July 2010

July 30, 2010
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Panisse frites at Frances.

Oh yeah, let’s hear it for another foggy and cold-ass weekend. AM I CRANKY? What on earth gave you that idea? Fortunately, there were many things to keep me from becoming toooo fussy this week, from panisse frites and bacon beignets at Frances, to deviled eggs and fried chicken at Wayfare Tavern, and some late-night turkey-and-mole banana-leaf tamales and Mexican hot chocolate at La Oaxaqueña. And I had a total blast guest bartending at Jardinière Wednesday night—thanks to everyone who came by for an Enchantress! (It’s a good drink to now have in my arsenal.) Yup, these are exactly the things to keep baby from fussing in her crib.

Perhaps my most poignant meal, however, was last night’s repast at the ECS center, where the current class of students in the CHEFS (Conquering Homelessness through Employment in Food Service) program created a mock restaurant for the evening. The kitchen did an excellent job with timing, and I had a delicious apricot-glazed guinea hen stuffed with couscous. I know, impressive. (Here’s a pic of the class taking care of business.)

And so, I am very keen to sell out the upcoming Happy Ending event I am putting on in conjunction with E&O Trading Co. and the SF Chefs event on August 13th—because any money made after covering expenses is going toward the incredible CHEFS program. And hello, it’s going to be a rocking late-night party, so I do hope you’ll come join me, feast on authentic Asian street food from talented cooks (the list keeps growing), and let’s cheers with delish cocktails. (This will all be to a most-excellent soundtrack, of course.) Tickets and more info are right here.

And so, here’s a little reading material to get you through your Friday afternoon: a review of newcomer Heirloom Café, and a hardhat sneak peek of the upcoming Benu—I know, exciting!

Oh oh oh, and today is the last day to fill out the tablehopper questionnaire. Would ya? Could ya? Meow. (Many thanks to the hundreds of you who have filled it out, grazie!!!)

Have a fab weekend, in spite of the stupid weather.

Marcia Gagliardi

July 27, 2010
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The pastrami burger from Ahn’s.

Look at that burger. Isn’t it begging for a serious chomping? Thanks to a tip from an East Bay food-savvy friend, I can now say I have experienced the Ahn’s pastrami burger—an indulgent, messy, and completely unsustainable burger, which is why it only put me back $4.95 (plus $2.30 for fries). Go Oakland.

More cheap eats highlights: I went back to Off the Grid on Friday evening with a couple of friends, where we did a sisig taco tasting (we tried tacos from Adobo Hobo and Hapa SF—both were stupidly tasty, and with great texture), and plowed our way through some lumpia, hot dogs, a samosa, a huarache, and a quesadilla. Talk about a culinary mash-up. And yes, we left full, very full. Fortunately everything goes really well with beer. You can check out my mini Flickr album of the evening here.

I’m really fired up to announce I am co-hosting an after party for the SF Chefs opening event on August 13th called Happy Ending at E&O Trading Co. The event is highlighting Asian street food from local street food vendors and restaurants, with about eight stations in all (and of course some cocktails will be figuring prominently). Read all about it in the socialite—hope to see you there!

So, you coming to see me this Wednesday at the J Lounge at Jardinière? I’ll be guest bartending from 5:30pm-8pm, serving up a nice bourbon-y cocktail for you to enjoy, “The Enchantress.”

One other fun thing tomorrow: Bruce Hill’s Zero Zero is opening in SoMa, and you get the first peek at the menus here! I hope you had a filling lunch, because you’re liable to get a bit peckish reading about the pizzas (and more).

I am officially beginning my countdown—am leaving for Tahoe next week for a mini-break. Can’t wait to watch chipmunk TV and jump in that ice cold blue lake. Yeah, just one more week of this lame grey weather. At least it’s good eating weather, ha ha.

Marcia Gagliardi

July 20, 2010
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The bar at Café Rouge (Berkeley).

Boy, someone was the queen of naps this past weekend. I wasn’t sure if I was in a food coma, or just tired, or fighting something. Perhaps all three, because this kind of a lineup can wear you out: Friday night was all about a friends and family test dinner at Café des Amis, which opens Wednesday for dinner. The menu is the picture of appetizing, and high marks for their luxurious French onion soup and juicy chicken ballotine—great wine pairings, too. Saturday I went simple and had sushi at the counter at Ino (totally dug the smelt temaki with shiso—what an unexpected flavor party). Sunday was all about the takedown: the Lamb Jam event at Fort Mason. Whoa, there were a lot of talented chefs making a whole lotta lamb—it even had my friend waving the white flag toward the end (and his nickname is “The Pit,” so you know this event was serious). I totally passed out afterward for an hour at home like I had just finished a three-hour pranzo at my relatives’ in Italy or something. Mamma mia.

