What’s Cookin’

Weekly Intro and Updates (Coming in hot...)
April 19, 2016

Celebrating sakura season with Japanese sea bream, cherry blossom, and cherry leaf at Atelier Crenn. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

It’s true, there’s no place like home. After my first three months in New York—which I have been LOVING—a girl starts to miss things like her family, friends, Bi-Rite, Golden Gate Park air scented with eucalyptus and ganja (tomorrow is 4/20, get ready), English peas and strawberries, and toast from Josey Baker.

It has been so good to be back in SF this past week, and I got so damn lucky with this weather!! What a dream to leave the jacket at home and wear open-toed shoes to dinner at Mister Jiu’s on Saturday, and ride my bike to brunch at Fiorella on Sunday. Can’t wait for the Giants day game this Thursday!

It was also a treat to see so many of you at the Meals on Wheels Star Chefs & Vintners Gala on Sunday evening. Big congrats to MOWSF for breaking yet another record and raising a whopping $3.3 million, which translates to 650,000 meals for homebound seniors in every neighborhood of San Francisco. Fantastic. The event was gorgeous, with so many flowers everywhere, and of course the crowd offered plenty of excellent people-watching.

The primary reason I came home this week was to host the tablehopper and Vinho Verde Vietnamese dinner (with Feastly) on Friday evening. Now that was a fantastic meal—chef Rob Lam crushed us, and Eugenio Jardim totally charmed us! Check out some pics here. I’ll be coming back again on June 11th to host a second one—look for an announcement soon on tablehopper.

I’m in town and furiously trying to finish this Louis Vuitton SF city guidebook research and copy (thanks coffee!) until next Monday morning, and then I’m flying up to Washington to spend some time with Washington State Wine and celebrating my cousin’s wedding next weekend!

Am heading back to NYC May 1st, which is when you’ll start seeing New York restaurants back in my Instagram feed. Heh. Can’t wait for Hong Kong’s Tim Ho Wan to open there! Amazing.

My crazy travel and deadline mean I’ll be going dark next week, so you won’t see a tablehopper issue until Tuesday May 3rd (publicists, please take note!). It has been great seeing many of you out and about, thanks for the warm welcome home.

Love and kisses!
Marcia Gagliardi

April 12, 2016

From the Nico James Beard dinner: English peas, chamomile, fromage blanc. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Yo yo yo! How you doin’? I’m pretty fired up—tomorrow morning I hop on a plane to fly to SF for 10 days, and then Seattle for my cousin’s wedding, plus some Washington wine country time too. As many of you know, this Friday I am hosting a sold-out Vietnamese and Vinho Verde event with chef Rob Lam and Feastly, and good news: we’re going to host it again in June! Saturday June 11th, to be exact, so stand by for news on when those tickets will be released!

I’m also coming back to check out a bunch of new places that have opened since I left in January so I can finish writing this Louis Vuitton SF city guidebook for 2017. Two chapters down, another big one to go, whooooosh. So if my Instagram feed suddenly has tacos in it, you’ll understand why. I’ll be back in New York on May 1st, just in time for some full-on spring weather (I hope).

I got a wonderful taste of California spring on Friday, when chef Nicolas Delaroque and his team from SF’s Nico Restaurant were in town to cook at the James Beard House, my first time there. Gorgeous meal! And a cool experience.

One small bummer with my departure: I’m missing the screening of the Jeremiah Tower documentary, The Last Magnificent, at the Tribeca Film Festival, shoot! Hoping to find out where it will be screened elsewhere soon. Will let you know!

Looking forward to wriggling out of this puffy jacket and eating some strawberries. I’m also really happy to be attending the 29th Annual Star Chefs & Vintners Gala for Meals on Wheels this Sunday, hurrah. See you soon!

Marcia Gagliardi

April 5, 2016

Spring days are here in NYC. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Greetings from chilly-ass NYC (I know, you SF types are seeing 80 degrees tomorrow, so let Donna sing to you)! I thought I was retiring my knee-length puffy jacket this month, but not so fast… Then again, I am flying home next week for a quick visit, and that thing is coming home with me to get banished to my SF closet. All these spring blossoms everywhere are such a tease.

Also a tease: I thought I was going to be writing up the about-to-open Mister Jiu’s and new bars Horsefeather and Wildhawk, but it looks like all that will be in next week’s column, stand by. So instead, today you get to read about my favorite burger in New York right now, and actually one of the best I’ve ever had, period: Salvation Burger. Plus fellow New York residents, I have a few fun food events for you to check out.

