November 2, 2010

November 2, 2010

The open kitchen and counter.


Work in progress: a view toward the bar.

~COTOGNA~, Michael and Lindsay Tusk’s casual offshoot to Quince, is in the home stretch and due to open this Monday November 8th. The former Myth Café space has been totally transformed into a spacious 62-seat modern trattoria, with a copper-topped counter overlooking the open kitchen (with room for six), and a separate copper-topped bar (seats eight) with a gleaming Synesso espresso machine on the back bar (they will be using ROAST coffee). The room’s smart design features tobacco leather bench seats, elm-topped tables, original brick walls, Jerusalem stone floors, a wood slat ceiling, and full-length windows onto the street.

Chef Michael Tusk (with chef de cuisine Ryan Childs from Chez Panisse) will be offering a seasonal menu of rustic Italian dishes, with the most expensive item clocking in at $25. The Italian rotisserie and grill—in a beautiful British racing green—will be busy spit-roasting hogs and game birds, and there will also be pizzas from the wood-burning oven, along with housemade pastas (like tagliatelle with chanterelles, bacon, and pane mollica), local fish and seafood (like petrale sole rotolo with Taggiasche olives and sorrel), salads, charcuterie, and cheeses. Tusk also mentioned in passing his desire to offer a bistecca night.

Wine director David Lynch has been working on a “prezzo fisso” list of about 50 Italian wines, all priced at $40. The idea is to take price out of the equation, and serve wines that over-deliver for the price. (But if you want to order a big boy from the Quince list, all of those wines will be available as well.) There will also be eight whites and reds by the glass, along with some Asti Spumante offered by the glass. Jason “Buffalo” LoGrasso is the bar manager, who will be mixing up both updated classics and Italian-inspired cocktails (I saw a puntarelle infusion in the fridge).

Cotogna is starting with dinner service Mon-Sat, and will launch lunch (Mon-Fri) on December 1st. And about the name: cotogna means “quince” in Italian. And speaking of Quince, the new chef de cuisine next door is Tim Caspare (from New York’s Eleven Madison Park).


The pizza oven at Una Pizza Napoletana.

The ~UNA PIZZA NAPOLETANA~ vacation ends tomorrow, Wednesday November 3rd, so you can head in and get your fix.

The Inside Scoop reported that ~JOE DIMAGGIO’S ITALIAN CHOPHOUSE~ in North Beach is now closed. 601 Union St. at Stockton.

Haighteration uncovered quite a bit of news about some closures (and openings) on the 400 block of Divisadero: ~FIVE STAR TRUFFLES~ (411 Divisadero) is closing at the end of the year, and the owner has reportedly found a new space “in the Castro near the post office—a smaller space that used to house a flower shop.” And after 26 years of business, ~COUNTRY CHEESE CO.~ (425 Divisadero) is also closing by the end of the year. The reason? “Owner Mario Mariscal tells Haighteration that he has just received a 90-day notice confirming that his month-to-month lease on the space is coming to an end. While his future plans are unclear, Mario hopes to relocate the business to somewhere nearby, citing his devoted local customer base.”

The good news? “A new street food vendor, ~THE KING OF CÜRRYWURST~, will be setting up shop in the lot adjacent to 425 Divisadero… Adolphs signed a year-long lease on the Divisadero space. As soon as the permitting process is complete (probably by December or January), Adolphs will be operating his cart daily for lunchtime and afternoon crowds.”

Also heard that ~LOCANDA DA EVA~ in Berkeley is closing this Sunday for a quick remodel, reopening Wednesday November 10th with new décor by Shawn E. Hall.


Exterior photo by Sierra Fish Photography.

Any San Franciscan who loves to cook but is limited to only hosting four-person dinner parties due to living in a small apartment will appreciate this little bit of news. Due to open in January 2011 from Jennifer Wu will be ~COOKHOUSE~, a cool space above Vesuvio in North Beach/Chinatown that is being designed to host dinner parties, cooking classes, and other events, from business meetings to birthdays.

There will be a fully outfitted and high-performance Thermador kitchen (courtesy of Purcell Murray), dishes, glassware, tableware, a stocked pantry, and room for 25 guests. (That’s right, no linen or glassware rentals!) You can cook the food yourself, or hire a chef or a cooking instructor. Lauren Geremia is designing the airy loft to be a comfortable space, which will have wood counters, marble, and custom furniture. The place is yours exclusively for the night—and here’s the best part: you don’t have to do the dishes! 253 Columbus Ave. at Broadway.


