November 2010

November 30, 2010
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Cecina and suadero tacos at Rico’s Tacos.

That four-day weekend was delicious in many ways: it was wonderful to hang with the family over a simply outstanding Thanksgiving meal, and according to what I was reading on Twitter, I think a lot of us enjoyed some time at home, napping (and grappling with various levels of food comas). Mine was all about work hard (SF guidebook updating) and play hard (dancing, and what bordered on competitive eating—kidding—well, kind of).

Big kudos to all the volunteers who generously donated their time and skills over the holiday to feeding people who are less fortunate—I was hearing stories from a number of folks who helped out at shelters and soup kitchens around the city. Good stuff, Maynard. (Speaking of helping others, please take a look at this week’s entry about the ECS holiday happy hour and the adopt a resident program, thanks.)

I’ve been having fun keeping warm with spicy food (homemade chili, some wicked salsa roja at Rico’s Tacos on 24th Street, and burning my face off with Szechuan food in Chinatown), so I’m hoping there’s going to be some feisty peperoncino making an appearance in the upcoming Calabrese dinner at A16 this Sunday December 5th with Rosetta Costantino (it’s a Book Passage/Cooks with Books event).

Keep toasty (and dry) out there!

Marcia Gagliardi

November 23, 2010
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Last year’s plate o’ plenty.

The interwebs are blowing up with Thanksgiving discussions, from tweets about people brining their turkeys, to small businesses reminding you they will be closed on Thursday and Friday (including yours truly—no Friday column from me!), to announcements about pop-up turducken sandwich stands. I’ve been happily following it all, and looking forward to spending time with my parents, sister, and grandma this Thursday, on my favorite holiday of the year. And oh yes, there will be giblet gravy.

But it’s amazing how quickly none of this stuff matters when you’re unexpectedly sitting with your parents in the waiting room at the ER on a Monday night, with your sister admitted for severe abdominal pain. Fearful about a ruptured appendix, and peritonitis. Fortunately sis was released late last night, appendix intact, and will just have to be taking it easy over the next week, with a few more tests and doctor appointments on the horizon. (Exhale.)

But last night really put things into VERY CLEAR PERSPECTIVE. (Which seems to be happening again and again this year.) We are so fragile. And precious. And things can change very quickly in our lives. So this Thursday, as we sit around our tables with loved ones—both relatives and chosen ones—it really doesn’t matter if the turkey is dry, the pumpkin pie crust got slightly burnt, or the stuffing is underseasoned. What matters is those people you are sitting around the table with—and those you wish could be there, but can’t.

Here’s wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving. Truly.

With gratitude,

Marcia Gagliardi

November 19, 2010
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A Dining By Design table by Billy Cook, Taste Catering, and Gump’s.

Oh yeah, a doozy of a storm is getting ready to roll in, and I’m already strategizing the weekend around the weather (open-toed shoes for the Red Tie Gala tonight—maybe not so smart; riding my bike in the rain—not gonna happen; olive oil harvest party in Petaluma tomorrow—likely to be soggy).

Today’s fresh meat writeup of Wayfare Tavern is full of the hearty and cold weather food you’d likely want this weekend. (Poutine, check.) After attending DIFFA’s ever-entertaining Dining By Design/Table Hop and Taste event on Wednesday, my friend and I had such a cozy meal at Suppenküche—always warms me up in there, from the beer to the friendly people to the tasty boar sausage and spätzle I had. Prost to that!

Keep toasty, see you on Tuesday.

Marcia Gagliardi

November 16, 2010
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Chris Lee stirring his cioppino (yes, in a boat!) at OPENwater.

Greetings from the land of tech woes, glitches, and annoyances (which is why you didn’t receive a newsletter on Friday—I was too mired in tech support). Pfffft. Fortunately things are all systems go again.

Let’s focus on the fun stuff. Fortunately last week was heavy on the delicious scale (let’s ignore that other scale for a moment): a charming dinner (that included a Turkish coffee ground reading) at Pera in Potrero Hill; an epic tasting menu at Acquerello, complete with a white truffle course (yes, updating the Fodor’s SF guidebook definitely has its perks—it has me going to places all over town right now); and discovering how much I love the Martinez cocktail at Comstock Saloon (and their pickled eggs on rye, Hangtown style). Meow.

