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Dec 6, 2022 23 min read

December 7, 2022 - This week's tablehopper: hella festive.

December  7, 2022 - This week's tablehopper: hella festive.
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This week's tablehopper: hella festive.                    

Taking in a special view of The Garden Court at the Palace Hotel, which is serving holiday Sunday brunch once again. Feeling festive! Photo: ©

Howdy, fab readers. I know a bunch of us don’t even know what day it is (seriously, this month is nuts), but no need to double-check your calendar, you’re receiving today’s column a day late, on a Wednesday! I’ve had a LOT going on over here, from some stressful family/health stuff (all is good now, thank goddess, exhalingggg) to getting everything lined up for the third Hopper Holiday Gift Bag! Yup, I did it again. I’m so excited for you to check out the 13 tasty treats from local restaurants, bars, and food makers in this year’s collection, which includes the latest tablehopper takeout tote design (which is cracking me UP).

The first version of the bag has a limited run due to the quantity of the adorable Friends and Family glasses I was able to secure. I’m working on a replacement item for the second edition of the bag if and when this first batch (hopefully!) sells out. Just FYI, so move quickly if you love that little glass as much as I do! Bag presales end on December 17th, FYI!

Inflation was no joke this year, but thanks to the many makers who offered special pricing so we could get 13 items in the bag again. They’re all very excited for you to try their products, and grateful for your support!

I’m thrilled to be partnering with La Cocina Municipal Marketplace as this year’s bag assembly and pick-up spot! If there are any elves with spare hands to help me out with bag assembly on Tuesday December 20th, I’d be so grateful! It’s usually just a couple hours. Please send me an email and I’ll get back to you. Mwah!

I hope you’re getting into some holiday spirit(s). I have been posting a BUNCH of holiday Stories on Instagram every day, be sure to check my holiday Highlight for a full recap of holiday cocktails, special meals, and treats. (There’s a New Year’s Eve Highlight gaining steam, too.)

One upcoming post will be about the return of Sunday brunch (after three long years) to The Garden Court at the Palace Hotel! Sis and I went on Sunday, and it felt wonderful to be back under the crystal chandeliers in that gorgeous room while eating eggs Benedict and drinking bubbles. If you’re looking for a special and very San Francisco holiday brunch, there’s one idea for you. (Read about their holiday offerings here.)

OK, it’s time to hit send and get these bag sales going. I’m looking forward to making wreaths with sis tonight, and doing our Holiday Spirits and Lights Tour this Sunday—the elves are taking a break from the workshop and getting lit. Thanks for everything, catch up with you soon! Have fun out there!

XO ~Champers the elf

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

The Hopper Holiday Gift Bag Is Here to Make Your Holidays SO TASTY


Sales end Saturday December 17th!


Calamansi tea cookies from Buko Bakes.


Hoisin sauce from The Slanted Door.


Recchiuti Confections x A16 x Kelly Tunstall x Ferris Plock.


Bayview dark roast beans from Tallio’s Coffee & Tea.


Sara’s Granola from Dynamo Donut.


The adorable drinking glass from Friends and Family.


Housemade chile oil from Noodle Stop.


Thai cocktail nuts from Kitiya.


We’ll be enjoying three kinds of holiday cookies from Greens.


It’s time to mix and bake up a batch of Minnie Bell’s cornbread.


SF Neon and SF Legacy lapel pins: the Ha-Ra and Li Po.


SF Neon and SF Legacy lapel pin: Sam Wo restaurant.


SF Neon and SF Legacy lapel pin: Tommy’s Joynt.


This year’s tablehopper takeout bag design. Enjoy your delicious moments! (Thanks for your help, Meli!)

Now in its third year is the Hopper Holiday Gift Bag, SF’s best collection of tasty holiday goodies and treats! Thanks to all of you who continue to support the many makers and independent restaurants and pop-ups and food businesses featured in this annual gift bag. You’re the reason I keep doing this every holiday (and, I am certifiably cuckoo)! As you know, it’s still rough out here: the pandemic keeps dragging on, inflation is hitting hard, and our local businesses continue to try to keep on pushing through and survive, so let’s do what we can to show up for and celebrate them!

