September 21, 2010

September 21, 2010
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Photo from Haighteration.

Yeah, I am loving my neighborhood even more, because Sharon Ardiana’s second pizzeria-restaurant, ~RAGAZZA~, opens Wednesday September 22nd! The former Metro Kathmandu space has been spiffed up with red tiles, black walnut tables, suspended filament lights, and charming enlarged images of the women in Ardiana’s family (check out pics on Haighteration). Folks will also be pleased with the acoustic tiles keeping the sound down. In time, the charming back patio may be opened up for dining—for now, it’s inside dining only.

The menu is similar to her first baby, Gialina, but includes a few new dishes, like a shortrib sugo with strozzapreti and Parmigiano Reggiano (plus a little celery salad on top), and a chicken alla diavola dish with chilis, lemon, and braised broccoli rabe. Ardiana also added a meatball pizza, and plans to add some baked pastas soon, like buckwheat cannelloni stuffed with ricotta and wild mushrooms. The chef de cuisine is Allyson Harvie. Beer and wine. No reservations. Hours are 5pm-10pm daily, and possibly extending hours Fri-Sat to 10:30pm or 11pm, stand by.

I was sad to come home to the news that ~POT DE PHỜ~ on Geary has closed—they are reportedly going to look for a new San Francisco location with better traffic (and not the vehicular kind).

However, according to a tweet from Grace Nguyen, the chef of ~OUT THE DOOR~ on Bush Street, you can now order chicken or beef pho on Monday nights ($10). Dine in only, Mondays only.

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In early to mid-October, look for a new vendor to join the 331 Cortland Marketplace in Bernal Heights: ~SPICE HOUND~ will be offering a full selection of unique spices and gourmet salts in the space formerly occupied by Della Terra Organics. Spice Hound owner and spiceologist Tammy Tan, who started the company three years ago out of Sunnyvale, said she was super excited when she heard that she’d been chosen for the spot. This will be her first retail storefront.

At 331 Cortland, Spice Hound will be stocking over 100 different spices, dried herbs, and specialty salts for home cooks and professionals. They’ll carry smoked and flavored salts (like black truffle sea salt, and chardonnay and oak fleur de sel), as well as salts from all over the world (like French grey sea salt). As for the spices, they’ll have pantry staples like peppercorns and cinnamon (three kinds, in fact, for you bakers out there), and hard-to-find items like grains of paradise, crystallized ginger, and the super-hot (seriously) ghost chiles. You’ll also be able to grab freshly ground blends and rubs, from poultry and beef rubs to more eclectic blends like garam masala, Egyptian dukka, and Middle Eastern za’atar.

All their unique salts and spices will be available pre-packaged, or BYOC (“C” for container) and get just the amount that you need. As the seasons change, expect to see blends like pumpkin pie mix, mulling spices, as well as a rotating selection of vanilla beans from eclectic places. They also plan on holding spice tastings and classes in the future. Tammy also relies on her customers for new ideas, so she encourages people to ask about any obscure spices they’re looking for. You can also find Spice Hound at the College of San Mateo farmers market on Saturdays, the Campbell farmers market on Sundays, or online to ask about your favorite spice.

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Ready for the ultimate brown bag lunch? 26 of San Francisco’s top restaurants are packing inspired, one-of-a-kind “brown bag” lunches to serve six, and auctioning them online to benefit the SFC Brown Bag Lunch Project. One hundred percent of proceeds from this ~BROWN BAG LUNCH AUCTION~ will go to San Francisco Community School, a K-8 public school located in the Excelsior neighborhood, for programs like physical education, art, and their school garden. Bidding ends September 24th, so don’t miss it (all lunches start at $90 and are for six people, but the value of the lunches goes up to $300). Winners will be alerted on September 27th, and lunches will be ready for pick-up at their respective restaurants at 12pm on Friday October 8th.

Participating restaurants include Benu, Delfina, Tartine Bakery, Dosa, Nombe, SPQR, Absinthe, Tacolicious, 4505 Meats, Bar Jules, Beretta, Betelnut, Bocadillos, Canteen, Chef Chad Newton, Chez Papa Resto, Delarosa, Foreign Cinema, Globe, Greens, Il Cane Rosso, Kokkari, Marlowe, Nopalito, One Market, and Zaré at Fly Trap. Get more details here.

