March 2016

March 29, 2016
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And this is how you do a comeback performance setlist. (Thanks to the fellow dancer who shared it with me!) Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Greetings from cloud 11 (because that’s how high this cloud goes). Anyone who has been reading this column for a while knows what a huge LCD Soundsystem fanatic I am, even flying to New York from SF for their final show at Madison Square Garden almost exactly five years ago. So recently the band decided to get back together (YES) and started announcing dates for their comeback tour, like Coachella and Panorama, the new festival here in New York.

But all of a sudden, out of the blue, last Thursday LCD announces two surprise nights for their first shows at Webster Hall in the East Village, Back from the Dead (an Easter resurrection joke from the band, ha-ha). Commence pandemonium. I start asking all my friends to enter the lottery to buy tickets; set up alerts on all my social media channels from the venue, band, promoters, and more; and reach out to the band and promoter’s PR. I call the venue asking about extra tickets being released. I try to think of anyone, anyone, who can help. Yes, FULL COURT PRESS.

I strike out on the lottery, and then begin to be supremely grossed out by the $600-plus ticket prices people start asking on Craigslist and ticket sites. Scammers, meanwhile, are having a field day because there are no hard tickets, just printouts, so it’s easy to sell the same ticket multiple times and screw everyone. I post daily on Craigslist, dealing with flaky ticket holders who won’t meet at the venue so I can verify their ticket, and freaks who ask me to send a picture so we can make it a date (yes, I sent a couple—when your mission’s motto is BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY, you have to do what you have to do).

Sunday night’s show comes and goes, no dice.

Monday, I decide I just need to head to the venue and hold out for a ticket miracle. There is no way I am going to miss this show without trying every possible angle. The line of ticket holders extends a full block, while all of us hopefuls mill around, walking up and down the street and compare notes on whether anyone is finding any tickets, while holding up our fingers in a one or two position for how many tickets we are seeking. I chat up all the security. Anyone, really. Especially the cute Brazilian man who asked me what on earth was going on, ditto the two cops in their cruiser who asked the same thing.

It’s fricking windy, and chilly, and I’m getting blasted by all the people smoking out front (my freshly washed hair smelling nastier each minute). I try not to get cranky. LCD’s show sign above Webster Hall that says “TEST IN PROGRESS/PLEASE STAND BY” becomes my mantra. I keep smiling.

Some nice guy decides he’s going to give up, and hands me the paper printout he made with the image of a hand holding up one finger. It’s useful: the paper catches people’s eyes. I keep holding on. It has been an hour, hour and a half, and then it’s 15 minutes before LCD is supposed to take the stage. Rain starts sprinkling. I’m there humming the theme to Rocky in my mind. I just can’t believe this isn’t going to happen. There is no way in a just universe I was supposed to miss that show. I’m magically in New York, amazingly so, and it feels like destiny to be able to see them. I kept focusing on my friends and sister who were sending me vibes, believing it was going to happen. Knowing.

And then the kind-faced and slightly smiling young man approaches me, our eyes lock and I say, “You have a ticket?” He does, but my $200 offer is half what he was looking for. I tell him I’m sorry, I am dying to see this show, more than he would ever imagine, but I just can’t. The woman I was chatting with starts telling him, “You have to sell it to her! You will have the best karma for life.” We all laugh.

He hangs out a little more. We keep talking. He says, “You have good energy. I really want to be able to sell it to you.” I say, “Me too!” It’s 10 minutes before showtime. He had paid $400 for the ticket for his friend to see the show, damn, and he’s not showing up. So he looks at me and says, “Okay, it’s yours.” I want to yell but he’s trying to keep the whole transaction low profile. I restrain myself from jumping up and down. My hands are shaking, my smile enough to power four New York boroughs.

As I peel off $200, I look him in the eye and ask, “It’s real, right? This ticket is legit? Because I’ll just lose it if it’s not.” I already know the answer, but like a drug seller asking someone if they’re a cop, I had to ask. The guy emanated goodness, I knew it was all okay. He nods and says yes. I didn’t even open up the folded-up piece of paper to see. I get into line, my ticket gets scanned and makes that positive “brrrrreeeeeeepp!” sound, I dump my puffy coat, get a double Jack and Coke, find some really nice people to dance next to, shockingly just 15 feet from the stage, if even.

