July 2011

July 29, 2011
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The Judah pizza at Zero Zero.

What is it about Thursday nights that always have me acting like it’s Friday? I’ll blame it on just getting my hair “did.” After receiving a fresh coat of fiery citron on my tresses, I swung by Sightglass to check out the new digs (lookin’ good!) and splash some caffeine on my synapses. I was then off to Zero Zero to raise a glass and wish Bruce Hill (and team) a happy one-year anniversary. Of course, my friend and I couldn’t leave without getting sucked into the pizza vortex over there. The Judah (tomato sauce, garlic, roasted red pepper, squash blossoms, prosciutto cotto, mozzarella and scamorza) was one hell of a pizza, oh Lordy.

The pizza patter continues with today’s fresh meat review: a visit to my delightful neighbor, Ragazza. I hope you have already had some lunch—I just realized the timing of my Friday missives may be cruel for some.

And hey, people, I want to thank you SO MUCH for voting tablehopper the Best Food/Drinks Blog or Site for the San Francisco Bay Guardian Best of the Bay 2011 Readers Poll. I couldn’t ask for nicer readers—thank you! Meow.

On a final note, Omnivore Books played host to a totally adorable marriage proposal vignette yesterday in the store, with owner Celia Sack live tweeting the entire scene. Here’s a recap for those who missed it—it’s really good stuff.

Buon weekend, everyone.

Marcia Gagliardi

July 26, 2011
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Breathtaking view from my hotel room window at The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe.

Having lived in San Francisco since 1994, I know how important it is to get the hell out of the city in July, unless you enjoy suffering the effects of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Me? Not so much. So Thursday night I skedaddled back up to Lake Tahoe for a long weekend, spending a couple nights at the fab-u-lous Ritz-Carlton Resort in Lake Tahoe and my family’s cabin in Tahoma. (It’s pretty amazing to return to a place you’ve been going to every year since you were two.) I’ll be doing a writeup of the my Tahoe visit soon. And really, is there anything better than mountain air and daily hikes and dips in a stunning lake to clear your head? They do a lot for the human mind and spirit. Highly recommended.

The next month is a busy one for me, with a bunch of deadlines to meet before I hit the road again. Yup, yours truly just booked a biiiig trip, one that has been on my bucket list for a while: I’m going to Turkey for three glorious weeks. Just getting my itinerary together, but I warmly welcome any recommendations, from eats in Istanbul to which cave hotel to book in Cappadocia—bring ‘em on! Thanks, travelers!

Hey, do you have your tickets to SF Chefs? This week’s socialite has more info, but I’d like to call to your attention a fun panel I am moderating on the afternoon of Saturday August 6th: The Real Restaurant Wives of San Francisco. Cocktails included. One more panel for your radar: I’ll be at the Commonwealth Club next Wednesday August 3rd, moderating a discussion about “What makes a restaurant great?” Hope to see you there.

Lastly, in the midst of all this consumption and good living we all enjoy is the heartbreaking news about the massive famine in Somalia and other parts of drought-stricken East Africa. Donating to the United Nations World Food Programme is one way to help—a paltry 50 cents can feed a hungry child. Please consider making a donation right now. 11 million people are hungry—it’s a terrible, terrible situation. The mind reels. Here are 10 more ways you can help—please spread the word.

Thanks for reading.

Marcia Gagliardi

July 19, 2011
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Good times on I-80: a burger at In-N-Out.

Nothing like some (lightly) tan arms to get you into a summer frame of mind, right? Had such a fantastic 48 hours up at Lake Tahoe with my family—so nice to have a weekend of home-cooked meals off the grill, catch up with the fam, and how novel, to stay in for once (we watched the 1956 version of War and Peace with Audrey Hepburn over my two evenings up there, loved it). Was hard to pull myself away from the sunny grass and chipmunk TV (as I call it) at Sugar Pine Point on Sunday afternoon and drive home—although I always dig the drive along Highway 50 (some good turns, oh yeah). And hello, In-N-Out on I-80, come to mama.

But color me spoiled, I’m heading back up to the lake again this weekend for round two. Although this weekend is going to be decidedly more posh: I was invited to check out The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe property, hubba hubba. Looking forward to finally trying Traci Des Jardins’ Manzanita. And yes, while I am up there counting the stars, I will be thanking my lucky stars as well. Each and every last one of them.

