July 2008

July 29, 2008

I’m the first to admit it: my social calendar has been out of control this past week. And my dance card. Full-tilt boogie.Last Tuesday, I got to check out the Prada store opening party (uh, hello, catering by Thomas Keller, who I spotted roaming around for a split second—thank you for the best summer corn soup of my life, and yay on the free-flowing Ruinart), and I finished my faux-society evening with some tipple at Clock Bar and Le Club; Wednesday was the swell/swill Tequila and corn dinner at Orson; Thursday I was in Napa doing research for a wine country piece I’m workin’ on, where I got to experience the outstanding Beard House tasting menu at ubuntu; and Friday I happily punched the clock and stayed in—shocking, I know, but I wanted a salad and a booze-free night… And I was gearing up for Saturday, which I knew was going to be quite the kicker.

So, about that Saturday: I tripped the light fantastic with two charming Texan ladies who won a Visit California promotion that included a "night on the town with the tablehopper." Poor things, it was like culinary boot camp! We started with cocktails and bites at Jardinière (mmm, the Pesca di Milano made with Dimmi, fresh peach, Bluecoat Gin, and lemon went great with the pork belly sliders), hopped in the Town Car to Spruce for a swank dinner (the ladies were impressed with the whole show), and then finished with dessert at Michael Mina. I then hailed a cab, pulled a Superman quick change at home, making the taxi wait outside, and headed back out to burn off some calories dancing until some ungodly hour at Mezzanine. After writing all day Sunday (I gotta work sometime), I went out late for even more dancing at Mezzanine, home by a conservative 2am. Hey, at least I live up to my name. And who let the dogs out? I better watch it, before someone calls animal control on me.

I am really looking forward to tonight’s tablehopper supper at Rubicon. I know a couple folks had to cancel, so there’s some room if you still want to come! It’s going to be such a special dinner (The pig! The wine! The people! The rumors!), so I hope you can make it.

Coming up: I’m going to be moderating a very cool panel at The Commonwealth Club’s INFORUM on Wednesday August 20th called “Top Chefs Tell All.” You’ll be able to read all about it in the socialite (yes, almost all of our local contestants from this year’s recent Top Chef season will be on the panel). Since I sure a lot of folks will want tickets to this event, I have a pair of tickets to give away!

Here’s how to win: submit the (burning) question you’d like to ask the panel to luckyme [at] tablehopper [dot] com. I’ll pick the most interesting question, or just the one I think really should be asked. The winner will not only get a pair of tickets to the panel, but also gets to ask their question at the event (you’ll be put at the front of the queue during the Q&A part of the program). Just submit your question to luckyme [at] tablehopper [dot] com by midnight on Friday August 1st and I’ll let you know if you won next week!

We also have my favorite local “hophead” Dave McLean, who wrote a wino piece on what else, but beer! In honor of his inaugural visit to the ‘hopper, I decided it was the perfect time for an update on his second SF project, The Alembic. Read all about it in the regular.

See you on the town! (Uh huh.)

~ Marcia

July 22, 2008

Am I actually tired? Jeez, I am, quite, and it’s all because of this year’s Taste3 event, which was simultaneously exhilarating, sobering, inspiring, and exhausting. For two full days, speakers from around the world each had 18 minutes each to share their thoughts and perspectives on topics like honeybee colony collapse disorder to Dan Barber on the best foie gras of his life to urban farming to GMOs to little-known facts about Chinese-American food. Seriously, whoa.

And then there’s the continual networking and exchange of ideas, whether it was having lunch with fine folks like Ted Allen (so refreshingly nice, and genuine) to sipping wine with chef Roland Henin, who is the trainer for the USA team for Bocuse D’Or. Throw in some winery dinners (thanks Garguilo!) and after hour parties, and bingo, you’re one lucky (and tired) girl. What wonderful access to so many thinkers and doers. A huge thanks to Robert Mondavi Winery who put on the conference, and especially to Margrit Mondavi, whose energy and warmth is an inspiration to many—what a powerhouse.

Since the wine must keep flowing, I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at the upcoming tablehopper supper on July 29th at Rubicon—spaces are getting snapped up, FYI!

And man, some tech issues are driving me up a wall. Yahoo subscribers, I hope the block is finally lifted—I know some of you are getting my column, and some aren’t: you can catch up on the two past issues in the archive. Ditto on you hotmail users who browse with Firefox—there’s been some lame conflict. It’s enough to make me want to do this e-column as a blog instead. Kidding.

Ciao/meow,
~Marcia

July 15, 2008

I'm not sure how the weekend weather was here in SF, but there's nothing quite like summer in wine country (I adore the sun—how I have ended up living in San Francisco for 13 years and counting is beyond me).

Some wine country weekend highlights: a leisurely dinner outside at the charming Martini House, tasting a variety of boozy treats at Charbay, the dreamy setting and views from the guest house at Terra Valentine, impromptu singing from a soprano at the tasting room at Peju, drinking rosé on the patio at 25º Brix for lunch (there was a lot of wine consumed all weekend, who am I kidding), cruising home from Sonoma along Arnold Drive in the early evening, with the top down on my Alfa… Bliss! And a big thanks to Steven Oliver and Craig Lipton for throwing one hell of a summertime lawn party in Glen Ellen. A few days out of the City does wonders for your headspace. I'll do a jetsetter recap on Napa in August or so, stand by. And I can’t believe I get to go back up this Thursday for the Taste3 conference! (Pinch, pinch.)

