May 2013

May 31, 2013

The calm before the storm (at the tablehopper singles event). Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. ©

Ahhh, hallelujah, this insane week is almost done. And hello sunny weekend! Okay, wow, last night’s inaugural (and sold out!) tablehopper singles event was over the top! What a supremely fabulous crowd of people—I was thrilled with the turnout of quality and fun folks in the room. It was a blast—conversation was flowing like a runaway train (ditto the eight Languedoc wines that were poured throughout the evening), and sommelier Josiah Baldivino (visiting from Michael Mina) shared some excellent tasting notes and an overview of the region. Yeah, we rocked Languedoc. Most importantly, it looks like some good matches were made, and I’m not just talking wine pairings, hubba.

Huge thanks to chef Sharon Nahm and her team for the tasty spread (the oxtail dumplings were a big hit), and especially to the E+O Asian Kitchen event team for helping me with all the tricky logistics of this event. (People, if you’re looking for a spacious and stylish private dining room for an event, here’s your spot.) The party kept going late, but it was time for team hopper to pull the rip cord and we headed to Nopa for an unwind session over (more) wine and burgers. Damn, that was one hell of a night. Thank you to everyone who helped promote the event, told friends about it, and especially to those who showed up! There will be more in the future—I just need to recover a bit.

Also wanted to say thank you to the folks who came to the Commonwealth Club panel I moderated Tuesday evening on our local coffee scene—here’s a recap of the night in SFoodie. That could have easily turned into a three-hour talk—I still had so many questions to ask! So did the audience.

Somehow, in the middle of this week’s mayhem, I squeezed in a quick jaunt up to Napa to get away from my computer and check out a few spots—you can read all about it in the jetsetter. Today is all about Wine Country, because we also have Heather Irwin reporting some news and events in the 707 scout as well.

Have a terrific weekend. Personally, I can’t wait to have tonight in. It’s time to catch up on Mad Men. And some sleep.

Marcia Gagliardi

May 28, 2013

Stunning dessert by Melissa Perello at Outstanding in the Field (Devil’s Gulch Ranch). Photo: ©

So did you enjoy that soggy, misty Memorial Day? It made it a whole hell of a lot easier for me and my fab editorial assistant Dana to be inside cranking away on this column, let me tell you. Anyway, the rest of my weekend was fabulous, hopefully you can say the same. Friday was an impromptu night of cocktails (Trick Dog, Dalva), a burger and beer (Garaje—the nicest people work there, I swear), and then the dance floor (the legendary Gilles Peterson was in town, had to listen to the man spin for a bit at Public Works).

Saturday I was invited by Mark Pasternak of Devil’s Gulch Ranch in Nicasio to come up early and check out the ranch. Wow, it’s so gorgeous up there. I got to see baby piggies, puppies, and week-old rabbits; who’s the lucky girl? I then joined the gathering crowd of folks (try 150 people!) there for Melissa Perello’s Outstanding in the Field dinner. It was a misty and chilly evening, and our massive table was set up right in the vineyard, drinking wonderful wines from Massican and Dutton-Goldfield (who make a Devil’s Gulch pinot noir). Of course Melissa’s menu featured Devil’s Gulch rabbit (polpettini) and lamb and pork in some sausage, with a gorg dessert—check out pics of the event here. It was marvelous—and my favorite part was the group of wonderful people I got to dine with. Family-style dinners are the best.

I scooted back into SF (just in time to see an epic moonrise over the city!) and headed out for another night out dancing—Osunlade was spinning at Mighty, which has a rocking new sound system. I managed to lose one of my earplugs—I guess that’s a sign that I was having a really good time.

Sunday was brunch (thankfully not until noon) at Roosevelt Tamale Parlor—riding my bike through Sunday’s Carnaval traffic in the Mission was like a video game on level eight. I couldn’t let my chilaquiles-induced food coma take me down, however, because I had way too much work to catch up on. Sunday evening I had to pull it on over. Work hard, play hard, it’s a way of life.