This weekend I also got some “culcha” in, with a night at the opera (The Makropulos Case is brilliant—make time to go see it if you can), and some late-night dancing in, too. Sunday night was the thought-provoking and impressive OPENwater event at Hangar One in Alameda. It was like a science fair-meets-maritime-themed restaurant, with a cocktail sideshow (which included the opportunity to taste a martini spritzed with a custom ambergris tincture Lance Winters made), and clever installations. Every component of the event had a purpose, thought, or message—all the way to the Sunday night Chinook salmon-themed dinner that purposefully had no salmon. (It did, however, feature a wonderful cioppino by Chris Lee of Eccolo.) I’ll post pics soon!

This week will be awash in wine, from checking out the new How Wine Became Modern exhibit at SFMOMA to PinotFest (oh, and this Thursday there’s a repeat of the very cool Riedel wineglass tasting I did for anyone who’s interested!).

Cheers from here.

Marcia Gagliardi

November 9, 2010
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Christa Manalo’s milk punch.

Yeah, there are a couple events in this week’s lush that will contribute to the falling down part. The same could be said of the milk punch, martini, and Normandy cocktail at the SF Food Wars Ultimate Potluck Cocktail Brunch on Sunday morning at the Ferry Building, celebrating the launch of Amanda Hesser’s The Essential New York Times Cookbook. The event definitely had a fall feeling, from Jake Godby/Humphry Slocombe’s Indian pudding to Jen Musty/Batter Bakery’s date spice cake to Elisabeth Prueitt/Tartine Bakery’s wonderful poached pears—everything was made from/inspired by recipes in the cookbook.

Hey, are you thinking about dining out this week? If you’re going out tonight, please take a look at the list of restaurants on the Bay Area Dine Out for Meals on Wheels page. A percentage of the proceeds from your dinner will help provide meals for seniors in need. And if you’re going out on Wednesday night, please consider dining at one of these 35 restaurants in the Mission, all part of the Food For Thought charity dining event for Mission Graduates.

And be sure to check out the weekend’s upcoming OPENwater event in the socialite—it’s one you won’t want to miss. I will also say the same thing about my Thursday evening book and bubbles event at Domaine Carneros!

See you!

Marcia Gagliardi

November 5, 2010
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Blind Domaine Carneros and grower Champagne tasting.

Thank god all that Giants madness is over—Wednesday was one of the most ridiculous days I’ve ever seen in the City. And of course I had to get to a tasting at 11am at Montgomery and Sacramento—yeah, right in the thick of things. It’s days like that when I really loooooove my bike—it’s like a magic carpet. Well, a human-powered one that is no fun on hills, but whatever.

Speaking of that tasting—it was a blind tasting of Domaine Carneros sparkling wines and grower Champagnes. Really fascinating, and it got me all fired up for my event on Thursday November 11th at Domaine Carneros. We’ll be tasting some of their oh-so excellent sparklers, with some bites by Janine Falvo of Carneros Bistro & Wine Bar. I’ll be there to chat about my book (and sign it for you!), answer restaurant questions, and basically have a kickass evening with you. It’s also a beautiful property (have you ever been?), so I say get out of town for a fun little evening excursion and let’s hang out! 5:30pm. Be there—or be bubble-less.

I have so much work to do this weekend that it’s almost enough to make me cry. Total overload. So I gotta go. Fortunately I’ve received such good mail over the past few days (i.e. the edible kind) that at least the larder is full and making tablehopper HQ a happy place to be.

Have a swell weekend.

Marcia Gagliardi

November 2, 2010
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My birthday cheesecake from Zanze’s.

Wow, I can’t even think of the last time the city has exploded like it did last night. The Giants did our city proud, but whoa, some of our citizens did not. The vandalism, assaults, and hello, burning mattresses, were downright embarrassing. A fired-up street party, cool—but aggressive mob mentality? Nope. Here’s hoping we can redeem some bad behavior by all going out to VOTE today.

The past few days have been full of some ups and downs… Let’s start with the fun stuff, like my favorite thing to read on Twitter over the weekend: #Foodbooksinmypants. This weather totally and completely rocks. I had a wonderful birthday dinner with my family last night (my dad made his supremely delicate homemade fettuccine, pure magic with my mom’s amazing tomato sauce—and we all enjoyed the soufflé-like Zanze’s cheesecake I picked up). And I was also really happy with the news that the ever-jovial and friendly chef Hoss Zaré is home recuperating and doing well after suffering a heart attack last week. As your Facebook page attests, the city loves ya, Hoss! Take good care, rest, and heal up.

We are all so very precious.

Marcia Gagliardi

This issue is dedicated to the memory of the lovely, kind, generous, and cultured Kate Horan. She was so thoughtful, full of joie de vivre, a fellow lover of all things Italian, and a delight to know and work with. My heart goes out to her family and friends struggling with this horrific and shocking loss. The world is a darker place with her absence in it.

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