January 2014

January 31, 2014

What I was doing last Sunday: eating fried chicken and waffles at Victory Hall and Parlor! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Kung Hei Fat Choi! Chuc Mung Nam Moi! And…that’s about the extent of my Asian language skills. Happy Lunar New Year to all who celebrate. I’m looking forward to a couple weeks of special menus to honor the new year, and will be talking about where to go tomorrow morning in my tablehopper hot list on KRON4! See you at 9:15am?

Today’s issue got a little chunkier than I expected (kind of like me over the years, but that’s another story). I wanted to get a couple of Rockridge mini reviews up since I keep finding myself wanting to head across the Bay to College Avenue (and since Ramen Shop has house-cured ikura on the menu right now, plus Magnolia Brewery’s killer Proving Ground on tap, I am already plotting yet another BART trip). Sfogliatella at A16 Rockridge, I’ll be seeing you soon.

We also have a wino piece from Collin-Peter Casey, 707 news from Heather Irwin, and your final chance at a pretty awesome sugar mama giveaway! Plenty for you to snack on here.

And just because more is more, here’s my piece on 7x7.com about five fab chocolate boxes you should think about for Valentine’s Day. You just don’t need to have a sweetie—I say buy ‘em for a friend, your mom, or your own damn self.

Have fun eating too many wings on Sunday—here’s my piece on Super Bowl eats in case you need a reminder on what you can enjoy eating from the comfort of your couch.

Marcia Gagliardi

January 28, 2014

I had a taste of the tortilla soup at La Condesa Napa, and now it haunts me. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

I never thought I’d be so happy to hear the foghorn this morning, and see some rain in the forecast for Thursday (come on, you can do it!). It was strange to drive up to Wine Country this past weekend and see the fields look so parched. No green, velvety grasses. But after emailing with a family friend about his current existence in -11 temps, I definitely know where I’d rather be.

My mom and I headed up to sunny St. Helena on Friday afternoon for a fun mother-daughter getaway (I recommend them highly). We checked in at the Wydown Hotel (this cute boutique hotel is the way to go) and my mom says, “It’s time for bubbles!” I am not one to disagree with that statement, ever. We also tried out the new menu at La Condesa (I am going to be very sorry their excellent tortilla soup is so far away), and the next day after a morning walk we had a fantastic brunch at French Blue—it’s literally across the street from the Wydown, too handy. I’ll share a full recap soon!

Wanted to do a quick shout-out to the site Swimmingly, who asked me to contribute to their annual year in food and music. Considering what an amazing year I had of both, it was a fun little piece to write. (You can read posts from all over here.)

This week we have some exciting sneak peeks at some soon-to-open places. I also want to remind you of this post I wrote for 7x7.com on where to go eat for the Lunar New Year, since the two-week celebration (and many special menus!) begin this Friday.

Let’s party.
Marcia Gagliardi

January 24, 2014

Buoys on Lummi Island. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Why hello! You already plotting your weekend? Whaddya know, it’s sunny again. I hope everyone doesn’t start acting like we’re in LA, wearing sunglasses to dinner and having your people call my people, ha. I am getting ready to hit the road for a mother-daughter overnight trip to St. Helena. Looking forward to some QT with my cute mother, and I think there will be wine. Mmmmhmmm.

Today’s issue includes a wino and some 707 news, plus the first part of my trip to Seattle and Lummi Island that I took at the end of the summer. The delightful duo, Eva Soroken and Kylen McCarthy of Pioneer Square Pantry (PSQP), invited me up for a long weekend, and it was one of the highlights of the year for me. Their Northwest world is a special place, and I was so lucky to be in their hands. And Kylen is one of the most exciting cooks I have encountered, such talent. Maybe make a little time this weekend to read about them (and check out my first set of pictures on Flickr of the weekend). I’ll be posting part two shortly! Photo editing can be so time-consuming… Worth it, but you sure as hell can’t rush it. Which is something I appreciate and learned about the PSQP process—it can be good to take your time.

The lunar new year is next week, and there are all kinds of places hosting special dinners and offering dishes around town. Bring on the prosperity and long life! I just did a post on 7x7.com with some lunar new year dining picks, a bit lengthier than the one I posted on tablehopper on Tuesday, check it out.

Okay, I have an overnight bag to pack. Enjoy the weekend!
Marcia Gagliardi

January 21, 2014

The 21POP display at FOG Fair, complete with a wood stove (crafted by Stanlee Gatti’s team)! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hey there, ho there, hi there. It was quite the action-packed weekend: I was up bright and early on Saturday morning for my tablehopper hot list segment on KRON4—this week I talked about four new brunches in the Bay Area, check it out here. I also headed over to the upcoming Second Act Marketplace for a sneak peek (check it out in the chatterbox) and then scooted over to the FOG Fair at Fort Mason, what a cool event. (They were previewing Michael Tusk’s new line of pastas—I thoroughly enjoyed my rigatoni integrali last night; the bright yellow tagliatelle all’uovo are next!) My Italian shenanigans continued with a dinner (that was heavy on the wine) at the new inoVino in Cole Valley—the prosciutti and cheeses were a good warm-up for the next day: the Fancy Food Show.

