What’s Cookin’

Weekly Intro and Updates (Coming in hot...)
March 5, 2019
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The theme for the Academy of Friends Gala was Neptune’s Fantasy, and my stylist friend @heatherhair ran with it! She took a special trip to the pet store to create my amazing headpiece. Neptune winked at me. Photo: Heather Caruso.

Hi gang! Happy International Women’s Day this Friday, and welcome to Women’s History Month. Cheers and respect to all the womxn!

And Happy Mardi Gras! I hope you have some gumbo in your near future. I have a whole bunch of PDO feta in mine: it ends up I’m taking a last-minute trip to Greece this weekend to learn about one of my very favorite ingredients that is always in my fridge! Yup, #fetatrip. I’m so excited. (I also need to swing by The Manufactory Food Hall at SFO—yay, an international flight!)

At the end of my dream PDO feta trip (it wraps up in Thessaloniki), I’m heading back to Athens for a week of exploration. The last time I was there, it was in 1999—it was the first day of my vacation and I was sitting down for my first moussaka in the Plaka when a monster 6.0 earthquake hit and really fucked shit up—including my head space. It was pretty devastating, with numerous buildings that crumbled and trapped people in the rubble. I got the hell out of there the next morning and fled to Sifnos. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to be on a ferry and off terra-not-so-firma.

But, I am returning! Athens, we have a make-up date! I’m thrilled to get to know the city properly, without dodging fallen buildings and rubble. (I’m gonna do a prayer before I leave: no earthquakes! Plllllease! And I’m buying some worry beads on arrival.) So, if you have any Athens recos to send my way, I’d be so appreciative! I’m going to spend a couple days on my own in Thessaloniki as well. Efharisto in advance!

The next tablehopper will be April 2nd, so publicists and restaurant folks, please make note of it for any pitches and event announcements.

Since I’m going dark for a bit (boy, do I need a break), today’s column is a bit heftier than usual. I also have my very last Table Talk column for you—KQED decided to not renew my contract, so that’s that (although I will still have some one-off pieces for them, like an upcoming feature on the women creating SF’s canna-culinary scene).

Last week’s Table Talk highlighted the fantastic sandwiches at Turner’s Kitchen, plus two places for Mardi Gras parties (tonight!), and start planning a field trip to Marshall for the reopening of Tony’s Seafood from Hog Island Oyster Co.

I’m happy to announce I’ve been doing some writing for Nob Hill Gazette, and here’s my recent feature on Michelle Polzine and her oh-so-special strudel at 20th Century Cafe! (Congrats to Michelle on her James Beard Award semifinalist nomination for Outstanding Pastry Chef!)

You can see all the James Beard Award semifinalist nominees, and the finalist nominees will be announced on Wednesday March 27th (the winners will be revealed at the annual James Beard Awards Gala on May 6th in Chicago).

Last Sunday was the 39th Academy of Friends gala, and wow, what a night! Our generous restaurant partners really knocked it out of the park for our guests, take a look at the pics here and here. Such delicious and beautiful bites! Of course, with a theme like Neptune’s Fantasy, the fashions were also so fun. It’s too bad I don’t like costumes and themes. We’re still waiting to see how much money was raised, but many many thanks again to everyone who contributed so generously to the gala! The generosity of the restaurant community is something else.

One more thing: you won’t want to miss this absolutely heart-wrenchingly delightful video about Jacqueline Margulis of Cafe Jacqueline fame. I see a soufflé in front of you, verrrrrrry soooooooon.

See y’all in April, and you can follow my upcoming Greek adventures and feta consumption at @tablehopper on the ‘gram or on Facebook!

Yassou!
~Marcia (rhymes with Garcia)

February 19, 2019
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Party time! tablehopper turns 13 this week, but Zuni turned 40 on Friday! Pop Champagne! Read more in my posts on @tablehopper on Instagram. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Good evening! Buona sera! I’m running a little late today, I’ve been terribly busy coordinating the restaurant logistics for this Sunday’s 39th annual Academy of Friends Gala fundraiser! The lineup of 15 restaurants (and the dishes they’re making!) is blowin’ my mind. This year includes ALX, Avery (VIP), the newly opened Ayala, desserts from Bluestem Brasserie, Cento Osteria, Dongbei vegetarian potstickers from China Live, Gio Gelati, three dishes from the new Izakaya Sushi Ran (VIP), coffee and espresso drinks from Mr. Espresso, Michelin-starred Nico (VIP), Rooh, Slanted Door, Tank18, The Caviar Co. (VIP), The Saratoga, and Uno Dos will be making their carnitas tacos! It’s going to be a fun feast, with cocktails, entertainment, and more, making it the best Oscars party in town.