At Ozumo San Francisco.

~OZUMO RESTAURANT~ in San Francisco has a new executive chef, Alex Morgan. His background includes stages at Arzak (San Sebastian, Spain), Hachi Bei (Tokyo, Japan) and Yoshia (Tokyo, Japan), and working at varied places like Café Andrée to Restaurante Akelarre (San Sebastian, Spain). 161 Steuart St. at Howard, 415-882-1333.

A tablehopper tipster let me know ~TOASTIES~ on Irving is closing, and is going to resurface as Crawfish Station. Since the number is disconnected, I’d say that’s that. The Toasties West Portal on Ulloa remains open, so you can still score their crab melt. 1336 9th Ave. at Irving.


Burger photo from W San Francisco.

Here’s one more place you can add to your list of late-night dining options: the ~W CAFÉ~ has a new late night “sin” menu until 1am. There’s an XYZ Pizza with prosciutto, Gorgonzola, caramelized onions, and figs, along with crab arancini, calamari, Sonoma foie gras, a grilled chicken salad sandwich, and, of course, a cheeseburger.


Amatriciana photo by Nick Vasilopoulos.

In case you missed my tweet about it, ~RAGAZZA~ is now serving a pretty extensive menu to go, which includes pizzas, some of chef Ardiana’s delicious salads, and the diavola roast chicken. And parents with kids will be happy to know that kids dining with an adult eat free (they get their own kids’ pizza), Mon-Wed 5pm-6pm. There is also “valet stroller parking” and snap-on high chairs.


White truffles. Flickr photo from Erika Kerekes.

Last week I posted about restaurants serving white truffles, and now here are a couple more spots where you can get your truffle on:

Chef Staffan Terje at ~PERBACCO~ has put together a special (and extensive) menu, with dishes like panna cotta di cavolfiore (chilled cauliflower custard topped with crab and sea urchin) and raviolo di polenta con uovo (pasta filled with Moretti polenta and farm-fresh hen egg, corn, and parmigiano crema). Every dish is served with three grams of white truffle. The menu is planned to launch on November 9th, and will be available for as long as the truffle supply lasts.

~PALIO D’ASTI~ is hosting “Noble Country Dinners,” showcasing black, white, and chocolate truffles on Friday November 12th and Saturday November 13th. The five-course, prix-fixe menus will be served at 6:30pm for $75 (exclusive of tax and gratuity), with wine pairings available for an additional $45. Reservations are required. White truffles will also be served at the restaurant in daily specials and can be added to any dish upon request.


Turducken from 4505 Meats.

Yup, Thanksgiving is just three weeks away, and here are a bunch of options to help you have the best-looking table!

On Saturday November 6th and 13th, chef Mark Sullivan is inviting a 
limited number of guests to join him for his annual Thanksgiving-inspired cooking class in the kitchen at Spruce. This hands-on class will include techniques 
on how to roast and brine a turkey, prepare the perfect gravy, 
how to cook wild rice stuffing, and more. 
After class, you will sit down and enjoy a family-style 
meal that includes the dishes which you helped create, paired 
with a selection of special wines.
$150 (inclusive of tax and gratuity). 
Be sure to reserve your spot right now by calling 415-931-5100 (there are only a few spots left).

For those in the South Bay, chef Guillaume Bienaimé of Marché restaurant is teaching a Thanksgiving Sides cooking class on Saturday November 13th. The cooking class will begin with a breakfast of housemade pastries and coffee, and then the class will separate into seven groups of two. With instruction and tips from Chef Guillaume, each group will create one dish from a menu of seasonal, contemporary French selections featuring favorite Thanksgiving sides. Once the dishes are complete, the class will move into the dining room, where they will feast on their creations paired with wine. 10am-1:30pm. $105 per person, including a takeaway packet of recipes, lunch, and wine. Reservations can be made at 650-324-9092. 898 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park

Want to add some new flavors to your feast? On Wednes­day Novem­ber 17th, La Cocina is hosting Thanksgiving Around the World, a class with chefs who will teach you how to make turkey with mole and var­i­ous West African and Asian inter­pre­ta­tions of tra­di­tional Thanks­giv­ing favorites. 6:30pm-9:30pm. $65/person; click here for tickets. Ticket sales benefit La Cocina.

At Cavallo Point in Sausalito, there are a few hands-on Thanksgiving classes, starting with Sides, Sides, Sides: What to Serve with that Bird? on Wednesday November 17th, which features one hell of a menu (like root vegetable hash with chorizo and vanilla, and butternut squash and mushroom spoon bread). 5:30pm-8:30pm, $85 per person, plus tax.