The FFS is always overwhelming but full of great discoveries. Of course I had to hit up all the domestic salumi makers, sampling the latest from Olympic Provisions, La Quercia, and Creminelli, along with the imported hams—the ItalFoods booth is always a bounty. (Have you ever had the ricotta from Di Stefano, the evil burrata maker? So good.) My buddy at Fresca Italia always sets me up with some amazing cheese samples (Camembert di bufala, who knew?) and I am trying to forget the pistachio and olive oil spread I tried at Manicaretti. Move over Nutella. There was also an entire table of amazing cheeses (and butter!) from Caseficio dell’Alta Langa, the makers of La Tur (I enjoyed their Brunet while at inoVino the night before). I had an impressively pulled espresso shot of Malabar Gold that helped give me a boost when I needed it most. I was also on the hunt for a wonderful harissa (found it!) and sustainable smoked salmon that tastes amazing (hat tip to Verlasso).

You can check out my iPhone pics on the tablehopper Flickr page—I barely made it though two-thirds of the show, which is tough to do in one day, but I did my best, damn it. We all know where I have been the final days of the show (this Monday and Tuesday)—home writing!

Sunday night finished with a bang—importers Howard and Kris Case of Casa de Case invited me to attend their annual warehouse dinner party. Such a fun night—a long candlelit table went down the center of the warehouse (take a peek here), and we feasted on platters of salumi from Boccalone, followed by housemade tortellini in brodo (thanks Colin Dewey of Zero Zero for all your help!) and quite the bountiful bollito misto, with an array of meats (including Italian cotechino) and potatoes and condimenti, and then Viola Buitoni knocked us out with an array of beautiful Italian tortes and sweets. What a night. The Cases are amazing hosts, grazie! And in case you want to check out a bollito misto, there’s one coming up at Poggio, read more here in the chatterbox!

Let’s get started here…see you Friday!
Marcia Gagliardi

January 17, 2014

Dim sum from a preview of Hakkasan’s Chinese New Year menu. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Ahhh, weekend, how good to see you at our doorstep. What’s that? You want to bring us 72-degree weather tomorrow? Okay, if you insist. (Although you are really beginning to freak us out, weather. A lot.)

Tomorrow morning, a bunch of folks will be descending on the Ferry Building Marketplace to taste and buy the winners of last night’s Good Food Awards at the special Marketplace (there’s also a beer garden at 18 Reasons); more info here and get tickets here.

The weekend o’ food just continues, because Sunday is the first day of the Fancy Food Show, where I’ll be briskly cruising the aisles all day—it’s my only day to attend, so I have my work cut out for me. I have a feeling the rest of you will be eating chicken wings and drinking beer and yelling/cheering at the TV, have fun.

Meanwhile, I’ll be on KRON4 with my tablehopper hot list on Saturday morning at 9:15am. Tune in while you have your morning coffee! And in case you’re looking for some brunch options this weekend (which is always more fun when it’s sunny), here’s my post this week on 7x7.com with six new brunch options for you.

Today I had the best intentions to run another jetsetter piece for you, but this week completely gobbled up all my time. Next week! Meanwhile, we have a shorty today, with some 707 news, a lush, and a wino piece from a new contributor to our wino lineup, Collin-Peter Casey. His series, Sommelier Says, will be featuring everyone from fellow sommeliers to wine store owners to winemakers he admires and respects. Stand by for more pieces from Collin in the future.

And with that, I have my own piece to finish writing here. Enjoy your weekend!
Marcia Gagliardi

January 14, 2014

Una montaña de amor: the Dungeness crab tostada at Sabrosa. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

I am beginning to feel like I moved back to LA with all this sunny weather, and no, I am not complaining for one single second. Although I will say I am damn pleased I am finally over this lame cold from hell so I can go outside and enjoy the weather. Sunday was my first day out, which included checking out the new brunch at Sabrosa while sitting at a sunny table outside (heaven), catching an afternoon show of American Hustle, and nabbing a bowl of spicy tan-tan ramen at Waraku after the flick. It’s good to be back with the living.

Wanted to let you know the pictures from the Top It Off soirée I hosted with Louis Roederer Champagne at Marianne’s are now up and ready for viewing! Y’all looked so gorgeous and glam! I am getting very thirsty and hungry all over again looking at those images—thanks to Aubrie Pick for capturing the very special evening.

Whatcha doing this week? I’m looking forward to the Good Food Awards on Thursday (tickets are still available) and I’m also going to head to Fort Mason this weekend to FOG Design+Art—gotta see the new pasta line the Tusks are launching, and everything else going on there!

