August 2008

August 26, 2008

It’s the time of the year when San Francisco is precariously low on bottled gallons of water, halter-tops, and beef jerky. While I’m definitely bummed to not be heading to Burning Man this year, I’m definitely excited for all the Slow Food Nation festivities this coming weekend. Oh, and I’m still fired up from my Friday night at Outside Lands, quite the double play of Beck and Radiohead. Compliments to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition who ran the smoothest part of the event: the bike valet. Kudos! And it was a treat to be able to easily ride over to Namu for a post-show late-night bite. Their menu is bigger and badder than ever. (Prices for proteins are also quite a bit higher than on my last visit, so I gotta update my review, but the food is just so good.) Oxtail and dashi-braised daikon, uh huh.

I might as well have called this the weekend of wood-burning ovens: Saturday afternoon, A16 hosted a kick-off party celebrating their new book, and while it would be cruel for me to discuss the veritable islands of burrata they put out, and the joy of meatballs on a Saturday afternoon, oh wait, I should shut up. It was a nice party.

But Sunday, whoa, it was probably one of the coolest culinary events I’ve attended in SF, and one that could only happen here, really. A group of talented folks have been building a wood-burning oven for the bread pavilion at Slow Food Nation in artist Jeff Burwell’s workshop on Valencia Street, and Sunday night was the christening party. The event was a remarkable group effort, including produce donations from Mariquita Farm, Alemany Farm, Knobke Orchards and others; pizza dough (and a pizzaiolo) from Pizzeria Delfina; wine from a bunch of folks, including SCRIBEwinery and Bi-Rite (plus ice cream from the Creamery); beer from Magnolia; and a whole crew o’ chefs and cooks from Chez Panisse and Serpentine and more, who were choppin’, braising, and sweating it out.

It was a magnificent group dinner, with pizzas, goat three ways, wood-fired ratatouille, roasted potatoes, just a perfect meal. Dag. As Andy from Mariquita put it, it was a very “loaves and fishes” kind of event—seriously mind-blowing how many people got fed, and all the food that kept coming out of the oven. It was a rocking celebration, and a fitting renegade kick-off party for Slow Food Nation (and kind of a groovy bohemian homage to Alice Waters, but circa 1971 Alice), all about love and respect for food and people and coming together. I know, I totally drank the Kool-Aid. (Thanks for the invite, gang. It was an honor to be there.)

Want to take part in another event with some key folks from this talented group of culinarians and builders and artists? Check out and be a part of the upcoming event from the OPEN crew, OPEN City, in the socialite.

Marcia image

August 19, 2008

What can I say, Tahoe was a total dreamscape of sunny weather, cool water, fresh air, and some pretty good home cookin’, if I don’t say so myself. But this is why my life is just ridiculous: here I am, trying to take it easy and be all low-fat and non-alcoholic and queen of quinoa, and not only do I get a cold (see what happens when I go healthy?), but I get an email from my bud, chef Mark Estee at Moody’s Bistro in Truckee, and he’s like, “Marcia, I’ve got some beauty tomatoes, you gotta come get ‘em, you’re going to love them!” Fabulous, I’ll be right over. Color me stoked. But then guess who tucks some house-made mortadella and damn it, a container of Gioia burrata in the box? Oh yes he did. I swear, are all chefs Jewish grandmothers? And what am I going to say, no thanks? Of course not. So I was loving those tomatoes, seriously the essence of summer, with some scoops o’ burrata, hells yes. And I wonder why I keep redlining to a state of critical ass.

To that end, yes, my rear end, literally within half an hour of getting home Sunday evening, I was off to Piccino for their Fatted Calf dinner. (If anything was going to get me home from Tahoe, it would be that!) What a stellar Sunday meal, with an interesting group of folks, and hello fab wines chosen by Wayne Garcia! Cameron and Anita from Married With Dinner were there, you gotta check out their lovely pics from the evening! And I highly recommend trying to attend one of Piccino’s upcoming dinners—it’s why I threw a tablehopper supper there: the location rocks as much as the food, wine, and people. The one coming up with Thomas Odermatt, the Roli Roti/Oxbow Market’s Rotisario guy, will definitely be a winner—pray for his porchetta.

One last event announcement: this Wednesday evening is the Top Chefs Tell All event I’m moderating for the Commonwealth Club’s Inforum series. There are just a few tickets left! Hope to see you there.

Ciao chow,
~ Marcia

August 12, 2008

Hiya—last night I had fun as a guest on Talk Show Live, and it was nice to see some tablehopper readers in the audience (thanks for coming!). But I did lose about four hours of my usual writing time, so I’m bailing on writing a review this week, sorry Charlie. I hope you enjoy reading about lambrusco in the wino instead.

