Weekend Winos

Enthusiasts in search of quality libations to enhance weekends.

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Tourists at Home – SF Mission District Food Tour

Avital Mission District Food Tour. It was a 3 hour tour and just like they promised we had a blast eating and drinking our way through the neighbourhood and clocked 10,450 steps on top of it!   But I am getting ahead of myself.

SF MIssion District

While we enjoy getting together at our homes and relaxing while we research and enjoy some new libations, the early spring crisp air had everyone anxious to be outdoors.  Someone in the group knew about the Avital tours so we signed up and set off to the Mission District for our weekend adventure.

This area of San Francisco is know for its rich Mexican and Central American culture, colorful street murals, culinary options from taquerias to the original location of The Slanted Door (now at the Ferry Building) and Mission Dolores a few blocks from Dolores Park. We met our guide in front of The Women’s Building, it serves a variety of women’s organizations and provides meeting and activity space to the community.  The mural, MaestraPeace (1994), honors women’s contributions around the world.


First Stop, Hog & Rocks, San Francisco’s first ham and oyster barHog and RocksWhat a great place to start, the manager was very knowledgeable and told us about the different types of oysters.  The bartender served us a Calabria, a combination of bourbon, meyer lemon, bergamot, taverna, honey, bitters and ginger. They know their whiskeys and offer eight or more Old Fashioned options in their menu.

Second stop, Mission Cheese, known for their limited production artisan and farmstead cheeses.  We tasted  Landaff (from Landaff Creamery) and Golden Valley Pecorino (from Golden Valley Creamery) paired with a dark beer.  Cheese and beer?  Yes, it works!  Their menu has more than cheese – the salads, salumi plate and duck rillettes looked fantastic. And they also serve wine.


Venga EmpanadasNext, Venga Empanadas, where we toured the kitchen and met one of the owners.  They served us two different types of empanadas, the traditional argentine beef and a five pepper manchego cheese empanada.  A little glass of wine would have been nice, the tour included drinks!  On our way out we bought some alfajorcitos de maicena – oh soooo  good!  I’ll have to look up the recipe.

After a short walk by the Mission towards Mission Dolores Park, we stopped at Bi-Rite Market a grocery store that sells organic goods.  We were offered some delicious strawberries and quickly walked around the store.  It was small, full of people and expensive.  Our last stop was the Bi-Rite Creamery, people were lined up around the block.  Our tour guide walked in as if he owned the establishment and emerged a few minutes later with a plater full of salt and caramel ice cream for the group.  A generous tasting I must add, and it was delicious.  A great way to end the tour!


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Egg Nog – Love It or Leave It?

There were just a few of the winos in town after Christmas, and we quickly discovered that only one (our host) had a true appreciation for egg nog.  We agreed to start with some homemade egg nog and then set out to taste the different store-bought brands.

Egg Nog Options

Egg nog for the Holidays is not a tradition that I grew up with, so I was intrigued by all the options to consider.  Cold or warm? Rum, brandy, bourbon, cognac or Baileys? Nutmeg or cinnamon? Diluted with milk or creamy thick? Soy based? Low fat? Shaken or stirred? Cocktail or straight up? Is it one word (eggnog) or two words (egg nog)? And of course — homemade versus store-bought egg nog ?

As a group we always agree that there can be many winners, everyone has different tastes and preferences.  In this case, the homemade option prepared by our host was the clear winner.  He insisted that it was a simple recipe and his preference is to use a light rum.  The critical steps he mentioned, other than the constant whisking, are to make sure that the mixture cools down before adding the rum, vanilla, light cream and nutmeg and to refrigerate overnight.

We started the pre-made tasting using shot glasses (more than that would have been too much) and found that the group quickly agreed on: cold, creamy, with liquor, not shaken, with nutmeg and not soy (very watery, just unpleasant). The store-bought preferred options were:

  • Southern Comfort Vanilla Spice Egg Nog (220 calories and 9g fat for 1/2 cup): There is no liquor in it as the name may imply, it is lighter in color than the others and basically tastes like a profiterole.  The option with E&J XO brandy (versus rum) was also the preferred choice.
  • Sunnyside Farms Low Fat Egg Nog (130 calories and 2g fat for 1/2 cup): The dark yellow color was off-putting to some, but it tasted pretty good, like pudding, at almost 1/2 the calories.  Once again, the E&J XO brandy was the preferred liquor option.

We never did settle if it is egg nog or eggnog, I guess we’ll leave that to next year’s celebration.  And like everything else, don’t overdo it, too much of a good thing is not good, and that is especially true for this creamy libation.