December 1, 2020

December 1, 2020

Red Window’s Manzana verde 50/50. Instagram photo via @redwindowsf.


You’ll find canned low-ABV cocktails and wine through Little Red Window. Instagram photo via @redwindowsf.

A quick coming soon project for you to be aware of: taking over the former Caffe Delucchi in North Beach is well-known bartender and consultant Elmer Mejicanos (Tony’s, Capo’s) and chef Adam Rosenblum (Causwells), who are opening a dual project together: ~RED WINDOW~, and ~LITTLE RED WINDOW~ (on the Stockton Street side). They took over the location in February, with the hopes of opening in May, but the pandemic obviously had a different plan.

The concept is all about modern, Spanish-influenced aperitivo cocktails and tapas/bites, highlighting NorCal ingredients. When they’re able to officially open, there will be 80-plus seats including their alfresco patio, but they’re going to launch through the to-go window to start—the Little Red Window will eventually be focused on empanadas (offering Spanish, Argentine, and Mexican empanadas) and drinks to go.

Once they make it through their next inspection, hopefully in a couple weeks, they will be offering a variety of to-go options from Red Window (small bites like patatas bravas, a chopped salad, and olives, all easy to take to the park or home) through the Little Red Window—they want to extend neighborhood-friendly pricing, while offering support to their restaurant industry colleagues with their side hustles, so expect to find some items like a Basque cheesecake and a special salsa to go with the Mexican empanada.

A fun component will be the canned low-ABV cocktails they’re making to go, and they’re also going to be canning wines from their tap selections. You can actually pick up some cocktails at Nana’s Pop-Up Market at Little Red Window on Sundays, featuring some of these restaurant industry colleagues and their wares, starting this Sunday December 6th, 12pm-3pm. I’ll follow up with more details about the main opening soon, but here’s your aperitivo teaser for now! 500 Columbus Ave. at Stockton.


The Big Fresser package from Mark ‘n’ Mike’s. Photo: Hardy Wilson.


It’s a Winter Wonderland at The Vault Garden. Photo: Timofei Osipenko.


Autumn panettone from Emporio Rulli.

Want to get into the holiday spirit? Some twinkly lights and latke tots and panettone can help. Here are a few special meals and treats, stand by for more in a couple weeks (and follow me @tablehopper on Instagram for more updates.

Great news: One Market’s New York-style deli pop-up, Mark ‘n Mike’s, has been held over by popular demand though the end of the year, and will also be open the first three Saturdays in December (Dec. 5th, 12th, and 19th) from 11:30am-7pm. Latkes are coming for Hanukkah, there are all the meats and sides you could want, and there’s a new smoked trout on a Boichik sesame bagel with herb cream cheese, avocado, pickle, and arugula.

Of course, Wise Sons has you covered, with roasted brisket, latkes, sufganiyot, matzo ball soup, and the option of a complete Hanukkah dinner. You can preorder and read all the Bay Area pickup details here.

Canela has a couple of Hanukkah-at-home meal options, with latkes by the dozen and mandel bread, and if you’re in the East Bay, Pomella has a meal for four, which includes matzo ball soup, brisket tagine with dry fruits and preserved lemons, housemade frozen latkes, and more; vegetarian options available, too.

I was just about to hit send on this newsletter and noticed La Cocina is offering an awesome spin on their weekly community food box, offering a variety of Hanukkah boxes for 12/9 and 12/11!

Che Fico has a Chanukah to-go menu available for pick-up at Che Fico Alimentari on December 10th-11th (order by December 8th). It serves 4 guests and is $200: potato latkes with heirloom applesauce and housemade sour cream; winter market insalata; roasted chicken with cabbage, apples, potatoes; sesame challah; and Chanukah gelt. You can also order a gianduja babka for $35.

How about latkes from around the world, with three different dips from Shuk Shuka (On Everything Tahini, Spicy Kick Zhug, and Goat Cheese Labneh balls)? Sounds so delicious! Orders are requested by December 14th and will be delivered on December 16th-17th. ($65.)

~THE VAULT GARDEN~ has launched a Winter Wonderland, with a weather-protected outdoor space full of seasonal lights, and a view of the 555 California Christmas tree in the plaza. You can make a reservation for their à la carte/all-day menu with seasonal cocktails and schmaltz latke tots topped with Caviar Co. smoked trout roe and crème fraîche, or weekend brunch, or spring for the $75 prix-fixe menu, which includes their fantastic prime rib roast, Yorkshire pudding, and more.

