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When my friend Jennifer handed me a beautiful gold-wrapped package at Christmas I was intrigued. She told me that she bought me some goodies from Emporio Rulli which is an Italian bakery in the Bay Area. I had never heard of Rulli but Jennifer raved about it and made a special trip to Larkspur with her mom to buy Christmas gifts from the shop so I was really excited to try these cookies.

You would expect that I tore open that package as soon as I had an opportunity, right? No. You see, I was the child whose Halloween candy lasted for months. I don’t eat or drink quickly because I like to savor everything. So I waited and waited to open these cookies. Finally, nearly three weeks later, I cracked it open. I figured since the cookies have been wrapped they probably weren’t stale. And they weren’t!

The cookies looked beautiful and delicious and I didn’t know which one to try first. Well, that’s not true. I immediately went for the one covered in pistachios. Yum! I’ve eaten four now and they are all so tasty. And they’re all different which is even better because I’ll get to try about 20 different types of cookies.

So, after I dug into the cookies I actually searched for the Emporio Rulli website and guess what? The owners, Gary and Jeannie Rulli, also own Ristobar, a restaurant in SF’s Marina district which I visited and wrote about almost a year ago. It’s a full-circle moment 🙂

Apparently, Gary Rulli is known for his panettone but I would be happy going back again and again for the cookies.

Locations:

Emporio Rulli

464 Magnolia Avenue

Larkspur, California 94939

(415) 924-7478

larkspur@rulli.com

Ristobar

2300 Chestnut St. at Scott Street in the Marina District

San Francisco, CA 94123

(415)923-6464

WWW.RISTOBARSF.COM

Emporio Rulli il Caffe (in Union Square, San Francisco)

Located On top of the Square in the Stockton & Powell Street Pavilions
At the corner of Stockton & Post & At the corner of Powell & Geary
unionsq@rulli.com
Emporio-Rulli SFO
International Terminal and Domestic Terminal 3
~Christina
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I had heard of Perbacco and its spinoff restaurant Barbacco but hadn’t had a chance to check out either until recently. A friend was in town and staying not far from my office in the financial district so I thought this would be a great chance to finally go. I couldn’t get a table at Perbacco (plan early if you want a reservation) so Barbacco it was. The vibe is a little different at the sister restaurant. It’s a little more casual and the menu is different but it does not disappoint.

The restaurant can be a good date choice (it’s dimly lit at night) but it’s also great for eating with friends and during the weekdays it looks more like a typical FiDi lunch spot. We sat at the bar and quickly noticed the iPad in front of us (according to Eater SF, Barbacco was the first West Coast restaurant to utilize iPads for wine orders). When it comes to wine menus I just like having options, but the iPads were a nice touch.

Photo credit: Barbaccosf.com

Once we decided on wine it was time to tackle the menu. Everything sounded so delicious and all the items were sharable so it was difficult to choose. I loved everything we ate but my favorites were the Mushroom Risotto Croquettes, the Lasagna Bolognese and the Roasted Pear/Rucola/Gorgonzola bruschette (pictured below – sorry for my horrible picture-taking!). Man, I’m getting hungry just reminiscing about it!

The service was great, the atmosphere was perfect for a relaxed night out and the food was really, really good. No complaints (well, it would have been nice if the bar had purse hooks but you can’t have everything). I would definitely go back to Barbacco but I want to eat at Perbacco first!

Barbacco
220 California Street, SF
p: 415.955.1919
takeout: 415.955.1960
M-F lunch 11:30am-3pm
M-Sat dinner 5pm-10pm
http://www.barbaccosf.com/
 

~Christina

Source: Paper Source

I was looking for some supplies for paper crafts and honestly had no idea where to go in the City. So I did a quick Internet search which of course produced a list that was somewhat helpful. After doing the usual scan of Yelp results I decided to check out a store called Paper Source. Well, apparently there are two of them in San Francisco but the reviews indicated that the Marina location was “better.” So I headed over there and was excited to discover that the reviews were true.

Paper Source is so much more than paper. Yes, there is a great variety of paper designs from solid to sparkly to patterned. But what I didn’t expect to find was a variety of awesome gifts and crafting kits – almost all of which I wanted to buy – and the desire to hang out and look around the store for hours. They have those kind of kitschy items like novelties and hostess gifts such as books about food, funky totes and soap sets. I got completely sucked into this book about what your “birth color” says about your personality and love interests (my perfect mate’s birthday is either January 31, April 14th or June 16th) and finally realized the time was running out on my parking meter so I needed to hurry up and find what I went there to buy.

The staff was super friendly but not in an annoying, pesky way and I really needed help so that was great. I found what I needed and so much more. The store also provides crafting classes and I am hoping to go back for the holiday card-making class. I am really into crafting these days and trying not to go overboard with the number of projects I’m working on at one time but it is fun to see what’s out there. If any of you want to recommend cool crafting or paper supply stores in your area please share!

