March 2011

March 29, 2011
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Springtime blossoms in Union Square.

Hallelujah, the city is drying out (along with my car). I can run errands on my bike again (sorry, riding in the rain is not one of my preferred activities). Of course it’s clocking in at 74 degrees the day I leave for NYC, but whatever, I’m going to NYC! My weekend itinerary is looking out of hand, deliciously so (apologies in advance to my sister, who is strapped in the dining car with me). And I can’t believe we get to see LCD Soundsystem’s final show at Madison Square Garden. It’s shaping up to be an epically good time. Follow me on Twitter to keep up with my dining and drinking shenanigans in the Big Apple. Well, most of them. Sometimes I gotta fly dark.

Oh, and if you’re planning any upcoming trips to New York (or perhaps you live there and read tablehopper anyway, thank you!), you gotta check out this James Beard Foundation pop-up restaurant, JBF LTD, running April 12th-May 14th. The pop-up will be hosting guest chefs like Laurent Gras (formerly of L2O in Chicago), Michelle Bernstein (Michy’s and Sra. Martinez in Miami), Iñaki Aizpitarte of Le Châteaubriand in Paris with David Chang and Team Momofuku, and David Kinch and John Paul Carmona of Manresa will be heading over from Los Gatos! There will also be tastings, demos, and more. Lots of details, so check them out on the site.

Please take a look at the additional Help Japan fundraisers in the socialite this week—I’m blown away with how many restaurants and individuals are pitching in to assist in a variety of generous ways. Oh, and I’m planning to send out a review this Friday for you, but next Tuesday will be a super-shorty issue from guest writers. Thanks for understanding. It’ll feel good to be off leash and off-piste for a few days!

Catch you later!

Marcia Gagliardi

March 25, 2011
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Spring is here! Asparagus and pancetta pizza at Gialina.

Criminy, the animals are lining up, and my Alfa has become the Ark. This deluge is such a joke. It’s like God doesn’t want me to exercise outside. It’s so not cool. At least it’s good writing weather, movie weather (doing that tonight), read a book weather, do your %$#! taxes weather, drink whiskey weather, make soup weather, heck, make babies weather. Take your pick. Hopefully today’s sugar mama giveaway should be a little silver lining to all these grey clouds.

Thanks to everyone who posted on Deep Dishing about your favorite dishes last week. Good stuff, Maynard. And here’s a new topic in the Deep Dishing Tip Please! forum so you can share what and where you’ve been eating and loving this week. Mine? I had an unexpected solo night on Tuesday, and enjoyed tucking into a burger at the new Bistro SF Grill on California. A half-pound patty of grass-fed American Kobe beef, with cheese, and a big side of curly fries for less than $10? Okay, sure!

This week’s fresh meat is the new location of Citizen Cake on Fillmore Street. Have you eaten there yet? Yeah? Please share your favorite dishes on Citizen Cake’s Deep Dishing page—I already got it started for ya. Lemme tell you, this weather is built for the beef stroganoff they’re serving over there.

Grab your fork!

Marcia Gagliardi

March 22, 2011
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Foie gras bonbon at Commonwealth.

Holy cow, did I have a lot of catchup after my week out of town: there was a ton of news, star sightings, gossip… I need a nap. But, there’s no rest for the weary, because next week my sis and I are heading to New York for a long weekend! We’re going to see LCD Soundsystem’s last show at Madison Square Garden (crappiest seats EVER, but no matter, we’re going!), and the Gagliardi girls are going to be eating their way through town (yup, our love of food is hard-wired in our genetic coding).

On my list: Torrisi, Eataly, Harold Dieterle’s Kin Shop, Xi’an Famous Foods (gimme that lamb burger!), and if the gods are willing, I’m gonna try really hard for two seats at Ko. Oh, and I’m fired up to take my sis to Prune, especially since I’m nose deep in Gabrielle Hamilton’s delicious memoir, Blood, Bones and Butter. Haven’t figured out the booze circuit yet. I haven’t been to NYC since last May’s James Beard Awards, so if you have any hot tips, of course I’m all ears.

Speaking of the James Beard Awards, congrats to all the nominees announced yesterday! Strong showing from SF chefs, writers, winos, and more—check it all out here.

Lastly, have you checked out the Tip Please! forum on Deep Dishing? Each week I’m going to ask “what was the best thing you ate this week?” (Which reminds me, I need to post some dishes from my weekend meals at Plate Shop and Commonwealth.) Check out everyone’s answers from last week here—there were at least three things that made me hungry, including the lion’s head meatball casserole at Shanghai Dumpling King. Come again? Rawr.

