|table of contents
week's tablehopper: the dangers of drinking and dining.
the word on the street
it's about time we met
put it on my tab
in vino veritas
no photos please
this round is on me
16, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO My
good friend caught some serious crabs this weekend, and he was kind
enough to give them to me too! Yes, dear reader, that would be Dungeness
crabs, not the itchy and ew kind. (The tablehopper has her standards,
okay?!) Caught right from the Bay. Total meaty monsters. Heaven.
This is what happens when your friend is one of those crazy polar
bear swimmers and has pots set out there. Bless him and his madness.
And thanks to the good folks from Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant who
set me up with a nice tip on a bottle of riesling to accompany the
yours truly is gonna be on the radio again! Very exciting, if not
a little, uh, exhilarating? It's happening this coming Saturday
on West Coast Live, babies! Along with Steve Sando from Rancho
can listen in on KALW 91.7, or on the
site. Let's hope I don't accidentally curse on air,
argh, Comcast didn't play nice last week. Again. So the hundreds
of you Comcast folks who didn't receive last week's
missive, you can catch up here.
now, before I start lamenting my fading tan and my meat locker apartment,
let's get started.
16, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO
Yay, at long last, ~MISSION BEACH CAFÉ~ will
be opening January 24, from style-maker extraordinaire Bill Clarke
and baker badass Alan Carter, formerly of Chow. The bakery component
will be up and running (can you say pie, popovers, and pastry?), plus
Blue Bottle coffee will be offered, and gourmet sandwiches will be
available for lunch. In three weeks after opening, expect to see appetizers,
desserts, beer and wine in the evening, a more extensive lunch, Saturday
and Sunday brunch, and they will also be ringing the dinner bell.
But for now, release the pie! 198 Guerrero St. at 14th St., 415-861-0198.
ever-charming and talented Mohamed Ghaleb has found new (and bigger)
digs for his restaurant, ~TAJINE~. He's moving
into the Sunny Café space (1338 Polk St. at Pine St., 415-921-1338),
which will be closing at the end of the month. After a couple weeks
of renovation, he hopes to reopen around the last week of February,
and will serve lunch and dinner daily. You can then call me Merguez
up the street on Polk, ~LA
PARRILLA GRILL~ has reopened as of today! They are
moving away from the full-service format, and are actually now a
bit more casual—you'll just place your order at the
counter instead (although a runner will still bring your food to
your table). The prices have dropped, and the presentation of the
food is also less "composed." The owner, Fernando, assured
me that the tastiness, however, has not changed. (Hello gorditas.
Oh, and birria made with lamb!) 10am-10pm Sun-Thu, until 12am Fri-Sat.1760
Polk St. at Washington St., 415-359-1212.
gourmet salad munchers: a second ~MIXT GREENS~
location will be opening downtown by this May! They are really focused
on making this new location extra efficient to help cut down on
wait times (hey, that lunch break is precious). To that end, the
new location will have a larger salad station, with six chefs instead
of the four chefs they currently have in the original location,
plus three cashiers for faster checkout. They are also getting a
"green" delivery truck (it's electric) to increase
their catering and delivery operation. Groovy. 475 Sansome St. at
here's an update on ~NUA~,
the Mediterranean restaurant and wine bar opening in North Beach—looks
like they are about a month out from opening… the executive
chef is Anna Bautista, a CCA grad who formerly cooked at Fifth Floor,
Jardinière, and was the executive chef at The Public. 550
Green St. at Jasper Place (near Columbus), 415-433-4000.
next door will be ~SOTO MARE~, an oyster bar from
Gigi Fiorucci and Giovanni Toracca. (Long story on why the name
isn't "sotto" for you fellow Italian speakers
out there.) There will also be other kinds of cold seafood available,
like shrimp, salads, clams, plus clam chowder. (I'm also trying
to convince them to serve Gigi's mother's recipe of
pasta fagioli—a girl can dream.) There will be a long marble
counter with room for 22 where you can slurp some bivalves while
enjoying a beer or glass of wine. Fish will also be sold retail
and wholesale. Opening is looking like February or March, and the
hours will be something like 6am-6pm. 552 Green St. near Columbus.