And then on Friday November 19th is Thanksgiving Feast: Shop Local, Cook Global with Niloufer Ichaporia King. On the menu: organic turkeys, butterflied then grilled or roasted; wild mushroom and garam masala stuffing, cardamom-crusted pecan pie, and more. Plus, Niloufer promises a few market improvisations along the way, and an exciting way to use leftover turkey. 5pm-9pm. $135 per person, plus tax.

Lastly, there’s Thanksgiving Baking with pastry chef Ethan Howard on Tuesday November 23rd, which is a hands-on bake-and-take class. Each guest will select one pie or dessert to bake and take home to serve at their Thanksgiving dinner. A light snack will be served, and the selection of pies and desserts include: sweet potato maple pie, pumpkin bread, spice chocolate pecan pie, and pear and cardamom caramel tart. 3pm-5pm. $65 per person, plus tax.

Don’t want to cook a turkey? Always wanted to try a turducken, but too afraid to make it? Let a pro do it instead! Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats is doing their annual holiday turducken, a chicken stuffed in a duck, stuffed in a turkey! Their version comes with a tasty cornbread sausage stuffing, which clocks in at 25 pounds of juicy Thanksgiving bounty (and should feed 25+ mouths). It comes with an aluminum roasting pan, a digital read thermometer, and easy-to-follow roasting instructions. The turducken will be resting upon a bed of Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and other seasonal root vegetables, complete with a bag of herbs that will be used to blanket the bird during the roast, and you also get one quart of turducken gravy. All of this is $275. Ordering just started yesterday! Call 415-255-3094 and leave your name, number, and specify that you are interested in ordering a turducken—they will return your call asap to confirm the order and record your information. Pickup dates are Tuesday November 23rd (Hayes Valley) and Wednesday November 24th (Mission).

Oh, and just for kicks, here’s a link to a piece in the Nob Hill Gazette where I was interviewed about my ultimate fantasy Thanksgiving dinner, along with chef Matthew Accarrino, Liam Mayclem, and others.


Piranha dish; photo by Christian Rillera.

The weather may be warm today, but come next week, you’ll probably be happy to cozy up in the ~BIG 4~ at the Huntington Hotel for their annual wild game dinner, running November 9th-13th. On the menu: appetizers like Brazilian piranha “chops” ($18), coffee-cacao and spice-cured Sika deer medallions ($19), and a petite cassoulet made with wild boar, goose confit, and venison-garlic sausage ($18); entrées include roasted rack of Nilgai antelope and saddle of black buck antelope ($46), pancetta-crusted tenderloin of Himalayan yak “Rossini” topped with foie gras and porcini mushroooms ($46), and wild paella with giant crispy frog legs, housemade rabbit-rattlesnake sausage, whelks, wild Nigerian salt prawns, green lip mussels, and spicy saffron rice ($40). Make your reservation at 415-771-1140.


Ceviche photo by Audrey Amelie Rudolf.

~MAMACITA~ in the Marina is turning five on Wednesday November 10th, and the restaurant is celebrating by offering everything on the menu for $5. Yup, the $18 duck leg “carnitas” tacos will be $5, the regular $17 carnitas, you guessed it, will be $5. Margaritas: $5. The only thing exempt is the top-shelf tequila! It all starts at 5:30pm. 2317 Chestnut St. at Scott, 415-346-8494.


Of course I have to do a shout-out for fellow Calabrese Rosetta Costantino, whose new book, My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy’s Undiscovered South, just came out. Here are some highlights of events and classes; read the complete list here.

This Thursday November 4th is an all-Calabrian dinner menu at Oliveto Restaurant (6pm). Reserve at 510-547-5356. 5655 College Ave., Oakland.

Saturday November 6th is a ricotta-making demo at The Pasta Shop Rockridge Market Hall (1pm-2pm is the demo, and 2pm-3pm for recipe tastings, book signing, discussion). 5655 College Ave., Oakland, 510-250-6001.

On Saturday November 13th is a cooking class at Cavallo Point, 4pm-8pm. Cavallo Point; 601 Murray Cir., Fort Baker, Sausalito, 888-651-2003.

On Sunday November 14th is a Cooks with Books Luncheon at A16 (12pm). For reservations, contact Book Passage; 415-927-0960.

There are many more events, be sure to read all about them here.


Flickr photo from Westcoast Weezie.

