August 2010

August 31, 2010
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A Cavallo, from 2007.

I can’t believe I am having to write two tablehoppers in one day, but such is my “boss of me” life. By the time you get this, I will already be kickin’ it in my camp in Black Rock City, blissfully unaware of my exploding inbox, RSS feed, Twitter account, Facebook, and cell phone, and paying more attention to dust storms, heavy bass, art cars, where the hell is my sliced hot coppa in my cooler, and carrying on with my dear friends, once I find them out there.

I tried to get some tidbits together before my departure—but who knows if Una Pizza Napoletana will really be opening on September 8th, or if The Summit is going to open next week, or if Ragazza sets an opening date for this month? I plan to have answers to these questions and more when I return to your inbox on September 10th.

Oh, one answer I do have for you is which salsa was which in the Déjà Vu: The Salsa Edition quiz. Only four of you got it right: Salsa A was from Tacolicious, and Salsa B is from Papito. As for which salsa trio presentation was served to the dining public first, the answer is… Tacolicious.

Ta!

Dustily yours,

Marcia Gagliardi

August 27, 2010
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Szechuan pickles at Mission Chinese Food.

Well, yesterday was fun: I was invited to return to Michael Krasny’s Forum on KQED to discuss the local restaurant scene, along with Jan Newberry of San Francisco magazine, Jonathan Kauffman of SF Weekly, and Stett Holbrook of Metro Silicon Valley. We probably could have rapped about our favorite places for another hour at least, and of COURSE you think of eight other things you could have said after the show wraps up, but here’s a link to the show in case you’d like to listen to the hour we did have.

One dish I mentioned on the show was the sick, bacon-y burger I recently sunk my choppers into at newcomer Don Pisto’s—it’s like a little Baja beacon in North Beach. I hope you enjoy reading all about it in fresh meat.

Okay, I need to get back to packing up these bins of bungee cords and clamps and rope and rebar, make and freeze some pozole for my night of camp kitchen duty, glue gun pink tassel fringe on my bike, clean out these five-gallon water bottles, finish grocery shopping, start freezing some water bottles into ice blocks, and and and! Oh yeah, and write three pieces before I leave for Burning Man on Sunday. Sure, no problem.

I’ll be back in your inbox (virtually) this coming Tuesday, and then I’m leaving you in peace until September 10th. So with that, have a great Labor Day weekend, catch you on the flip side! Woot woot!

Marcia Gagliardi

August 24, 2010
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Bissap from Chiefo’s Kitchen (at the SF Street Food Festival).

And now it’s the time of the year when I throw some gas on the fire, literally. I’m furiously getting ready to head off to the playa this Sunday for a week, and things are gettin’ crazy here at the homestead. Burning Man has quite literally exploded all over my apartment (and I know I’m far from alone in this current condition).

I’ll have a newsletter all queued up to go out next Tuesday the 31st, but since I’m not returning to urban life until Monday September 6th, you probably won’t hear from me again until that Friday the 10th. I will be completely, totally, and joyfully unavailable on email and my cell until I return on the 6th, so please take it easy on my email inbox, thanks.

And then, here’s where it gets ridiculous, because I am flying to France for a week on Saturday September 11th to tour Champagne during harvest. I know, go ahead, I would hate me, too. But for this bubbly-loving lady, this trip is a dream come true. I’ll also be staying over for a few days in Paris at the end of the trip, can’t wait. I haven’t been to Paris since I was 20 (mon dieu), so there’s a lot I have to catch up on. I have a long list going already, but I’d love any recommendations and super-duper finds from those of you who have been to Paris recently! This trip is definitely on the affordable end of things (Burning Man and tax quarterlies do not make for a plush travel budget), so please, no three-star restaurant recos, because it ain’t gonna happen. My accommodations in Paris also got a little tenuous, so if any of you folks happen to have (or know of) a pied-à-terre I could stay at, the hotline is open and operators are standing by.

I’ll be too busy running last-minute errands this weekend, but I imagine many of you will make it across the bay to the Eat Real Fest, which looks like a winner (there’s also this Hodo Soy and Recchiuti event and the Waterbar OysterFest this Saturday!).

Oh, and you have one more day to bid on my La Cocina silent auction item, which is a night on the town tablehoppin’ at some of the city’s best (and newest) tables with me! Thanks to everyone who has placed bids, and the generous restaurants donating the dishes—means a bunch.

Enjoy this gorg weather—summer finally arrived with a bang.

Marcia Gagliardi

August 20, 2010
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Michelada and salsa at Don Pisto’s.