This abundant gift bag is packed full of some of the most delicious, local, hand-crafted, and festive treats, all curated by yours truly! I’m talking about 13 stellar, San Francisco Bay Area-made products, many of them from people of color, queer, and women makers, as well as small businesses that I know have been hustling extra-hard to stay afloat. It’s a great way to discover some new businesses, while supporting some of our local and longtime faves, too.

You can order it for yourself, or you can split up the gift bag into stocking stuffers for your friends or as host/ess gifts, share a bag with a friend, or give a gift bag to someone who could really use a lift (and maybe can’t afford it right now).

And: there’s a donation included with each bag sold to Gumbo Social’s Kickstarter—let’s all help founder Dontaye Ball open his first brick-and-mortar business in the Bayview!


  • Calamansi tea cookies by Buko Bakes (six). Founder Michelle Numbers of Filipinix baking company Buko Bakes is also part of the La Cocina family of entrepreneurs! These citrusy and lightly sweet tea cookies are the perfect afternoon treat (and if you ever get a chance to try Michelle’s trademark ube crinkle cookies, do it!).
  • Hoisin sauce from The Slanted Door (6 oz.). It’s time to level up your hoisin game with this small-batch sauce inspired by the fresh hoisin sauce chef Charles Phan tasted in Vietnam. It’s full of complex flavor, and even has a nutty note from the tahini used in making it. Hoisin is typically used as a condiment for pho, but can also be used in marinades, stir-fries, soups, noodles, sandwiches, and as a dipping sauce for meats.
  • Confections by Recchiuti Confections for A16, custom-designed by local artists Kelly Tunstall and Ferris Plock (Kefe Inc.) (four-pack). This collection includes a selection of Recchiuti signatures: burnt caramel, force noir truffles, Piedmont hazelnut truffle, and Morello cherry pâtes de fruits.
  • Bayview dark roast coffee beans from Tallio’s Coffee & Tea (12 oz.). This new specialty coffee roaster and shop from Olton Rensch is one of the latest Black-owned businesses to open in the Bayview (after far too many snags and delays, which was very hard on this new biz). The Bayview blend is made with specialty coffee beans from Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, and Mexico, with notes of baker’s chocolate, silky red wine, and deep, toasty flavors. It pairs really well with milk (and cookies, just ask Santa). Visit the shop and try their ginger brew made from a family recipe (from Suriname).
  • Sara’s Granola by Dynamo Donut (12 oz.). One of my top granolas in SF, not many people know about it unless they visit the Dynamo Donut stand! It’s balanced and toasty and nutty, with ingredients like plump dried cherries, toasted coconut, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and golden raisins. Not too sweet, it’s just right. I adore it as a snack, too.