Was happy to see my first piece for the The Guardian U.K. came out, featuring my 10 favorite/must-visit restaurants in SF right now (although I wasn’t aware the article was going to be titled “Top 10 Restaurants in San Francisco”—any freelance writer can tell you, the headlines are always a surprise and almost never the one you submitted, and in this case, ditto the lede [lead/intro paragraph]). Yeah, it’s hard to be a control freak.

And I know I have said it a million times, but I know many of you can’t read every single tablehopper, so here we go again: I still have a few tickets left for this Thursday’s tablehopper singles wine event. There will be eight wines from the Languedoc, tasty food from E+O Asian Kitchen, and fab folks aged 35-49. Please share with your single male friends, I need to fill this event with cool dudes so it has an even number of ladies and gents, thank you! Help a sister out? Heck, a lot of sisters—you wouldn’t believe how long the waiting list is for women who want to attend. Seriously. SF, you are impossible!

Quick note: A16 Rockridge has moved their opening to Saturday June 1st—read all about this exciting new project in last Friday’s tablehopper issue!

And next Friday June 7th is SummerTini, the annual fundraiser for CHEFS (Conquering Homelessness through Employment in Food Services), an organization I know you have heard me talk about. The event is going to be SO fab—it’s at the Bently Reserve, with food from restaurants like Nopa, A16, Perbacco, 4505 Meats, and more! And hello, cocktails from Comstock Saloon, Parallel 37, Rye, Elixir, Hakkasan, and Millennium! I’ll be talking more about this special event for the next two weeks. It’s a great cause, be a rock star and get your ticket now!

Tonight I am moderating this (sold-out!) panel at the Commonwealth Club: The Perfect Cup: Coffee Talk with San Francisco’s Finest Roasters. See you there? Thanks to SFoodie for this mention.

Also on SFoodie: Mary Ladd wrote such a sweet homage to the inimitable Mr. Gene Burns, who sadly passed away over the weekend. Sigh. He was the kindest man, so gracious with everyone. A class act, all the way. Sincere condolences to all who knew him, but especially to Joel Riddell and Robert Moon, who were so very close to him. Gene’s big heart, deep voice, and important presence in our food community will be missed terribly.

Marcia Gagliardi

May 24, 2013

The Carlos Club in (where else?) San Carlos. Photo: ©

Have you already left your desk and headed out in delightful anticipation of the three-day weekend? Good for you. If not, I’m here to help you procrastinate as you watch the clock.

I have been all over town this week, heading down to San Carlos to meet up with an old high school friend (the 650 has a strong pull)—we got our spice on at Red Hot Chilli Pepper, a unique spot that features Indo-Chinese cuisine (the place was packed with Indian families). Last night I was in Rockridge, getting my fried rice and ramen on at Ramen Shop, and had a chance to swing by the brand-new A16 Rockridge, which was hosting a pizza-testing night since they just fired up their Stefano Ferrara oven. So instead of having a review for you today, here’s an in-depth preview of this highly anticipated restaurant. Congrats team! (It’s due to open next Thursday May 30th.)

Big thanks to The Guardian U.K. for including tablehopper in this piece on the best blogs for travellers (ahem, travelers) to San Francisco. I also want to thank the Zagat blog for writing up this piece on next week’s tablehopper singles event. Bachelors (and ladies who can’t believe their dear straight male friend is dateless), we still have a few spots left for gents aged 35-49!

Today we have a wino piece from Alan Goldfarb on one of my favorite wine lists in the city, La Ciccia, and Heather Irwin wrote up some 707 scout news for us (plus some fun Wine Country options in case you want to head the hell away from our chilly weather this weekend).

Lastly, I have coffee on my brain (it’s because of the Commonwealth Club panel I’ll be moderating next Tuesday!), so here’s a post I wrote this week on five new cafés that have opened recently around the city. Get yer cawfee on!

Have a great Memorial Day weekend. (I’ll be taking a moment to thank all the soldiers who have died while serving our country.) And let’s have some fun out there (I have two nights of dancing on my docket). Ten hup!

