June 2009

June 30, 2009

I don't really need to explain why this week's issue is royally abridged—things are heatin' up in manuscript land. Or at least are gettin' heavy. The first part of my manuscript is due Monday… eep. May stress-related temporary blindness or carpal tunnel syndrome be things I've only heard about.

Anyway, I was fired up to learn from a couple readers that tablehopper won "Best Bay Area Scoop" in the San Francisco Magazine The Best of the Bay Area 2009: Readers' Poll! Had I been able to attend last week's Best of the Bay party, I might have learned this myself. Glad someone is out there partying and reading on my behalf. Thanks for the votes, yo! Charmed.

One small break I had from burning up my keyboard (no joke, the comma and "A" buttons currently need to be replaced) was filming my first Eye On The Bay segment with Liam Mayclem on Friday. We did a full-tilt, no-tables-but-much-hopping tour around town, scouting out street food. It was like a five-hour lunch.


Photo: chicken and waffle from Little Skillet.

Our first stop was Kitchenette in Dogpatch (uh, if you ever see the Lexington-style pork BBQ sandwich on the daily menu, drop everything and head over there, stat); we snarfed some chicken and waffles (and biscuits and sausage gravy and red velvet cupcakes and shrimp po'boys and bacon-wrapped waffle dogs) at Little Skillet; then headed off for a sneak preview of Carte 415 (the croque monsieur is one of those sandwiches you have to suspend fat gram belief over if you're going to enjoy it—which I did); and finished with some fully-loaded Chicago dogs at Da Beef.

The entire afternoon was like an episode of When Animals Attack. I'd love to have Liam as my wingman in a professional tag-team dining competition; in the ring, his trademark move would be unleashing some "Mayclem Mayhem." Meanwhile, I'd be responsible for the "tablehopper Hoover Maneuver." Sunday Sunday Sunday! Anyway, I'll let you know when it's about to air, (naturally) we had a blast.

Otherwise my nose has either been to the grindstone, or in a menu. Last week was yet another tour de force(meat): a sunset dinner at Sutro's at the Cliff House, drinks and dinner at the bar at Michael Mina (did you know you can order a la carte off the tasting menu at the bar?), a slam-dunk meal at Contigo (can't wait to have the sardines and avocado on toast again), an intimate dinner at Olea (perfect for a quiet date or tête a tête), some killer chilaquiles at Los Pastores, and eggs Benedict while Sunday brunching on the oh-so-civilized garden patio at Magic Flute. Oh yeah, and revisits to Firefly and Street for my fried chicken tour, plus Globe, and Brazenhead. I'm gonna have to go to a fat farm when this manuscript is turned in, mamma mia.

And now, this week's issue of tablehopper lite: easy on your eyes, and the clock.

Have a Happy Fourth of July this weekend—may your briquettes burn evenly, your burgers be juicy, and your fleece remain in the closet.

Ciao/kapow!
~Marcia

June 23, 2009


(Photo: Eggs in a cazuela from brunch at Olea.)

This book is putting me into overdrive, packing my calendar full of restaurant revisits and fab tastes around town (I will admit, I love what is "research" for me right now), including the divine hummus and baked-to-order pita at Terzo, a totally authentic Thai feast at Lers Ros in the Tenderloin, ridiculously decadent A5 Wagyu beef at 5A5 Steak Lounge, properly made mint juleps at The Alembic, a warm banh mi from Irving Café and Deli, a cozy brunch at Olea, and a balmy Sunday night dinner of cebiche, causas, and anticuchos de corazon on the back patio at La Mar. I am just itching to write so many of these meals up—but darn, it'll be another four weeks.

The most memorable happening of last week was the closing dinner at Postrio on Wednesday night. I swung by with a friend after our Thai feast to have some dessert and a drink and watch the final night wrap up. The dining room was a swirl of activity and color and flash—society ladies in brightly colored dresses, gents spiffed up with polished teeth and shoes, tables full of wine glasses and temporary tablehopping guests. Denise Hale was tucked into a power booth with Tatiana and Serge Sorokko, all looking so chic and smiling even more broadly as the night (and wine) wore on.

It was quite the who's who of chefs, either in the kitchen (Mitchell and Steven Rosenthal, Craig Stoll, Richard Reddington, Quinn Hatfield, who flew up from Los Angeles, David Gingrass, Anne Gingrass-Paik, Jordan Grosser, and Janet Rikala), to Kim Beto pouring wine and working the floor, plus chefs dining, from Roland Passot to Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani, to chefs hanging out in the kitchen after service in their own restaurants, like Jan Birnbaum and Chad Newton. Say what you will about Postrio; what is irrefutable is so much local talent has come from its kitchen. Everyone was raving about the food, doubly delicious since the restaurant had kindly chosen to roll back to 1989 prices (so classy, I thought).

And, of course, the ever-ebullient Wolfgang Puck was making his way around the room, kindly greeting everyone, shaking hands, and signing last-meal menus. There was so much warmth in the room—it made me reflect on what a close-knit city we really have. Here's a Flickr photo album I took of the evening.

