October 2010

October 29, 2010
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A market shot at Frances.

How much did I love falling asleep last night to the sound of rain? Quite. And based on all the tweets I saw on the same subject, I know I am not alone. But I really can’t believe it’s already the end of October, the mind reels. Somebody slow this thing down, damn it! No brakes!

Many of you are gearing up for a full-tilt Halloween weekend (here are a few ideas for you), and of course World Series watching (pow pow!), but personally, I’m fired up to celebrate my birthday with friends over our big annual dinner together. I’ll be working a half day on Monday (the actual day) so I can have dinner with my family that evening, which provided a perfect excuse to ask my dad to make some pasta for dinner (heh). Oh yeah, and I’ll be picking up a cheesecake from Zanze’s, can’t wait.

So here’s a little afternoon reading for you, hope you enjoy it.

Happy Halloween and GO GIANTS!

Marcia Gagliardi

October 26, 2010
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The interior of the cheerful Parada on Haight Street.

What a week: the sports fans have the World Series to freak about (so funny how many dining rooms burst into shouts and applause on Saturday night, including the usually quiet-as-a-mouse Coi), and the culinary scene is buzzing about the Michelin ratings that came out today. More distractions: this week I have all kinds of news about three places in Upper Fillmore, meaty events, Halloween options, cool fundraisers, wine events… You’ll be busy.

And mark your calendar for my bubbly event at Domaine Carneros on November 11th—looks like we’ll have Janine Falvo from Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar cooking up some bites for the event (I also hear rumors of cheese). Oh, and the event is now from 5:30pm-7:30pm—let’s drink some fizz!

Cheers to all,

Marcia Gagliardi

October 22, 2010
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The bar at Ippuku.

Is it wrong to be excited about a rainy weekend? I like the idea of watching some movies, reading my book (am currently tucked into Boozehound, what else would you expect?), eating some udon, and being able to get some work done on Saturday without feeling bad that I’m not outside. But then again, with today’s review of Saison, it’s going to make me miss that warm, end-of-summer evening when I dined on their terrace just a couple weeks ago. Oh, and so much for me trying to keep my review under 800 words for this one—I just couldn’t. There’s too much going on there.

It’s been a great week: I got to take a really informative (and delicious) Champagne class at the SF Wine Center on Wednesday, taught by Jordan Mackay—already plotting my return for another class. More liquid lurve came in the form of some amazing shochus at Ippuku in Berkeley (tried some made from taro, buckwheat, and black sugar, awesome). Dinner was all kinds of delicious—from the chicken skin skewers to the tartare to the creamiest crab croquettes—and it was the easiest BART trip (it’s just a block from the Downtown Berkeley station). Am ready to go back for some chicken ramen—and what a cool design aesthetic, loves! (I’ll be writing it up soon, along with some other places I’ve been visiting recently in the 510—I know, shocking, I crossed the bridge!).

In the meantime, keep toasty, and buon weekend!

Marcia Gagliardi

This issue is dedicated to the lovely Berit Sailor Beebe Read, who just came into this world last night! Mwah!

October 19, 2010
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Late-night bite at It’s Tops.

You see that waffle? Yeah baby, old school—especially with those little pats of butter. What you can’t see is inside that waffle there are strips of bacon. Oh hell yes. Bacon. Waffle. That is exactly the kind of meal you want at 1am after running around the Treasure Island Music Festival all day in the chilly wind, getting rained on while waiting in line for a bus back to SF, walking for blocks in the SoMa wind, and fighting to get a cab with a bunch of other festival-goers after getting dropped off at AT&T Park… It’s enough to make someone freaking hangry—hence the additional sausage on the side. Meat-tastic! Thanks to It’s Tops for being my little bacon beacon (open since 1935, yo!).

Tonight I’m going to a friends and family dinner at the soon-to-open Locavore, so I’ll share more about it in the Friday issue (which is when you’ll also be able to read about Grub on Valencia, which is finally opening this weekend). And for this week’s giveaway, I have a special kind of sugar mama: tickets to the legendary Yusef Lateef’s Friday night show at Grace Cathedral! Maybe I’ll see you there?

