March 2009

March 31, 2009

How to sum up last week? Well, it was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Let’s start with the good stuff, like the dinner at Ottimista Enoteca with Gemma, the visiting Piemontese chef. Her rabbit with peppers dish, and the dessert of meringata, an incredible bowl o’ crunchy meringue topped with fresh whipped cream and torrone crumbles, are still on my mind. Lovely company on the patio that night, good wines, a grand time.

And as I hoped, my mini-trip to Sonoma could not have come at a better moment. Let’s just say Campari, rosé, and sun block figured prominently. Saturday night I was back in the City celebrating whiskey, and then walked over to Boulevard for a stellar late-night dinner of appetizers. The menu has one of the larger lists of apps I have seen in a while (try 13). The entire meal was so on point, from the slow-roasted black cod with a square of pork belly to the quail wrapped in house-cured bacon, stuffed with duck Merguez and paired with tabbouleh-like quinoa. Most of the apps hover around $16—why not sit at the bar with a friend and eat your way through four starters together? It would be a total tour de flavor.

Sunday I had brunch with my mom at the new DOSA on Fillmore (just like her daughter, she is now a slave for pani puri!), and then we did a City Guides walking tour of Victorians around Pacific Heights. Have you ever taken one of these tours? I’ve done four now, and have totally loved them all. Best of all, it’s volunteer- and donation-based, so it’s easy on your pocket.

Now, for the sad news: my recovered photo library is like a game of 52 Card Pickup. I have thousands (and I means thousands, like 90,000) jpeg files to go through. Yes, I am so damned lucky that I am getting a lot of my data back, but dag, my photo library is now one big jumble of files, with no names, no dates, no folders, nada. Those are a lot of food and drink photos with no i.d., people. Try six years’ worth.

Suffice to say, there was no way to piece together some pictures for a review this week, so I am just submitting a bunch of mini updates of restaurants I have already written about. We’ll have to see what shape things are in for next week as well. I might have to start a photo game of “Name That Dish.” (No joke.)

Thanks to Erin who wrote a hardhat featuring RN74 this week, so you will have a few new pictures to look at.

In closing, let me put it to you this way: have a backup of your computer and any external hard drives, people. And then make a backup of the backups. I wish this was an April Fool’s Day joke on me, but alas, it’s too damned real. Le sigh. Obviously, I have a lot of B.S. filing to get to, so let’s get crackin’.


~Marcia (rhymes with Garcia)

March 24, 2009

Brrrr, it was nippy last night. I was totally jonesing for a bowl of pháờ from this week’s restaurant in the regular (a hazard of food writing—you often get wicked cravings for whatever you’re writing about). Last week I had my own top picks for gettin’ heated, which included some spicy dishes at Amber India for dinner, a well-made Manhattan (ok, two) with Carpano Antica (purr) while sitting at the bar at the Washbag, joining a server at Poc Chuc in chomping on a habanero chile (ow ow ow), and hittin’ the dancefloor at Mezzanine Friday night until late.

Sadly all the fun came to a screeching halt this weekend when tech troubles came to roost at hopper HQ (crashed external hard drive woes, no access to my pictures, blah blah blah)—here’s hoping my new Mac wunderkind brings Dead Fred back to life. And soon. Sigh.

Am looking forward to the chef Gemma dinner tonight at Ottimista, and getting out of town on Thursday and heading up to Sonoma for a couple days where I can get some writing done, and think about things besides crashed hard drives, and urban annoyances like the lack of parking in my neighborhood during a nightmarish amount of street work (uh, no, I am not keen on having to move my car at 7am, are you kidding?). Of course I am returning Saturday night for Whiskies of the World, a smooth and easy transition.

Cheers to that.
~ Marcia

March 17, 2009

Thanks for the generous feedback from y’all on last week’s roundup on the Best Cloth Napkin Burger in San Francisco. When I am back eating burgers, say, this fall, I’ll be sure to check out some of your recommendations (to wit: Bar Johnny, the chorizo burger at Zinnia, and the burger at the Campton Place Bar & Bistro, among a few others).

Now, I am not going to start a fried chicken roundup just yet, but when I munched two delicious executions back-to-back last week it certainly seemed like I had. First was on Tuesday night at the counter at SPQR—after the kitchen noticed me watching how they eat the fried chicken, they kindly offered to supe up our last couple of pieces “animal style.” Now, I’m not at liberty to share what that means, but let’s just say it was feisty. Kind of like the kitchen. And then the next night I was at The Front Porch while out on a two-wheelin’ dinner tour with the fine couple that won “a dinner with the tablehopper” at the San Francisco Bike Coalition Winterfest auction—read all about that bucket o’ chicken in the regular.

