What’s Cookin’

Weekly Intro and Updates (Coming in hot...)
July 29, 2014

The ample aperitivo spread 54 Mint offered at Una Serata a Roma. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Howdy amici. Hope you all had a swell weekend outside in the sunny weather. I definitely had fun on Friday, because boss of me said I should take the day off and hit the beach. (Love it when boss of me is cool like that.) I think last week’s tablehopper and Campari America event at 54 Mint, Una Serata a Roma, got some Italian siesta vibe into my veins.

Be sure to check out the beautiful photo recap on Dinners with Friends, and we just posted our own album on the tablehopper Facebook page. Thanks to everyone who came, and an extra-special grazie to Mark Pasternak of Devil’s Gulch Ranch for supplying us with that amazing pork! (Please consider helping Mark out with his Kiva loan drive—it’s not a donation, it’s a loan, and I know he’d really appreciate any amount, even $5!)

You feeling a little drowsy? Yeah, it’s about that time in the afternoon when I need my second espresso. Here’s my post for 7x7.com on four new cafés to open around town (plus a cool tea spot too).

A huge congrats to our copyeditor extraordinaire, Jane Tunks Demel, who just gave birth to her baby boy last night, Eben Kent Demel (he clocked in at 9 pounds 2 ounces!). So if you find any typos in today’s (shorter) column, well, this is what happens when Jane isn’t here. Be kind.

Are you going to Eat Drink SF this weekend? I’ll definitely see you there (especially on Saturday morning, when I’ll be moderating Fabio Viviani’s demo).

Ciao ciao.
Marcia Gagliardi

This issue is dedicated to the memory of Chris L’Hommedieu, a San Francisco chef who was adored by many people in our local restaurant industry, and far beyond. He shuffled off this mortal coil last week after a long and arduous battle with cancer. Such a tragic loss. Deep condolences to his family and everyone who knew him—he will be missed greatly and his departure is mourned by so many.

July 22, 2014

My favorite dish at the Summer Fig Dinner by Fortress: Solitude & SF (smoked and braised Duroc pork with corn milk dumplings and fig). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

How are y’all enjoying this odd, muggy weather? All I know is I’m definitely looking forward to an Aperol spritz tomorrow on the terrace at 54 Mint for the tablehopper and Campari America Una Serata a Roma event. There’s a piece of Devil’s Gulch Ranch porchetta with my name on it, and hopefully yours too. My apologies to all of you on the waiting list for the event, sorry we are so sold out! Unfortunately there are no more tickets to release, argh. But here’s hoping we get to do this event again. And soon!

I will say this: if you love Italian wine, you’ll want to mark your calendar for Sunday August 24th—I should be telling you very soon about a really unique and special event I have in the works, stand by. It’s gonna be gooood.

You know what else is really good is some of the barbecue I’ve been enjoying in SF and Berkeley the past month. I was on KRON 4 on Saturday with my tablehopper hot list, covering three places where you can score some quality ‘cue, check it out.

Okay amici, I’ll see you Friday (unless I am seeing you this Wednesday!). Ciao ciao!
Marcia Gagliardi

July 18, 2014

A hefty plate of barbecue (chicken, St. Louis pork ribs, Texas caviar, and potato salad) at Perdition Smokehouse. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

It’s Friday, do you already have your weekend plans dialed? A few reminders for you in case you don’t: this weekend is the Pop Gourmet Food Festival in Japantown (complete with lots of ramen and sake), Sunday evening is Blackbird’s fifth anniversary party, and if you live in the 510, Sunday is Fentons big 120th anniversary party. Have at it.

The gray, humid weather makes me want to leave town again, but at least we can still taste summer on our plates—here’s my most recent 7x7.com post with all kinds of summer dishes you can hunt down.

Oh, and tune in tomorrow (Saturday) to KRON 4 at 9:15am—I’ll be talking about three new barbecue places I’m really digging. There will be meat.

Lastly, did you see Tuesday’s sugar mama giveaway to win two tickets to see Fabio Viviani at Eat Drink SF on Saturday August 2nd? Yours truly will be moderating his demo. You will probably hear some Italian jokes. There are still a few more days to enter to win!

