Author: Laiko

Cochon 555’s Heritage BBQ Cooks in Memphis, Louisville & St. Louis

Cochon 555’s Heritage BBQ Cooks in Memphis, Louisville & St. Louis

Do you love great BBQ like we do? From Korean to Asado, Japanese to American, today’s gastrognomes love globally-influenced BBQ. The folks behind Cochon 555 launched a Heritage BBQ series to feature some of the hottest talents in the kitchen and heritage breed meats, cooked […]



Craft Brewery Tours, Tastings & Classes in San Francisco – Updated with New Breweries Opening this Fall

Craft Brewery Tours, Tastings & Classes in San Francisco – Updated with New Breweries Opening this Fall

We’re in a golden age for craft beer in San Francisco Bay Area –and many of our established and new brewers are leading the way to inspire a national passion for artisan craft beers – be they kegged, bottled, growlered or casked. There’s so many […]



Oysterfest at Waterbar San Francisco Benefits Surfrider Foundation | Sept. 1

Oysterfest at Waterbar San Francisco Benefits Surfrider Foundation | Sept. 1

The spectacular Waterbar restaurant set on the Bay is hosting a fest celebrating sustainable oysters and benefiting the San Francisco Surfrider Foundation. This year’s OysterFest will honor New Zealand –  and food, wine and beer from New Zealand will be served for attendees to enjoy.

Features delicious small bites from oyster lovin’ restaurants & farms including: Waterbar, EPIC Roasthouse, Farallon, FISH, Saltwater, Waiheke Island Yacht Club, Rappahannock River Oysters, and Drakes Bay Oyster Company. To quench their thirst, guests will have a selection of New Zealand wines and micro-brews including Anchor Steam, Trumer Pils and Moa, a New Zealand favorite.

Admission is $60 per person and includes oysters and passed hors d’oeuvres. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit The San Francisco Surfrider Foundation, which is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans and beaches.  Last year, OysterFest raised $13,000 for the organization.

Link to Tickets

Feast Portland | Sept 19-22

Feast Portland | Sept 19-22

Susie and I both are regular visitors to our Northern Pacific neighbors in Portlandia — for food conferences, to see friends and family and most importantly to eat and shop the fab food stores and markets! Coming up September 19-22nd, is the second annual Feast […]



SF Bay Area Food Event Picks – Summer 2013

SF Bay Area Food Event Picks – Summer 2013

FOOD EVENT PICKS FOR SUMMER 2013 Check Facebook for last minute picks and check back here for ongoing finds! Wed. July 31, Sacramento – Eat Local, Bee Local: A Panel about Protecting Local Honey Bees Passionate about bees and the colony collapse crisis? Join this […]



Epicuring Guide to Daily Food Events and Tours

Epicuring Guide to Daily Food Events and Tours

Based on our experiences as California Epicurators we’ve compiled a guide of our favorite ongoing experiences for travelers on the go.

Need advice on the go? Ask us! We’re “Epicuring” on Twitter & Facebook or we can create a special tour just for you. Just email us at info (at) epicuring (dot) com. 

Daily (Check venue to confirm)

San Francisco

San Francisco is home to Anchor Brewing, which crafts 10 brews, including the famous and tasty Anchor Steam, in their handcrafted copper brewhouse, a tribute to the traditional breweries of old. Daily brewery tours in Potrero Hill are followed by a tasting (naturally!) and last about 2 hours. Reservations are required. 1705 Mariposa Street, San Francisco, 415-863-8350.

Just down the Embarcadero from the Ferry Building — which has a farmer’s market on Tuesdays — you’ll find TCHO, a chocolate maker the size that Ghirardelli must have been in the early 1900s. During TCHO’s free chocolate factory tour, you’ll not only get your much-needed fix, you’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at how pure cocoa is transformed into bars. Tours are held daily at 10:30 am and 2 pm. Here’s a story by Jennifer Pelka on a tour we attended. Reservations are recommended. TCHO Chocolate, Pier 17, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, 415-981-0189.

