March 2010

March 30, 2010

Crab cocktail at Swan Oyster Depot.

Hey now, where did this bratty weather come from? I know, we all got used to that gorg sunny weather last week. But, it means it’s finally appropriate for me to run my review of a new-ish shabu-shabu/hot pot place since it’s the kind of food we all crave during this chillier and slightly rainy week (at least that’s what the forecast says). Check out my review of Prime Rib Shabu in fresh meat.

Last week was definitely in high gear, with a hoppin’ book signing party at Omnivore Books (many thanks to Celia, and to Andrew Mariani of Scribe Winery and Patrick Horn of The Pacific Brewing Laboratory for their generous pours of wine and beer), a fun conversation/event with Michael Chiarello at the Marin JCC, and hanging out with the ever-kind Gene Burns on Dining Around (thanks, Gene, for having me on!).

I have a preview of upcoming “tablehopper on tour” book events over the next two weeks in today’s issue, but you can always check out the master list of book events here. It has been so enjoyable to meet so many food lovin’ people at each event—thanks for all the support!

Last week, I grazed my way through the city, with dinners at Bar Crudo (always a fave—have you tried their fish tacos at happy hour?) and Gialina (Sharon Ardiana’s amatriciana pizza is so outstanding), lunch at Swan (an Anchor Steam, oysters, chowder, and crab cocktail—with a side of sass from the staff), Saturday brunch at the 4505 Meats stand at the Saturday farmers’ market (biggest banh mi I’ve ever had, loaded with chicken and mortadella), a late dinner at Marinitas in San Anselmo (I wanted to bring all the salsas home), a pre-show dinner (saw AIR at the Fox) at the new Hibiscus in Oakland (have you been yet? loved the salt fish and ackee, so unique), and a tour of way too many bars after Whiskies of the World on Saturday night (those of you who follow my Twitter feed know the extent of the liver damage I did). Yeah, looks like someone popped the clutch.

I feel like I’m channeling Speedy Gonzales. I hope the police don’t pull me over for reckless driving (this is a metaphor: ironically my car has been in the shop for a week). At least on Sunday I’ll be in one place: kicking it with my family for Easter, doing Easter Bunny/bwok bwok imitations with my sister. Buona Pasqua!

Marcia Gagliardi

March 23, 2010

Boy, do I love this city. Hard. Sunday night was one for the books, and the book: I was so fortunate to be able to throw my book launch party at the dramatic ~ORSON~, a dream venue for this event. I was originally hesitant to write about the party in my column, because while I wish I could have invited every single one of you, the ever-restricting factors of available space, food, and drink had to be considered—so I had to limit it to the friends, family, and colleagues I am in close contact with (basically, anyone in my iPhone). My sincere apologies to anyone who felt left out—I am certain I forgot a few important people (let me tell you, this guest list was not an easy thing to compile), and I know some people never received their invite who should have (damned spam folders—it’s the problem with using email instead of real mail).

Anywhoo, it was truly a memorable night, with a remarkable lineup of guest chefs who so kindly donated their time and cooking talent: Alex Ong and Mike Siegel, Betelnut; Katharine Zacher and Ryan Ostler, Bruno’s; Laurence Jossel, nopa; Mike Selvera, Bar Crudo; Ravi Kapur, Boulevard and Prospect (coming soon); Rob Lam, Butterfly; Senthil Kumar, DOSA; and Staffan Terje, Perbacco and Barbacco (blood ‘nduja, anyone?). Thanks to all of you for sharing your mind-blowingly good food… I heard so many complimenti from all the guests!

Elizabeth Falkner and the entire Orson crew were amazing—thank you all a million times over for hosting us in your spectacular space. Elizabeth (pictured here) even made special “Lady Gaglia” macarons for the event (violet-cassis and rose-raspberry), which tasted as pretty as they looked. And no, we didn’t plan to have them coordinate with my dress.

The bars were shakin’ with the music of cocktails from bartenders Aaron Gregory Smith, 15 Romolo; Brian MacGregor, Jardinière; Dominic Venegas, Smuggler’s Cove, 83 Proof; Greg Lindgren, Rye and Rye on the Road, Jeff Hollinger, Absinthe and Comstock Saloon (coming soon); and Victoria D’Amato-Moran, Cent’Anni Cocktails, who even did a special cocktail, “La Hopper,” with Campari and SKYY Ginger. Thank you all for your fantastic drinks, such pros!

