May 2011

May 31, 2011

Miner’s lettuce spotted on the ForageSF walk I took on Sunday.

I’m getting really tired of bitching about the rain, but this is so ridiculous. Never thought I’d have SAD (seasonal affective disorder) in May, but there you have it. It’s enough to drive someone to drink.

Which is why I have a fun little giveaway this week: as you may already know, Bluestem Brasserie is getting very close to opening, and they want to recruit tablehopper readers to come up with clever names for their cocktails. So I’m going to be giving away five spots for five tablehopper readers to join me for a happy hour preview of Bluestem’s cocktails, and there will be some bites as well. Each winner will get to bring one guest (and you get to check out the cool space!). We’ll be gathering at Bluestem Brasserie next Tuesday June 7th from 5:30pm-7pm.

So, how do you enter to win? Easy: all you need to do is go to Deep Dishing and post your favorite cocktail (bonus points for a picture, if you have it!), or simply vote on a cocktail if it’s already listed. Are you a fan of the Bitter Giuseppe at Prospect, or perhaps the Rattlesnake at Beretta, or the Gilded Lily at The Alembic? The more entries and votes you add will increase your odds of winning. You have until 11:59pm on Thursday June 2nd to post; I will notify the winners shortly thereafter!

This week’s ‘hopper features another ticket giveaway to Taste of Mendocino as well, and a discount code for the upcoming San Francisco magazine 2011 Best of the Bay Area party.

Who loves ya, baby? I do.

Marcia Gagliardi

May 27, 2011

At the Champagne Grand Tasting. Photo by Dakota Fine.

I can imagine many of you are chomping at the bit to get the hell out of work and get started on your three-day weekend. Someone had to remind me it was Memorial Day this weekend (this is what happens when you’re self-employed—I don’t even have a conception of what a weekend is anymore).

Besides, I feel like my weekend started with my first sip of Bollinger La Grande Année 2002 at the inaugural Champagne Grand Tasting on Wednesday. Yeah, my toes curled. By the time I made it over to the Saint-Chamant and Stéphane Coquillette tables, I decided it was time to start rating my favorite Champagnes in meows. Was great to see some of the people I met on my Champagne trip last fall, including Bruno Paillard and his lovely daughter Alice, and to taste the delicious wines of Mailly once again. That tasting was just ridiculous, and totally my idea of heaven. Based on all the somms there who were loath to return to work, I know I’m not alone in hoping this tasting returns to San Francisco next year.

This week I’m back atcha with more Italian food—although this time I’m hopping over to the East Bay to visit Oliveto and their new chef.

I want to take this moment to thank and remember all the men and women who have served in the military and lost their precious lives in service to their country. I’m lucky that my father and uncle—who both served in Vietnam—returned home safely, because things would be very different in my life. Yeah, I wouldn’t be here.

See you next week,

Marcia Gagliardi

May 24, 2011

The view from the Hillside Gardens residence in Mill Valley.

Oh boy, I can’t believe I’m going to have a glass of Champagne in my hand tomorrow that I’m actually going to be able to DRINK. Hey, if you’re going to wrap up a cleanse, you gotta do it right. Now, I’m not rushing out to have a double cheeseburger with an egg on top and a shot of bourbon—that would completely nullify all the work I’ve done the past three weeks (and feel pretty terrible). But it will definitely be nice to (lightly) wet my whistle tomorrow with some bubs.

Meanwhile, for those of you who want to hit something a bit boozy, there’s the Farmers’ Market Spring Cocktail Night tomorrow evening, offering “Pacific coast produce meets Pacific Rim cocktails”—a perfectly themed happy hour for this sunny weather (now if only that $%#! wind would stay the eff away).

The weekend was pretty freaking stellar—managed to visit the Vintage Paper Fair on Saturday before scooting off to paradise: the Swamp Cabbage fundraising feast at the Hillside Gardens residence in Mill Valley. The terraced garden was magical, one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been, and so fragrant. The array of food was delicious, with fab guests and quirky entertainment, and a sundown preview of the Swamp Cabbage film, which is gonna be fantastic when it’s all done—they just need to fundraise a little bit more to get ‘er done. I had to pinch myself at the end of the night—‘twas a dreamy California evening.

