February 2012

February 28, 2012

Part of the lineup of vintage wines I got to taste at PRESS. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Oh, hi. Excuse me while I put down this chicken leg, which has more meat on it than Angelina Jolie’s biceps. One thing I didn’t want to put down last week was my wine glass. I headed up to wine country on Wednesday (in a very cute, red, shiny Fiat 500 I rented for a couple days—fun) for a very special event at PRESS St. Helena to commemorate their new wine cellar, which now has room for 10,000 bottles, and is the largest all-Napa collection of wines in the country. I know, kuh-razy.

Owner Leslie Rudd and his distinguished guests were opening up a slew of vintage cabernets, from a 1974 Robert Mondavi to a 1988 Philip Togni that haunted me. The room swirled with legendary vintners, including Peter Mondavi Sr., Paul Draper, and Warren Winiarski, and I very much enjoyed dining next to Dave Del Dotto, who kept pouring his 2006 Vineyard 887 St. Helena cab for me (smashing with the trio of beef—I don’t know how the kitchen managed to serve so many guests such exquisitely cooked beef all at once). What an event—one for the books.

The next day I swung by Redd Wood in Yountville for lunch with my adorable parents, who were in town celebrating their anniversary. We sat out on the terrace, dining on a delicious little gem salad with winter vegetables and Green Goddess dressing, and a couple stellar pizzas (courtesy of Liza Shaw, who is assisting Richard Reddington in getting the pizza dialed in—the lardo, mushroom, spinach, and Fontina pizza was fab). The place has a cool New York look—reminded me a little bit of the Breslin. Look forward to coming back in the evening for cocktails.

Friday I was invited for a special media luncheon at Betelnut in honor of the launch of author Nina Simonds’ new book, Simple Asian Meals. What a delight to see grand dame Cecilia Chang at the table, along with Patty Unterman and other fun culinary colleagues. Chef Alex Ong and his team did a great job interpreting dishes from the book. So why should I have all the fun? I have a signed extra copy of Simple Asian Meals to give away to one lucky reader! All you need to do is comment on today’s column posted on the tablehopper Facebook page by 11:59pm on Friday March 2nd, and I’ll randomly pick a winner this weekend. But here’s the catch: you’ll have to pick it up (I live in the Western Addition/NoPa). I loathe the post office, sorry.

FYI, I drew the winner for the Whiskies of the World Expo tickets this past weekend, but don’t forget, you can use code tablehopper for $10 off!

Last week, I had one of the tastiest things I’ve eaten under $15 in some time: the off-the-menu French dog at Café des Amis in Cow Hollow. You can only order it at the bar, and the sauerkraut with bacon was so good I was pleading with chef Mark Sullivan to start selling it in jars. I talk all about the housemade French dog, along with the sausages you can order at City Beer Store via Citizen’s Band in today’s episode of You Gotta Eat This on KGO Radio.

Have a swell week,

Marcia Gagliardi

February 21, 2012

Adorable morel stencil on Valencia Street. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Welcome to your short week—although mine is the same as it ever was. Actually, I’m getting out of town for 24 hours and heading up to St. Helena for a splashy event, the reopening of the wine cellar at PRESS. And looking at the upcoming warm temperatures tomorrow, it’s going to be a nice road trip, even though I’ll be in a rental car (cough). Thanks everyone for the kind notes about my wrecked Alfa—I got to read many tales of car loss and remembrance. Hey, misery loves company. At least the thought of test driving the new FIAT 500 is making me smile.

So guess what? Today tablehopper turns six! Can you believe that? SO many late Monday nights writing this thing, jeesh. GRAZIE for all the support. The best present you could give my column is to forward this week’s issue to your friends and tell them to subscribe. Truly. Many thanks in advance!

Also want to do a special toast to my adorable parents, who are celebrating their anniversary this Thursday. Their love is one of the sweetest things I know on this earth.

More celebratin’: big congrats to all the semifinalists announced for the 2012 restaurant and chef James Beard Foundation Awards. Check out the list here. Best of luck to all during the finalist process (it’s gotta be harrowing).

Oh, today’s episode of You Gotta Eat This on KGO Radio has me riffing on one of my very favorite breakfasts: chilaquiles. (You saw a picture of one of my favorites last week, now you can hear me talk about them.)

Okay folks, have a very happy Mardi Gras and maybe I’ll catch ya on Friday, maybe I won’t (am debating about making this Friday my Monday off).

Marcia Gagliardi

February 17, 2012

Chilaquiles Veronica at SanJalisco. The culinary cure for a broken heart. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hey there, happy Friday. Although I am actually a bit heartbroken today—yesterday I had to make the hard decision to total out my beloved Alfa Romeo. Ends up the repairs (estimated at $7,400, egad) were going to exceed the value of the car, even after I convinced my insurance to raise the car’s value more than their original assessment. A total rock and a hard place. Anyone who has driven an Alfa, or ever loved a vintage car knows what this feels like. Yeah, crap. And dealing with insurance for a few weeks has totally worn me the hell out.

