June 2008

June 24, 2008

Hello amigos. This city’s weather is so schizo: on Friday I was enjoying a nighttime picnic on my roof with a friend, throwing back a bottle of Rias Baixas albariño (perfect with a taco salad, how hi-lo fabulous), and on Monday, I was ready for some steaming pho. While the heat was still in full effect, one place that served to be the perfect (and somewhat secret) spot for and outdoor lunch was a revisit to Ironwood BBQ—can’t beat the fresh air, the view of the green, and yes, the pulled pork. See ya there during the next heat wave.

Also had a wonderful meal at Masa’s on Saturday, since Richard Reddington was in the house for one night only with chef Gregory Short in honor of Masa’s 25th anniversary year. Can you say Manila clams with chorizo and a saffron-curry nage, with petrale sole over jasmine rice? Crazy combo that magically worked. I learned there’s a big event coming up, bringing back a number of former Masa’s chefs—stand by!

Congrats to Camille H. who won the tickets to this Thursday’s Best of the Bay Area party. See y’all there?

And this is kind of a fun one: Citysearch asked some folks around town what food is better than sex? Yup, yours truly has her answer in there; for the reveal, click here.

And lastly, you know those products you sometimes buy, convincing yourself it’s okay, just a little splurge, although you know it’s totally and utterly ridiculous to buy it? Well, I found my new bad habit: 479° Popcorn. I picked up a box of the Pimentón de La Vera version at Blue Fog Market, and am now hooked. A $5.69 box of popcorn, what is happening to me? SO bougie. Anyway, it’s beyond delicious. Tangy. Sweet. Spicy. Damn.

Oh, and happy Pride everyone. Rock out, celebrate, say it loud, say it proud.



June 17, 2008

Whew, what a week. Last Thursday I had a blast on View From the Bay, live in the studio chatting with the super-friendly hosts, Spencer Christian and Janelle Wang, about three of my favorites for semi-affordable and sexy dining: Namu, Laiola, and Lolo. You can check out the segment here.

Congrats to last week’s winners of the Grilled Pizzas and Piadinas book giveaway, Monique and Harmony! (Thank you all who entered.) Now you get another chance at fabulous prizes: I just scored two general admission tickets to give away to the Best of the Bay Area party, happening next Thursday June 26th. Dominic Phillips Event Marketing is producing the event—always a fun soiree for sure, and the best part: 100 percent of proceeds benefit Family House.

So, to enter to win this pair of tickets, just forward this newsletter to three pals (or more, thanks!) and cc (or BCC) luckyme [at] tablehopper [dot] com when you send it to your peeps—it's best if you explain why you're emailing it to them, or at least include something about tablehopper.com. I promise I won't be collecting your friends' emails, those will stay private—I just need to keep track that you forwarded it to three or more folks.The deadline to enter is by midnight, this Friday June 20th (I need to be able to mail the tickets to you in time). I will be randomly drawing the winner and will email you to let you know you've won over the weekend. Good luck!

And this week in the jetsetter, we have the second half of the Healdsburg installment: where to stay and play!

I also want to say how amazed I continue to be at the checks rolling in for the CHEFS/tablehopper benefit. You people are incredible. We’ve raised over $1,500 so far! Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Cheers my dears,

June 10, 2008

Wow. Wow. Wow. Um, readers? You BLOW MY FREAKING MIND. I can't begin to thank you all so much for your remarkable generosity in helping to provide funds for the tablehopper/CHEFS (Conquering Homelessness through Employment in Food Service) dinner out. So far we have raised over $600! I will definitely report back with a final figure—the checks just kept coming. I don't have enough superlatives to possibly express how touched I am with your donations, and thank you for the nice notes too. So kind.

And here's where it gets even more amazing: spontaneously came forward and offered to host the dinner for free. A huge thanks to GM Michael Shaulis and executive chef Jessica Gorin for their oh-so-kind hospitality. I will be sure to let you all know how it goes!

Since the donated funds are suddenly not needed for this upcoming dinner, I am either going to hang onto them for another outing for the next CHEFS class/session… or I also have an awesome food-centric field trip idea (involving a farm, and a meal)! I'll run it by you shortly, for now, please know everyone at the CHEFS organization, the students and the staff, are all so touched and grateful for this outpouring of support and generosity. Y'all are the BEST. (Oh, and if you want to come out and play with me this Friday evening, I'll be at the CHEFS fundraiser, SummerTini! Hope to see you there!)

Yours truly has a couple upcoming appearances this week! First, I'll be back on The View from the Bay! This Thursday will be an in-studio appearance (the show is from 3pm–4pm on ABC 7), and I'll be talking about three of my local faves for affordable and unique eats.

Then, this Sunday June 15th (Father's Day) I will be on for my monthly appearance on A Matter of Taste with Rachel and David Michael Cane on Green 960AM. They have changed their hours to each Sunday from 11am until noon—listen in!

