December 8, 2009

December 8, 2009

You can’t deny it: the holidays are coming on, full steam ahead. Fortunately I am surrounded with food-lovin’ family and friends, so it makes holiday shopping easy. Below are ten ideas for folks on your list, or perhaps you want to give Santa a hint about what you’d like (wink wink).

cuisipro.jpg Let’s start with an item on my list: the Herb Keeper from Cuisipro. I always remember to put my basil in water, but what about my sage, marjoram, and mint? The small size means you get your herbs out of the casket (i.e. your vegetable drawer) and someplace where you can see them, preserve them, and use them! $20? Nice.

NuovoBottle.jpg ‘Tis the season for olio nuovo. I eat way too many eggs when I have the grassy-green olio calling my name from my kitchen counter. It goes swimmingly on everything, from soups to salads to bruschetta. You can go local and get some of the peppery liquid gold from McEvoy Ranch (pick it up at the Ferry Building or order online—$25 for 375mL), or go affordable and get some from California Olive Ranch ($15.97 for 500mL; order online). And then there’s the magical imported Italian olive oil from Casa de Case (pictured), a favorite of chefs around town (Quince, Delfina, Bix, A16)—and even chef Jonny Leiva who is now in New York gets it shipped to him. The oil arrived two weeks earlier this year, and is full of the heady aroma of freshly cut grass, but it’s not astringent—instead, it’s creamy and suited for many uses. It’s $38 for a .75 liter bottle, or check out the great gift boxes. Order here.

500ml_new_lg.jpg More olive oil goodness: Nudo: Adopt-An-Olive Tree is a family-run cooperative of olive groves dotted around a small hilltop village in the Marche region of Italy. You “adopt a tree,” and get to choose a specific olive variety. You can follow the progress of your tree for one year, and will receive a personalized adoption certificate and booklet that describes the tree, four 500ml tins of first cold press extra virgin olive oil from the tree in the spring (mid-April), three 250ml tins of infused extra virgin olive oil (i.e. lemon, chile, orange) in the fall, and an open invitation to visit your tree (awww). Among the many sustainable practices, Nudo farms organically, picks by hand, uses recycled material for the tins, ships by sea, and has even set aside a portion of the home estate as forest to offset the team’s carbon emissions. It’s a mellow and light olive oil—so it doesn’t pop in your mouth the way a Tuscan oil would or have a strong grassy flavor (if that’s a style you like). The adoption, products, and shipping are $150.

beans.jpg You liver isn’t the only thing that’s pickled this year: there are some local folks making pickles, like Boozelys. Brad Boozely is a waiter at Florio and a cyclist and pickle-maker inspired by his grandpa, who was a great pickler. Boozely offers some garlicky and snappy dill pickles, to bread and butter, to some of the best pickled string beans I’ve tasted (you may have admired the savory string beans in your Bloody Mary at Zeitgeist? Well, he makes ‘em.). You get a big 32 oz. jar for $10—$12. And here’s the best part: they’re delivered by bicycle. It’s the new elf style, yo. And as Brad told me, “Women love things that are pickled.” Except their husband, but yes, I’d have to agree.

And they’re not local, but I am crazy for the pickled beets from Pick-A-Peck Pickles in Yuba City. They’re tangy and just a touch sweet (the clove and cinnamon notes are an inspired match)—a perfect afternoon snack with goat cheese on crostini. And yay, they’re not mushy. You can find them at a variety of local markets around SF, and online.


Who doesn’t love a nice-smelling soap? Well, for the sustainably livin’ friend in your life, hook them up with some lard soap from Marin Sun Farms! Their tallow soap is made with 100% grass-fed beef fat that has been rendered into tallow and scented with natural citrus oils. It’s an old artisanal practice that dates back to pioneer times, and even earlier in history, when soap was made from animal fats. It’s good to see Kelly Smith of Rubber Ducky Soap Company is putting that practice back into rotation. This soap rocks—it smells lovely, lathers up like a dream, lasts a long time, and is putting all that leftover beef fat to use! 
This product can be purchased for $6 at the Marin Sun Farms butcher shop in Point Reyes Station, at the Marin Civic Center Farmers Market on Thursdays and Sundays, or through retail stores who also carry MSF meats, like Woodlands Market in Kentfield. You can also find the soap through the Rubber Ducky Stand at the Oakland Grand Lake Farmer’s Market on Saturdays, and at Body Time in Berkeley. Great stocking stuffer.