East Bay (Oakland, Berkeley)

Print out Susie’s insider Berkeley tour or get in touch to schedule a special group tour of food crafters and food favorites in the city where the revolution in “California cuisine” began.

Wine Country

Learn more about the life of a farmer by touring Yountville’s idyllic Hill Family Farms and Jacobsen Orchards, which grows fruits and vegetables for the French Laundry, one of America’s top restaurants. The farm’s daily tours include a sampling of fresh produce, followed by a tasting of wines, meats and cheeses. Tours are offered everyday at 10 am, 1 pm and 4 pm from June through October. The cost is $45. For tickets and more information, click here. 6512 Washington Street, Yountville, 707-944-9580.

Solano County

For candy lovers, the 40-minute Jelly Belly Factory Tour will remain planted in your candy brain as a memorable food experience. Whether you’ve got a car load of kids or adult candy lovers, it’s worth a drive to Fairfield. Just off I-80, it’s a nice stop between the San Francisco and Sacramento / Davis or Tahoe areas. Art lovers might even want to take home one of the carefully crafted jelly bean paintings. 1 Jelly Belly Ln, Fairfield, 707-428-2800.

Nearby: Suisun Valley is home to wineries and small family farms, such as Glashoff whose walnuts grown in their ancient orchard you can enjoy via their farm stand. If you’re heading east on a Saturday, the vibrant Davis farmers market is a great stop.

Monday

San Francisco

Stop in at La Victoria Bakery, 2937 24th Street, San Francisco first thing for “Bagel Mondays,” Sour Flour bakery’s weekly free offering of fresh bagels. Just their way of giving the dough back!

Tuesday

East Bay (Oakland, Berkeley)

The micro-roaster and coffee evangelists at Blue Bottle Coffee — who started at the Oakland farmers’ market — offer free public cuppings every Tuesday and Sunday at 2 pm. (If you’re headed to or from the Oakland Airport, it’s an easy stop off Highway 880!) Come and taste their latest roasts and learn what leads to their cult following.  Details here. Can’t make it to Oakland? Be sure to visit one of Blue Bottle’s locations in San Francisco. We particularly enjoy their top floor cafe with “art pastries” and cakes at the Museum of Modern Art. An experience not to be missed.

Wednesday

San Francisco

Go whole hog at the Fatted Calf’s “Pork Happy Hour,” a free weekly butchering demonstration featuring, you guessed it, a whole pig. It’s free to observe, but you can also buy a piece of pork to take home. The happy hour runs from 5:30 to 7:00 pm, the amount of time it takes to butcher a whole hog. 320 Fell Street, San Francisco, 415-400-5614. http://fattedcalf.com

East Bay (Oakland, Berkeley)

Have you ever wondered how soy is transformed into tofu? Gain an insider’s view during monthly tours at the Hodo Soy Beanery in Oakland. Fascinating for vegans and non-vegans alike (we promise!), the tours typically begin at 10:30 am and include a short video, observation of the tofu-making process, a tasting and an opportunity to shop. The cost is $10. Book your tour tickets here. 2923 Adeline Street, Oakland, 510-464-2977.

Marin County

Cowgirl Creamery‘s Peg Smith and Sue Conley are pioneers in the world of California cheesemaking. Don’t miss the hugely popular weekly tour and cheesemaking demonstration at their Petaluma facility (through September 28th). You’ll also be able to taste cheeses and take home a bag of samples. Tours begin at 11:30 am and cost $30. Reservations are required. 419 First Street, Petaluma, 866-433-7834.