All righty, have a fab weekend, even though the weather is so lame! Oh, SF.

Marcia Gagliardi

July 15, 2014

Trust, this was really hard to leave. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hey there, ho there, hi there. I hope you had a faboo weekend, and I know some Germans are probably still celebrating (and still drunk) over their World Cup win—I also know some of you will be happy to not hear about the World Cup for another four years, so there’s that too.

Friday night I kicked off the weekend with cocktails and dinner at downtown’s Gaspar—you can’t miss the Café Brulot presentation at the end of dinner (or your boozy lunch). I am so happy to see the return of tableside service.

This weekend I was thrilled to escape the fog and visit some dear friends at their crazy-huge house rental up near Forestville for a quick but pretty epic visit. Sun, full moon, pool, nice people, barbecue, rosé, bubbles, yes!

Speaking of barbecue, this Saturday I’ll be on KRON 4 at 9:15am with my tablehopper hot list, talking about three new places for ‘cue in the Bay Area, tune in.

I want to say thank you to everyone who bought tickets to the tablehopper and Campari America aperitivo and dinner event (“Una Serata a Roma”) at 54 Mint next week—y’all sold the event out! It’s gonna be a blast. But there’s a chance we’ll have a few more tickets open up, so hop on the waiting list and let’s see what happens!

One other thing before I sign off here: I’m currently planning a two-week family trip to France this September—yeah, it’s gonna be scene after scene from European Vacation, all the way. We’re going to be spending a week in Paris, a couple of nights in Champagne (have any places you like to stay there?), and then we’re going to hang out and relax in the Loire. I’d love any tips, faves, and recommendations from you since you are amazing like that. Merci beaucoup!

See you on Friday, à bientôt!
Marcia Gagliardi

July 11, 2014

The incredibly complex bacon-curry sweetbreads with pickled squash at State Bird Provisions. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hello people. Are you already plotting your weekend shenanigans? Well, my recent post on 7x7.com with six new brunches can help you with your plans. Punch bowls, a Mexican Benedict, and a spot with a cute outdoor patio, it’s all there. Or maybe you’re heading to the 707 this weekend? Heather Irwin has you covered with all kinds of Wine Country options. We also have a ticket giveaway to Eat Drink SF for you, check it out in the sugar mama!

This week has blown my mind with quality eats, including a preview dinner at Monsieur Benjamin on Tuesday (it was such a cool scene—the restaurant was packed with some of our city’s best chefs later that night). I’ll have more for you next Tuesday about the restaurant (and why you can’t miss the escargots).

Last night I got to accompany my friend for his first feast at State Bird Provisions. We sat at the kitchen counter (best seats, trust) but it led to a really funny exchange when I got into a cab at the end of the night. My cabbie asked, “So, did you just come out of that restaurant? How was it?” I proceed to wax over our bonkers-good meal, and he says, “Yeah, I want to go there. Don’t take this the wrong way, but when you got into the cab, you smelled like really good food.” Gotta say, that was a first. Eau de SBP!

On Wednesday I enjoyed a pre-opera meal at Souvla, the subject of today’s review. (And…now I’m craving one of their salads for lunch. Oh, and you should know Souvla is now open on Mondays!) After our Souvla stop, my friend took me to see Madame Butterfly that night, what an incredible production. Soprano Patricia Racette as Cio-Cio-San brought down the house, and I couldn’t stop oohing and aahing over the costumes and sets—so artful and vibrant. Magic. The SF Opera is rocking me with this year’s season.

Have you looked at the aperitivo hour and dinner I am hosting at 54 Mint with Campari America on Wednesday July 23rd? It’s going to be a great event—we’re gonna stuff you with gnocchi and porchetta. Just so you know, tickets are moving quickly, so hop to it.

Have a lovely weekend, may it be full of ripe peaches and tomatoes and rosé. Have fun watching the World Cup on Sunday, and Happy Bastille Day on Monday!

Marcia Gagliardi

July 8, 2014

Can’t stop thinking about this summery dish at Bar Tartine: squash and tomato salad with quinoa greens and bottarga. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

How fabulous was that three-day weekend? I know I’m not the only one who needed it. For those of you who stayed in the city, I hope you enjoyed our annual colored fog. I took it easy over the weekend and enjoyed some home-cooked meals, although last week I had some fantastic dinners at Bar Tartine and checked out the new chef at Seven Hills (pasta lovers, you’ll be very happy there).

