What’s Cookin’

Weekly Intro and Updates (Coming in hot...)
May 16, 2017

Alfred’s dug out the Blue Fox valet parking sign for our event! Photo: Blair Heagerty Photography.

That’s what the menu and matchbooks of the former Blue Fox say (“In Pane, Vita; In Vino, Letizia”), and on Friday night last week, there was a whole lot of letizia going on at Alfred’s for the tablehopper vintage Blue Fox dinner. I hope you enjoy the recap in today’s column, and all the fab pics are here. There was a whole lot of warmth and sentimentality in the room that night, and as Marco Petri, former owner of Alfred’s said in an email to me, “What a great way to shake the snow globe of San Francisco’s golden age of dining.” I couldn’t have said it better.

Personally, I had a blast channeling what looked like my mother’s hairdo from her 1960s prom pictures—my beehive French twist was so big driving home from Ginger Rubio Salon I had to crack the sunroof to make room! I look forward to creating future excuses for everyone to dress up.

As many of you know, I am about to leave for Thailand, my first time there! This Wednesday night, to be exact. (Yes, it’s crunch time.) I don’t know how my body is going to react to a 40-degree temperature jump (from 51 to 91!) and let’s not even talk about the humidity. Yeah, I’m going to be a sweaty mess. Sorry, Thai people, I won’t be pretty.

I’m going to be gone through June 10th, so tablehopper will be dark until June 13th. Publicists and restaurant/bar folks, please take it easy on me while I’m away, and no need to pitch me on anything happening until after June 13th, thank you! I will be missing a couple of openings, like Alta in Dogpatch and the new RT Rotisserie, but will fill y’all in once I return. Today’s issue is a big one, I hope it tides you over for a little while.

As far as my trip, I’m going to be in Bangkok for a week, until May 27th, and then am flying to Chiang Rai to start the mission with Pencils for Kids until June 2nd—many thanks to the generous Cathay Pacific and Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort for getting me there and hosting me! Amazing.

Pencils for Kids is celebrating their 10th year of providing backpacks, school supplies, and uniform vouchers for children so they can go to school in developing areas like Thailand, Bali, and Myanmar. You can donate to this wonderful organization, which has provided 13,755 backpacks to children so far. I’m also going to be involved in their San Francisco fundraiser event on November 16th, and look forward to telling you more later this summer.

My final week will be in Koh Samui and Koh Tao, where I am going to be certified to scuba dive, so excited. Back to Bangkok for one more night (I know, there’s a song) and then I return to SF on the 10th. It’s going to be such an adventure, and a life-changing experience as well. I’m also really, really glad the Bangkok street food ban was repealed—that would have been tragic!

But don’t be jealous! If you want to enjoy your own taste of Thailand, check out the Chang Sensory Trails unticketed food festival at Fort Mason on Saturday May 27th (12pm-10pm)! Visiting chefs Bo Songvisava and Dylan Jones of Bangkok’s awarded Bo.Lan will be in town, with many local chefs, music, beer, and more! Don’t miss it.

See you June 13th, and thanks for all the great Thailand tips, you guys! Sawatdee-ka!
Marcia Gagliardi

May 9, 2017

Garden magic at Filoli. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hello, hoppers. How you doing out there? I feel a little bit like Princess Leia in the trash compactor scene, but I’ve got this. Over the weekend, I led a 28-person group of Brits through San Francisco for a food and cocktail trend tour for two full days (and nights!) and am just catching my breath before this Friday’s tablehopper vintage Blue Fox dinner at Alfred’s!

It’s going to be so special, and there’s an exciting update: even though Alfred’s sadly remains closed because of that dang basement fire a few weeks ago, they are opening just for this event, and we are now taking over the entire restaurant upstairs (and the bar)! What this means is I have more tickets for you that just got released! It’s going to be such a special night, I really hope to see you there. People are getting dressed up, and we’re going to have live music, and stories, and one hell of a menu, with cocktails and wine pairings and more. Let’s raise a glass to old-school San Francisco!

Next Tuesday is going to be my last tablehopper issue for a few weeks—as you may know, I am heading to Thailand for my first time! I’ll be spending a week in Bangkok, and then am going on the 10th anniversary mission with Pencils for Kids to deliver 900 backpacks filled with school supplies and school uniforms to children in schools (many of them orphans, or they come from families who earn approximately $1 per day) in Chiang Rai. It’s an amazing organization, and I am honored to be an ambassador! (You can read more on their site, and any donation goes a long, long way!) I’ll be spending my last week relaxing in Koh Samui and Koh Tao, where I plan to learn how to dive! So excited. It’s going to be one heck of a trip.