Speaking of lions, isn’t it about time for March to turn into a lamb? (Am drumming my fingers.)

Have a swell week, see ya Friday.

Marcia Gagliardi

March 18, 2011
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Big state. Big beer.

Yeah, it’s soggy out, and my warm Austin days and nights are now just a memory. But what a week! I completely adored Austin. It was a bit hectic attending SXSW events and parties and panels (including my own!), catching up with friends, eating my way around town, seeing live music, and I also managed to attend a couple food movie premieres as well. One was the documentary A Matter of Taste (look for it later this year) about the ups and downs of Paul Liebrandt’s career (he’s now the executive chef of New York’s Corton). It was a fascinating look into his life over an eight-year time span. I also got to catch the documentary El Bulli: Cooking in Progress, which was about a year at the restaurant, the lab, and the remarkable creative process that goes into the creation of the dishes each year at elBulli. I was rapt watching it. Keep your eyes peeled for both of them.

I have so much catch-up work to do, but I thought I’d crank out my Austin jetsetter piece while the flavor of hot salsa and flour tortillas were still fresh in my mind. I am also busy uploading and captioning images for my Flickr photostream, but will have them posted later today if you want to take a look! And on Tuesday, I will have an updated list of restaurants, events, and more ways to help Japan, so stand by.

Keep dry out there (but with plenty of whiskey in your glass).

Marcia Gagliardi

March 15, 2011
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The hama chili dish at Uchiko (Austin): yellowtail sashimi, sliced Thai chile, and orange supremes.

Greetings from Austin. This city has been blowing my mind (and my waistline). I can’t wait to write up where I’ve been eating—but those of you following my Twitter feed have a pretty good idea. I have just one more day here at SXSW (South by Southwest), so today’s issue is all about letting other people do my job for me: tablehopper editorial assistant Daisy Chow has a hardhat piece about Proxy (the first container is in place!), and Pete Mulvihill writes in with a bookworm about moonshine. Hic.

Oh wait, I have one more thing for you to read while I take today off! My fab book publisher, Ten Speed Press, has let me post a chapter from my book (The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco: Find the Right Spot for Every Occasion) for those of you who don’t have a copy yet (ahem). Here’s a link to one of my favorite chapters: Shituations.

To be honest, I’m a bit relieved to not have to write up a column today. Not really feeling it. Then again, all I really want to write about is how to help the poor, poor people in Japan. Of course, you can donate funds directly to a variety of organizations, but here are a few restaurant-related ways to help that have arrived in my inbox:

Nombe will be giving $3 of sales of one food item each day to Japan Disaster Relief. You can also donate directly through the JCCNC (Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California) by visiting their page here.

The JapaCurry truck is donating 10% of sales to the Red Cross.

Ebisu and Hotei are donating portions of profits this week from all their locations to Japan Earthquake Relief and the Red Cross.

The Dajani Group will donate 10% of Japanese sake bottle sales (any size) at Tsunami Panhandle and Tsunami Mission Bay, as well as Japanese whisky bottle sales (for storage) at Nihon Whisky Lounge toward the relief efforts.

You can donate to the Red Cross for tsunami relief efforts this Wednesday March 16th at 7:30pm at the Park Chalet in San Francisco, and you’ll be rewarded with a special movie night happy hour. With a donation of at least $5, the Park Chalet is offering happy hour pricing after 3pm, as well as the free showing of Spider-Man.

This Friday March 18th, Kitchenette is donating proceeds to the Tsunami/Earthquake disaster fund. There will be Dogpatch Millionaires, Carolina-style slow-smoked pulled pork BBQ, lemongrass-grilled eggplant banh mis, and braised duck poutine for lunch.

Samin Nosrat is organizing a bake sale for Japan (with three locations, and gunning for more!) on Saturday April 2nd, and needs help. Are you a baker, designer, cook, publicist, or simply want to volunteer? Please click here; you can follow updates on Twitter.

I have shown the artwork of Rigel Stuhmiller on tablehopper before, so I thought I’d mention that she is donating 100% of her profits from all non-custom sales from her Etsy shop from now until March 22nd to Save the Children’s work to help Japanese tsunami victims. And even better: she found a donor who will match all of her donations to the tsunami relief fund, so every dollar people spend in her shop will have twice the impact. Through working on the Chino farm in San Diego over the past decade, Rigel has met a number of Japanese agricultural students whose hometowns lie in the tsunami-affected areas. She says, “Watching the videos of miles of agriculture and towns being wiped out has been very upsetting. I hope to be able to do some good by donating my artwork profits to help them out.”

The fab folks at Umamimart are donating 10% of every purchase towards tsunami relief efforts. Buy a mug. A gold cocktail shaker. Support Japan!

