April 2019

April 30, 2019

I KNOW! The black swan taro puffs at Palette Tea House are just delightful. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Well, would ya look at that. A couple fabulous folks booked sponsored event ads on the hopper this week, so I’m writing this mini-hopper on my flights to and from St. Louis. Please take a look at their Cinco de Mayo events, many thanks to them for the continued support (it ends up both these rockstar sponsors also helped out at the Mexico earthquake fundraiser I organized a little over a year ago).

If you’re a restaurant or bar or brand with an upcoming event to promote, please keep tablehopper in mind. (I know you love it when I write it up for you for free, but I can’t include everything!) It’s an affordable ad space, and you get a mention on tablehopper’s Twitter and Facebook channels as well. Thanks for keeping the lights on, I don’t have to tell you how hard online publishing is.

I flew in late last night at midnight (joy, flight delays!) and while you read this, I’m now up in Santa Rosa for the next couple of days, learning about all the latest cannabis products at Hall of Flowers for my other media company, mymilligram (have you checked it out?). Chelsea Handler (!) and Gary Vaynerchuck will be giving talks at this well-organized B2B cannabis trade show full of the top Cali cannabis brands.

If you’ve been curious about cannabis, take a peek at this vidcast I just did with the fab ladies of The What (do you subscribe to their savvy and well-curated newsletter?). In the video, we chat about low-dose products and I even created a mini mymilligram microdoser guide to go with the vidcast, designed for people wondering where to begin with products to help with sleep, pain, pleasure, and mood. Thanks for taking a look, and being curious!

Okay, back to food: I wanted to share with you my second culinary profile for the Nob Hill Gazette! This time, it’s a feature on Kavitha Raghavan and the flavorful Indian street food brunch she offers at her colorful wine bar on Divis, Indian Paradox. If you haven’t had her eggs akuri, you’re really missing out.

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve experienced two different tasting menus: one was at The Table at Merchant Roots, a stunningly creative and delicious meal available Thu-Sat evenings (you gotta see this over-the-top dessert course)—chef Ryan Shelton is launching a second theme now, Vanity Fair, and I expect great things. Great expectations. LOL. Partner and wine director Madison Michael and sommelier Chelsea Sawyer’s wine pairings are tops, and you’ll be inspired to buy a couple bottles to bring home from the well-curated shelves.

Over in Oakland, chefs Andrew Greene and Duncan Kwitkor have been running an elevated pop-up in The Gastropig on Friday and Saturday nights, Abstract Table, and they just launched their second theme/concept, Atolls (click for pics). It’s a casual affair (your wine will be poured in a Mason jar), but it’s also designed to be on the more affordable side of things (priced at $50-$70). Pics here.

And then there was the absolute feast my friends and I had at Beit Rima a couple weeks back. We had an unexpectedly large group, and ended up having such a fun communal meal in the middle of the restaurant. It was my second time there, and the well-prepared food is so full of flavor and soul (speaking of, don’t miss the ful!). The handmade bread and spreads, ah! I just wish they had some slightly more affordable wines on the list to go with the fast-casual format.

And my fellow dim sum lovers, get a group together and book at table at the new Palette Tea House from the Koi Palace and Dragon Beaux team, stat. Yup, you’re going to Ghirardelli Square. This past weekend, my friend and I were loving the upscale Cantonese dumplings (lobster har gow!) and fresh seafood (spot prawns!), with such playful and pretty presentations (the black swan taro puffs are beyond). You’ll feel regal when they float to your table.

I also couldn’t believe the seven-spice fried cubes of silken tofu (soooo custardy), and the gai lan in oyster sauce is some of the best I’ve had. The entire experience offers a welcome, modern update to the usual dim sum scenario (there are craft cocktails!)—it will be the perfect place to take out-of-towners, and wait until you try the desserts, like Hong Kong milk tea tiramisù with boba. Go check it out during their soft opening before it gets hectic.

Okay, whew, gang, your truly is off to Corfu next week! So completely, utterly thrilled to be heading back to Greece—my heart keeps saying, “Opa!” Looking forward to checking out their second Food and Wine Festival, and learn even more about Greek cuisine. THERE WILL BE (MORE) FETA.

I’ll be back in your inboxes on May 21st (publicists, please take note—no Mother’s Day pitches, sorry, thanks), and of course I will be posting up a storm on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter while I’m away. Corfu looks so dang beautiful.

Happy May to you all (and Mother’s Day!)—enjoy all the flowers. And congrats to the 2019 James Beard Media Award winners, and the upcoming winners at the James Beard Awards Gala on May 6th—you can tune in online!