A couple of quick notes: fellow charcuterie and salumi lovers, you will want to check out this piece I wrote for Blackboard Eats on all the latest places in SF to score awesome housemade charcuterie.

This week practically killed me with news. I am seriously dazed from how much typing I have had to do the past two days. Pour yourself some coffee, this issue is a beast. I really hoped to run some last-minute Mother’s Day brunch ideas for you, but hopefully today’s post on new brunches will inspire you—there are some good ones in there! (Real quick: you could also go to DOSA on Fillmore for a family-style menu, Leo’s Oyster Bar is open on a rare Sunday, Le Colonial or La Mar’s brunch buffet would be fun, and 54 Mint is offering a nice all-day menu.)

I am trying to transport myself mentally back to Filoli Gardens last week, which hosted one of the dreamiest garden parties I have ever attended, full stop. It was a celebration of Robert Fountain International’s 20th anniversary, and it was on one of those magic warm nights we had last week! I couldn’t believe the grounds—after all the rain we’ve had, everything is on full bloom and blast!

Taste Catering served a spectacular spring-inspired spread, with garden mule cocktails, and I was especially happy to see Eugenio Jardim at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant-stocked bar, pouring his Émile Leclère Champagne and Ernest Vineyards rosé (yes way rosé). What a treat to be able to bring my mother to this gorgeous fête and soak in all that gorgeousness. You know my wheels are turning about hosting an event there. But for now, all I am thinking of is this Friday at Alfred’s!

Marcia Gagliardi

May 2, 2017

The sun was just setting while the fires were burning at Long Meadow Ranch’s Live Fire guest chef series this weekend. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

It was such a pleasure to watch the James Beard Awards while I was eating my fava bean pasta last night in my caftan (it’s a lifestyle), with the warm spring air (or is this summer?) coming through the windows of my apartment. Spring fever, it’s real.

Congrats to all the winners (and nominees!), but especially to chef Corey Lee for Best Chef: West—it was so well deserved and a long time coming to one of the hardest working chefs in the biz. He’s one of the chefs you almost never see out of his kitchen, and he certainly wasn’t at my after-hours chef party in honor of Jeremiah Tower last week. (Trust me, I tried!) You can read the recap of the JT industry party in today’s hopper. Yes, there was caviar.

That party definitely took a lot out of me, and I’m not just talking about the Negronis. I almost didn’t make it up to St. Helena for the kickoff of the Live Fire series at Long Meadow Ranch with guest chef Zakary Pelaccio, but boy am I glad I got my work done on Saturday and hopped in my Fiat and GTFO. It was a dreamy alfresco dinner, from grilled fava beans to strawberry and cream biscuits; be sure to head to a future one this spring and summer. Someone has warm nights, and it sure isn’t San Francisco. (And I definitely need to hit up Fish & Game when I hop back to New York this summer.)

Okay, so it’s true, no rest for the weary. I’m leading a group of 28 U.K. restaurateurs and bar/pub owners through San Francisco all day and night this Friday and Saturday, so you can only guess at all the things I need to be doing. And writing (I have two deadlines this week). And I leave for Thailand May 18th. Mamma mia. Gotta keep the espresso pumping in my veins for the next two weeks.

One last note for today! Next Friday May 12th is the tablehopper Blue Fox vintage dinner at Alfred’s, and I just released the final 10 tickets, so hop to it! Let’s drink martinis.

Marcia Gagliardi

April 25, 2017

And this is just the first page of a vintage Blue Fox menu! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Today is a really exciting day for me—I have dreamed of being able to host a vintage dinner in homage to the Blue Fox restaurant for years! And today, tickets go on sale for what is going to be a spectacular, only-in-San Francisco dinner that we are hosting in the private Owl ‘n Turtle room at Alfred’s steakhouse (formerly the Blue Fox location!). We will be enjoying cocktails courtesy of Anchor Distilling Co. and reserve wine pairings from Robert Mondavi Winery over a five-course dinner featuring vintage recipes and dishes I have tracked down. Plus, we’ll have live piano entertainment on the white baby grand! It will be a time for cocktail attire, sharing stories and memories, and some gorgeous filet mignon. I really look forward to it, see you there!

It’s a buzzy week in San Francisco, with chef Jeremiah Tower in town for a variety of screenings and events to celebrate the release of Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent. I’m looking forward to interviewing him and director Lydia Tenaglia on Thursday (and hosting them at a private industry screening that night!).