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Photo from Taverna Aventine.

Come on out and raise a drink to a great cause: Episcopal Community Services’s CHEFS (Conquering Homelessness through Employment in Food Services) program is having a ~HAPPY HOUR FUNDRAISER~ at Taverna Aventine on Thursday September 30th, 5:30pm-7:30pm. These are the same folks who brought you SummerTini—join them to celebrate the successes they’ve made over the last year in helping our neighbors end homelessness in their lives. Your ticket includes a glass of sparkling wine and light appetizers prepared by students of CHEFS. All ticket sales and a portion of drink sales will be donated to ECS, so get your ticket here.

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In Japanese, tabemasho means “let’s eat,” and that’s exactly what attendees will be doing on Saturday September 25th at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California’s annual fundraiser, ~TABEMASHO~. Starting at 4pm, there will be a mochi-pounding event, then appetizers and a seated meal presented by local restaurants and chefs (Seiji Wakabayashi, bushi-tei; Alex Ong, Betelnut; Patricia Unterman, Hayes Street Grill; Nick Balla, Nombe; and many more), plus sake and shochu tasting, Japanese specialty foods, and homemade Nikkei comfort foods. There will also be live and silent auctions. The evening will honor George Okamoto Sr. of Nomura & Company, a pioneer of the California rice industry.

Tickets are $100 for reserved table seating, and $25 for children 6-12 years old. Purchase your tickets early as last year’s event sold out.

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Late August in Berkeley saw the opening of ~PIQ~ (pronounced like “peek,” stands for Pane Italiano Qualita)—an Italian bakery and café from a group of Italian food and wine professionals who believe in both high quality food and quick service. (Think: Italy’s slow answer to fast food.) PIQ serves espresso drinks and pastries in the morning; focaccia, panini, and antipasti at lunch; and pizzas and antipasti at dinner. The café sports modernist fixtures imported from Italy, a bi-level interior, and outdoor seating. Hours are Mon-Thu 6:30am-9pm, Fri 6:30am-10:30pm, Sat 9am-10:30pm, and Sun 9am-9pm. 91 Shattuck Square at Addison, Berkeley

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This Sunday September 26th, the annual Picnic in the Street hosted by the Rockridge Market Hall merchants promises to be a culinary hootenanny for the entire family. Between 12pm and 6pm, Picnic goers can expect delish foods, comparative tastings, demos, wine tastings, and the ever-popular Cookbook Exchange (benefiting the Rockridge Public Library), plus cupcake decorating and pumpkin painting for the kiddos.

Menu highlights include Oliveto’s spit-roasted porchetta sandwiches; Hapuku Fish Shop shrimp Louis sandwiches, lobster bisque, and fresh halibut ceviche; Marin Sun Farms grilled bistro steak sandwich with salsa verde, and Marin Sun Farms hot dogs and chili dogs; Market Hall Produce portobello sandwiches, grilled corn on the cob, and gazpacho; Peaberry’s gelato in bowls and cones, and iced tea; The Pasta Shop adobo pulled pork sandwiches with picante cabbage slaw with salsa; the Cheese Counter’s cheese plate and fresh pasta; wines from France, Spain, and Italy at Paul Marcus Wines; and pudding pops at Market Hall Bakery. Bloomies will present personalized swag making. Across the street, Market Hall neighbor Cactus Taqueria offers taquitos, tamales, guacamole, and aguas frescas. And finally, it is Oktoberfest at Ben & Nick’s.

Ongoing comparative tastings will provide the opportunity to taste a variety of ingredients from food artisans, such as Blue Chair Jams and California extra virgin olive oils. There will also be a Berry Bar ($2 tastings of seasonal berries), a mix and match Olive Bar, and the Charcuterie Cone, with a tasting of cured meats.

Phew, if that’s not enough, Picnic in the Street is actually a street fair within a street fair, coinciding with the Rockridge Out & About street festival, whose chef stage from 12pm to 5pm will feature demos and tastings from the food experts of Market Hall along with the district’s top chefs and bartenders.