On a sad note, I want to dedicate this week’s tablehopper to the memory of two cooks in San Francisco who very unexpectedly lost their lives in two separate incidents recently: Jason Dunbar, a sous chef at Millennium, and Ryan Sitko, a sous at Local Mission Eatery. Heartfelt condolences to their family, friends, loved ones, and co-workers—such a painful loss for everyone.

Take good care out there,

Marcia Gagliardi

May 20, 2011

Lupini beans at Serpentine.

Oh, excuse me, let me turn this down. Was blaring Blondie’s Rapture a little too loud. Figured it was a good pre-weekend soundtrack, considering Judgment Day is nigh. “Don’t stop, sure shot/Go out to the parking lot/And you get in your car and you drive real far/And you drive all night and then you see a light….”

Not sure what other people expect to be doing at 6pm on Saturday, but I’m going to be up in Marin at this one-of-a-kind event, a fundraiser for the documentary, Swamp Cabbage. There are still some tickets left—you gotta see the menu, full of foraged and wild ingredients! Gonna be a fun one, see you there?

On Sunday, I hope you can tune in to KSFO 560 AM, because I’ll be a guest on the brand-new show, Edible Escapes with Ken & Anthony, from 12pm-12:55pm. The show runs every Sunday from 11am-1pm. Please listen in, and feel free to call in, too!

Today’s fresh meat review is of Cotogna—I kept waiting for the crowds to thin out, but since that’s not happening, I’ve included a few tips about how to get in. Be sure to read to the end of the piece for some exciting news about the restaurant. Have you dined there? You can share your favorite dishes (and read everyone else’s) on Deep Dishing!

Okay, I need to go chop some vegetables and do yet another load of dishes. One week left of the cleanse life, and to quote the inimitable Nina Simone, “And I’m feeeeeeling good.”


Marcia Gagliardi

May 17, 2011

The scene at the Foodie Chap Chef Cook-Off; photo by Rick Camargo.

Oh, it’s so FUN pretending it’s November in May! Can’t believe I have my space heater back on. Lame. But in the decidedly not lame department was my weekend. Saturday I was a judge in the the first annual Foodie Chap Chef Cook-Off at Mary Risley of Tante Marie’s lovely home (ends up Mary and I are both Alfiste: Alfa Romeo drivers). While Team Foodie Chap (Liam Mayclem, Roland Passot) edged out Team Rock Star Chef (Dominique Crenn, Russell Jackson) by one point for their cottage pie, the real winner was Food Runners: nearly $5,000 was raised for the organization. A big thank you to everyone who donated funds (and their time) to pulling off this fun event.

As a reminder to all restaurants/event hosts/etc., no one ever has to discard or compost good, edible food—all you have to do is package the food and call Food Runners at 415-929-1866, and a volunteer or the Food Runner truck will come the same day to pick up the food and take it to an appropriate feeding program. Please remember this, thanks!

Sunday was the annual Star Chefs event for Meals On Wheels, which raised another record-breaking $1.4 million dollars to help bring meals to homebound seniors. Incredible. And while it was pure torture to be there and not be able to eat or drink ninety percent of what was being served during the reception, I was definitely impressed with how many dishes I was able to make vegan by just asking chefs to leave the meat off their dish (it helped to have a friend with me who ate every piece of meat I gave him, and he fed me the garnishes). I was also thrilled to find out the vegetarian sit-down meal that night was prepared by the one-and-only chef Stuart Brioza (I was the sole diner at our table with a plate full of morels). It’s always a smashing event, kudos to all involved.

Since I’m on the charity news circuit today, I want to thank the tablehopper reader who donated $250 to the CHEFS program, my charity of choice here in San Francisco. Made my week to hear that from the fine folks at ECS, thank you! Please remember SummerTini, the annual fundraiser for CHEFS, is coming up on June 10th!

Okay folks, try not to let the rainy weather get you down. Just look at it as a free car wash.

Marcia Gagliardi

May 13, 2011

The mezes plate (to go!) from Palmyra.