  • Drinking glass from Friends and Family. This adorable drinking glass will be your new favorite vessel for enjoying a splash of wine while you cook, a cocktail, sherry, spirits, or as a water glass on your nightstand when it’s time to hydrate! Friends and Family is a woman- and queer-owned bar in Oakland, you should definitely come by for their cocktails, snacks, and excellent vibes.
  • Chile oil from Noodle Stop (8 oz.). As soon as I tasted this magical chile oil with my bowl of Hong Kong-style wonton noodle soup, I knew I was going to want to have it in the hopper holiday gift bag months later! This recently opened noodle shop on Noriega makes this notable chile oil that has deep, savory flavor and the perfect kick to keep you warm this winter. Their customers love it (including me).
  • Thai cocktail nuts from Kitiya (5 oz.). Kitiya Ditpare is a La Cocina entrepreneur who makes fantastic Thai food at her pop-ups (and a line of sauces!). For the holidays, she’s offering these salty, sweet, and spicy Thai cocktail nuts, featuring a mix of walnuts, almonds, pecans, cashew nuts, garlic, cilantro, black pepper, and Thai chile. Shazam! They’re perfect for busy elves to have as a snack or enjoy with holiday cocktails.
  • Habanero salsa from Los Cilantros (5 oz.). La Cocina entrepreneur Dilsa Lugos is famous for her tostadas de tinga and chile relleno, which you can find at the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace, and a side of her feisty habanero salsa always dials things up! Dilsa is going to be making and bottling up her salsa for us, an exclusive to the hopper holiday gift bag! This is the first time she’s been willing to sell this product outside of her kiosk/restaurant. (Gracias, Dilsa!) You’ll be shaking it on everything for a little kick.
  • Cornbread mix from Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement (33 oz.). Fillmore-born and La Cocina grad Fernay McPherson is known for her next-level rosemary fried chicken (her shop is in Emeryville), and a side of her deeeelicious cornbread is always a must. Now you can make a batch at home and enjoy it with lots of butter (we won’t judge).
  • Holiday cookies from Greens (six). During the pandemic, Greens executive chef Katie Reicher, pastry chef Jana Unkel, and their team started offering a fabulous cookie box filled with all kinds of holiday cookies. This year, we selected their peppermint brownie, shortbread, and gingerbread cookie (two of each!) for you to enjoy. Try to leave one for Santa, but we understand if that doesn’t happen.
  • Vintage restaurant or bar neon sign lapel pin from San Francisco Neon (one pin). Help support this incredible organization that leads tours, talks, events, and more that celebrate, preserve, advocate for, and educate about neon signs and SF history. We have an array of four pins that highlight iconic neon signs and SF Legacy businesses: Li Po and Sam Wo in Chinatown, the Ha-Ra bar in the Tenderloin, and Tommy’s Joynt on Van Ness. (Each bag will randomly contain one pin, sorry you can’t choose.)
  • Custom tablehopper “pizza slice” tote. To continue the tablehopper takeout bag theme over here, I thought it would be fun to create a spin on the classic (and weird AF) pizza takeout box that always makes me chuckle with its artwork that looks like two different people drew it. Enjoy your delicious moments! (Mil gracias to Meli for her design help!) This oversized, canvas market tote will become your favorite for schlepping and repping.
  • $10 donation to Gumbo Social’s Kickstarter. Let’s all help founder Mr. Gumbo Dontaye Ball open his first brick-and-mortar business in the Bayview! We need to show up for Black business, and get this funded by December 21st! (Even if you don’t buy a bag, please check out his Kickstarter, thanks!)


Whew! So how’s that for an extravaganza of flavor? The Hopper Holiday Restaurant Gift Bag is $225 (click to order), and 100 percent fabulous. All sales are final, no refunds or returns.

Everything will be shelf stable, so you don’t have to worry about getting anything into the fridge after you receive it (but a couple items will need to be refrigerated after you open them, and don’t leave any cookies sitting around for too long). An ingredient list will be included (and/or listed on some items).

Unfortunately, there are no substitutions or custom orders. If there’s something you can’t eat or enjoy, I’m sure you can find someone who will! Thanks for understanding. If you need more details about any ingredients, please get in touch.

Items are subject to change and availability—since we’re dealing with so many items here (13!), there’s a small chance we’ll need to make a change or swap an item. Please trust it will be delicious. Thank you for understanding, we’ll keep you informed of any changes.

This first run is going to be limited to 36 gift bags since we only have 36 Friends & Family glasses, so you’ll want to hop to it. When they run out, the second version of the bag won’t include the F&F glass—it will now be the Fort Point Beer Company KSA Day Glass, a gold-rimmed, German Stange beer glass. Cheers!

You have until Saturday December 17th at 1pm PST to order. Email me to be added to a waitlist if it’s sold out.

In-person, pre-paid PICK-UPS will be available at La Cocina Municipal Marketplace on Wednesday December 21st, Thursday December 22nd, and Friday December 23rd from 9am-7pm each day. If you’re planning to pick up, please support the Marketplace vendors and place an order for takeout before you head over (I’ll be sending you a list of some of my favorite dishes)! We’ll have more details for you as it gets closer. I’m very grateful to La Cocina for being our partner on bag fulfillment/pick-ups this year!

