February 2013

February 26, 2013
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Some of the fab banchan at Sura Korean in Temescal. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Ah yes, another one of my favorite combos hits the city: a full moon and warm weather. I’m definitely looking forward to heading to the Ramen Shop tonight for the sold-out Meatpaper party to celebrate their “fishue”—those folks know how to throw a good party.

How was your weekend? My friends were awesome and threw a salumi and lambrusco party on Saturday—that’s tough to beat. On Sunday I was invited to be one of the judges for the Scharffen Berger Chocolate Adventure Contest—talk about getting cracked out on sugar, damn. I also had a friend over for the Oscars—I’ll take any excuse I can to cook from the Jerusalem cookbook, so good. While there’s been a lot of discussion around the misogynistic tone of the Oscars (we need Amy and Tina to host it next year and turn that ship around), I did like the introduction of the Jaws theme to warn winners to cut their acceptance speech short. I’d love to apply that music to end many things, like a bad date or someone rambling too much—time to load that music on my iPhone. (I could also use it for this column that always seems to get too long, ha!)

Was happy to see the news on KQED that Drakes Bay Oyster Farm got a reprieve that allows it to stay open until its appeal is heard. (Am pleased the Drakes Bay oysters I had at Waterbar last week weren’t my last.)

Lastly, do you have a quick second to help me out on something non-food related? My editorial assistant is going to be super-embarrassed over this, but she’s in a contest to win free wedding photography for her upcoming wedding, and she needs some votes, fast. I swear, it will take you two seconds to click here, scroll to the bottom, and vote for Bucky and Dana. Please and thanks so much! They are such a nice couple, I’d love to help them save some money and have some gorg pics.

XOXO
Marcia Gagliardi

February 22, 2013
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My “by request” crab roll at Waterbar. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hello, my fellow fans of Friday. Do you have your Oscars plans all lined up? The bubbles are chilling, and I’m still figuring out which recipes I want to make from Jerusalem (scroll down to read a bookworm blurb here) for my guest who’s coming over to watch them with me.

Yesterday was a fun one for yours truly: tablehopper turned seven! Yeah, that’s a lot of Tuesdays in your inbox, and some Fridays too. Big thanks to one of my superstar readers, who sent me this fab animation—totally made my day. I could watch it again and again. (Getting. Very. Thirsty.) Thanks for all of your support, people! You keep me inspired.

So, in honor of seven years, I thought I’d share seven cool things I learned this week:

  1. Chef Michele Belotti at Ristobar is making some seriously delicious stuffed pastas. (Have you ever had casoncelli? You should.)
  2. The raw bar manager at Waterbar, Greg Babinecz, is sourcing and shucking the most amazing (and rare) variety of oysters in the city. Pull up to the bar for some insightful education, beautiful oysters, and clever wine pairings by beverage director Steven Izzo. Oh yeah, and there’s that VIEW.
  3. If you have any time tonight or tomorrow, try to visit Oliveto for the last days of its Whole Hog Dinners. Stars on chef Jonah Rhodehamel’s full-tilt-boogie menu include 24-month Magruder prosciutto, pancetta-wrapped sardine, lobster boudin blanc, charcoal-grilled Calabrian sausage, and spit-roasted boar leg and loin. Hubba.
  4. If you’re looking for a charming date spot that’s off the beaten path, try Orexi in West Portal. I’d like to think its housemade taramosalata is the way to a (special) person’s heart.
  5. Italian winemakers Bruno De Conciliis and Alberto Graci are just finishing up their mega-tour of San Francisco, but you can still swing by Biondivino on Saturday to try their wonderful wines before they head home (6pm-8pm, $10 tasting)!
  6. Even if the majority of the content was reportedly ripped off from other people on the internet, the spoofed Guy Fieri menu still made me laugh my ass off.
  7. Starting the week with shakshuka for breakfast/brunch at home is awesome (check out a couple of recipes on my Pinterest board).

Ah yes, brunch. Before we head into the weekend, I thought you’d like a look at my piece for 7x7.com with five suggestions for how to shake up your brunch routine. Nope, no bacon and eggs here (although I do love them so).

Today we have a piece from Alan Goldfarb in Checking Lists,” featuring Bellanico in Oakland (you can also listen to my “You Gotta Eat This” feature on KGO Radio about Bellanico here), and Heather Irwin styles us with some 707 news.

Thanks for seven years, and cheers!

Marcia Gagliardi

February 19, 2013
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Kimchi-yuba with smoked egg “bottarga” by State Bird Provisions (yeah, it rocked). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Is it wrong to be loving this rain? I’m certainly a hell of a lot more productive when it’s raining out. (Sadly it looks like that’s all the rain we’re going to get for the next week—at least I got one nature’s free car wash.)