There are a variety of special dinners, from a truffle dinner on 12/6, a sparkling dinner with Bay Grape on 12/20, a Christmas Eve celebration (either Feast of Seven Fishes or prime rib four-course menu for $110/person) and more. Open Tue-Wed 4pm-9pm, Thu 12pm-9pm, Fri 12pm-9:30pm, Sat 11am-9:30pm, and Sun 11am-2:30pm. 555 California St. at Kearny.

Need something to make you happy in the morning? It’s time to buy an Emporio Rulli panettone (available for shipping here), and gift one to someone you love, but be sure to keep one for yourself. It makes the best breakfast, and you can even make eggy French toast or bread pudding out of it when you start getting to the end of the magic loaf.

In the East Bay, Starter Bakery makes an incredible panettone (and stollen!), available for ordering online soon, but they’re at Berkeley Bow and Cheese Plus in SF now. You can also find an amazing selection of imported panettone and panforte at Market Hall Foods.

And then if you really want to go over the top, Gio Gelati is making a gelato-stuffed panettone that is making my eyes pop out of my head.

There’s a new and fourth-generation Master Boulanger, Gontran Cherrier, ensconced at Le Marais Bakery, and I’ve been eyeballing his latest creations on Instagram and mon dieu, are they gorgeous. The holiday lineup includes Parisian vanilla flan and tarts, viennoiseries, brioches, galette des rois, as well as a special holiday tasting box so you can try all the thingsssss. His family’s bakery is in Normandy, so expect some exquisite apple creations too, like an 
apple tarte normande and apple-chestnut-yuzu chausson. Coming December, they will be launching an artisanal crêperie at 1138 Sutter St., with sarasin salé crêpes bretonne and farine de froment sucré crêpes. GET EXCITED!


The new Hot Sloth CBD sauce from chef Mike Bagale and Kat Odell with Pot d’Huile. Photo via PDH.


The Cuzen Matcha Holiday Starter Kit. Photo via Cuzen Matcha.

If there was ever a season to shop local and support our makers, this is it. I have thrown together a few quick gift ideas here, more to come!

I am a complete hot sauce fanatic—I have upwards of 15 kinds of hot sauces and oils and chile crunches at home, maybe 20. I know, crazy lady. I want to point you to the line of hot sauces, Side Hustle Condiments, from Sean Thomas, a talented local chef you may remember from Blue Plate. He makes Sichuan Sizzle Crunch, Peanut Vadouvan Crunch (North African curry-ish; medium spicy), and Hot Fire Calypso Crunch (Caribbean/Jerk spices—real hot!). He pops up around town, and you can order here.

Our friends at Mister Jiu’s have a new chili garlic crisp oil in partnership with Williams Sonoma—it’s more of an oil than a chile crisp, and it’s great to drizzle on pretty much everything since it isn’t too assertive. Love it on dumplings.

Earlier this year, I worked with local Pot d’Huile on writing copy for their website, featuring their line of hemp CBD-infused olive oil and chef collaborative hot sauces (their THC line is coming soon!). Their line of CBD olive oil is top-notch, with excellent sourcing, and their fruity Hot Sloth hot sauce with chef Mike Bagale and Kat Odell is unlike any hot sauce I previously had in my stash—I can’t eat fried chicken without it. There’s also Loud Grandma CBD chili crisp oil, which is keeping my dumplings and burgers and fried rice bowls company.

Now, here are a couple ideas from afar. First, my fellow Italophile Coral Sisk of Curious Appetite Travel is offering a few food boxes full of Italian gourmet specialties, check them out here! (There are awesome online classes, too!) Coral is currently located in Italy, and doing the culinary souvenir shopping for us! (Your purchase also helps local and artisan businesses who are suffering from the downturn in business.)

A couple weeks ago, I was given an in-person demo of the new Cuzen Matcha machine from co-founder Eijiro Tsukada, and I know many people who would be thrilled to have this chic machine in their kitchen or office (or home office, who are we kidding?). And…it was just named on TIME’s list of the 100 Best Inventions of 2020, after launching a month ago! Off to the races.

Instead of using pre-ground matcha that you whisk up yourself, this brilliant system mimics the qualities of a traditional stone mill but uses a compact ceramic mill instead. You just load the hopper with Cuzen’s organic, shade-grown, matcha tea leaves (from their partnership with sustainable farms in Kagoshima prefecture on Japan’s Kyushu Island). It will grind the entire leaf into a fine powder into the spinning glass container below (from a rotating magnet base) that you fill with room temp water (you get more umami and less bitterness if the water isn’t hot). Check out the video on their site to see it in action!

