December 2015

December 22, 2015

And a good time was had by all at the tablehopper two-martini lunch at Bix (with SKYY Vodka). Photo: ©

Ho ho ho and fa la la la la! How’s that eggnog buzz? Are you peaking in the Jabba Zone? Personally, I have a list of things to do about as long as Santa’s, so the next 48 hours are going to be, uh, interesting. But I am so looking forward to celebrating my father’s 75th birthday tomorrow, followed by our family’s Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve, and Christmas morning at the Gagliardi table is always a winner: Dad’s homemade Italian sausage, eggs basted in the fat, and I’ll be bringing a fresh Rulli panettone! Will also be fun to hang out with the family cats (and torture them with holiday bows, mwahaha).

So, a little update for you. A few months ago, before I won the amazing Time Out contest, I booked a holiday getaway to stay with friends on the Big Island in Hawaii! So excited, never been. New Year’s on the beach, I’ll take it. (And so the packing up of my life will just have to wait!) I’ll be away starting next Monday, so this will be the last tablehopper issue until January 5th, when I’ll be back in your inboxes with the bore, oh you know it.

As for my temporary move to New York, it looks like the start of my six-month stint begins in mid-January—I’ll be flying out on January 16th! I will definitely keep you posted, but please know the tablehopper column will continue to feature SF news (plus some New York tidbits too!), but it will be quite a bit shorter! Stand by for more details soon. Mwah.

I have a few food highlights of this past week to share with you: I headed up to Napa last Tuesday to visit some friends and check out the new Ca’ Momi Osteria. We had some fantastic pastas (per usual), and their mortadella and pistachio pizza is epic. Can’t wait to make it a regular pit stop when I’m in Wine Country, check it out.

Back in SF, I visited the Little Italy pop-up at Mina Test Kitchen. What a fun menu of East Coast Italian favorites. Stuffed peppers, meatballs, a soul-warming ribollita…and wait until you try the panna cotta, one of the best I’ve had, so creative with persimmon and amaretti crumbles and Luxardo cherries. Go on, chef Adam Sobel! Be sure to visit before they change the concept again at the end of January! And it’s a steal for $49. (They’re also doing a Feast of the Seven Fishes, FYI!)

Friday was quite the blowout: the tablehopper two-martini lunch at Bix with SKYY Vodka (click for pics!). We grazed on steak tartare and the famous Bix potato pillows with crème fraîche and caviar (so damn good with a SKYY martini, let me tell you) while swaying to holiday numbers from Veronica Klaus and Tammy Hall on the piano. We moved to the upstairs mezzanine, where I had a perfect trout and butter lettuce salad, the Bix burger, martini no. 2 from the SKYY bar, and somehow made room for dessert. What a wonderful “holidayy” celebration—such a treat to be in Bix (holiday HQ!) with such a fun group. Thank you to everyone who attended, and especially to SKYY Vodka and Bix for dialing our holidayy spirit(s) to 11!

This past weekend, Champers the elf had a fun 24-hour getaway with her sis: I was asked to emcee a Sparkle and Savor event at Solage in Calistoga, so back up to Wine Country I went! Casey Thompson was the guest chef for the night, and Sophie Gonet of Michel Gonet was there to present some fantastic Champagnes, what a night. And guess who was so happy to crash in one of Solage’s dreamy beds, waking up to the sound of rain on the roof of our cottage? LOVING this rain, the best holiday gift of all.

Thank you all for such a marvelous year! My 2015 was packed with goodness, although I am really looking forward to my 2016 adventure in New York. What a dream—and your votes helped make it happen! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I’m wishing you all the best the holidays can offer: abundance of love, family, friendship, happiness, peace, a full table, and of course, a really full glass of Champagne.

Best wishes, Buon Natale, and buone feste!
Marcia Gagliardi (aka Champers the elf)

December 15, 2015

Holiday heaven: a plate of blini, a martini glass filled with caviar, and you know my other glass was full of Champagne. Photo: ©

Greetings from Champers the elf, just checking in and making sure you are having your proper daily bubbles allotment? I will definitely be upping my intake this Saturday at Solage’s Sparkle and Savor event with Michel Gonet in Calistoga. I will actually be emceeing the event and am extra-happy that I get to see chef Casey Thompson while I’m there too. There are still some tickets left, and for next week too, when Liam Mayclem will be emceeing on December 22nd, with chef David Nayfeld and Laurent Perrier. Cheers!

