March 23, 2010

March 23, 2010
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It’s always an exciting time of year when the ~JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION AWARD~ finalists are announced. And way to go, San Francisco, because three of the six Best New Restaurant nominees are here!

Flour + Water
San Francisco Chef/Partner: Thomas McNaughton
Partners: David White and David Steele

Frances
San Francisco Chef/Owner: Melissa Perello

RN74
San Francisco Chef: Jason Berthold
Owners: Michael Mina and Rajat Parr

And then when we scoot to the Outstanding Chef nominees, two of the five nominees are local chefs: Gary Danko and Charles Phan. Boulevard is one of the five nominees for the Outstanding Restaurant Award; Pat Kuleto is a nominee for the Outstanding Restaurateur Award; Michael Mina for Outstanding Service; and Nicole Plue of Redd in Yountville is holding down one of the five nominee spaces for Outstanding Pastry Chef. Thrilled to see Shelley Lindgren of A16 and Jason Alexander of Gary Danko each get the nod for the Outstanding Wine Service Award. One of the Rising Star Chef of the Year Award nominees is Timothy Hollingsworth of The French Laundry. Three of the five nominees in the regional Best Chef category are the ex-chef of Ubuntu, Jeremy Fox; Michael Tusk at Quince; and David Kinch at Manresa.

Congratulations and good luck to all: you can read the entire list of nominees here. The winners will be announced in New York on May 3rd.

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You’d think I’d be taking it easy this week, but no, the fun book parties must go on! And since these are public events, I hope you’ll attend! This Wednesday March 24th, I will be at Omnivore Books at 6pm for a free reading and signing. Andrew Mariani of Scribe will be pouring his delicious 2008 Pinot Noir, Carneros, Sonoma. And Patrick Horn, owner of the Pacific Brewing Laboratory, will be serving “Blood of the Lamb,” a Belgian dark strong ale aged in bourbon oak (it will be paired with some good Irish cheeses, even though it’s past St. Patrick’s Day!). 3885 Cesar Chavez St. at Church, San Francisco.

Then this Thursday March 25th, I am thrilled to be moderating a culinary conversation, demo, and tasting with Michael Chiarello from Bottega Ristorante of Napa Valley, the Top Chef Masters finalist (and fellow Calabrese!). We’ll be at the Marin JCC. 7pm, $18 members/$20 public (mention tablehopper.com in the comment area when purchasing tix online and get the member price). Here are the event details. Osher Marin Jewish Community Center, 200 North San Pedro Rd., San Rafael.

This Saturday March 27th, I’ll be on the air with Dining Around with Gene Burns—be sure to tune in to KGO AM 810. The show begins at 10am, and my interview should air around 10:30am.

We also have just a few seats left for the Cooks With Books Lunch at Perbacco on Wednesday March 31st at 12pm. Read Staffan Terje’s delicious menu here, which includes an artichoke and pecorino sformato with an egg yolk center (sexy) and morel mushroom and fava bean stew, mamma mia. $100 (includes wine, book, tax, tip). Get your ticket here. 230 California St. at Front, San Francisco.

There are a bunch of other events coming up in April, including the just-announced Hop Dog Happy Hour on Wednesday April 14th at the Ferry Building, and a two-martini lunch at Bix on April 29th. You can keep track of the lineup here.

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Flickr photo from michicat.

Rumors have proven true, and the ink is dry on the lease: the ~ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR~ team will be taking over the now-vacant Citizen Cake space in Hayes Valley. Obviously details are slim at this point, but one thing that’s certain is the new restaurant will fall in the middle of the higher-end offering at Absinthe, and the casual Arlequin. A number of concepts and styles (and chefs!) are being discussed, but the team does envision a comfortable neighborhood restaurant, offering lunch, dinner, and brunch.

The bar program (to be overseen by Jeff Hollinger, Jonny Raglin, and Carlos Yturria) will be simpler than Absinthe’s but still creative—some culinary flair will be featured. Stand by for more on timing (depending on how the liquor license transfer goes, we could be looking at late summer), the concept, and the name.

As for the latest on Elizabeth Falkner’s ~CITIZEN CAKE~ location on Fillmore, that’s looking like a month out (can’t wait).

The Noe Valley SF blog was full of tidbits today: first, the Bistro 24 (formerly Kookez, and Miss Millie’s) space is going to house a second location of ~THE LITTLE CHIHUAHUA~. According to a note from owner Andrew Johnstone, “Hopefully we will be open in May after some interior updates to fit the concept. We will be operating with the same menu and format as our Divisadero restaurant, with both takeout and dine-in etc. We will expand into our brunch menu once we are up and running.” 4123 24th St. at Castro.

And second, ~PATXI’S~ will be opening a third San Francisco location, serving up their deep dish pizza in the former Mi Lindo Yucatan space. 4042 24th St. at Noe.

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Yelp photo by Ting A.