Funny, I kind of feel like I don’t have anything to say in today’s intro. See what happens when my espresso gets taken away? Ha ha. Yup, I’ve made it through week one of my cleanse, and I haven’t wanted to kill anyone yet. Well, except the jackass in his car yesterday who really didn’t care about blocking a lane of cyclists so he could pull an illegal move, and had the nerve to tell me to eff off as he peeled out—and he had a little boy in the passenger seat. Nice example there, dad!

I was happy to hear and see so many people on their bikes yesterday for Bike to Work Day (since I work from home, a friend asked if I was just going to ride my bike around the block). I think if drivers get on a bike in the city—even once—it makes you more aware of the cyclists around you. (I know it does for me.) Thanks to all the businesses who supported the day.

As I was pedaling home from downtown yesterday on “The Wiggle,” I stopped off at the new Palmyra (at Haight and Pierce) to pick up their mezes platter, pictured here. The cucumber salad with out-of-season tomatoes obviously left something to be desired, and I need to talk to them about their to-go packaging (cough), but look at those falafel! They were made to order, and so tender and well-seasoned. Really creamy hummus, too.

This weekend is going to pose some challenges to my current (temporary) vegan status: I’m actually judging a cottage pie cook-off tomorrow for the first annual Foodie Chap Celebrity Chef Cook-Off, and it will be interesting to attend this year’s Star Chefs event on Sunday sober and vegetarian. Should give me a new perspective on what it’s like for non-drinkers/meat-eaters to attend food and wine events. Hrm.

Today there are a couple 707 Scout updates for you, and I finished transcribing and have included some highlights from my 40-minute interview with chef Daniel Boulud while I was at Pebble Beach. (Yeah, that took me a little while.) At first, it may appear to be more interesting for people in the industry, or fans of his restaurants. But I also think anyone who enjoys food and dining (uh, that would be you, dear reader) may be interested in the peek he gave me into his day-to-day, and how he runs his many businesses (including the brand-new Boulud Sud and Épicerie Boulud). He’s a very busy man, with a fascinating life, and I felt lucky to snag this moment with him. I hope you enjoy it.

Bon week-end!

Marcia Gagliardi

May 10, 2011

Dahi vada at Dosa on Fillmore.

Yeah, I am definitely feeling spring fever, with my apartment full of flowers from my mother’s rose garden, cherries and strawberries from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on my table, and sunlight streaming in the windows (however, I could do without this lame wind, thanks Mother Nature). This cleanse I’m on right now has also been great—I am hardly at a loss for healthy and vegan/vegetarian things to eat in this town, as my Friday night dinner at Dosa on Fillmore and Sunday night preview dinner at Piccino can attest to (you can read all about the new Piccino in the chatterbox).

Last night it was hard to focus on writing my column while watching the live stream of the James Beard Foundation Awards. Big congrats to all the winners and the nominees, but especially to our local talent: Michael Tusk of Quince, who brought home the Best Chef: Pacific award last night. You can check out all the winners across the nation on the site.

Tonight’s entertainment has me heading to a media screening of Vanishing of the Bees, part of the Whole Foods Market Do Something Reel film festival, and that’s about it. Really trying to stay focused on this pile of work I have to do, and damn, being vegan is hard work—it requires a fair amount of prep to make a fulfilling meal.

Now excuse me, I have some vegetables to go chop.

Marcia Gagliardi

May 6, 2011

The taco tropical (shrimp and jicama) at Loló.

How’s your head today? Did you hit it pretty hard last night? I was in the Mission for a little bit in the early evening, and Cinco de Mayo was definitely getting underway. Meanwhile, my co-cleansing friend and I decided to have a healthy dinner at Gracias Madre, feasting on a spinach and mango salad with a spicy chipotle dressing, and one of my favorite dishes there, the “enchiladas” with mole and mushrooms (take a peek on Deep Dishing for pics and tips). Instead of a delicious margarita, I was drinking some celery-kale concoction they were offering, and was therefore feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for my workout in Alamo Square this morning.

