What’s Cookin’

Weekly Intro and Updates (Coming in hot...)
January 12, 2021
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Thanks to Club Feast, I was stress-eating in style on Friday night with my Krispy Krunchy Chicken order, oh yes I did. (Don’t forget some TRUFF hot sauce for the mac and cheese.) Pre-order and set up your Friday night to do it right! (Just be sure to warm up the chicken a little before you dig in.) Cannabis cocktail not pictured, but also highly recommended. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hi, friends. Happy 2021, whatever that means. (Are we there yet?) How are you? I know many of us are feeling exhausted, shocked, aghast, and angry, and others are numb and completely maxed out from the past week of news, which keeps unfolding every hour with new updates. It’s a lot. (Let me know if you need any low-dose cannabis suggestions to help unwind or sleep or just try to deal!)

I laugh when I think of my plans to take this past week off as a time to focus on a couple of my new business projects and plans. Ha! Yeah, that happened. I will try again. Who can even focus on one thing for more than a few minutes right now? (Except Bridgerton, I had no problem focusing on THAT. And all my remaining holiday treats, they have been getting a lot of attention, too.) I don’t even want to look at my screen time stats this past week—all Twitter, all the time. (Also, thanks to Twitter, I was in the New York Times Magazine this past weekend, and it had nothing to do with food!)

Just before the New Year, I was actually able to focus long enough to write an article: the annual bore, which I transformed into the more this year, with ten things I want to see more of in 2021. Thanks to all of you who wrote back with your comments and feedback.

Timing has been tricky this past month for posting the final season episode of On the Fly with Charles Chen of Basuku Cheesecakes, but between the closure of outdoor dining and holiday madness and an attempted coup, it seems like a moment finally arrived, and the episode is now live. I hope you enjoy taking a break to listen to our conversation—it’s a fascinating look into all the hustle and adjustments that go into launching a successful pop-up (SO MUCH WORK), and Charles has such an interesting background in the culinary world, one that spans Hakkasan, Tartine Manufactory, Stonemill Matcha, and Maum. Also, he’s launching a passionfruit version of the cheesecake soon—you’re going to want one.

I don’t know when we’re going to pick up the podcast again—I need to focus on paying the bills for now, so thanks for all your support for this storytelling venture (especially to producer extraordinaire Lola Yen, who I am going to miss working with!). We banged out 22 episodes! There are so many more people I’d like to speak with, and stories that need to be told, so we’ll see what happens next. In the meantime, I’m so grateful to the Mercury News and Bay Area Newsgroup for this recent inclusion in their piece, 9 best food, wine and spirits podcasts to listen to in 2021. Such a nice way to wrap up the season, awww. Oh, and seeing this 48 Hills piece honoring chef Joanna Karlinsky for all her efforts to feed the unhoused during the pandemic, this also made me so happy.

Speaking of seasons: holy crab, it’s finally CRAB SEASON! Boats are out, pots are in the water, and we should start seeing Dungeness crabs Thursday and Friday. At last, some good news. If you don’t have a regular local crab source, here are some quick ideas: I always love supporting “the girls” at Alioto-Lazio Fish Company on the Wharf; of course, you can call the guys at Swan Oyster Depot; there’s Sun Fat in the Mission; the new Billingsgate in Noe Valley (read more in today’s tablehopper); and there are online ordering options like Water2table Fish Company. Many small/quality grocery stores carry local Dungeness, too. And you can head up to William Tell House in Tomales this Saturday for a crab tailgate—it’s always a feast. Enjoy! I was lucky to get a few crabs from a friend with a recreational license back in November, here’s the annual recipe/dish I like to make. Get pickin’!

Now that the holiday feed bag has been taken off, I’m posting about some new dish discoveries on the Club Feast platform on @tablehopper on Instagram. They have kindly sponsored me to choose my Club Feast Pick of the Month, like last month’s fantastic Hummus Bodega falafel pita, so stand by for what’s gonna be this month’s feast! (The Krispy Krunchy Chicken dinner pictured above is definitely a finalist, heh heh.) Try Club Feast for your first time and get $20 off with code HOPPER20 (which also puts $20 in my pocket, so thanks in advance). You’ll find a variety of tasty lunch and dinner dishes to pre-order and have them delivered for less than $10! Thanks for checking it out, and thanks to Club Feast for their sponsorship.

Take care, friends. Keep on truckin’.
Marcia Gagliardi

December 31, 2020
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Some of my favorite doors in SF. Let’s open the doors to 2021 with love. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Ho ho howdy, hopper posse. I hope your holiday season has been merry and bright and full of delicious things. I know the latter is the case if you ordered a hopper holiday restaurant gift bag! It has been so fun seeing your pics and notes and reports of your favorite items and dishes you’re making. And let me tell you, it felt so good to be able to pay all these restaurants for their beautiful products and wares. They all send their gratitude.

Thanks to all of you for your generous support—the buyers, the volunteer elves, and especially to Nopa for letting me take over their restaurant dining room for two days of bag assembly (61 bags of 18 items each, you do the math of chaos!), and then distributing the gift bags to folks who opted to pick them up in person (and during their busy last days of takeout before their holiday break—whoosh)! Thanks, neighbors.

