What’s Cookin’

Weekly Intro and Updates (Coming in hot...)
May 27, 2015
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Tim Stookey putting the finishing touches on a Negroni at Stookey’s Club Moderne. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Wait, what? Why is tablehopper in your inbox on a Wednesday? Because we wanted to enjoy our Memorial Day off too. So here we are, a day later than usual. Hi!

I took full advantage of the long weekend, which included pinsas and Italian vino at Montesacro, two barbecues, Sunday brunch at Huxley (there was toast, oh you know it), dinner at grandma’s (I brought her first pupusas, they were a hit), catching the film Iris, and Monday night burgers at Burger. The weekend was downright delicious, for many reasons.

This coming weekend—which will be here before I know it—is going to rock: I’m hitting up BottleRock on Saturday (there are still one-day tickets available; I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see Robert Plant—Led Zep forever!), and am going to the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival on Sunday with my pop (it’s our annual ritual). Vroom.

Today’s column has a feature on Negroni Week, which kicks off June 1st, and yours truly is hosting a tablehopper Negroni crawl in North Beach next Thursday June 4th. Tickets are a fantastically inexpensive $25 and include three Negronis and dinner too! I know! I’m making you an offer you can’t refuse. Hop to it.

Cheers!
Marcia Gagliardi

May 19, 2015
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The lightly cured salmon tartine (with horseradish cream) at West Coast Wine. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Did you have a nice weekend? I happily dodged the Bay to Breakers mayhem that was taking over my neighborhood on Sunday and went way over the hill and across town for brunch at West Coast Wine on Union (bubbles and toast, it’s a good thing), and then our lady day continued with Far from the Madding Crowd at the Kabuki, where me and my friend and every other woman and gay man in the room was utterly slack-jawed looking at the far-too-handsome specimen that is actor Matthias Schoenaerts. Dear lord, why did they have to build him like that? Oof.

Sunday night, I was invited to a Sunday Gravy dinner with EatWith (use my link for $10 off your first meal!), which was totally fun (complete with huge bowls of Caesar salad, gnocchi in Marcella Hazan’s tomato-butter sauce, and veal Marsala), and scooted home to watch the Mad Men finale. The past 48 hours has been amazing, reading all these insightful post-show recaps and discussions about the symbolism in the episode (the English major in me lives for this stuff). But the one to read is the New York Times ArtsBeat interview with Jon Hamm about what he thought the last episode meant, enjoy. What a show! It will be missed.

It has been a pleasure reading all the emails and notes from fellow lovers of Lisbon responding to my jetsetter city guide and pictures from last Friday’s issue. You make this column so enjoyable to write, truly. Obrigada.

Have a swell week. We have plenty of options for you to make it rock!
Marcia Gagliardi

May 15, 2015
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Pastéis de Belém (because why eat just one?). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Ready for the weekend? I don’t know where this week went, whoosh. If you feel like there should be a killer breakfast sandwich in your near future, I have five picks of some recent ones for you, and you’ll want to take a look at this beautiful brunch I had last weekend at Marlowe (don’t miss the strawberry shortcake for dessert). And associate editor Dana Eastland and I put together this list of five brunch places with nice outdoor patios if you feel like bundling up for an alfresco brunch this weekend with Karl the Fog.

Saturday morning, I’m going to be emceeing a cooking demo and Q&A with Anjan Mitra of Dosa for the Plated cooking series at Two Embarcadero Center (on the street level). It starts at 11am, and tastes will be provided for the first 100 guests (I hear Anjan will be preparing eggplant khatta meetha/”sweet and sour”). Come join us! And parking is free/validated for four hours, you can’t beat that. Get your free ticket here. Best of all, Embarcadero Center will make a donation to Project Open Hand in honor of each chef appearance (the next one is with Joanne Weir on June 20th)—you can also make a donation when you order your free ticket (hint hint).

Today I have a jetsetter piece featuring the first half of my trip to Portugal, starting with where I ate and what I loved in Lisbon (that city is so fantastic). I also have a photo album you’ll be able to tear through quickly—it’ll make you want to book your trip, stat. (Stand by for the second installment, which will be about the wines of Portugal.) We also have a 707 scout from Heather Irwin, with the latest 707 news for you. We hope you enjoy today’s issue.

