October 2009

October 27, 2009

Last week was a much-needed break in between rounds of book edits (am in the home stretch, woooo!), so I took advantage of my deadline-less state to drive to Napa for dinner (destination: the intimate Terra in St. Helena—still wishing I had leftovers of the spaghettini with tripe in my fridge), to play hooky and have lunch at Osteria Stellina in Pt. Reyes on that gorg fall Friday we just had last week (oysters are delicious on pizza, who knew?!), and to attend my second whole animal event in one week.

Not just any whole animal event: famed butcher Dario Cecchini (and his delightful wife, Kim) were in town for a variety of events, visiting from his family's famous butcher shop, Antica Macelleria Cecchini in Panzano in Chianti, Italy. For those of you who read Bill Buford's Heat, you know exactly whom I am talking about. Nopa hosted the intimate event on Saturday afternoon; it was an honor to watch this remarkable artisan so confidently and skillfully do his craft. Cecchini was full of character, quotes (see the title of this week's missive), and charisma. (Photo by Arthur Perley.)

He began the event butchering half of a pig from Devil's Gulch Ranch, and then moved on to half a cow from Marin Sun Farms (here's a photo album I took of the event). As he reverently and confidently broke down each animal, he'd drop proclamations like, "Wasting beef is the greatest sadness," and "Meat shouldn't be particularly tender—it's why we have teeth." Oh yes, and let's not leave out this gem: "I think the filet needs to be left with some fat on it, otherwise nature wouldn't have surrounded it with it." Amen.

Every chef and butcher and home cook in the room watched him so closely, with occasional moments of total breathlessness over his technique (to wit: the removal of the pork ribs, amazing, and the massive porchetta he rolled up looked astounding). I've wanted to see this man do his thing for a long time, and can't believe I only had to walk four blocks to do so (thank you nopa for hosting, thank you Marin Organics for getting him here!). It was a dream to be able to taste a succulent bite of bistecca alla fiorentina, cooked so perfectly by the nopa kitchen staff (here's a video I took of Dario cutting it up just after it was grilled, and here's a video of him butchering the thigh).

I also have a link to more pro pictures from Arthur Perley who was photographing the event—this one from the beginning with the half pig is particularly commanding, and for those of you with butchery skills (or trying to hone them), you'll want to take a closer look at all of them.

Okay, enough meat for a moment. How about sherry?! Be sure to take a look in today's socialite for all the details on the upcoming tablehopper sherry tasting on November 10th at Stable Cafe! It's shaping up to be a stellar one. See you there!

Have a swell Halloween; I have always particularly loved Halloween because it means my birthday is coming the next day (which I will be happily spending over a home-cooked meal with my darling family on Sunday). Last week was all about "there will be blood," but this Sunday, there will be bubbles.

Cheers from here,
~ Marcia

October 20, 2009

Mreow. Actually, pffff!. Am officially cranky from these annoying allergies I've had the past few weeks. I thought they were gone, but no, achoo, they're back. As one friend posited, maybe I'm allergic to mildew. Grrrrreat, I sure picked the right city to be in for the winter.

Now that my little rant is out of the way, let's talk about more interesting things. Like the mightily impressive dinner I had at COI last week (pictured here, an ethereal course of oysters, roasted beets, and glacier lettuce). And just as delicate and refined as that meal was, its exact opposite was the chaotic and brash banquet/spectacle by OPENrestaurant on Saturday at the SFMOMA—more on this in fresh meat (literally).

And somewhere in the middle of meat mayhem and fine dining was the Mini Cupcake Clash at Stable Cafe on Sunday, part of the ongoing SF Food Wars series. I ended up totally falling for some of the savory-sweet combos (my favorite was the pear cupcake frosted with whipped Brie cream by Sweetiecups). My faboo intern Daisy took this photo album of the event, and VidSF posted this chirpy video (with a somewhat sugar-high host). Coming up in December: Holiday Fixins.

This week I have some more culinary shenanigans planned, but we'll see how my last week of book edits goes—I'm not exactly in charge of my calendar at the moment.

Since we're on the topic of shenanigans, here's a link to a recent linecook podcast when I was a guest, along with HotFoodPorn's Eddie Lau, and Corey Nead, a nopa kitchen compatriot to our host, Richie Nakano. We feasted on cheese and Delfina pizza, we drank bubbly and Manhattans, we hung out, we chatted about all kinds of stuff, from cookbooks (how on earth did I forget Marcella Hazan?) to bars to female chefs. Have a listen.

Speaking of next week, I'll be announcing an upcoming tablehopper tasting event! Mark your calendar for Tuesday November 10th. A little teaser: it's going to feature a very special guest in town from... si, España!

Ciao for now,
~ Marcia

October 13, 2009

Pant pant pant. And no, it's not because of the warm weather we're having (seriously, where did fall go? It's like we jumped straight to winter, pffffft.). It's more that I'm just barely hanging on here—am treading a sea of deadlines, and am in the home stretch with my book, which will be all done November 2nd. Pant pant pant.

I did manage to get a play day in last week between waves of edits: Rosetta Costantino kindly invited me and my father over for lunch at her house—what a slice of Calabria! From the roasted peppers from her garden to the peperoncino and chocolate ice cream for dessert, it was quite the spread. I posted some pics of our feast, and can't wait for her book with Janet Fletcher, My Calabria, to come out next year. She even gave me a sneak peek at her book's recipe for roasted tomato sauce—let's just say my Saturday night dinner guest and I ate very very well. Especially since I made it with tomatoes from her garden. I hoped to get home to my parents on Sunday to make mosto cotto (saba) with my dad, but had to stay home and work. Wah. In case some of you have access to fresh grape juice right now, here's Rosetta's recipe.

This week my night off is going to be Wednesday, which is perfect because I am really looking forward to the Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting: the line-up of wines (and local chefs) is a good one, including the winemaker from COS in Sicily, whose wines were featured at the last tablehopper tasting—read more in the lush. 48 hours later is WhiskyFest on Friday, and Saturday is the sure-to-be-jaw-dropping OPENfuture event at SFMOMA—release the flying panforte! Followed by a visit to Sunday's sold-out Mini Cupcake Clash by SF Food Wars—let's see if some of the contestants get me over being jaded on cupcakes, a true test.

May your umbrella not blow inside out today.

~ Marcia

October 6, 2009

Yup, October is definitely here, isn't it? There's a snap in the air, and let's not even talk about our diminishing daylight (and tomatoes). I love fall, but this transitional time always makes this beach lovin' lady a little blue. Alas, sweater season cannot be stopped, so I think this week's write-up in the regular features exactly the kind of satisfying food we'll be craving in these chillier days.

My weekend was mostly spent in the bunker (aka my apartment) doing book layout edits (it's so hard to chop chop chop, but guess who was way over her page count?) and wrapping up my taxes since my extension was coming to a close (what the hell, doesn't Uncle Sam know I'm bizzeee?).

Suffice to say, it was a breath of fresh air to turn everything in to my accountant and head over to the CUESA Sunday Supper reception and dinner. The talent in this town is really something to be proud of, so many tasty bites and dishes and drinks. Here's a pic of one of my favorites: country pork pate with marrow toasts, blood mousse, and quince from Mirit Cohen of Gastronaut Catering. Yeah, you heard right: blood mousse. Vampire approved! Fortunately I went dancing after the event to help repent for my caloric sins.

Misery loves company, so shall we dive into some news and events that will most likely land you on the treadmill next to me? Let's.

~Marcia (rhymes with Garcia)

(R.I.P. Gourmet magazine. What a loss.)

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