What’s Cookin’

Weekly Intro and Updates (Coming in hot...)
May 21, 2019

A memorable lunch at Marina’s Taverna in Corfu. I will be dreaming of her bourdeto with sweet potato and baked eggplant for a long, long time. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Kalispera! Yours truly is back from Greece 2, and unlike the movie, this sequel was soooo good. Corfu is a magical island, with such a fascinating history (the Venetians ruled the island for 400 years, and Old Town Corfu made me feel like I was back living in Castello!) and cuisine that felt more Italian than mainland Greek. We got to taste a multitude of traditional and housemade Corfiot dishes during an evening event at the Corfu Food and Wine Festival, what a dream.

I packed in a lot in just one week—when you travel that far, you gotta cover some serious ground. I was so touched by the continual kindness and incredible hospitality of the Corfiots, from the café baristas to the taverna chefs to the home cooks to the shop owners. I had so many enjoyable conversations with people.

The island was so verdant, full of kumquats and olive trees, and I was lucky to get a break in the storms one day and head to the beach for a couple hours. There was barely anyone there, and I was one of the only people in the water. A dip in the salty and clear Mediterranean restores me on a cellular level, I swear. I even met a real-live Durrell while on Corfu. (I can’t wait to binge watch the show this weekend.)

I’ve been joking about starting a new clothing line: My Big Fat Greek Pants. And My Big Fat Greek Caftans. Although I actually lost a couple pounds on this trip, what the hell, efharisto to Artemis and her badass fellow goddesses for looking over me this trip, and my waistline.

Now that I’m back, it’s time to start looking at how I’m going to find some summer vibes with all these gray days. One tactic is to look ahead to some alfresco events in Wine Country, like the Kendall-Jackson Farm to Table dinner series, which start up in June (the June 8th dinner is almost at capacity, FYI) and run through October 12th. Each family-style dinner features a different purveyor and ingredients from their culinary gardens—I can’t wait for a warm evening dinner in their stunning estate gardens, with rosé in hand, and my cute mother at my side!

If you’re one of my canna-curious readers, you won’t want to miss this upcoming Pineapple Collaborative event I’m moderating: Flower to the People on Thursday May 30th. We’re going to take a cannabis deep dive with guests Raeven Duckett of Supernova Women, Haejin Chun of Big Bad Wolf, and Jewel Zimmer of Juna Drops, covering everything from handy micro-dosing tips and terminology for the everyday womxn, to CBD’s wellness properties, and how we as consumers can support womxn and communities of color who have long been discriminated against in the cannabis economy.

The event will be hosted by the chic Canopy in Jackson Square, and we’ll sample non-medicated treats and take home goodies (also non-medicated) from SuuKuu (my latest obsession), Lulu’s Chocolate, Plant Magic, and sip on make-your-own sparkling beverages. Thanks to our friends at Caviar, we’ll enjoy a spread from La Mediterranee. See you there? Tickets here.

Okay, gang, let’s dive in. I hope to see you around soon. I think it’s time for a tablehopper dinner or something. :)
Marcia Gagliardi

April 30, 2019

I KNOW! The black swan taro puffs at Palette Tea House are just delightful. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Well, would ya look at that. A couple fabulous folks booked sponsored event ads on the hopper this week, so I’m writing this mini-hopper on my flights to and from St. Louis. Please take a look at their Cinco de Mayo events, many thanks to them for the continued support (it ends up both these rockstar sponsors also helped out at the Mexico earthquake fundraiser I organized a little over a year ago).

If you’re a restaurant or bar or brand with an upcoming event to promote, please keep tablehopper in mind. (I know you love it when I write it up for you for free, but I can’t include everything!) It’s an affordable ad space, and you get a mention on tablehopper’s Twitter and Facebook channels as well. Thanks for keeping the lights on, I don’t have to tell you how hard online publishing is.

I flew in late last night at midnight (joy, flight delays!) and while you read this, I’m now up in Santa Rosa for the next couple of days, learning about all the latest cannabis products at Hall of Flowers for my other media company, mymilligram (have you checked it out?). Chelsea Handler (!) and Gary Vaynerchuck will be giving talks at this well-organized B2B cannabis trade show full of the top Cali cannabis brands.

If you’ve been curious about cannabis, take a peek at this vidcast I just did with the fab ladies of The What (do you subscribe to their savvy and well-curated newsletter?). In the video, we chat about low-dose products and I even created a mini mymilligram microdoser guide to go with the vidcast, designed for people wondering where to begin with products to help with sleep, pain, pleasure, and mood. Thanks for taking a look, and being curious!

Okay, back to food: I wanted to share with you my second culinary profile for the Nob Hill Gazette! This time, it’s a feature on Kavitha Raghavan and the flavorful Indian street food brunch she offers at her colorful wine bar on Divis, Indian Paradox. If you haven’t had her eggs akuri, you’re really missing out.

