December 18, 2012

December 18, 2012

The Blue Fox tablehopper t-shirt.


Cooking with Rosetta. Photo: ©


Leading Between the Vines DVD.


Laudemio olive oil.


The winter lineup of new bkr colors.


Screenshot from Panna.

If you’re at all like me, you have probably procrastinated on finishing up your holiday shopping. (I’m just so good at it!) Just in case you still need to buy a few presents, here are a few ideas from yours truly.

First, of course, I am going to plug my line of tablehopper T-shirts with vintage San Francisco restaurant and bar graphics. There are five in all, whether you want to go classic with the Blue Fox or sassy with Players Club or boozy with Tippy’s (yeah, these shirts are also good for your favorite booze lovers too). They’re all printed on quality cotton shirts that have a nice fit and they’re supersoft. Tees are $25, and the Blue Fox hoodie is $45 (it’s really plush). You can order online, or even better, this week you can swing by The New Black in the Mission, where they are available from 10am-6pm through Saturday (along with a bunch of treats from other local vendors!).

You worried that your favorite gourmand already has everything they need in their kitchen? Concerned that you’ll buy them the wrong kind of mandoline? Why not get them a spot in a class? You can go Italian with a wonderful cooking class from Rosetta Costantino, or a cheese class at The Cheese School, or a butchery class with 4505 Meats, or even a walking tour with Edible Excursions, or a membership at 18 Reasons.

You have a total wine lover in your life? Well, they’d probably be thrilled with a copy of the brand-new film by Terry Theise and the folks at Farm+Cellar, Leading Between the Vines. It’s a heartfelt and visually gorgeous look at German riesling and some of the families who produce it. It can be preordered now for $19.99, and will be available on Amazon and later for online download (December 21st).

One of my favorite things about this season is the new-harvest olive oils that are now just in from California and Italy. From Italy, there’s liquid gold from Capezzana and Laudemio (it’s gorgeous), or the piquant olio verde from Gianfranco Becchina from Sicily. Domestically I’ve enjoyed the discovery of the smooth Arbequina from Séka Hills (it’s made in the Capay Valley by Native Americans), and of course, there’s olio nuovo from McEvoy Ranch and DaVero. You can find a lot of these quality olive oils at Bi-Rite Market, Cheese Plus (check out their olio nuovo notes here), Rainbow Grocery, Andronico’s, Bryan’s, and in the East Bay, head to Market Hall.

I was gifted a bkr water bottle, and now I can’t stop using it (I also can’t stop doing Beaker imitations). I love having a glass bottle to drink from instead of plastic or metal. I dig the bright colors it comes in. The 16-ounce size is just right for a workout or short road trips. And the spongy silicone exterior keeps it from getting broken (mine has survived numerous mornings in my gym bag with my hand weights). Say “buh-bye” to plastic bottles. $28.

Did you miss your shipping delivery window? Don’t want to get 50 feet within the post office? I feel ya. For the techie in your life, you can get them a few different iPad subscriptions, like Panna, a new video cooking magazine with master chefs like Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer (Canal House Cooking), Anita Lo (Annisa), Nancy Silverton (Osteria Mozza), Michael Tusk (Cotogna, Quince), and Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto). There are six issues in the first year released bimonthly, each containing 13 seasonal 10-minute video recipes. Through December 31st, a subscription is on sale for $14.99 ($24.95 after January 1, 2013), or you can buy individual issues.

A tablehopper reader pointed me to this article about another digital cookbook, This Is a Cookbook, by brothers Max and Eli Sussman (who work at Roberta’s and Mile End in Brooklyn). Reports are good.

I love physically handling a book (hello, like the GORGEOUS Japanese Farm Food), but sometimes the digital format offers more opportunities than print, like this e-book: Tables from the Rubble. You can read more on SFoodie, but in short, this is an in-depth look at some of our treasured restaurants in SF that opened after the 1906 quake, like Swan and Liguria Bakery—there are lots of images, stories, menu, videos, and more. Oh yeah, and recipes!

If you’re looking for a little treat for yourself, you can pick up a signed copy of my book or my late-night dining app!

Happy holidays to you!


Claude Lane. Photo by Jeff Dow.

Franck LeClerc (Café Claude, Gitane, Claudine, 5 Claude Lane gallery) has a few new projects for 2013. First, he is planning to take over Joseph Manzare’s ~HECHO~ (escrow should close in 60-90 days), and Scoop reports he will be opening a classic French brasserie. A bar will be placed both upstairs and downstairs. Look for more news in coming months, and a potential opening in April. 185 Sutter St. at Kearny.

