May 2010

May 27, 2010
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Exterior of The Publican in Chicago.

Good afternoon, folks. I’m back with installment number two of this week’s issue, with another jetsetter recap from my travels since that was mostly what my May has been about. I had two nights in Chicago a couple weeks ago, so here are a few spots I managed to hit while I was there. I want to go back for two weeks and eat my way through that city—so many great places. (Bring the Lipitor.) But for now, just consider this a small (but meaty) charcuterie plate.

NO COMMENT on this rainy weather. Pfffft. But at least I started a pot of Steve Sando’s Caribbean black bean soup yesterday. Heaven in a bowl today. (Here’s a variation of his recipe online.)

Have a swell Memorial Day weekend—and hurrah, it’s lookin’ like a sunny one.

Marcia Gagliardi

May 25, 2010
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Cupcakes from Pinkie’s Bakery.

Well, if this isn’t the nicest May ever. Ahem. Excuse me while I try to warm up with another bowl of soup. Are we still going to be in sweaters on Memorial Day? [Grumble.] I’m just going to pretend this means we’ll have an extra-fabulous September. The weather has actually been the lesser of my concerns: last week it was all about the vice on my head. Fortunately my %$#& headache has lifted, so I don’t feel like getting into a fight with everyone on the street (suffering four days of caffeine withdrawal is a mother trucker, and there’s no way around it—just had to move through it).

Fortunately I’ll be more perky than pissy for this Thursday’s reading at Books Inc. Castro on Market—details are here! I’m also going to experience my first attempt at drinking by proxy: I’m going to a preview of Sex and the City 2 on Wednesday, and am forcing my guest to taste all the SKYY cocktails on my behalf (I know, poor baby—but there are five drinks in all, so he’s got his work cut out for him. We all know who the designated driver is.) Heck, the true test was making it through a day of bottling wine with my family on Sunday without drinking any—and I was covered in juice (guess who was the bottle filler?). Wine, wine everywhere, and nary a drop to drink! Fie!

Actually, the biggest test (nope, not a taste test) was my table where I was selling my books at the Appel and Frank shopping event last week—what was I thinking piling the table with the incomparable cupcakes and cookies from Pinkie’s Bakery? Insanity, I tell you. I wish I could tell you how delicious these strawberry vanilla cupcakes were, but I can’t. But they sure smelled good. Pant pant.

One week down, two to go.

Marcia Gagliardi

May 21, 2010
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Okay, so the old saw about not biting off more than you can chew rang true for someone this week. Ahem. Sorry today’s bonus issue is a day late, but weeding through all my New York notes, menus, and pictures turned into a beast of a job—and I wanted to do justice to all the great places I visited. Did I really eat and drink that much in six days? Uh, yes. Fortunately the miles of walking kept me from blimping out—which is so not hot. Anyway, here is today’s promised jetsetter piece about my recent New York trip. I also posted a Flickr album of my NYC trip, writing as many captions as I could manage to include (or remember).

We’ll see how this twice a week thing works out—next week I’ll try to choose something a little less unwieldy and make that Thursday deadline.

Buon weekend!

Marcia Gagliardi

May 18, 2010
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Hallo darlings. Excuse me if I’m a little cranky, but I’m currently on day two of espresso-cheese-salumi-champagne-bread withdrawal, and I’m a little peckish, and tired. Yup, my three-week cleanse has begun, but not without one hell of a sendoff on Sunday night. My sis and I attended my third Meals on Wheels event at Fort Mason, and the SF culinary community blew it out of the water, yet again. I put together a Flickr photo album of some of the bites and bevvies we enjoyed—it was quite the tour de force.

Last week I was in Chicago, meating it up for sure—first at Al’s #1 Italian Beef, and then the next night at The Publican, followed by deeeevine cocktails at The Violet Hour. I’ll post a mini-recap soon.

But in the meantime, I’m changing things up a touch here at tablehopper HQ this week. My Tuesday column has just gotten too huge—I can barely find enough time to write it, and edit it, and I can only imagine how much time it takes to read the dang thing. So this week I’m going to post my jetsetter recap about all the places I recently went to in New York on Thursday, instead of in this Tuesday’s column. I’m beginning to think going forward, I’ll post my reviews on Thursdays, and a few other tidbits or events that come up. I know it’s nice to have everything in one, er, compact package each Tuesday, but I’d like to try out this twice-a-week format. See what not having access to caffeine does to me? Productivity compromised!

This week, I hope you come visit me at the Appel and Frank shopping event this Thursday evening (tablehopper readers can get in for $5 instead of $10!)—I’ll have a table full of treats from Pinkie’s Bakery that I can’t eat, so come by, why dontcha? Read more event details here.

I’m also going to be doing more posts in the health nut about any product discoveries and destinations during my next three weeks of eating like a monk—hopefully it’ll help any of you fellow friends trying to lighten up this spring.

