January 2009

January 27, 2009


Cuvaison

Did you finally slog through last week’s issue? This one should be a little less time-consuming, I promise. I was all over Dodge last week, including an always-scrumptious sushi feast at Sebo in Hayes Valley on Wednesday, which ended up making me jones for MORE SUSHI, so I went two days later to Takara in Japantown before catching Revolutionary Road (gotta catch up on all my movies before the Oscars). There was a Brunello tasting sandwiched in there on Thursday, too. And some quality beers at Church Key on Grant in North Beach—you been yet?

Saturday afternoon I was home cooking for friends, how novel. On the dinner menu: a spread of preserved lemon and chickpeas on crostini; an Iraqi lamb and eggplant stew (the leftovers last night were even better); a savory pancetta and fregola recipe from Janet Fletcher; and for dessert, Bi-Rite salted caramel ice cream topped with some Cavedoni Botte Piccola balsamico that I picked up from Howard Case. It was like a double-caramel dream. Huh, we never made it to the feta-mint-watercress-cucumber salad. Poor salad. But I made it yesterday for lunch and it was a winner—would go great with beef kebabs.

Sunday my sis and I cruised on up to Sonoma and Carneros, starting with a tour and some bubbles at Domaine Carneros (great way to start the day—and the generous pours you get make the $25 fee practically disappear), then had a tasting across the street at Cuvaison. We cruised into Sonoma for an early Portuguese supper at LaSalette (quite homey and delish), and then caught the Yard Dogs Roadshow at the Sebastiani Theatre, which is why we were up in the 707 in the first place. If you are at all interested in seeing a vaudeville-burlesque-cabaret-freak show, this local troupe is performing tonight in Petaluma at the Mystic Theatre.

Fortunately, this week I have a lot of dancing on the docket (three shows, actually) to balance out the perils of dining out and the ZAP tasting that is coming up on Saturday. Woot.

In this week’s issue, I prove I know where the Sunset is with my review in the regular, and include some ideas for Valentine’s Day in the socialite. Speaking of that poor beleaguered day, here’s a giveaway courtesy of Frank Melis of Golden Gate Wine Cellars. I am giving away five pairs of tickets to a “Wine Tasting Extravaganza” he’s hosting on Valentine’s Day in the private room of the Lakeside Café at 2529 Ocean Avenue at 19th Avenue. The venue might be modest, but the wines aren't! Meet winemakers and taste wines from Marco DiGiulio (Hidden Ridge & Marco DiGiulio); John Schwartz (proprietor of Amuse Bouche, Coup de Foudre, and Vin Perdu); Peter Posert (Gain Bay); Scott Rich (Talisman Cellars); Susan Pey (Pey-Marin, Spicerack, and Textbook); Lioco Winery; Greg La Follette and Stephen Yafa (Segue); Rolando Herrera (Mi Sueño), and others, as well as some unique boutique German producers. The tasting runs from 5pm–8pm, so you can still make it to dinner afterwards. Or perhaps you’re just drinking your dinner (although some hors d’oeuvres will be provided).

To enter to win a free pair of tickets, please forward this week’s tablehopper newsletter to a minimum of two buddies, but even more would be so very fabulous. Just tell your friends why they would dig a subscription to the tablehopper e-column (if you call it a blog, you are disqualified, I wish I was kidding!), and CC or BCC luckyme [at] tablehopper [dot] com so I know you sent it—I promise I won’t use anyone’s email address. Deadline to enter is midnight this Friday January 30th; I will notify the winner over the weekend! If you don’t want to bother with the giveaway and want tickets to the tasting now, you can contact Frank at 415-337-4083. Tickets are $50 per couple, and the fee is waived with a minimum wine purchase.

Good luck, and Happy New Year of the Ox!

~ Marcia (rhymes with Garcia)

January 20, 2009

Wow, the alfresco living just continues… Who would have thought that on Friday night I was going to be sitting on the outside patio at Chez Papa Resto for dinner, without a jacket or heat lamps? Downright balmy at 8pm. Seems a fair number of Dine About Town-ers were enjoying the patio with me—and it was cool to see Mint Plaza in effect.

Saturday I went to a party celebrating the launch of Culture magazine, a new rag about cheese (and you thought it was going to be about opera). Cowgirl Creamery hosted the dairy-laden event, which was full of cheese heads, like Clark Wolf and Laura Werlin. I was especially taken with the Délice de la Vallée goat and cow’s milk cheese from Sheana Davis, and the “untitled” number from Tumalo Farms in Oregon.

Later that evening, I was invited to a dinner at Acquerello hosted by and using ingredients from the Association of Organic and Biodynamic Producers of Emilia-Romagna for the BioBenessere project. Standout products were the wines from Venturini Baldini (especially the Rubino del Cerro, a blend of lambrusco with bonarda), the organic acacia and chestnut honeys from Alce Nero, vanilla ice cream topped with an extra-vecchio aged balsamic (my new favorite dessert), and of course Acquerello’s classic budino was dreamy. Lucky me, I also scored some premium pasta by Alce Nero and a jar of tomato passata—let’s just say my dinner Monday night of mezze maniche pasta rocked the house.