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve experienced two different tasting menus: one was at The Table at Merchant Roots, a stunningly creative and delicious meal available Thu-Sat evenings (you gotta see this over-the-top dessert course)—chef Ryan Shelton is launching a second theme now, Vanity Fair, and I expect great things. Great expectations. LOL. Partner and wine director Madison Michael and sommelier Chelsea Sawyer’s wine pairings are tops, and you’ll be inspired to buy a couple bottles to bring home from the well-curated shelves.

Over in Oakland, chefs Andrew Greene and Duncan Kwitkor have been running an elevated pop-up in The Gastropig on Friday and Saturday nights, Abstract Table, and they just launched their second theme/concept, Atolls (click for pics). It’s a casual affair (your wine will be poured in a Mason jar), but it’s also designed to be on the more affordable side of things (priced at $50-$70). Pics here.

And then there was the absolute feast my friends and I had at Beit Rima a couple weeks back. We had an unexpectedly large group, and ended up having such a fun communal meal in the middle of the restaurant. It was my second time there, and the well-prepared food is so full of flavor and soul (speaking of, don’t miss the ful!). The handmade bread and spreads, ah! I just wish they had some slightly more affordable wines on the list to go with the fast-casual format.

And my fellow dim sum lovers, get a group together and book at table at the new Palette Tea House from the Koi Palace and Dragon Beaux team, stat. Yup, you’re going to Ghirardelli Square. This past weekend, my friend and I were loving the upscale Cantonese dumplings (lobster har gow!) and fresh seafood (spot prawns!), with such playful and pretty presentations (the black swan taro puffs are beyond). You’ll feel regal when they float to your table.

I also couldn’t believe the seven-spice fried cubes of silken tofu (soooo custardy), and the gai lan in oyster sauce is some of the best I’ve had. The entire experience offers a welcome, modern update to the usual dim sum scenario (there are craft cocktails!)—it will be the perfect place to take out-of-towners, and wait until you try the desserts, like Hong Kong milk tea tiramisù with boba. Go check it out during their soft opening before it gets hectic.

Okay, whew, gang, your truly is off to Corfu next week! So completely, utterly thrilled to be heading back to Greece—my heart keeps saying, “Opa!” Looking forward to checking out their second Food and Wine Festival, and learn even more about Greek cuisine. THERE WILL BE (MORE) FETA.

I’ll be back in your inboxes on May 21st (publicists, please take note—no Mother’s Day pitches, sorry, thanks), and of course I will be posting up a storm on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter while I’m away. Corfu looks so dang beautiful.

Happy May to you all (and Mother’s Day!)—enjoy all the flowers. And congrats to the 2019 James Beard Media Award winners, and the upcoming winners at the James Beard Awards Gala on May 6th—you can tune in online!

Marcia Gagliardi

April 16, 2019

A baklava nest, part of a finale course at The Table at Merchant Roots. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Howdy, gang. How are you? Yesterday was quite the double gut punch, watching Notre-Dame de Paris burn (utterly horrific, supremely awful) while my money flew out of my bank account to Uncle Sam (no uncle of mine). I was feeling pretty wiped out last night while writing this beast of a column—at least there’s always house music to lift me up (sorry for the heavy bass, neighbors!).

But, today is a sunny day, the cathedral is still standing, and I’m grateful for all the fun experiences I’ve had the past couple weeks. Last week was Bi-Rite Market and 18 Reasons’ spring fundraiser, Master Chefs at Home, to benefit their Cooking Matters program, which offers free cooking and nutrition education classes to more than 3,500 low-income, Bay Area kids, teens, adults, and families each year. It was such an uplifting event, honoring the many people who help run and support the program. Want to help? You can volunteer, host, or donate!

I was also so fortunate to attend the over-the-top, pre-opening party for Dandelion Chocolate (OMG, the dessert table), experience the abundant and creative Stylin’ the Saloon tasting menu at Comstock Saloon (for $55, you gotta check it out), and attended a cannabis product launch party with Eric Wareheim pouring Las Jaras in the mix as well. It helps make my writing and work weekends less onerous, I tell ya. Monday is my Saturday.

Things are about to get a little loosey goosey over here—I have a big mymilligram project I’m working on, along with a quick trip to the Midwest to do some cannabis consultation, zip back for the Hall of Flowers, and then would you believe I’m going back to Greece in the first week of May? I think Aphrodite and Athena are pulling some serious strings for me, and I am not going to question it! Thank you, goddesses!

I’ve been invited to cover the Corfu Food and Wine Festival, and am so excited to visit that beautiful island, keep learning about Greek food and wine, and practice my Greek some more! I know, my life.

So, I don’t know when I’m going to get another tablehopper out over the next month—the time to write is a bit scarce (ditto any sponsors). I’m doing my best, but there’s only so much espresso I can drink (thanks for helping, HelioRoast)! Maybe I’ll be able to put out a mini midweek hopper or something. I’m waiting to hear what the Oracle at Delphi has to say. Back atcha soon.

Thanks for reading, and here’s wishing a happy Passover, Easter, and spring to you.

Thank you Easter Bunny, bwok bwok!
Marcia Gagliardi