One of my fellow Western Addition neighbors noticed a new Vietnamese place, ~MY FATHER’S KITCHEN/PHO PHUONG HONG~, has opened on Divis—oh dear lord, hold me, I actually have a pho place I can walk to for lunch? Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a hold of the owners in time for my deadline, but according to a photo of their menu on their Yelp page, they are serving pho, plus bun (vermicelli noodles) and com phan (rice plates), along with Blue Bottle Coffee and pastries. Hours are Mon-Sat 8am-5pm. 1655 Divisadero St. at Post, 415-829-2610.

You ready to sink your teeth into a burger at Traci Des Jardins’s upcoming ~PUBLIC HOUSE~ (formerly Acme Chophouse)? Public House and Mijita at AT&T Park aren’t opening until April 9th, the day of the home opener for the San Francisco Giants, but you can find the burger now on the ~JARDINIÈRE~ bar and J Lounge menu. Here’s a hunger-inducing description for you: a Marin Sun Farms grass-fed beef burger, avocado, bacon, and Grafton cheddar cheese, with hand-cut Kennebec fries and house-made pickles for $16. You can pair that bad boy up with some Hacker-Pschorr, Weisse Dark Beer, Germany ($3), or for the wine drinkers, a nerello mascalese from Di Giovanna, Sicily, Italy 2008 ($8).

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Photo by Daisy Chow.

Now open for lunch and dinner is ~GEORGES~ from chef and co-owner Elias Bikahi (Nook, Caffe Sapore, Sapore Catering, and he started Valentina), who is cooking with chef Amanda Hamilton. To recap, the 55-seat restaurant will be focused on serving sustainable seafood, including a raw bar up front and at a 10-seat bar, plus local produce, and other sustainably raised ingredients. Be sure to have a cocktail after work from bar manager Rene Dominguez, who was at Quince and Boulevard. Lunch and dinner will be served Mon-Fri 11am-11pm.

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Back in February, I mentioned the former ~GREEN CHILE KITCHEN~ location at Baker and Fulton was going to morph into ~CHILE PIES (& ICE CREAM)~. Well, that day is here! The opening is slated for tomorrow (Wednesday), and there will be a rotating selection of organic homemade pies baked fresh daily (available by the slice or whole pies to go); a green chile apple pie with walnuts and a cheddar crust served a la mode with red chile honey drizzle (whoa); milkshakes (including pie milkshakes, and I am so not kidding), sundaes, and floats with ice cream from Three Twins Ice Cream (along with a raw vegan ice cream from Café Gratitude); blue corn waffle cones; and organic ice cream from Straus (plus soft serve low-fat frozen yogurt).

There is also going to be a sole savory item on the menu: Frito chile pie! Imagine a bag of Fritos, filled with beans, New Mexican red chile sauce, and since GCK cares about the meats they use, they’ll be using ground Niman Ranch beef—so it’s not completely junk food, ahem. There will additionally be coffee from Ecco, and tea. Cash only. Hours will be Tue-Sun noon-9:30pm. 601 Baker St. at Fulton, 415-614-9411.

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Alec Buenaflor.

I received this notice about a ~FUNDRAISER FOR A READER’S NEPHEW~, named Alec Buenaflor, and I wanted to put the word out in order to help this young man who is waiting for a double lung transplant. He is currently a patient at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. His doctors have given him only a few months to live unless he receives a lifesaving transplant. As a result of this situation, a great deal of medical expenses will be incurred (transplant-related expenses are estimated to be $70,000). To help Alec, his family has joined COTA (Children’s Organ Transplant Association) to aid with a fundraiser; here’s Alec’s COTA page. All donations made to Alec’s fund will be tax deductible.

A fundraiser event will be held Thursday April 1st from 5:30pm-9pm (tickets are $50 each). Since Alec loves food, this will be a food-centric event (and for the adults, wine-centric) with donations from Sonoma and Napa wineries for the silent auction. Their goal is to raise $17,000 for his 17th birthday.

The owners of Level 236 in San Mateo have donated the space for the venue, and some very talented Bay Area chefs have offered to cook: Timothy Luym (formerly of Poleng), Alexander Ong of Betelnut, Kelly Degala (formerly of Pres A Vi), and Jeffrey San Diego of Red Lantern. Because of the size of the venue (they are targeting 200), they are seeking additional chefs who are willing to donate their time to cook a special dish; suppliers for products (proteins, produce, spices) for the event; press and media coverage of the event; and are seeking donations for the silent auction. Please contact Lennie DiCarlo for any help you can offer, thank you.

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Anyone who has taken a cooking class at Tante Marie probably knows Jodi Liano, who is going to to be doing a book signing of her second book, eggs, at the Chestnut Street Williams-Sonoma store on Saturday March 27th from 12pm-2pm. There will most definitely be samples of some of the recipes—and the book is just in time for Easter, Passover, and Mother’s Day. 2000 Chestnut St. at Fillmore.