Thursday

Marin

The Lafranchi family has been milking cows for generations, and now they are using that milk to make some of the tastiest cheeses in the region. Hear the unique story of the Nicasio Cheese Company during their free weekly tours. They make six cheeses in their creamery, which is open to the public from 10 am to 5 pm Thursday through Sunday. Make sure to leave a little room in your cooler to take home a bloomy-rind Formagella to enjoy. 5300 Nicasio Valley Road, Nicasio, 415-662-6200.

Friday

Marin / North Bay

Can’t make it to Cowgirl Creamery‘s Wednesday cheesemaking demo in Petaluma? Fear not — for $5, you can  get an inside look at their original Point Reyes facility as well. Tours begin at 11:30 and include a tasting and cheesemaking demonstration. Reservations are recommended. 80 Fourth Street, Point Reyes Station, 415-663-9335.

San Francisco

If you’re in San Francisco, we also recommend a visit to Cowgirl Creamery’s retail store in the Ferry Building, which features a large selection of some of the best American and European cheeses and cheese accessories. Next door, grab a sandwich, a cheese plate or a simple glass of fresh, cold milk at their Sidekick cafe. Special tours and tastings of the Ferry Building shop are available for groups of up to 10 people. One Ferry Building, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, 415-362-9354.

East Bay

On First Friday’s, Jack London Square has its night market with music, shopping and good local foods. On other Fridays they often have some sort of food frolics. The ferry ride between JLS and San Francisco’s ferry building lets you enjoy both sides of the bay PLUS often fabulous sunsets. But don’t miss the ferry as they can be few and far between!

Saturday

San Francisco

Farmers Markets: No food lover’s visit to San Francisco would be complete without a visit to the iconic Ferry Building. For a more unique experience, stop by during the farmers market at 12:30 pm Tuesdays and 11 am Saturdays for free cooking demonstrations. Well-known Bay Area chefs, farmers and authors will demonstrate a seasonal recipe with produce pulled directly from the market. Here’s the upcoming calendar. One Ferry Building, The Embarcadero, San Francisco. See Cuesa.org.

Have car? Travel to the Alemany market early morning. Bustling with serious bargain hunters, colorful murals lining stalls represent the produce you’ll find. San Francisco established this market in the ’40s to connect cities with farms. What’s old is new again! 100 Alemany Boulevard, off highway 280, San Francisco.

Nearby

  • Avedano’s Holly Market in Bernal Heights leads the trend in old-fashioned butchery. You can see the butchers at work behind the counter. Check their class schedule to hone your own skills. This tiny specialty store brings you a selection of local favorite foods for your picnic or to take home! avedanos.com

Weekly walking tour hosted by Edible Excursions – The Mission in San Francisco is home to some of the Bay Area’s best food, from the tacos, salsa and horchata of its Latin American heritage to newer local favorites such as Mission Pie.  A typical tour starts at Mission Pie and includes stops at El Farolito, Humphry Slocombe and La Palma Foods. Tours begin at 11 am and are held rain or shine. The cost is $75. For tickets and more information, click here or call 415-806-5970.

Marin / North Bay

Chocolate Making Classes every other Saturday at Coco-luxe let you be the master of your chocolate bar habit. Great fun for groups, families, or solo die hard chocolophiles. More info.

Take a ferry ride out of San Francisco to check out the weekly farmer’s market at the Marin Country Mart featuring some of the region’s best produce, as well as pony rides and music. It runs from 9 am to 2 pm (Check for schedule changes). 2257 Larkspur Landing, Larkspur, 415-461-5700.

Sunday

San Francisco

Whether you’re an experienced baker or a bread novice, you’ll learn something new at bagel making workshops with San Francisco’s Sour Flour. Participants will learn about mixing ingredients, developing gluten and shaping bagels. Unbaked bagels can be brought home or left at the bakery for baking. Classes are held most Sundays at 5:30 pm at La Victoria Bakery, 2937 24th Street, San Francisco. The cost $80. Book your tickets here.  For more information on Sour Flour, call 415-509-3380.

blue bottle cuppingEast Bay (Oakland, Berkeley)

You’ll find the Jack London Square farmers’ market by the water and railroad tracks on Sunday, from 9 am-2 pm. We suggest arriving around 1 pm and grabbing bites for a picnic. Water Street, between Franklin and Harrison Street, Oakland.

