August 2017 - Page 3 of 5 - Please The Palate
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A dinner table is a place where people come together to share a meal, engage in conversation and enjoy life. That is the idea behind Tawla in San Francisco. Tawla is an arabic word with two meanings, both backgammon (the game) and table. It is a word that is found in Turkey (tavla), Greece (tavli) and in Byzantine Greek (tabula). The game is shared across these cultures as is food. Greece, Turkey, Iran, Jordan, Syrah, Iraq, Lebanon and Israel have had centuries of cultural cross-pollination. While each of the cuisines are unique to their cultures, with different spices and herbs, there is a connection between many of the dishes. At Tawla in San Francisco, the cuisines of the Eastern Mediterranean are woven together for a delicious culinary experience. Located on the restaurant-dense Valencia Street, I went with a friend on a recent trip to San Francisco. We selected the Summertime Feast for $69 per person, thinking it would give us a broad sampling of the menu. And it did! We were welcomed with an amuse of plum slices with a smokey salt. The sweetness and tartness of the fruit with the smoky salt awoke our palates. Our tasting menu began with Three Labnehs, made by draining full-fat yogurt. One was za'atar and olive oil, one was hazelnut dukkah and the third was maris pepper and dried mint, which had a nice kick to it.
This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
Yves Cuilleron, a Rhone winemaking legend, is known as the “King of Condrieu.”

I recall the first time I met him at Hospice du Rhone in Paso Robles in 2015. The crowd around his table was five-deep but I had been told that I had to taste his wines.

I patiently waited for an opening and thrust my glass forward. Yves poured some Condrieu in my glass and I was transfixed.

Until then, I had never been a fan of viognier, which always built up anticipation with its aromatic nose but then disappointed on the palate with a lack of texture and acidity. Here was a viognier with the apricot, peach and floral notes on the nose that was backed up by the richness and bright acidity on the palate. I was entranced.

I met Yves Cuilleron for a second time when I was at Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône early this year. The four-day Rhône Valley wine fair started in the Southern Rhône city of Avignon, moving north to Tain l’Hermitage and ending in Ampuis, the town just north of Condrieu. On my final day, I was unexpectedly invited to join some friends to visit Cuilleron at his winery. I jumped at the chance to go with little expectation of what I was about to experience.

The Cuilleron family Domaine was founded in 1920 by Yves Cuilleron’s grandfather, followed by Cuilleron’s uncle who took over in 1960.

Whole Foods is no longer just considered "whole paycheck" because now there is Whole Food 365. A fun, light, bright, modern store with Whole Food's quality products, Whole Foods 365 has just opened their fifth location in Santa Monica and is the Please The Palate pick of the week. Located on the corner of Cloverfield Blvd and Pico in Santa Monica, Whole Foods Market 365 is a 30,000 square foot modern space with a shopper-friendly layout. They maintain strict ingredient standards and do not carry any products with artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives or hydrogenated oils. The vegetables are organic and conventionally grown. All beef, chicken and pork are step-rated by the Global Animal Welfare Partnership and are raised without the use of antibiotics and added hormones. Seafood is also held to the highest standards. There are numerous grab-and-go options, bulk foods, frozen foods, supplemental basics and dairy. There are more than 400 wines, most priced between $10-$20, more than 200 beers and more than 50 spirits. All of this is available at great prices!