This week's tablehopper: in good graces.


Stunning: royal osetra caviar and brioche with flowers and hollandaise, paired with 2008 Louis Roederer brut rosé Champagne (at Quince). Photo: ©

Sometimes things have to be really hard or annoying or stressful or downright impossible before some grace can appear. Or in my case today, Grace. As many of you know, I am getting ready to head to Brazil next Friday. But if it were up to the Brazilian consulate, I wouldn’t be on that plane. You see, they are so backed up processing visas that the next available visa appointment isn’t until June 27th—a week into my trip—and it takes five business days on top of that to even get your visa. Dude.

Now, I wholeheartedly own a large part of the problem—I misunderstood when I was supposed to request my visa (I thought my flight had to be ticketed/final booked), so obviously I was getting to it far too late early this week. But let me tell you, if you have any ideas about heading to Brazil for World Cup or just for travel, give yourself at least a month to get that visa squared away. To put it all in perspective, if I were going to China—a notoriously tough visa—I’d get it same day (yup!) and only be out $30. My visa to Brazil? How about $160!? Oh, and the paperwork? Bureaucracy at its finest.

So there I am at the consulate this morning, trying to be at my calmest but most persuasive as I am pleading for a visa appointment, and I get a big, fat, “Sorry, there is nothing we can do.” No matter that I am supposed to fly out in a week. Just no. And just wow. I tried every possible angle, trust. You’d think they’d want people to visit the country, but it feels like the exact opposite. Despite my best efforts, out of sheer frustration and sadness watching my trip to Brazil crumble with this woman’s final “no,” I completely burst into tears and made a hasty exit to the ladies’ room. So embarrassing. Crying in public, that’s always so much fun.

Which is when I met Grace, aka my visa angel, who found me in the bathroom crying. She works for Bay Document Services and was there at the consulate expediting visas for her clients. With one phone call to her contact in New York, she was able to confirm she could expedite my visa through the NYC consulate (which reportedly operates much more quickly and with a lot less paperwork) and could actually get my passport back here in SF on Thursday before my Friday flight. Um, wow. Everything turned around, just like that. I was not going to Brazil, and then holy crap, I am going to Brazil! There really are angels, and the one who saved my lucky ass today is Grace.

I just met up with her again to hand off my documents and money and $200 service fee, and you can bet I brought a couple bottles of wine for her. I know, exchanging money and documents in a parking lot with people you met earlier in a bathroom can seem shady, but I think I’m a pretty good judge of character, and she is 100 percent legit. And who am I to question divine freaking intervention? Get me on that plane, damn it! So if you ever need to get some visa issues sorted, Grace at Bay Document Services has your back.

Since I have spent the past few nights with some wicked insomnia over this and from running around in bureaucracy land, I’m all tapped out for today. Beyond. But I do have a nice giveaway for you, and the fabulous Heather Irwin has some 707 scout news too.

Oh, and I actually have some non-tablehopper pieces for you to read: on, I share my monthly post of five new places to check out this month; on Citysearch, I posted some of my favorite places for sushi in San Francisco; and I also have my first column for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Tablehopping, all posted and ready for you.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time for a drink. Actually, a drank. (I am going to be saving the caipirinhas until I get to Brazil.)

With infinite gratitude to the universe,

Marcia Gagliardi

View tablehopper Newsletter from Friday, Jun 14 2013