What’s Cookin’

Weekly Intro and Updates (Coming in hot...)
February 24, 2015
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In yo’ face! The Banh, Baby, Banh at Big Chef Tom’s Belly Burgers. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

SF, why you so pretty today? Fresh air, clear skies, plum blossoms scattering on the sidewalks and perfuming our city, a cute songbird chirping outside my window, asparagus at the markets…spring is here, and I’m feeling it.

Another thing I was feeling was totally irked with how the Academy Awards completely overlooked Joan Rivers in their In Memoriam tribute. Really, you couldn’t boot the marketing executive listed (who I am sure was a wonderful person, no offense) for the grande dame of the red carpet? Please.

More award tawk: there was some excitement rippling through the industry last week with the announcement of the James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists. Congrats to all! On Tuesday March 24th, we’ll hear who the final nominees are for what will be the 25th anniversary of the awards (which will be taking place for the first time in Chicago on Monday May 4th).

OK, yours truly has a lot more on her plate than usual, literally and figuratively, so I won’t be in your inboxes again until next week. This upcoming week is gonna be a pressure cooker. Tax time really sucks for us self-employed/freelance/boss of me types, ya feel me?

Ciao for now. Mwah!
Marcia Gagliardi

February 20, 2015
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Kanpai! The rich and robust sake flight at Yuzuki. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Welcome to your weekend, you’re almost there. I don’t know about you, but I have a Lunar Night Market and a Scotch party in my not-too-distant future. Don’t forget, you can check out some new bagels (from Earl’s Bread) on Sunday!

And then there’s the Oscars on Sunday—I’m pretty excited about spending my Kitchit credit to have a Kitchit Tonight chef come over to cook and serve me and my friend dinner in bed as we watch the show. How fun and decadent is that? They even do the dishes. My idea of a perfect, lazy Sunday (because it has been a week). There will be Champagne.

Another reason I’ll be chugging some bubbles this weekend: can you believe tablehopper is turning nine tomorrow? I know, what the hell. Thanks to all of you for your support all these years! So can I ask a favor? The most helpful thing you could do for me is tell a friend or two about tablehopper. I understand some of you like to keep it to yourselves as your secret dining weapon, but new subscribers are always warmly welcomed here. Thanks for spreading the word!

So originally I was going to write up three short blurbs on wine bars I have been loving lately, but as I started writing about La Nebbia, it morphed into a full review, so here we are. Heather Irwin also has some 707 bites for you.

Enjoy the weekend, pop!
Marcia Gagliardi

February 17, 2015
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A Sazerac and baked oysters Simoneaux at Boxing Room. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hopefully you got enough vitamin D flowing in your system this past sunny weekend so you don’t care about this chilly and gray Mardi Gras. Whatever, we’re not under five feet of snow like other cities, so let the good times roll. Here’s a little roundup of some places where you can go get your Hurricane or king cake on tonight.

I started my Mardi Gras party early: on Saturday night I went to Boxing Room for a late-night burger (perfection) and Sazerac (remember, they now have a full liquor license!), and I was not going to pass up the baked oysters Simoneaux—named after the chef—who bakes them with tasso, trinity, and Parmesan cheese (I think it’s obvious that you don’t want to miss ‘em).

Earlier that evening, I went to check out a new SoundBox performance, Sticks & Stones, just behind Davies Symphony Hall. Whoa, what a cool new addition to our musical scene, it felt so very now. The space—normally used for rehearsals—is incredible: huge vaulted ceilings, cool clubby lighting and projections, comfortable lounge-like seating. There’s a full bar, and the musical artists are right in front of you in various spots throughout the room. It was a really unique musical experience. The next shows are March 6th-7th and April 9th-10th. Get your tickets ($25), this is a hot one.

And a happy new year to you: the lunar new year starts this Thursday February 19th! Here are some places where you can celebrate the year of the ram (or sheep or goat or Mongolian gazelle, whatever you prefer) in the coming week.

Kung Hei Fat Choy!
Marcia Gagliardi

February 13, 2015
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The hi-low katsu with cheese at Rintaro (a kind of deliciously dirty dish elevated with excellent Riverdog chicken). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hello, my fellow spoiled citizens of the Bay Area. Yeah, that’s a 72-degree forecast we’re looking at for this weekend in SF. Hell to the yes. Time to start plotting where you want to have brunch outside (because that’s how we do it here in February).

This Saturday is Valentine’s Day (my inbox won’t seem to let me forget that for 10 minutes, as I get pummeled with so many chocolate, cocktail, and “very special prix-fixe dinner with oysters and steak and molten chocolate cake!” pitches). We recently did a little V-Day dinner and dessert roundup for y’all, but I also just posted this piece with fun Valentine’s Day options for my fellow single folks too. Yup, I’m looking out for all of you.

Today’s missive is a quick read, with my review of the charming Izakaya Rintaro, and we have a 707 Scout update for you too.

Hearts and flowers for all of you!
Marcia Gagliardi

February 10, 2015
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The glorious Martinez at Comstock Saloon. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Did you notice the big alcohol shortage this weekend in North Beach? You can blame the tablehopper Barbary Coast cocktail crawl with Anchor Distilling Company, ha-ha. Saturday evening, a group of us gathered at the brand-new Devil’s Acre to kick off the night with pisco punch, and then headed to Comstock Saloon for a Martinez and bites, followed by 15 Romolo for their Sioux City Milk Punch and more vittles. Yeah, we were feeling good. We also learned a bunch about the neighborhood, each bar’s interesting history, and cocktail history, too, love it.

