What’s Cookin’

Weekly Intro and Updates (Coming in hot...)
January 20, 2015
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Roasted butternut squash and red onions with tahini and za’atar at an EatWith dinner (“Dinner in Three Acts”). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Buon giorno, or should I say, “nei ho” (Cantonese for hello!)! I will be on my Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong in less than 24 hours, and I am kind of freaking out, a potent combination of excitement and stress getting everything done before I leave. (Why is it always like this? The perils of running your own business, I suppose.)

Since I am going to be MIA, the next tablehopper issue won’t be until Tuesday February 3rd, so publicists and restaurant owners, you know the drill: please don’t pitch me on anything unless it’s happening after that date. I won’t be on email very much, I have an amazing city to explore (and eat my way through, oh you know it).

I will be posting images to Instagram, Twitter, and the tablehopper Facebook page, so if you want to see some pics of incredible Hong Kong cuisine, the city, and more, follow along!

Another thing to note: on Saturday February 7th, I will be hosting a special tablehopper cocktail crawl/winter warmer in North Beach, in partnership with Anchor Distilling Company. We’ll be hitting up the new Devil’s Acre, Comstock Saloon, and 15 Romolo, with top-notch cocktails at each spot, and some really good food too (duh, this is a tablehopper event!). The ticket link will be live on Sosh around the end of this week, and I’ll be tweeting and Facebooking the link for you as soon as it’s up! Keep your eyes peeled because space is limited. I look forward to seeing you there!

I do hope you enjoyed a fab long weekend. I happily kicked my cold to the curb, checked out the FOG fair, experienced my first EatWith dinner (super fun!), ran a million errands, wrote three articles, and also toured the soon-to-open Liholiho Yacht Club, which you can read about today!

Even with all that activity, my weekend was quite a bit less eventful than my dear friend Spider’s, who completed a Bikes Across Borders trip that involved riding a bike all the way from Austin, Texas, to Monterrey, Mexico, with a group of fellow cyclists, who are all donating their bikes to a nonprofit. I know, you suddenly feel a bit lazy, right? Well, one thing you could do is help throw a little money at my friend, who is a few hundred short on his fundraising to cover the cost of the bike (he’s also donating to local community organizations in Mexico and the Bikes Across Borders organization). Even $5 helps, truly. Thank you!

Okay, I have some serious packing to do and work details to wrap up, so I will see you in a couple of weeks! Joy kin! (Goodbye!)

Marcia Gagliardi

January 16, 2015
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Delicata squash tempura with rosemary honey, pepato, and hazelnut cocaine (well, that’s what I called it) at The Alembic. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Greetings from the hopper infirmary, where if you call the “receptionist,” she sounds a lot like Brenda Vaccaro, and you may find her working in her flannel pj’s (pink with drawings of the Eiffel Tower, if you must know). Being sick is so damn lame. Hopefully I will be in tip-top shape when I board my Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong on Wednesday. Thanks to everyone who sent in their Hong Kong tips, you rock. Again and again, I am amazed at how thoughtful you all are in taking the time to share information. I am truly grateful!

Many of you are gearing up for a three-day weekend, and it seems an appropriate time to get in a viewing of the civil rights film Selma in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Oscar nomination snubs be damned. (At least it’s on my docket.)

Today’s issue has a review of Brenda’s Meat & Three, and some 707 news from Heather Irwin for you, complete with some of her top Mendocino picks.

Oh, and if you happen to be a fellow Champagne and sparkling wine lover, then you’ll definitely want to check out my recent piece for 7x7.com on where to drink and buy the good stuff in SF!