Marcia Gagliardi

May 21, 2013

Peaches are here! Oven-roasted white peach with lemon verbena ice cream and Marcona almonds at Cotogna. Photo: ©

Howdy, fair citizens. Have some of you shaken off your Bay to Breakers hangover? I hope so, because the shame can last forever. I spent Sunday successfully avoiding my neighborhood at a garden party in the Castro, and then enjoyed the Sunday supper later that evening at Cotogna. (I saw the Devil’s Gulch fried rabbit on the menu and hopped right over.)

I’m fired up to finally visit Devil’s Gulch Ranch in Nicasio this Saturday at an upcoming (and sold-out, sorry) Outstanding in the Field dinner with Melissa Perello of Frances (I know, awesome). In case you don’t have any plans on Sunday, there is a second OITF dinner with chefs Jason Halverson of Michael Mina, Omri Aflalo of Bourbon Steak, and John Fink of The Whole Beast, and wine from Pey-Marin Vineyards and Dutton-Goldfield. It starts at 4pm, you can get more info and tickets here.

Speaking of events: next Tuesday May 28th, I will be moderating a panel about our local coffee roasting scene at the Commonwealth Club, and then on Thursday May 30th is the first tablehopper singles event. There are only tickets for men left for this one (sorry ladies!). And then on Friday June 7th, I hope you have bought your ticket for the SummerTini benefit, which I will be emceeing. This is an event and organization very near and dear to my heart, I hope you can join us! The auction packages are amazing (jus’ sayin’!).

Am sorry to hear about the shuttering of all the non-NYC Grub Street city blogs—Jay Barmann has done a hell of a job reporting our local restaurant news. Wishing him all the best in his next gig(s). But here’s a piece of good/non-shuttering news: Esta Noche’s fundraising efforts were successful this past weekend, and that tawdry, saucy place will continue to party on! Arriba!

With the passing of Ray Manzarek, I was reminiscing yesterday about when I was really young, and my dad took out his cherished The Doors record to play it for me for the first time. He put it on the record player and said, “Honey, this is The Doors. You need to know this.” He listened to that album a lot when he was in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. My dad says he still listens to The Doors almost every day on his walks. So yeah, I grew up listening to them quite a bit. RIP, Ray! Play on! For fellow Doors fans, you gotta check out this video of Ray Manzarek talking about how the song Riders on the Storm came to be. It’s a good one.

And man, poor Oklahoma. We are all sending love, but here’s how you can also send them money and support.

Marcia Gagliardi

May 17, 2013

Oyster, pork belly, kimchi at Benu. Photo: ©

Ah yes, hello weekend. I can see you. So close. Although truth be told, I played a bit of hooky yesterday so I could attend the New Zealand wine tasting and pinot noir seminar with Bob Campbell, MW, which I followed up with a matinee of The Great Gatsby (talk about a visual extravaganza), a quick ramen pit stop at Suzu, and then a faaaaabulous night at the SF Symphony spring gala, watching Janelle Monáe bring the house down (and to their feet). I love this pic of her dancing with the crowd. Yesterday felt so damn abundant.

Tonight, the entertainment continues at ArtPadSF, and tomorrow morning I’ll be up bright and early to head to Sonoma with my dad (and friends) to watch the Sonoma Historic Motorsports Festival at Sonoma Raceway (my dad and I have a standing date each year—and he packs a mean picnic). I’m also going to see if I have time to get one last Negroni in at Tosca since Jeannette Etheredge has said Sunday is officially its last night as we know it. Sigh.

Yo, industry folks, if you are out and about on Monday (May 20th), be sure to check out the Culinary Agents launch party at Rye from 5pm-9pm, with hosted cocktails, wine, and small bites by 1760 (Acquerello’s new project). Details and how to RSVP here.

And hey there wonderful gentlemen aged 35-49 looking to meet some fab ladies, have you looked at the tablehopper singles event coming up on May 30th? Wine, women, and delish food, check it out. (Ladies, if you know any swell guys who should attend, please let them know, thanks!)

Oh, and this week on is my monthly roundup of five new restaurants to try this month. No big openings this month, but still plenty of tasty fun to hunt down.

Bon weekend!
Marcia Gagliardi

(Oh, and since I got hit with “Marsha” last night—it’s actually Marcia rhymes with Garcia, mwah!)