You can easily decide the quantity/potency, and then pour the beautifully blended matcha into a glass of sparkling water, or over ice, or drink it straight, or make an Americano with hot water, or steam some milk to make a matcha latte. Cuzen has some mocktail and drink recipes on their site. It’s also good for smoothies, or adding to dough!

There are two grades of matcha you can order with your Cuzen machine that are specially prepared to fit the ceramic mill: premium (considered “ceremonial grade”) from a spring harvest, and the signature, which is from spring and summer harvest and best for milk drinks. The flavor is so fresh and balanced, and it’s lightly energizing—perfect for a gentle start to the day, or an afternoon pick-me-up. What a cool thing to offer anyone who comes to visit, and it’s now in-room at Single Thread’s inn!

Cuzen is offering a limited-edition, Holiday Starter Kit, with guaranteed arrival in time for the holidays if ordered by 12/10 ($369). The Cuzen Matcha Maker comes in a gift bag, along with a holiday mocktail recipe card, one 20-gram packet of Premium Matcha Leaf and two 20-gram packets of Signature Matcha Leaf, enough for up to 60 cups of matcha. To your health!


New 2020 releases on Fort Point Direct.


Some of the new bottled cocktails from Small Hand Cocktails.

If we’re going to be holed up for the next month on curfew, I know I’m not the only one who will need some good cheer at home. The pandemic has created some new delivery services and boozy products, check ‘em out:

If you looked at my recent Sipsend omakase sushi dinner with Ju-Ni, then you should know about this new delivery service that allows you access to the wine collections of restaurants (Birdsong, Gozu, Ju-Ni, Hina), and the awesome wine store, DecantSF. Enter code SIPONE for free delivery on incredible-value wines! Deliveries in SF Wed-Sun, and you can also “ask a somm” for recommendations.

Another new delivery service is from Fort Point, called Fort Point Direct, delivering beer right from their Presidio brewery to anywhere in California, next-day! And if you live in SF, you can get your beer in less than an hour. BEER MAGIC! ($3 flat shipping within SF, $12 flat shipping throughout California.) Their full line-up is available (including their flagship Kolsch-Style-Ale: KSA—which you can get in tallboys), as well as their newest 2020 releases: Sfizio (an Italian-style pilsner), Dipper, Strawberry Darling, and Cool. They’re also offering limited Fort Point Direct exclusive beers—which currently includes their version of the Black is Beautiful Imperial Stout—a multi-brewery national collaboration beer. Cheers!

It was a definite bummer when one of our best bartenders, Jennifer Colliau, had to close her Uptown Oakland bar, Here’s How, due to NIMBY neighbors early this year. But, you can’t keep a talented genie in the bottle, although in this case, you can put some of Colliau’s trademark gimlets into a bottle. Meet Small Hand Cocktails, her new line of already award-winning bottled cocktails, seven in all, that you can pour (over ice, or perhaps stir) and drink. These are the best bottled cocktails I have tasted, they are so bright with citrus and flavor—she is using real ingredients, and not a flavor house. And they are clear and bright—for example, her process of citrus zest infusion and then clarification prevents oxidization.

There’s a Gin-Lime, Vodka-Lime, and Tequila-Grapefruit Gimlet, collect all three (tip: Jennifer says try adding three drops of absinthe to the Gin-Lime Gimlet). The Pineapple Paloma is my personal fave—I loved the tangy-tropical balance of this one, made with tequila, fresh-pressed pineapple juice, pineapple gum syrup, and clarified grapefruit, with a touch of salt—you can also add a splash of Aperol or Campari to change things up. The Marina (vodka, fresh-crushed cucumber, basil, elderflower) is sparkling and crisp and unexpectedly delightful for “a vodka drink.” And the Plum Blossom is a gorgeous highball from salted preserved plum, you gotta try it. Each bottle serves one (highballs) or two (gimlets)—it depends how you serve and drink—and you can find them in this retail location-finder (and on Good Eggs)! Keep some chilled in your fridge for instant gratification. Follow @smallhandcocktails for updates.

One more tip: have you seen the incredible list of to-go cocktails from ~ABV~? From their trademark Gin & Celery (one of my favorite SF cocktails, serves four) to their wonderfully refreshing Mumbai Mule, to a 750ml, wax-sealed bottle of their Fogerty, they have you covered (and they make great holiday gifts). There are even a couple non-alcoholic options, including a zero-proof Negroni!


The airy and colorful style of AL’s Deli. Photo: Molly DeCoudreaux.