Today’s column has a lot of treats for you, from a peek at the New Mission Alamo Drafthouse to a holiday sale on tablehopper T-shirts and hoodies, and some ideas on where to eat on New Year’s Eve. (We have some Christmas Eve/Feast of the Seven Fishes listings here, and if you want some Christmas Day ideas, check out this piece I wrote for SF Travel, which features some of their members.) If you need more ideas, maybe Stefon can help.

One more quick entertainment note: this Friday December 18th is the release of Noma My Perfect Storm, a documentary about René Redzepi’s Noma in Copenhagen—you can watch it in theaters, On Demand, on Amazon Video, and iTunes!

OK, like Santa’s elves, I have a long list of things to do. And since this Friday is our sold-out Two-Martini Holiday Lunch at Bix with SKYY Vodka, you won’t see us until next Tuesday.

Marcia Gagliardi
aka Champers

December 11, 2015

The stunning vintage chandelier at Alfred’s Steakhouse (had to say farewell before they close on New Year’s Eve!). Photo: ©

Ahhhh, hullo, Friday! I’m sure all of you have quite the holiday party lineup (and list of elf errands) this weekend, amIright? Today we have a hopper holiday gift guide for you in case you need some inspiration—and one more idea for you: buy a ticket for your friend or coworker to join you at the upcoming tablehopper two-martini lunch at Bix on Friday December 18th! We have just five tickets left! I’m giving you an excellent reason to play hooky and leave your office early that day.

On Tuesday night, I was fortunate to be invited to the MoAD Diaspora Dinner, hosted by chef-in-residence Bryant Terry and The People’s Kitchen. Each delicious dish told a story of place and people (and so many folks came together to put this meal on, thank you!). We learned about benne cake and bunny chow and finished the night with Red Bay Coffee and iconic bean pie by PieTisserie, all while listening to the beautiful music of Marcus Shelby (and others) throughout the engaging and thought-provoking meal. Looking forward to future MoAD events! This was a special one.

So you want a little treat too? I’m sure you deserve it, I see you, right there at the top of Santa’s “nice” list. Last week we mentioned the special holiday dinners Shorty Goldstein’s is hosting on Friday nights this month (there’s a Hanukkah one tonight at 8pm—say hello to duck confit matzah ball soup!). We have two tickets to give away to next Friday’s dinner, which will feature “Jewish Christmas,” a Chinese-style dinner, complete with pastrami and scallion pancake and dumplings (and considering owner Mike Siegel used to work at Betelnut with Alex Ong, he knows what the hell he is doing!). We will award two tickets to the Friday December 18th dinner (at 8pm) to one lucky winner who comments on our Instagram post by Monday 1pm PST. Good luck and happy holidays!

Today I want to give a special thank-you to 707 scout correspondent Heather Irwin, who has been covering the 707 for us for many, many Fridays. With my upcoming move to New York and an impending shorter tablehopper column, this will be our last 707 scout column from Heather. But you can keep up with all the Sonoma County news by signing up for the BiteClub newsletter. Thanks for all the reporting, Heather!

One last thing: did you see my post on Tuesday about the “Adopt-a-Student” holiday drive for students in the ECS CHEFS (Conquering Homeless Through Employment in Food Services) Program? There’s still time to take part! They have requested simple but important items such as shoes and clothes to help them prepare for school. For more details, please click here to be assigned a student. Thanks everyone!

Have a great weekend, filled with holiday cheer(s)!
Marcia Gagliardi

December 8, 2015

My friend Roberta’s beautiful and bountiful table for our annual truffle lunch together. This year, we toasted the life of Chuck Williams. Photo: ©

Holidays are in full swing, and I am definitely loving this month’s party schedule and catching up with friends and family. Friday night kicked off in epic disco fashion with the legendary Giorgio Moroder, who was playing for the first time in San Francisco in decades, and at age 75, much respect! I couldn’t stay out toooooo late, because Saturday I scooted on down to Redwood City, picking up my dad along the way, for a fantastic Italian wine tasting and party at Donato Enoteca. Such beautiful wines! And it was such a generous spread (yay, porchetta), and I will put this annual festa on my priority list for next year, that’s for sure.

Sunday was an annual truffle lunch with my culinary fairy godmother (as I like to call her), Roberta Klugman. She always sets a marvelous holiday table, and I’m in charge of the slow-cooked and creamy eggs that she then shaves a glorious tartufo over (and you know we have some bubbles—my elf name is Champers, after all). It’s also fun to taste the year’s latest olio nuovo with her—so great to have Capezzana back this year after last year’s dismal non-harvest.