Have a rockin’ weekend.
Marcia Gagliardi

May 12, 2015
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Mini éclairs at Marlowe, currently with a lemony coconut custard filling. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Buon giorno. Since you last heard from me, I have done quite a bit of tablehopping, from catching a special F-Market train taken over by Anchor Distilling (the “F” is for “fiesta!”) on Cinco de Mayo, to having breakfast with the charming Sorted Food chaps at Outerlands for their U.S. #lostandhungry food tour, to attending one of the nicer tailgate parties of my life, hosted by Napa Cellars (complete with amazing pizza from Del Popolo) before watching a Giants game (sadly a losing one). I told the Napa Cellars folks they need to take that media event and make it into a paid-for event, it was all kinds of fun. Will let you know if that happens.

I totally snagged an evil pothole on Oak Street and managed to pop a flat (thanks, San Francisco!), but that did not slow me down. I still made my reservation for dinner at Aster that night, a rather fabulous brunch at Marlowe on Saturday, and that evening was Dalla Terra’s 25th anniversary, and you can bet I took a cab that night—all the Italian producers in their portfolio were there! Amazing. Auguri! Mother’s Day with the family included this totally delicious green strata with goat cheese (thanks, Melissa Clark, for the awesome recipe—perfect for brunch). Sunday night, I rested. Yeah, shocking. But I had a date with Don Draper.

If you’d like a cheat sheet on where to eat right now, here are my five places to check out this month. And if you’re planning to head to KronnerBurger, please note they had to move their dinner service to this Thursday May 14th—it’s lunch only for now! FYI.

Also, in case you missed it last week, I am hosting a fab wine tasting with Patz & Hall on Friday June 12th—not only will we be pouring their sparkling, well-crafted chardonnays and beautiful pinot noirs, but there will also be some killer charcuterie that chef Peter Temkin is making with some of their wines! Plus there will be some special Sonoma cheeses. God forbid, I can’t have you go hungry! Join us!

And hey, don’t blow away this week.
Marcia Gagliardi

May 5, 2015
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Probably some of the most-tender octopus I’ve ever had, at Pathos in Berkeley. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Last night was an exciting time on Twitter, simultaneously watching the news of the 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards roll in from Chicago—huge congrats to local winners Shelley Lindgren for Outstanding Wine Program for A16 (FINALLY); Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski for Best Chef: West for State Bird Provisions; Rajat Parr for Outstanding Wine, Beer, or Spirits Professional; and Rising Star Chef Jessica Largey of Manresa—while watching image of starlets arriving at the Costume Institute Benefit Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (RiRi’s omelet dress!!). I was laughing thinking of all the inspired food these chefs make, while looking at all these stars who don’t get to really enjoy it because they have size zero bodies to maintain. Clash of the Titans, food and fashion. (Speaking of starlets, associate editor Dana Eastland was on a roll with today’s starlets, I hope you enjoy.)

The whole night’s celebratory tone came to a screeching halt with the tragic and almost unbelievable news of food writer and personality Josh Ozersky’s death at the young age of 47. Everyone in the food world is still reeling with the shocking news, deep condolences to his family and friends. Too soon, way too soon.

Josh would want everyone eating a damn good burger in his honor, and fortunately KronnerBurger is opening tomorrow, so you can do that. Read all about it in today’s issue, plus we have a look at Trestle too.

As someone who likes to ride a bike around town, I’m hoping you will all mark your calendars for Bike to Work Day, which is on Thursday May 14th. Click here to learn all about it, how to champion the day at work, how to volunteer, and more. Thanks.

Have fun out there celebrating Cinco de Drinko.
Marcia Gagliardi

May 1, 2015
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Risotto alla Milanese, topped with bone marrow, by Matteo Clivati at his current pop-up at The Palace Restaurant. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Happy May Day (“it’s just a spring clean for the May Queen”). I’m trying not to freak out that it’s May already. The days, they keep flying. I know going out every night doesn’t help slow things down, that’s for sure, but how can I say no to a pop-up with the chef from Yardbird in Hong Kong, a pop-up from a Milanese chef, and a preview to the brand-new Trestle?

