February 2010

February 23, 2010
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The spread at Old Jerusalem.

Bonjour! Last week was a whirlwind of delicious: dim sum (five places—I know, but I was working!), fat tortas and tall-boy Tecates (at La Torta Gorda), terroir-loaded wine from Bruno de Conciliis at Delfina, scooping up hummus and ful with fluffy pita at Old Jerusalem, Scotch eggs and Manhattans at Wexler’s, a brunch full of goodies from Pâtisserie Philippe (have you tried the little bacon-onion number they’re doing?), stellar falafel from Sabra, a meat-fest at the meatpaper party at Pizzaiolo, cachaca at the Leblon party at Rickhouse on Sunday night… It’s like I’m training for a food marathon or something. Hey, it’s all in the name of research!

Now I understand why I was procrastinating about writing up my trip to India: it was a beast of a trip. Just editing and captioning all my pictures took hours: here’s my photo set of Mumbai on Flickr for those who want to check it out. As for my jetsetter writeup, I decided to just start with Mumbai first, and then I’ll write up the beach towns (Goa, Varkala), Kerala, and our trip to Kumily and the tea plantations in a separate post.

It’s challenging to just focus on my usual “where to eat, stay, and play” format because the trip was so much more than that. Only writing about the food feels shallow. I could write for hours about the cultural things that were so fascinating, and share funny stories, and the challenging moments, too, but that’s not necessarily going to make a useful jetsetter post for someone traveling to Mumbai. Anyway, let’s just say it’s much easier to write jetsetter pieces for places like, say, Healdsburg. And too bad the piece doesn’t come with Smell-O-Vision, because the food was some of the best I’ve ever had.

Got some napkins ready? Let’s tuck in.

Warmly,

Marcia Gagliardi

February 16, 2010
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Upstairs at Smuggler’s Cove.

Can we possibly pile on any more occasions this week? I know I’m not the only one who is glad Valentine’s Day is over (someone should have let off an “all clear” siren on Monday, alerting single people that it was okay to return to your favorite restaurant counters). I know Beer Week definitely gave the city a workout. My President’s Day was pretty uneventful (hey, someone had to write this thing), but I will say Gung Hay Fat Choy, people! Speaking of fat, today we celebrate Mardi Gras—I have some places you can hit in the socialite. Let the good times and your waistline roll.

Last week hovered between the healthy (a meal at the vegan Gracias Madre—loved the coconut-lime “cheesecake”), the decadent (dinner at Barbacco, and then trying Bill Corbett’s gorgeous new desserts at COI), the boozy (Saturday night drinks were at Smuggler’s Cove, NOPA, and the Ha-Ra), and the homey (celebrating my grandma’s birthday with a honking serving of lasagne). This week is shaping up to be equally challenging to my waistline. Here’s hoping the weather cooperates and I get to ride my bike as much as I plan to.

Oh, and last week I got a couple questions about my Book Passage Cooks with Books luncheon at Perbacco on Wednesday March 31st. The $100 includes a copy of my book (signed, of course), tax, and tip! Ci vediamo?

It’s feeling positively springy out there. It’s not pitch black at 6pm, and the night is perfumed with cherry blossoms.

Bisous,

Marcia Gagliardi

This week’s issue is lovingly dedicated to the memory of Brian Griset, who adored wine, food, music, and hugs more than most.

February 9, 2010
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Sopes at Chilango.

Based on the fact I was out every single night last week, you could say I’m back in the saddle again. Just call me Little Bunny Foo Foo, with all that hopping around town. I certainly have my share of catching up to do—about two months’ worth. Here are some highlights from last week, in no particular order: the spicy crab “spring roll” at Baker & Banker, the trio of sopes at Chilango (pictured), the bone marrow sformatino at SPQR, a bowl of dac biet at Pho Tan Hoa on Jones, the chicken Hyderabadi dum biryani at Curry Village, and Sunday night’s cooking class and dinner at Quince with Benedetta Vitali and a slew of wines chosen by Filippo Bartolotta. (You can drool over some pics from the cooking class and the incredible meal we had.) There are so many new places that I’m fired up to write about, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy this week’s entry in fresh meat.

Since I totally slacked on getting pictures posted of the tablehopper Pho La La La La dinner at Pot de Pho, I figured I better get those up tout de suite before I finish sorting through my India photos. That was one of my favorite events yet—you were such a fun bunch (and you know who you are!). Let’s dine again together soon.

Since we’re on events, I wanted to point you to a Google calendar I just started that will list my upcoming book signings, appearances, events, lunches, and more. While details are still being finalized on most of them, one event that is firm and already selling tickets is my Book Passage Cooks with Books luncheon at Perbacco on Wednesday March 31st. We’re going to mingle, talk, and of course feast in one of my favorite Italian restaurants. Chef Staffan Terje and wine director Mauro Cirilli will put together a fantastico meal (they always do). Hope to see you there—let’s cin cin.

Sending love and kisses, and hearts and flowers. And chocolate.

Marcia Gagliardi

February 2, 2010
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A Chowpatty beach night vendor.

Namaskar! After three remarkable weeks in Southern India, I am back! Well, almost: I am still making my way through 1,300 emails and 2,500 RSS feed headlines, but I’m getting close. And this jet lag is no joke: I’ve been falling asleep stupidly early and waking up at 6am, which is the polar opposite of the usual Marcia: I feel like I’m a mom, or I’m a working stiff with a long commute somewhere. There is no espresso strong enough to keep me awake past 10pm. WTF. Just call me grandma.

It’s funny how many people have asked me, “Why India?” And to that I say why on earth not? True, it’s not for everyone—things can be a bit grotty, cramped, crazy, and heart breaking, but for me, this was the most important trip I have ever taken in my life thus far. I met some of the most curious, kind, lovely, and warm people ever; the food was incredible and revelatory (we only had a couple “meh” meals, and my sis and I didn’t get sick until my last day, huzzah); and almost every place we went to was quite fascinating, if not totally beautiful. It was heaven to go away and get a blast of heat and beach time in the middle of our winter. And Mumbai? I can’t wait to write to you about it—it was my favorite.

I have never felt so far away from everything—well, except Burning Man (those of you who have been know what I’m saying). And in a weird Burning Man parallel, it’s definitely been an adjustment since I’ve come home—things are quieter, more orderly, concrete-covered, and less colorful here. I guess I got used to having lots of people around me at all times. I’m also trying to sort through a lot of Western guilt that came up while I was there—I am so blessed with my comfy and healthy life here, I can’t begin to count the ways. But I’m going to try to, because this trip away gave me one hell of a perspective on how much we have. America can be such a strange bubble. It was good to leave it so I could be reminded of that.

India was indeed a life changing experience, and I am so pleased I was able to take this trip with my fabulous sister—we had such a great time together. We laughed a lot. I am cranking to edit and upload my slew of photos by next week, so stand by! Let’s just say there are 1,100 images I’m trying to pare down and caption, whew. And there will be a writeup of the trip as well! I’d love to encourage people to go—I can’t believe it took me this long to go there, and I’m already plotting my return. Although next time I will bring some 750ml bottles of wine in my bag—I was craving some vino something fierce out there (it was all about Kingfisher beer).

And so … now it’s back to my San Francisco life. It was exciting to come home to an advance copy of my book in the mail, that’s for damned sure! The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco: Find the Right Spot for Every Occasion comes out March 9th, which is coming up fast. I’m lining up a bunch of fun events and signings all over the Bay Area—I’ll have a calendar and updates on a few events for you next week.

You ready for a beast of a column? Rawr, here it is.

Looking forward to seeing you on the town,

Marcia Gagliardi

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