April 2011

April 29, 2011
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Charcuterie selection at Spruce.

Helllllllo sunny skies. Now if only we can get that damned wind to lay off. It’s wrecking my ‘do, yo (and is zero fun to ride my bike in). But today is all about four wheels, since I’ll be zipping down to Pebble Beach Food & Wine this evening for a 24-hour whirlwind of canapes and wine. Very good wine. (The best kind.)

But this week has already been so ridiculous. I’m talking decadence overload. Was considering playing the lottery with this much culinary jackpot action. Let’s review, shall we? Tuesday night was the Irish baking class I mentioned I was attending at La Cocina—and was introduced to a new love in my life: brandy butter. Red alert.

Wednesday I had lunch with a couple fantastic Carried Away clients at Spruce—I worked with the restaurant to set up a special riesling luncheon for them, and you know the charcuterie and boudin blanc were on our menu. That evening, I was on a balcony terrace at the Hotel Vitale with an aperitif hour hosted by the one and only Krug Champagne and president/CEO Maggie Henriquez, who was (delightfully) in town. I had to pinch myself a few times—an ever-full glass of Krug Grande Cuvée is a mighty fine thing. But to keep it real, I had dinner standing on the sidewalk outside the Tonayense taco truck. Cabeza tacos, baby!

Last night I got to visit an old friend: Da Flora in North Beach. Sadly Flora was not in the house (she’s on vacation), but dinner was still so delicious and charming. My guests were totally in the zone after their first bite of the famed focaccia, and when I unleashed the sweet potato gnocchi on them, well, it was game over. They became my zombies, who would do anything for more gnocchi. That joint is one of the best date restaurants in the city, period.

Today’s issue has a long-overdue review of Prospect. I’ve been four times now, and I’ve enjoyed witnessing its progression. (It’s a lengthy review, so get comfortable.) I also have a couple socialites I forgot to run on Tuesday (d’oh!), a bookworm from Daisy Chow, and two entries from the 707 Scout, Deirdre Bourdet. Yup, this is a full Friday, I hope you enjoy. Oh, and check out the updated list of tequilas being poured at this tequila tasting event at Tres this Saturday—looks like trouble.

Okay, it’s time to pack up some Lipitor and hit the road. Have a fantastic weekend. I’ll be tweeting any fun sightings and tastes while at PBFW in case you want to hate on me any more than today’s introduction already inspired. Trust me, I am counting my blessings. I also need to be counting some calories, holy mother of God.

Marcia Gagliardi

April 26, 2011
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Kouign amann from Starter Bakery. It will wreck you with deliciousness.

Whoa, that was quite the taste-tastic weekend. Saturday was all about a bike ride to the Ferry Building (4505 Meats burger, check; awesome whiskey class, check), and then I had a delicious meal at Ristobar (I know, I was in the Marina on a Saturday—see what my job makes me do?). Sunday was the annual Gagliardi Easter extravaganza, with frittata loaded with my dad’s soppressata for lunch, and then for dinner, my favorite dish ever: my family’s lasagne (shame we only see that thing twice a year), and some baby goat with pancetta and peas. My mom unleashed the coup de grâce: her strawberry-rhubarb pie. I may be past the age of dyeing eggs and big Italian chocolate eggs with treats inside, but you can see why Easter remains a favorite on my calendar. My family rocks.

This week I’ll be exploring my Irish roots with this baking class tonight at La Cocina, and on Friday afternoon I’m heading down to Pebble Beach Food & Wine, the annual extravaganza of chef dinners, demos, grand tastings, wine tastings, and yes, after parties. If you’re feeling capricious (and flush), there are still tickets available to some pretty impressive events (including the Saturday Grand Tasting, which totally sold out last year, so hop to it). It all kicks off this Thursday. Here are pics from my adventures last year—we’ll see who I manage to meet (and what I eat) this year.

And now, the news! There’s some good stuff this week, enjoy!

Marcia Gagliardi

April 22, 2011
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The foie gras “log” at Atelier Crenn with pickled morels, kumquat crisps, vanilla and almond praline.

[Welcome to my brain.]