Sooooo, dah-lings, speaking of posh, did you get a chance to see the special progressive tour with the tablehopper on Gilt City today? It’s a customized and top-shelf “progressive” dinner tour that I put together, visiting three of the city’s most exciting restaurants and all in one night: Prospect, Commonwealth, and Atelier Crenn. You’ll get insider access to the chefs and kitchens at each destination, with special dishes, pairings, and surprises. The dinners are an intimate affair, with only six guests each night—and since I’ll be joining you, we can chat restaurants all evening. Will be a totally memorable and adventurous night. Can’t wait to hit the town and tablehop in style with you—oh, and it includes luxe transpo to each destination as well. (You can join Gilt City with this invite.)

Have a swell week, everyone. I insist! The sun is out! Praise be!

Marcia Gagliardi

July 15, 2011
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Chicken salad in a biscuit from Wing Wings.

I love virtual emails: when you receive this, I will hopefully be on Highway 50 by that point, tooling along in my freshly tuned-up Alfa on my way to Lake Tahoe, probably with some 60s classic rock on (it’s all I like to listen to up there). Suite Judy Blue Eyes, I will be singing along to you! My goal is to make it to the lake in time for a late-afternoon glass of my dad’s homemade wine while on the beach with my parents and sister, and maybe a dip in the lake if it’s not too late in the day. The rain clouds in the forecast, however, might have other plans for me.

I am definitely jumping into the big blue on Saturday—gotta have my annual baptism, and feel it down to my tippy toes. I also can’t wait to see the full moon tonight. Arrrrooooooooo! And hello, am so excited about a weekend of home-cooked meals off the grill.

Today’s review is a little revisit to Destino, along with a hardhat about the upcoming Southern Pacific Brewing, and a cool culinary event in 707 Scout.

Last night I was signing my book at the Forks & Corks event at Fort Mason. Whoa, what a blast to meet so many of you readers there! Thanks for coming, and saying hi. (And now some of you know my name is Marcia, rhymes with Garcia.) And to those of you who are new subscribers, welcome aboard.

So, last night was a bit more about Sonoma than celebrating Bastille Day with, say, my preferred poison (Champagne). Not like I don’t drink enough of the stuff already. Did you go out for Bastille Day? It’s funny to think back on my twenties, when I wouldn’t miss that huge crazy party in Belden Place and a chance to flirt with all those Frenchie boys all at once. I also remember ending up in a speakeasy bar one night with one of the waiters from Plouf, and for some reason I vaguely remember seeing Lars Ulrich in a corner booth. Those were the days.

And this is Friday.

Bon weekend!

Marcia Gagliardi

July 12, 2011
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Bix crew preparing the crazy-delicious Llano Seco pork tonnato sandwich (at the CUESA Summer Celebration).

Um, whoa. Today has been flying. Way too much to do. Starting with writing this intro section. I survived my weekend, which threatened to overwhelm me with places to be, but hey, I’m a professional. This week is no different. Why would it be? Except I am trying to get out of Dodge on Friday and head up for a weekend with my family in Lake Tahoe. Am hoping to crank enough work out so I can hit the road before too much traffic, wish me luck. And I always FRY in my A/C-less Alfa while driving from Vacaville to Auburn. Too hot for the hot tub. Time to bust out a wet kerchief around my neck, Burning Man style.

Big kudos to everyone who participated in the inaugural CUESA Summer Celebration on Sunday evening at the Ferry Building Marketplace. What a turnout of talent and mad flavor. I enjoyed seeing some cool culinary innovations, like the soy-tofu cheesecake from Ozumo with fried (and sweet!) yuba; the smoked hummus from Blue Plate (amazing taste); the wildly flavorful plum salad from Millennium (great use of toasted rice powder and Kaffir lime); and my favorite, the tomato gelée topped with burrata and capers from Cotogna—it was totally a summertime caprese salad in a glass. (I ate two.)

Hey, did you get your ticket for Forks & Corks this Thursday July 14th? The event is a steal for $40 (just use code SPECIAL), featuring five SF food trucks, 80-plus Sonoma wines, and the first 200 guests get a complimentary copy of my book. See you there!? I better.

Okay, I gotta jam. I wish it was peach jam, but I’m just busy. Ciao!

