March 2012

March 30, 2012
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A belly-warming bowl of ramen at OPENharvest. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Oh, this sweet city. There are so many cool people doing memorable and creative things, and last night was no exception. Some friends and I headed out to the Headlands Center for the Arts for the latest event from the OPENrestaurant crew, OPENharvest, which was a recreation and recap of their trip to Japan during the 2011 rice harvest season with Tokyo’s Food Light Project. Here’s more: “OPENharvest was created to build support for Japanese organic farms and sustainable fisheries affected by last year’s cataclysmic events at Fukushima. The Bay Area contingent traveled to Japan to visit farmers, fishermen, cooks and artists, documenting along the way and organizing a series of edible and artistic events at such locations as the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo.”

It was a misty evening out in the Headlands, and there was something very immersive about getting out of cell range, taking our shoes off, and hanging out in one of the beautiful old barracks. The room was full of installations about the trip, with sweet music playing, and slideshows, and Japanese lanterns, and of course delicious food, from ramen to pickled cardoons to a beautifully assembled rice bite to boiled peanuts. Four Barrel set up an espresso stand, and it was a perfect night for a visit to the Yamazaki whisky bar. A huge thank you to everyone and appreciation for everything that went into putting on the event—each and every OPENrestaurant event has such resonance. I (quickly) posted some images from the evening here if you’d like to take a look.

It also ties in well with today’s review, which is of Izakaya Yuzuki in the Mission, another experience that resonated deeply with me. Looks like it will be an ideal (rainy) weekend for you to warm up with their koshihikari rice and chawan-mushi (and maybe a couple glasses of sake, heh).

See you next week!

Marcia Gagliardi

March 27, 2012
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The housemade tofu at Izakaya Yuzuki. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hello, stormy afternoon. The wet weather definitely has me heading to the movies more often these days—I was so fired up to go see Jiro Dreams of Sushi over the weekend. I know, I know, everyone is talking about it, but really, it’s one of those films many people should see (not just chefs and sushi fanatics). It’s about dedication, craft, family, and a portrait of one of the most astounding work ethics I have ever seen—we’re all a bunch of slackers, let me tell you. It’s supposed to wrap up this week, so get thee to the theater, pronto. (A nice bonus about the Landmark Embarcadero is you get three hours of validated parking, schweet.) And while I didn’t go out for sushi after the film like everyone seems to want to do, I did have a very charming meal at Izakaya Yuzuki—more on that soon.

After a long hiatus, I am happy to announce the return of a tablehopper wine tasting on Saturday April 28th at Café des Amis! The tasting will feature wines from the appellations of the Languedoc, and the very talented Josiah Baldivino, the head sommelier at MICHAEL MINA, will be leading the class. Tickets are limited! We look forward to seeing you there.

My dining lineup this week is looking verrrrrry good, including the OPENharvest Japan at Headlands and a family-style Basque dinner and fundraiser for Forage Kitchen. I know many folks are excited for the opening of Namu Gaji this Saturday as well.

One more thing to make you hungry: today’s episode of You Gotta Eat This features Cosecha Cafe in Oakland. You already read about Cosecha’s tasty tacos on tablehopper, but now you can listen as well.

Catch ya later! Oh, and a hat tip to @thedapperdiner for spoon feeding me today’s title.

Marcia Gagliardi

March 23, 2012
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Soft scramble with rabbit sausage at State Bird Provisions. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hello and welcome to the Friday club. Yeah, it’s a good place to be—I’m already plotting how late I can sleep in tomorrow, mama needs it. Wednesday night was a late one: I was out with the fun cyclist couple who bid on my tablehopping auction for the SF Bike Winterfest, which had us start with appetizers (and wine and beer) at Bar Tartine, and then we pedaled over to Foreign Cinema for more bites and wine, and our finale was at Locanda, our table cluttered with the Old Fashioned and Negroni flights the bar is offering right now. Fortunately there was also a nice bike ride home after the bacchanalia. (I’ll share details on what we ate soon so you can recreate the night—it was a good one.)

As promised, today I finally have a fresh meat review for you on one of the places I’m most excited about right now, State Bird Provisions. There are so many details to cover that of course I went way over my already out-of-bounds self-imposed word count. I hope you enjoy reading about this exciting addition to our vibrant culinary scene. San Francisco is on fire right now.