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More meaty presents: our local man o’ meat, Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats is offering a holiday season gift basket during the month of December. You get to choose one of Farr’s limited edition letterpress posters made in conjunction with Hatch Show Print in Nashville (will it be Frisco Pig, Chicharrones, or Pork, The Noun?), a choice of one of the sassy t-shirts, and the new 4505 apron stating “Bacon is the New Black,” plus some crunchy chicharrones. The gift set is available for $50 plus tax and shipping; orders can be placed online. And tablehopper readers get a little something extra: anyone that says “the tablehopper sent me” at the 4505 booth at Thursday’s Ferry Building Farmers Market will get a free ‘Zilladog with the purchase of any merchandise (yup, even one poster). And in case you can’t make it to the market, buy all three of the Hatch Show Print posters from the website and receive a voucher for a free ‘Zilladog to redeem at the market anytime. Word.

clucky.jpg More on the local art tip: check out these beautiful chicken block prints from Rigel Stuhmiller, a Berkeley-based artist. She has a new project called Chicken a Week: each week she makes one hand-carved, hand-pulled block-print portrait of a chicken and posts it to her website, along with a story of the chicken, the chicken’s owner, and any other interesting facts/links that the owner might want to supply. Chicken stars include Olive the Weather Hen (who helps do the weather forecast for a rural NY town), a rooster who sings the blues along with a harmonica, an urban hipster chicken, and a community outreach chicken. Because of their very handmade nature, no two are alike. These bwok-tastic prints are perfectly sized for a kitchen (8” x 10” on 9”x12” paper) and are only $45.

DiningCover.jpg Here’s a good one for the stocking of any aspiring gourmands in your life: this handy little tip guide, the Essential Etiquette Dining Guide. It has 25 dining etiquette tips inside, from the correct way to eat soup to how to pass food properly. Heck, I even learned something new. Let’s all do what we can and keep manners alive, shall we? Only $3.

recchiuti.jpg Who doesn’t love chocolate? Exactly. Recchiuti has released their annual holiday chocolates, from the snappy Peppermint Thins (10-piece box $8/24-piece box $18), to the Burnt Caramel chocolates with images of stockings (8-piece box $19), to the third edition of the Creativity Explored series called “Toys” by San Francisco artist Vincent Jackson. $2 from each sale goes to Creativity Explored, a nonprofit visual arts center where artists with developmental disabilities create, exhibit, and sell art (an 8-piece box of burnt caramel chocolate is $19). Swing by the San Francisco Ferry Building retail store or buy online.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for L1051.jpg And last but certainly not least, I’m also a strong proponent of buying holiday gifts from World Vision’s Gift Catalog, which features more than 100 different products, projects, and services that help hungry children and their families around the world. You can buy two chickens for a family that will provide a daily supply of eggs for only $25; seeds, tools, and training in improved farming methods in Africa for only $30; all the way up to a dairy cow for $500 or a traditional water well that provides safe water for up to 150 people for $2,600. If there’s someone who is hard to buy for on your list or has everything they need, why not give something in their name to someone who is so desperately in need?

Looks like ~YAMASHO~ is now open in the Lower Polk. I was trying to scout down details for months, including going to the owner’s other place of business in Japantown (Izumiya), to no avail. But, now it’s open, and in addition to the usual sushi bar offerings, there are lesser-seen items on there too (complete with ESL translations on the menu). The main point of differentiation, however, is the ten themed karaoke rooms downstairs, ranging from the Osaka room to the New York room (the cheapest is the Hokkaido room, $45/hour for three—four people). The rooms also have their own set menus for snacking while you belt out Hooked on a Feeling. Yamasho is open from 5pm until 2am nightly, with sake, beer, and wine on offer.