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If you looked at your April issue of Food & Wine, you probably noticed a lot of local folks in the feature article, Sonoma’s Wildest Wine Party. And so on Monday March 29th, Scribe Winery vintner Andrew Mariani and ~BAR TARTINE~ chef Chris Kronner will be celebrating Spring’s arrival with a feast recreating the menu from the article. They will prepare food grown, raised, and harvested on The Scribe Farm to pair with Scribe wines.

Here’s the menu: Grilled Ham and Cheese with Strawberry-Red-Wine Jam; Escarole and Roasted Broccoli with Anchovy Dressing; Fennel Mussels with Piquillo Rouille; Roasted Guinea Hen with Braised Vegetables; Rubbed, Braised and Glazed Pork Spareribs; and Strawberry Tart with Flaky Pastry. The wines poured that night will be: 2007 Scribe Chardonnay, Carneros; 2008 Scribe Pinot Noir, Carneros; 2004 Scribe Syrah, Scribe Outpost East, Napa; and 2004 Scribe Cabernet Sauvignon, Scribe Outpost East, Napa.

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Photo from Medjool website.

While the fate of ~MEDJOOL’S~ Sky Terrace remains to be seen, a weekday lunch menu has been introduced (maybe this is a way to help pay for the roof legalization process owner Gus Murad is currently undertaking).

Executive chef Tomas Sazo and chef Hicham Senhaji have put together a menu that includes a Medjool sampler platter with hummus, baba ghanoush, and tabouli ($13); mixed green salad with Bartlett pears, toasted almonds, blue cheese, and shallot vinaigrette ($9.50); American Kobe beef burger with lettuce, tomato, and onion on a brioche bun ($10.50); and fish and chips with house-marinated cod, house-made tartar sauce, and french fries ($10.50). The cash-only menu is available weekdays from 11:30am-2:30pm. 2522 Mission St. at 21st St., 415-550-9055.

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Many who read Chowhound know of Robert Lauriston the constant poster, but now he’s going to be a restaurateur as well. His restaurant, ~LOCANDA DA EVA~, will be opening in the former Maritime East location—although the name was inspired by the restaurant’s history as Casa de Eva, a very popular Mexican restaurant that had a 37-year run there. The partner-chef is Huw (FYI, Huw is the Welsh spelling of Hugh and is pronounced the same) Thornton, who was most recently executive sous chef at SPQR under Nate Appleman, and prior to that, spent two-and-a-half years working the meat and pasta stations at A16. His sous is Daniel Sharp, currently working the pizza oven at the Café at Chez Panisse.

Thornton’s daily-changing and seasonal menu will be mostly Italian, featuring the best of local and sustainable purveyors, and will include pizzas from the wood-fired oven. A peek at the intended summer opening menu had this to offer: “small plates such as pork trotter crepinettes with padron pepper and corn salsa; dried fava bean purée with spicy Watson lamb soffritto, pine nuts, cilantro, and harissa; and tuna conserva on bruschetta with summer squash, cherry tomatoes, chiles, and basil. Pasta offerings range from rigatoni with ragù bianco and Grana Padano; to linguine with rock shrimp, chile-garlic soffritto, fiorelli, and shaved bottarga; and quattro formaggi ravioli with pesto. Pizzas may include margherita with Gioia burrata, basil, tomatoes, and cicoria: radicchio, wilted frisée, chiles, and pecorino. Main courses will come with a choice of vegetable and include oven-roasted California yellowtail with arugula, endive, griddled potatoes, pesto, and pine nuts; Becker Lane pork loin scallopine with cauliflower and okra giardiniera; and zampina of Watson lamb sausage with braised endive, mint, and spiced Straus yogurt. In addition to house-made gelati and sorbetti and a selection of house-made cookies, desserts will feature traditional Italian favorites such as affogato as well as fruit-based desserts such as griddled peaches with fresh Gioia ricotta, mint, and Marshall’s Farm honey.”

Some will recognize partner-general manager Matt Derrick from Terzo, Pesce, Cortez, and Miss Pearl’s Jam House. Locanda da Eva will offer 20 to 25 wines by the glass (with none over $10), plus a reserve list that will eventually grow to around 100 bottles from wine director Robert Lauriston. It will be predominately European but also will include California wines. Jacqueline Patterson (Orson, Zinnia, Smuggler’s Cove, Heaven’s Dog) is in charge of the cocktail program as consulting bartender. She will be incorporating “classic Italian flavors into simple, delicious cocktails which incorporate regional produce and products from local distillers. There will be a strong focus on traditional styles of Italian beverages such as aperitivi and digestivi and attention to strong, clean flavors.” Dinner will be served Tue-Sun, including a bar menu after 10pm. Locanda da Eva is slated to open in early summer, 2010. 2826 Telegraph Ave. at , Berkeley, 510-665-9601.