Okay, before I bounce, please take a moment to read this important post by Michael Ruhlman that is in response to the utterly misguided new California law requiring anyone preparing food in California to wear gloves (or use special utensils) when handling food. The mind, it reels.

See you Friday!
Marcia Gagliardi

January 10, 2014

A taste of the extremely limited 2012 Vinhedos Hood pinot noir (by Mario Geisse). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Bom dia! Yup, someone has been going through all her notes and pictures from her visit to Brazil last year, and I am suddenly very thirsty for some Cave Geisse sparkling wine. Today’s issue brings you my mega report from touring the southern Brazilian wine country. Weekend reading for you?

I must confess, these kinds of recaps are hard to write—our hosts packed soooo much into each day, and then each tasting is a thing unto itself (some wineries poured us 15 wines at a time). It’s intense. You want to do justice to all the places you visited and wines you tasted, and many people are unfamiliar with wine from Brazil (as I was), but distillation is the name of the game here. I hope my piece helps pique some interest! It’s such a cool area to explore, with fascinating heritage, great people, a number of fantastic wines, and a lot of promise. And I hope you have some wine in your near future/within reach, because my piece may make you a bit thirsty. Five o’clock is mighty close. Oh, and I’ll be posting my recap of my visit to Fortaleza and to gorgeous Rio next!

Meanwhile, I continue to be totally, grossly sick. As I sit here sniffling over my spicy tonic and sausage and greens soup (I’m working my way through Julia Della Croce’s Italian Home Cooking this week), I am reminded of the amazing cappelletti in brodo I had during my time in southern Brazil. Such a restorative soup. So good.

Since all I want this week is soup, soup, soup, I was inspired to write this piece for 7x7.com on my six favorite spicy soups in San Francisco. I hope it helps, my fellow snifflers! And feel free to add your own faves to the comments, we could always use more to try!

To your health. And mine, damn it! Have a good weekend.
Marcia Gagliardi

January 7, 2014

I’d much rather be drinking the utterly delicious Trouble in Paradise at Tosca. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hola, amigos. Things are a little rough over here at hopper HQ, with both yours truly and Dana, my editorial assistant extraordinaire, both felled by one nasty-ass, mofo illness. I’m on day four and this thing is officially gross and really needs to go. At least I was healthy through the holidays, so I’m not going to complain too much, just a little.

On Saturday morning (juuuuust as I was beginning to feel like hell) I swung by the KRON4 studio for my tablehopper hot list segment—this one highlights some places I visited on my recent trip to Napa, check it out. January is a great time to visit Wine Country, and downtown Napa totally has some appealing options for you to eat, play, and stay.

We have a lot of catch-up news for you today since the tablehopper column went dark for a few weeks—so food news hounds, excuse any redundancy, but hopefully you’ll find some new stuff in here too.

In case you missed it on Friday, here’s a link to my annual rant, the bore, plus I also wrote a “year in review” piece for my Tablehopping column in the Bay Guardian, and here’s my monthly cheat sheet for 7x7.com, with five new restaurants to check out this month. Oh, and here’s a list that came my way: 100 of the best vegan dishes in San Francisco.

Okay, it’s time for me to lie down again and commune with my Robitussin.

See you Friday.
Marcia Gagliardi

January 3, 2014

Topping it off with my dear sister at Marianne’s. Photo by Aubrie Pick.

Why hello there. Happy New Year to you! I hope you’ve been having a fantastic holiday and start to the new year. I have thoroughly been enjoying the break, the bizarre sunny weather, holiday get-togethers and cheer, long walks, purging my apartment, hanging out with family and friends, and watching movies.

A highlight was definitely the Top It Off soirée I hosted with Champagne Louis Roederer at the intimate Marianne’s last Saturday evening. Everyone came dressed to the nines, Veronica Klaus enchanted us with her soulful singing, our flutes were never empty of Brut Premier, and the passed apps from The Cavalier kitchen were on point. What a party.

It was the perfect segue into New Year’s Eve, which entailed a progressive dinner (apps at my sister’s friend’s house, main dishes at another apartment), and then I skedaddled off to my friend’s Great Gatsby party, with a huge tub full of Champagne, a nattily dressed crowd, and a live Savannah jazz band and vocal performance. What a way to kick off the New Year. Cheers to all of it.

Many of you longtime tablehopper readers know the first week of the new year means it’s time for me to publish my annual rant, the bore. Here’s this year’s missive, hopefully packing enough snark and sass for you.

I also wrote a “year in review” piece for my Tablehopping column in the Bay Guardian—take a peek, and maybe add a few spots you missed to your to-visit list?

But wait, there’s more! Heh. It’s a new year, so here’s my piece on five new restaurants to check out this month on 7x7.com, have fun out there!

I’ll be back in your in-boxes on Tuesday with a bunch of news and updates. Enjoy the weekend!

Let’s rock 2014.
Marcia Gagliardi

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