January 2011

January 28, 2011
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Australian southern rock lobster. (“Look into my beady eyes.”)

Wah. My heart sank a little bit when I heard the foghorn go off last night, and sure enough, this morning’s workout in Alamo Square was a misty one. But, as I look out the window, I’m chanting Burn Baby Burn. Would love one more sunny afternoon. I wanna boogie, disco inferno style. Hey, it’s Friday.

This week’s issue continues on my 510 touring, this time to a couple places I visited in Berkeley in the late fall, Zut! on Fourth and Gather (I know, I lagged on writing these spots up—too damned busy, yo!).

Apropos of Fourth Street, this Sunday is a special gathering at Books Inc. Fourth Street, a book signing and panel discussion with ~LEGENDS OF THE GOURMET GHETTO~. L. John Harris (who just released Foodoodles: From the Museum of Culinary History) will be moderating a panel that includes Joyce Goldstein, Victoria Wise, Alice Medrich, and Bruce Aidells, who will tell stories and talk about their latest books, their first books, and the formative years of the California Cuisine movement as it emerged in North Berkeley—they will leave lots of time for Q&A. It’s at 5pm, and once it wraps up, everyone can go around the corner and munch on special dishes created in honor of “The Legends” at The Pasta Shop and Café Rouge.

This week has had me all over town, starting on Tuesday saying G’Day at a special Victoria Australia dinner held at Murray Circle, featuring visiting guest chef Guy Grossi from Melbourne. You wouldn’t have believed the 2kg rock lobster (you can do the conversion on your own) he showed us during a demo, which he used to stuff tortellini. Host chef Joseph Humphrey’s kitchen reportedly had a lot fun taking a break from their usual local/sustainable groove and using many imported ingredients, like the oh-so-tender Ausab Farms baby abalone that they barely cooked on the plancha.

Wednesday I was delivered a brand-new Acura TSX Sport Wagon to drive in conjunction with a piece I’m writing for the Foodie 411 site about Dine About Town. The wagon was delivered in a trailer, total race car style, and only had 13 miles on it. (I know, my life. It’s ridiculous.) I couldn’t stop laughing—I felt like I won the car or something. Suffice to say, I have been having fun getting around town in that thing. Sadly, the new car smell will be leaving my life tomorrow. I’ll let you know when my first post is up on Foodie 411 next week!

Have a groovy weekend, y’all. Beep beep.

Marcia Gagliardi

January 25, 2011
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Spicy tequila medicine at The Alembic.

Oh yeah, guess who kicked that cold to the freaking curb? (I think the spicy tequila drink the fab bar staff at The Alembic concocted for me what just what the disco doctor ordered.) Sorry, no time to be sick right now. Eff that. Especially when there is so much going on—I think you’re gonna be fired up with today’s column of discoveries (hello, even more barbecue) and some cool events. I’ll also admit I’m a bit cranky in a few items in today’s column, and please, hold the oh-so-tired “time of the month” jokes—‘cause you’d be wrong. Pffft.

Hey, have you bid on the Ragazza fundraiser auction yet? They keep getting more and more amazing items, so check it out and bid, yo. (Ends on Monday January 31st.)

Also, a little reminder that this is your last week to go pick up your free glass of bubbles at Dcantr, on me. (Details here.) I don’t know about you, but this weather is making me thirsty. Very, very thirsty.

See ya on a patio somewhere,

Marcia Gagliardi

January 21, 2011
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The counter at Citizen’s Band.

Unbelievable—I have successfully managed to catch another cold. That’s what I get for running out of my magic daily elixir, Green Vibrance (affectionately known as the Green Menace), and not replacing it in time. It makes me not want to touch anyone or anything for the next few months. Yeah, can you imagine? I start living in gloves, and show up at restaurants with my own pop-up plastic tent for the table.

Fortunately the cold struck after my wine class with Jordan Mackay at the SF Wine Center this past Wednesday (we plan to host it again, so those of you who couldn’t get tickets, please stand by!). It would have sucked to not be able to taste the wines (or the perfetto filetti pizza I ate at Una Pizza Napoletana after the class). I also had a belly-filling evening at Citizen’s Band on Tuesday night—have you had their mac ‘n’ cheese yet? Whooooooa Nelly.

So, today continues my 510 dining report, this time to the fabulous Ippuku in Berkeley (fellow 415-ers, you’ll want to head right over). I hoped to have two reviews for you in today’s issue, but I’m backing off (and maybe working from bed today—just because I can).

Have a swell, sunny, spring-like weekend.

Marcia Gagliardi

January 18, 2011
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Tower of power at the Fresca Italia table at the Fancy Food Show.

This week almost killed me with news (and next week isn’t looking any slower). It was definitely a weekend of (almost) competition eating, bookended with the Good Food Awards ceremony and tasting on Friday, and my trek to the Fancy Food Show on Sunday. (I also managed to get a meal at Bar Crudo in there on Saturday—did you know they now have a couple meaty items on their menu?)

This week has me busy co-hosting a Secrets of the Sommeliers wine event tomorrow evening with Jordan Mackay at the SF Wine Center. Sorry it’s sold out, but please have the Wine Center take your name down on the wait list, and we’ll see about maybe doing the class again soon. Speaking of wine, have you had a chance to take me up on my offer of a free glass of bubbles at Dcantr? (Details here.) Whatcha waiting for?

Oh, and I’ve been hearing people call me MARSHA lately. Seems like it’s time for a little reminder: it’s Marcia, “rhymes with Garcia”. Dammit.

Okay, it’s time for me to go outside and enjoy a little of this springy weather. This desk is boring me. Ciao!

