December 2021

December 22, 2021

Champers the elf enjoying a holiday spirits visit at the Palace Hotel.

Hello friends! Ho ho ho, how’s this for a holiday week? My word. I hope you’re hanging in there, the news is pretty distressing about this damn omicron. I can’t believe how many restaurants and bars in SF and NYC I’m seeing on Instagram announcing temporary closures due to Covid exposures—it’s so hard to see industry folks getting sick all over again. I’m even seeing some SF restaurants (Zuni and Cassava) creating their own protocol and requiring proof of a booster shot to dine indoors—obviously, they are desperately trying to keep their teams healthy.

It’s such a hectic week of people gathering, traveling, holiday shopping, dining…we’re all buzzing around like busy bees, and it’s only fueling this surge. I’m canceling some plans, and rapid testing as much as possible before getting together with folks. Please be extra-careful, be kind, look out for others, and do our best to keep each other healthy.

I know we’re struggling with allllll the feelings right now. It’s a lot. And it’s the holidays, which already bring up deep emotions. And this week of rain (yay but also ugh, am looking forward to a break in the storms on Friday). I hope you can find some moments of joy and happiness—trying to focus on the people and things you’re grateful for always helps. It has certainly helped me this past week from spinning out (and weed, thank goddess for the weed—and cuddles with Fortuna). And then there’s always panettone. And boozy eggnog.

So, why are you receiving tablehopper on a Wednesday? Well, I don’t know how I thought I was going to get all my gift bag production done and write a column in one day, I am certifiably crazy. I blame the full moon. Yesterday was all about delivering 18 hopper holiday gift bags with my elf friend Don Julio to fab hopper readers all over the city—my Fiat sleigh was packed! Getting ready for round two tomorrow. Tremendous thanks to everyone for all your generous support, I was so happy when we sold out! Have fun with all those treats! It’s very gratifying to receive notes and the makers love to see pics of people enjoying their goodies. Heartfelt thanks again to Merkado for being our bag fulfillment and pickup partner, they have been amazing!

If you’re looking for ideas about much-needed holiday cheer and Christmas meals and treats, New Year’s Eve dinners, and New Year’s Day (coming soon!), be sure to check out my Stories Highlights on @tablehopper on Instagram, which I’m updating daily.

A few more ideas to help boost happy holiday vibes:
-I’ve been missing the Tom & Jerry House on 21st Street this year, but the over-the-top house at 68 Castro Street always makes me smile.
-If you’re downtown, pay a visit to the Christmas trees in the Garden Court at the Palace Hotel and have some holiday cheer in the Pied Piper Bar (you can sit in their back room for more distance).
-The Vault Garden also has a festive vibe and you can admire the beautiful tree at 555 California.
-The gingerbread house at the Fairmont is always something to see, and their huge tree is great for pics.
-Golden Gate Park has all kinds of installations glowing for their new Winter Lights show.
-Track down the Tree Twins.
-Play my Top It Off holiday mix I put together for a tablehopper event a few years ago while you wrap presents and eat cookies.

I’m due to be back in your inboxes on January 4th (in the meantime, you can read some of my “year in review” thoughts in the Year in Eater 2021). I’m going to take this moment to wish you all very Hoppy and Healthy Holidays and a Happy New Year. Even though things are not at all how we want them to be, not even close, don’t let it diminish the moments of joy, love, peace, and happiness that still want to find their way to you.

With love and gratitude,

December 17, 2021

Hello, everyone! Happy Friday! Champers the bizzee elf here. Before you head out for a weekend of holiday shopping, I just wanted to let you know we have five remaining Hopper Holiday Gift Bags in stock! It really is the ultimate food lover’s holiday gift, packed full of 13 oh-so-tasty products and festive treats from independent restaurants and local food businesses and talented makers!

You can divide the bag up into a bunch of stocking stuffers, or even share one with a friend. If you can’t buy one yourself, maybe you could help spread the word so we can sell this out? We’d appreciate it! Everyone involved with the gift bag passes along their sincere thanks for your support, and that includes me!

We’re offering delivery, but if you’re going to be picking up your bag Tue-Thu at our fab fulfillment partner, Merkado in SoMa, you should know they have special takeout holiday meals (did someone say tamales and tres leches?) and cocktail kits (it’s margarita time!) that you can pre-order and pick up when you get your bag. It’s a great way to say “gracias” to Merkado for hosting us. (You don’t have to order a gift bag to pick up these Merkado meals or kits, to be clear!)