As promised, today we are releasing news (and tickets!) for an upcoming tablehopper and Campari America event on Wednesday July 23rd: Una Serata a Roma at 54 Mint. There will be an aperitivo hour, gnocchi all’amatriciana, porchetta, and a whole lot more. Hope to see you there, tickets are limited!

Today we are posting some last-minute news that Monsieur Benjamin opens tomorrow (woohoo!) and in case you want some more new places to check out, here’s my monthly post on 7x7.com on five new restaurants to try this month.

So sorry for anyone who was rooting for Brazil today (myself included), that was the most painful game I have ever seen, ever. Devastating. Also devastating: the horrible fire that Manresa suffered early Monday morning. Best wishes to David Kinch and team as they start the path to rebuilding and getting their beloved restaurant repaired and on the path to reopening—they have the support of the international restaurant community, that’s for sure.

Ciao ciao.
Marcia Gagliardi

July 1, 2014

Your weekend brunch agenda: the soft-shell crab BLT at Fable—and put an egg on it. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Oh, USA. Sorry today’s column is a wee bit late, but there’s no way I could stop watching today’s nail-biting game to send this puppy at its usual post time. All I can say is Tim Howard is THE MAN, what a staggering job today. Julian Green? What a hope-inducing goal. Boys, you gave it your best. We’re proud of you.

So, besides suffering from a sudden onset of World Cup-related sadness, how y’all doing out there? I’d say the vast majority of the city is still recovering from this weekend’s amazing PRIDE festivities, ahem. Oh COURSE the weather was gorgeous, the parties were bumpin’, the fashions were fierce, spirits were high (lots of people, too, heh), and I really soaked up some heartfelt conversations over the weekend with friends (both new and dear), ranging from their own personal stories on coming out to talking about how far things have come. Loved seeing so many friends in great relationships too. Keep it going. So many cheers for queer. Yay, SF!

Another city I love is New Orleans—just wanted to make sure you saw my writeup on Friday about my most recent visit there, especially handy if you’re heading over for Tales of the Cocktail!

Oh, and hey, there’s another party coming up, and yours truly is going to be throwing it. If you love Italian food and aperitivo hour (and if you don’t, I have some questions I’d like to ask you), you’ll want to save Wednesday July 23rd on your calendar! More details coming very soon on this tablehopper-hosted event, I just wanted to give you a little heads-up!

This week we have a few openings, including The Ramen Bar and Pabu (we have details for you in the chatterbox!), and opening on Wednesday July 2nd is Causwells in the Marina (we’ll have a little more for you on that next week, but here’s our most recent post).

Have a fabulous Fourth on Friday! Enjoy the colored fog, and that Brazil vs. Colombia quarterfinal is gonna be nuts! We’re going to be taking the day off, so we’ll see you next week.

Marcia Gagliardi

June 27, 2014

Some of the marvelous nigiri at Pabu, including my favorite bite: the kohada (top of the picture). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

You ready to get your PRIDE on, SF? Sure seems that way with the amazing lists of weekend events I keep seeing, like this excellent one in the Bay Guardian. Just remember to hydrate, people!

Speaking of hydrating, I know some folks are getting ready to head to Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans in a couple of weeks, and I’ve been getting asked some questions about where to go. I have a backlog of trips I need to write about, so here’s a short jetsetter update of places I went to in between all the shows and performances during Jazz Fest (here’s my original jetsetter from 2008, but fortunately a bunch of places stick around in New Orleans, that’s one of its many charms). I already feel overdue for another visit, that city really gets its golden hooks in you. For my full photo album, click here.

Last night I was at the soon-to-open Pabu for a test dinner, and let me tell you, the exquisite spread of nigiri sushi we had got me so excited for the opening. That Ken Tominaga runs one heck of a sushi counter, we are so lucky to have him here in SF now. Both Pabu and Ramen Bar open on Monday, we’ll have all the details for you in Tuesday’s tablehopper!

