August 2011

August 30, 2011
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Künefe for dessert at Troya. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Yup, yours truly should have landed by now in Istanbul (please no flight delays, please no flight delays, please no flight delays!). But I wanted you to have a little something-something before my column goes dark for the next three weeks. tablehopper will be back in your inbox on Tuesday September 27th. I know, that’s a long time! If you want to keep up with my Turkish shenanigans, follow me on Twitter for pics and occasional tweets from me all hopped up on Turkish coffee.

However, I will be completely off the grid as far as email and voicemail are concerned—I need a break. So if you can please refrain from emailing me until after I return on September 21st, I’d really really appreciate it. I HATE coming home to an inbox with 2,000 unread messages. Glug. (Publicists and restaurant folks, pretty please don’t send me any event press releases or invites for anything happening before September 27th—I won’t be able to mention anything until after that date, schwanks.)

There are a number of soon-to-open projects I’ll need to report on once I’m home, like the upcoming Biergarten (the latest Proxy project), and the second location of Lers Ros in Hayes Valley, and let’s not forget Wo Hing General Store in the original Slanted Door space on Valencia. Looking forward to them all.

Oh, hey, can you do me a quick favor? Schwanks! tablehopper has been nominated for CBS San Francisco’s Most Valuable Blogger Awards 2011 (I know, tablehopper isn’t really a blog, but what’s a girl to do?). If you could do a quick click here to vote, that would be fab!

It ends up tablehopper has also been nominated in two categories for the SF Weekly Web Awards: Best Food Blogger and Best Local Source for Food P*rn. The poll will stay open until August 30th (not sure if that means it’s done today or not, so I guess we’ll find out soon enough!). But thanks for clickin’!

All-righty then, I’m off. See ya in late September!

Marcia Gagliardi

August 26, 2011
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The pier at Sugar Pine Point, Lake Tahoe. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Welcome to the shortest intro letter I’ve ever written. Yeah, I have three days before I leave for Turkey, and let’s just say packing up your business for three weeks when you are self-employed is a beast. Gots. To. Go. But I do have a little Friday afternoon reading for you today: a Lake Tahoe jetsetter (go while you can—it’s lovely up there in September!), and a bookworm as well.

I’ll be back in your inbox on Tuesday with my final transmission for the next three weeks, but I will be on a plane to Istanbul by the time you get it. I know, it’s like magic!

I’ll say this again on Tuesday, but I might as well say it now: dear PUBLICISTS and RESTAURANT/BAR FOLKS, tablehopper is going dark until September 27th, so please don’t ask me to list any events from now until after that date. The lights are out and no one is home.

Thank you all (from the bottom of my heart) for not filling up my inbox while I am gone—it’s something I truly dread when returning home from vacation. It’s more “ow” than “meow.”

Have a great weekend, all. Mwah!

Marcia Gagliardi

August 23, 2011
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Kika’s Treats’ Brazilian cheese bread at the SF Street Food Festival. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Um, whoa. I can’t believe I am going to be on a plane to Istanbul in less than a week. Commence freakout. I definitely have my work cut out for me the next six days, so take it easy on me, okay?

I think I am still recovering from the third La Cocina San Francisco Street Food Festival. Dude. That was some of the best eating I’ve done all year. What an amazing pile-up of people, food, drinks, and stories. I have learned my lessons from the past few years: ride your bike, go with people with hearty appetites who are cool with sharing and aren’t germ-phobes and are fun to hang out in line with, and pack a sun hat and a sweater. And for crissakes, come hungry. People, next year, please leave the dogs at home, jeesh. (Saw too many freaked out pooches.) I just posted my photo album from the event here (I’m adding captions this very second); and hey, did you know there’s a photo contest? Kudos to everyone who put so much effort into this amazing and one-of-a-kind event.

I also talked about the Street Food Fest on Sunday with Ken and Anthony on their weekly Edible Escapes show on KSFO. Thanks for having me back, guys. We chatted about a variety of topics (including sandwiches!)—have a listen here.

Okay, in the midst of all the crazy over-indulgence that swept through the city this past weekend, I was happy to see an email in my inbox from the kind folks at Troya in the Inner Richmond. Here’s what they had to say: “After watching all the news coverage and reading articles about the situation in Somalia, we felt we have to do something to help these kids. We are planning to donate 10% of our sales to Helping Hands Relief Foundation on August 29th, 30th, 31st, Sep 1st, and 2nd (Monday through Friday).” Thank you for stepping up, Troya. Hope to see many more places in the city rally to help.

