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Monday, January 2, 2012

01/03/12 - A Toast to the New Year at the Bubble Lounge!

To toast the New Year, Slow Living Radio heads to The Bubble Lounge in San Francisco to learn about sparkling wine around the world and a taste of the French lifestyle.   We'll also discover the essence of that perfect partner too, caviar, from a dedicated sustainable suppllier, the California Caviar company.

The Slow Living Crew wish you cheers for 2012!

The Bubble Lounge – San Francisco
Phone: 415.434.4204

Marisa Ceballos
Marketing and Event Director
Marisa Ceballos has worked at Bubble Lounge as the Marketing and Events Director for the past 5 years.  Previously, Marisa worked at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce in Marketing and Program planning. She enjoys working with various customers on creating memorable and functional events. She always makes sure to add Champagne to beverage menus or include Champagne related themes to her events. In her spare time, Marisa is pursuing a Masters degree in Marketing at Golden Gate University, she enjoys traveling internationally, and running in races to support various charities in the Bay Area.

Raphael Knapp
Champagne Educator

Born in 1978 from an Italian mother and French-Austrian father, Raphael is a native Parisian, growing up at his parents’ home in Vincennes and also spending many afternoons and weekends at his grandparents’ home in the Latin Quarter.  Many years later, after completing internships in Paris, Ohio (yes, Ohio!) and San Francisco, Raphael made a leap of faith and decided to move back to San Francisco permanently after his college graduation in 2002.  After representing wine brands from all over the world for two years, he partnered with a friend in 2004 to create their own importing company, International Vineyards. Five years later, Raphael created Return to Terroir, finally realizing his dream of sourcing the best young wine making talent of France, as well as creating a convenient excuse to visit his home country as much as possible!

Along the way, Raphael realized that his passion for French wine, history and Terroir was something he could share with others.  His day job as a wine importer naturally translated to opportunities to conduct staff trainings in wine at many Bay Area restaurants as well as consult on their wine lists. Store owners began asking him to host their tastings and bring his infamous maps. This naturally led to a series of courses on French wine at the Alliance Fran├žaise in San Francisco, followed by private tastings, classes, and wine dinners, as well as corporate events. 

While his specialty is French wine, there are no off-limits topics or regions, no matter how obscure or well-known.  Raphael believes that the story behind the wine is just as important as its region of origin or grape variety, and that above all, wine is personal.  Grape-growing and wine making have been integral parts of human existence for thousands of years, yet there is always something new to learn, and new wines to discover.

Lisa Simon

California Caviar Company

Lisa Simon is a veteran to the food and wine world originally from New York. Happily she lived, in a foodie household with a Mom who had been raised by her Sicilian grandparents, which lent to rolling out pasta and enjoying good food and wine when she was old enough to learn. She started off honing her skills in her own restaurant kitchen after college going into partnership with her Mom and worked with farmers and suppliers targeting the best products available. This was when many of the top Manhattan restauranteurs widely knows today had opened their first restaurants. After moving out of the suburb into Manhattan she further worked up the ranks in the industry with top chefs in various facets of the restaurant business from Wine Director to General Manager and with chefs such as Alfred Portale and Bobby Flay in operations and much in between. She has worked with many farms and unique products here and abroad from food and wine in a sales and marketing capacity meeting with chefs all of the country.  Having the chance to relocate in 2009, it gave Lisa the opportunity to work with Deborah Damond, owner of California Caviar Company, who is  pioneering the caviar business, and well respected by many chefs all over the US. From celebrity clients to most discerning chefs, Lisa is enjoying all of what is dynamic about this sought after gourmet food.

California Caviar Company offers innovative and enticing delicacies to enhance the culinary world, specializing in sustainable caviar and gourmet foods. The company works with the nation’s top caviar importers, farmers, and purveyors to provide the highest quality sustainable alternatives to luxury food items.

In addition, California Caviar Company partners with executive chefs and gourmet food companies to develop and distribute signature product lines and private labels. 
California Caviar Company links together the old world traditions and mystique of the past caviar culture with the consciousness and creativity of today’s culinary world and global demands of sustainable aquaculture.

We lead the way for the future of the caviar industry by setting the highest quality standards for our products and by finding sustainable alternatives for chefs and consumers. Feel free to indulge.


The combined effects of environmental stress, global warming and overfishing have depleted the world’s fish supplies by 52 percent since 1989 and are expected to further deplete those supplies by 1.5 percent annually until the year 2020. The increasing demands on wild fisheries by commercial fishing operations have caused overfishing.

As a result, there has been an increasing demand for alternative sources of seafood. Aquaculture — the growing of fish in closed systems that provide the fish with sufficient oxygen, fresh water and food — has offered a solution to the market demand for seafood.


Sustainability generally is a characteristic of a process or state that can be maintained at a certain level indefinitely. The term, in its environmental usage, refers to the potential longevity of vital ecological support systems, such as the planet’s climate system, systems of agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Sustainable agriculture refers to the ability of a farm to produce food indefinitely, without causing irreversible damage to ecosystem health.


Organic foods are produced according to certain production standards. For animals, this means that they were reared without routine use of antibiotics and without the use of growth hormones. While industry standards do exist, organic fish farming is not formally regulated in America.

The European Union has a regulatory body that has begun developing such standards and a certification process, but these have not been fully adopted in the United States. While organic farming generally operates without the use of herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones, the organic farming of fish often requires additional limitations of the feed — food that is not derived from animals with hoofs or feathers.

History of Caviar

The sturgeon is a prehistoric fish that has roamed the earth’s waters for more than 250 million years. In the earliest known consumption of caviar, it was highly revered and especially prized by Russia’s ruling class. Once caviar became a staple at the Imperial Court, Russian royalty was known to consume large amounts daily.
Because sturgeon were so large and difficult to catch, their eggs were in high demand. Those fortunate enough to catch sturgeon proudly displayed the live fish to their guests before their feast. It soon became regular practice to carry caviar while traveling to Paris and other European cities.

In the early 1900s, the United States became the world’s largest producer of caviar. Sturgeon roe was so plentiful that it was often discarded or fed to pets. Local pub owners served salted caviar with onions to encourage patrons to consume more beverages, a precursor to the modern practice of serving pretzels and peanuts in bars.

The sturgeon population in the United States rapidly became depleted as the species was overfished. This led to a 1906 ban on commercial sturgeon fishing. Since that ban, sturgeon may be caught only by sport fishermen, and the species has become heavily monitored and regulated.

Similar to the U.S. sturgeon population, sturgeon in the Caspian Sea became depleted by commercial fishing over the course of the 20th century. The Soviet Union began to regulate commercial sturgeon fishing and went so far as to ban open sea fishing temporarily in 1962. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) recognizes the sturgeon as an endangered species.

Today, there are only 2 million Huso Huso sturgeon (Beluga) worldwide. In 2005, the United States banned the importation of wild Beluga caviar to the United States. Fortunately, farmed caviar, active sturgeon hatchery programs and strictly monitored wild catch quotas protect the viability of the species while offering a sustainable and lasting means to the enjoyment of this fabled delicacy.

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