So, let’s talk about how much you rock, shall we? Thanks to all of you who filled out the tablehopper questionnaire! If you haven’t had a chance, if you could please fill it out over the next week or so—we’re surveying until Friday July 30th. Thanks muchissimo for your time (the questionnaire takes about 15 minutes)—your answers will help me (and tablehopper) immensely. Meow.

How is it July 20th already? Damn. Summer better get here quick—I’d like to get started on my tan. And make refreshing drinks. Speaking of drinks, I’ll be able to make you a cocktail when I’m guest bartending at Jardinière next week: check it out in the lush. Oh, and you might not get a visit from me this Friday—this week is all kinds of nuts. Crazy town. Wish me luck.

See ya on the track,

Marcia Gagliardi

July 16, 2010
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Pulling shots at Equator.

Hello from ‘hopper HQ. Guess who was out a little late last night? Yes, yours truly had a dear friend in town, so we had to tear it up a little. And speaking of tearing it up, this week’s review of Z & Y Restaurant is not messing around, so proceed with caution. Seriously, flip those hazards on.

Since I’m in need of a little extra caffeination today, I thought I’d share a pic from the espresso training and info class I attended at Equator up in San Rafael this week. It was amazing to pull a shot on their beautiful La Marzocco machine, and look at that crema! I so wish my home machine could do that kind of magic. (This was the Ethiopian Amaro Gayo—what fruit! Total blueberry. And a bonus point: it comes from Ethiopia’s only female miller/exporter.)

Okay, beloved readers—it’s favor time. No, I’m not asking for money. Or for the last bite of your fried chicken sandwich (never!). But I am asking for a little bit of your time. See, I’m taking a look at some big-picture stuff for tablehopper, and I could use your input. I am working with two very smart and strategic planners on assessing my brand and business, and they have some questions for you. The tablehopper questionnaire should take about 15 minutes, which I know is a lot during these busy, busy days of ours. But your answers and input would be so freaking helpful—so can ya help a ‘hopper out? I’d be so very grateful. Maybe you can consider it a little coffee break with yours truly. (Sorry the conversation will be so one-sided.)

The link to the questionnaire is here. We’ll be collecting answers until Friday July 30th. And again, thanks for taking the time to help make tablehopper better, faster, and stronger—but hopefully not fatter. Meow.

Ready for the weekend? Uh huh! It’s full of all kinds of meaty potential, from the High on the Hog event at EPIC this Saturday, to the Lamb Jam on Sunday at Fort Mason (am looking forward to it).

Have a swell weekend!

Marcia Gagliardi

July 13, 2010
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A refrigerator at Citizen’s Band.

Hola, peeps. Up for something new to do this Friday evening? Last Friday night, a friend and I went to check out the new-ish Off the Grid gathering in the Fort Mason parking lot. What a cool event: there was an impressive lineup of street food vendors and numerous trucks serving crazy-delicious food hailing from all over the dang place, from India to Seoul to Malaysia. Check out my Flickr album to survey the damage we did—it was serious. Sorry the pics don’t come in Smell-O-Vision—let’s just say it was the best-smelling parking lot I’ve ever been to.

What I really was digging was how mixed the crowd was: young and older, hip and nerdy, and it was a total international mix, from Indians to Filipinos to Japanese, all hanging out and eating some sick vittles. Now, I don’t know if the nasty July weather—complete with a blustery wind—kept some folks away, but the lines were never too long and onerous, and hello, there’s a bar in the corner of the lot, so you can sip a margarita while you’re waiting for your kathi roll. It all happens again this Friday, 5pm-9pm.

Sunday my friends and I went to watch the World Cup final game in Civic Center, what a cool thing—here’s hoping they keep broadcasting future events here for everyone to watch together. (Space Cowboys playing afterward and all the street food stands were total gravy.)

Oh, and one more highlight from last week: I was invited to visit the temporary Levi’s Workshop at 580-582 Valencia, which is all about celebrating the craft and different forms of printmaking. Let’s just say the writer in me was pretty stoked to look at the different vintage letterpresses they have in there, and my wheels literally started turning with what I could create to print on their “open studio” days on Sundays (from 11am-8pm), when you can come in and get help from the talented staff using some of the equipment, including silkscreening. The calendar is full of all kinds of unique and arty events (heck, even Alice Waters is involved), but it all comes to an end on August 28th, when the next stop is New York (they will have a workshop on photography). And psssst, there are some super cool band show posters you can buy in there for $25—and all proceeds from anything sold at the workshop go to one of three local charities, like the Women’s Building (you can choose which charity).