Bun rieu noodle soup with a Sunset roll, from Sunset Slurps. Photo: Sunset Slurps.

I was so bummed when the cheerful location of AL’s Deli closed, taking its awesome Montreal brisket with it. But now, chef Aaron London (AL’s Place) is partnering with industry vets and brothers GM José and chef Juan Rigau to open Tripleta, a new and limited-run pop-up featuring the cuisine of Puerto Rico, something we have to search far and wide for out here. (Look for some Bay Area influences on the menu as well.) The concept and menu are designed for takeout and delivery, available through the website, DoorDash, or Caviar for pickup or delivery.

The menu includes the namesake tripleta, a sandwich made of equal parts chicken, beef, and ham, wrapped in a pan sobao with garlicky mayo-ketchup and potato sticks for an extra hit of crunch and salt. There’s also the pobrecito sandwich (crispy battered rotisserie chicken, Puerto Rican remoulade, shaved cabbage, and AL’s Red Hot on a fluffy roll); adobo-rubbed half-rotisserie chicken with caramelized amarillos (super-ripe plantains), shaved fennel, pickled peppers, and chimichurri; chili-cheese alcapurrias (traditional Puerto Rican fritters similar to jalapeño poppers, wrapped in a fresh plantain dough and served with pique salsa); blistered delicata squash with chimichurri mayo, taro chip crumble, cilantro, and lime; and a house salad of grilled savoy cabbage, sliced avocado, spinach, scallion, cucumber, and queso fresco, tossed in a bay leaf and orange vinaigrette.

Hours will be Wed-Sun 11:30am-9pm, starting December 11th, through the end of the year. If it’s popular, they will extend the run, so check it out. 598 Guerrero St. at 18th St.

There’s a new pop-up serving Vietnamese noodle soups like bun bo Hue and bun rieu called Sunset Slurps, serving out of Joint Venture Kitchen in SoMa. You can look at the menu here, and read more in the Eater post here. Available Tue-Thu 5:30pm-8:30pm for pickup and delivery. 167 11th St. at Natoma.


The Epicurean Trader’s location in Cow Hollow. Photo via Instagram.

Fans of the well-stocked shelves at ~THE EPICUREAN TRADER~ will have a new (and fourth) location at the Ferry Building Marketplace, starting December 2nd. Not only will you find their selection of artisan culinary, sustainable wine, and craft spirits, but they will also be offering organic produce, prepared foods, farmstead cheeses, and charcuterie, along with small-batch sweets, coffees, teas, and pantry items. (They have a “Best of the Ferry Building” basket you can ship nationwide, FYI!) There is also a full-service café, serving artisan coffee and pastries in the morning, and wine, craft beer, and small plates in the evening. Find the shop in the Market Hall, across from Miette Patisserie and Heath Ceramics. Open daily 7:30am-5pm.

Another expansion is ~LUKE’S LOCAL~, who just opened a second market on Union Street in Cow Hollow. Not only will you find all your grocery needs taken care of, but they also have a butcher counter and sandwiches to go. Open daily 8am-9pm. 2190 Union St. at Fillmore.


Pulling the noodles at M.Y. China. Photo courtesy Creative Mint.


Interior of Mozzeria; photo courtesy of Mozzeria.

This is such a big ugh: one year ago, we were feasting on seven kinds of crab for a tablehopper crab and Cognac dinner with Rémy Martin at ~M.Y. CHINA~, and now the restaurant from owners Martin Yan and Ronny and Willy Ng (Koi Palace) has sadly closed after eight years in business, according to Eater. (It’s tough to imagine how they could survive while being tucked away upstairs in the Westfield Centre with barely any foot traffic.) I will miss seeing chef Tony Wu’s smile and amazing noodle-stretching skills, and all their delicious dishes, from the wild boar scissor-cut noodles to their dumplings and egg sugar puffs. Thanks for all the fun meals and memories, I hope this concept returns in some way.

Another unfortunate closure is the shuttering of ~MOZZERIA~, the deaf-owned-and-operated pizzeria in the Mission. KQED reports they are closing after nine years of making their Neapolitan pizzas, but will fortunately continue operating their food truck, as well as their new location that recently opened in Washington, DC. You can read more in their Instagram post here.

Vietnamese pop-up Rice Paper Scissors has called it quits in light of all the difficulties of running a food business during a pandemic; you can read more in this post on Eater about what founders Valerie Luu and Katie Kwan hope to be working on next (more project-based work). Thanks for all the happy food memories on your little red stools!