La Cocina Municipal Marketplace: 332 Golden Gate Ave. at Hyde. There’s a loading zone outside where you’ll be able to pull in. (Please don’t contact the marketplace for any questions you have about the bag. Hit me up instead.)

DELIVERY in San Francisco will also be available Wednesday December 21st and Thursday December 22nd for an additional fee of $15. Champers the elf, AKA yours truly, will be delivering the bags to you! (If you’re in the East Bay, get in touch and we’ll see what I can do! I delivered to a couple folks last year for $25. I will also be down in San Mateo on December 24th, let me know if you’re nearby and we can try to meet up.)

I will finalize your delivery time window after I get all orders in and can map things out. Please specify your preferred day and timeframe to start (morning is 9am-12pm; afternoon is 12pm-5pm, evening is 5pm-8pm). Available delivery time slots will be Wed morning, afternoon, evening; and Thu morning, afternoon, evening. Stand by for more details and a better ETA soon if you choose delivery. If you miss your delivery (things happen!) and there’s nowhere safe for me to leave it, you’ll be able to pick up your bag at La Cocina Municipal Marketplace. No delivery fee refunds (unless it’s totally my fault).

Sorry, no shipping (I’m crazy, but not thaaaat crazy, unless you want to throw crazy money at me), and I won’t be able to offer the gift bags any earlier than Wednesday December 21st (unless you want to volunteer stuffing bags!).

On behalf of all our local restaurants, bars, and food businesses, thank youuuu! We appreciate all your kind and generous support. Our Bay Area hospitality industry is so special, thanks for showing up for it. And a very heartfelt thank you to super-elf Martin Guerrero of Square, who always helps set up our online store for this!

Chef Anthony Strong Is Back, and Bringing a Pasta Playground to the Inner Richmond


Chef-owner Anthony Strong. Photo: Aubrey Pick.

Our pandemic poster boy of the pivot, chef Anthony Strong, is back! He was one of the first to fully embrace the great restaurant retail experiment, and converted his recently opened Prairie in the Mission into a general store early on in the pandemic. He closed Prairie in August of 2020, and then in 2021, he launched his customized and tricked-out SuperStella van for private, alfresco, charcoal-grilled tasting menu experiences behind the Ferry Building.

And now, after numerous rumors and buzz on the street that I’ve been hearing, I’m excited to share a preview of his latest venture: a pasta-centric shop that is part retail, part dine-in, coming to Clement Street (in the former Grain D’or and Busvan for Bargains furniture repair shop, which has been vacant for a couple years).

This project is a culmination of many things, starting with his 11 years working at Delfina Restaurant Group, where he earned the nickname of “nonna whisperer” for his ability to get invited to many nonna kitchens in Italy to watch and learn how they made their specialty pastas. Even more than pizza, pasta is what he has spent the most time exploring and researching in his culinary career. He can’t help being known for it—during his SuperStella van meals, customers would even ask if there was going to be pasta on the menu. Strong loves making pasta and hanging out with grandmas—he just finished a few months in Italy, touring pastificios (pasta shops) and food shops and obsessively observing how pasta is part of everyday life there.

It ends up he got bit by the retail bug with his general store—he loved getting products to his customers, and encouraging them to try different ingredients and share how he liked to use them at home. At his new shop, he’s going to offer a variety of pastas in the case, as well as all the products you use to make and eat pasta at home, from sauces to house-cultured butter to bottarga to Parmigiano.

Speaking of home, the pandemic showed Strong how nice it was to be home for dinner at night. He became disenchanted with fine dining and the unsustainable model it requires to be able to offer allllll the things to diners, from bread service to upscale glassware to a range of main dishes. Here, he wants to simplify and create a sustainable kitchen model by just offering a small, edited menu of pasta dishes that will change daily (which you can enjoy along with a glass of wine, or even a bottle, if that’s how you want to roll). There will be a handful of tables and a counter, walk-in only. (This dine-in phase of the business will launch later.)

When talking about his vision, Strong calls it a pasta playground and a workshop, which is definitely reflected in the design (think workshop-meets-mid-century), which he did himself, as well as the construction! There’s an open production kitchen, with visible displays of pasta drying in plastic crates suspended on the wall, with white ceilings and subway tile.

