What’s Cookin’

Weekly Intro and Updates (Coming in hot...)
August 26, 2014

My favorite time of day at Lake Tahoe: the late afternoon. True blue. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hi there. I just got back from the land of sky blue water—Lake Tahoe—late Sunday night, totally the inverse to the path of my Burner pals leaving the Bay and heading up to BRC (and what a bummer for anyone who got stuck in that long gate closure, oof). I’m glad I missed that freak rainstorm and hail up at the lake, but more than anything, I’m glad I missed that crazy-early Sunday morning quake, oh lawdy. I am hoping the universe has decided I have suffered through enough of them (Loma Prieta, losing my apartment in the Northridge quake, and, oh yes, let’s not forget Athens in 1999, which was not cute).

I am so so sorry for all the loss and damages so many people (and wineries) are experiencing in Napa and the surrounding area. It’s also so utterly and completely terrifying to experience a quake on that scale (I had PTSD after the Northridge quake for a while). But how amazing to not have a single casualty—so lucky we are. It’s time to get that quake survival kit together, no? I know we’re all looking at our shelves and what’s hanging above our beds right now.

In brighter news, what are your Labor Day weekend plans? (Check out the chatterbox on the tablehopper website for a few ideas.) I’m actually going to be heading up to Yountville on Sunday, so I’m hoping things stay VERY mellow up there. (Fingers and toes crossed.)

Before we dive into some catch-up news, I have a couple fun roundups for you: first, this piece on five new lobster rolls you can find in SF (and the 510), and I was also asked to take part in this Thrillist piece on the best chicken wings in the Bay. Mmmm, wings.

Okay everyone, take good care, enjoy the sun, and I’ll see you Friday.
Marcia Gagliardi

August 15, 2014

Ducky: the Peking duck spread at Great China. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

You saving room for tomorrow’s Street Food Festival, the last one on Folsom Street (sniff sniff)? The lineup of eats and treats is pretty mega. I’m currently looking over the map and targeting vendors selling soft foods, like noodles and New York cheesecake. Hope to see you there!

Speaking of soft foods, you thought I was joking about writing the Gourmet Guide to Eating (When You Can’t Eat), but that’s just what I did—it was this week’s post from me on 7x7.com. Might be a good one to file away for a rainy day (or when you make your next dental procedure appointment, ouch).

I also did a roundup for the Bay Guardian on three of the latest barbecue places to open, check it out.

Today is Ferragosto in Italy, which is almost like their national picnic and party day (it originally celebrated the end of harvest, and all the associated heavy labor). What I wouldn’t give to be picnicking in Calabria right now—my family there knows how to pack a picnic, let me tell you.

Although I am heading to Lake Tahoe next week for my annual chill-out, so we’ll be going dark next week, until Tuesday August 26th. Publicists and restaurant owners, please don’t pitch me on anything that is happening before 8/26 since I won’t be able to write about it, thank you!

One more thing to note: this afternoon at 4pm is the opening of Longitude in Oakland, the tropical and tiki bar we told you about from Suzanne Long. It should help you get into a weekend frame of mind easily.

Or then there’s always the rave cats.

Marcia Gagliardi

August 12, 2014

What’s hot in my world right now: orzo in chicken broth with marjoram, nutmeg, and Parmesan. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Man, the world is just gutted over the tragic Robin Williams news. It’s a tough one. We all grew up with him in some way or another, and since he’s a friendly local, he touched a lot of lives here. Everywhere, actually—he was not someone who could be contained.

It’s hard to reconcile how a man who gave the world so much laughter and joy and hilarious comedy has left us by his own hand. We ask ourselves, how could such a bright, searingly funny supernova suffer with so much darkness? But as it is with our sharpest comedians, and some of our most brilliant talents, there’s often a tone of shadow, a subtext of pain.

I lost someone so dear to me to suicide, a man who overflowed with talent (and was the funniest person I have known), so this incident dredges up a lot. But I am also heartened by the deeper discussion happening around depression that I’m seeing in the media, on Facebook, in texts, and on social media. We all know someone who suffers from depression, and demons, and substance abuse issues, so while nothing can bring Williams back, if we can help someone else who is grappling with the darkness, or at least have more understanding and empathy for them (and for ourselves), then we are able to let in a little beam of light onto this very bleak happening. Let’s all take good care of each other out there.

It feels clunky to segue here into some banal food news, but let’s shift gears, okay? I wanted to give you a heads-up about some local talent who will be on TV tonight at 10pm PST, on the Esquire network. We have chef Traci Des Jardins appearing on Knife Fight, and next week (August 19th) is Kyle Itani of Hopscotch in Oakland is appearing, and then we have Charles Phan and Anthony Strong of Locanda going head-to-head on August 26th. Nice SF showing, gang!

A bunch of you are Foursquare users, yes? Do you like their redesigned app? It’s full of tips about what to get at various places around town, and tablehopper is chiming in on what to eat and drink at restaurants in SF and the 510. Just follow tablehopper on Foursquare for more! I’ll be adding some more tips soon now that the app is up and running (and our city is blowing up with new openings).

Speaking of new openings, here’s my monthly post on 7x7.com on five new places to check out. Yes, I’m here to help you keep track of it all.

So, I’m on day 11 of my soft-food life after “the incident.” I basically traded in my evil Sonicare for an immersion blender. Who knew that blending chicken noodle soup would taste so good? Ordering ramen without noodles? Yeah, I’m that girl right now. I’m joking that I need to write a book, Fun with Polenta! But really, all I want is to be able to chew in time for the Street Food Festival this Saturday. Or I can just hang out at the Aperol Spritz Brunch and drink my breakfast. See you there!