Another thing that’s on fire is my email inbox, so I gotta go. (Yeah, I think y’all liked that a-ma-zing Pebble Beach Food & Wine giveaway email that went out a couple days ago.)

See you on Tuesday, enjoy the weekend (even though it’s gonna be rainy, wah).

Marcia Gagliardi

March 20, 2012
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The Hometown Vixen (bourbon, pistachio, orange, lemon, gomme) at Maven. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Well, happy first day of spring to you. I am crossing my fingers and toes that it doesn’t rain tomorrow night, since I’ll be tablehopping in the Mission on my bike. The occasion? I’ll be with the two generous folks who bid on a progressive night on the town with me at the San Francisco Bike Coalition Winterfest party—we’re going to be pedaling to three different restaurants, which, funnily enough, are very, very close to each other. A full report on the feast is forthcoming.

Speaking of feasting, today’s episode of You Gotta Eat This on KGO Radio features the smashing hors d’oeuvres plate at Michael Mina. Have you had it? You can listen in here and start plotting your visit.

A few things you’ll want to watch for this week: I have a couple special sponsored emails scheduled for this week that should interest you (trust), and on Friday, I’ll be announcing an upcoming tablehopper wine tasting event that will be held on Saturday April 28th. (I know, it’s been a while!) Stand by.

You ready to dive in? Today’s issue includes an in-depth and exclusive look at the upcoming Namu Gaji, and a really exciting OPENrestaurant event in the socialite. I hope you enjoy it—I was up burning the midnight oil to put this thing together, oy. It’s espresso time. (Not to be confused with Hammertime.)

Marcia Gagliardi

March 16, 2012
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The kitchen counter at State Bird Provisions. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hello, fellow soggy citizens. Should I feel guilty for not leaving my bed to work out in Alamo Square this morning? It was all kinds of gross out. I’ll just need to work it out on the dancefloor tonight instead. Fine by me.

Remember when I said I was going to have a review for you today? It’s like the universe is conspiring against me or something. Suffice it to say, there was a major snafu with my piece slated to run today, almost comedically so. (Almost. And that’s all I’m going to say on the matter.) So I am going to run a sneak peek for you of the brand-new Mission Bowling Club instead, opening Monday. I had a chance to swing by for a friends and family preview after a, uh, entertaining opening party at the new PENTHOUSE Club & Steakhouse (which is not my first pick for where I want to see and hang out with some of my work colleagues—I needed my own Champagne room, ha ha). As for the MBC, it’s going to be such a hit—read on for more.

I also realized I forgot to link to this week’s episode of You Gotta Eat This on KGO Radio in my Tuesday issue, which features exactly the kind of dish you want on a day like today: the katsikaki youvetsi (goat stew) at Kokkari. Listen in to the segment here!

Have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow (I’ll be at the Vintage Fashion Expo, wearing something green)!

Cheers!

Marcia Gagliardi

March 13, 2012
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The peaceful patio at the Kenwood Inn and Spa. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hello, my fellow soggy friends. Yeah, it’s definitely soup weather out there. Fortunately the weather was still beautiful when I drove up to Glen Ellen on Saturday in my new Fiat 500, her first road trip. Zip zip! My wingman and I stopped at the HKG tasting room for lunch (they offer a variety of flavorful small plates from chef Khambay Khamsavoravong) before checking in to the Kenwood Inn and Spa, such a glorious hideaway (it feels like a Montecito mansion). We had an enjoyable rhubarb-influenced dinner from new chef Steven Snook while sitting next to the fireplace—and then the best part is just walking to your room and sinking into a glorious feather bed. Best night of sleep I’ve had all week. There’s nothing like getting out of the city, and even for 24 hours, it was quite the reset button. Stand by for more about the property soon.

After breakfast (we were back in front of the fireplace, oh you know it), it was time to head back to the city, but I wanted to do a quick stop at Ram’s Gate Winery to check it out. It’s quite an impressive setting, and they did a bang-up job with the design and chic décor—very welcoming service as well. Will have to return when I have more time to try some of the dishes on offer.

Have a good week—today’s issue should have plenty of opportunities for you to be well-fed and get toasty.

Cheers!

