What’s Cookin’

Weekly Intro and Updates (Coming in hot...)
April 15, 2014

That’s the stuff: spicy tonkotsu ramen at Ramen Yamadaya. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Today sure is taxing. Financially taxing, ugh. Mentally taxing. Here’s a link to a discussion I chimed in on about soda taxing. And for me, today is definitely physically taxing. I have been super sick for the past nine days and am so over it. Cranky hopper, that is for damn sure. Body ache and unbelievable, headache-inducing sinus pressure? Check. At least I can (kind of) taste and smell again—after five days of being in a total sensation bubble, I was losing my mind. Fortunately I have an appointment with a doc this afternoon, because I’d like to be able to swallow without pain for a change. Whatever this cold from hell is, it’s disgusting. The grossest. Don’t get it. Go wash your hands. Even if you just washed them. Go. Do it again. Don’t touch anything!

Since I have basically been home sleeping and watching movies and changing all my passwords (thanks Heartbleed!) for the past week, I don’t really have a lot to share from the field. Except delivery from Amphawa is pretty good if you’re craving spicy Thai soup, and don’t order from Little Delhi if you want your chicken vindaloo delivered in less than two hours. There, that’s about all I’ve got.

Oh, and no matter how much I like to make fun of all the juice shops opening all over town, the kind folks at the Juice Shop truck in Hayes Valley are so dang nice, and give you good recos on what to order if you’re trying to stay/get/be healthy. Thanks, juice people!

Happy Passover to many of you, and Easter is coming up. Here are some tips for you on Passover and Easter spots, and if you want more ideas, be sure to pick up a copy of the Bay Guardian tomorrow—I’ll have more options for you in my Tablehopping column.

Thanks for letting me whine. Now, let’s get on with why you’re really subscribed to this thing: the news.


Marcia Gagliardi

April 8, 2014

Weekend happiness included this awesome “Heavy Nettle” pie from PizzaHacker. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Happy heat wave to you. How’s that for great weather for a Giants opening home game? Anyone who is out there today is one lucky duck.

I ended up having plenty of entertainment this weekend, from the rockin’ Odesza show at the Independent on Friday night, to laughing like a lunatic for the entire duration of Shit & Champagne on Saturday night, a combo comedy, drag show, and total ass-kicking send-up of 1970s female revenge/exploitation flicks. Fun-nay!

Speaking of entertainment, attention fellow music lovers, Outside Lands just announced their 2014 lineup—tickets go on sale this Thursday! Flaming Lips, Disclosure, Lykke Li, Cut Copy, Chromeo, Holy Ghost, Tycho, cool. Big Freedia will put on a bouncing SHOW. (I love how I usually don’t care so much about the headliners at these big music events anymore.)

I hope you get to leave work early today. Enjoy this gorg evening with an alfresco cocktail in hand.

Marcia Gagliardi

April 4, 2014

The amazing English muffin and fried egg sandwich (with Mornay sauce!) at Marla Bakery Kitchen Communal. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Well, happy Friday to you. We’re starting the weekend breaking some big, exciting news that’s spreading throughout the city right now—my inbox keeps getting emails from people who have heard that Chad Robertson and Liz Prueitt of Tartine Bakery and Bar Tartine are opening a new project in the Heath Ceramics building in the Mission. Check out this breaking story in the chatterbox.

We also have a guest wino today from Charlotte Chipperfield, a bookworm from Pete Mulvihill, and a 707 scout from Heather Irwin. Yup, there’s plenty of weekend reading for you.

I’m also fired up to share my cover story for the San Francisco Bay Guardian this week on where to eat right now in SF; take a look for a recap on all the latest places to open.

If you’re trying to figure out where to have brunch on this upcoming sunny weekend, I have five new brunch places for you to check out as well.

Okay, that enough for you? It’s plenty for me. Enjoy the weekend! Maybe I’ll see you at the Food and Farm Fest? Ciao!

Marcia Gagliardi

April 1, 2014

Michael Tusk of Quince’s springy dish at the Taste of Italy lunch at GourmetFest 2014. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Whooosh, this past week has been a mega whirlwind. Last Wednesday a friend took me to see Venus in Fur at the ACT, don’t miss it! Super sexy and smart. On Thursday, I was busy emceeing the Taste of the Nation event, which raised more than $230,000! Impressive! Thanks to everyone who attended, bid on silent auction items, spun the restaurant roulette wheel, and more. The caliber of chefs and cocktails (and wines and beers) at the event was notable—thanks to everyone who donated their time and product, especially on a Thursday night. Even if you weren’t able to attend, you can still donate to Share Our Strength and the No Kid Hungry campaign here.

Friday morning, I was up and at ‘em early to pack and hop in my car to head down to Carmel-by-the-Sea for Relais & Châteaux’s GourmetFest 2014. The weekend was completely over the top, with lunches and dinners featuring chefs from Relais & Châteaux properties from around the world. From the Taste of Italy lunch to the Grand Cru Bordeaux dinner, the ingredients, dishes, plating, and pairings were definitely luxe. Here’s my photo album recap of the weekend. (Oh, and Carolyn Nugent of Quince wrote this quick missive about her GourmetFest experience and her dessert.)