Marcia Gagliardi

January 14, 2011
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At the chef’s counter at Plum in Oakland.

Hey, you busy freaking out about that dang thirteenth zodiac sign? I mean, really, what the hell? And the earthquakes, and crazy reports of birds falling out of the sky and flying into trucks… At least it isn’t Friday the thirteenth. And hopefully not the rapture. But it is time for Good Food Month, and Dine About Town, and the Fancy Food Show, and two “underground” markets this Saturday.

And, perhaps most importantly, it’s time for a drink.

As a thank you for all your support, and to cheers the New Year, from now until January 29th, 2011, you can swing by Dcantr (the wine bar adjacent to Saison) for a complimentary glass of Charles Duret, Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé, on me! (But hey, just one glass per person.) All you have to do is say the password “bubbles o’clock” to get your complimentary glass. It’s delicious, it’s pink, and it goes all too well with their chicken liver mousse. Cheers!

So, as you know, my restaurant reviews are always of San Francisco spots, unless I’m doing a jetsetter getaway piece about, say, Paris. It’s not that I am anti-Berkeley or adverse to dining in Marin—it’s just that there’s only one of me to get this dang column done each week, and try as I might, I can’t be everywhere. But there are many places I really love around the bay, so I thought for the next couple weeks, I’d cover some places in Oakland and Berkeley that I happily cross the Bay Bridge for. Sure, today’s two reviews are for restaurants that have been open for about a year or so, but I know plenty of San Franciscans who haven’t made the trek to them yet. So here’s hoping I can inspire a little cross-bay trip. Hell, I did it!

Oh, and one small note: sorry to report the I-Talian I-Ranian American Spaghetti Feed that was supposed to be at Long Bar on Monday has been postponed until late March—they decided to let the holiday madness subside a little first. FYI!

All-righty then, have a swell weekend (which is a three-day one for some of you!). But whether you have Monday off or not, may we all think of and honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the MLK Day of Service.

Marcia Gagliardi

January 11, 2011
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The eggs (by candlelight) in Cafe Jacqueline’s kitchen.

Can I just do a shout out for spicy food? I’m gonna, right now, because not only did it put some fire in my belly this past cold-as-hell week, but I think it also burned out this lame cold that has been lingering and way overstaying its presence in my life. Spices II said, “Begone! And don’t mess!” I also chomped on some delicious (and spicy!) lamb chops at Don Pisto’s on Saturday night, a kickass new menu item over there. I was actually supposed to be dining with friends at Cafe Jacqueline that night, but a nasty power outage in North Beach meant no soufflé for us! I think the universe was actually trying to take care of me, and steer me to spicier fare. Word.

I spent quite a bit of time home last week, so here are two things I was digging in my housebound state: free, fresh (and sometimes warm!) bagels delivered to my door on Mondays (all I have to pay for is a small delivery fee) from Sour Flour—yeah, bagel delivery! The other (not for the faint of heart) was the very dark and gory (but also kind of funny) horror movie Bitter Feast, about a New York chef/TV star who goes completely batshit when his career implodes—he kidnaps a food blogger who wrote a lousy review of his restaurant, and proceeds to exact some really demented revenge on the guy (out now on DVD and Video on Demand). (I’m sure there are some cooks and chefs out there who will dig it.)

Okay, back to my exploding inbox. Things are getting out of hand over here at ‘hopper HQ.

Ciao!
Marcia Gagliardi

January 7, 2011
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Clam chowder with fennel at Citizen Cake.

Hey there, how is everyone doing in their Victorian ice boxes? Let’s just say the wine in my apartment is at a perfect cellar temperature, and I’m coming up with some really disturbing wardrobe choices at home in an attempt to keep warm, kind of a “babushka-meets-hobo” look. I look like I have a screw loose. Maybe a couple. No matter, it’s just my UPS guy who sees me during the day. He can keep it as our little secret. (Shame he’s not one of the hot UPS guys in shorts, because it would be fun to keep another little secret as well. No dice there.)

Since we’re on the topic of secrets, The Bold Italic just posted a mini-interview with me, wherein I mention one of my favorite sandwich shops, where, as my sister put it, “It’s Thanksgiving all year!” And in the completely non-secret category is today’s fresh meat writeup of Plow, which just reopened after a short winter break. You’re gonna want to head on over. Mmm, potatoes.

Have fun hunting down your favorite soups, spicy food, and other things to keep you toasty. Or, in case you’re sipping something strong, toasted.

Cheers!
Marcia Gagliardi

January 4, 2011
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Kuay Tiew Moo Look Chin Pla at Lers Ros (aka #71, soup with pork, noodles, and fish balls).

Happy New Year, dear readers. Did you set it off? Blow 2010 up? Slash and burn it? Pop wheelies? Yours truly lived up to her name and managed to hit five parties, which included two dancefloors, and too many glasses of bubbly to count. It was a delicious weekend in bed, which included brunch in bed, dinner in bed, watching movies, reading, writing, and lots of snoozing. I guess all that running around in the rain ended up getting me after all, because now I’m a bit under the weather. Can’t say I didn’t deserve it.

Just wanted to give you a quick heads up that the upcoming Secrets of the Sommeliers event I am doing with Jordan Mackay at the SF Wine Center on Wednesday January 19th is selling briskly (thanks Daily Candy), so get your ticket now if you’re interested!

Okay, it’s time for me to start thinking about making some soup for dinner (or I could just go back to Lers Ros for some spicy medicine in a bowl, like I did on Sunday). I’d like to nip this lame cold in the bud.

Ciao/achoo,

Marcia Gagliardi

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