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Check, Please! Bay Area reviews: Wahpepah's Kitchen, Lion Dance Cafe, Besharam

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Check, Please! Bay Area, season 18, episode 12, airs Thursday, January 25, at 7:30 pm, on KQED 9. See other television airtimes, and never miss an episode by subscribing to the video podcast.

With flavorful favorites like tender deer sticks and savory bison meatballs, Wahpepah’s Kitchen aims to bring fresh, nourishing Native American cuisine to the forefront of the Bay Area while honoring the seasons in Oakland’s Fruitvale district. Then, in downtown Oakland, Lion Dance Cafe brims with tasty innovation, offering a creative selection of vegan Singaporean, Chinese and Italian small plates. Finally, at Besharam, in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood, diners are greeted by vibrant, veggie-centric dishes inspired by the Gujarati cuisine of India, served up in a modern and contemporary space.

Check, Please! Bay Area host Leslie Sbrocco joins three local guests on set to discuss local restaurants.
Host Leslie Sbrocco joins guests Clive Worsley, Kelsey Blackwell and Vani Ari 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.


2022 Argiolas ‘Costamolino’ Vermentino di Sardegna
Italy $16
Looking for an alternative to Sauvignon Blanc or crisp Chardonnay? Head to the Italian island of Sardegna (or Sardinia) for their savory, aromatic Vermentino. A white variety that’s known for its citrusy salinity, Argiolas’s version is named for an area on the island that showcases the grape’s distinctive freshness. Recognized as Sardinia’s preeminent wine producer, Argiolas Vermentino is like sipping a sea-splashed glass of sunshine. An ideal complement to cracked crab, mussels, and tangy goat cheese salads.

2022 Browne ‘Forest Project’ White Blend
Columbia Valley, Washington $26
With a commitment to the environment and positive social impact, Browne Family Vineyards started the Forest Project wines to plant new forests one bottle at a time. Their goal is one million trees and so far, they have reached the goal of nearly 200,000 trees planted. The equation is simple…one bottle of wine sold = one tree planted. With this lush, fruit-driven white, you can do good and drink well all at the same time.

2021 Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay
North Carolina $25
One of the most beautifully historic spots I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting is the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. The famed Vanderbilt family opened the lavish estate in 1895 as their country home and its hallowed halls have hosted famous faces from entertainers to poets and politicians. Not only can you visit and be taken on a tour back in time, but you can also taste thoroughly modern wine. Winemaker, Sharon Fenchak, crafts stunning examples of classics grown on the estate and from neighboring vineyards. This stylish Chardonnay overflows with ripe fruit notes and hints of vanilla and spice from oak ageing. Its creamy mouthfeel makes it an ideal partner for rich fish dishes, pork loin laden with mushrooms, and even apple pie.

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

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