It was also a wine collector’s dream event: the two tastings I attended (Richebourg with Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, and Krug with Olivier Krug) were some of the best in my life. To learn about these wines from these two gentlemen—coupled with the commentary from collectors and writers in the room—offered rare and fascinating insight. The wines they chose for the tastings: also remarkable. My brain the entire time was something like this: “Duuuuuude. Dude! Duuude. Whoa. Dude.”

There was an after-party each night at Cantinetta Luca, and it reminded me a bit of the last years of the Masters of Food and Wine at The Highlands Inn, featuring a small and intimate scene, with the chance to mingle with chefs and people in the wine industry and big-game collector guests who shared some ridiculous wines. By the end of the weekend, you have new friendships with some really interesting people because there are so many chances to hang out and talk. I also got to hear some awesome stories around the dinner table each night (Brian Canlis of Canlis in Seattle wins for his Dick Cheney story), and scored some faboo tips for the upcoming family trip to France I’m planning for this September.

And then there’s the magic of being in Carmel-by-the-Sea. What a place. I was put up in the charming La Playa Hotel, just a couple of blocks from the beach. The grounds are beautiful—full of flowers everywhere—and I loved the vintage feeling of the place (it was built in 1905 and recently restored—my dreamy bed was all modern, thankfully). You can see why I didn’t want to leave my beach cottage with its garden view. And the friendly staff did a bang-up job handling so many guests over the busy weekend.

I look forward to seeing how the event evolves next year (hopefully the timing won’t be so close to Pebble Beach Food & Wine). Huge thanks to all the organizers for the hospitality, I was very much in awe of my lucky life this weekend. (You can take a look at my pictures of the weekend here.)

I also came home incredibly tired, so this piece on three new cafés I wrote for 7x7.com feels apropos.

Enjoy the rainy weather, see you Friday (unless you’re coming to Beyond Bubbie’s Kitchen at the JCC, in which case I’ll see you tonight!).

Marcia Gagliardi

March 25, 2014

The cochon de lait po’boy at High Cotton Kitchen (at Second Act Marketplace). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hey there, so, whatcha have on tap this week? Are you coming to the Taste of the Nation event on Thursday? I sure hope so. It’s going to be a great night (the lineup of chefs is pretty rad), and I am excited to be emceeing the event! See you there? In case you don’t have your ticket yet, use code TOTNSF14IND for a special 20 percent discount. (Don’t have enough scratch? You can also volunteer to help with the event.)

This weekend is the pretty swank Gourmet Fest in Carmel-by-the-Sea, which I will be driving down to on Friday. So there won’t be a Friday hopper this week—I will be on the road trying to make it in time to the Taste of Italy lunch, oh you know it. There are still some tickets available for some of the events, in case you’re looking for an excuse to get out of town this weekend.

Last weekend I was on KRON4 talking about some of SF’s best doughnuts. Speaking of sweets (and bacon), if you wanted to try the bacon Twix we had in the tablehopper Sidecar last week, you can now get them at Pinkie’s Bakery. Score.

Ciao for now!
Marcia Gagliardi

March 21, 2014

A selection of treats from Sweetmue. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Oh yeah, spring is officially here, and today’s column is definitely feeling it: I have a review of Verbena for you (n.b., their brunch is coming very soon!), and our bookworm from Green Apple Books’ Pete Mulvihill is also very vegetable-focused. Asparagus and green garlic are in full effect.

On the carb side of things, I just posted a piece on 7x7.com this week on the best bagels you can find in San Francisco. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. After everyone complaining that you can’t find good bagels in this town, it was time to take a closer look at how good we actually have it.

This Saturday, I’ll be on KRON4, sharing my tablehopper hot list on some of the city’s best (and most evil) doughnuts; tune in at 9:15am!

A couple more notes: I’m happy to announce I am going to be the emcee of Taste of the Nation next Thursday March 27th. Have you bought your tickets yet? The event will feature bites from AQ, Frances, Alta CA, Rich Table, Fog City, and more, plus pours from local winemakers and brewers, and cocktails from St. George Spirits. Yeah, all great stuff. The event is a benefit for the very important Share Our Strength organization, whose noble goal is to not have any of our nation’s children go hungry. Please come and support this great event. We even have a discount code for you—hope to see you there!

One more area where I hope you can help out: Bay Leaf Kitchen is in the last days of its fundraiser to send SF kids to summer camp, and help teach children and families how to grow, cook, and eat real food. Maybe you can throw them a few bucks? They’re down to their last few days and need your help. Thank you!

Ciao ciao! Kiss kiss.

Marcia Gagliardi

March 18, 2014

A pre-Prince (at the Fox!) feast at Hawker Fare. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Whoa, busy day on the Twitter, blowing up with congrats to all the final nominees for the upcoming James Beard Foundation Awards in May. Big congratulations to all the writers, chefs, blogs, restaurateurs, sommeliers, bar managers, and more on your nominations, and am happy to see such a strong Bay Area turnout.