The weekend was a full-tilt extravaganza o’ delicious, starting with spicy cast-iron pizza, cocktails, and Terradora Taurasi wine at Capo’s (followed by a nightcap at Tony Nik’s, always a favorite). Saturday I checked out Boris Portnoy’s Satellite Republic family-style Georgian dinner at The Punchdown in Oakland (so glad I jumped on tickets for that one early). And Sunday was the blowout: Bar Tartine and State Bird Provisions held the follow-up party for their Commonwealth Club/Inforum talk earlier in the week, Craft to Table. Holy flavor country, that’s all I can say. Loved seeing chefs Nick Balla, Cortney Burns, Stuart Brioza, and Nicole Krasinski doing their voodoo together—the partnership was so symbiotic. The kitchen totally looked like the coolest culinary workshop, a feeling echoed with the Peg-Board on the walls. What a special night.

Speaking of State Bird Provisions and Bar Tartine’s Nick Balla, congrats to them both—and many many other local talents—on the list of nominations for the 2013 James Beard Awards, just released today. We’ll learn about the finalists on March 18th.

Have you been hearing about the crazy-long lines at b. Patisserie and The Mill? I know, when this town is curious, we really show up. FYI, head to b. Patisserie early since it seems to be completely selling out by 1pm, according to some frustrated posts on Twitter; and you can check out a couple of new pics of The Mill that we just added to the tablehopper post (I went by on Friday, what a gorg addition to the neighborhood, it feels so sunny and bright).

More baked goods notes: Don’t forget this Sunday February 24th, 20th Century Cafe returns to State Bird Provisions, selling an assortment of knishes, rugelach, tortes, tarts, and coffee, as well as jars of jam (you can also come by for the last pop-up on March 3rd). Hours are 11am-2pm.

Our city is out of control right now. Am I right?

Marcia Gagliardi

February 15, 2013
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True love: the “Chinese burger” at Beijing Restaurant. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Boy, am I glad Valentine’s Day nonsense is out of my life, my inbox full of horrible cocktail recipes, dinner-for-two pitches, overnight stays that involved rose petal-covered beds, and Facebook full of couples professing their love publicly and gloating over the flowers/cards/chocolates they received (really, people?). At least Twitter had some sassy commentary (warning, that last link is filthy), I loved all the cute emoji texts from friends, my macarons from Le Dix-Sept were delightful, and my single friends and I had a ridonkulously fun feast at Beijing Restaurant last night, full of bottles of bubbles and stories that were spicier than the “Chili Delights with Special Sauce.” Nightcap at the Broken Record (aka Whiskey HQ), check. Yeah, we were living for the Excelsior last night.

Today I have a little bit of breaking news for you (North Beach rising!) and a review of The Corner Store as well (the place has a full bar and patio, so let’s consider it weekend ready). Oh yeah, and on 7x7.com, I have my monthly roundup of five new places that have opened in the city.

The weather is gorg (crazily so), it’s a three-day weekend for many, and it’s Friday! Hubba. Enjoy, dollinks.

Marcia Gagliardi

February 12, 2013
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Cold-brewed and iced Sightglass coffee at the CRO Café. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hello, partiers. Happy Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday to you! (Are you already wasted? I blame Beer Week.) In case you’re looking for some places to get your po’boy and Hurricane on this evening, here you go.

And then two days later, it’s the oh-so-loved and hated and berated Valentine’s Day. I’ll be hosting our annual “Lonely Hearts Dinner” (whose title is completely meant to be funny, by the way) with my single pals—the players around the table may change, but the meal is always a Chinese banquet with lots of beer, wine, and sassy stories (and the only expectations we have are about the food).

I recently wrote a post for 7x7.com on where to score some delicious locally made treats, whether they’re for your sweetie or your own damn self.

Speaking of treats, Sunday was an explosion of ‘em as I took a media preview of Edible Excursions’ latest tour, Taste of Temescal. From fish tacos at Cholita Linda to coffee-almond sorbet at Scream Sorbet, it was a seriously delicious and decadent way to spend the afternoon, check it out. Fortunately you have to walk everywhere.

One more item: if you aren’t following tablehopper on Facebook or Twitter (ahem), then you may not have seen this awesome New York Times piece on coffee shop/barista lingo. It’s muy rico.

Enjoy the sun.

Marcia Gagliardi

February 8, 2013
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Knishes at 20th Century Cafe’s pop-up event. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Howdy, impending weekend warriors. I am just returning from a little jaunt to Italy yesterday—the annual Tre Bicchieri wine tasting was a total getaway to the land I adore. I now have about 20 new Italian loves to look for on local lists and store shelves.