He’s thrilled to become part of the Inner Richmond neighborhood, which is his favorite. There’s a great Sunday market, he digs all the families, and the chill and casual vibe of Clement Street. He hopes his pasta workshop will become the neighborhood pastificio, something that is part of people’s daily (or weekly) lifestyle.

Look for the pasta and retail shop to launch in early 2023, which will likely be open to his mailing list members to start. I’ll keep you posted on the launch date, and the name, of course. Really looking forward to this! 236 Clement St. at 3rd Ave.

A Renovated Park Tavern Is Reopening, and Bringing Some Glam to Washington Square


The festive exterior of Park Tavern. Photo courtesy of Anna Weinberg.

A bunch of you have been asking me when PARK TAVERN was going to reopen, and I have some great news for you: it’s opening to the public in January 2023! I caught up with owner Anna Weinberg, who is thrilled to be able to open full-time in the new year. Park Tavern has opened and closed three times over the pandemic, like many places, offering takeout, retail, and patio/parklet dining.

She decided to take advantage of the moment and update the restaurant, which was in need of some serious work, from upgrading the plumbing to fixing the leaky roof to installing new and energy-efficient equipment in the kitchen, which will save money long-term. And, of course, there’s new ventilation. She says, “This restaurant has been very good to me, and there was no better time to renovate. I knew I won’t get another chance like this.”

The massive bummer has been the supply chain-related delays for some crucial kitchen equipment (we’re talking 42 weeks and counting). While waiting for some final pieces, it ends up she still managed to run Thanksgiving service for some of her regulars, and thankfully sister restaurant, Tosca, was able to help with the cooking. Weinberg was so happy to see her customers (she was actually waiting tables that night!), and she says it felt quite emotional to be back in service. Some of her OG servers have returned (so many have left the industry), and they’re using December to host private events and do training. However: they will be open Christmas Day to the public, with reservations opening on Tock this Friday!

Of course, the stylish Weinberg is giving the space a big makeover, moving away from the rustic barn-style that was popular 12 years ago when they opened, and now it’s getting a bit more glam. She says, “Park Tavern is always a place where you can get something to eat at the bar, and you can have a nicer dinner in the dining room.” There’s wood paneling on the walls that will help with sound, and the dining room is outfitted with jewel tones, like deep purple/inky marble and dark green banquettes, with repainted walls and fab floor tiles…and trees!

The bar had a major facelift: there are stained glass pendant lights, the communal table is gone, and some circular booths that were remade from Tosca are coming over instead. The front café area is airy and light and black and white, and now can be made into a private area with doors that side closed. The private dining room is black and gold and a bit Bollywood (she did the design herself, and says, “There was no one to tell me no!”).

I will have an update for you next on the menu and some pics, but wanted to share the upcoming opening news for now. 1652 Stockton St. at Filbert.

Katsuo & Kombu, a Japanese Curry and Udon Shop, Is Coming to Divis


Negi udon at Hamano in Noe Valley. Photo courtesy of Hamano.


Housemade noodles at Hamano. Photo courtesy of Hamano.

I love writing about new restaurants, especially when they’re coming to my hood! Nopa residents, it’s time to get excited for KATSUO & KOMBU, a casual Japanese udon and curry shop (the name refers to the crucial ingredients you need to make awase “combined” dashi/Japanese soup stock: bonito and kelp).

The project is from chef-owner Jiro Lin of Hamano in Noe Valley (one of my favorite sushi counters in the city), working with chef-partner Takashi “Taka” Saito (who you may recognize previously from Hashiri and Izakaya Yuzuki), and silent partner Todd Gottula. It ends up that since Taka has been brought on as the new kitchen chef, his made-from-scratch, beef stock-based curry is so good that Jiro and Taka were inspired to create a new business around it. Hamano’s current menu includes chicken katsu curry (with panko-breaded and fried Mary’s chicken thigh), vegetable curry, and beef curry—we’ll see which ones of these dishes are on Katsuo & Kombu’s opening menu, with others! (It’s a generational recipe, and they felt like it was a good opportunity to bring this concept to life. They have some expansion plans, too.)