Back in SF, big congrats to Ravi Kapur of Liholiho Yacht Club (who is having quite a year!) and David Barzelay of Lazy Bear for their Best New Chefs wins from Food & Wine! Happy to see two chefs from SF in there—although just one female chef in the lineup, really?

Lastly, if you are planning to head to Outside Lands this year, tickets go on sale on Thursday at 10am and sell out fast, so don’t dillydally, yo. Very happy to see LCD Soundsystem (YAYYYYYY!!!), Air, and Duran Duran on the lineup, sick! I’ll be running some food highlights soon too.

Ciao meow for now!
Marcia Gagliardi

March 29, 2016

And this is how you do a comeback performance setlist. (Thanks to the fellow dancer who shared it with me!) Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Greetings from cloud 11 (because that’s how high this cloud goes). Anyone who has been reading this column for a while knows what a huge LCD Soundsystem fanatic I am, even flying to New York from SF for their final show at Madison Square Garden almost exactly five years ago. So recently the band decided to get back together (YES) and started announcing dates for their comeback tour, like Coachella and Panorama, the new festival here in New York.

But all of a sudden, out of the blue, last Thursday LCD announces two surprise nights for their first shows at Webster Hall in the East Village, Back from the Dead (an Easter resurrection joke from the band, ha-ha). Commence pandemonium. I start asking all my friends to enter the lottery to buy tickets; set up alerts on all my social media channels from the venue, band, promoters, and more; and reach out to the band and promoter’s PR. I call the venue asking about extra tickets being released. I try to think of anyone, anyone, who can help. Yes, FULL COURT PRESS.

I strike out on the lottery, and then begin to be supremely grossed out by the $600-plus ticket prices people start asking on Craigslist and ticket sites. Scammers, meanwhile, are having a field day because there are no hard tickets, just printouts, so it’s easy to sell the same ticket multiple times and screw everyone. I post daily on Craigslist, dealing with flaky ticket holders who won’t meet at the venue so I can verify their ticket, and freaks who ask me to send a picture so we can make it a date (yes, I sent a couple—when your mission’s motto is BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY, you have to do what you have to do).

Sunday night’s show comes and goes, no dice.

Monday, I decide I just need to head to the venue and hold out for a ticket miracle. There is no way I am going to miss this show without trying every possible angle. The line of ticket holders extends a full block, while all of us hopefuls mill around, walking up and down the street and compare notes on whether anyone is finding any tickets, while holding up our fingers in a one or two position for how many tickets we are seeking. I chat up all the security. Anyone, really. Especially the cute Brazilian man who asked me what on earth was going on, ditto the two cops in their cruiser who asked the same thing.

It’s fricking windy, and chilly, and I’m getting blasted by all the people smoking out front (my freshly washed hair smelling nastier each minute). I try not to get cranky. LCD’s show sign above Webster Hall that says “TEST IN PROGRESS/PLEASE STAND BY” becomes my mantra. I keep smiling.

Some nice guy decides he’s going to give up, and hands me the paper printout he made with the image of a hand holding up one finger. It’s useful: the paper catches people’s eyes. I keep holding on. It has been an hour, hour and a half, and then it’s 15 minutes before LCD is supposed to take the stage. Rain starts sprinkling. I’m there humming the theme to Rocky in my mind. I just can’t believe this isn’t going to happen. There is no way in a just universe I was supposed to miss that show. I’m magically in New York, amazingly so, and it feels like destiny to be able to see them. I kept focusing on my friends and sister who were sending me vibes, believing it was going to happen. Knowing.

And then the kind-faced and slightly smiling young man approaches me, our eyes lock and I say, “You have a ticket?” He does, but my $200 offer is half what he was looking for. I tell him I’m sorry, I am dying to see this show, more than he would ever imagine, but I just can’t. The woman I was chatting with starts telling him, “You have to sell it to her! You will have the best karma for life.” We all laugh.

He hangs out a little more. We keep talking. He says, “You have good energy. I really want to be able to sell it to you.” I say, “Me too!” It’s 10 minutes before showtime. He had paid $400 for the ticket for his friend to see the show, damn, and he’s not showing up. So he looks at me and says, “Okay, it’s yours.” I want to yell but he’s trying to keep the whole transaction low profile. I restrain myself from jumping up and down. My hands are shaking, my smile enough to power four New York boroughs.