I received a note from John Quintos of Cafe Lambretta, Vega, and Cento Coffee, who wrote in to tell me after months of being temporarily closed, he has permanently closed his ~CENTO COFFEE~ location at 372 Ritch Street. He said his “amazing landlords helped out adjusting our rent since April [but it] wasn’t enough” and decided not to renew their lease “after an amazing run catering to the tech industry since 2008.” He says he’s “optimistic for the future of our neighborhood but not necessarily for me operating multiple locations in a two-block radius.”

You can still visit Cafe Lambretta (700 2nd St.) with the help of chef Toby Shimizu, who continues to create new pastries and lunch menu to-go items; Vega (1246 Folsom St.); Cento Clutch (242 Townsend St.); and their online store at all continue forward (location hours here). He thanks his staff over the years who stayed true to their Cento coffee brand and hopes to see companies come back next year. Thank you for keeping us all well-caffeinated, John!

With the closure of indoor dining, the cold winter weather, and the end of their PPP loan funds, ~PIPERADE~ has made the tough decision to temporarily close its doors. Chef-owner Gerald Hirigoyen writes: “It was a very difficult decision to make, but a necessary one to give us time to reassess the situation and move forward as best as we can from here. We will miss everyone dearly this holiday season, but the health of our staff and guests remains our highest priority. Those dining inside these last few weeks rarely followed the proper protocols, and we hope that changes when restaurants are open again.” Take care, chef and team!

Another rotten thing happening in the city is a number of restaurant break-ins, reminiscent of the first few weeks of the stay-at-home order in March. I have seen exasperated posts on social media from owners Tony Gemignani about Tony’s Coal-Fired Pizza and Slice House in North Beach being hit a couple weeks ago (he said it was the second time in three weeks they were vandalized and now broken into—yes, the register was already empty), as well as Hing Lung in Chinatown (the perp busted the door for an empty till), and poor Nightbird and the Linden Room were hit three times in two weeks (fortunately, they just reopened, so show some support and pick up a Nightburger). As if it wasn’t hard enough for these businesses to survive (and feed others)—please show them your support, and keep your eyes open for your neighborhood businesses.


An earlier chicken wrap from Shawarmaji (while at Forage Kitchen) with cheddar cheese, spicy shatta, cucumber pickles, and toum. Instagram photo by @theshawarmaji.


The Lost in Patagonia cocktail at Sobre Mesa. Photo: Kevin Le.

I was happy to see ~SHAWARMAJI~ post on Instagram that his new brick-and-mortar location has opened in Uptown Oakland (in the former Gastropig space)! You may have experienced Jordanian Mohammad Abutaha’s awesome wraps during his pop-up at Forage Kitchen or at Reem’s here in SF, and I’m thrilled his Kickstarter was successful so he could open his own place so quickly. You gotta scroll through the pics in the recent Instagram post to see his incredible rotating spits of lamb and chicken, and take a peek at the menu of wraps and plates and shawarma fries (all the meats are halal) and there’s also falafel for any vegetarians/falafel lovers. Hours are Wed-Sun 11am-10pm. 2123 Franklin St., Oakland.

More good news: one of my favorite Oakland noodle shops, ~HUANGCHENG NOODLE HOUSE~, will be reopening in Swan’s Market (previously Rosamunde Sausage Grill’s space) after suffering damage in their original location from a fire earlier this year in Chinatown. Eater’s piece says, “Good Good Eatz, the Oakland Chinatown-based initiative that has been supporting the neighborhood’s restaurants and markets, first told [owner Jimmy] Huang about the available space at Swan’s Market and introduced him to the landlord, the nonprofit East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC).” (You can learn more about the incredible Good Good Eatz in this episode of the On the Fly by tablehopper podcast.) Huangcheng plans to reopen and be serving their Shanxi knife-cut noodles before the end of the year. 911 Washington St. at 10th St. in Old Oakland.

A quick update to let you know that ~SOBRE MESA~ in Oakland has reopened with a parklet (with heaters), takeout, and delivery. The beautiful Afro-Latino cocktail lounge from chef Nelson German opened and closed at the very beginning of the pandemic, and is now offering a menu of tostones with ‘nduja, empanadas, maduros, Dungeness crab al ajillo, lobster Thermidor, bone marrow with beef tartare and jerk cassava, and chef Nelson’s signature chimichurri-jerk wings. Don’t miss their inventive cocktails made with small-production spirits. A limited takeout and delivery menu is available through Caviar, DoorDash, and another company I refuse to mention. Open Thu-Sat 5pm-10pm, and Sun brunch 11am-4pm. 1618 Franklin St. at 17th St., Oakland.