We had a special memento at the table: a pic from about 10 years ago of the two of us with Chuck Williams, the Williams of Williams-Sonoma, who just passed away at the admirable age of 100. He was such a kind man and really embodied the American dream—and we have him to thank for elevating our culinary tools in America! We had a whisk on the table in his honor. Cheers to you, Chuck!

Sunday evening was the tablehopper and Champagne Henriot banquet dinner at Great China—32 of us enjoyed a memorable meal, with some gorgeous cuvées! Take a look at the photo album here. And trust me, you’ll want to have some Henriot brut rosé with your next Great China Peking duck! That was such a fun event, thank you to Champagne Henriot and Great China’s James Yu (and his team) for taking such good care of us!

If you missed out on the fun, do know we have just eight tickets left for the upcoming tablehopper two-martini lunch at Bix on Friday December 18th! Here’s your excuse to leave your office early that day, come enjoy some holiday cheer (two SKYY Vodka or Bulldog Gin martinis, to be exact), listen to holiday music from Veronica Klaus and Tammy Hall (who are performing live for the event!), and the famous Bix burger is on the menu (of course)! #LetsHolidayy

One last thing: a lot of us are really, really fortunate with the lives we lead. There are some folks who are trying to rebuild their lives, and the holidays are an especially great time to lend a helping hand. I’d like to do a shout-out to the “Adopt-a-Student” holiday drive for students in the ECS CHEFS (Conquering Homeless Through Employment in Food Services) Program! They have requested simple items such as shoes and clothes to help them prepare for school and their internship placements. For more details, please click here to be assigned a student. You can even buy a present in honor of that friend of yours who is tough to buy for—because this present will have so much meaning! Thanks everyone!

Okay friends, enjoy the week, and we’ll see you Friday!
Marcia Gagliardi

December 4, 2015

Afternoon tea break at Mido Café in Hong Kong. Photo: ©

We are full swing into December (what the hell, how did that happen?) and I can’t believe this Sunday evening is the tablehopper and Champagne Henriot feast at Great China! (Sorry folks, that one has been sold out for a while.) Excited to pop Champagne and eat some double skin salad and Peking duck with all of you who are attending!

If you missed tickets for that event, we still have some for the upcoming tablehopper two-martini lunch at Bix on Friday December 18th! Basically, I am giving you a really good reason to leave your office early that day, come enjoy some holiday cheer (two SKYY Vodka or Bulldog Gin martinis, to be exact), sing along to holiday music from Veronica Klaus and Tammy Hall (who are performing live for the event!), and the famous Bix burger is on the menu (of course)! I really hope to see you there, it’s going to be tres festive. #LetsHolidayy

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I spent the majority of it writing today’s jetsetter piece on Hong Kong, which I visited earlier this year (I recommend clicking through on the link instead of reading it in the newsletter so you can look at bigger pictures!). Oh, and let’s not forget editing through the 2,000 images I took (you can view my Hong Kong Flickr album here, which is NOT 2,000 images, and I’ll be adding captions over the next couple of days!). This is what happens when you’re me—you eat too much, see too much, do too much, and just have to document it all and write about it! But man, what an amazing place—I had to try to do it all!

I hope you enjoy it—and my pics should make for some fun armchair travel this weekend. If you’re inspired to book a flight to Hong Kong, I noticed a few days ago that Cathay Pacific is doing an awesome fare sale (that ends today!).

Enjoy your weekend, keep toasty.
Marcia Gagliardi

December 1, 2015

I was definitely thankful for my family’s awesome Thanksgiving spread—grandma’s giblet gravy in the house! Photo: ©

I’d like to propose more four-day weekends on our calendar. Man, was that good. After a quiet Thanksgiving with the fam, I spent most of my weekend writing, sleeping, catching up on work (and the final episodes of Sense8), making jook, and basically hibernating. Heaven! Although I did head out for a bowl of this delicious new ramen from Iza Ramen in the Lower Haight—let me tell you, a bowl of their spicy ramen after a massage is the ticket.

It’s December 1st, and the holidays are in effect! I’m so thrilled to announce I’m hosting a two-martini holiday lunch at Bix with SKYY Vodka on Friday December 18th. This is going to be a blowout, folks—we’re even going to have Veronica Klaus and Tammy Hall performing live. And potato pillows with caviar in effect. This may be my last event before I head to New York, so I really hope to see you there. If you and your rad friends haven’t settled on a place to get together for the holidays, well, here’s a swell party lunch for you. #LetsHolidayy

All righty then, I need to attend to this fire hose of email, we’ll see you again on Friday!
Marcia Gagliardi

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