It’s a funny thing about cleanses: I sort of dread them, but as soon as I start, I feel a kind of relief that it’s underway. As someone surrounded with a ton of temptation all the freaking time, it’s nice to be able to set up a little blockade and just focus on extremely healthy and nourishing ingredients for a while (and not just tasty, meaty, boozy, buttery ones). Although trust me, I certainly had some fab “final meals” this week at Loló (I will never tire of their shrimp jicama tacos) and Oliveto (hello, lamb’s tongue salad and a beautiful glass of Royale Réserve, Philipponnat, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ Champagne).

This month is a time for me to return to my kitchen full time, filling my apartment with brown rice and nori and vegetables (the Gagliardi delicatessen gets pushed to the back of the fridge). I’m going to be trying out the recently released Clean Start by Terry Walters (look for a bookworm from me in the coming weeks), and I always cook a bunch from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking (one of my favorite cookbooks, ever). So I’m very pleased to be running a bookworm this week from Pete Mulvihill on Heidi’s latest book, Super Natural Every Day. I’ve already cooked a couple dishes from the book, and am happy to get some of her new recipes in my repertoire—she really understands delicious.

I hoped to have finished transcribing and writing up my interview with Daniel Boulud for you today instead of a review, but it’s going to have to wait for next week.

Sunday I am going to be celebrating my dear mother, the woman who always filled my lunch bag with persimmon cookies instead of pink-and-white frosted ones, made her wonderful whole wheat bread for my sandwiches, and even sliced off the top of oranges and scored them so they’d be easier to peel. She has nourished me all my life, and in more ways than one. Words cannot express the gratitude I have for being raised with such love and tender care. And while we honor (and remember) and give thanks to our mothers this Sunday, it’s important to do so each and every day—motherhood is a full-time job.

Best wishes to all.

Marcia Gagliardi

May 3, 2011

Interviewing chef Daniel Boulud at Pebble Beach Food & Wine (yes, in the back of a Lexus).

Wow, the past 48 hours have been intense—such massive, massive news. Suffice it to say, I have had trouble tearing my eyes away from the news reports and focusing on writing my column (and I can’t just blame these monstrous allergies that came out of nowhere to attack me and knock me down, blergh).

This past weekend at Pebble Beach Food & Wine was quite the culinary and cocktail and vino whirlwind—I can’t believe what epic spring weather we scored this year. I managed to hit the Grand Tasting Tent on Saturday, two fascinating wine tastings, the delicious Tom Colicchio Tribute Dinner, and a little after-party action. Here’s my slideshow on Flickr of the weekend, with a bunch of fun chef sightings.

My highlight of the entire weekend, however, was interviewing chef Daniel Boulud. He kindly hung out with me for half an hour, and to escape the noise of the tent, we held the interview in the back of a Lexus (the event sponsor) parked out front. (Hey, Lexus—you should make some cars into official interview pods next year, it was perfect!) I will post interview highlights in the next week—I had to get this column out first! Kudos to Coastal Luxury Management for yet another year jam-packed with talent and great tastes.

Since this past weekend knocked me out, and I’ve been feeling the call of a spring cleanse, starting on Cinco de Mayo, I’m going to be taking it easy for the next three weeks by going vegetarian and laying off the sauce. There are a few events where I will have to fall off the wagon, like the Swamp Cabbage fundraiser event where I’m going to be judging jerky, and hello, the Star Chefs event will certainly pose some sobriety/vegetarian challenges. But otherwise, I’m looking forward to some time to back away from the ever-decadent temptations in my life.

A few more events for your radar: please don’t forget the SF Chefs Unite dinners for Japan are this weekend, please take a look! And Sunday, we salute our delightful mothers—I have a lineup of some Mother’s Day places here in case you still haven’t figured out what you’re doing yet (you better get on that!).

Lastly, did you know next Thursday May 12th is Bike to Work Day? It’s a great way to get inspired to hop on a bike—and you’ll have lots of encouragement to do so. City streets have been better than ever to ride on lately, with many more changes underway, so I hope you’ll check it out!

Enjoy the sun, hop on your bike, and I’ll see ya in the vegetable aisle!

Marcia Gagliardi

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