Do you have a blog or website? Please consider donating space and posting ads from the Red Cross on your website; details and materials here.

Please do what you can to help; I’ll be updating this space with more relief news and events in coming weeks. In the meantime, let’s all count our blessings, and I’ll see you on Friday.

XO.

Marcia Gagliardi

March 8, 2011
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The “egg sandwich” at Prospect, with pork belly, English muffin, pepper jelly, and home fries.

Big day today. Happy International Women’s Day! Happy Mardi Gras! Happy ‘Hopper Tuesday! Heh. Truth be told, I’m much more excited about tomorrow, since I’ll be on the Rachael Ray Show at 9am! The Rachael Ray Show was taping a segment on “The Brains Behind Twitter” (featuring co-founder Biz Stone), and this Twitter-happy tablehopper was invited to be a part of it. Tune in to KPIX 5, and we’ll see what portion of my interview made the cut.

I think I have recovered from my weekend: I had two 40th birthday parties to attend! Saturday was Tyler Florence’s 40th birthday bash at the soon-to-open El Paseo in Mill Valley (read all about it in the chatterbox). Sunday I started the day with brunch at Prospect with my sis, and since it was my dear sommelier friend’s 40th, a group of us brought him to the “How Wine Became Modern” show at SFMOMA, followed by wine, cheese, and salumi at Terroir, then dinner at Aziza, and finally a nightcap at nopa. Epic itinerary, but guess who was tired on Monday? And of course I had a monster-truck column to get together.

I’m leaving for Austin and South by Southwest this Thursday, so next Tuesday’s issue is going to be a shorty! Just wanted to manage expectations, ha.

Have fun out there.

Marcia Gagliardi

March 4, 2011
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Hot. Very, very hot.

Six years ago, I got to write one of my favorite pieces about this fair city of ours for Where magazine about long-standing San Francisco restaurant families. I interviewed the Sanciminos of Swan Oyster Depot, the Chans of Yank Sing, the Mechettis of the Gold Spike (it was still open in 2005), and the charming Bermejos of Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant. Each story was such a powerful one, of hard work, immigrating to a new country, vision, tenacity, family. So it was with great sadness I learned that the effervescent and ever-in-motion Tommy Bermejo of Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant has suddenly passed. I know many people are raising many glasses of tequila right now, saluting this delightful, big-hearted man, and his wonderful family. Sincere condolences to the Bermejo familia.

So, it’s Friday. Review time. I didn’t intend to write about yet another place with rules and not your usual front-of-house experience this week, but here we are at Una Pizza Napoletana in SoMa.

It bears mentioning my personal rule of thumb about reviews on tablehopper: I only write a place up if I could recommend it to a good friend. And in the case of UPN, the pizza really is one of the best in town, so I’d tell any pizza-loving friend they have to go and check it out. But on the flip side—like I’d tell my friend—there are a number of components to the experience that make it really challenging (namely, the wait), and one visit drove me borderline insane. I’ve eaten there three times, and it has totally been a reenactment of the three bears: one time the wait was incredibly short, one time it was ridiculously long, and one time it was just about what I’d expect. In the end (like it always is), it’s up to you to decide if you want to spin the UPN roulette wheel and see how long you’ll wait (and how you’ll be treated) for the payoff of an utterly delicious pizza.

It’s time for a Tommy’s margarita.

Marcia Gagliardi

March 1, 2011
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Rock star sushi at ICHI. See, it’s shiny.

How the hell is it March 1st? Ridiculous. The weekend was pretty stellar, including taking my friend to brunch at nopa on Saturday (have you had their bagel and house-smoked trout?—damn!). In fact, you can see some pics of our brunch damage on Deep Dishing. Saturday night I scooted out to Bernal for a sushi feast at ICHI (can’t wait to write it up—Tim Archuleta is doing some awesome things there). Also managed to get some dancing in, and then of course Sunday was the Academy Awards, which gave me a wonderful excuse to drink lots of good Champagne (had to make it through this year’s rather boring telecast somehow).

I have some fun stuff on the docket this week, but really, I am most excited to be going to SXSW next week! Am leaving next Thursday, and will be in Austin for a week. Can you believe I’ve never been? Am pretty damned fired up. I will be on this panel, Bite Me—Are Ethics Gone in Food Criticism?, led by Jane Goldman, editor in chief of CHOW.com.

Speaking of Texas, I wanted to do a shout out for one of my favorite Texan talents, Frankie Frankeny, who has launched her new site, full of gorg food images, chefs, and more! Yup, even yours truly is included.

Beep beep.

Marcia Gagliardi

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