Today’s hot SF topics: the Giants (!!), and who made it in the Michelin Bib Gourmand list (restaurants serving two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less, tax and gratuity not included—although hmmm, some of these selections strike me as a bit challenging, unless you only order a salad). Discuss.

Ciao and meow,

Marcia Gagliardi

October 15, 2010
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Sweets from Knead Patisserie (including the evil pomme d’amour).

What an epic week. This weather is making people frisky, and definitely more relaxed. And dare I say nicer? Last night, at Jacques Pépin’s 75th birthday party upstairs at Waterbar, guests got to take advantage of both outdoor terraces—let’s just say the view of the water and the Bay Bridge is even prettier on a warm evening. I’ve been riding my bike all over town—and it feels like everyone else is, too. I’ve also been staying out way too late this week—it’s like I’m on summer break, well, until my alarm goes off in the morning.

We deserve warm weather more often, can I petition for it? (Oh wait, we’re too busy fighting over the Blue Bottle Coffee cart in Dolores Park. Ahem.) I’m also trying to ignore the RAIN in the forecast for Sunday—going to the Treasure Island Music Festival in a raincoat is not what I had in mind for the weekend. Lame.

Okay, I have a ton of writing to do today—time to flip on the afterburners so I can get out there and play this evening. Operative word: alfresco.

Ciao ciao!

Marcia Gagliardi

October 12, 2010
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Tomatoes and melons at Saison.

Awwww yeah, we get another blast of Indian summer heat, and I am already happily plotting a week of evening bike rides and outdoor excursions. One place that should absolutely be on the top of your list is the patio at Saison, overlooking the hearth, where I had one of my most atmospheric and captivating meals last Friday. And with this last gasp of warm weather? If you can spring for the $98 tasting menu, go for it—it’s all kinds of special. (Look for a writeup soon.)

Whatcha doing Wednesday night? You really should be coming to the Wine & Spirits Top 100 tasting event! Not only because I will be there selling my book (come by and say hi!), but I just got the lineup of what the New & Notable restaurants (as voted by the magazine) will be serving, and let me tell you, it’s good. The afore-mentioned Saison will be serving their delicious chicken liver mousse with huckleberries, Asian pear, and rose, Nombe will have wagyu beef tataki, Comstock Saloon is bringing pickled eggs toast (Hangtown-style Firebrand bakery rye bread with pickled eggs, bacon, and oyster dressing), Hog Island will be shucking oysters… the list goes on. And Barefoot Coffee will have an espresso for you at the end of the night! Click here for tickets before 5:30pm tonight, when sales end! (And tablehopper readers get 10% off with code TBLEHOP10.)

Thursday I’m going to be swinging by Waterbar to toast chef Jacques Pépin, who will be hosting a 75th birthday reception with KQED from 6pm-8pm. (You can still get tickets—and there’s also a dinner menu available in the main dining room, which includes a hand-drawn menu by none other than Jacques himself.)

My week started with a bang on Sunday night, attending the clandestine industry party celebrating the 500th birthday of Benedictine at the Old Mint (have you been in the restored building yet?—it’s remarkable). The Bon Vivants know how to throw a soirée (and it was completely monk free)—plus we got a rare taste of Benedictine from 1935! And now I’m already looking to the weekend, which is all about the Treasure Island Music Festival—gonna go get rowdy both days, oh you know it.

Have fun out there.

Marcia Gagliardi

October 8, 2010
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At Una Pizza Napoletana.

TGIF. I could use a few things, like an extra day in the week to get all my work done, and write a second review for today, damn. I’d like someone to answer all these emails for me, thanks. And yes, I guess I could use a drink. Since I figured you might need one as well, today’s fresh meat is exactly where you can find a cure for what ails you. (I’m also doing a giveaway in the sugar mama for a party later this month, rock on.)

