May 2008

May 27, 2008

Hola. No comment on the lame holiday weather yesterday, although it helped make it somewhat tolerable to be home writing this thing while the rest of the City had the day off but was probably freezing some heinie at an outdoor cookout. In honor of the shorter week, this issue is a bit of an abridged version, plus I'm opting out of a restaurant review, sorry, I was just too wiped from my weekend in Palm Springs. I know, poor baby, too much poolside sun and chillaxing this weekend. Actually, it was all the driving to Palm Springs and back that did me in (ten hours down on Friday, and seven back on Sunday, ack). I'll have a write-up for you next week.

I normally don't use this forum to espouse my political views, but as a freelance writer and San Francisco resident who is extremely grateful for her rent control, I'm going to urge that you please consider voting no on the problematic Prop 98, and yes on Prop 99 when you go vote next Tuesday, June 3rd. You are voting, yes? Yes. Okay, my soapbox is now kicked back out of sight.

Returning to a food note, those of you who joined me in lamenting the long-lost chocolate brioche cake from Rumpus can now join me in a big fat yay, because it's actually on the menu at Bungalow 44 in Marin. Thanks to the wonders of the WORLD WIDE WEB (and chefs who read tablehopper), I was put in touch with the former chef of Rumpus, Robert Price, who is currently the chef of Bungalow 44 and the Buckeye Roadhouse. He said to come on down to Bungalow 44 for some cake! Or up, depending on where you live.

Let's all eat cake.
~Marcia

May 20, 2008

Forget Bay to Breakers, last week was like my own personal culinary and cocktail marathon—I was out late enjoying the warm nights, SF Cocktail Week activities like bourbon and bacon dinners, an albariño wine tasting, and then Sunday night was the annual Meals on Wheels event, a stellar showcase for local culinary talent that's downright mind boggling. Just eating and sipping your way through the cocktail reception is daunting enough, knowing a three-course dinner is quickly coming up. Fan favorites included the duck tostadas from Zuni (oh yeah), the fava bean, marinated feta and mint flatbreads from Terzo, and Justin Deering of Conduit's oxtail tortellini. (Have you had that dish at the restaurant yet? It's a winner).

This year the organizers let the press go behind the scenes and watch the chefs prepare and plate their courses; it's quite the set, a sea of white, both jackets and dishes. I was fortunate to eat an appetizer by Stuart Brioza of Rubicon. It was scallop, geoduck clam, and kampachi with an avocado "soup" and tangerine gelatina that had a chili kick—I realized it was the dish I'd been craving the entire hot week. Our table's menu continued with a savory chicken and pancetta crespelle with spring peas from Nate Appleman of A16, and some of the best beef I'd had in ages, a serving of Wagyu prepared by Douglas Keane of Cyrus. (If anyone is curious about all the individual menus, dishes, and chefs, I've posted a copy of the dinner menu here—rubberneck away.)

And once dinner wrapped up, it was back to the main room for the biggest Candyland display of dessert. Was thrilled to be able to try pastry chef William Werner's latest creations from his new venture, polite persuasion, and the mouthful of strawberry goat cheese cream tart from Boulevard's Jessica Sullivan was a delight. Ditto on the springtime sweet of roasted cherries, cornmeal shortcake, and fromage blanc by Michelle Polzine of Range. Perfect finish. And I was finished. Let's just say Monday was salad day. I think Tuesday will be too. Didn't have the final numbers, but thus far, Fund-A-Route alone brought in over $308,000, almost a 50% increase over 2007! That's fantastic news for such an important organization. Congratulations and thanks to all whom were involved in putting on this mega event.

Since we're on dessert… it's crazy how many emails I got from folks last week who also remember the warm chocolate brioche cake from Rumpus that I mentioned. I'm obviously not the only one with fond memories of that decadent dessert. I decided I needed to do a shout-out and see if anyone out there has access to the recipe? I'd love to reprint it here!