Then walk up Webster a couple of blocks to get schooled and caffeinated. The micro-roaster and coffee evangelists at Blue Bottle Coffee — who started at the Oakland farmers’ market — offer free public cuppings every Tuesday and Sunday at 2 pm. (If you’re headed to or from the Oakland Airport, it’s an easy stop off Highway 880!) Come and taste their latest roasts and learn what leads to their cult following.  Details here. Can’t make it to Oakland? Be sure to visit one of Blue Bottle’s locations in San Francisco. We particularly enjoy their top floor cafe with “art pastries” and cakes at the Museum of Modern Art. An experience not to be missed.

Near the Oakland Blue Bottle is an urban winery, who opens up only on Sundays for tastings. Their schedule may

Pioneer in the new American artisan spirits movement and famous for Hangar One Vodka, St. George Spirits is just 5 minutes from Blue Bottle in Alameda, with weekend distillery tours starting at 1 pm, 2 pm, and 3 pm on Saturday, and 1 pm on Sunday. Tours last approximately an hour. A tour guide will lead the group around the hangar where you’ll learn the finer points of distillation. 2601 Monarch Street, Alameda, 510-769-1601. http://www.stgeorgespirits.com

Marin / North Bay

The Sunday Marin Farmers’ Market is the third largest in California. It has a character different from others, with beautiful craft makers in addition to all sorts of products, many you wouldn’t find at other markets. If you’re heading to the shore it’s a great place to pick up picnic supplies. More info.

Experiential Eats

Restaurant Dining Recommendations in Bay Area

http://www.epicuring.com/california/best-restaurant-dining-reviewers-list-for-bay-area/


Introduction to the Japanese Kitchen

Introduction to the Japanese Kitchen

Japanese dishes and ingredients are having a culinary moment right now in the U.S., with chefs and home cooks drawing from the Japanese pantry, and incorporating dashi and koji in their sauces. And it’s a new rite of passage for chefs to travel to Japan […]



Top Picks for Hands-on Cooking Classes at San Francisco Cooking School

Top Picks for Hands-on Cooking Classes at San Francisco Cooking School

I’m working with the new  The San Francisco Cooking School which opened this Fall.  It’s been enlightening to work with founder Jodi Liano helping create awareness for the school.  Jodi has put assembled the largest selection of cooking classes — that’ll teach anyone, from a […]



Blood, Bones and Beef Hearts: Where to Eat on (or Around) Halloween?

Blood, Bones and Beef Hearts: Where to Eat on (or Around) Halloween?

It’s that spooky season again. Where to live it up on or around the Day of the Dead? It’s not just about candy anymore — although it is still about blood, bones and Batman masks.

Fear the food trucks. Friday, October 26 is the last time Off the Grid will appear at Fort Mason Center until next March. They’re turning their farewell gig into a Halloween haunt with decorations, live music from Rolling Stones cover band Black Angel, a costume contest (extra points for Stones-related guises) and Halloween specials at 34 food vendors and two full bars. (Hint: beef-heart tacos and pumpkin-cuchinta ice cream.)

Off the Grid is also celebrating Halloween at its North Berkeley market on Halloween night. The theme is slow food and scary meats, with special dishes including sauteed veal kidneys, pig-ear salad, and oxtails with roasted squash.

Good gore. San Francisco’s luella restaurant is serving “Blood, Bones and Flesh” on Halloween. The notable price of $16.66 (OK, it’s not $6.66, but still) buys a glass of Steel Wines Zinfandel paired with savory, saucy riblettes. (See before-and-after photographs above and below, both supplied by luella but highly suspect.) Guests are encouraged to dine in costume.