And in case you are looking for a few other new options for where to have a business lunch, here’s a writeup I did of five new places!

Have a great weekend, everyone—PRIDE is always one of SF’s most magic weekends, in a city that is already so special.


Marcia Gagliardi

June 24, 2014

At the Soave lunch at Verbena, with the amazing squid dish (check out that black squid ink-infused watermelon peeking out in the middle!). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Damn, I guess Italy won’t be ruining any more of my mornings watching them play in the World Cup. (Big. Sigh.) Sadly, no one was listening to my grandmother’s wise words: “No fighting, no biting!” Meanwhile, I can’t wait to watch USA this Thursday morning! Sunday’s game was so exciting. We continue to update our where to watch World Cup games post, check it out and enjoy! Some great matches are coming up.

So it’s that time of the year when I start using the rainbow emoji a lot more in my texts. Happy Pride, San Francisco! Here’s hoping Karl the Fog decides to go on vacation this weekend, and I wish you all a fabulous time at all the week’s events, marches, parties, brunches, tea dances, happy hours, cuddle puddles, picnics, and shindigs. As David Bowie says, “Let’s dance!”

If you find yourself hungry and you’re in the Mission this weekend, be sure to pay a visit to Los Shucos, the subject of last week’s tasty review (and they’re open laaaaate on the weekend).

Another little tasty tidbit: last week I was invited to a special lunch at Verbena for a very educational tasting of Soave wines, and chef Sean Baker and his team have some exciting new dishes on the summer menu that made for some great pairings. Don’t miss his watermelon and squid salad (it’s a spectacular combo, with a nice kick), and I’d love to have the Little Gem salad with pumpkin seed milk and potato, corn, avocado, and beluga lentils in my life every week. I also need to get over there for weekend brunch!

Speaking of brunch, we have three new options for you in today’s column, plus a bunch of other news bites.

Have a gorgeous week! Happy Pride!

Marcia Gagliardi

June 20, 2014

I know, he’s adorable. A tray of sherry cobblers at Central Kitchen’s Sherryfest event. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

This morning was off to a good start, drinking my cappuccino and enjoying fresh, cream-filled bomboloni while sitting at the counter at Il Casaro in North Beach, the room a sea of Azzurri jerseys. But watching the wheels come off that game with Costa Rica (were Italy’s wheels ever really on?) was painful. Fortunately Molinari was there for me after the game—this half of an Italian combo I am munching right now has special uplifting powers, let me tell you. Get ready to watch the on-fire USA team play against Portugal on Sunday! Here’s our ever-updating listing on where to watch World Cup games!

My week has been really over the top, I gotta confess. Tuesday night was a memorable dinner at Central Kitchen to celebrate Sherryfest West. Jan Pettersen of Fernando de Castilla and Borja Leal of Sánchez Romate poured us some very special sherries, and the food pairings by chef Ryan Pollnow were on point (charred octopus in a marvelous broth with amontillado for the win!). I also need to have more aged finos in my life.

The next evening I was at the Big 4 for dinner, and the room had more energy than I have seen in a long time. It was totally buzzing! There were a lot of industry folks, and I was lucky to have a glass of 1982 Gonzalez Byass palo cortado sent over, just at the perfect moment because it matched beautifully with my bowl of rich bouillabaisse. Kismet.

Last night was ladies’ night: my mom and I went to Nojo in Hayes Valley for a little preshow dinner before seeing Show Boat at the SF Opera. Fabulous production! So much fun, with gorg costumes, and the numbers (both singing and dancing!) were beautiful. Very heartfelt. Check it out if you can, it’s such a buoyant night of musical theater. The audience was fired up.

While I still have “Ol’ Man River” playing in my head, over on 7x7.com, I posted a story about where to enjoy some new Southern treats around town, from chess pie to really tasty grits, check it out.

A few final weekend notes for you! I know, that double cappuccino this morning got me wired and chatty. First off, Marla Bakery is open as of today, so that could be a fun excursion for you, and Sunday is Summer Celebration at the Ferry Building—you can still get discounted tickets with our special tablehopper code! And today’s review of Los Shucos may add a pit stop to your weekend as well!

Have a gorg weekend! Go USA!
Marcia Gagliardi