How the hell is it August 20th. Really? REALLY? I’m very happy with my tomatoes and peaches right now, but the whirring calendar is freaking me out a bit. I guess this Gorillas in the Mist summer of ours is making me mourn its departure because it barely showed up—I’m left banking on a couple months with some blasts of Indian Summer heat. Show me the money.

In the meantime, it’s looking like Saturday’s ~SF STREET FOOD FESTIVAL~ is going to include some Mission sun. Maybe. Hopefully. Please?

And speaking of the event, have you had a chance to look at the tablehopper item in the silent auction? It’s a night on the town with me, tablehopping to four different restaurants (through their generous donations), and traveling in style through Carried Away. So, you wanna know where we’re going? Oh yeah you do, check it out: you’ll start with some bubbles from the Carried Away ladies, and then we’re off to Thermidor for appetizers (hello pommes dauphine!), then Prospect for our main dishes, to the lovely lounge at Coi for some of Bill Corbett’s stellar desserts, and then a post-prandial cocktail at Comstock Saloon. Can you handle it? I know, it’s one hell of a night. And I’m the last person who will get cranky with you for taking pictures of your food! Here’s where to place your bid! Bidding ends August 26th! Let’s hit the town.

This week was pretty epic: got to take a dear young lady out for her 16th birthday to Farallon (happy birthday dear Olivia!)—she got to experience her first tastes of caviar and foie gras, while yours truly got spoiled with tastes of a 1960 Mouton Rothschild and 1962 Château Margaux from a couple of fab-u-lous guests with an epic wine cellar. Meow. Wednesday was all about making meatballs for another friend’s birthday, and last night my sis and I gorged on the menu at Don Pisto’s in North Beach. Whole lobster cooked in rendered pork fat, can you believe? Ay yi yi.

Since it’s Friday, I thought I’d include some lush-worthy hitting-the-town news, where to get your big gay ice cream on Sunday, and I have a review for you of a little gem in the Inner Sunset, Curry Village—in fact, they’re launching a weekend dinner buffet this Saturday, so you could check them out for a paltry $13.99.

TGIF!

Marcia Gagliardi

August 17, 2010
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Here’s one way to make it through SF Chefs. (Oh, Shotzi.)

Last week was ridiculous—what a whirlwind. I know so many chefs, bartenders, heck, the majority of the industry is worn the hell out. The theme should be SF Chefs: Take No Prisoners. Kudos to everyone for putting on such a strong showing, especially with multiple events each day and night. (Staying out until 3am both Friday and Saturday night did me in for sure.)

My Friday night Happy Ending party at E&O Trading Co. was a blast—a huge thanks to everyone who came and participated: Adobo Hobo, Nombe, Turtle Tower, Soul Cocina, Betelnut, Basil Canteen, Azalina, DeLise Dessert Café, Seoul on Wheels, the Bon Vivants, our fab downstairs bar staff (Brian MacGregor, Victoria d’Amato-Moran, Kim Morini, Nancy Do), and DJ Jeffrey Paradise. A very special thanks to the welcoming and oh-so pro E&O staff, and everyone at Andrew Freeman & Co. for helping me organize that thing. I was too busy hosting to really document the event well, d’oh, but here are some of my pics. Fortunately there are additional (and much more professional!) pictures in this Betelnut Facebook photo album—with plenty of food shots.

I also swung by the Hog in the Fog party on Friday night to check things out for an hour or so before my par-tay, pics here. And after my talk at the Book Passage Travel, Food, & Photography Conference on Saturday (and a disco nap), I rallied for the Fork It Over Foodraiser (pics here), and the after party at Wayfare Tavern. On Sunday, let’s just say I had to pull it on over (I pried myself out of bed for my trainer session in the park that morning and thought I was going to die).

This weekend, it’s another huge party: La Cocina’s Street Food Festival in the Mission; read all about it in the socialite. It’s also looking like a week full of LOTS of exercise or I’m gonna turn into Jabba the Hut, kee-rist. And I can’t believe I’m leaving for Burning Man in less than two weeks—ay yi yi.

Pop the clutch.

Marcia Gagliardi

August 13, 2010
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Last year: burrata, greens from Pizza Antica.

What on earth am I trying to do to myself, implode? Yeah, it makes for a busy week when you have to plan a 300-person event. Life=consumed. Tonight’s Happy Ending is going to be a blast—sorry to say, we are sold out. There may be a few tickets available for sale at the door, but it’s completely contingent on capacity, so no guarantees. But it’s worth a shot if you want to swing by! And we’ll also have the fab Seoul on Wheels truck parked out in front of E&O Trading Co. all day and night in case you want a bite. The party gets started at 10pm. Le woot.