Marcia Gagliardi

July 8, 2011
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The Sentinel Building by night.

And…it’s Friday afternoon. The week has whizzed by, launching into a weekend that has me fired up and already a little worn out. Tonight I was kindly invited to experience the Ruinart tasting I wrote about earlier this week (Champagne and perfume, where do I sign?). My kind of happy hour.

Saturday afternoon I’ll be signing books (and eating bites from The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen) at the PUBLIC bikes one-year anniversary party. (If you want to come check out and test ride a bike, the free bike rack and book offer I worked out with them is still valid through the weekend!) Saturday night, a friend is hosting a rye tasting (I know, fun). Sunday is all about a picnic lunch with a dear friend visiting from L.A., and then Sunday evening is the delicious CUESA Summer Celebration tasting at the Ferry Building Marketplace (you can still get tickets!).

In between all this madness, I’ll be riding my bike as much as possible around town. Love this weather. I especially enjoy my night rides, when you notice things differently than if you were in a car. Like my ride home from a tasty dinner at Txoko in North Beach on Wednesday night—I was able to pull right over and snap this pic of the breathtaking Sentinel (“Coppola”) Building. The dramatic lighting on the oxidized copper building was so atmospheric, with the wispy fog in the distance. I pedaled home, totally grinning and thinking how much I love this city.

And here’s another reason to love our city in today’s fresh meat review of Atelier Crenn, a bright and fascinating addition to our fine dining scene. I also have a nice little ticket giveaway for you in the sugar mama, check it out.

Bon weekend to all!

Marcia Gagliardi

July 5, 2011
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The pissaladière on the new menu at Thermidor.

Did you enjoy your three-day weekend? I’m sure the answer is hell yes. I had to pack three days of fun into two since I had my gosh-darned deadline yesterday (the calendar waits for no one), and I have the sunburned shoulders and leftover honey-apricot pie from Three Babes Bakeshop to prove it.

My weekend had a kick-ass kick-off on Friday evening, with cocktails and appetizers at Thermidor (the bar has a great alfresco vibe on warm evenings), and then I pedaled over to the Kabuki to see Midnight in Paris. I don’t think I could have enjoyed that movie any more than I already did—and thanks to the adult seating at the Sundance Kabuki, I had a glass of rosé bubbly next to me, so civilized. Throw in a friend’s birthday barbecue on Saturday and a boozy picnic in Dolores Park on Sunday, and I was stoked with my weekend, to say the least.

Oh, and another highlight of the weekend was seeing my byline in the LA Times Magazine! I contributed to this article on where to eat in San Francisco now, I hope you enjoy it. I am also going to be on an episode of Eat Street on the Cooking Channel this evening at 5pm PST—this episode features the Hapa SF truck from William Pilz. I hope I don’t have food in my teeth.

This weekend is going to include another outdoor picnic and party, when I’ll be at PUBLIC’s one-year anniversary party in South Park on Saturday afternoon—see you there?

Enjoy your short week!

Marcia Gagliardi

July 1, 2011
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SPQR’s crostino with burrata, hazelnuts, honey, chile threads, and sage.

July 1st, really? What the hell is going on? I want this longer-daylight thing to last as long as possible, thanks. Let’s flip this thing down to third gear, okay? Although I’m sure many of you are all ready-set-go for your long weekend. Fire up the grill! I’ll actually be home writing my column on the 4th of July, because boss of me doesn’t recognize the holiday. Boss of me needs to get battered with a flag.

This week has had some definite highlights, like the burrata with hazelnuts and honey at SPQR on Tuesday (diabolical, truly), and I started a local barbecue “safari” on Wednesday since there’s so much barbecue going on in the city right now. Let’s just say Smoke is doing some mighty fine ‘cue—stand by for a full recap in the next month or so. Last night was the San Francisco magazine Best of the Bay party, which always offers some unparalleled people watching while you cruise your way around the room balancing your glass and plates of food. It’s the year of pimento cheese, methinks.

Today’s fresh meat review—true to its name—features the chicken hearts, pork jowls, and much, much more at nojo in Hayes Valley, plus we have a 707 Scout for you wine country folks.

Happy 4th of July, and here’s hoping the fog stays the hell away. Seriously.

Marcia Gagliardi

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