Marcia Gagliardi

March 9, 2012
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Raw and blanched asparagus salad with carrot soubise and lemon-goat cheese vinaigrette at Grand Café. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Well, happy gorgeous Friday to you! Spring fever in effect, just as we spring forward on Sunday. And I definitely have a spring in my step (and soon in my shocks), because I am off to San Jose to pick up my brand-new, red, shiny, Fiat 500 Sport. I was explaining to a friend it’s kind of like when you lose a precious cat: I needed to find a playful new kitten to distract me from the loss of my beloved Alfa Romeo. I know, I know, it’s just a car—but when you love to drive as much as I do, it’s more than that.

The timing couldn’t be better, because tomorrow morning I am heading up to the magnificent Kenwood Inn and Spa in Sonoma for a self-imposed business retreat with a friend (I’m calling it Vision Quest 2012). Things have been so busy with tablehopper, I haven’t had time to step back and map out all these ideas I have for the business. So this weekend, it’s time to open the sunroof, put the pedal to the metal, and get outta Dodge.

I have to say, what an inspiring week packed full of inspiring women it has been: the EWIP (Exceptional Women in Publishing) 2012 Women’s Leadership Conference featured some influential speakers (and new contacts), followed by dinner at Grand Café with my friend, the visionary Rachel Cole. New executive chef Alicia Jenish has made some welcome changes to the French brasserie menu, lightening things up significantly (loved the asparagus salad, and bouillabaisse).

And yesterday was International Women’s Day, which I annually celebrate at A16’s Festa della Donna, a wonderful, local culinary tradition. Joyce Goldstein was the honored guest chef, and her menu of rustic crostini, asparagus and Dungeness risotto, and cocoa-crusted shortribs braised in red wine was fantastic alongside the wines of Lorenza Sebasti Pallanti of Castello di Ama (I fell in love with the 2009 “Al Poggio” chardonnay/pinot grigio from Gaiole in Chianti—what a smashing pairing with the risotto). It was so heartwarming to see the table of three generations of the smiling Goldstein family, with Joyce at the head, while wine director/owner Shelley Lindgren buzzed around the room, pouring wines and greeting guests (mostly tables of women, or savvy men taking their ladies out). A memorable evening celebrating memorable women; I raised my glass (again and again).

As you can tell, I’m on cloud nine right now. Cue the birds singing.

Thanks to 707 Scout writer Deirdre Bourdet for today’s stories—some exciting things happening in wine country. And I promise you’ll have a review from me next week. Scout’s honor.

Have a delightful weekend!

Marcia Gagliardi

March 6, 2012
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A fellow diner scooping up shrimp étouffée by Fat Alley Foods at Behind the Cart. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Whoa, keep your hat on—it’s windy out there. So glad I’m not on my bike today, I’d be cursing like a sailor—not unlike how I was talking very early Monday morning when I jumped out of my bed like a shot with the first shake from that 4.0. Sonofab*tch! That was not my preferred way to start the week, and I know I’m not alone with that sentiment.

The weekend was beyond magnificent (I love summer in March!): I tooled down to San Jose with my dad to test drive the new Fiat 500 Sport (I had a smile on my face the entire time, I gotta tell ya). Am currently waiting to find out when the model with the specs I want is coming in. Yup, mama’s gonna have a brand-new ride—a red and shiny one! As a friend coined it, it’s like a ladybug on speed—what a little bomba. Beep beep.

Saturday night was a blast: I went to my second Behind the Cart event—this one was New Orleans/Mardi Gras-themed. It was a packed house at the Old Skool Cafe in Bayview, with a rowdy brass band (MJ’s Brass Boppers) and a delicious lineup of eats, from hush puppies by Angry Man Eats to an inventive gumbo pot pie by S+S Gastro Grub, plus locally made beer, and of course I had to indulge in a Sazerac. Loved the family-style dining format, and we all waddled out of there, let me tell you.

Tomorrow I’m looking forward to checking out the EWIP (Exceptional Women in Publishing) 2012 Women’s Leadership Conference, and will be feeling more lady pow-ah on Thursday at A16’s annual Festa della Donna dinner (there are a few spots that were just released on OpenTable, FYI!). Another option to celebrate International Women’s Day on Thursday is the Whisky and Women Unite event at The Boothby Center (get tickets here). No matter what you do, let’s all raise a glass to fabulous women everywhere.

Lastly, here’s today’s episode of You Gotta Eat This on KGO Radio, featuring the bountiful charcuterie and cheese plates at the Fifth Floor Lounge. You’re going to want to do a combo plate, mark my words.

Cheers gang!

Marcia Gagliardi

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