What’s Cookin’

Weekly Intro and Updates (Coming in hot...)
July 28, 2020
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A recent Restaurant Nisei bento box—read all about what’s inside it on Instagram! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hello, friends. Whew, it has been a busy morning checking in on people after that horrible five-alarm fire in SoMa in SF this morning. Thank goodness everyone is safe, but there have definitely been some business losses, ugh. I have an update in the chatterbox below. Here’s hoping we can help these businesses get back on their feet soon.

More on the subject of resilience is the recent On the Fly podcast episode with Fernay McPherson of the beloved Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement (located in the Public Market Emeryville). I hope you can take some time to listen to her compelling story and journey as a Black female food entrepreneur and third-generation Fillmore native. You’ll want to pick up some of her trademark rosemary fried chicken and brown butter cornbread this weekend as soon as you listen in, plan accordingly.

Further inspiration! Don’t miss the recent series Street Food: Latin America on Netflix! I’m enjoying this show immensely—they’re mostly highlighting female chefs—such incredibly badass women who will put some fire in your belly to hustle and survive these arduous times. They will also make you cry—I have cried watching two of four episodes so far. (Good tears.) Such potent storytelling. And one more heartwarming show to watch is Mucho, Mucho Amor about the inimitable Walter Mercado! Pure delight. Besos!

More happiness: the extraordinary washoku bento box from chef David Yoshimura of pop-up Nisei, currently running out of the kitchen at Mister Jiu’s! It’s an incredible treasure box for $38 (available Fri-Sun). Order one for pickup this weekend, and be sure to peruse the takeout menu at Mister Jiu’s as well—you want to come home with the country ham and scallion milk bread with pork floss, trust me. (Their hot and sour soup will also give your body a healing boost.)

Since my last break was too damn short, and this city is too damn gray (kind of like my roots), I’m heading out of town with sis for an extended weekend in Lake Tahoe! I’ll be offline starting Friday, and won’t be writing tablehopper next Tuesday, FYI. I’ll keep posting news and updates on @tablehopper on Instagram and in my Stories…

Since I won’t be around to remind you, please save the date: next Friday August 7th is Dine for Democracy, a national campaign that brings local restaurants and diners together to raise money to ensure safe and fair elections. 100 percent of donations will be divided equally among a cohort of five grassroots voting rights groups, led by youth and communities of color working to get out the vote in battleground states. There are a number of Bay Area restaurants participating—please dine and donate (since we can’t lean on restaurants to make donations right now, we need them to survive!). The next Dine for Democracy events are on the first Friday of each month, now until the election.

This is also the last week to have your contribution matched to CUESA’s Feed Hospitality program by Hangar 1 Vodka! Your tax-deductible donation of $25 directly pays for one weeks’ worth of fresh, healthy produce for a hospitality worker and their family, while supporting local farms. Help us feed the people who feed us. Through Friday July 31st, Hangar 1 Vodka is matching all donations, up to $15,000! Win-win-win!

One last thing, since you won’t be hearing from me here for a couple weeks: two months ago, I was interviewed by Adam Peddicord of Customer Success by Design on how to speak with, build, and sustain your customer community from scratch with authenticity. It was an enjoyable exercise to look at my journey as an entrepreneur and writer, and how I honed my true voice by starting this media brand (14 years ago and counting!). Our interview was scheduled around the initial weeks of the George Floyd protests and I didn’t want to take up any bandwidth during that time, or the past couple months, to be perfectly honest, so I’m just telling you about it now. Thanks to Adam for interviewing me, and be sure to check his site for many other live events coming up.

Stay well, take care, be kind.
XO
~Marcia

July 21, 2020
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The extraordinary Parisian flan from Tarts de Feybesse. Read more about this exquisite treat (and others!) on my Instagram and Facebook accounts shortly! (Oui, I am teasing you.) Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Howdy, folks. You keeping your head up? I know, it’s tough. Writing today’s post of closures is my least favorite part of my work right now, let me tell you. You just don’t know when a place is going to be gone forever. Right now, I’m having a really hard time saying goodbye (without being able to say goodbye) to all our quirky, charming diners: It’s Tops, Louis’ Restaurant, Art’s Cafe…they are irreplaceable. So, if there’s a restaurant or café or diner or bar you really love, that you can’t imagine SF or the Bay Area without, maybe order some food or cocktails from them this week? (I know, if they’re even open! If they’ve been closed since March, see if they have a GoFundMe you can contribute to—a lot of that initial momentum of contributions is long gone. Check in on them.)

Which makes this the perfect time to hop over here and sign and share this petition for Congress to pass The Restaurants Act, establishing the $120B Independent Restaurant Revitalization Fund. We need this to happen. Thank you.

And please think about our bars. They’re hurting so badly right now. Read this essay from Michael Spike Krouse of Madrone and Pop’s for some perspective on how our government needs to help save these businesses or they’re going to be gone forever.

Have you had a chance to listen to the latest On the Fly by tablehopper podcast episode with chef-owner Sarah Kirnon of Miss Ollie’s in Old Oakland? Many of us already know what an incredible chef she is, with her legendary fried chicken and oxtails, but she is also such a beacon of love and strength and support for the community. I hope you enjoy listening to this episode, it was so good to drop in with her. Thank you for everything you do and are, Sarah. Also: everyone should get ready to come by for some goat curry! Follow @missolliesoakland for updates!

Stand by for this week’s upcoming On the Fly episode with the force who is Fernay McPherson of Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement in Emeryville—it was such an honor to be in conversation with a born-and-raised Western Addition native.

And thanks for any support you can show the podcast—from donating to spreading the word. Know any potential advertisers? Is it you? Please come my way! I need some gas in the tank over here, thanks.