Enjoy the sun, lovelies.

Marcia Gagliardi

August 16, 2011
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The tall trees and big blue at Sugar Pine Point. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Greetings from Tahoe. Yup, I shall once again refrain from talking about my little slice of paradise up here—I don’t want you to deeply hate me. I am already starting to get a heavy heart, knowing I have to pack up on Thursday and return to SF’s cursed 63 degrees. That is no August (shaking fist at the sky). Which is why today’s issue is a bit shorter—I am literally hopping on my bike to pedal to the lake just as this puppy goes out. Priorities.

Yesterday, the 15th, was Ferragosto in Italy, an amazing day when everyone closes up shop, prepares insane meals and picnics, and takes trips to the beach or the mountains. Yeah, it’s a good one. But there’s another Ferr- coming to San Francisco, and that would be Ferran Adrià. Yeah, the man, the myth, the legend behind El Bulli, molecular gastronomy (or deconstructivist cooking, as he would prefer to call it), and currently releasing his new book, The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adrià. Adrià is coming to the Castro Theatre on Monday October 10th (thanks to Omnivore Books)—so get your tickets now (yes, now!), because this rare event is sure to sell out quickly.

And this Saturday is the honking and third annual La Cocina San Francisco Street Food Festival, which is going to have everything from cocktails to chocolate babka to cannoli. (I’m going to pretend it’s Ferragosto.) And there’s even an after-party, where you can burn off the piroshki you scarfed. Well, you can at least try to. Take a peek at some pre-event news in the chatterbox.

See you there!

Marcia Gagliardi

August 12, 2011
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The Prospect sundae. (You know you want it.) Photo: © tablehopper.com

Greetings from Lake Tahoe. I’m not going to talk about the weather up here because that would be mean. Unfortunately I haven’t made it to the beach yet, but today is the day. At least the back deck of my family’s cabin is one heck of a home office—the squirrels and blue jays make for rather entertaining company.

Since I’m currently in my happy place, I figured I should share a review of a place in San Francisco that is becoming my city happy place, Piccino. It’s one of those places you just want to hang out in, whether you’re there for a lunch with friends, a second date, a solo meal at the kitchen counter, or a birthday dinner. Get thee to Dogpatch!

You want to know another thing that will take you to your happy place? The crazy-good Prospect sundae by their new pastry chef, Sarah Wade. I was doing a dessert tour Tuesday evening with the charming Yigit Pura—executive pastry chef of Taste Catering and the winner of the first season of Top Chef: Just Desserts—and we were both smitten with this sundae. Pictured here is a mini version of it, loaded with milk chocolate ice cream, olive oil ganache, incredible roasted figs, almond crumble, and whipped cream. You have my permission: dive in.

Okay, it’s time for me to pack up some lunch and hop on my bike. The water is calling.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Marcia Gagliardi

August 9, 2011
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I was thrilled to meet chef Cesare Casella at SF Chefs.

No, I’m not having horse for lunch—that was one of the tweaked songs one of the bands was playing at SF Chefs this weekend (I am imagining Wilson Pickett is rolling over in his grave). Wonky song lyrics aside, whoa, what a blast this past weekend was. I think many people are still recovering from the madness that was SF Chefs. The tent was packed all weekend, and it was great to catch up with so many colleagues and friends, and meet new peeps as well (thanks to all the tablehopper readers who came over to say hello!). The chefs were turning things out, and I have to hand it to David Bazirgan of Fifth Floor, who even had a second bite at his table for VIPs (now that is what I call making it soigné).

The caliber of the cocktails was totally ON—I think my pal Brock Keeling (editor of SFist) said it best: “I have to pace myself,” while grabbing a second drink for his other hand. Heh. (This is one reason why we’re friends.)

I posted a photo album of all my pics from the weekend here, check it out!

A personal highlight was moderating my panel on Saturday, The Real Restaurant Wives of San Francisco (here’s a pic of the fabulous ladies). It ended up being a very thoughtful, revealing, and inspiring conversation—I could have listened to their stories and insights for another hour (some other guests told me the same thing). My dream of one day having my own food talk show was sealed! Many thanks to E&O for hosting.