LeClerc also has plans for a second Café Claude opening in mid-2013 in the Marina. 2120 Greenwich St. at Fillmore.

Lastly, he will be closing the 5 Claude Lane gallery space and using it as an 1,100-square-foot extension of Café Claude, according to Eater. The space will include a lounge area, a bar, and there will be room for a jazz quartet to play until midnight, five nights a week (Claude currently can only hold a jazz trio). Look for an opening in May or June.


The chef’s counter at AQ. Photo: ©


Deconstructed samosa from Curry Up Now. Photo: ©

More details have emerged after Grub Street dropped the rumor awhile ago that ~AQ~ owner Matt Semmelhack had a couple of new projects in the works.

One upcoming project is a second restaurant, a 2,000-square-foot space, just a couple of doors down (and flanking De La Paz Coffee). Details are sparse, but Scoop mentions chef Mark Liberman is fired up (heh) to do live fire cooking (read: no stove), and it will be more casual, offering lunch and dinner. Look for an opening that is potentially late in 2013. 1077 Mission St. at 7th St.

The other project was revealed by a liquor license not too long ago: ~MÉLANGE MARKET~, which is moving into the former Pronto kiosk by Bar Bambino at ODC Theater. According to Grub Street, it will have “sandwiches, baked goods, and sweets from different local vendors” and AQ pastry chef Maya Erickson. It will be open during the day and on performance nights. Stay tuned for more in coming months. 3153 17th St. at Shotwell.

Not too far away: there’s finally a taker for that lame Pizzeria space on Valencia Street: the folks from ~CURRY UP NOW~ are finally gracing San Francisco with a brick-and-mortar location. Scoop reports they plan to open the 60-seat space in mid-January. There will also be outdoor seating, and beer and wine. Oh, and look for news about another SF location as well. 659 Valencia St. at 18th St.


Maize’wich with catira (chicken, sofrito, cheddar). Photo: ©

As mentioned on tablehopper back in August, Venezuelan restaurant ~PICA PICA MAIZE KITCHEN~ is opening a third location in the Castro. The new location is 1,500 square feet, with two levels and seating for 55. Like the other locations, you’ll find arepas and other Venezuelan-style sandwiches, plus beer on tap, wines from South America, and sangria too. They’ve also added a few new menu items, like platters, meal-size salads, more desserts, and starters to share—and bonus, the menu will remain 100 percent gluten-free. It also seems like this location will be better for lingering. The spot is across from the F-train turnaround, and the opening is set for close to January 15th. They’ll be open daily 10am-10pm. 3970 17th St. at Market.


Bar Bambino interior (photo from website).

Yesterday, owner Christopher Losa of ~BAR BAMBINO~ announced the restaurant’s final night of service will be on New Year’s Eve, December 31st, 2012, after nearly six years in business. You can come in and say farewell over the next couple of weeks. Best wishes to the staff.

Meanwhile, old-timer ~GIO’S~ has been sold after 25 years, much to the sadness of the establishment’s many, many devoted regulars. The Scoop reveals owner Giovanni Costabile has sold the restaurant to the folks behind nearby pub Irish Times. The restaurant will be open for the next couple of months while the license is transferred. Best wishes to the Costabile family and their staff. 531 Commercial St. at Sansome, 415-362-0800.

Last week, Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard sent out an announcement (cleverly entitled “Doonsday?”) that the Santa Cruz restaurant ~LE CIGARE VOLANT~ is unfortunately closing December 31st, 2012. The tasting room will continue to be open in the location. 328 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz, 831-425-3625.


The upstairs at Bouche; photo courtesy of Bouche via Yelp.


Vinny Eng (through my glass while at Central Kitchen). Photo: ©

There’s a change at ~BOUCHE~: chef Nicolas Borzee has returned to France, and his replacement is Michel Réthoré. According to Scoop, he is fresh from France. He was recently at Restaurant Le Cygory in Montpellier, and when he was executive chef of Domaine de la Tortiniere in Veigné, he earned the restaurant a Michelin star. Look for changes in a month or so (Réthoré just started Sunday). As much as I wanted to, I never quite took a shine to Borzee’s menu, but very much like the intimate atmosphere and late-night vibe of the place. Looking forward to tasting Réthoré’s menu (and hope to add Bouche to my late-night dining app). 603 Bush St. at Stockton, 415-956-0396.