This has good idea written all over it: on Sunday November 7th, ~18 REASONS~ is hosting The Smoothie Revolution, a brunch workshop with Vera Churilov and Aaron Drury. Here’s more: “Whether you want to detox, build muscle, or improve your skin glow, green smoothies may be the right choice for you. They pack lots of nutrition, can be eaten on-the-go or enjoyed slowly over the morning paper, and are delicious to boot! Come learn how to make the most of seasonal vegetables and fruits in healthy, green smoothies that integrate protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals in one drink. By walking you through the steps for creating your own creative and satisfying recipes, this hands-on class will get you re-thinking your bagel and cream cheese or fortified cereal breakfast.”

“Vera Churilov is a holistic health counselor and educator who runs Nourish the Spirit, a healthy living website. She helps people transition to a more sustainable, plant-based diet. Her background includes working for the Meatless Monday Campaign, sustainable brands like TCHO, and five-star vegetarian restaurants like Roxanne’s. Vera will be joined by smoothie aficionado Aaron Drury who has a knack for creative blending of plant-based ingredients into surprising and delicious shakes. Aaron is a massage therapist and freelance editor who works on the Bay Area’s KQED Check Please show.” 11am-1pm, $15 for 18 Reasons members; $20 for the general public (includes a smoothie brunch). Tickets here.


Can our restaurant dining choices actually strengthen our ability to resist disease—and especially cancer? On Tuesday November 16th, from 6pm-9:30pm at ~BOCANOVA~ in Oakland’s Jack London Square, Rebecca Katz, nationally recognized author of the groundbreaking cookbooks One Bite at a Time and The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, will join Bocanova executive chef Rick Hackett to answer that question with a special collaborative menu merging Bocanova’s pan-American cuisine with the nutritional wisdom of Katz’s cookbook. The cost for the Eat, Love, Survive! dinner is $90, all-inclusive (hors d’oeuvres, wine, non-alcoholic beverages, dinner, dessert, tax, and gratuity). 55 Webster St., Oakland, 510-444-1233.

Rebecca Katz will speak at the dinner, and be available to sign her latest cookbook, The Cancer Fighting Kitchen. Jan Adrian, founder of Healing Journeys, will also speak about the range of programs her organization offers to foster the transition from “surviving to thriving” for everyone whose life has been impacted by cancer. Live music will be provided by Jessie Turner and Emily Bezar, performing international classics and jazz standards. Some special surprise performers are also expected.

Proceeds from Eat, Love, Survive! will benefit the organization Healing Journeys, which provides free and low-cost services to all those whose lives have been touched by cancer. Healing Journeys produces the annual and free Cancer as a Turning Point conference, now in its 16th year, providing education, inspiration, and connection to over a thousand attendees annually. Dinner will be paired with the wines of Cleavage Creek, who donate 10% of all gross sales to breast cancer research.


An Event Recap by Daisy Chow

Last Tuesday, Local Mission Eatery and Sarah Dvorak of the upcoming Mission Cheese co-hosted a ~MEET THE CHEESEMAKERS~ lab—it’s what you get when a roomful of cheese lovers spend the evening communing with four new(ish) local cheesemakers, and noshing on some seriously delicious artisanal cheeses. Let’s just say there was a lot of applause. Not only were the cheeses fabulous, but I loved how the story of each cheesemaker’s journey was so heartfelt that it seemed like their passion, pluck, and hard work had become part of their cheese’s distinctive terroir.

We started with three milder cheeses, Bohemian Creamery’s creamy BoDacious (fresh goat milk), and Nicasio Valley Cheese’s semi-soft Formagella (bloomy rind cow milk) and buttery Alta Loma (aged, soft-ripened cow milk). Next, we tried a couple of hard cheeses: Barinaga Ranch’s Txiki (aged farmstead sheep milk), followed by Bleating Heart’s briny Heart’s Reserve (aged jersey cow milk) and 15-month-aged Mega Heart (extra-aged sheep milk). Finally, we circled back to Bohemian Creamery with their BoPoisse (washed-rind jersey cow milk)—definitely one for the stinky cheese fans. And of course we were served local wines and beers to taste with the cheeses. Our wines were Broadside chardonnay (Paso Robles), Lioco Indica (Mendocino), and Broc Cellars syrah (Bennet Valley), and the beers were Trumer Pilsner and Odonata Saison.

Keep your eyes peeled for future events on Local Mission Eatery’s website, like tonight’s two-part puff pastry class with Shauna of Knead Patisserie—just in time for holiday desserts!