Sharpen your knives. From Thursday, October 25 through Wednesday, October 31, Yankee Pier Larkspur invites children to its annual pumpkin-carving contest. YPL provides the pumpkins; kids can take their carved jack-o’-lanterns home with them or leave them on display at the restaurant. Prizes will be awarded after winners are announced via Facebook on Halloween.

Back to the future. San Francisco’s luxurious Clift Hotel is hosting a 6th Element Halloween Party on Halloween night with the help of local fav DJs Miguel Migs and Frank Boissy spinning house and dubstep with overtones of jazz, blues, classic rock, funk and soul. Costumes are required for this “retro-futuristic” do which will rage until 2 a.m. in the secluded Redwood Room. Reservations are suggested; email cliftredwoodroom@MHGC.com.

Dead gorgeous. The first Thursday of every month is time for “Rick’s Supper Club” — special dinners designed by chef/co-owner Rick Hackett at Oakland’s Bocanova. November 1’s Supper Club features Day of the Dead-inspired dishes (such as and mushroom-chipotle soup and wilted spinach with tequilla-soaked raisins and pumpkin seeds) and cocktails (think serrano peppers, cucumbers and tomatillos), along with wines from Heintz Vineyards and Winery. Winemaker Charles Heintz will be there to discuss his wares.

Freaky fiesta. Copita in Sausalito — founded by legendary restaurateur Larry Mindel and TV celebrity chef Joanne Weir (host of Joanne Weir’s Cooking Confidence, author of Tequila: A Guide to Types, Flights, Cocktails and Bites), and featuring a mostly gluten-free menu — celebrates El Día de los Muertos on Thursday, November 1 with decorations, special dishes (spit-roasted turkey, spicy prune-tequila punch, posole with chicken, tangerine arroz con leche, and more), decorations and other dancing-with-death delights. Traditional pan de muerto and marigolds adorn a Day of the Dead altar.

Tour de freaks. The Espolón Day of the Dead Pub Crawl is a spirit-driven procession through the streets of Oakland’s historic Uptown District on November 1 from 7pm – 11pm. The pub crawl starts at Make Westing, then marches on to Dogwood, down south to Picán, and ends at Luka’s Taproom & Lounge. At every stop, Espolón Tequila will feature a special cocktail created by the mixologists at the establishment in question; fun activities will augment the freaky fun along the way. Bocce-ball temple Make Westing will serve the deadly and delicious Duende (Espolón Tequila Blanco, mango, lime, serrano chile, Grand Marnier, Mexican-spiced rim). Dogwood will serve the Widow’s Kiss (Espolón Tequila Reposado, Vida Mezcal, local honey, lime, house-made hibiscus syrup, with a half black salt rim. Picán will serve Sam Babalola’s VooDoo Punch (Espolón Tequila Reposado, spiced rum, pomegranate juice, orange juice, blood orange bitters). Luka’s, the last stop in the procession, will be serving a Pomegranate Margarita (Espolón Tequila Blanco, agave syrup, pomegranate syrup, salt & sugar rim, fresh pomegranate-seed garnish).

La Mar Masquerade. Also in San Francisco on Halloween night, La Mar Cebichería Peruana celebrates a different holiday, Peru’s national Day of the Creole Song, aka Día de la Canción Criolla. Costumes are encouraged (and their wearers will be rewarded with prizes) and the celebration includes festive decor, seasonal cocktails, music for dancing by a live criolla band, and special dishes augmenting the regular menu created by La Mar’s owner, internationally renowned chef Gastón Acurio.

Anneli Rufus

San Francisco Cooking School Teaches Culinary Intuition

San Francisco Cooking School Teaches Culinary Intuition

by Laiko Bahrs “When cooking go by your own taste. When baking follow directions.” That’s a quote I wrote long ago to remind myself to follow my intuition in the savory kitchen but read the recipe in the pastry and baking part of the kitchen. […]