So after a day of emotional eating yesterday (thank you for comforting me, chilaquiles at SanJalisco, and grazie to Guido for polpette and lasagne), I was thankful for a morning of working out in Alamo Square with my trainer. Yeah, it’s stupidly beautiful outside today. If I had my CAR, I’d be driving out to the beach with the top down for some fresh air, but it looks like that’s out of the cards for now. Pfffft.

Tuesday night, my friends and I held our annual Lonely Hearts/Singles Scene dinner, so I thought I’d share a quick writeup of our fantastic feast. It was one for the books. I also have a bookworm and 707 Scout for you, check it out.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t have a lot of juice today. Just pissed off and pretty sad. Fortunately going to go dancing late tonight and shake it. So I’m gonna sign off, see you next Tuesday, sweeties.

Marcia Gagliardi

February 14, 2012

Negroni at aperitivo hour at Hog & Rocks. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Happy Valentine’s Day, darlings. Was crushed when Tony Bennett failed to drown out the weekly emergency broadcast at noon today, on the 50th anniversary of when he first sang “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” at the Venetian Room in the Fairmont Hotel. Our local radio stations also failed me. So thank you, internet, for ultimately giving me some lovey-dovey time with Tony, and my beloved city.

More things on my love list: the fantastico aperitivo hour on Saturday at Hog & Rocks, courtesy of Liquor.com and Campari (here’s hoping they do more), the trout with garum-brown butter at State Bird Provisions, and the family feast for my grandma’s birthday this past Sunday, which included my dad’s mushroom risotto, my mom’s marinated lamb, and my aunt’s not one but two pies for dessert: Boston cream pie (this needs to be on more menus) and lemon meringue (she’s a baking machine).

More items for the love list: on today’s segment of You Gotta Eat This on KGO Radio, I mention three places that serve delicious chicken wings (San Tung, Wing Wings, and Chubby Noodle). Have a listen.

Tonight, the city will be divided between couples paying for prix-fixe dinners at restaurants converted into two-tops or cooking at home, while singles hide or go out and drink (I think it’s a great night to go out—odds are if someone is alone at a bar tonight, they’re single, or newly single, ha ha). Hopefully everyone is eating sweets.

I will be out with some friends (and family) celebrating our annual Lonely Hearts Dinner (the name is meant to be funny) around a big table with a lazy Susan in the middle. Yup, banquet dinner time! Followed by kitschy drinks somewhere. Love it. Am also loving the fact that nopa (and Nopalito!) decided to close tonight for their annual holiday party. Bold! I was talking with chef Laurence Jossel yesterday, who said the staff is throwing a formal tonight, and he’ll be rocking a powder blue tux with a ruffled shirt. Pics were promised.

This week, the highlight for me, gleaming brightly on my calendar, is tomorrow’s Tre Bicchieri event, when Fort Mason turns into a mini Italy, packed with incredible wines and hot men in suits. What more does a girl need?


Marcia Gagliardi

February 7, 2012

Beef cheek ramen at Nombe. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Boy, am I glad to be out of the bunker. There is nothing quite like the feeling of finishing a honking deadline, or in my case, two. I had fun getting my swerve on Thursday night in North Beach, feasting at Chubby Noodle and having after-dinner drinks at Comstock Saloon (that Cherry Bounce will get you in trouble).

On Friday, a friend who is a member of the South End Rowing Club took me out on the bay on a beautiful wood boat—-what an epic morning. Beer for breakfast on the dock was quickly followed by a crab sandwich from the stand at Fisherman’s Grotto #9, and cracked crab from “the girls” at Alioto-Lazio Fish Company later that night.

And The Golden Glass on Saturday was fantastico—so many incredible wines, and the porchetta crew from Italy blew my mind. Am having fun reading more about the wines I liked in the brand-new Slow Wine 2012 guide—you can pick it up here.

I sure am pleased with how the weather synced up with my You Gotta Eat This! feature on KGO Radio today. Yup, I talk about three of my picks for ramen: Hapa Ramen, Kirimachi, and Nombe. Have a listen—it’s less than two minutes.

So Valentine’s Day is next week, as my overflowing inbox full of press releases keeps reminding me every 15 minutes. Since we have so many great bakers in town, I included a write-up of some sweet treats you can buy for your honey, or your friends, or your own damn self! Meanwhile, I was happily surprised with a delivery of beautiful white roses from Whole Foods last week, and Gary Rulli stoked me with a box of his delightful artisan chocolates at The Golden Glass this past weekend. Really took a lot of pressure off my imaginary boyfriend, let me tell you.

Love and kisses!

Marcia Gagliardi

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