Once the whirlwind of this week slows down for a second, it will be great to head up to Wine Country this Saturday April 29th for the kickoff of Long Meadow Ranch’s guest chef live fire series, which is bringing the wickedly talented Zak Pelaccio (Fatty Crab, Fish & Game in Hudson, NY) into town. We’ll be enjoying grilled young favas, oysters, spot prawns, whole smoked pig, and plenty of rosé. There’s quite the lineup of talent this summer, including Jenn Louis, check it out (the series runs through September).

Okay gang, I’ll see you out and about. Cheers!
Marcia Gagliardi

April 18, 2017

Cold killing and garlic-loaded spicy beef noodle soup from King of Noodles. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Okay, sun, we see you! Please stay! I think this is it for the rain, right? Right?! I appreciate the urban jungle going on right now in SF (my god, the succulents are taking over the city!) but I would like to start riding my bike again and ditch the boots.

I guess if I was going to choose a weekend to get sick and spend most of it in bed, this past one was the one. Rainy and gross. Soggy Easter, so sad. Although swapping my family’s badass Easter dinner for a bowl of spicy beef noodle soup wasn’t quite right. Nope. I want a redo!

Sidebar: the proximity of Tax Day followed by 4/20 is making me laugh. What a week.

I wanted to let you know about a special upcoming tablehopper vintage dinner. This one is a biggie. I have dreamed of holding an homage to the Blue Fox for years, and it’s going to be happening on Friday May 12th! And I’m excited to partner with Anchor Distilling Co.—there will be martinis. And Martinezes. (Bring on the Old Potrero!)

But here’s one small snag: the event is going to be held in the private dining room at Alfred’s, which was formerly the Blue Fox! Yes, poor Alfred’s, which suffered an unfortunate basement fire last week. They assure me they are going to be reopening very soon—they’re just cleaning up the smoke damage and fixing the electrical issues, and definitely in time for the dinner. So just sit tight for now, and save May 12th on your calendar. I’ll be posting tickets soon. This is not a night you’ll want to miss. Let’s just say cocktail attire…start planning your swank vintage outfit now!

Marcia Gagliardi

April 11, 2017

Spring frittata and thick slices of peppered bacon served on the old world dining table at Cafe Klaus. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

It’s an eggy week, with Passover already under way, and Easter coming up this Sunday (for some places to go and tasty things to eat, see last week’s post). I should mention a couple of additions, like Easter brunch is also happening at 15 Romolo (Punch Drunk Brunch, uh-huh), and there’s an all-day Italian Easter menu at 54 Mint.

I feel like I got to celebrate Easter a week early with a beautiful brunch at my dear friend Veronica Klaus’s antique-filled bohemian apartment before she leaves us at the end of the month for upstate New York. The table was set with such gorgeous china and silver and linens (I’ll be posting some pics on social this week!). She even played some Satie for us on her piano while we enjoyed a spring frittata and a thick slice of layered chocolate and caramel cake, with fresh air and sunlight streaming into the colorful room. It all felt like quite the San Francisco dream, a rare bird these days.

I have such sadness over her departure, many do—San Francisco will not be the same without my favorite chanteuse. But she’s leaving us for an exciting adventure: she is going to be opening Cafe Klaus in a historic 1860s Greek Revival Lutheran Church on the edge of Sharon Springs, New York, complete with stained glass and frescoes. It’s a huge undertaking and requires a lot of construction and restoration, so I want to point you to her fundraiser if you can help this talented woman manifest her dream. It’s going to be quite the place to visit, I can’t wait to see what she does. New York, you are so lucky to have her!

Whatcha doing tonight? I’m showing up hungry for dinner at Nopa tonight, which will be celebrating the launch of the brand-new Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen cookbook by chef Gonzalo Guzman and Stacy Adimando. Gonzo is back in the Nopa kitchen for a night, adding some à la carte dishes from the cookbook to the menu, like a queso flameado with chorizo out of the wood oven, huarache de cabeza, and a couple of ceviches. Walk-ins are welcome. Adelante…

I’m glad the news decided to slow the eff up a bit this week so I could write today’s review for you about The Morris. It required a bit more time (and word count) to be able to do all the details justice. Just wait until you see the off-the-menu burger I’m spilling the beans on.

Thanks to everyone who keeps sending me Thailand tips for Bangkok and Ko Tao, Ko Samui, and Ko Pha Ngan! Keep ‘em coming! I’ll be there in a month.

Thank you Easter Bunny, bwok bwok!
Marcia Gagliardi