Is it 5pm yet? Oh wait, boss of me says I can punch the clock whenever I damn well want to. Actually, I have way too much work to do, why the hell am I even looking at the clock? Maybe because I have a stack of magazines I’d like to be reading instead of watching pile up. Get back to work, Gagliardi. And Twitter doesn’t count. You need to get those Citizen’s Band pictures up on Deep Dishing. Mmmmm, that burger was really good. I want another. What are you talking about, you’re going to be getting a 4505 Meats burger on Saturday before you go to the whiskey class. Okay, two burgers in one week, that is more than enough. Shit, I had foie twice this week, too. Prospect’s is soooo good. Hello whiskey maple gelée. And then the one at Atelier Crenn last night was amazing. Damn. Thank God you worked out this morning. What were you thinking, wine pairings and a bottle of Bollinger? Wait, that wasn’t your fault. You know what happens when you dine out with Rob. Drink some water.

And… now it’s time for you to leave my brain before I think of something embarrassing.

XO

Marcia Gagliardi

April 19, 2011
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Scott Beattie’s special touch on my Clover Club at Spoonbar.

Sometimes, you just gotta get outta Dodge. It’s amazing what 24 hours in springy Sonoma can do to clear your mind. I headed out of the city on Saturday afternoon, stopping at Martinelli Winery for a quick tasting before meeting up with my friend (Ziggy the Wine Gal) at her charming homestead. Then we were off to the Alexander Valley Bar at Medlock Ames for a cocktail, and then Francis Ford Coppola Winery for the Eight Perfect Pairings event. After eating our fill of delicious lamb buns, we swung by Spoonbar to commune with a couple of Scott Beattie’s superlative concoctions, and then were off to a house party.

Sunday entailed a nice sleep-in, and then brunch on Ziggy’s patio with a view of her trees and irises. I went for a two-hour walk on Sweetwater Creek Road, complete with mooing cows, bleating sheep, circling hawks, beautiful green grass dotted with wildflowers, and sun, sweet sun. It really couldn’t be prettier up there. Caught a little more sun on the patio at Bovolo on the square in Healdsburg as I ate half of their spring pizza (asparagus, black pig bacon, and a farm egg), and then (sadly) had to hit the road. You can see some pics in my mini “Weekend in Sonoma” album on Flickr.

It took a lot to pry me out of the 707’s clutches, but knowing I had a test “Dux” dinner from chef Eddie Lau at The Summit SF waiting for me later that evening, well, just watch me hit the gas pedal. Dinner was a five-course duck menu at the chef’s counter (with seven other guests), and was all kinds of delicious (check out the first pic in the series here). He’ll be launching these Sunday dinners on May 8th, stand by for further details on tablehopper soon! ‘Cause trust me, you’re going to want to go.

For those who celebrate it, I hope you’re having a fab Passover, and I’m definitely looking forward to Easter with the fam on Sunday. Oh, and on Saturday, I’ll be getting my whiskey on at this CUESA whiskey tasting in the afternoon. See you there?

I hope you all get a chance to enjoy a springtime hike somewhere—seriously, take a couple hours if you can, and go for a stroll. ‘Hopper’s orders!

Marcia Gagliardi

April 15, 2011
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The Paris-Brest tempting guests upon arrival at Woodward’s Garden.

Guess who is on day four of a kink in her neck and is rather fussy over it? You’re reading her column right now. And now the sudden appearance of a swollen tonsil has me really annoyed—totally had to scrap my awesome plans last night. But, it gave me more time to write up a jetsetter recap of my recent trip to New York for you. I was going to wait another week, but some of you folks are heading out there soon it seems, and anxious for some tips. So have at it. Oh, and here’s my NYC Flickr album with more images (you’ll definitely want to peek at the Chinatown dumpling tour pics!).

One definite highlight this week was an Omnivore Books dinner at Woodward’s Garden in honor of M.F.K. Fisher (click for pics), and celebrating the recent release of Anne Zimmerman’s M.F.K. biography, An Extravagant Hunger: The Passionate Years of M.F.K. Fisher. It was a meal from another time—featuring recipes from M.F.K. Fisher—with dishes like French creamed oysters. The finale was a Paris-Brest (created in honor of a bicycle race in 1891 from Paris to Brest, and so the choux shell is in the shape of a bicycle wheel!) with fruit macerated in seven liqueurs. Extravagant, indeed.

