s a white to open with roast chicken, sweet potato gratin or mushroom risotto.

2021 J. Lohr ‘South Ridge’ Syrah
Paso Robles, California $15
This wine ranks as my top value on the market today. Hailing from vineyards in rugged Paso Robles, the South Ridge Syrah sports complexity from blending Syrah grapes with splashes of its Rhone brethren including Grenache and Viognier. J. Lohr is celebrating their 50th year in 2024 and they’ve become a benchmark producer for wines from the sunny yet cool Central Coast. This deeply hued red explodes with floral, dark berry and licorice aromas with a plush yet vibrant mouthfeel. You’ll want to stock up for year-long enjoyment. It’s a seasonless sip, pairing as easily with winter stews as summer barbeque.

Kally ‘Golden Sparkler’
California $40
For those who don’t partake in alcohol but still want to indulge their love of bubbly, check out the offerings from a California rising star, Kally. Their products use verjus as a base combined with other ingredients to create delicious wine alternatives. The Golden Sparkler is beautiful to look at and delectable to drink. Verjus is non-alcoholic juice pressed from young, tart grapes and this bottling uses Chardonnay grapes layered with green tea and jasmine extract. This creates a fresh, crisp fizz that sings with citrus and spicy flavors. At a mere 21 calories per glass and no alcohol, it’s a guilt-free pleasure.

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

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