Here’s another biking destination I’d recommend: a couple weekends ago I had a dreamy ride through Golden Gate Park to Ocean Beach—gotta love our clean and crisp air. While my original destination was going to be the new Outerlands for some lunch, alas, I had forgotten that weekend lunch service hadn’t kicked in yet. Damn. And it looked so cute. Quick save: some scrumptious cinnamon toast and a Gibraltar at Trouble Coffee a few doors down—I’m already plotting my next interlude to get toasted. And whaddya know, I had delightful company: I unexpectedly ran into a tablehopper reader and her husband, who kindly treated me to my afternoon snack. So meow.

Sunday night I emceed the second Edible Pursuit event at Acme Chophouse—it was quite the turnout of food and wine lovin’ folks—you gotta come to the next one. A highlight for me? Chef Thom Fox kindly styled us with his twist on a Cubano sandwich, featuring Marin Sun Farms beef tongue, roasted pork, melted Gruyere and provolone cheese, and of course some mustard and pickle. Can you say wow yes many thanks more please? Look for it on Acme Chophouse’s lunch and bar menu this week.

And where would we be without some good wine to go with that puppy? This coming Sunday is the Rhone Rangers tasting, check it out in the socialite.



March 10, 2009

Thanks to everyone who came out for the Festa del Pesto at Farina last Thursday—in case you missed it, the special pricing continues this week through -Thursday. I am also giving away three bottles of their perfetto pesto, which Farina is selling at the special price of $9 during the festa. The first three readers to email luckyme [at] with “pesto” in the subject line are the lucky winners. (So if you’re reading this Tuesday night, it’ll be too late—sorry Charlie.) I’ll let you know if you’re a winner as soon as I get your email! The catch: you have to go to Farina and pick it up yourself.

It was the week of festas, because Sunday night was also the Festa della Donna at A16. Chef Liza Shaw’s menu rocked the house, most especially the ricotta and mint caramelle with braised rabbit and English peas, the quintessence of spring. It’s not a pasta you see very often (very labor intensive), but you’ll be happy to know A16 made so many caramelle that the dish will be around for the next few days. So scoot on over if you can!

Now, I’m not a big one on “the best” this, and “the best” that (it’s like being asked my favorite restaurant—ugh), but sometimes you just gotta call it. So I’ve got something for ya: the last six weeks, I have inadvertently been punishing myself by trying to find the best burger at SF restaurants with cloth napkins. Yup, 15 burgers later, I have an answer. Check out the results of my burger tour in this week’s the regular. And vegetarians, you might want to skip ahead to another section.

And what the hell, it’s a new month, time for a new book giveaway from Ten Speed Press! This month I am giving away Simply Mexican by Lourdes Castro. The three winners will be stoked because the book doesn’t come out until April, so you’re getting advance copies! All you need to do is send an email to luckyme [at], telling me your favorite Mexican dish in the Bay Area, whether it’s a taco, torta, or tlacoyo! Looking forward to seeing your faves. Deadline to enter is midnight on Sunday March 15th, and I’ll alert the three winners after the drawing next week!

That reminds me, I’ll be emceeing the second episode of Edible Pursuit this Sunday at Acme Chophouse—see you there? It’s a blast. Read all about it in the socialite.

Yours in beef,


March 3, 2009

How positively grim, California is now at a 10.1% unemployment rate. You know, with those kinds of stats, it’s no -wonder people are drinking more. I’m also noticing how many bars around town are now serving kick-ass food—you don’t even need to leave your barstool, how dangerously convenient. This week, I’m featuring an “eat where you drink” gem nestled out in the Excelsior—check it out in fresh meat. I’ll be highlighting more bar eats in the coming months since affordable is the new black

Last week I mentioned how excited I am for this Wednesday’s Tre Bicchiere tasting, and I will mention it again. (There, I just did.) I usually attend with my dad and his Italian restaurant buddies—it’s quite the giro d’Italia. This month we have a bunch of wine events, so check ’em all out in the lush.

This Thursday is the tablehopper Festa del Pesto at Farina—I’m looking forward to seeing you there. Since the event sold out so quickly (although there is a little room for walk-ins throughout the evening!), you’ll be happy to know Farina decided to extend the special pricing until next Thursday March 12th. Party on! So if you come to Thursday’s dinner and the next day want more more more, or perhaps you’ve never had the famed mandilli al pesto in the first place, you can do so all week for only $10. Click here to see the other Festa del Pesto featured dishes and wine.

I am grateful to have a couple writers doing some work with me this week: I have a wino for ya with some refreshing beer and food pairings from Rich Higgins, and this month’s hardhat is here. I’ve decided to switch up the hardhat format: we’ll now be highlighting a different restaurant or bar project in each monthly installment, so you’ll get a bunch of sneak peeks at projects around town.

Cheese heads got some lovin’ a few weeks back, and so now it’s your turn, chocoholics: I have a pair of tickets to give away to the San Francisco International Chocolate Salon on March 21st. There will be more than 50 chocolatiers, confectioners, wineries, and other culinary artisans plying you with tastes. All you need to do is forward this week’s tablehopper newsletter to two buddies, but even more would be so very fabulous. Just tell your friend(s) 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 Saturday March 7th—I’ll notify the winner soon thereafter.

Ciao-chow and meow,


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