There will also be lumpia from The Lumpia Company, and holiday sausages from Sean Lackey (he’s making his Pig & Fig pork sausage, with local figs that are dehydrated and reconstituted with pomegranate molasses vinegar and honey, plus caramelized onions). If you’re doing a gift bag pick-up, I will be emailing you details on how to order these extra-special sausages!

All the details about what’s in the bag (and pick-up and delivery) are below in the post! Let me know if you still have any questions after you read through it all.

~Champers AKA Marcia

December 10, 2021

Howdy, friends! Champers the elf here. Okaaaaaaay, after so many phone calls and DMs and emails and texts and spreadsheets, the Hopper Holiday Gift Bag is here! I’m thrilled with this year’s lineup of tasty products and treats, 13 in all! It’s festive, it’s fun, it’s sweet, it’s savory, it’s spicy!

We have wonderful independent restaurants and food businesses and makers involved, and they all appreciate your support so much! I do too. This is a crazy thing to organize, but it’s so worth it when I see all your pics and hear how much you loved trying new products or discovering new makers! The Bay Area is full of so much culinary talent, it’s ridiculous.

We have a limited supply of gift bags and a short window to order them because we need to give some of these businesses a hot minute to make their goodies, so please act quickly. Since you’re a tablehopper subscriber, you get first crack at the sale before I start posting on social. Mwah! I so appreciate your readership!

All the details about what’s in the bag and pick-up and delivery are in the post! Let me know if you still have any questions after you read through it all. You can order your gift bag here. For now, you have until Tuesday December 14th at 3pm PST to order (unless it sells out first). (Tremendous thanks to my tech angel at Square, Martin G., for helping with the back-end of the gift bag shop! He’s a lifesaver.)

Ho ho ho, hop hop hop, pop pop pop, it’s time to shop!
~Champers AKA Marcia

December 7, 2021

One of my favorite combinations I have put together from the Hanukkah platter from Poppy Bagels (some of the very best bagels in the Bay Area): smoked wild salmon roe, scallion cream cheese, dill, and chives on a poppyseed bagel. Photo: ©

Good evening, hopper readers! (It’s dark at 4:45pm, so “evening” is kind of an expansive concept right now—come on, solstice!) This was supposed to be a shorter column this week, so I thought. Wrong! This thing exploded on me (like my inbox, oh my goddess, please stop) with so much news, from all kinds of new openings—so many new projects!—what’s coming soon, and some service updates, too. I have chosen to not write about the viral Hilda and Jesse brouhaha that has taken over every single media outlet I can think of. It’s a nuanced story, and the piece I would want to write would entail interviews and conversations I simply don’t have bandwidth for at this very moment—I was up writing until 1:30am last night as it is.

For now, I know a bunch of us have the holidays on our minds. Last week was full of latkes and brisket and bagels, and this week feels like getting holiday cheer with friends and seeing all the lights around town. Oh yeah, and Dungeness CRAB is thankfully arriving from up north. Huzzah! (I’m feeling my transformation into Champers the elf strongly now.)

I’ve been updating my Instagram Highlights with holiday treats and events and festive places to go, where to get crab, and I’m just starting to post New Year’s Eve experiences as well. Check ‘em out for ideas!

The major thing that has totally taken over my life is putting together this year’s hopper holiday gift bag! Thanks to all of you who wrote back and expressed interest in getting one this year, which was enough encouragement for me to take this on again. I’m thrilled to announce there are currently 13 local restaurants and food businesses involved (the lineup of items is sooooooo goooood). Just you wait!

I’m so grateful to be working with Merkado in SoMa as the bag assembly and pick-up location! Gracias, Merkado! They’re going to be offering some holiday meal and cocktail kits you can pre-order and bring home with you as well.

I will be sending an email with the bag details and order link within the next couple days—I just need to finalize some back-end details before we hit go on this thing. tablehopper subscribers get first crack! Pickup and delivery will be available December 21st-23rd. Thanks to all of you for your continued support (and thanks from all the makers involved as well)! If anyone is available to volunteer for bag assembly or delivery, even a couple hours, I would so appreciate it! Champers needs some elves!

Take a look at last year’s holiday gift bag, which is also a great way to remind you of treats you should go get, like holiday marzipan treats from Schubert’s Bakery and ma’amoul cookies from Reem’s California!

Have a pleasant evening, I’ll be back in your inboxes soon enough.

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