All of these tastings were merely a sideshow to Sunday, an absolute doozy: day one of the Fancy Food Show. Just think: thousands of exhibitors from around the world showcasing their products. You end up with flavor ADD—one minute you’re tasting pineapple curry, and the next, latkes, or seafood from Australia. I have outlined some of my favorites in the chatterbox, and you can see the entire list o’ things that caught my fancy (har) in this flickr album I set up. All I can say is I’m grateful I tried to keep focused on my criteria (new, exotic, unfamiliar, unique, and of course delicious items) because it’s one heck of an overwhelming array of things to plow through and taste, and I only had one day to do it. I definitely lived up to my tablehoppin' name.

Yo, it’s giveaway time! Thanks to everyone who entered last week; I listed all of your wine country favorites in the chatterbox below. This week’s giveaway is a pair of tickets to Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Wine and Wishes Gourmet Food & Wine Tasting Event on Treasure Island on Saturday February 7th (you can read all about it in the socialite). I am giving away one pair of tickets to a lucky reader. To enter to win, please forward this week’s tablehopper newsletter to a minimum of three buddies, but even more would be so very fabulous. Just tell your friends why they would dig a subscription to the tablehopper e-column (if you call it a blog, you are disqualified, I wish I was kidding!), and CC or BCC luckyme@tablehopper.com so I know you sent it—I promise I won’t use anyone’s email address. Deadline to enter is midnight this Friday January 23rd; I will notify the winner over the weekend!

I have some guest columnists this week in the wino and the hardhat; since this issue got astronomically long, I bailed on writing a review this week. Oh, and some of you get cranky when I mention anything political, but I would be remiss if I didn’t say I have an enormous grin on my face today, and I know I’m not alone.

Best wishes to you all!

~Marcia

January 13, 2009

Springtime in January... Hrm. Anyone in the mood for cold beer and ceviche? Seriously, what happened to cassoulet weather? In honor of the record-breaking warm weather, I have a write-up in the regular that is all about heat—it would make Scoville proud.

After finally kicking my lame ten-day cold to the curb last week, I had a good time emceeing the first Edible Pursuit event—I’ll keep you posted on the next one, because let me tell you, the prizes were sweeeeet, and the questions and team rivalry kept things interesting. In the meantime, yours truly has her monthly article in the latest issue of Edible San Francisco, and surprise surprise, it’s all about meat; here's where to find a copy near you, or even better, do you subscribe? You should, so the magazine sticks around and continues to throw fun parties. Like Meatpaper, which had its sold-out event at Acme Chophouse on Sunday night. Lines were long, but the delicious food made it all worthwhile. Oxtail terrine and shank chili and headcheese, hells yes. Here are more event pics from the intrepid Bunrabs. And mark your calendars: Ryan Farr, who did a pig butchery demo at the event will be cooking at http://blog.missionstreetfood.com/ again, on Thursday the 22nd.

This Wednesday the 14th (yes, tomorrow) I am emceeing a cooking demo by Jake des Voignes, executive chef at Fish & Farm, at the Dine About Town San Francisco launch party. Sorry to report the event is sold-out, so stand by for the next one in June! Don’t forget Dine About Town begins this week on Thursday the 15th. And then the Fancy Food Show madness begins on Sunday, with gourmet parties kicking off this weekend. I’ll be writing up some show (and party) highlights next week!

Real quick: Patty H., you emailed a tip please request to me about Chinese New Year locations, but didn’t give me an email! Please get in touch.

It’s a New Year, which means new book giveaways! Every month for the next six months, I will be giving away a book from the award-winning independent publisher Ten Speed Press. This month I am giving away three copies of Wine Country Cooking by Joanne Weir to three lucky tablehopper readers. All you need to do is send an email to luckyme [at] tablehopper [dot] com, telling me your favorite wine country place to dine (or if you don’t have one, where you want to go)! Looking forward to seeing your faves. Deadline to enter is midnight on Sunday January 18th, and I’ll get back to the three winners next week!

All righty then, let’s dig in.
~Marcia~

January 6, 2009

Welcome back to the “real” world, gang. The past couple weeks were a nice break, no? Unfortunately, I am on day nine of this rotten cold/flu—it definitely pared back the ambitious scope of my L.A. itinerary last week. All I wanted to do was sleep. Being forced down into second gear did allow me some time to curl up and read Amarcord: Marcella Remembers, Marcella Hazan’s memoir. Which ended up inspiring me to make a few restorative recipes from her Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, including the traditional Italian New Year’s Day dish of cotechino and lentils (the lentils are supposed to represent coins—bring on the money luck!). Did some of you eat Hoppin’ John, the classic Southern New Year’s Day dish? Any other New Year’s Day traditions out there (besides some hair of the dog and a hamburger, ha ha!)? Would love to know.

Since we’re on this New Year business, did you make any resolutions? Did you resolve to be a badass? Or just lose the proverbial ten pounds? I enjoyed the one I made last year: to cook a multi-course meal once a month for friends in my apartment. With all the eating out that I do, my cooking skills had become way too rusty. I managed to do seven dinner parties, not bad. This year I want to try prepping or cooking a nice meal each weekend so I have something homemade and tasty to heat up each Monday night, my guaranteed night in when I write my column.

I’m already ahead of the game, because when I got back from LA this weekend, I made not one but two homey recipes from Soup’s On!—because when you’re sick, all you want is homemade soup, right? Right. And since I don’t have a Jewish grandmother to make me matzo ball soup, this book should help get me through this cold AND the winter with easy soup ideas.

I have a lot of news and events to catch you up on this week, so let’s get crackin’.

Snifflingly yours,
~ Marcia

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