I posted a mini photo album of the night here, and there are pics on Instagram as well. Thanks to everyone who came! Let’s do it again.

I hope you all have a nice national pizza day yesterday? I unknowingly celebrated early on Sunday, because I thoroughly enjoyed a margherita at the counter at La Nebbia (they have a new pizzaiolo, FYI). And let’s not forget their supremely awesome selection of prosciutto and jamón, mamma/mama mia.

Our city will be full of a bunch more Italians this week, since Tre Bicchieri is this Thursday. I’m going to try to swing by for a few quick tastes before scooting down to San Mateo for my fabulous grandma’s birthday (an event that trumps everything).

This week there is mercifully less news than last week—well, for now, we should have some good stories to share next week. Although we do have some cool booze news for you, and some socialite action too: Chinese New Year and Mardi Gras are coming up! And if you need some help with Valentine’s Day ideas, we’ve got that too.

Enjoy the week! See you Friday.
Marcia Gagliardi

February 6, 2015
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It’s meat pie weather! With pork belly, snails, and a suet crust (you can handle it). At Cockscomb. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Oooh, rainy day! Windy! Drama! Love it. I’m actually heading out in this mess for an invite I couldn’t turn down: a tasting of Masi Agricola wines (with Raffaele Boscaini) paired with dry-aged beef from Flannery Beef at Perbacco. I know, right? Golden. My weekend is starting early.

Which is why today’s issue is a shorty. Tuesday’s practically crushed us over here anyway. But Heather Irwin has a bunch of catch-up 707 news for us, I hope you get inspired to take a road trip or day trip soon—it’s such a great time of year to hang out in Wine Country.

So it’s officially SF Beer Week, but for those of you who fancy a cocktail this weekend instead, we have just one ticket left on Sosh for the tablehopper North Beach cocktail crawl with Anchor Distilling this Saturday evening. We’re starting early: 5:30pm at the new Devil’s Acre, and then heading to Comstock Saloon and 15 Romolo (we’ll also have some tasty food for you at the two latter locations!). I am rerunning the event announcement today so you can check out all the tasty details—based on the RSVP list, I already know it’s going to be a fun group. Because, hello, we’re talking about tablehopper readers. Duh.

In case you’re mulling over Valentine’s Day options, here’s our post in case you missed it on Tuesday. And here are a couple of fun pop-ups this Saturday: Shorty Goldstein’s starts their series of appearances at the CUESA farmers market at the Ferry Building, and Press 12 is popping up at Four Barrel. Both worth going out in the rain for.

One more tidbit: I have my monthly post on 7x7.com for you on five new places to check out this month in case you need a quick cheat sheet of what’s new in town. Good stuff.

See you Tuesday.
Marcia Gagliardi

February 3, 2015
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The start to an elegant lunch at Yan Toh Heen at InterContinental Hong Kong, complete with an eye-popping jade place setting. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hi there! I am back from Hong Kong, a place that completely rocked my world on so many fronts. I had the best dim sum of my life (trust, I ate ALL the dumplings), the best jook, learned so much about Cantonese cuisine, and I was blown away with the level of hospitality and kindness I encountered (and not just in the high-end establishments I went to). For someone who really values good manners, I was in heaven in Hong Kong—I encountered so many levels of politeness, an incredible feat in a place with such population density. I loved the efficiency of so many things too—the underground was awesome. The three hotels I stayed in (Upper House, Mandarin Oriental, and InterContinental Hong Kong) were each fabulous in their own unique way. I know, I was so spoiled on this trip!

I’m editing my 2,000 photos right now, stand by for my recap soon. In the meantime, you can catch up on my tablehopper Instagram or Facebook page if you’re curious! Warning: don’t look if you’re at all hungry.

Meanwhile, I am back and in fifth gear. Early this Saturday evening, I’m hosting that tablehopper cocktail crawl I alluded to before I left! We’ll be hitting three bars in North Beach, featuring spirits from Anchor Distilling Company’s portfolio, and there will be heavy apps too. Don’t want anyone to go hungry, not on my watch! Space and tickets (available on Sosh) are limited, and for $65, it’s pretty much a total steal for such a Barbary Coast bash. Hope to see you Saturday! It’s gonna be quality! And fun, duh.

This week we have a bunch of news to catch up on, and I can’t believe how many more new openings are happening. Bizzeee. We ran an in-depth piece on Liholiho Yacht Club before I left, but wanted to be sure you saw their hunger-inducing menu, now live on their website.

I also wrote this post for Refinery 29 on the most anticipated openings of 2015 (so far), hopefully it can help you keep track of everything. Fortunately I also wrote this piece for 7x7.com on seven new cafés in town, in case you need an extra boost. I sure did the past few days, although let me tell you, flying Cathay Pacific will have you feeling fresher on arrival than any other airline I have flown. And, um, they serve quite delicious dim sum in business class, how fantastic is that?

But it’s good to be home. Am looking forward to the rain this weekend, and tucking into some quality cocktails and pot roast poutine with y’all on my Saturday cocktail tour!

Cheers!
Marcia Gagliardi
(And it’s about that time for a little reminder: this Marcia rhymes with Garcia.)

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