Best of luck to everyone finishing their taxes this weekend—as a reward, you can swing by EPIC Roasthouse on Monday April 18th, mention EPIC’s Tax Day Relief to your server, and receive half off bottles of wine. Cheers to that. Yours truly is going to head up to wine country tomorrow—lame tonsil and kinked-up neck be damned.

Marcia Gagliardi

April 12, 2011
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Custard French toast at nopa.

Looks like we’re both getting pummeled today—that’s what I get for taking a week off while playing in New York. Too. Much. News. But it also means I have a pile-up of starlet sightings for you as well! Heh. Guilty pleasures…

Since we’re on that delightful topic, my weekend was definitely full of guilty pleasures, starting with the insane custard French toast at nopa’s weekend brunch—have you had it? Don’t know how that was missing from my life, but now I’m on it. Check it out (and other killer dishes on nopa’s menu) on Deep Dishing. What are your faves there? Feel free to add ‘em in! I also got to squeak in a brunch on Sunday at Out the Door on Bush (I posted a pic and a tip about their beef pho on Deep Dishing). It’s always so hard to choose on OTD’s brunch menu, I want it all.

I also went to dinner at Betelnut with a couple friends to try the special offal menu they did in conjunction with BlackboardEats. If you ended up purchasing one of the passcodes, let me tell you: get your ass over there before it expires. The menu was a tour de force of awesome, from the cured lamb tongue with the prickle of galangal, to decadent black pepper chicken livers, to the tamarind fish head curry with okra and tomatillos. Of course I had to request a round of the Xinjiang cumin lamb and sesame buns with chile raita, my latest obsession. That place just keeps rocking it more and more: kudos to chef Alex Ong, chef de cuisine Michael Siegel, and the rest of their team.

This weekend holds more Asian feasting, as I’ll be heading up to the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville for this fantastic-sounding event—Eight Perfect Pairings—featuring chef Alvin Leung of Bo Innovation Hong Kong and chef Kam Chiu Leung of Koi Palace. Bring on the dumplings!

Enjoy this springy weather. I’ve been loving my mornings with fresh strawberries, and am eating my fill of asparagus; I can’t believe the batch I got at the Divis farmers’ market on Sunday—they looked like they had just been cut. Heaven.

Hop hop.

Marcia Gagliardi

April 8, 2011
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Negroni and fried artichokes at I Sodi.

Hi there. Yup, it’s me. I’m back in your inbox after taking a little break—I was gallivanting around New York with my sister this past week. I had high hopes to send out a mini issue, but the pull of NYC proved to be too great. I lost all desire to even look at my computer—I just wanted to be adventuring around town (and stuffing my face, of course). Sometimes you just gotta unplug.

The final LCD Soundsystem show (the entire point of our trip) proved to be one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Three hours of such choice tracks—as I noted on Twitter, it flowed like a favorite novel. It was an incredibly heartfelt and energetic show, and I felt so damn lucky to be able to see it. Great crowd, too, all dressed in black and white. People were having the time of their life.

We had a blast eating our way around the city: a late-night/just-landed meal of mussels and more at Millesime, a spicy lunch at Kin Shop, a memorable dinner at Momofuku Ko, a gut-busting Chinatown dumpling tour (which included Xi’an Famous Foods) with our dumpling-obsessed friend, stellar harissa falafel at Taim, delicious cavatelli in a spicy lamb ragu at L’Artusi, sweetbreads and the Parmesan omelet at Prune, and I managed to pick up an egg on a roll for my cab ride to the airport (and lox on a bagel for the plane). Oh yeah, and we scored a late-night slice of pizza, of course. Also hit up I Sodi for Negronis, plus cocktails at Little Branch (always a fave) and Death & Co. Guess who is having smoothies for breakfast, and salads for lunch this week? Uh huh. Take a lap, tablehopper.

This week, I can’t wait to tell you about my new favorite sushi spot, ICHI Sushi in Bernal Heights, and in honor of my New York trip, Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple has a bookworm about Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune’s book. (Be sure to listen to the audio clip at the end of the piece!)

See ya on Tuesday with a pile o’ news. You’ve been warned. Heh.

Happy weekend.

Marcia Gagliardi

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