Speaking of gas in the tank, last Wednesday, I got to snag a ride to Palm Springs for a quick getaway from all this madness—so grateful to my friends who invited me to come soak in some sun and desert calm. Nothing like unplugging from all the devices and news and emails and DMs and floating in a pool for hours, day and night, to get your mind right. Three days weren’t quite enough, however—I need to get outta here again soon. Need. More. Nature. Don’t we all?

We also need more gelato. I want to thank all of you who showed up for the GIO Gelati presentation I moderated last Tuesday, announcing their new GIO Club—was great seeing so many of you. You can become a member and try GIO’s new gelato home-delivery service (a dangerous delight and dream!) and get 10 percent off your first order with code ILOVEGELATO1. Mwah. Don’t miss the sour cherry chip, lemon crema, and nectarine!

Which is why I need to go take a walk, like, right now. (And at a much-faster clip than a flâneur.) Someone has been enjoying her GIO cappuccino gelato as an afternoon pick-me-up for too many days in a row, ha-ha!

Take care and hang in there, gang.
Hugs to all. XO
~Marcia

July 7, 2020
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An array of exquisite oysters at California Fish Market Restaurant, my first oysters in almost four months. Heaven! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Howdy, gang. I hope you’re staying healthy and keeping your spirits up. I’ll be honest, at this very moment, I’m pretty damn sad. I just finished writing about the closure of Indian Paradox for today’s newsletter, and this all really breaks me up inside. It’s hard to process so many difficult stories of businesses closing, dreams ending, restaurant families struggling, and workers getting sick. My heart goes out to you all.

And then we have today’s discouraging news: “The rates of new COVID-19 diagnoses in San Francisco are currently more than three times above where public health officials would like them to be, according to Health Director Dr. Grant Colfax. Hospitalizations have seen a 25% increase over the past week.” Due to our inability to flatten the curve (come ON, SF, I know we can do better), Mayor London Breed announced today that indoor dining is indefinitely on hold (it was originally and almost unbelievably scheduled for July 13th), and the same goes for bars offering outdoor service (I have a hard time with this one: I wish we could let bars serve outside and give them a shot at survival; but it’s true, people aren’t as careful when they’re drinking. Maybe there needs to be a two- or three-drink maximum. Anyway.). Outdoor dining can continue (for now).

In order to help protect workers and our fellow citizens, please remember you must wear a mask upon arrival at any establishment until you are seated, and to wear your mask whenever anyone approaches your table (server, runner, busser), and if you’re getting up from your table to do anything, like use the restroom, order food, and when you’re leaving. Basically, leave that mask on unless you need to take a bite or sip. Discussing the menu with your date? Leave it on. Telling your friend a hilarious story? Yup, leave it on. Is your server approaching your table with your drinks? Pull that mask up.

Wearing your mask says you care, and acknowledge the absolute privilege it is to sit outside at a restaurant while people risk their lives to make and serve you food and cocktails that you didn’t have to prepare at home. If you can’t honor any of this, or the whole thing seems like too much of a hassle, then stick with takeout or delivery. And no unmasked mingling or gathering while waiting to pick up your food (or get a table)—keep at least six feet away from others. The longer this whole thing painfully drags on, or gets worse, the more we all continue to lose. Enough with the maskholes and people who aren’t respecting space and safety. [me making various emphatic and vulgar Italian hand gestures]

Fortunately, I have a couple friends who have been hermiting at home like me and are committed mask-wearers if they venture outside, so they make excellent alfresco dining partners. Last week, I was invited to check out the new and spacious outdoor dining area and regional Southern/summer BBQ menu at Causwells (don’t miss their dream spare ribs), and on Friday, I visited a brand-new spot in North Beach so I could report on it for you today: California Fish Market Restaurant (details below).

If you want ideas on where to go for outdoor dining, and you play by the rules, be sure to check my @tablehopper Instagram Highlights: Alfresco SF.

And if you’re looking for a new takeout option, check out the Bayview Bistro Food Box, which directly supports Black- and Bayview-owned businesses. Deadline to order is Wednesday at 3pm for pick-up on Friday. This week’s menu just made my stomach grumble—scalloped potatoes! There’s an omnivore or plant-forward box, serving either two or four. They could use some more sales this week!

If you’re looking to get away from the city and all this urban stress and you aren’t on unemployment like 153,000 San Franciscans are, a friend of a friend is selling a 42-acre ranch in Anderson Valley, Mendocino, with extensive space for vineyards and a 2,500-sq.-foot main house, plus a guest house, stables, and lots of potable water. They just reduced the price to $795,000 from $1.15M—hit reply/email me if you’d like to see the full brochure and I can make an intro. Don’t forget to invite me over, okay? There’s a hot tub.

I want to give a big thanks to the Taste newsletter for including the latest episode of the On the Fly podcast with Jay Foster, and we’re going to have another episode posting this week with the one-and-only Sarah Kirnon (Miss Ollie’s)—you won’t want to miss it, so please subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts (they’re all listed here).

You should also take a look at these two articles that highlight the racial discrimination, disrespect, and many challenges BIPOC folks experience working in the wine world and as sommeliers. Definitely read this very personal piece from Miguel de Leon (“It’s Time to Decolonize Wine”) in Punch, and the other piece, (“Black Wine Professionals Demand to Be Seen”), is from The New York Times.

Okay, to end thing on a sweet note: next Tuesday July 14th, I’m moderating an online panel with GIO Gelati at 3pm (for just 30 minutes—it’s short!). We’ll talk about gelato, and will share some news with you—plus all attendees will receive a nice treat at the end. Register for the Zoom here, it’s free. Would be great to “see” you.

Ciao, tutti.
Marcia Gagliardi