Since curry and udon go so well together (they offer curry udon on Hamano’s menu), and everyone loves noodles, they’re getting a Yamato noodle-making machine, and will be offering udon and noodles in a variety of thicknesses (your choice), along with regular udon broth, toppings, core proteins (they even make their own agedashi tofu at Hamano), and your preferred spice level. Talk about a dream bowl—and they’re going to try to keep things under $20. At Hamano, they currently offer a few udon variations, including negi (green onion, fresh wakame), kakiage tempura (root vegetables and shrimp tempura), and beef, with stewed and sliced prime ribeye—we’ll have to see which udon bowls come over, and what some of their new suggested combinations are. I’ll keep you posted on the menu and more—this is just an initial preview!

They’re taking over the Pizzadero space, and hope to open by February 1st, if not sooner. The space will have some seating, so it will be a great spot to come by before or after a show at The Independent—yup, they’re going to be open from lunch until late night, along with offering beer, wine, and sake. Takeout and kits will be offered for those who want to slurp or prepare their own bowl at home. The team is thrilled with the location and can’t wait to become part of the neighborhood. 559 Divisadero St. at Hayes.

Some More Fun Holiday Gift Ideas and Seasonal Treats


Caffè Festivo Holiday Coffee Blend from Mr. Espresso.


Orange-chocolate panettone from Starter Bakery. Photo: ©


Puro Corazón terroir tequila from Loco Tequila. Photo: Michelle Pattee.


Sparkling Cuvée Signature Duo from Domaine Carneros and Voluspa. Photo: ©


The collector bottle of Charles Heidsieck’s Brut Réserve. Photo: ©


The latest Pasta Grannies cookbook: Comfort Cooking.


One of the fabulous DeckedOutSF fascinators, made by my sister! Photo: ©

Obviously, I’d love for you to buy the Hopper Holiday Gift Bag, full of 13 fantastic and locally made products from restaurants, bars, and food makers! It’s the perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for person who happens to love food. Thanks for your support!

Here are some other ideas, with many from local and small businesses—plllllease stay off Amazon if you can.

For the coffee lover: I’m a big fan of espresso from Mr. Espresso (locally made since 1978!), and for the holiday, they just released their special Caffè Festivo Holiday Coffee Blend, with cupping notes of candied fruit, mulling spices, and Dutch cocoa. They also sell some great holiday sets, including a set with the Caffè Festivo and a panettone from the storied Sicilian bakeshop Fiasconaro (perhaps you read the recent story about them in Eater?).

Speaking of panettone, it’s the perfect host/ess gift or way to say grazie. (And they always look like a present.) I’ve been loving the latest slow-fermented panettone from Starter Bakery, filled with Italian candied orange peel and 64% extra-bitter Guayaquil chocolate. The delicate texture is extraordinary. My mornings have been extra-special with a slice and an espresso, but it’s also a lovely sweet treat in the afternoon. In fact, I’m eating it right now, LOL.

I always love the panettone from Emporio Rulli—Gary makes it in the traditional Italian style, with four different flavors, but you’re getting it fresh. (He also makes killer stollen.)

A16 is taking preorders for the panettone they sell from Namesday Bakeshop (from chef Alex Lovick in Napa), who’s making a small amount and exclusively for A16! Flavors are traditional almond, candied orange and raisin, or the 2022 flavor of pistachio and lemon (!). Order here and choose the flavor, A16 location, and date you’d like to pick it up.

If you’re in the East Bay, Market Hall Foods always has a wide selection of panettone (the amarena cherry from Rustichella d’Abruzzo is a fave), as well as a bunch of other tasty seasonal items in their holiday shop, like olio nuovo.

I have been posting a BUNCH of holiday Stories on Instagram every day, be sure to check my holiday Highlight for a full recap of holiday cocktails, meals, and treats. I want to be sure you saw that One Market is offering eight kinds of latkes on their menu for their Festival of Latkes, until December 23rd! Delfina’s tasty latkes are also available right now!