Paper Source

2061 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA 94123
415-614-1585
 
hours

Monday-Friday: 10-7
Saturday: 10-6
Sunday: 11-6

www.paper-source.com

~Christina

Okay, no pictures today. Just a good old fashioned opinion. I have to write this. Last week a few girls and I went to a wine tasting at a well-known wine bar in the 14th/U Street area in DC. Not just well known, but one of the best, winner of many awards. And it sucked. This wine bar recently added a tasting room and market, and had a space above the market to taste the wines. They brought in a group of wine importers, based in Italy, who spoke about the wines they selected and why. I was excited. I love Italy, and all things Italian (see my pasta addiction…). The instructor studied winemaking at UC Davis and moved to Italy. He spoke Italian fluently. Amazing. But when we had one wine glass on the table, and ten wines to taste, I should have known something was wrong.

I’ve been to wine samplings where you are given one glass. I say samplings because that’s what they were. They were free. Because the point was to just taste something, see if you liked it, and purchase something. Not to teach the participants about wine.  At Bottle Rocket in NYC, Christina and I went to a self-guided sampling, where the bottles and the descriptions were set out and they had staff on hand to answer any questions. But, with one wine glass, there were pitchers of water to rinse the glasses. Considering Bottle Rocket is a bottle shop, it made perfect sense to have a less fancy setup. And the point was to taste the wines to find a bottle to buy. At the Whole Foods in Fairfax, Virginia, they have an enomatic machine, where you can squirt out little single tastings of the 50+ wines they have and try before you buy. Same at Union Square Wines in NYC.

At this DC wine bar, I felt like I was in an infomercial. After every tasting, we heard: “this wine is available downstairs”. Great, but put it out there that what we’re doing is trying to find a bottle of wine for you to go buy. Don’t call it a guided wine tasting. Say, I’m going to give you a sip of 15 bottles of wine for you to figure out what you like. Good luck, sort it out, and if you want to learn about wines, go somewhere else.

If you happened to not like the wine that was in the glass, or drank a little slow, you were finding yourself having to chug the wine before the guy came around with the next bottle. The descriptions were all out of order and I honestly stopped paying attention halfway through the reds section.

The point of tastings is to learn what you like to drink, so you can start to recognize characteristics in wine that you like or don’t like. You start to learn things about what you’re tasting. For instance, as you may know, I don’t like sweet wines. So once I understood the adjectives that described these wines, like “has residual sugars”, or the region that makes these wines like Germany or Austria, I knew which wines to  stay away from. But if you don’t spend any time on the characteristics of the wine itself, and only focus on the pricepoint and anecdotes about the grower, what really is the point?

So in short, I was super disappointed. Really, DC, this is all you have to offer? Email me if you want to know what wine bar it was, to save you the trouble and money. And email me if you have some suggestions for good wine tastings in DC — I’m not giving up yet.

Here are a few places that have outstanding tastings.

Guided:

Artisanal Cheese, NYC

483 10th Avenue
New York, NY

Institute of Culinary Education, NYC

50 West 23rd Street
New York, NY

Murray’s Cheese Shop, NYC

254 Bleeker Street
New York, NY

Self Guided:

Bottle Rocket, NYC

5 West 19th Street
New York, NY

Bin 38, San Francisco

3232 Scott St
San Francisco, CA

Bin 36, Chicago

339 North Dearborn Street
Chicago, IL

Whole Foods Wine Market, Fairfax, VA

4501 Market Commons Dr
Fairfax, VA 22033

Union Square Wines, NYC

140 4th Avenue
New York, NY

Source: Ristobar



A group of friends and I randomly came across a restaurant called Ristobar in the Marina district of San Francisco.  It was truly a nice surprise, especially since we were out to celebrate a birthday and almost settled on a good but run-of-the-mill chain restaurant down the street.

Management describes it like this:  “In Italy, ristobars are casual, comfortable neighborhood gathering places where friends and family convene to conversate, eat, and drink.” Sounds good to me. As soon as we walked in I was excited. The dark browns of the interior and the open layout of the floor plan created a sophisticated feel without looking stuffy or pretentious.

The restaurant has a long bar on one side that seems perfect for after-work drinks or having a cocktail while waiting for a table. We were seated at a long table and immediately attended to by out waiter.

So much on the menu looked delicious but our group decided to order a bunch of individual-sized pizzas. To get things started we ordered green olives, bread and of course, wine! Something that really impressed me about the service we received was the fact that our waiter returned to our table after putting our order in to suggest that we not get the bread since we had ordered all those pizzas. Why didn’t we think of that? And how often do waiters recommend against ordering anything?

The pizzas come oval-shaped, flat and delicious with just the right amount of toppings. As soon as they arrived we dug right in (we also started trading slices with each other). We gobbled it up pretty quickly (which is saying a lot, since I am usually a slow eater). I’m looking forward to going back to Ristobar to try some of the other great looking items on the menu, particularly the gnocchi with gorgonzola dolce latte and Sicilian pistachio.

The details:

Ristobar

2300 Chestnut Street

San Francisco

415.923.6464

http://ristobarsf.com/

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