May 14, 2013

This is what heaven looks like: a party platter o’ nigiri at ICHI Sushi. Photo: ©

Helllllo there. I think I have managed to shake last week’s Jazz Fest remnants from my head—sleep is a miraculous thing. Although I am hardly detoxing: last week I attended a Winebow Italian wine tasting, had a night of Austrian wines from Willi Klinger at et. al., tasted whiskies Saturday night at Hard Water, and spent Sunday night tasting wines at the bar at 20 Spot—I guess this is all keeping me from experiencing any DTs, ha-ha.

This week’s New Zealand wine tasting for the trade is going to rock (am looking forward to tasting more wine from that awesome place), and I’m also going to hit ArtPadSF this weekend. In case you are interested in checking it out, use discount code ARTPADSFFRIENDS for 50 percent off. Who loves you?

Speaking of love, today I am thrilled to announce the launch of my first tablehopper singles event on May 30th, which will be highlighting the wines of Languedoc, with delicious food at E&O Asian Kitchen. Bonus: Josiah Baldivino of Michael Mina will be leading the wine tasting part of the evening, lucky us. It’ll be a night of fun, food, and wine, and no painful awkwardness. Check it all out here.

Since we’re on the topic of dating, I was inspired to write a guide on Citysearch for the best first date restaurants in San Francisco. Yes, I am on the path to get us all out on some dates, and quality ones at that. Let me know if I forgot any of your favorites.

Enjoy the week, see you Friday.

Marcia Gagliardi

May 10, 2013

The doors into the kitchen at Commander’s Palace. Probably the only “no” you’ll find in New Orleans. Photo: ©

It’s rather unbelievable that I’m home in one piece. Well, sort of. The jury is still out on my liver. Anyway, my past week in New Orleans for Jazz Fest was one for the books. That bucket list item was way checked. The Crescent City is such a dark seductress, whispering to you to just say yes. All. The. Time. “More is more” was our motto for the weekend—it’s how it has to be if you’re going to be a jazz vampire. Late nights at Tipitina’s (Galactic) and the Blue Nile (Robert Walter’s 20th Congress) could all too easily morph into early mornings at Igor’s and Chuck’s (oops). I feel like my years of going to Burning Man were like boot camp for the action-packed week I just spent roaming the clubs and restaurants and bars of New Orleans. Every time my alarm would be waking me up from my disco nap at 11pm so I could make it to a 1am show, I’d tell myself, “You can sleep when you’re dead. Get up.” We hit that city hard, and she punched right back.

More is more also applied to the feedbag we’d strap on every day at the fairgrounds/racetrack. Best damn festival food of my life: breakfast each day was the positively carnal crawfish bread, followed up with a dance with crawfish Monica, boudin balls with shrimp rémoulade, fried chicken, gumbo, jambalaya, and some café au lait in there to keep us upright.

The weather was the absolute pits: Thursday we were rained out completely, Friday it was a mud pit and cold (although Willie Nelson warmed our hearts), and things finally turned around on Saturday when we bought some mud boots and could deal with the slop and the sun came out. Fleetwood Mac in ankle-deep mud, sunshine on my shoulders with my sister at my side, good times. Black Keys on Sunday, so crunchy and good. A highlight was leaving the fields each day and hitting Liuzza’s by the Track for Bloody Marys in the street (had to get some vegetables somehow) and more live music. Wonderful people everywhere. So friendly and nice, everyone having a good time.

I’ll be doing a recap of where I ate and drank once I get my pictures edited and uploaded. Obviously there are a bunch to sort through. More is more.

Today I have a couple of breaking stories about upcoming projects from some very talented local ladies (whoo!), plus a fresh meat review of Chocolate Lab, a wino, some 707 news, and matchmaker action. Sunday is Mother’s Day, and in case you’re looking for a last-minute idea or two, here’s my post on 7x7. Also on 7x7, three of my favorite pop-ups right now, including two excellent brunch options for you this weekend. Dig in.

Okay, back to my crypt, I’ll see you on Tuesday.

Marcia Gagliardi

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