Four hours of power tasting was followed by a feast with a posse of my fellow purple-teethed Italians in the private downstairs room at Kokkari—one could deduce that when I made the reservation I knew we’d have a representative from Mastroberardino with us to pour their fantastic Taurasi Radici ‘08 with the lamb chops and moussaka, but it was just our dumb luck to experience that fantastic pairing (you too can taste this wine and others tonight at Limone in San Carlos, if you are in the 650 and hungry around 7:30pm—details here). Raise a glass in honor of Lucio.

You have so many fab options this weekend, from numerous Beer Week events to Sunday brunch at Cotogna to an izakaya menu at Sebo that evening to celebrations and meals marking the beginning of the Lunar New Year. See those knishes? They can be yours at Sunday’s 20th Century Cafe pop-up at State Bird (trust me, you want to get those knishes).

This Friday issue has a Checking Lists column from Alan Goldfarb on M.Y. China, and 707 news from Heather Irwin to keep you busy and well fed.

Today I am with my family at a memorial to celebrate the life of our family friend, the inimitable Harry Minkey—here’s to the Mink! (I may have to take a break from my usual bourbony ways and drink some vodka in his honor.)

Fortunately my bourbon levels are up since Wednesday evening I had the opportunity to drink with and learn about Bulleit 10 from the man himself, Mr. Tom Bulleit (always a pleasure to have the charismatic Bulleits in town), followed by the kickoff soiree for Vegas Uncork’d at Hakkasan, holy mega party. Uncorked, it’s a lifestyle.

Cin cin!

Marcia Gagliardi

February 5, 2013
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Whoa, this coming week is gonna be nuts, with the Lunar New Year and Mardi Gras all hitting at once. There will be parties, there will be great food!

Which was kind of like my past week: I spent some time hitting up two newer cafés I was curious about (Front in Potrero Hill and Firehouse 8 on Russian Hill—both have been written about on tablehopper); two bake sales and brunches (20th Century Cafe with its insane knishes at State Bird and Marla Bakery’s spiced meat pie at Firehouse 8, both on Sundays); a couple test dinners (Hi Lo and Club Deluxe—read all about ‘em today in tablehopper); did a lap or two on the Italian circuit (a superb meal—as always—at SPQR, and at dopo in Piedmont); and tablehopped to two parties on Friday night (the opening of Beneath the Sheaths at 18 Reasons, and a swell cocktail party at Piper/Keller). You can witness some pics of the carnage on my Instagram feed!

Superbowl Sunday was spent watching Silver Linings Playbook in an almost-empty theater (it was good but I expected a lot more), and the night before I managed to catch this utterly hilarious show, a redux of Three’s Company episodes (followed by a full-tilt feast at State Bird Provisions—the smoked sturgeon and pancake dish is unreal). Oh yeah, and you can see that wicked Turkish brunch spread I had at Pera on Saturday, gorgeous—I felt like a pasha.

Holy crap. I made some mileage this past week. This week is no different, with a Bulleit tasting with Tom Bulleit, Tre Bicchieri, and other shenanigans on tap for this week. Speaking of, it’s also Beer Week! Hic.

Hold onto your hats.
Marcia Gagliardi

February 1, 2013
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The baked rigatoni with butternut squash, sage, fontina, brown butter, and amaretti at Ragazza (which FYI is closed on Super Bowl Sunday). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Yup, it’s February 1st already—time keeps on slippin’… It’s been a busy week, with an unexpected dinner at dopo on Tuesday night when I forgot Ramen Shop in Oakland was closed on Tuesdays (don’t make the same mistake, kids)—although trust, the arancini, pickled herring, and lasagnette alla ravanusa (and diplomatico for dessert!) quickly assuaged my disappointment.

So tonight is the opening of Beneath the Sheaths (be sure to check out the show in coming weeks at 18 Reasons if you can’t make it tonight), and then there’s the BIG opening: Saison. In lieu of a review, I thought I’d do an in-depth overview of this new and stunning restaurant that opens tonight. We also have some 707 news for you.

Super Bowl Sunday is coming, and I have a piece over on 7x7.com about all the places where you can score delicious food while watching the game, whether you’re out on the town or trying to eat like a king on your couch at home. There are some tasty options in there, check it out. Since I am going to need to hide from my hateful, louder-than-is-ever-acceptable neighbors who assuredly will be holding a bro-fest in their downstairs apartment, I have my prime-time dinner reservation at a popular restaurant and my movie tickets later that night all lined up. Yeah, that’s how I roll.

Have fun out there—just don’t burn the city down, okay?
Marcia Gagliardi

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