OK, it’s time for a drink. One of the most special things I tasted this past year is the portfolio of Loco Tequila, from their Blanco to their Puro Corazón (only the finest essence of the distillation’s heart makes it into this expression, making it quite rare and special), and their Ambar Reposado (if you like some nutty and vanilla notes). While the Blanco is an exquisite sipper with herbal and mineral notes, the Puro Corazón is on another level (and it comes in a mouth-blown, handmade crystal bottle). Each bottle is numbered and comes in a special case. Read more on their origin, terroir, and process. Here’s a special for tablehopper readers: shipping is on Loco with code Tablehopper. ¡Salud!

It’s time for bubbles. Always. I love receiving bubbles, I love gifting bubbles. A bottle is always appreciated, and how about a bottle with a candle? Cheers to Domaine Carneros, one of my favorite California sparkling brands, who released this limited-edition collaboration gift box with Voluspa: it comes with a bottle of Domaine Carneros’ limited-release cuvée paired with a Sparkling Cuvée candle with notes of grapefruit and stone fruit (the opalescent Japonica glass shimmers). (You’ll find other special gifts in their shop—La Rêve is truly a dream.)

One of the most enjoyable bottles I have popped recently is the special collector bottle of Charles Heidsieck’s Brut Réserve, a multi-reserve bottle that is pure finesse, elegance, and balance (it’s 40 percent pinot noir, 40 percent chardonnay, and 20 percent meunier). Thanks to the prolonged aging (three-four years in chalk cellars) and 50 percent of reserve wines in the blend, it offers some notes of brioche and fruits and nuts you’d find in a Turkish market (apricot, pistachio, almond). The artwork on the bottle by French artist Catherine Gran is gorgeous, and definitely something you want to see on the table (and in your glass).

Trying to lay off the alcohol? I hear you. If you’re a cannabis lover like me, you should know that PAX just came out with their brand-new PAX Plus, and it’s one smooooooth draw. And it comes in beautiful plum or sea green! I stopped smoking joints a long time ago, but with the PAX vaporizer, I can enjoy fresh flower without a hard hit or smoke. (I crumble up joints in the chamber all the time, or you can grind your own. They have also come up with some pre-ground “buds” pellets, great for when you’re on the go!) And, no waste since you aren’t dealing with vape cartridges or batteries or excessive packaging. Love it. There’s also a new PAX Mini, which is a tiny bit smaller, with simpler functionality.

PAX has also been running a crazy sale—their Pax 2 is only $120 and has been my buddy for quite some time. The PAX 3 has extra bells, whistles, and colors, and is on sale for $200!

Feel like doing some browsing and socializing? This Saturday December 10th, La Cocina Municipal Marketplace is hosting their Holiday Market Fundraiser from 11am-4pm, featuring food, art, and other gifts from mission and women-owned small businesses. Enjoy live entertainment, delicious bites, seasonal spirits, and winter crafts for the kids, plus there’s a holiday photo booth.

And if you’re doing some last-minute shopping, a couple shops that are always fun to browse are Rare Device (my friend has me obsessed with this metallic mushroom shopping bag) and over in the Mission, Bernal Cutlery has excellent knives and kitchen tools, books, and this awesome Gestura slotted spoon from Japan.

Books are always a welcome gift: go browse over at Omnivore Books (they have fantastic vintage books, too!), Green Apple Books (plus they have fun gifts), and Booksmith! Take a look at the new Pasta Grannies: Comfort Cooking, and I think Sally Schmitt’s Six California Kitchens is one of the best cookbooks to come out this past year (read my review).

Now, I would be the worst sister in the world if I didn’t mention the beautiful hair (and hat!) fascinators my sister has started making in her new Etsy shop, DeckedOutSF (I have always been lucky to have the sister hookup and wear these floral and feathery beauties to events, but now she’s making them extra-fancy!). It’s the perfect accessory for holiday parties and brings instant glam for New Year’s Eve, for sure. Follow her Instagram account @deckedoutsf to keep up with her latest creations as she makes them!

Happy Holidays!

Please note: this post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, I may earn a commission. So, thanks!

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