And thanks to everyone who bought a bag, we were able to donate $610 to SF New Deal! Fantastic! Speaking of, today is the last day you can make a tax-deductible donation to a non-profit, so please consider making a big fat donation to SF New Deal, the SF-Marin Food Bank (they have a matching donor right now), UndocuFund, Give2SF, the USBG Bartender Emergency Assistance Program (BEAP), Feed Hospitality (CUESA), and the new 86Fund has a $10k matching donor right now! Thank you for supporting these organizations in their important charitable work, there is so much need.

Oh, and while we’re at it, can you please throw some money at our precious Twin Peaks Tavern? They need our help, and we simply can’t risk losing this historic and irreplaceable bar. No, sir!

So, to be honest, I was pretty wiped out from all the logistics of that last-minute gift bag, and then boom, it was Christmas Eve! I’m going to take a little time off to decompress, reset, and work on some exciting new tablehopper projects for 2021—I’ve got some ideas, and they need some time and space and attention for me to bring them to life. It looks like I won’t be back in your inboxes until January 12th, thanks for understanding.

But you don’t think I’d leave you without an end-of-year issue of the bore, do you? I take traditions seriously over here, as you may have noticed—although this year’s missive is a bit different. I hope you enjoy it.

Well, gang, it’s the last day of this blasted year. We made it—many of us, just barely. It has been so awful for so many. Too much loss, and grief, and sadness. I’m not going to get into it, it’s too immense. We’ve also seen so much strength, and generosity, and kindness, and grace, and love. And hope! I’m sending you my best wishes for this new year—we are not out of the woods, by a long shot, so I’m sending you fortitude, and optimism, and most of all, best wishes for good health. Stay safe. Raise a glass to your blessings tonight.

Buon Anno! XO
~Marcia

December 16, 2020
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Hey everyone, thanks for your patience as I worked to get this Hopper Holiday Restaurant Gift Bag reindeer rodeo under control and live! (Thanks to the wonderful team at Square for their amazing help, this was a tricky one to set up!) You can read about alllll the treats in this bountiful gift bag below, 18 items in all, ho ho ho! Some of these goodies are custom-made and exclusive to the gift bag, so enjoy!

The restaurant gift bag is $225, and delivery (in SF only) is $12 if you want Santa to bring it to you. ORDER HERE. Please read the instructions carefully for pick-up and delivery times! Email me any questions and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Thank you for all your support! It has been incredible to work with all these restaurants and bakeries and industry folks on putting this together. They all say THANK YOU!

Happy Holidaze!!
~Marcia (Champers the elf)

December 15, 2020
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A beautiful mural from the Paint the Void Project. It says, “May you be safe.” Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hey everyone, I want to thank you so much for all your feedback about my essay last week about the dire situation we find our local restaurants in, and what we need to do to help and show up for them since our federal government isn’t. I really appreciate all the amplification of my piece, and some of you tagged me and sent pictures of your takeout, which made me SO HAPPY, you have no idea. Keep it up!

Remember when I suggested you do your holiday shopping at local restaurants this year? Well, I’m about to make that super-easy for you to do: today’s column features the announcement of the first Hopper Holiday Restaurant Gift Bag! Imagine a gift bag packed full of some of the best independent restaurant products, chosen by yours truly, from hot sauces to cookies to preserves to pasta. It’s looking like 17 amazing products, folks. The Hopper Holiday Restaurant Gift Bag is going to launch tomorrow, read below for details about this limited and last-minute offer that is designed to help support our local restaurants and celebrate all the culinary magic they make. Thank you for your interest and support!

More culinary radness: if you follow me on Instagram (@tablehopper), you may have seen my first Club Feast Pick of the Month today! I’m grateful for their sponsorship the next three months as I scout out the best dishes on their delivery platform (which operates differently than the big third-party apps) and highlight my favorite finds. Read more below, and take $20 off your first order with code HOPPER20.

Since I’m catapulting myself into full-tilt holiday mode over here with this gift bag, this is the last newsy newsletter of the year (of course, I’ll be doing something around the New Year…but let’s just say “the bore” is going to be quite different this year).

Do you smell the latkes and holiday spices in the air? I’m doing hella daily updates on Instagram in my Stories about holiday meals, treats, and more—don’t miss the goodies. Shop local! Check my Highlights for recaps, including Holiday! and Hanukkah. And the commercial Dungeness crab season is supposed to start on December 23rd, so there’s that. (YAY.) I will also be starting a New Year’s Eve Highlight soon (because: 2021!). If you can order any holiday meals from our restaurants, that would be amazing and so appreciated. Please look out for the small ones.

I’m also going to be pausing the On the Fly by tablehopper podcast so we can take a season break. Producer Lola and I need to regroup, and I obviously have a bunch of stuff I’m working on right now. However, we will be airing the final episode with Charles Chen of Basuku shortly. (With all the upheaval over outdoor dining being canceled, let’s just say it wasn’t exactly the right moment last week.)

Okay, gang. You’re going to hear from me tomorrow about the Hopper Holiday Restaurant Gift Bag, but otherwise, I’m signing off. Hang tough, stay safe, be kind, be generous, and let’s do our best to get through this together. I know our holiday season is rough in many ways, and so many are experiencing terrible loss and grief, but try to find some moments of joy and gratitude if you can. We are resilient. We are strong. We need to stay safe.

With love and gratitude for all your support and readership.
~Marcia AKA Champers the elf