If I were staying home, I know what I’d be doing: cooking from April Bloomfield’s latest cookbook, A Girl and Her Greens, and binge watching all the episodes of the new documentary series Chef’s Table on Netflix, by the same director who did Jiro Dreams of Sushi (David Gelb). I have only watched the Massimo Bottura episode, and I’m hooked. Check it out.

Today we have my recap on what to eat at Cockscomb (I’ve had a bunch of people asking me about it), some 707 news from Heather Irwin, and an inaugural wino from Peter Granoff, who I enjoyed traveling with when I went on that wine trip to Portugal in November (speaking of, I’m just about to finish my first Lisbon post, stand by!).

Since many of us are bona fide pizza fanatics, I wanted to point you to this piece I just wrote on four of the latest pizzas to track down. (Last week it was burgers!)

Enjoy the glorious weather, catch you on Tuesday!
Marcia Gagliardi

April 28, 2015
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The beginning of the stunning pop-up meal with Bar Tartine and Ivan Ramen. Snacks! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hi gang. I just finished quite the whirlwind culinary week, whoa. I was up in St. Helena for three days at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone for the Worlds of Flavor conference, which drew a fascinating lineup of talent from all over the world, and since the theme was Asia and the Theater of World Menus, you know I was in heaven. I got to listen to and meet chefs and experts and authors from allllll over, like chefs Paul Qui from Austin, Rachel Yang from Joule, Shinobu Namae from L’Effervescence, Alvin Leung from Bo Innovation, the very thoughtful Chris Jaeckle from All’Onda, Ryan Clift from Singapore’s Tippling Club, 2am:dessertbar’s Janice Wong, Will Goldfarb of Room 4 Dessert, authors and writers like Fuchsia Dunlop and Francis Lam, and yeah, we ate ALL THE DISHES, from Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, and more. It was pretty full-on.

A huge side benefit to all this talent in town means we scored a couple of special pop-ups, including last night’s pop-up at Bar Tartine with Ivan Orkin of Ivan Ramen (they crushed it, what a beautiful collaboration); oh, and I want to share this Nowness video about Ivan and his thoughts on ramen (they showed it at Worlds of Flavor). Tonight, I will be eating yakitori (and drinking their insane coffee shochu again) from chef Matt Abergel of Hong Kong’s Yardbird at Izakaya Rintaro. Score.

I was going to stay up in the 707 an extra night, but when you get the opportunity to take Jonathan Gold tablehopping to some of your favorite SF restaurants, you kind of change your plans. Yup. He was in town for a SF International Film Festival screening of City of Gold, a compelling and deep documentary by Laura Gabbert that is as much about him as it is about Los Angeles. It’s making the festival circuit right now and will be coming out in August, and you won’t want to miss it. During my afternoon jaunt with Jonathan, we were filmed hitting up a few local spots—I’ll be sharing the clip as soon as they finish editing it (and what it was like for me to meet him)! Yeah, it was a big day for the hopper.

Tonight is the opening of Trestle from the Stones Throw crew, which we’ll be covering in tablehopper next week after I have a chance to check it out in person. Also, if you don’t already have dinner plans tonight, please think about choosing a restaurant participating in Dining Out for Life, when many SF restaurants will contribute a portion of their sales to support the free local HIV prevention and care services of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

Lastly, I know we are all feeling quite helpless watching the devastation in Nepal after that horrific earthquake. The best thing we can do right now is send money—every dollar counts. Here’s an article featuring seven vetted charities doing relief work, please take a look. Thank you.

With love,
Marcia Gagliardi

April 21, 2015
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From the one-and-only master of garnish, Scott Beattie (at Meals on Wheels). Huckleberry Gin Punch, with 209 gin infused with huckleberries, Pimm’s No. 1, lemon, cardamom, mirin, sake, rice wine vinegar, and bitters, garnished with chocolate mint and borage. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Is it weird I like this chilly and gray weather? Well, it’s handy for when I’m on deadline, because I don’t feel bad about being inside. Tomorrow I will be back on the road and heading into some Wine Country warmth since I am attending The Culinary Institute of America’s Worlds of Flavor, an international conference with more than 60 chefs visiting from Asia, Europe, and all over the U.S.