I have a few random tidbits for you in today’s column, so dig in. And have a swell weekend—hope to see you at Happy Ending, or many of the other fantastic SF Chefs events over the next few days. I am so ready for a drink.

Ciao!

Marcia Gagliardi

August 10, 2010
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Today is my annual sad day—the day I leave the lake. My family understands, heck, anyone who comes up to Lake Tahoe regularly does. This place is so special—and it’s not just because I’ve spent every summer in the same cabin in Tahoma (West Shore) since I was a baby. It’s a powerful thing to have a place to return to every year, one that is familiar, and has a smell you recognize upon your arrival. I like knowing the skinny patch in the cove where I can walk into the lake on sand instead of hard stones, the way the water makes every cell in your body spring to life upon your first dive in, having the video store lady greet me warmly after a year’s absence, seeing Gary Romano at the Tahoe City farmers’ market with his incomparable greens, and after a week, intimately knowing the playlist on The River, the classic rock station I listen to up here. Yeah, it was good to get out of town.

But, back to the rat race. And it’s shaping up to be one hell of a busy week. Starting tomorrow afternoon, when I will be moderating a panel as part of SF Chefs week. The panel, an industry seminar entitled Hospitalitarianism: Love Thy Guest, is featuring quite the lineup of local service luminaries: Umberto Gibin (Perbacco, barbacco), Annie Stoll (Delfina), Giancarlo Paterlini (Acquerello), Nick Peyton (Cyrus), and Tim Stannard (Spruce, Café Des Amis). It starts at 3pm, come on by for sure-to-be-insightful answers to the questions I’ll be asking.

Friday evening is the big opening party for SF Chefs (Hog in the Fog), but don’t eat toooo much pig, because the after party I’m hosting at E&O, Happy Ending, is featuring all kinds of delicious. The lineup of Asian street food already has me hangry, and the bevvies are also going to get spirits high (har). Big thanks to liquor sponsors Brown Forman Spirits, wine sponsors Robert Sinskey and Honig (nope, we don’t mess around), and Blue Moon and Tiger beers. The party gets started at 10pm, and DJ Jeffrey Paradise will have us partying until 1am. Tickets are selling quick, get yours here.

Saturday I am going to have to shake the after hours outta my head and hair, and scoot up to Corte Madera for the Book Passage Travel, Food, & Photography Conference (my presentation is I Did It My Way—A Talk with the Tablehopper). Looking forward to seeing who’s attending. And then I’ll be hustling back to town for more SF Chefs parties that evening. Sunday: lather, rinse, repeat with more SF Chefs shampoo.

And with that, it’s time for my last dip in the lake… Ciao!

Marcia Gagliardi

August 3, 2010
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Aziza’s albacore with sea beans, cucumber, and black garlic.

I am so ready to punch the clock. Lake Tahoe, your 80-degree weather and sun and squirrels and chilly nights (and even colder lake) and mountain air are calllllling meeeeee. Although boy, do I have a lot of work to get done before I hit the road. Leaving town: it’s like a military campaign—and Alexander the Great never had to deal with this many emails.

My weekend featured a call-the-cops amount of delicious food, from brunch at SPQR (uh, yeah, let’s just talk about the sunny-side up eggs, with ribbons of crispy pig ears and fingerling potatoes, all blessed with a chile vinaigrette) to a friend’s birthday dinner/tour de flavor at Aziza (damn, chef Mourad Lahlou and chef de cuisine Louis Maldonado are doing some seriously envelope-pushing dishes and executions over there, and so pretty, too—just look at this albacore with sea beans, cucumber, and a base of black garlic. Oh, and did I mention the harissa pretzel rolls?) Sunday night was about dialing things down to simple pleasures, with burgers at Roam Artisan Burgers on Union Street: the Tejano—with pepper jack, jalapeño relish, avocado, white corn strips (crunch crunch), herb ranch, and I requested a bison patty—totally won me over with its added texture component. Chips in a burger, oh yes. And vegetarians, they make an excellent vegetarian patty. (More on all this soon.)

Yo folks, I have some excellent news: we have even more kickass vendors added to the tablehopper Happy Ending after-hours party next Friday night at E&O: Turtle Tower will be there debuting their bahn mi, Basil Canteen will be serving Thai dumplings called sakhoo saimu (tapioca dumplings of pork and peanuts wrapped in lettuce), and the lovely duo from DeLise Dessert Café will be scooping some of their ice creams and sorbets (hello, coconut pandan). Oh yeah, baby. Get your tickets and more info here.

Hope to see you next Friday—let’s par-tay!

Marcia Gagliardi

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