Marcia Gagliardi

August 5, 2014

Zero Zero’s bite at Eat Drink SF: compressed melon and caciocavallo cheese skewer with nepitella, extra-virgin olive oil, and sea salt. Photo: Rebecca Hopkins.

A big congrats to everyone who pulled off this past weekend’s Eat Drink SF event. While the new location at Fort Mason was a bit of a schlep, there was so much more room to mill around and not feel such a crush of humanity. Nicely done! I managed to get in a few hours at the Friday night grand tasting tent, but unfortunately I cut my weekend extravaganza short with a really stupid self-inflicted wound. An excruciating one, actually. Let me just say it involved a multitasking woman who was rushing around her apartment, and managed to collide with the edge of a door frame while her Sonicare was going in the back of her mouth. Ahhhhhh! Yeah, I am way out of commission right now. I’d take last week’s injury of burned pizza mouth 10 times over this.

Since I can barely open my mouth (this, see, is a problem!), I’m basically subsisting on orzo in broth, fruit smoothies, chia pudding, soft scrambled eggs, and I just have to say I am LIVING for Instacart’s new delivery service from Bi-Rite Market: spoonfuls of their smoked whitefish salad and matcha ice cream for the win. I’m hoping to upgrade to a bite of burrata in a day or so, and I’m going to try the pie shake at Chile Pies & Ice Cream this afternoon. (I have a feeling this will be a highlight of my day.)

This could actually be a useful article I should write: The Gourmand’s Guide to Eating Well (When You Can’t Really Eat). So if anyone has any tips on good eats after they had oral surgery or an accident, I’m all ears. A friend told me he blended a burrito out of desperation for real food, you gotta love it. (And I’m taking arnica and Bromelain to help with swelling, I have a pal to thank for that tip.)

This past week I have been hearing plenty of self-inflicted wound stories when people were rushing, ranging from running into a stop sign while calling a cab and breaking their nose, to a friend answering a phone call while he had a Q-tip in his ear (ow ow ow). I feel (slightly) less idiotic with the shared stories, but let this be a cautionary tale: never leave the bathroom sink while brushing your teeth. Ever. Just don’t.

Since I wasn’t able to really document Eat Drink SF this weekend, I’m happy to be running a dear friend’s image for today’s intro instead—thanks for the documentation by proxy, Rebecca Hopkins! (The subject matter also seems to jive with my current condition, ha.) And an extra-special shout-out to Dana Eastland, my right-hand woman, for always massively helping me get this column up and out, but especially today.

Not sure if I’ll be in your inboxes on Friday or not, time will tell if I can deal. If not, have a fantastic time at Outside Lands, everybody!

Ciao and meow.
Marcia Gagliardi

August 1, 2014

The exterior of Château du Sureau. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Bonjour. The weekend is almost here, and a bunch of industry folks are preparing for a big weekend of Eat Drink SF festivities. Three days of the grand tasting pavilion start this evening (remember, use code TABLEHOPPER for 15 percent off!), and tomorrow morning I’ll be moderating a demo with Fabio Viviani, see you? There are also classes and demos too. I’ll see you on the track! Fortunately the roof of my mouth has almost returned—I totally scorched it on a crazy-hot piece of pizza Tuesday night. Seriously, ow ow ow. Food writer injuries are the worst, I tell ya.

A couple of months ago, you may remember I took a trip to Yosemite and stayed at a dreamlike location, Château du Sureau. I was finally able to carve out some quiet time to get this jetsetter piece written for you, which I can’t wait to share. It was such an exquisite experience. If you’re looking for a special anniversary spot, a honeymoon location, or you just want to get out of town and pay a visit to glorious Yosemite, here’s your destination. (You can view the entire photo album here.)

I have to admit, I had one of the funniest experiences on the drive back to San Francisco after our time in fairyland. I was pretty tired from all the driving, and when I saw a drive-thru espresso spot in Merced, I let out a little whoop. Mama needed some fuel. When my friend and I pulled up, it took awhile for someone to come to the window—I was praying it wasn’t actually closed—and then the window slides open and I am greeted by a heavily made-up young woman (with colored contacts) in a practically sheer bra and panties with ribbons on the sides. It’s something like 3pm on a Saturday. It takes a lot to make me speechless, but this was, bar none, one of the weirdest moments I’ve had in years. I ordered our coffee drinks while trying to act like everything is completely normal, and gave her a good tip because I suddenly felt like I was actually at a table in a strip club, and not an espresso drive-thru.

My friend and I pull away, both of us cracking up and trying to figure out what the hell just happened (“Hold up, was she a working girl busy with a customer when we pulled up?”) and that’s when I looked back and saw the sign: Double Shot Espresso, with an outline of boobs fitting into two teacups, plus a lipstick kiss. Oh yeah, and there’s pink trim on the building. Ahem. After my friend did a quick internet search, we learned how this new “pick-me-up” spot (near the high school no less) was scandalizing Merced (kind of like all those places in the Northwest, like Cup of Joe). Oh, and according to Double Shot’s Facebook page, our girl was Janine. Of all the places to stop for coffee, I’m so glad it was this one. I’m still laughing over it.

Seems like a good time to segue to my article this week on 7x7.com about high-low dishes, with humble ingredients getting the high-end treatment. Ha!

Have a great weekend. Meep meep.
Marcia Gagliardi

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