What’s Cookin’

Weekly Intro and Updates (Coming in hot...)
June 20, 2017

Keep these boozy ice creams comin’! This is a rosé ice cream at Petit Marlowe, a collaboration with Scribe Winery and Smitten. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

SF, way to rock the sunny weekend! So good to play in a pool in Sonoma on Saturday at a friend’s birthday, and drive home with the sunroof open to let in that beautiful sweet air that smells like wheat. I got to ride bikes with sis to Ocean Beach on Sunday before heading down to the rents for Father’s Day dinner—check out the birria spread my sister orchestrated. It has been hard to be back at my desk after three weeks far far away from it, that’s for damn sure.

I’m looking at the week ahead, and it includes an outdoor pig roast party (details in the chatterbox), and this weekend, the city blows up with Pride. As I say, Goddess loves the gays—we have some pretty nice weather on deck this weekend. I was in New York for Pride last year, so it will be so good to catch up with friends in Dolores Park and on various dance floors. Hiiiiiii!

I’m not including any Pride festivities or promotions this week—too many were lacking a charitable component, to be perfectly honest. Because as long as we are reading utterly heartbreaking stories like this one, there is work to be done, and having a Pride rainbow cocktail/sundae/cookie/ice cream flavor/event without giving something back to the community and many organizations in need of support is pretty shortsighted and exploitative. Next year: do better! Here’s some inspiration. (And you can still give back this year, it’s not too late.) Mwah.

Much love and rainbows and unicorns.
Marcia Gagliardi

June 13, 2017

Megawatt smiles and cuteness during a Pencils for Kids visit to the Praratchadamri Church Project in Chiang Rai. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hiiiiii! I’m back from the land of smiles, and I really do feel like I have been living in a happy bubble of kindness, grace, and warmth the past three weeks. The Thai people charmed the hell out of me—there’s a lot to be said for pausing with each person you meet, looking at each other for a moment, sharing a “wai” (your hands clasped 🙏🏽 with a slight bow) and a sawatdeekaaaaaaa (for the ladies). It creates an instant connection, and often a shared smile, although maybe theirs was because of my flushed cheeks and sweaty brow (#whiteladyinthetropics).

It was a remarkable trip, from a full-on week eating my way through the sweaty chaos of Bangkok, followed by a week in the villages of Chiang Rai for the ninth Pencils for Kids backpack delivery mission in Thailand (the whole point of my trip!). Each day was incredibly moving—the children at these schools and orphanages melted my heart. So many sweet smiles and happy faces and I loved all the “thank-yous” in English, awwwww! We delivered 900 backpacks stuffed with school supplies and school uniforms to seven locations in three days! An incredible amount of coordinating goes into these missions—just imagine getting uniform measurements for that many children ahead of time.

Kudos to the PFK team on its 10th year and all its supporters and sponsors, including Cathay Pacific, who flies the backpacks to Thailand, Bali, and Myanmar each year (and generously flew yours truly as well). I know many of you saw my pics while I was away—expect to hear more soon, especially about an upcoming PFK fundraiser on November 16th in SF I’m going to be helping with! And wait until you see these pictures. I’m feeling so much gratitude for my education, it really has made all the difference in my life, and it felt so great to help support education for others dealing with challenging life circumstances. I know you’d like to do the same!

I spent my last week in Southern Thailand, island hopping to Koh Samui and then Koh Tao, where I completed my PADI open water dive certification! I had no idea I was going to love scuba diving so much—fish TV is amazing, especially 18 meters (59 feet) underwater! I haven’t had a personal challenge like this for some time, dealing with water fears (especially in some somewhat turbulent conditions on our first day), figuring out the gear, and managing an impatient and misogynistic instructor I called the English bulldog—fortunately there was the babetastic Greek instructor who was assisting to distract me from throttling the bulldog. (Thanks, Goddess!) And now I am starting to plot where I want to dive next!

I have been thinking how Thailand really forces you to do a lot of risk assessment, daily, and as a friend said, is out to hurt you. You have to do things like decide if you really should get on the back of that motorbike taxi without a helmet to zip through the busy streets of Bangkok to get home (no, but yes), how much spicy can you really handle (keep at it), is that street food a good call or no, are you drinking enough water (dear god, the sweat). And then there are all the things that happen on the islands, from all the random cuts and bites to not burning your leg on jenky scooter tail pipes (or crashing, don’t do that) to not getting stung by jellyfish or sea urchins or brushing up against some coral on a night swim (I did that, and ow). And seriously, where are the life jackets on these ferryboats? I just kept saying, “THANKS UNIVERSE!” and would chomp on another Thai green chile. The sun even came out on my last day for the most gorgeous beach day with my friend. I’m home safe, with my mosquito bites finally healing up, the river of sweat has stopped, and am feeling really really lucky, because I definitely pushed my luck in some areas. Per usual.

I want to do some extra big thank-yous to everyone who sent me tips (you rock!), made introductions, took me around, hosted me, joined me, put sunblock on me, and helped make this trip one of my very favorites. I made some incredible connections and am coming home with such a full and happy heart. I also lost two pounds, so there’s that. I will say it’s really hard to be back at my desk after running around every day, I am getting some major cabin fever. But at least there is rosé in my fridge, and bubbles, of course—I missed those! (Next time, I am packing two bottles. Note to self!) And yes, there will definitely be a next time: Thailand, you’re such a special place. I’m so crushing on you. (And your khanom krok.)

And now, it’s time to put down the mango sticky rice and get back to the grind. Today’s issue is a recap of news that has happened the past three weeks, so let’s roll the tape! And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a mountain of email to scale and traverse. And still a little unpacking to do too.

See you on the town!
Marcia Gagliardi

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