And so it starts. You switch the engine on. We set controls for the heart of the sun. One of the ways we show our age.”

Thank you, Nathaniel, for the golden ticket. May only good things come your way. Thank you, universe, for desire answered in such magnificent grace. That was a big one.

In love and gratitude,
Marcia Gagliardi

March 22, 2016
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Croque-madame heaven at Maman in NYC. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Greetings from the land of weird-ass weather, where it was snowing on Sunday and is now going to be 70 degrees tomorrow. I’m just rolling with it. Go on, New York! It was definitely entertaining to walk to and from the club on Sunday night while it was snowing (I went to Club Shelter’s 25th anniversary, one of the best house parties I have been to in ages). I mean, when the party is just three long blocks from your pad, you kinda have to go, even if it was a Sunday night. House nation!

Speaking of New York and music, have any of you been watching Vinyl on HBO? I am kind of loving it, even if it’s a little overdone. It takes place in the music industry in New York, 1973, with the intersection of disco, hip-hop, punk, and glam all happening at once—and Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger are the exec producers. It’s pretty fun. The opening sequence is one of the most badass things ever. An electron microscope’s view of a needle moving through the grooves on a vinyl record? Brilliant.

I thought you’d get a kick out of these two pieces I wrote for Time Out: this one is on how big New York rats can get (ay yi yi!) and my other story was 20 things you’ll miss when you leave San Francisco.

A big thanks to all of you who bought tickets to the tablehopper Vietnamese and Vinho Verde feast in April! You sold that thing out in one day, whoa! But thanks to Vinho Verde wines, you still have a chance to win a pair of tickets! The contest ends tonight at midnight, so don’t delay!

I’d like to wish you a Happy Easter (Hoppy Easter?!) and see you next week!

Hop hop!
Marcia Gagliardi

March 15, 2016
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Rooftop party pastels (with Armand de Brignac Champagne). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hiiiiiii! Looks like those of you in SF were going to wash away this last weekend! Whoa. It would have been perfect weather for me to be home and work on this Louis Vuitton 2017 San Francisco guidebook that has me rather busy these days—I was pretty much holed up for three days straight this weekend (6,200 words will do that to a person). One chapter down, two to go. As I told a friend, big deadlines are like a guilty conscience—always on your mind. I certainly know what will be on my mind the next six weeks.

I did have fun taking a dinner break on Friday and going to the absolutely insane Village Voice Choice Eats event. Wow, that’s how you do a tasting event—the range of cuisines (and beverages!) was mind-boggling. Take a peek at my Instagram feed for some highlights. I especially can’t wait to go check out the tacos at The Black Ant, based on the smoked mussel taco they served at the event, que bueño.

On Saturday night, my other dinner break away from my desk was at Babbo, my first time. Three words: lamb testa ravioli.

Hey, so remember when I said last week I was going to come home for a couple of weeks next month? Well, the primary reason is to host this amazing Vietnamese feast with chef Rob Lam and the wines of Vinho Verde!

The menu is downright spectacular, and knowing how good chef Rob’s Vietnamese home cooking is, well, let me just say you’re in for a treat. Also a treat: the charming Eugenio Jardim will be our sommelier and educator for the night, teaching us a bunch about the wines of Vinho Verde (and of course saying everything with a perfect Portuguese accent). Get your tickets ASAP, because at this price, it’s going to sell out quickly. Also: I can’t wait to see you.

Oh, and you can enter to win a pair of tickets to the event, thanks to Vinho Verde!

I wanted to do a big shout-out to all the final nominees for all award categories for the James Beard Foundation Awards! Some very exciting SF presence in there, and now that I am familiarizing myself with New York, I got excited for some folks here too. The James Beard Foundation Book, Broadcast & Journalism Awards will be in New York on Tuesday April 26th, and the James Beard Awards Gala will take place in Chicago on Monday May 2nd, for all the Restaurant, Chef, and Restaurant Design categories, and more. (A very special congrats and best of luck wishes to Liholiho Yacht Club, up for Best New Restaurant, yessss.)