Cheers, dollinks!
Marcia Gagliardi

January 13, 2015
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Today’s lunch at home: jook by Trilogi and barrel-aged sriracha by Sosu. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hey there, ho there, hi there. Yours truly is a bit under the weather today. I managed to pick up someone’s nasty bug over the weekend, here’s hoping I squash it quickly. (I think this jook and sriracha will help.) Because next Wednesday, I’m going to be heading to Hong Kong for my first time (!!), a weeklong dream trip. As always, I would love to hear any of your recos of your favorite HK restaurants, bars, shops, and places; thanks for any tips, fabulous readers! It’s a pretty packed itinerary, but as I like to say, more is more. There will be dim sum.

On Sunday I visited the Winter Fancy Food Show (as did thousands of others); I wrote a recap of some of the fun products I found in today’s column. More on the trend side of things, here’s a piece in The Bold Italic about what’s coming in 2015 that I just contributed to as well.

In case you missed this on Friday (with my review of Pink Zebra), here’s my roundup of five new places to eat at now on 7x7.com, and I also contributed six dishes to this Eat This Now: 12 must-try dishes in SF right now” piece on Blackboard Eats.

We’ll see you again on Friday.
Marcia Gagliardi

January 9, 2015
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Pork kimchi nabeyaki udon at Udon Mugizo. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Excuse me while I put down this lobe of foie gras, my new Chapstick. Ha! But yeah, with the almost-miraculous invalidation of the foie gras ban in California that seemed to come out of left field, we’re going to be seeing a lot of it on menus in coming weeks—just as soon as the chefs who weren’t serving it as a gift the past few years can get some flown out. Foie tsunami, coming in hot.

This weekend is all about big food wave surfing, in the form of the Good Food Awards winners marketplace at the Ferry Building on Saturday, and the Winter Fancy Food Show that runs Sunday through Tuesday (which means it will be tough to get into any hot spots this weekend with so many food folks in town).

Just in case you want even more in your food bag (remember, we’re not out of The Jabba Zone just yet), here’s my roundup of five new places to eat at now on 7x7.com, and I also contributed six dishes to this Eat This Now: 12 must-try dishes in SF right now” piece on Blackboard Eats.

Today Heather Irwin has some 707 news for you, and I miraculously carved out some time to write a review for you too. #yay

Happy Friday.
Marcia Gagliardi

January 6, 2015
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My favorite dish of the trip: veal tartare crostino slathered with tonnato sauce at Bestia. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Welcome to 2015! I hope you started the new year with a bang. I had a stellar week in Los Angeles, catching up on so many places I hadn’t eaten at yet (Bestia, Squirl, Rustic Canyon, Sycamore Kitchen, Bäco Mercat), revisiting old favorites (Pizzeria Mozza, Zankou), impromptu stops (Connie and Ted’s for oysters and bubbles, Fonuts, and Harris Ranch on the I-5 on the way down, my new favorite pit stop), and catching up with old friends and making new ones.

Drinks at the Dresden (Marty and Elayne!) and Harvard & Stone happened, plus checking out local beers at the Glendale Tap, saying hi to all the ladies at Jumbo’s Clown Room, and some quirky New Year’s Eve parties, including Carole King’s daughter’s birthday party at a warehouse and singing karaoke at 2am at a guy’s house named Scoonie Gee. Good times.

We were staying in my friend’s charming West Hollywood apartment in The Colonial House, a 1930s building that’s listed in the National Register of Historic Places (Bette Davis lived there, as well as Cary Grant, Myrna Loy, Clark Gable, and Carole Lombard). I know, my life is crazy, and I pinch myself often. Oh, LA. It was alllll there, plus some killer vintage clothes shopping and flea marketing, of course. Am already plotting my return, I was having too much fun, even though we were freezing our heinies. Fortunately San Franciscans are prepared and tend to have lots of coats and sweaters, amIright? And I’m pleased I brought my party mink, as I like to call my vintage stole from the ’50s.

We’re still catching up on everything over here, so this week is running a little bit short—which is fine by me because I still need to finish unpacking my bags and get my 2015 files all set up. Fresh start.

We’ll see you on Friday, and in the meantime, have fun with all your gym/cleanse/no-booze resolutions. I like to make resolutions I’m going to keep, like reading more books. But first, I gotta catch up on this first episode of this season’s Downton Abbey, yay.

