What’s Cookin’

Weekly Intro and Updates (Coming in hot...)
January 8, 2019

You’ll want to order everything from the “lightly dressed” section of the menu at Ayala, like the uni, littleneck clams, and oysters. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Howdy, gang! I think most of us are back from our vacations and staycations and sadly have turned off our out-of-office messages (oh well, that was fun). Last week, I released my annual rant, the bore, of 10 things I don’t want to see in the new year, and I sure got a kick out of all your feedback, amens, and additions. (You can look at all the past bores here—just be sure to scroll down.)

Before we dive in to some restaurant news, here are some articles I’ve been writing elsewhere. I contribute a monthly report to Food Spark, a William Reed Media publication, about West Coast food trends, and here’s their end-of-year article on global trends from their trend spotters around the world.

I also had fun being part of Eater’s annual end-of-year questions for fellow food writers, the Year in Eater. A good one to look over is always SF’s Top Restaurant Standbys and The Bay Area’s Top Restaurant Newcomers of 2018.

This week’s Table Talk for Bay Area Bites takes a look at the recently opened Ayala, offering beautiful seafood and a chic style, while a trip across the Bay reveals awesome dishes at Dosa by Dosa (the idli fries!!), and you can check them out during Oakland Restaurant Week (among many other places). Boot and Shoe Service hosts a fire relief dinner series, and say cheers to Winter Cocktails of the Farmers Market. (I also want to make sure you didn’t miss the Greek treats and dumplings in last week’s Table Talk!)

I also wrote an article for Bay Area Bites on a new cannabis and craft beer (or wine) tour, The Sonoma County Experience! Check it out, man.

I’ll see you in two weeks, with a look at the about-to-open Verjus and more. Keep toasty out there. Just not avocado toasty.
Marcia Gagliardi

January 3, 2019

The exquisite special bento box from Hayato Restaurant in Los Angeles. A veritable treasure chest of flavors and textures. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Happy 2019, friends! A new year is here, and I know many people are so ready for it. May all your plans, hopes, and wishes come to fruition. May you be healthy and happy. And let’s have fun!

I just returned last night from a week in Los Angeles—it was more like a staycation, spent catching up with friends (and on my sleep), watching movies, visiting my favorite inexpensive massage place (let me tell you, those guys will work you OUT), and hitting up my favorite vintage shops and flea market. And eating tacos.

New Year’s Eve dinner was at an only-in-LA kind of place: Colombo’s, a red sauce joint and jazz club that was like an Italian Regal Beagle, with a live band playing songs by Neil Diamond and Redbone (“Come and Get Your Love”) that had the entire dining room singing along. Too much fun. Thanks to our hosts Carrie and Hal for putting this dinner party together!

I know, you’re scratching your head and wondering why you’re receiving a tablehopper issue on a Thursday, but it’s time for my annual rant: the bore! Feel free to email me any of your own personal kvetches, I know some of you have your own mental list of gripes you’ve been compiling all year. You can look at all the past bores here (just be sure to scroll down), which is where you’ll find bone broth, deviled eggs, poke, and other boring things.

I’ll be back in your inboxes on Tuesday with the news! In the meantime, I have some very tasty Table Talk columns for you on KQED’s Bay Area Bites: this week’s post features spicy beef noodle soup and made-to-order dumplings in the Outer Sunset, authentic Greek baked goods in an unexpected location, Danish tebirkes, California Eating’s release party (on Saturday!), and The Cheesemonger Invitational.

A previous Table Talk post features Detroit-style pizza at a San Francisco pop-up (next pop-up is January 10th) and Chilean empanadas!

Enjoy the short week!

Marcia Gagliardi

December 11, 2018

We were not having any fun at all at the tablehopper boozy brunch with Westland Distillery at The Saratoga. Nope. Photo by Tali Eisenberg. © tablehopper.com.

Hey gang! You gettin’ into the holiday spirit out there? I definitely got catapulted into holiday spirits at the tablehopper boozy brunch with Westland Distillery at The Saratoga a week ago. We had a full house, full glasses, full pours, and towers of Jenga tots. Guests also got stoked with some seriously cool gift bags, thanks to Westland Distillery. It was a total blast, one of my very favorite tablehopper gatherings.

Thanks to the generosity of our fab guests, we raised $540 for the SF-Marin Food Bank in our raffle! Many, many thanks to everyone who came, and our amazing hosts! If you want some holiday whiskey cheer (and tots), be sure to swing by The Saratoga this month. (Their burger can also be a good late-night friend if you’ve been out hitting holiday parties and need a mop.)

Now, many of you know about my other venture, mymilligram, my new media brand and newsletter (subscribe!) that is all about featuring low-dose cannabis products and educating people on how to explore cannabis use in a low and slow way. Next Tuesday December 18th, I’m hosting a microdoser holiday bazaar at Lost Art Salon, featuring the latest products from eight top local brands, plus some of their special holiday treats too. It’s a non-consumption event, but will be full of education, non-medicated tastes, and there’s an amazing gift bag that you’ll definitely want to get. Hope to see you there! (Tickets are moving quickly, FYI.)

One more fun thing: I put together a hellavated holiday gift guide if you want to take a look at ideas for cool cannabis gifts and holiday products (and more!).

Okay, let me put down my peppermint bark special marshmallow for a sec (ha-ha) and let’s look at the latest articles I’ve written for Table Talk on KQED’s Bay Area Bites, which are full of good eats. This week’s column features a new Japanese-inspired brunch you’ll want to try (soft-shell crab Benedict, I’m just sayin’!), and the Mission has a cozy ramen spot (with incredible taro soft-serve that y’all seemed to like on Instagram!). The holidays are in full swing with affordable Dungeness crab specials, chiles rellenos en nogada in Oakland, and special lunch service at Bix and Campton Place Restaurant. (I went to Bix on Friday night and had a blast—try to make some time to do the same.)

Last week’s Table Talk includes a new Burmese pop-up that will warm your belly (and your heart) in Civic Center, two new Sunday Suppers that won’t break the bank, and a Dominican Christmas feast in Oakland.

I’m currently working on a piece for Blackboard Eats on holiday meals and specials, so be sure to follow tablehopper on Facebook and/or Twitter so you can see that piece when it’s live.

I’ll be posting other fun holiday-related items on social in coming weeks as well…and here’s one right now: did you know ChefsFeed is hosting a treasure hunt of free bites and add-ons in SF from restaurants like Media Noche, Comstock Saloon, Uma Casa, Marla Bakery, Nightbird, Besharam, and more right now? Click through to see how it works. Happy hopping.

The next tablehopper in two weeks would be scheduled for Christmas Day, so, uh, yeah, that isn’t happening. I’ll be in my jammies hanging with the fam and the cats! But we will be starting the New Year with an issue of the bore, of course—gotta keep with tradition!

Like last year, I’m heading down to LA after Christmas, and either spending New Year’s Eve in LA or Palm Springs, I’m waiting to see how things shake out. If you have any new favorites for me to check out down there, I always appreciate your tips! Mwah.

I hope you all have a joyous and abundant and loving holiday season. May it shine brightly! Grateful for your support and kindness throughout the year, wishing all the best to you and yours.

Marcia Gagliardi