There is no way I could have dreamed of hosting this party without the staggering generosity of the following wine and spirits folks: American Wines, Beverage Artistry, Blythe Beaubien (Bagrationi and Bluecoat), Cadre Noir Imports, Craig Roby & Winesellers Ltd., Crimson Wine Group, Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Domaine Select Wine Estates, Folio Fine Wine Partners, Heaven Hill Distilleries, The Henry Wine Group, Iron Horse, Preiss Imports, Robert Kacher Selections, Siena Wine Group, Southern Wine and Spirits, Terlato Wines Intl., Trumer Pils, Vias Imports, William Grant & Sons, and Young’s Market Company. My sincere thanks. I also want to thank Debbie Rizzo with Drink PR for her help in securing sponsors, Alex Fox and Patricia Gums for their massive party organizational skills, Amy Sherman for her wine donation, and Massimiliano and Lorella at La Ciccia, who sent a case of vermentino in their stead. The lineup of wines and spirits was so quality—I apologize for the many hangovers that ensued.

Big disco thanks to Jeffrey Paradise for the on-point party soundtrack (and Sean Evans for the soundsystem), to Daniel Detorie for being the most charming doorman ever, to Barbara Haimes and the volunteer servers from the Culinary Arts & Hospitality Studies program at City College of San Francisco, to Abbey Rents for their assistance with all the glassware, to Square and Beau Smith for letting me be a beta tester for their fantastic product (so cool—and it’s coming soon!), and to my editorial assistant, Daisy Chow, who was the best wingwoman ever.

Here are the official party pictures from the ever-engaging Ricky Camargo, along with some fun party portraits from the lovely Ava Berlin, and coverage from my fellow “hoppers,” the Bunrabs! Thanks for documenting, darlings!

I am overwhelmed and humbled by the outpouring of support, generosity, and kindness everyone has shown for this party, my e-column, and now, my book. Thanks to everyone who came—it was so lovely to par-tay with you. Most of all, it was a great honor to have my family at the party so they could finally meet a lot of the people they hear me talk about.

Guess what? I’m freaking exhausted. So excuse the brevity of this week’s column, but I feel like I just had a wedding or something. Alas, there’s no rest for the wicked or the tired, because this week has me out every night of the week (like that is something new, ha): a book signing at Omnivore tomorrow, a culinary conversation with Michael Chiarello at the Marin JCC on Thursday (you can read about both events here), the Air concert on Friday, and then Whiskies of the World on Saturday. Where’s that auxiliary fuel tank?

Until next week,

Marcia Gagliardi

March 19, 2010

Flickr photo from michicat.

This just in… Rumors have proven true, and the ink is dry on the lease: the ~ABSINTHE~ team will be taking over the now-vacant Citizen Cake space in Hayes Valley. Obviously details are slim at this point, but one thing that’s certain is the new restaurant will fall in the middle of the higher-end offering at Absinthe, and the casual Arlequin. A number of concepts and styles (and chefs!) are being discussed, but the team does envision a comfortable neighborhood restaurant, offering lunch, dinner, and brunch.

The bar program (to be overseen by Jeff Hollinger, Jonny Raglin, and Carlos Yturria) will be simpler than Absinthe’s but still creative—some culinary flair will be featured. Stand by for more on timing (depending on how the liquor license transfer goes, we could be looking at late summer), the concept, and the name.

As for the latest on Elizabeth Falkner’s ~CITIZEN CAKE~ location on Fillmore, that’s looking like a month out (can’t wait).

March 16, 2010

Spring morning view from the Wine Country Inn.

Last week was all about whoa, wow, and what a whirlwind. And let’s not forget wonderful. It has been a great experience launching my book (the support has been amazing—you all rock), and last Friday’s reading (my first!) at Booksmith in the Haight was such an unexpectedly touching evening. I had no idea who was coming, so as people kept arriving, it was like a surprise party; one of my old bosses from my advertising days even showed up, along with a designer I used to work with, dear friends I didn’t even know read tablehopper, and even a friend from out of town.

It also felt like a fun cocktail party, with pink Pompadour Rosé bubbles provided by Domaine Carneros, and the delicious Indian flavors of orange-cardamom-ginger with saffron gobs from Gobba Gobba Hey, and cardamom-ginger chai and green chili chai from The Chai Cart (thank you all for donating your treats for the soirée). And many thank yous to the kind staff at Booksmith for throwing such a special kickoff party—and apologies to those of you who came and weren’t able to buy a book when the store ran out of copies! Me lo siento.

Coming up this week is my reading on Thursday at Books Inc. on Chestnut Street at 7:30pm. (Let’s hope you’re not too wrecked from St. Patrick’s Day the night before.) Of course I have to have something for us to taste, so to continue the Indian theme, we’ll have some “Suria” chocolates from Maison Mitchell, a blend of dark and milk chocolates infused with cardamom; we are also going to be enjoying Durigutti’s Malbec “Clásico” (many thanks to Bock Wines and Spirits for the donation). Hope to see you there—or next Wednesday at Omnivore (here’s my book tour schedule).