Marcia Gagliardi

December 30, 2014
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Uni pâté at Union Larder. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Brrrr, how you all doing in your chilly Victorian and Edwardian abodes? Well, at least that’s the current state of my apartment, which means flannel pajamas are the attire of choice right now. (So glad my boss is cool with PJ Mondays.)

I hope your holidays have been merry and bright—a visit to Tom and Jerry’s Christmas house on 21st Street is one surefire way to dial the bright part in. I have been eating far too well: my family’s annual Feast of the Seven Fishes somehow managed to get eight in there (because more is more), and you’d think it was New Year’s Eve already with all the Champagne I’ve been drinking. Yaaaaaas.

I’ll be celebrating the New Year in Los Angeles. When you get this email, I’ll hopefully be well over the Grapevine in my little Fiat by then (meep meep). Looking forward to hitting up a bunch of LA spots, it has been too long since I hung out down there. Thanks to everyone for your LA faves and recos you sent in! You da best.

For those of you looking for places to dine on New Year’s Eve, we’ve got you covered. And today’s issue also includes where to eat on New Year’s Day! And a shout-out to yesterday’s sponsor, Flywheel, who is offering $10 cab rides on New Year’s Eve, how ‘bout them apples?

And last but not least, today’s (abridged) issue includes my annual installment of the bore, when I talk a little smack/pour out a little haterade about what’s annoying me in our local culinary scene.

But since I don’t want to end this last missive of 2014 on a cranky note (that’s not my style), I’d like to point you to this video about cultivating chance that my pal Lisa Schiffman recently did for Creative Mornings—I hope it’s inspiring for you as we look to 2015, and everything that it holds! Let’s rock it.

Buon Anno!
Marcia Gagliardi

December 23, 2014
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The many wonders of hot cocoa never cease to amaze. (At the Sir Francis Drake for holiday tea with Miss Hannah and her dear mother, Ms. Lisa.) Photo: © tablehopper.com.

How’s your last-minute holiday shopping going? Is your eggnog consumption where it should be? Has peppermint been making appearances in your snacks? Have you noshed on any latkes? Have you used “ho ho ho” in a sentence or email? Hopefully you can answer positively to all of the above.

I have been loving my morning breakfast of a Gibraltar and a slice of panettone (this year’s is a sweet beauty, an Amarena cherry version from Rustichella d’Abruzzo, che buona!), and my other mornings have been all about my treasured Laudemio olio nuovo on top of soft-boiled eggs and ripped-up pieces of toasted Josey Baker bread (excellent after a night of too much holiday cheer). ‘Tis the season!

I’m fired up to leave town this afternoon, and fortunately it’s an easy hop to San Mateo, where I’ll be celebrating my dad’s birthday tonight with my fam. Tomorrow is a big day, when we’ll be preparing all the dishes for our family’s annual Feast of the Seven Fishes. Not sure how many people we’re cooking for this year, it’s usually around 25. Bring on the anchovy and bread crumb pasta, my favorite.

This past week was unfortunately filled with too many writing deadlines, mamma mia. Glad those are all done so I can get into a deeper holiday frame of mind over here. Saturday was pretty special though: my dear friend brought her five-year-old daughter up to the city so we could show her what San Francisco’s Union Square holiday show is all about, from the kitties in the window at Macy’s to the Neiman Marcus tree to high tea at the Sir Francis Drake to picking out an ornament at Gump’s. (Next year we’ll take her ice skating.)

I also managed to have some adult eggnog time at Kuleto’s (damn is their eggnog amazing), and went to Naked Kitchen Saturday night for their last dinner of the year with chef Alex Ong. I can’t believe I got to have his beggar’s chicken (with Jinhua ham!). Ahhh, it has been too long. Plus other fab dishes, like his roasted crispy pork belly with the most amazing chile-garlic sauce. I’ll let you know the next time he’s doing a dinner, his food is so fantastic.