It truly was a bittersweet night; I spoke with Mitch Rosenthal for a moment, who said, "20 years, man. It's been such a night of good memories, and a fun one too, but it's also really, really sad. So many people are losing their jobs, people who have been here a long, long time." (Here's hoping they all land in good places—chef Seis Kamimura is very talented, and the restaurant that snaps up the ever-gracious GM James Minch is one lucky business.)

I have to hand it to Willie Brown, who was beaming like a proud papa (with a huge table of guests, natch). He led such a fitting and fantastic toast, with one of my favorite lines I've heard in a while: "Here's to Postrio, a San Francisco icon, like the Golden Gate Bridge, the Pyramid, and me!" (The room exploded in laughter.) I also took a video of Wolfgang Puck's final toast if you'd like to watch it (please excuse a couple bad orientation moments, I forgot my screen and the video have zero relation to each other, oops—I blame the wine).

So, as for the immediate fate of the restaurant, the bar and café will continue to be open from morning through the evening hours, keeping the pizza oven fired up, churning out Puck's famed pizzas. Once the Prescott Hotel's renovation is underway, the café will close. We'll see what Puck's new concept is soon enough. It's slated to reopen in late 2010.

A sincere cheers to 20 very special years.

As for this week's issue, a big thanks to Evan Goldstein, who wrote an interesting piece on non-native/"expatriate" grapes for the wino. You'll also find plenty of other reasons to raise a glass in this week's lush.

Here's looking at you, kid.
~Marcia

June 16, 2009



No sleep for the wicked. Cold or no cold, I still had major book research to do, and fortunately my ability to taste was not affected. Last week I did a tablehoppin' trip around Oakland (Flora, Tamarindo, MUA, Bar Lata), plus a mini Italian tour of 54 Mint (pictured), flour + water, and Pizza Nostra, and let's not forget Sunday brunch at Pomelo on Church, and a boozy dinner at Heaven's Dog. Quite the international tour, no? I have a little over three weeks left before the SF portion of my manuscript is due, and I have about 40 places to check out in the meantime, eep. If you want to keep up with 140-word reports of my tablehopping, you can follow my Twitter feed.

And now in the media file: I'm going to be heading down to Palo Alto to be on the Ask "Dr." Business show with Roy Blitzer this Thursday June 18th as part of his cable access series on PEOPLE WHO EARN THEIR LIVING WITH FOOD AND WINE. The show is live at 9pm with viewer call-ins, so please call in with questions at 650-856-1491. I'd be really stoked to have some tablehopper readers call in, and to answer any questions you have about how to make it as a food writer! Reach out and touch someone, yo. Anyone can watch via the internet through the webcast, here's the link. The channels are 27 or 30.

I am making one exception to my "no food or wine events this month" rule (you know it is KILLING me to not go to The Golden Glass this Sunday), and will be swinging by the SummerTini event this Friday June 19th at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Since ticket sales are down a bit this year, they wanted to offer a special tablehopper discount: for just $65 you can sip on martinis, graze on hors d'oeuvres from restaurants like Poleng Lounge, Ducca, LarkCreekSteak, 4505 Meats, and more, and help fight homelessness in San Francisco. Really good auction lots, too. Will I see you this Friday? It's from 6pm–9pm. Just write in "Tablehopper" as the discount code when buying your tickets on brownpapertickets.com. All proceeds benefit CHEFS (Conquering Homelessness through Employment in Food Service). Please consider coming (surprise a friend with a ticket?)—it's an effective and very important cause to support.

Thanks to my guest writer this week, Pete Mulvihill from Green Apple, I have a bookworm to share with you about Novella Carpenter's new book, Farm City. Watch out, you might get inspired to raise some critters. Although really now, who am I kidding? The most I can currently manage is making my own kombucha (batch two was a success!); but I do hope to have my own chickens someday—I love eggs too much. I just can't quite raise them on a fire escape, the extent of my "backyard" at the moment.

On that note, let's get crack-a-lackin'.

Bwok!
~Marcia

June 9, 2009

Damn, I woke up Monday morning feeling totally under the weather. Well, that's what I get for spending the weekend in, burning up my keyboard instead of a dancefloor. Fortunately my cold decided to roll in after last week's Sicilian wine event with Alex Fox, because it would have sucked to not be able to taste all those wines, cheeses, and bites from CookWithJames to their full extent. Big thanks to Domaine Select Wine Estates and The Cheese School of San Francisco for helping to make it such a classy event. The evening's guests want to do this again and explore additional wine regions (like Spain, Australia, I vote for Champagne), so look for some future fetes down the road. You can check out some pictures of the event and see what you missed on my flickr page (thanks to Mathew Sumner!), and in this photo gallery from James Stolich here.



More wino news: besides a lot of wine-related buzz (har) in this week's lush, the latest wine couch episode I did with Evan Goldstein has posted; this one is about Ubuntu in Napa.