Marcia Gagliardi

April 16, 2019

A baklava nest, part of a finale course at The Table at Merchant Roots. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Howdy, gang. How are you? Yesterday was quite the double gut punch, watching Notre-Dame de Paris burn (utterly horrific, supremely awful) while my money flew out of my bank account to Uncle Sam (no uncle of mine). I was feeling pretty wiped out last night while writing this beast of a column—at least there’s always house music to lift me up (sorry for the heavy bass, neighbors!).

But, today is a sunny day, the cathedral is still standing, and I’m grateful for all the fun experiences I’ve had the past couple weeks. Last week was Bi-Rite Market and 18 Reasons’ spring fundraiser, Master Chefs at Home, to benefit their Cooking Matters program, which offers free cooking and nutrition education classes to more than 3,500 low-income, Bay Area kids, teens, adults, and families each year. It was such an uplifting event, honoring the many people who help run and support the program. Want to help? You can volunteer, host, or donate!

I was also so fortunate to attend the over-the-top, pre-opening party for Dandelion Chocolate (OMG, the dessert table), experience the abundant and creative Stylin’ the Saloon tasting menu at Comstock Saloon (for $55, you gotta check it out), and attended a cannabis product launch party with Eric Wareheim pouring Las Jaras in the mix as well. It helps make my writing and work weekends less onerous, I tell ya. Monday is my Saturday.

Things are about to get a little loosey goosey over here—I have a big mymilligram project I’m working on, along with a quick trip to the Midwest to do some cannabis consultation, zip back for the Hall of Flowers, and then would you believe I’m going back to Greece in the first week of May? I think Aphrodite and Athena are pulling some serious strings for me, and I am not going to question it! Thank you, goddesses!

I’ve been invited to cover the Corfu Food and Wine Festival, and am so excited to visit that beautiful island, keep learning about Greek food and wine, and practice my Greek some more! I know, my life.

So, I don’t know when I’m going to get another tablehopper out over the next month—the time to write is a bit scarce (ditto any sponsors). I’m doing my best, but there’s only so much espresso I can drink (thanks for helping, HelioRoast)! Maybe I’ll be able to put out a mini midweek hopper or something. I’m waiting to hear what the Oracle at Delphi has to say. Back atcha soon.

Thanks for reading, and here’s wishing a happy Passover, Easter, and spring to you.

Thank you Easter Bunny, bwok bwok!
Marcia Gagliardi

April 2, 2019

This happened often on #fetatrip. This was after our tour of the A.S. Kalavryton cooperative, enjoying lunch at To Spiti tis Marios in Kalavryta. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Kalispera! I’m back from a couple magical weeks in Greece, where I learned all about Greek PDO (protected designation of origin) feta, and tasted it at every meal for about six days. Let’s just say I have an entirely new perspective on one of my favorite cheeses, and I’m on the hunt for any barrel-aged PDO feta we can find! (If you have a shop in the Bay Area—or know one—selling barrel-aged PDO feta from Greece, please drop me a line—I heard Cheese Plus in SF has some!) I’ll be writing more about all things feta soon—and I know a bunch of you were following along at @tablehopper—but in the meantime, you can take a look at some of the dishes our group tried in this Planet Cheese post from Janet Fletcher.

I also spent a week in Athens on my own, touring incredible ruins and museums daily, trying a bunch of souvlaki, seafood, natural wines, Greek yogurt (sheep’s milk, baby!), I fell in love with trahana, and got my daily fill of Greek coffee and frappés. Thanks to everyone who sent recommendations! It was a truly incredible trip—the Greeks were so hospitable and kind, and who knew late March would be so idyllic? Spring had sprung in Athens, and I soaked up every wildflower and all the rays of sunshine. I also returned home with one of my heaviest bags yet. Shout-out to Athena for protecting my suitcase from the beagle at Customs.

Before we dive into today’s catch-up issue, I wanted to be sure you saw this piece that posted just before I left town that I wrote on the women blazing San Francisco’s canna-culinary scene. Yes, it was a fun piece to research. There are some talented women you should know about in that article!

I was also so pleased to be included in George McCalman’s latest “Observed” column, featuring Zuni’s magnificent 40th birthday celebration. Pop!

Big congrats to all the local talent included in the 2019 James Beard Foundation Award nominees! The Awards Gala will take place on Monday May 6th!

Okay, that’s it for announcements, let’s jump in!
Marcia Gagliardi

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