I know, we can all issue a collective “wah!” with this news: general manager Vinny Eng is leaving ~BAR TARTINE~ in mid-January. He started as a runner five years ago and worked his way up to GM and the outstanding “beverage co-curator” he is today. He really is a big part of the wonderful, hospitable feeling that prevails at Bar Tartine. I know the team there and all his loyal customers are going to be missing his warm spirit and smile at the restaurant, let alone his wicked pairings. He’s excited to “ease up” in the new year and enjoy some downtime, and is looking forward to spending some time with his family. Best wishes and thank you for all your years of such dedicated service, Vinny!


The burger at Salt House; photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Every Sunday night, you can swing by ~SALT HOUSE~ for their B Side menu, which includes a variety of burgers for $15, and some great deals on bottles of wine for $25 (like Château Roc de Segur, Bordeaux 2010 and Viñedos De El Sequé, Alicante, Spain 2011) and beers for $6 (like Affligem Blond, Lefebvre Blanche de Bruxelles, and Stone Pale Ale from Escondido). There’s the house burger with caramelized red onions, horseradish aioli, and blue cheese or cheddar (plus fries!), or you can go big with Le PIG MAC alla Cochon, with raclette cheese, special sauce, classic fixings, and shoestring fries. Oh yes, and the lamb burger, with tomato chutney, feta yogurt, cucumber, and house chips.

Meanwhile, are you in the mood for some Christmas goose? ~GRAND CAFÉ~ is offering their final “Misfit Dinner” menu for the year, highlighting geese from Sonoma’s Liberty Farms from Thursday December 20th through Monday December 24th. Chef Alicia Jenish will be offering dishes like winter vegetable and goose consommé, $8; goose leg confit, savoy cabbage stuffed with chestnuts, mustard gravy, $24; and goose roulade, prune and caramelized onion pudding, sweet and sour cipollini, parsley sauce, $26.


Ravi Kapur cooking for Liholiho Yacht Club during its stint at State Bird Provisions. Photo via Facebook.

Chef Ravi Kapur and his ~LIHOLIHO YACHT CLUB~ will be popping up at ~NAKED KITCHEN~ on Friday December 21st and Saturday December 22nd. Seatings are at 7pm, and you’ve two choices of where to sit: the main dining room for $75, or the chef’s counter for $100. In the main dining room you’ll get five courses, and at the counter there will be some surprises. The event is BYOB, and the menu and tickets can be found here for the 21st and here for the 22nd. 945 Valencia St. at 20th St.


Mushrooms foraged on the Sonoma Coast. Photo courtesy David Arora.

Looking for a truly amazing way to spend a weekend in Sonoma County? Head up to ~TIMBER COVE INN~ on the Sonoma Coast for their Forage for Fungi weekend package on January 4th-6th. The package includes two nights of accommodation, plus an afternoon of mushroom foraging with author David Arora in the woods around Fort Ross Vineyard. After the foraging outing, you’ll return to the inn for a dinner made by chef Ben St. Clair with the mushrooms you found on your excursion, paired with wines from Fort Ross Vineyard.

The event is limited to 20 people but there are a few spots left. Packages begin at $649 per couple and reservations can be made by visiting the inn’s website or calling 707-847-3231. 21780 North Coast Highway 1, Jenner.


At Pizzeria Delfina. Photo: ©

Jose Calvo-Perez of Fresca and Pasión restaurants in San Francisco is expanding to Pacifica with ~PUERTO 27 PERUVIAN KITCHEN AND PISCO BAR~. He will be opening the restaurant in the Pacifica Beach Hotel, which used to house a Thai restaurant. The format will be Peruvian small plates served family style. The 140-seat, two-level space has great views (the upstairs will be a banquet area) and a spacious bar, which will specialize in pisco (running the bar program is Enrico Sanchez, previously at La Mar and Limón). They are just finishing a refresh of the space and plan to open in mid-January. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be served. 525 Crespi Dr. at Cabrillo Hwy., Pacifica.

Meanwhile, the rumor proved to be true: ~PIZZERIA DELFINA~ is expanding to Burlingame. The Scoop confirms the third pizzeria with their goldenrod logo will have 80 seats, a rear patio, and is targeting June 2013. 1444 Burlingame Ave. at El Camino Real, Burlingame.