Tomorrow is FallFest, but I’m actually going to be filming with the Food Network Canada team again for their show, Eat St. I know, exciting! Yesterday I was stuffing my face with a porchetta sandwich from RoliRoti—oh so terrible, right? And tomorrow is looking like…lumpia! (The segment is about street food, and will be airing in Spring 2011.)

Oh, and Wednesday night, I finally got a chance to visit the latest pizza church, Una Pizza Napoletana, for a pie. Two words: mamma mia.

Buon weekend!

Marcia Gagliardi

October 5, 2010
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Gazpacho from my event at Bardessono.

No, this week’s title is not in honor of WhiskyWeek, or my current condition (I am quite painfully sober getting today’s column out, thankyouverymuch). But this week is a doozy—there are too many cool things happening, and I have the exploding inbox to prove it. So get comfortable, pour yourself a little something something, and I hope you enjoy this afternoon’s pile o’ pixels.

One thing in particular I’d like to point you to is my recap of last night’s presentation with René Redzepi—the event was all kinds of awesome (and very inspirational). I was also lucky to be able to send him some questions last week, so there’s a brief Q&A with him in my piece as well.

As soon as this thing hits the wires, I am packing up for an evening trip to Napa: will be heading to the Food & Wine American Wine Awards party at FARM, and then off to dinner. Looking forward to enjoying this amazing fall weather while in wine country tonight—I adore this time of year (and I know I am not alone).

See you Friday…

Marcia Gagliardi

October 1, 2010
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Caramel cake at Fremont Diner.

This week has been a category three hurricane of eating, like a private tasting event Sunday night at Saison highlighting Robert Mondavi Winery’s To Kalon wines (along with sniffing soil with Laura Parker—sounds hardcore but I promise, it wasn’t that kind of party), a white-tablecloth lunch at Thermidor, a late-night dinner at Café des Amis (great to see the place positively buzzing at 10pm on a Wednesday night), and then an all-day road trip on Thursday, starting with lunch at Fremont Diner, then a delicious wine tasting at Robert Sinskey Vineyards, followed by my happy hour event at Bardessono, and then a late-night dinner at Morimoto in Napa.

Oy.

It was a gorgeous evening in Yountville last night—thanks to everyone who so kindly came to the event! The Charbay cocktails hit the spot, and chef Sean O’Toole’s hors d’oeuvres make you challenge any shred of self control you have to eat just one. And Morimoto? Wow, that restaurant is really something special—am still thinking about the spectacular presentations, the taste of the custardy tofu they make tableside, and what a cool scene it was.

Yeah, talk about over-fed—restaurant booths have become my own personal veal fattening pen. Fortunately I’ve managed to get some exercise in every day so I don’t turn into el gran blimpo—things are already precarious. Like the hurricane category level states, “Devastating damage will occur.” To be honest, I am thrilled to have a home-cooked meal with my parents this weekend. (And it’ll probably be my favorite meal of the week.)

But one other meal of note is coming up this Sunday October 3rd: the eighth annual CUESA Sunday Supper. There’s a cocktail reception, with over 30 hors d’oeuvres stations and wines, and then the big feast, served family style in the Ferry Building’s Grand Hall, including a whole-beast tableside carving and 60 chefs who are contributing their talents to this meal. So whatcha waiting for? Get your tickets here and help contribute to a great organization.

One last thing to note: I’ve made a stylistic decision here at tablehopper regarding my restaurant reviews. From here on out, they’re going to be a quite a bit shorter in order to cover more places. While I enjoy writing longer-form reviews, there are just too many places I eat at and want to share with you, so it’s hard to be limited to one big review each week. So, it’s shorty time. I’ll just try to cover the salient points: why you want to go there (and when), what to order, why the chef rocks, and any other important things you need to know, like, are the bartenders hot?

So, let’s get this week started with a hardhat about the upcoming Twenty Five Lusk, and two, count ‘em, two capsule reviews of affordable and mighty tasty places in the Mission. I hope you enjoy the new review format.

See ya on the treadmill,

Marcia Gagliardi

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