After all the emails and phone calls and deadlines and running around last week, it was a much-needed treat to hit the road for a 24-hour trip to St. Helena on Sunday, with a wine tasting and lunch at CADE, more wine (and olive oil) at Long Meadow Ranch, and dinner at Farmstead (where our table got a peek of Thomas Keller and Laura Cunningham having dinner at the bar). The weather was ridiculously perfect—what a dream. And then I woke up. Oh, it’s you, mister alarm clock, reminding me that it was time to pry myself from my comfy bed at the Wine Country Inn and scoot my heinie home Monday morning to get this beast of a column written.

Speaking of, we have a historical hardhat this week from Erin Archuleta on the upcoming Comstock Saloon, and I also have a review of Contigo, where I happily celebrated my book launch last Tuesday with a dear friend. (Whaddya know, that’s a new occasion I’ll have to put in the next edition of my book, heh.)

Here’s to longer evenings, spring produce, and all the kind people I know! Oh yeah, and finally having a “Kabaret Kab” ride from Buzz Brooks—it was an entertaining way to travel to my reading on Friday.

As Buzz would say, “Manifest more mirth!”


Marcia Gagliardi

March 9, 2010

Black and tan at Fentons Creamery.

Oh yeah, it’s not every Tuesday I start my day with a glass of sparkling bubs (some crisp Iron Horse ‘03 blanc de blancs, if you must know), but then again, it’s not every Tuesday your first book goes on sale [insert “holla!” here]. You can find my book at a variety of wonderful bookstores around the Bay Area and of course online (but please support your local bookseller if you can!).

I’m looking forward to my first book signing this Friday at Booksmith in the Haight (7:30pm), where we’ll have orange-cardamom-ginger with saffron gobs from Gobba Gobba Hey, cardamom-ginger chai (and another surprise flavor) from The Chai Cart, and naturally there will be bubbles! Hells yes. Some of my very favorite local bubs, in fact: Domaine Carneros Pompadour Rosé. Purr.

I have a bunch of events and book signings coming up that are far from “bookish,” from a Cooks with Books lunch at Perbacco to a demo/event at Bloomingdale’s with Humphry Slocombe to a chocolate tasting at Fog City News to a two-martini lunch at Bix. (Hint: you also might want to look at the ViniPortugal event since admission for the first 150 people comes with a free book!) You can peek at the complete lineup here—I will be updating it each week with more details and info. Hope to see you out and about.

Suffice it to say, things have been a little crazy this past week, so I’m sorry to bail on writing a review for this issue. Too. Much. Going. On.

Heartfelt thanks to everyone for all the encouragement, support, enthusiasm, and generosity you have shown me along the way—I am counting my lucky stars that I am a published author. I’m here to report: it really feels good—I think it’s just sinking in. (It’s also a fab honor to start the day with a clever mention about your book in Daily Candy—I cracked up over “Where should I take Lois?”) Who knew this former little bookworm—let’s just say my favorite way to spend my allowance was on books—would eventually have her very own book? So many writers dream of this opportunity. I know I did. Thank you, Ten Speed Press!

So with that, I want to dedicate this issue to my loving parents—they worked so hard to ensure my sister and I had a good education, a happy home, healthy lives, and grew up believing we could accomplish anything. I am profoundly grateful.

And now… it’s time to party! Pop!

Marcia Gagliardi

March 2, 2010

Venison chili and a Manhattan at the Big 4.

Cough cough, excuse me, oh, hi. What a lame week of illin’—I got nailed with a cold that had me sounding like Brenda Vaccaro, but then by the weekend my voice quickly devolved two octaves deeper, leaving me a dead ringer for Selma Bouvier from the Simpsons. Made it kind of hard to do my job—I couldn’t really interview people for a few days. At least a cab driver liked my voice. Yeah, creepy.

Feh, colds. That’s what bourbon is for! My friend and I had a perfect rainy day lunch at the Big 4 last Friday, complete with Manhattans and their venison chili. I also managed to get some cocktail medicine at Boot and Shoe Service in Oakland with their Fata Morgana, a total enchantress comprised of bourbon, blood orange, Amaro Nonino, dry vermouth, and cardamom. Hubba, feeling much better, thanks.

And when things got really rough, it was time for turnip and pork rib soup at Taste of Formosa, and a seaweed-pork-tofu soup at Sunny Shanghai in San Bruno (xiao long bao/Shanghai soup dumplings are also really fab when you’re sick). For those of you suffering from the same lame cold, you’ll find more feel-good options in today’s fresh meat review of OTD (Out the Door) on Bush.

But fortunately I am turning the corner on this thing, and just in time, because the countdown begins now: my book launches in one week (woot!), and I am going to be one bizzee ladee.

Keep dry, toasty, and healthy, mmmmkay?

Marcia Gagliardi

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