Speaking of bailing, I am actually leaving town this afternoon, and am off to Lake Tahoe for my annual break—looking very forward to five days of brown rice, vegetables, and minimal email. How hippie, I know. I can’t wait. So pretty please no chitchat emails or questions for a week unless it’s necessary, time-sensitive, or juicy gossip, cool? I will only be working in the mornings and can’t deal with my usual 200 emails a day up there. My body and brain both need a break. I’m sure you understand. Grazie.

I hope to get a bunch of reading done this week, and how timely, a review copy of the new A16 Food + Wine book from Ten Speed Press just showed up in the mail today! It’s gorgeous. I’ll have to try not to break my brown rice diet for meatballs. You’ll be reading all about this book in the bookworm soon enough, but just so you don’t feel left out on some fun book action, I am starting a monthly “back to school book giveaway,” courtesy of the folks at Chronicle Books. This month, three lucky winners will score a copy of Grill Every Day by Diane Morgan, stashed in a nifty new Chronicle tote bag! Sweet.

To enter to win, just forward the tablehopper newsletter to one friend, telling them why they would dig a subscription to tablehopper, and CC or BCC luckyme [at] tablehopper [dot] com so I know you sent it (I promise not to use anyone’s email address). Deadline to enter is midnight on Sunday August 17th. I’ll let you know next week if you are the proud owner of a book and tote. Good luck!

Oh, and I was kindly invited by my bud Evan Goldstein over at Wine Couch to come in for the first of a series of online video segments—we will be featuring some of our favorite local restaurants, discussing their wine program, and a few other things we like. You can check out episode number one on Nopa here. Yes, it’s probably one of the few times I’ve actually spit wine. Kidding. (Kind of.)

Okay, I am off! In a few hours I’ll be picking up some peaches at Ikeda's and Machado Orchards in Auburn, and tomorrow, a bracing dip in the lake!

Cheers my dears,
~ Marcia (rhymes with garcia)

August 5, 2008

You didn’t think I was going to slow down this week, did you? Of course not, darlings. This past week’s highlight was definitely the tablehopper supper last Tuesday at Rubicon with Pillow Rd. and Ladera Vineyards—39 fabulous folks turned up for one heck of a meal from executive chef Stuart Brioza and pastry chef Nicole Krasinski, matched beautifully to the evening’s wines. And yay, even Larry Stone unexpectedly turned up to join us. Thanks to everyone at Rubicon who helped put this evening together, and to all of you who attended—it was a special supper for many reasons, including one that I have been asked not to talk about yet… So, moving on.

The next day my sis and I headed up to Calistoga to check out Solage—such a blast navigating the property on their cute cruiser bikes! And crashing out poolside at 6pm in the warm evening air was heaven indeed—mud treatments and mineral water have that effect. I made sure not to miss the “parking lot tacos” from Vallarta Market, and I’m hoping to return to Calistoga soon to check out JoLe.

Thursday, the day of my reimmersion in the fog, I attended the graduation dinner for the students in the CHEFS program—they put on quite the spread, well done, gang! Many are beginning their three-month internships around town (I’m excited to hear where they are going to be placed).

I kicked Friday off with some of the exquisite cocktails at Clock Bar (Marcovaldo Dionysos’s daiquiri and version of the Manhattan are utterly fantastico), plus a few bites, like the standout (and sadly spendy) hanger steak. Then hit the dancefloor for my favorite way to work it out—let’s just say I was grateful for the chaat and chai over brunch at DOSA the next day that set me right. Sunday was the JC Cellars party in Oakland (I am now a fan of syrah-flavored ice cream), and Monday night, well, my tablehoppin’ booty was home writing this thang. Yup, salad night.

Wanted to give you a little reminder that next Monday evening on August 11th is my appearance on TALK SHOW LIVE at 330 Ritch. Joining me will be sketch comedy troupe Kasper Hauser, and internet personality Jennifer Niederst Robbins—you can read all about us here. I am giving away a pair of tickets: all you have to do is forward this email to two folks, telling them about why they should sign up for tablehopper. Just cc (or BCC) luckyme [at] tablehopper [dot] com so I know you sent it to two people! Deadline to enter is this Friday August 8th at midnight. I’ll let you know if you won on Saturday. Good luck!

Doors open for live Django-gypsy jazz music and mingling at 7pm, and the guest interviews and performances start at 8pm. Didn’t win? Tickets are $15 each, or bring a friend and take advantage of the $20 Talk Show Live two-for-one ticket (available online). Anyone who buys their ticket online gets the special VIP package: seating up front in a reserved section, and entry in a VIP-only prize drawing after the show—you just have to be at the club by 7:30pm to claim your seats. 330 Ritch, between 3rd and 4th St., Brannan and Townsend.

Have a rockin’ week,
~ Marcia (rhymes with Pizzeria)

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