And in the midst of all this decadence, I was happy to learn that $20,000 was raised for Meals On Wheels of San Francisco at the illy Chef Challenge (good to know Chase Sapphire is putting those finance charges to good use—I’m only partly kidding). And another $5,000 was donated to the Golden Gate Restaurant Association Scholarship Foundation. Congrats to chefs Chris Cosentino and Elizabeth Falkner, who won the live cooking challenge against Dominique Crenn and Russell Jackson.

So, tomorrow I am actually heading back up to Lake Tahoe, my preferred remote office in the summer. I know, the joys of being able to work from anywhere. Besides, I need to work on a base tan before heading to Turkey at the end of the month—I can’t show up there looking like I live in San Francisco, I’ll fry.

Have a fun week, and I’ll be back in touch on Friday.

Cheers!

Marcia Gagliardi

August 5, 2011
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Smitten coffee ice cream (let’s pretend it’s hot out).

Well, my SF Chefs media badge arrived in the mail, which is basically my passport to trouble for the next 48 hours. A quick reminder: just in case you have a last-minute desire to buy some SF Chefs event tickets and go have some fun this weekend, the best deal is for VISA Signature cardholders, who receive 20% off tickets, but if you don’t have that variety of plastic, use Tablehopper11 for 10% off all SF Chefs tickets!

I have a lot to do today (including finish getting my questions together for the panel I’m moderating on Saturday afternoon, The Real Restaurant Wives of San Francisco), so let’s hop to it.

Today’s review is of my favorite recent addition to the Lower Haight these days, Wing Wings. For those of you who were at the San Francisco Bay Guardian Best of the Bay party last night (thanks again to everyone who voted for tablehopper!), you got to enjoy the chicken salad and biscuit little number from Wing Wings. Well, today’s writeup is here to tell you a lot more about the menu. Warning: you’ll need plenty of napkins.

Oh, and this Saturday is the Lower Haight Art Walk (from 12pm-6pm), in case you’re inspired to swing by and check them out since they’ll be running some specials—along with a bunch of other businesses—including the reopening of the ever-mysterious and newly renovated Peacock Lounge!

Okay, time for me to flap flap. Have a grand weekend!

Marcia Gagliardi

August 2, 2011
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Rye on the Road’s Kentucky Sno-ball at the SF Street Food Festival’s media dinner.

Well, the massive SF Chefs tent is up in Union Square, which offers a whole other level of glamping. Do you have tickets to some of the events? The grand tastings feature an impressive lineup of local talent—and let’s just say I hope you didn’t drive, because the cocktails and wines available at each event mean business.

On Saturday, after the first tasting of the day wraps up, I’ll be at E&O Trading Co. leading a panel, The Real Restaurant Wives of San Francisco from 4pm-6pm. It’s going to be a behind-the-scenes discussion about famed SF restaurateurs from a totally unique perspective: their wives and partners! You’ll meet Leslie Gibin (Perbacco), Amy Wong (E&O Trading Co.), Chantal Keller (Fleur de Lys), and Emily Mitra (Dosa), and there will be signature cocktails from each of their restaurants. Should be a very good time. (Get your tickets here.) The best deal is for VISA Signature cardholders, who receive 20% off tickets, but if you don’t have that variety of plastic, use Tablehopper11 for 10% off all SF Chefs tickets!

But here’s a bonus: I have two pairs of tickets to give away to The Real Restaurant Wives of San Francisco panel to two lucky readers. All you need to do is post a comment on my SF Chefs event posting on the tablehopper Facebook page by Wednesday August 3rd at 12 noon, and I’ll randomly pick two winners tomorrow afternoon. Look forward to seeing you there!

Meanwhile, I am putting the finishing touches on questions for the panel I’m moderating this Wednesday at the Commonwealth Club on what makes a restaurant great. Yup, it’s panel week. And I have questions. Lots of ‘em!

Oh, and before signing off, here’s a little link-age to an article I was interviewed for, Scruffy Chic: The New Rules for Dining (for Grub Street New York). Hope you enjoy it.

This week is gonna be a doozy. Time to flip on the after-burners.

Marcia Gagliardi

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