December 2016

December 20, 2016

Buckwheat doughnuts with whiskey crème anglaise at The Morris. (Not for Santa, but for me!) Photo: ©

How y’all doing on there in the land of pumpkin spice, eggnog, and peppermint? I was pretty damn happy in the land of grower-producer Champagne last Thursday at Arlequin Wine Merchant’s annual Champagne Celebration—if you need to pick up some special bottles for the holiday, they have you covered with some beauties!

We missed some of you at our Family-Style Vietnamese feast with chef Rob Lam and Ernest Vineyards last Friday, that was such an awesome night! Was so good to see you and enjoy chef Rob’s fantastic bun rieu with you. And wings. And skewers. What a feast! That’s why we work with Feastly. :)

I’m getting ready to head down to my family’s place, since Saturday is our big fish fest/Cenone for Christmas Eve. Bring on the baccalà and mussels and anchovy and bread crumb pasta (sadly that treat is only once a year). There are some places I listed in the Bay Area hosting their own version of the Cenone (also known as La Vigilia or Feast of the Seven Fishes), and one more to add is Mina’s Test Kitchen, where I experienced their seafood-centric (and very delicious) Postcards from La Costiera menu last week—ends up they are hosting a seven fishes feast as well, and lucky you, the superb spaghetti alle vongole is on the menu. Buon appetito!

In today’s column, I’m listing a bunch of places where you can go for New Year’s Day brunch, it’s a pretty fun lineup. I was hoping to have time to list New Year’s Eve spots as well, but pretty much every single restaurant is doing something, so I say think of your favorite places and check ‘em out. If I find some time later this week to list something, I’ll blast it on social media for ya (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram).

So, this is a little bit of behind-the-scenes/under-the-hood tech news (and why I have been extra-busy this week) but I’m really excited to announce we have moved tablehopper to a new mailing list service (Emma), and this is the first newsletter with the new system! Look for some cool features to come in the near future, including a new newsletter layout (yassssssss), but for now, I just wanted to mention it in case there’s any email funkiness that happens today. I’m hoping the data transfer happened perfectly, but there was a little bit of a time gap between the two systems, so you never know. Please let me know if you notice anything off or have any issues to report! Hopefully it went smooth like buttah.

One last note: I’m taking next Tuesday December 27th off for a holiday break, so the next tablehopper issue will be on Tuesday January 3rd (with my annual rant, the bore, of 10 things I don’t want to see in the New Year, oh you know it).

What I do want to see more of in the New Year is YOU! It has been so great to see a bunch of you at recent tablehopper events, thanks for coming and for all your support. Even though I was away in New York for most of the year, it has been great to catch up and get to know many of you.

There are so many things to be grateful for this holiday season. A big one on my list is my community. I love and appreciate you all so much—you bring such happiness and joy to my life, so I want to send my gratitude and best wishes to you and yours. Enjoy some time sitting by the tree, or your fireplace, or your menorah, or your winter solstice candles, or just with the people you love—they have so much light and warmth to cast, and so do you. Shine on.

Buone feste and see you in the New Year!
Marcia Gagliardi

December 13, 2016

Pro move/order: cilantro-kale pesto and bamboo pith jook topped with duck confit leg at Jook Joint. Photo: ©

Howdy. BIG THANKS to everyone who came to Jook Joint on Sunday, all 115+ of you! Yeah, we got slammed, but I’m glad that so many people got to taste chef Rob Lam’s amazing jook, with toppings like crab uni butter (check out my chef’s special at the end of the event!), duck confit and pomegranate, and his shrimp dumplings! The Lo-Fi Aperitifs cocktails by Claire Sprouse were as delicious as they were beautiful, including the Saturn Returns. I’m so pleased we were able to have such gorg brunch beverages at our event.

I also want to give a special thanks to The Napkins, who provided us with those fantastic high-quality napkins that so many of you noticed! We’re going to be busting out the silky bamboo napkins at our event this Friday. Only the best for you! :)

I really appreciate each and every one of you who showed up, thank you! And we also thank you for your patience with any service snags you experienced since it was crazy busy! That poor kitchen, we crushed them. But you all seemed to be having fun, so mission accomplished.

Things will be a bit more under control but just as crazy-delicious this Friday, when we are back at The Tradesman for our Family-Style Vietnamese Dinner. Chef Rob Lam is going to be serving perfect cold-weather dishes like bun rieu (crab and tomato noodle soup) and the tables will be covered with tasty skewers, like the chao tom (pineapple-sugarcane shrimp—you won’t find this version around town). Just wait until you taste the yuzu shrimp paste chicken wings—and the beautiful wine pairings from Ernest Vineyards! Just a few tickets remain at the main tables and the bar seats (only $80, all-inclusive!). I really hope to see you. Let’s eat. And drink!

I have a bunch of holiday dinners and events listed today, and I’ll have New Year’s Eve and Day options for you next week.

A note to restaurants and publicists: if you absolutely, positively have to be sure you get your holiday event listed in tablehopper, hit me up for a special event listing service I’m offering. You know where to find me—just hit reply to this email!

Quick reminder: last week I mentioned the annual “Adopt-a-Student” Holiday Drive for ECS students in the CHEFS culinary training program. You can buy a much-needed gift for students, such as shoes and clothes. The deadline to be assigned a student is December 16th, and you have until the 20th to have any gifts dropped off. Please contact Mallory Burke via email or call 415-487-3300 x1245 to be assigned an individual. It’s one of the better gifts you can give this holiday.

And if you’re hosting a holiday party or event and you have food left over, please don’t forget to contact Food Runners in SF or in Marin (this countywide food recovery program has delivered 825,000-plus pounds of food to 81 sites throughout Marin in 3 years). One more note: a generous donor is matching donations (up to $5,000 total), so you can donate money online or volunteer or donate food at

Ho ho ho!
Marcia Gagliardi
aka Champers the Elf

December 6, 2016

The poor old Li Po Cocktail Lounge sign, it so deserves to have all its neon restored! Photo: ©

Howdy. I know we have a lot on our minds right now, and heavy hearts. Our Bay Area community suffered a horrific loss this past weekend. And with each piece of news released about the Oakland fire, our hearts break even more. Sincere condolences and deep sympathies to all—this tragedy is felt by all. I hope today’s column can offer some distractions for you from all the bleak news right now.

One way to get into the holiday spirit is by adopting an ECS student in the CHEFS culinary training program. Every year they host an “Adopt-a-Student” Holiday Drive, when you can buy a much-needed gift for students, such as shoes and clothes. The deadline is December 20th to have any gifts dropped off. Please contact Mallory Burke via email or call 415-487-3300 x1245 to be assigned an individual. And read this inspiring piece to see how much good this amazing program can do to get people back on their feet.

I took an interesting tour of neon signs in Chinatown and Union Square with my sister this past weekend. It was such a cool way to explore the city—check out their upcoming tours in 2017. The duo behind the tours also have a great book and Instagram feed. After the tour, sis and I stopped in at Wayfare Tavern for a burger—the space looked beautiful, all tricked out in garland and holiday lights. Feeling the vibes…

Take good care, make some time for holiday cheer and seeing good friends. Come have jook with me on Sunday at Jook Joint! I’m hosting a wonderful (and affordable!) brunch. Or then there’s our Vietnamese dinner feast next Friday. I’d love to see you and feed you! Get tickets to all events here!

Marcia Gagliardi

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