July 2018

July 24, 2018
whiterabbit-dessert.jpeg

One of the beguiling desserts at White Rabbit (with flavors of burnt hazelnut, sour cream, and wild strawberries). Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Heeeeyyyyy now! I’m back from three weeks in Russia, and as you can imagine, it was quite the adventure. My father and I had a blast at World Cup (we saw six matches!), had such a memorable dinner at White Rabbit in Moscow (with some of the most thoughtful hospitality I have experienced), fell in love with St. Petersburg (we were on palace duty like you wouldn’t imagine), we fully enjoyed connecting with locals in Samara and Kazan, and had one of our favorite traditional Russian meals in Nizhny Novgorod. (Da, we were all over the place.) And we ate extremely well! My new obsession is Georgian food, I can’t wait to try some recipes at home.

Russia was full of surprises: we encountered so much unexpected kindness and connection, and some shocking rudeness as well (sometimes it was so bad, all we could do was laugh—same goes for a few horrific restaurant service experiences we had, oh lawdy, really for the books). Full spectrum.

I’m currently sorting through my 1,500 images and notes and thoughts, and instead of running a tablehopper full of news in the next issue, I plan to run my Russia recap instead. Such an incredible place, it really shifted my perception. And there is so much I loved about the food, starting with cold borscht and pickled tomatoes (I totally brought a jar home to enjoy until I have a moment to make my own).

It has been a bummer to return home and come down with a cold (thanks, Airbus full of germy people), but the jet lag has finally lifted, so I’m excited to start heading back out on the town. We have a bunch of cute new openings! I have a number of news briefs in today’s issue, and be sure to hop over to my weekly Table Talk column for news on the new lunchtime incarnation of Duna (Smokebread), the latest chef-inspired cocktail menu at Trick Dog, a Benedict brunch, the new Tappy Hour at Barvale, and read about some of my favorite healthy lunches (or dinners) at Booster Foods, especially after being on the road.

Our local food world is processing some big news, starting with the departure of Michael Bauer from The Chronicle, who is retiring after 32 years. Let’s see who’s next! It’s such an exciting opportunity to bring on a fresh perspective and voice.

And then there’s the heartbreaking news of Jonathan Gold’s tragic death from pancreatic cancer. At 57. Such a shock. There’s no one who chronicled a food scene like he did—you’d learn so much about a place and a cuisine and people and culture in each review. His neverending curiosity, deep research, brilliant writing, keen observations, finely tuned palate, and warm-hearted passion for storytelling (especially the story of the many immigrant populations and their cuisines that make Los Angeles so great) are all why he was the Gold standard for food writing, criticism, and reviewing. Plus so many other reasons, it’s a long list. Be sure to read these tributes by Ruth Reichl and Gustavo Arellano, writers who knew him well and worked with him.

He was taken too soon, way too soon. Condolences to his family and many friends, to Los Angeles for losing their beloved culinary lighthouse and compass, and to future food writers and critics who won’t have his perspective and style at the ready to inspire them to research more, dive deeper, be curious, and become a better, smarter writer (he wasn’t one for faster). Make sure you watch the moving documentary about him (and his process), City of Gold. I’m doing a rewatch this week for sure. Man, such a loss.

Back on our local scene, here’s something for you to look over: as San Francisco moves toward banning plastic straws, there are unexpected ramifications for disabled people and the city’s hundreds of boba/bubble tea shops (many are owned by immigrants)—both issues and articles deserve your attention and consideration. While we can agree that plastic straws are terrible for the environment, it’s good to understand some nuances and facets of what will happen with the ban, and hopefully some solutions will arise soon.

One last thing before we dive in here: next Thursday August 2nd, I’m excited to attend the second annual North Coast Wine & Weed Symposium in Santa Rosa. (I know, California is amazing.) Anyone who’s in the wine industry will want to consider getting a ticket (they are almost sold out!) since the symposium is focused on helping the wine industry examine what impact the legalization of recreational cannabis use in California may have on the wine industry (and what can the cannabis world can learn from the wine industry). See you there?

There’s also a Terpenes and Terroir dinner with The Herb Somm and TSO Sonoma after the symposium at Healdsburg Shed (guaranteed to be a quality experience, these two host fabulous events together). I’ll be mentioning more in mymilligram this Thursday (you subscribe, right?).

It’s good to be home, hope to see you soon!
Marcia Gagliardi

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