Today’s column is packed with so many new openings—you’re going to be busy checking them out for a while. And since the weather is just so damn gorgeous, maybe it’s time to hit the road? Here’s my latest Wine Country getaway column for the San Francisco Bay Guardian on some of the latest places to open and where to go in Healdsburg.

Coming up on Tuesday April 1st is a very sweet event at the JCCSF that I am excited to be a part of: Beyond Bubbie’s Kitchen: A Celebration of Mothers, Grandmothers, and Food. The panel is going to be emceed by Joey Altman, and my fellow panelists include Craig Stoll and Traci Des Jardins, talking about our grandmothers, mothers, and others who have shaped our lives and cooking.

It ends up I have not one but two pairs of tickets to give away to tablehopper readers! All you need to do is forward today’s tablehopper newsletter to two friends (but even more would be so very fabulous), and add a note to your friend(s) about Beyond Bubbie! Be sure to Cc: or Bcc: me at luckyme@tablehopper.com so I know you sent it—I promise I won’t use anyone’s email address. The deadline to enter is Sunday March 23rd at 11:59pm. Hope to see you there!

Have a swell week, dollinks.
Marcia Gagliardi

March 14, 2014

The Windshield (mezcal, rye, amaro, lemon) at Loló. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Happy Pi Day, happy Purim tomorrow, happy St. Paddy’s Day weekend, and congratulations to all of us who live in the Bay Area, because this weekend is gonna be a beaut. Tonight is the reopening of Off the Grid at Fort Mason, it’s sure to be a fun one because the weather is ridonkulous. And if you’re looking for some new restaurants to check out, here’s my monthly post on 7x7.com with five new spots that just opened.

So, this is a fun thing: did you know there is a tablehopper car you can hail from now through March 21st on Sidecar? And did you know that when you ride in it, you get free bacon Twix custom made by Pinkie’s Bakery in SoMa? I KNOW. I asked owner-baker Cheryl Burr to make a custom bacon cookie for me, and she was like, how about bacon Twix? Yes to that. I also have the car tricked out with some lights and special beats, utz utz.

First-time Sidecar riders get $15 off their first ride with code TABLEHOPPER. And if you post a pic and tag it #TastemakerTakeover, you will be entered to win a month of free rides, meep meep! Have fun out there, and be sure to request the tablehopper car in the app this weekend.

Today, we have a review of one of my current obsessions (Merigan Sub Shop), some 707 news, and the lovely Chris Baggetta has an inaugural wino for us on stemware, check it out.

OK, I need to start warming up my dance moves, because yours truly is going to see PRINCE tomorrow and I am pretty fricking excited. Beyond.

Marcia Gagliardi

March 11, 2014

And just like that, spring is all up in our business. 73 degrees on Saturday, I see you! Commence alfresco activity plotting, now. Longer days, yes! More bike rides, also in the cards.

How was your weekend? Did you go score some doughnuts? (Yes, I will take the blame for any cravings you suddenly have.) Mine had some fantastic food highlights, like these insane dumplings at Dumpling Kitchen; the weekend brunch-only Adjarian khachapuri (pictured) at Anda Piroshki at Second Act, a Georgian treat made with feta, mozzarella, and a fresh egg on top—it’s a street food treat Anda remembers eating when she was a teen, and it’s cheesy deliciousness all baked in a little canoe made of her piroshki dough; dinner at Oakland’s Hopscotch included their Yonsei oyster with ikura and uni, it’s so damn good; and Sunday was a brunch with Four Roses Bourbon at Zero Zero. Nothing like starting your Sunday comparing their single barrel with the small batch, hubba. And have you had the casareccia at Zero Zero? I need to figure out how to make prosciutto bread crumbs, stat.

All righty, let’s dive in here. We have plenty of restaurant updates for you (look for a lot of new openings in next week’s issue!), booze news, an upscale food and wine event in Carmel, and our own Dana Eastland had some fun writing up today’s starlets for you.

Marcia Gagliardi

March 7, 2014

Some of the delightfully over-stuffed brioche donuts by Mr. Holmes. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Sunny day! Has me plotting what to do tomorrow, which is gearing up to be even warmer. Hell to the yes. I have a couple of options for you, depending on whether you’re a savory person (check out four of my favorite sandwiches right now) or maybe you want to hunt down some doughnuts! Here’s a roundup I just did for 7x7.com on the city’s best doughnuts, including some newbies, like the bacon brittle number by A Spoonful of Sugar and the soigné ones by Bespoke Doughnuts, both available this weekend.

There’s also Festa della Donna at A16 on Saturday, and more badass lady action at Speed Rack on Sunday!

Today’s issue has some 707 scout news, and our wino by Alan Goldfarb on Tosca Cafe’s wine list inspired me to burn some extra midnight oil this week and get a review written up to accompany it (and it also inspired today’s title).

I know, I am so far behind on writing up some of our city’s newest places—hopefully some of you are following along on the tablehopper Instagram feed for highlights of my favorite dishes lately. To be honest, there’s only so much time I have for writing tablehopper each week—the rest is dedicated to running the business, and all the other outlets I write for. Oh yeah, and my firehose email inbox. Anyway. Pant pant.

Marcia Gagliardi