I know it can be a little more costly than some people can afford, but it’s a wonderful fundraiser to support…so have you thought about volunteering? We need help both this Saturday and Sunday (February 23rd-24th). Click here for details. Hope to see you!

You won’t want to miss either of my Table Talk columns, trust me on this. This week’s issue is about Tank18’s al pastor dish you’ll want to track down for Sunday brunch, where to enjoy Arabic or Ethiopian home cooking (and hospitality), a new monthly guest chef burger special, and an annual artisan cheese festival you won’t want to miss.

Last week’s Table Talk includes a hot tip on Sasa in Japantown, offering a quality and affordable omakase experience, get a sneak peek of Noosh at a pre-opening dinner and through delivery, and snag a seat (if you can!) at La Cocina’s Week of Women in Food.

I have another fun event for you, in case some of you are following tablehopper and my other venture, mymilligram. Next Wednesday February 27th, is the Crop-to-Kitchen Winter Meet Up with Stephanie Hua of Mellows and Coreen Carroll of Cannaisseur Series, plus other special guests! If you love food and cannabis, or you’re canna-curious, this event is for you! See you there!

Would you believe that tablehopper is turning THIRTEEN this Thursday? Whoa. Not sure what that translates to in freelancer years, but I can tell you that’s a helluva lot of hustle and late nights of writing. Thank you for all your support for my writing all these years and sharing your Tuesday afternoons with me.

You know what would be the best way to say “Happy Birthday, tablehopper?!” If you could forward this column to five friends and tell them to subscribe. Right now. Seriously, that would rock. Or post on Facebook, or send a friend to @tablehopper on Instagram. Anyone who is reading this column has great taste, mmmhmmm, so I imagine your friends do too. It would help me a bunch. Thanks, loves!

It’s Champagne o’clock!
BIG XO!
Marcia Gagliardi

February 5, 2019
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Meet the Emperor, one of the many chicken sandwiches at Paper Rooster in the Tenderloin, with housemade sriracha chips and ginger ale. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Gung Hei Fat Choy! Chúc Mừng Năm Mới! Happy Lunar New Year, and year of the pig! If you’re looking for somewhere to celebrate, I just saw this post on Bay Area Bites about lunar new year treats. And today’s tablehopper has some new dumpling places for you to check out as well—be sure to order some long noodles.

It’s also SF Beer Week, with more events than my inbox can handle. So, why don’t you just head on over to their site and see what you want to do? (Hint: click “types” to limit the kind of event you’re looking for, like food pairings.) You’ll also want to take a look at the lineup from today’s sponsor, The Monk’s Kettle!

And just in case you’re a (fellow) woman who loves whiskey, there’s an event with Westland Distillery (and master distiller Matt Hofmann) at Noosh tonight with a few tickets left! You’ll get a sneak peek of this almost-open spot and some great tastes (of both whiskey and snacks).

Last week, I thoroughly enjoyed my late-night dinner at La Calenda, the new Mexican restaurant from Thomas Keller Restaurant Group in Yountville. (A beautiful homage to masa, in all its forms.) Read all about it in my weekly Table Talk column, plus three Valentine’s Day dinners worth the expense and hassle of going out on a very busy night of hearts and flowers.

And don’t miss last week’s column, with a taste of what’s on the menu at the newly opened El Pípila in SoMa and Paper Rooster in the Tenderloin, plus a crab feast for Valentine’s Day, and two ongoing prime rib specials.

You may have heard about the new Udon Time (it’s perfect weather for noodles!) and soon-to-open Niku Steakhouse—I’m going to check them out this week and will have a firsthand report in the next tablehopper.

I’m busy once again curating the restaurants for this year’s Academy of Friends gala and Oscars viewing party! We have some fantastic partners this year, including Avery and Nico in VIP, along with China Live, Izakaya Sushi Ran, Cento Osteria, The Saratoga, Gio Gelati, Bluestem Brasserie, Tank18, and Uno Dos Tacos, with more to be confirmed this week! Get your ticket for Neptune’s Fantasy, and prepare for a fun evening! I will definitely see you there.

Keep warm, and enjoy all of your lunar new year festivities!
Marcia Gagliardi