And since you all rock so hard, I am doing a giveaway of a couple copies of a very summer-appropriate book: Grilled Pizzas and Piadinas from chef Craig Priebe (the former owner of C.K's Wood Grilled Pizza in Atlanta). The materials I've read deem this kind of pizza "the ultimate thin crust" and you get some smokiness too. Sounds pretty good, no? Priebe will be appearing at Macy's Cellar on Wed. June 25th at 6pm if you want to check it out.

Here's how to enter to win a copy of the book: just forward this newsletter to two pals (or more, thanks!) and cc (or BCC) luckyme [at] tablehopper [dot] com when you send it to your peeps—it's best if you explain why you're emailing it to them, or at least include something about tablehopper.com. I promise I won't be collecting your friends' emails, those will stay private—I just need to keep track that you forwarded it to two or more folks. The deadline to enter is by midnight, Sunday June 15th. I will be randomly drawing the winner and will email you to let you know you've won next week. Maybe you can even bring it to the Macy's Cellar demo and get it signed on the 25th! Good luck!

Thanks to everyone for everything you do and are!


June 3, 2008

The weekend weather was completely bipolar, no? Fortunately it didn’t mess up one of my favorite days of the year, the Wine Country Classic Historic Car Races at the Infineon Raceway—can you imagine 350 historic racecars, some dating as far back as 1915, all racing on the track? Fabulous. My dad and I go each year, and we were happy to finish the day with pizza for dinner at Pizzeria Picco in Larkspur, my third delish pizza of the week. What a gorgeous wood-fired margherita, earning nothing but grins from me and pop.

The other winning pizzas last week included the rustica at Poggio (an inspired combo of thick slices of smoky speck, red onion, and peppery arugula), and let’s not forget the gricia pizza, a riff on a Roman pasta dish, scarfed down during a lunch at Pizzeria Delfina: it included a delightfully salty-meets-creamy combo of guanciale, spring onion, cream (!), and the kick of some chili (Calabrian?). In a word: in-freaking-credible. And I’ll be riding my bike everywhere this week, thankyouverymuch.

I pinch myself (for luck, and to make fun of my waistline) each week for the bounty of wonderful food (and the people who make it) in my life. This became especially poignant to me last week when I was a guest speaker at the CHEFS program, Conquering Homelessness through Employment in Food Service, a culinary program through Episcopal Community Services that places homeless adults in gainful employment within the food industry. Here’s more about the program: “Hundreds of CHEFS graduates work in restaurants, hotels, and nursing homes. Today more than 85 percent of CHEFS graduates acquire jobs, which is a tremendous rate given the complex challenges associated with chronic homelessness that many face.”

I was a guest for their daily homemade lunch, and was invited to speak (for three hours!) about my work as a food writer. I covered all kinds of topics, from what eating sustainably and locally means to how to describe food (the students play food critic and analyze their meals each day), and answered a slew of questions from the group, from what’s the most expensive thing I’ve ever eaten (real Kobe beef) to how do I analyze food I don’t know well (I try to dine with experts in other cuisines). The 30 or so students were amazing and engaging—their interest and enthusiasm was so impressive, and I noticed a big interest in my experience with “exotic” foods.

To continue their culinary journey, and to expose them to a cuisine style they might not know very well, I had an idea: I want to take the current CHEFS class out to dinner! But to do this, I need your help, dear readers. I’m hoping some of you would be willing to help and donate some money, it could even be just a few bucks, anything at all would be a huge help. Based on the amount we collect, I’ll then see how many students I can take out, and where! I’m thinking an early family-style dinner at Poleng Lounge where we can order some off-the-menu funky and delicious dishes, or perhaps Bodega Bistro for some Vietnamese… A lot of the students are on very limited budgets (like the Care Not Cash program), so an outing to a sit-down restaurant would be so special to them.

Thanks so much for considering a donation—I was really touched by my experience with the students and want to do something fun and educational for them. You can donate via PayPal—just click the donate button below, or send money via this email: [marcia at marciag dot com]. I want to avoid the transaction fees if we donate to my business account. Since PayPal charges an evil fee per transaction after I reach $500 (here’s hoping?!), personal checks are also very welcome: just hit reply and I can provide you with a mailing address. Sorry I don’t have this set up for tax deductions—this is literally a spontaneous idea and therefore a bit “fly by night.” (Next time.)

Thanks so much, gang! Of course I’ll keep you posted, and will do a big recap about the excursion, I can’t wait. Also, be sure to take a look in this week’s socialite for an annual fundraiser event for the CHEFS organization, SummerTini, another great way to provide assistance to this wonderful organization.

One small tech issue: it seems the tablehopper promotion code for the 10% discount for the Pinot Days event wasn’t working last week, but now it’s fixed, sorry! Click here to reread all about the event.

Remember last week when I said I’d have a review this week? I guess I lied—without meaning to, of course. This issue got too huge, eep, so I decided to cut it. Next week: less news and events, and a big honkin’ write-up instead. Oh, and I can’t sign off without tipping my hat to Yves St. Laurent, who sadly passed this week. His contribution to defining what is style, and elegance, is simply immeasurable.

~Marcia (rhymes with Garcia)

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