Gratefully yours,
~Marcia

May 13, 2008

Did you have a good time saluting the mothers in your life on Sunday? I know I am one lucky girl to have my mother AND grandmother live so close by (San Mateo), and had fun planning and cooking a celebratory dinner for them. I owe a big merci to Georgeanne Brennan for her delish recipe for leg of lamb with herbes de Provence—I learned how to prepare it in one of her cooking classes last year at Purcell Murray, and the escarole dish I made was from one of David Gingrass's classes at the former Hawthorne Lane. It was all so good with sides of spring peas and carrots, and roasted potatoes with mint. Oh, and grazie to Heidi Swanson from 101 Cookbooks for her awesome baked artichoke dip; a total hit, especially with some bubbly (next time I'm adding some prosciutto to it, heh). For you bakers out there, if you want a super-easy and tasty cake recipe, check out this winning lemon and olive oil cake from Gourmet—we ate it with fresh raspberry sauce on the side. Meow.

Thanks to everyone for the helpful feedback on what you'd like to see more of on tablehopper, or what you'd like to see change (YES, we are working on the font size—long story. This is too big, but we're trying to find "just right." Stand by). Congrats to Riki T. who won tickets to this weekend's OysterFest! As for the "I ate a gross critter in my Tequila" award, the scorpion-eating Annie P. won that one. Speaking of, I wanted to share this tidbit from Eric Rubin of Tres Agaves who "learned me" a bit about Tequila:

"Unfortunately you will not receive any photos of people eating Tequila worms. It is illegal under CRT (Consuigo Regulador del Tequila) law to add any foreign objects to a bottle of Tequila. What is true is that mezcals are allowed to add foreign objects, hence agave plant larvae (aka Tequila worms), and also scorpions are found in some low quality products. Also, the word 'Tequila' is always capitalized as it is a proper noun. All denomination-of-origin products are capitalized; Camembert, Kobe, Armagnac, Scotch (technically only single malt), Tequila, Cognac, Champagne, etc. But not cheddar, rum, vodka, etc."

Gracias, Eric!

I know some of you are big fans of the annual CozmoDeck (I am) for easy discounts on local restaurant dining. They are now hosting their mid-year special: buy one, get one free. Hubba. The two-for-one offer is valid until the end of May; just use the code "thmay" to double your order for free. Any purchase made with that coupon code will automatically double your decks on Cozmo's end (unfortunately they can't reflect it in the receipt—just trust the doubling will happen).
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This week is shaping up to be a hot one, so I thought I'd share this link to my "Foodie 411" column for the SFCVB Taste site—last week I made a few suggestions for good spots for outdoor dining.

In honor of San Francisco Cocktail Week this week, Duggan McDonnell tried to out-do me in word count—I hope you enjoy his piece in the wino (knowing Shotzi, his piece would have a better home in the lush, actually, but no matter). Whaddya know, this column is even LONGER than last week's. Glug.

See you on the town!
~ Marcia (rhymes with Garcia)

May 6, 2008

So, did you pop a flat during Cinco de Mayo last night? I ended up eating some leftover pork tinga from a weekend dinner party and writing this column, so that was the extent of my fiesta. Uh, arriba.

However, I was beyond thrilled to be featured on The View from the Bay last week—you can watch the video here. I had a great time tablehoppin’ with host Nick Smith, showing him some of my favorite spots in the City! (And I don’t think I used enough superlatives during the segment, ha ha).

Oh, and if you ever want to hit the town with yours truly, you should enter this California Wine & Food Adventure Sweepstakes on the Land of Wine and Food site. If you win, we’d have quite the night eating out in SF—and it’s all part of a très-gourmand three-day prize package!

Oh, and just to keep things balanced, a friend cracked me up with this very funny web page from Cracked.com outlining the six most terrifying things to eat in the world. Baby mice wine? Yes, pure horror. Unquantifiably scarier than the tequila worm.

Hey, speaking of, did anyone eat one of those last night? (A tequila worm, not baby mice.) The first person to send me a picture of them eating a tequila worm last night, or heck, ever, will win two tickets for Sunday, May 18th at the San Francisco Oysterfest. The Mother Hips, and She and Him with Zooey Deschanel are playing that day! Just hit reply to this email and attach the pic.

Didn’t eat the worm? Don’t fret, I have two more SF Oyster Fest tickets to give away (also for Sunday May 18th) for one lucky winner. Just send an email to luckyme [at] tablehopper [dot] com telling me what you’d like to see more of (or less of!) in tablehopper and I’ll enter you in the drawing! Deadline to enter is midnight, Friday, May 9th. I’ll notify the winner over the weekend! Buena suerte.

Ciao!
~Marcia

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