This year’s theme is Asia and the Theater of World Menus, so we’ll be learning about rice, ramen, sake, shio koji, kimchi, curry, and a whole lot more. Cool! (There’s a live webcast in case you want to tune in to the general conference sessions.) It will be great to be in St. Helena, and since I am staying with friends in Yountville, I’m fired up to go eat at Ciccio (finally). I’ll also be staying over Friday evening for the grand tasting at the Calistoga Food & Wine event, see you there?

Today’s issue has two in-depth profiles of two exciting openings, Aatxe and Octavia (I visited Aatxe on their opening night on Friday and dined at Octavia on Saturday). Add them both to your hit list.

Sunday was the 28th annual Star Chefs & Vintners Gala benefiting Meals on Wheels, and as usual, it was over the top with the best local chefs, bartenders, and winemakers. I’m just editing my photos of the reception now, I’ll be sharing them as soon as I can. A huge round of thanks to gala chef chair Nancy Oakes and all the talented people who made it the special event it is. Am looking forward to hearing how much they raised this year! It’s always staggering. Go SF.

My Sunday only got more decadent with a special dinner at BDK Restaurant hosted by Ruinart, and chef de caves Frédéric Panaïotis. Spicy fried chicken and the exquisite 2002 Dom Ruinart rosé, let me tell you, that was the jam.

So, a couple more quick things. First, my fellow caffeine fiends, here’s my post on 7x7.com on four new cafés around town, have at it.

And I have a big favor to ask! It ends up the developers of my late-night dining app are no longer supporting it, and I’m having a hard time finding someone to transfer all the data into a new app format for me so I can update the damn thing. Anyone have any ideas? I don’t have a lot of dough to throw at this, but would love some support, ideas, or leads. THANK YOU!

I am taking Friday off since I will be in the 707, so have a great week!

Marcia Gagliardi

April 17, 2015
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Carlo Middione’s Calabrian-style lamb chops with anchovy and artichokes, at Luce. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Konnichiwa! So I have to tell you, I had another review lined up for today, but I was so fired up and excited by my dinner at Jiro SF (the guest chef sushi experience at Saison’s private chef counter) on Wednesday night that I put it aside and cranked this review out instead. When I got home late after my dinner, my mind was positively whirring, I was so inspired by it all that it was hard to fall asleep (a true sushi high). Since Jiro’s omakase sushi experience is only going to be with us until the end of May (for now), I wanted to tell you about it as soon as possible. I hope you enjoy it.

Last night was special for another reason: I was invited to attend a dinner in honor of Carlo Middione and his wife Lisa (of Vivande Porta Via fame) at Luce. It was a packed house, full of regulars and friends, some who traveled from quite far to be there. I attended with a fellow SF old-timer friend who has lived in the city as long as I have—but we met in Venice more than 24 years ago (our mutual friend used to work at Vivande).

There was a display of memorabilia from Carlo’s many years of cooking, and we were gifted one of his vintage cookbooks, which was waiting for us on our table (such a thoughtful gesture). Just when I was reminiscing about his eggplant sandwiches (one of my favorite snacks evah), a tray of them appeared, and his former right-hand man, Mark Fantino, promised to teach me how to make them (you can read a thoughtful homage to Carlo he wrote here).

The team at Luce did a stellar job preparing and serving Carlo’s recipes to that many people, from the stuffed squid to a trio of housemade tagliatelle to the Calabrian-style lamb chop with anchovies and baby artichoke hearts. The wine pairings were quite special, and I’m always happy to see some Southern Italian wines represented.

I had a chance to chat with Carlo, who said he is still working hard to get his sense of taste back, which sometimes turns on for a moment so what he’s tasting matches up in his mind of what the flavor should be. He said he has never appreciated the texture of food like he does now. He was looking great, beaming like a happy man with a roomful of friends and past regulars should.

I loved riding my bike home in the warm and still air, one of those idyllic San Francisco nights that living here for 20 years makes you appreciate all the more.

Have a fantastic weekend.

Marcia Gagliardi