Okay, back to my other deadline. Have a good week, and hope to see you in April!
Marcia Gagliardi

March 8, 2016
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The justifiably famous cauliflower at Bar Bolonat, paired with the 2014 viognier and rosé from Israel’s Galil Mountain Winery. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Happy International Women’s Day, or Festa della Donna, as I affectionately remember it from when I lived in Italy. (If you’re looking to celebrate tonight, see if there’s room at A16 or Piccino—give ‘em a call for any openings, they are both hosting fun events).

Meanwhile, I got to attend a very fascinating dinner last week, with the innovative and sustainably minded chief winemaker of Israel’s Galil Mountain Winery, Micha Vaadia, who has quite the interesting background (he was a paratrooper, for starters). Galil’s portfolio has 15 wines—we tasted the 2014 viognier (whose floral notes Micha described as “Turkish delight,” love it!) and rosé, plus two red blends that he blind tastes when making them: their 2011 Alon and 2012 Yiron (which I preferred, with cab, merlot, petite verdot, and syrah). The rosé is definitely going to be in my fridge this summer, an easy drinker (glou glou!) with a nice touch of acidity, made with 74 percent sangiovese, pinot noir, and grenache, and just $12, yes please and thanks.

The backdrop for all these wines was the fantastic New Israeli/Mediterranean-inspired food at Bar Bolonat in the West Village (the chef-owner is Einat Admony, known for Taïm and Balaboosta, and her book by the same name). So many unique touches and bright flavors: favorites included the “everyday cauliflower” (which was everything but—and read about the surprise ingredient here!), tender shrimp in Yemenite curry, Hudson Street kibbeh with bright yellow yogurt from preserved lemon. The menu is killer, it’s the kind that makes you want to order everything. Oh yeah, and halva crème brûlée? Halva crème brûlée!

So, speaking of awesome wine dinners, guess what? I’m coming home for a visit to SF next month to host a special Vietnamese feast with the wines of Vinho Verde on Feastly! Consider this your save the date: Friday April 15th. Stand by for tickets and details in next week’s tablehopper! I’d love to see you!

In the meantime, my quest to eat everything in New York (ha) is going to get quite a boost at this Friday’s Village Voice Ninth Annual Choice Eats tasting event! With 65 restaurants there, covering 5 boroughs and cuisines from 35 nations, including Socarrat Paella Bar, Loi Estiatorio, The Meatball Shop, Raclette, Genuine Superette, Veselka, Spicy Bampa, and more, I will definitely be making a dent on discovering lots of delicious things to share with you. Unfortunately tickets just sold out, but if any of you tablehopping types in NYC will be there, let me know!

Did you see my pics from my jaunt to Jackson Heights in Queens this past Sunday? Amazing place.

Lastly, yay to this: Chef’s Table is back on Netflix on May 27th, and check out the lineup of the next three seasons! Happy to see Dominique Crenn and Nancy Silverton in the mix.

And on that note, Happy Women’s Day!
Marcia Gagliardi

March 1, 2016
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Killer app: Sichuan ‘nduja with shrimp chips at Fung Tu. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hi there! It’s a sunny day in New York, and I am feeling a twinge of spring in my step—I even got to enjoy a fantastic Taim falafel while sitting at a sunny playground on Sunday! Felt so good to just sit outside. But the forecast also has some upcoming snow, so there’s that. So schizophrenic, NYC!

I hope you got a chance to see my pics of Maison Premiere in Williamsburg, what a stunning and delicious and thirst-quenching place.

I had a busy week writing two pieces about buttery items for Time Out USA: six crazy-delicious and creative croissants and the top baked goods America is obsessed with. Any more I should be aware of?

Saturday I was deep in the land of the salty and the meaty and the cured at Charcuterie Masters event in Queens—check out my recap in the New Yawker. Yeah, it was heaven. (And you can order from some of these folks online, so it’s not just limited to NYC, by the way.)

I can’t believe how much work and email I gotta deal with right now, so I’m off. Hope you are holding down the fort for me!

Hugs!
Marcia Gagliardi

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