Whatcha doing for lunch this Thursday July 15th? I have been invited by the Green Zebra folks to come to their Environmental Action Center at the farmers’ market in the Crocker Galleria to sign books! I’ll be there from 11:30am-1:30pm, and Kika’s Treats will be there with me, offering their tasty goodies! Details here. Hope to see you there!

This week, we have a couple new openings in the chatterbox, soirée options for Bastille Day, a bookworm that will inspire you to do something fab with all your stone fruit, and all kinds of sporty starlets.

Have fun out there.

Marcia Gagliardi

July 9, 2010
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Corned beef brisket at Local Mission Eatery.

You’ve almost made it to the finish line—well, those of you who work normal office hours. Congrats. I’ve been off that track for 10 years, but I can still appreciate Friday. I am also appreciating how many cool restaurant openings we have going on right now—keeps my job very interesting. This week I’m dedicating some serious pixels to the upcoming Café des Amis project opening in Cow Hollow on July 21st, from the Bacchus Management Group. It’s an impressive project—and I was lucky to get my mitts on a working draft of the menu, so I hope you enjoy today’s hardhat-meets-sneak peek.

This issue also features a revisit to Bar Tartine. It’s been pretty busy over there—now you can see why. (The delicious-looking sandwich to the right, however, is from Local Mission Eatery, where I recently had a fab lunch—another one to add to your roster.)

I’ll be back in your inbox on Tuesday with some fun Bastille Day options and more, but in the meantime, take a look in the lush for reminders on three cool upcoming wino events coming up on Sunday and Monday. You can also get out of town and head up to Sonoma on Sunday for some beautiful weather (and eats) at this Nido oven lunch. And of course there’s that mega soccer game match happening on Sunday… FUN!

Ciao for now!

Marcia Gagliardi

July 6, 2010
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Joe’s breakfast pizza from Downtown Bakery & Creamery.

How was your holiday weekend, folks? Let’s hear it for destination weddings. I got to spend the weekend up in Hopland; it’s past Healdsburg and Cloverdale on the 101—about 12 miles south of Ukiah for those of you who like to know such things. Talk about summer heat—I was definitely wilting in my car in the 98-degree daytime temperature, but the evenings were beautiful, full of crickets and stars. And it was great to finally visit the Graziano tasting room, a favorite winery of my parents (it was totally Arneis weather).

Of course, on my drive home yesterday, I had to stop in Healdsburg for a cappuccino from Flying Goat Coffee (j’adore the espresso drinks they pull there), and I brought a Joe’s breakfast pizza from Downtown Bakery & Creamery with me on the drive (definitely my idea of road food). A reader recently recommended that pizza to me, and all I can say is it’s a good thing that pizza is normally far, far away from me, mamma mia. (It’s a rocking combo of thinly sliced squash, mushrooms, bacon, fresh herbs, mozzarella, Asiago, and a farm-fresh egg in the middle.)

No comment on the fog bank that was waiting for me in the city, but a spicy dinner from Mission Chinese Food definitely helped perk me up—you can read about it in today’s issue, with news about all kinds of tasty things you can put in your maw. Oh yeah—and here are the latest pics in my Surpies! mini photo series, when I surprise friends and family with slices of the monthly pie I receive from Buttercup Grill. Haven’t had anyone say no yet.

Oh, and a couple more media notes: I now have a quick pick list on the Nirvino mobile app called “The Tablehopper’s Ten Wines That Put a Hop in Her Step.” And Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park put together this fun little video about my book—thanks guys!

Until Friday… Ciao!

Marcia Gagliardi

July 2, 2010
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Mission “motzu” tripe dish at Nombe.

Hello troublemakers. Are you ready for another sunny weekend? Yes, we quite deserve it. Enjoy every sunshine-y second. If we break San Francisco’s track record of colored fog for July 4th, I’ll be shocked. Sunday, Sunday, Sunday…

So for today’s installment, I wanted to share a few tidbits with you: a little Friday afternoon snack, if you will. Although this is not to imply the flavors at Nombe in today’s fresh meat review are even close to being an incidental little bite—they’re more on the scale of a Mack truck, so I’d suggest making some room.

Honk.

Marcia Gagliardi

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