As I peel off $200, I look him in the eye and ask, “It’s real, right? This ticket is legit? Because I’ll just lose it if it’s not.” I already know the answer, but like a drug seller asking someone if they’re a cop, I had to ask. The guy emanated goodness, I knew it was all okay. He nods and says yes. I didn’t even open up the folded-up piece of paper to see. I get into line, my ticket gets scanned and makes that positive “brrrrreeeeeeepp!” sound, I dump my puffy coat, get a double Jack and Coke, find some really nice people to dance next to, shockingly just 15 feet from the stage, if even.

And so it starts. You switch the engine on. We set controls for the heart of the sun. One of the ways we show our age.”

Thank you, Nathaniel, for the golden ticket. May only good things come your way. Thank you, universe, for desire answered in such magnificent grace. That was a big one.

In love and gratitude,
Marcia Gagliardi

March 22, 2016

Croque-madame heaven at Maman in NYC. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Greetings from the land of weird-ass weather, where it was snowing on Sunday and is now going to be 70 degrees tomorrow. I’m just rolling with it. Go on, New York! It was definitely entertaining to walk to and from the club on Sunday night while it was snowing (I went to Club Shelter’s 25th anniversary, one of the best house parties I have been to in ages). I mean, when the party is just three long blocks from your pad, you kinda have to go, even if it was a Sunday night. House nation!

Speaking of New York and music, have any of you been watching Vinyl on HBO? I am kind of loving it, even if it’s a little overdone. It takes place in the music industry in New York, 1973, with the intersection of disco, hip-hop, punk, and glam all happening at once—and Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger are the exec producers. It’s pretty fun. The opening sequence is one of the most badass things ever. An electron microscope’s view of a needle moving through the grooves on a vinyl record? Brilliant.

I thought you’d get a kick out of these two pieces I wrote for Time Out: this one is on how big New York rats can get (ay yi yi!) and my other story was 20 things you’ll miss when you leave San Francisco.

A big thanks to all of you who bought tickets to the tablehopper Vietnamese and Vinho Verde feast in April! You sold that thing out in one day, whoa! But thanks to Vinho Verde wines, you still have a chance to win a pair of tickets! The contest ends tonight at midnight, so don’t delay!

I’d like to wish you a Happy Easter (Hoppy Easter?!) and see you next week!

Hop hop!
Marcia Gagliardi

March 15, 2016

Rooftop party pastels (with Armand de Brignac Champagne). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hiiiiiii! Looks like those of you in SF were going to wash away this last weekend! Whoa. It would have been perfect weather for me to be home and work on this Louis Vuitton 2017 San Francisco guidebook that has me rather busy these days—I was pretty much holed up for three days straight this weekend (6,200 words will do that to a person). One chapter down, two to go. As I told a friend, big deadlines are like a guilty conscience—always on your mind. I certainly know what will be on my mind the next six weeks.

I did have fun taking a dinner break on Friday and going to the absolutely insane Village Voice Choice Eats event. Wow, that’s how you do a tasting event—the range of cuisines (and beverages!) was mind-boggling. Take a peek at my Instagram feed for some highlights. I especially can’t wait to go check out the tacos at The Black Ant, based on the smoked mussel taco they served at the event, que bueño.

On Saturday night, my other dinner break away from my desk was at Babbo, my first time. Three words: lamb testa ravioli.

Hey, so remember when I said last week I was going to come home for a couple of weeks next month? Well, the primary reason is to host this amazing Vietnamese feast with chef Rob Lam and the wines of Vinho Verde!

The menu is downright spectacular, and knowing how good chef Rob’s Vietnamese home cooking is, well, let me just say you’re in for a treat. Also a treat: the charming Eugenio Jardim will be our sommelier and educator for the night, teaching us a bunch about the wines of Vinho Verde (and of course saying everything with a perfect Portuguese accent). Get your tickets ASAP, because at this price, it’s going to sell out quickly. Also: I can’t wait to see you.

Oh, and you can enter to win a pair of tickets to the event, thanks to Vinho Verde!

I wanted to do a big shout-out to all the final nominees for all award categories for the James Beard Foundation Awards! Some very exciting SF presence in there, and now that I am familiarizing myself with New York, I got excited for some folks here too. The James Beard Foundation Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards will be in New York on Tuesday April 26th, and the James Beard Awards Gala will take place in Chicago on Monday May 2nd, for all the Restaurant, Chef, and Restaurant Design categories, and more. (A very special congrats and best of luck wishes to Liholiho Yacht Club, up for Best New Restaurant, yessss.)

Okay, back to my other deadline. Have a good week, and hope to see you in April!
Marcia Gagliardi