Yours, in bubbles and in health,

Marcia Gagliardi

May 11, 2010
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Frrrrozen hot chocolate at Serendipity.

Oh, New York. I really don’t think I could have had more fun, had better weather, or eaten more. I could have used more sleep, however. And of course more time. I was all over town, so you can expect a full NYC recap (hopefully) in next week’s column. I have a ton of pics to upload, too. For now, here are three fave things that come to mind quickly: a bowl of boozy rum punch at the spiffy and brand-new Cienfuegos, the perfect meatball pizza at Jim Lahey’s Co., and my decadent bowl of tonkotsu ramen at Ippudo. Really, just the tip of the apple—the big apple.

But I had one heck of a fun event to return home for: the tablehopper Sandwich Social at Purcell Murray this past Saturday. We had quite the spread of deeelicious sandwiches from Kitchenette, Morty’s Deli, and Pal’s Takeaway, with each one demo-ing how to make their sandwiches (I totally learned some new Reuben technique). We also managed to plow through a case of Bagrationi sparkling wine (from Georgia—as in the former USSR), which paired especially well with the Dogpatch Millionaire (the fried chicken sandwich from Kitchenette). Thanks to everyone who came, and especially to the sandwich makers, who all worked an extra day for the event. Oh, and I had the audience shout out their favorite local sandwiches, check it out in the chatterbox.

I actually had to hop back on a plane on Monday and am now in Chicago through Wednesday for a quick work gig (alas, not much time to eat and play), and with Mother’s Day in the mix, let’s just say I barely had any time to write this column again. But I’ll be back in town for my book signing and reading at Mrs. Dalloway’s in Berkeley this Saturday, and the always-incredible Meals on Wheels event on Sunday. Yeah, it’s the night before I start my three-week cleanse, and I am going out with a (to-be-expected) bang. And as a cleanse warm-up exercise, I figured it was good timing to highlight a healthy restaurant in San Francisco, instead of my usual debauched style of dining—you can read my review of Greens in this week’s the regular.

Have a swell week,

Marcia Gagliardi

May 4, 2010
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Red roses (and red Solo cups) at the Eleven Madison Park after-party.

Whoa, there’s Batali. Oh, hello Daniel Boulud. Grant Achatz, Thomas Keller, Jean-Georges Vongerichten… It would be a gross understatement to say the press room at the ~JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION AWARDS~ on Monday night gave me a serious case of ADD—in addition to having to balance my camera, record interviews on my iPhone, and run over to my laptop to post live updates to the James Beard Foundation Awards blog (I couldn’t even think about trying to get a glass of Champagne in the mix—although I certainly earned my glass of PJ at the end). It was quite a thrill to be invited as a JBFA correspondent for the awards, my first time to the event. (Huge thanks to the team at Savory Cities for suggesting me as a live blog correspondent—this was a wonderful, singular experience.)

It’s a grand event, most certainly. You really do see everyone (and I mean everyone), from young up-and-comers to legacy chefs from all over the country—I can’t imagine how exciting it must be for chefs to see their idols there, and it was great to meet so many fellow writers! I felt a tremendous amount of pride watching our talented West Coast teams accept their awards: huge congrats to David Kinch of Manresa for winning Best Chef: Pacific (and bonus points for thanking his cat, Ella, in his speech); to Timothy Hollingsworth of The French Laundry for winning Rising Star Chef (he’s a very gracious person to speak with, by the way); and to Nicole Plue of REDD for Best Pastry Chef—looks like the third time was a charm for her.

I know it must be disappointing to attend (some many, many times) and not to win, but overall, I saw a lot of excitement in the nominees just being there, especially for the three West Coast nominees for Best New Restaurant (Frances, flour + water, and RN74). And let’s just say it: it’s great to be in New York and eat our way through it. The hot topic is always “Where did you eat last tonight/today/this morning?” And boy, do I have my work cut out for me—I’m here until Friday, and now that my “work” is done, it’s time to hit the town. My list is terrifyingly long—at least I can check Marea, pizza at Kesté, brunch at Joseph Leonard, late-night hot dogs at the Eleven Madison Park after-party, and even later-night munching in Koreatown off my list.

So instead of re-recapping my experience at the Awards in the press room, let’s just let my posts for the James Beard blog do it for me (no need to work twice). I also managed to upload a Flickr album of my pics of the evening—I’ll have a full recap of my week in New York in the next issue of tablehopper. For now, I have to be honest—it’s the most gorgeous day outside, and I really want to be in it. (Or as Frank would say, I want to be a part of it.) Fortunately I have two guest writers today, because this one is tapped out and checking out!

Congrats to everyone—I raise my iced coffee (and my poor, tired feet)!

Marcia Gagliardi

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