Thank you all for your interest in the tablehopper supper at Rubicon coming up on Tuesday July 29th. All the details are below in the socialite. This supper is a special one, so I highly recommend booking as soon as possible. I am also very honored to have a piece from Evan Goldstein for the wino this week. His book, Perfect Pairings, inspired me to ask him to write something—I hope you enjoy it.

Oh, and due to some lame snafu, those of you with Yahoo accounts might not have received the 'hopper last week, or got it a few days late. Blergh. (You can catch up here.) I'm not sure the Yahoo block is resolved (yes, annoying!), so if you don't get this week's issue, well, I guess you won't be reading this, will you?

Cheers, yo,
~Marcia

July 8, 2008

How are all you hands-free drivin' people doing? (It seems to be quite the topic of the populus this week.) So of course we had a foggy Fourth, but this week is shaping up for full-tilt weather gorgeousness… Meow. I am thrilled to be heading to wine country for some proper heat this weekend, hitting both Napa and Sonoma. Naturally, I will share highlights (but no low-lights, ha ha) next week, and I'm currently working on a Napa jetsetter piece since many of you seemed to like the Healdsburg one. Stand by.

Sadly I am missing this year's Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, but my liver and waistline are singing a chorus of thanks. So, starting next Wednesday, don't be surprised if you don't find many of your favorite bartenders behind the stick. Reason enough for me to head back up to Napa for the TASTE3 conference (July 17th–19th). Am happy to see Dan Barber of Blue Hill & Blue Hill at Stone Barns is returning, plus I'm excited to hear Ben Wallace, the author of The Billionaire's Vinegar. And yay, Ted Allen will be a session host, such a nice guy. Wanna go? Got some dough? There are still tickets left!

So, speaking of fabulous events, I have a "save the date" announcement for you: I'll be hosting the next tablehopper supper on Tuesday July 29th at the inimitable Rubicon! This event will be extra-special, not only because I adore Stuart Brioza's inspired cooking (and his fiancée Nicole Krasinski's one-of-a-kind desserts), but also because we'll be pouring some fantastic wines, including the just-launched Pillow Rd Vineyards' pinot noir, and some killer wines from Ladera Vineyards. (Can you say cabernet? I knew that you could.) Look for all the details about menu, pricing, and making reservations next week! Just mark it on your calendar for now, would love to see you there.



Last week I hosted one of my favorite and certainly most memorable meals in a long time. Now, before you wonder why you weren't invited, it's because this was the first tablehopper dinner with the CHEFS (Conquering Homelessness Through Employment in Food Service) class! For those of you who may remember, the kind folks at Bambuddha Lounge, GM Michael Shaulis and executive chef Jessica Gorin, generously offered to host the dinner when they saw I was trying to gather donations to take the class out to dinner.

Look for a full recap of this very special evening in this week's the regular—I even have a guest reviewer from the class, yay! I also posted a flickr album with a bunch of pics here. Many thanks to CleanFish, who kindly donated the Laughing Bird Shrimp and Loch Duart salmon for the dinner, plus Modesto Food Distributors Inc., who provided us with Fulton Valley Farms chicken. (Hearts to you both.)

Many, many grazie to you, dear readers, who helped raise a total of $1,673 for me to take the class out to a future dinner. Like, whoa! The checks just kept rolling in—it was the best week of mail in my life, lemme tell ya. You all blow my mind with your kindness, and I know the class and program heads are all so touched by your thoughtfulness. I am currently putting together a field trip and dining excursion for the current class, and your donations will go toward the costs to do so. Stand by for the plans on that one. I also plan to make these dinners an ongoing event for each group of new students who start a session in the program, so I plan to apply remaining funds to those dinners in the future. Thank you all for enabling me to give back to our local community in such a tangible way.

Oh, and for those who have a moment, I want to point you to this compelling video about the CHEFS organization that was presented at the recent SummerTini annual fundraiser. It helps show why this program is so dang important, and why I'm all fired up to help support it. Let's rock.

Gratefully yours,
~ Marcia

July 1, 2008

Hey, guess who is actually writing a short(-ish) column this week? Shocking, but true. I'm actually on a plane coming back from Kalamazoo (no joke) from a one-day work gig for Kellogg's, and let's just say the five-hour plane ride from Chicago and one charged computer battery pack is about all I've got to write this thing. Sadly, there was no time to check out some Kalamazoo cuisine in the less than 24 hours I was there—we're talking airport and plane eatz, how tragic, but I was in love with all the green trees I saw, what a pretty state. Anyway, no review this week, I'm tired and outta time.

Fortunately, this week I have a few other people who did some writing for me (in the wino and the bookworm). In honor of the upcoming umami symposium mentioned in the socialite (I love this world we live in), we have a special wino topic this week, courtesy of Jessica Boyd, who is sharing her thoughts on umami in sake, and pairing sake with cheese.

So, let's rock. Speaking of rockin', yay, thanks to y'all who voted for me in this year's San Francisco magazine 2008 Best of the Bay Reader's Poll! While I am excited to be a winner, I am not sure what to do about the actual category I won: "Best Blog for Getting the Scoop on Food." Huh. Since many of you know tablehopper is NOT a blog (remember, this thing is emailed to you, it's an e-column, not a blog), does it mean I have to give the award back? Ha ha. Anyway, many thanks for all the votes, yo. Very cool. Congrats to all the winners.

Wishing you a happy Fourth o' July—it's shaping up to be yet another year of colored fog and clouds.

~Marcia

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