So gang, in order for me to keep this column going and get my book done, I have decided to shelve any fresh meat or the regular reviews until my manuscript is done in early July. Something had to give, and so I determined that's what had to go. Fortunately I have some fantastic writers for upcoming wino, hardhat, and bookworm columns this month while I keep my eye on the prize. And with all the places I've had to research this month, just think, July will be chock-full of write-ups about places for you to check out. Thanks for understanding.

Okay, back to trying to kick this cold to the curb.

Over and out,
~Marcia

June 2, 2009

Whoa, thanks to everyone who emailed me about the tablehopper "internship/apprentice" position. Now I need one to go through all the resumes for me, har. I'll get back to y'all soon!

This week is shaping up nicely: tonight I am going to check out the Tuesday night roast pig action at Betelnut, and then this Wednesday June 3rd is the tablehopper Sicilian wine and food tasting with Alex Fox at The Cheese School of San Francisco. James Stolich of CookWithJames just finalized the menu, and it's looking faboo: salumi and braised fennel crostini to pair with the bubbles, and then zucchini agrodolce with ricotta and peperoncino over bruschetta and pasta con le sarde to pair with the sit-down wines. Plus there will be some fantastic cheeses hand-chosen by Sara of The Cheese School, Castelvetrano olives, and more. The event got a nice write-up by my writer buddy Jordan Mackay at 7x7—ends up he's a huge fan of COS wines as well (the Cerasuolo di Vittoria was voted one of his 10 best wines of 2008). Cheers to that. Looking forward to hanging out with you! You can buy one of the last tickets here.

Other destinations on the docket: later this week I'll be heading over to East Bay (gasp!) to check out Pican, and then Sunday is Edible Pursuit #3 at Acme Chophouse, which I will be emceeing again. Did you get your team together? (Yup, I am bringing my little dinner bell to call "time!")

I also wanted to point yer eyeballs to a couple important events in the socialite this week: one is the annual CUESA springtime breakfast this Saturday, and the other is the upcoming SummerTini event for the CHEFS program, which is very near and dear to my heart. Both events help support two amazing organizations—please consider attending!



Lastly, after an entire weekend shut in writing restaurant recaps for my book manuscript, writing my SFCVB column, writing my ongoing Edible San Francisco column, and putting together a relatively chunky column this week, let's just I really don't have much juice for a full-blown review this week. Sorry, this month is kicking my butt, and will continue to do so with my looming book deadline. Too. Much. Writing. To. Do. (Trust me, I thought about going dark for June, but that wouldn't be very fun now, would it?)

Is it Wednesday yet? I am so ready for a glass of Cerasuolo. Or two.

Cin cin!
~Marcia (rhymes with Garcia)

Whoa, thanks to everyone who emailed me about the tablehopper "internship/apprentice" position. Now I need one to go through all the resumes for me, har. I'll get back to y'all soon!

This week is shaping up nicely: tonight I am going to check out the Tuesday night roast pig action at Betelnut, and then this Wednesday June 3rd is the tablehopper Sicilian wine and food tasting with Alex Fox at The Cheese School of San Francisco. James Stolich of CookWithJames just finalized the menu, and it's looking faboo: salumi and braised fennel crostini to pair with the bubbles, and then zucchini agrodolce with ricotta and peperoncino over bruschetta and pasta con le sarde to pair with the sit-down wines. Plus there will be some fantastic cheeses hand-chosen by Sara of The Cheese School, Castelvetrano olives, and more. The event got a nice write-up by my writer buddy Jordan Mackay at 7x7—ends up he's a huge fan of COS wines as well (the Cerasuolo di Vittoria was voted one of his 10 best wines of 2008). Cheers to that. Looking forward to hanging out with you! You can buy one of the last tickets here.

Other destinations on the docket: later this week I'll be heading over to East Bay (gasp!) to check out Pican, and then Sunday is Edible Pursuit #3 at Acme Chophouse, which I will be emceeing again. Did you get your team together? (Yup, I am bringing my little dinner bell to call "time!")

I also wanted to point yer eyeballs to a couple important events in the socialite this week: one is the annual CUESA springtime breakfast this Saturday, and the other is the upcoming SummerTini event for the CHEFS program, which is very near and dear to my heart. Both events help support two amazing organizations—please consider attending!



Lastly, after an entire weekend shut in writing restaurant recaps for my book manuscript, writing my SFCVB column, writing my ongoing Edible San Francisco column, and putting together a relatively chunky column this week, let's just I really don't have much juice for a full-blown review this week. Sorry, this month is kicking my butt, and will continue to do so with my looming book deadline. Too. Much. Writing. To. Do. (Trust me, I thought about going dark for June, but that wouldn't be very fun now, would it?)

Is it Wednesday yet? I am so ready for a glass of Cerasuolo. Or two.

Cin cin!
~Marcia (rhymes with Garcia)

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