Sunday night, sis and I got lucky and bought tickets off her friend for the SF Symphony’s holiday show, featuring Charlie Brown’s Christmas (there are still a couple more nights!). What a sweet show. Oh, Vince Guaraldi, your music always gets me into a sentimental holiday mood.

Today’s column includes a post on where to dine for New Year’s Eve, and I also did this post for 7x7.com on New Year’s Eve dinner deals. I’m not sure when my post for 7x7 about New Year’s Day brunch is going up, but I’ll keep you posted on Twitter and the BookFace. Here’s one more for you: I wrote this piece on the best new 25 restaurants of 2014 for Refinery 29.

Oh, and I’m going to be heading to Los Angeles next week for New Year’s Eve! So excited, it has been tooooo long. If you have any recent recos for dining and drinking, please let me know! On my list: Rustic Canyon, Night + Market Song, Petit Trois, Sqirl, Barrel & Ashes, Alma, Bestia, Eggslut, Sycamore Kitchen, Superba, Faith and Flower, still haven’t checked out Bazaar at SLS, and I’m going to need to get some Koreatown time in there, and daily tacos, of course. I’d appreciate any recos on LA places that are floating your boat!

All righty gang, I’ll have a little missive for you next Tuesday, even though I’m leaving town. Yup, the bore will be in your inboxes! Have yourselves a merry little Christmas, and happy holidays. Peace and love and joy to you all.

XOXO,
Champers, the elf

December 16, 2014
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The bar at Devil’s Acre, ready for garnish action. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Okay everyone, let’s pause D’Angelo for a second, and take a peek at what’s going on in the city this week. The first thing I’d love to draw your attention to is that we are in the final hours of the Indiegogo fundraiser for the Bay Guardian to print a final commemorative issue, and to preserve the 48 years of archives. Everything helps, thank you!

Beginnings, endings. Sunday night I swung by The Devil’s Acre in North Beach for the first night of their soft opening (check out our piece in the lush today), and then headed over to the Empress of China for Charles Phoenix’s quirky-fun holiday slideshow and to say farewell to the Empress, which is closing in a couple of weeks, I hear on New Year’s Eve. Sadness.

Back to beginnings: tonight marks the first night of official service for The Progress (you can read my in-depth preview here), which is now taking reservations (release the hounds!).

Today is also the first night of Hanukkah—here’s our post from last week with some “Hanukkah helpers” and happenings for you.

Keep dry, enjoy some eggnog, see you Friday.
Marcia Gagliardi

December 12, 2014
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Amazing rainy weather vittles: beef short rib potpie at Huxley. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Man, NorCal got one hell of a bath yesterday. Stormageddon didn’t keep me from going out, though: last night I had some wine and cheese (and meats too) at the new Tender (pssst, it would be a great spot for a first “getting to know you” date) and then headed over next door to the intimate Huxley for a delicious dinner (the beef short rib potpie was exactly what the weather called for). For anyone with rained-out basements, fields, first floors, or floating cars, I hope things turn around quickly for you—there was some crazy water damage out there, man!

One phoenix I am really happy to see rising from the ashes is Manresa, which just announced that they are opening up their reservations book on Monday December 15th after being closed since that horrible fire in July. And how apropos, the first reservations will be for New Year’s Eve. Here’s to a bright 2015 for David Kinch and his talented crew.

Meanwhile, thrilled would be an understatement for what I was feeling when I read this fun post by the fantastic Kate Krader—the restaurant editor of Food & Wine—about the tablehopper-Sosh chef party I hosted last week at Locanda. (We’ll have to make sure she is out here for the next one!)

And since it’s totally eggnog season, here’s a post I wrote up for 7x7.com on some tasty eggnog options around town (including a couple that are egg-free, can you believe it?). Cheers!

Have fun this weekend as the city explodes with holiday parties.
Marcia Gagliardi