After the usual annoying amount of delays and setbacks that opening a business in San Francisco entails, Mutsumi Takehara’s ~SANDBOX BAKERY~ is now open as of yesterday, December 7th. Mutsumi’s background includes three years at the La Farine bakery in Oakland, and learned classic French pastry at Chez Panisse. She also worked at Rubicon, and was at the Slanted Door for 10 years. You’ll find small-batch and fresh-baked pastries made with the best quality, local, and organic ingredients possible, like a variety of croissants (savory and sweet), muffins, scones, biscuits, and cookies. Plus there are some items that integrate Japanese ingredients and style, like the kashi pan (challah) filled with negi (green onion) and miso paste. You can drool over the entire menu here. Speaking of drooling, Mutsumi, a mother of two, made sure there are some kid-friendly items to eat and play with. You can also perk up with single drip coffee from Ritual and De La Paz. Coming soon will be the addition of more lunch-y items, like English muffin sandwiches, salads, soups, pizzettas, rice burgers, and more. FYI, seating is limited: there’s an espresso bar, and benches outside. Hours are 6am—3pm daily.


The much-awaited 100% organic and vegan Mexican taqueria from the Cafe Gratitude folks, ~GRACIAS MADRE~, is now delayed until December 26th. The menu is full of handmade items, from tortillas to tamales, all made with heirloom corn grown on the restaurant’s organic and biodynamic farm in Pleasants Valley, the Be Love Farm. The menu also includes chile rellenos, enchiladas, and more. Appetizers are $5—$8, mains $10—$14, and desserts $7—$8.To drink, there’s Eel River organic beer on tap, a full organic wine list, Four Barrel espresso drinks, and organic fresh juices. There are 70 seats, and hours are 11am—11pm daily.

~CAV WINE BAR & KITCHEN~ has a new executive chef, John Maher. He was previously a sous chef at Aqua, and was chef de cuisine at Dry Creek Kitchen, and has trained at The French Laundry. His menu includes dishes such as crispy pig trotters with sauce gribiche ($12), and braised and pressed beef short ribs with Yukon gold pomme purée and vanilla-glazed Tokyo turnips ($25). Tonight also marks the kickoff of CAV’s annual fall mushroom menu, from December 8th—10th.

Anthony Myint and Danny Bowien of ~MISSION STREET FOOD~ are offering an offal menu this Thursday December 10th. And since they know industry people are usually the biggest fans of the stuff, they will stay open late for an industry happy hour from 11pm—midnight. All I can say is check out dessert at the end.

Here’s the amazing-sounding menu: charcoal grilled tripe: preserved melon, salmon roe, sweet herbs, shallot pickles, bitter greens; crispy sweetbreads: spicy scallop, pear and elderflower soubise, pea leaves, white soy; country-fried chicken livers: cornflakes, brussels sprouts, buttermilk dressing; roasted bone marrow: fresh dill, tomato toast; braised beef tongue: blackened grits, spicy mustard greens, pickled anchovy; trotter flatbread: ham hock rillette, cornichon, sauce gribiche; foie gras sundae: vanilla ice cream, huckleberry compote, shaved foie, corn pops.

Remember that MSF is now accepting reservations (email your name, time and party size any time before 3pm on the day of)! I also hear they are planning on taking ~MISSION BURGER~ to the streets, possibly Saturday evening at the 16th Street BART station from 10pm onward. Maybe. The plan is to serve burgers out of a taco truck, just like back in the beginning. So if you’re gettin’ your party on in the Mission, swing by!

Are you taking the little one in your life to The Nutcracker? Maybe you are meeting up with a friend for a holiday lunch. You’ll be pleased to know Friday lunches are back at ~JARDINIÈRE~ for the month of December, offering lunch service from 11:30am—2pm on Friday December 11th and 18th. Jardinière will also open early at 4pm on days when there are Nutcracker matinees. On the menu: a 5 Dot Ranch hanger steak salad, with smoked blue cheese, and crispy onions ($18), and I am salivating over the Liberty Farms duck pastrami, with whole grain mustard aïoli, and watercress ($19). (Photo: © 2007—2008.)

It ends up my favorite Indian chef, Kamar U. Barbhuyan, and his wife, Nimmie (they used to be at Little Delhi) have a “newer than the last new” location than I last reported. Once escrow closes later this month, it appears they will be taking over the second Cha-Ya location in the Inner Sunset, instead of Tasty Curry (apologies to Tasty Curry for posting incorrect information). And they have a new name, too: it will be ~CURRY VILLAGE~ (and not Loucknow Biryani House). Anyway, the projected opening date is December 15th—20th, will keep you posted.