CONFISERIE~, the modern candy store from the ladies at
Miette at the FB is opening soon in Hayes Valley, like, Saturday
the 27! Hours will be Tue-Sun, 11am-7pm. 449 Octavia St. at Linden,
I love this story—this is what happens when cool chefs get
PATTERSON~ of Coi just married his sweetheart, Alexandra
Foote, an environmental lawyer, on January 6. The event was held
at the Headlands
Center for the Arts, which sounded like a unique and dreamy
site for the event (yo brides-to-be out there, check it out!). Patterson
cooked the rehearsal dinner for 35 the night before at COI, and
did a lot of prep and planning for the reception dinner for 130.
There were fab dishes like truffled Dungeness crab remoulade with
chives, La Tercera heirloom chicory salad with shaved fennel and
radish, and Grimaud guinea fowl breast lined with crepinette (and
yes, there was one dish with foam: scallop tartare with caviar and
avocado foam). Cheeses from Soyoung Scanlan at Andante, Hervé
Mons, and Rolf Beeler followed the gourmet feast. Rose Levy Beranbaum
came from NYC to make the "Dark Chocolate Passion" cake,
which was as Daniel said, "the best wedding cake ever!"
(Served with Blue Bottle coffee, natch.) Mandy
Aftel made a custom-blended perfume of black pepper, pink grapefruit,
cocoa, coffee, agarwood, cedar, nutmeg, and Peru balsam as a gift
for guests, and everyone rocked out to the live tunes by Scissors
for Lefty. The couple then enjoyed a honeymoon kicking back and
keeping toasty at Jackson Hole, where they even went dog sledding,
so cool. What a blast. Congrats to you both!
or a darker note, will the awful accidents with our city's
dear restaurant staff please stop!? I can't believe I have
two to write about, so please be sure to read about the benefits
for both… I am sorry to report that Town Hall's bartender,
~HECTOR SAHAGUN~, was in a horrible taxi accident
a little over a week ago. Below is the letter from a friend of his,
Tom Finan, who is spearheading a "Pay It Forward" support
drive for Hector. Please read below for how you can help—I
also hear Town Hall will be doing a benefit for Hector at their
big annual Mardi Gras event on February 20—stand by for more
details on that next week.
to his friend Tom, Hector is home convalescing and "Hector's
face still has many apparent cuts, bumps and bruises. My friend
Nick sums it up best when he says, 'I hear Hector's voice coming
out of his body but I still do not see Hector.'" He also has
braces for his legs, and is trying to rest and recover from all
the terrible trauma he has sustained. Our thoughts are with you,
it Forward with a Random act of Kindness for Hector
*Definition: the act of voluntarily helping another without expectation
Our friend Hector Sahagun is in the hospital following a horrific
traffic accident. The accident occurred in San Francisco in the
early morning hours of Thursday, January 04, 2007. Hector, a bartender,
had just gotten off work and hailed a cab to head home. On 6th and
Mission an SUV made an illegal maneuver thus creating a head on
collision. Hector was pushed though the Plexiglas window in the
cab and ended up in the passenger seat. The police were called and
ambulances arrived on the scene.
When Nick and I visited Hector he was still in E.R and still covered
in blood. His face was severely affected. The Doctors had already
applied multiple stitches. Unfortunately, due to the amount of blood
I could not make out where the stitches started and stopped, but
all in all, it looked very severe. I believe his nose was also broken.
He was also complaining of pain in his knees.
I am emailing you to ask for your help with resources, specifically
financially. Hector has no medical insurance and from the looks
of his condition will not be returning to work anytime soon. With
that said I am requesting you to "pay it forward" and
contribute financially to Hectors care.
If you have never been involved in a pay it forward it is very simple.
Any amount is an important amount and deeply appreciated. If you
can afford a larger donation, his rent will need to be paid. One
of my goals from this email is to help raise enough financially
that Hector will not have to worry about rent for 6 months. Hector
also has a dog, Suzy, so we need to find a dog walker. Your funds
will also help make this goal happen. Or if you yourself happen
to have or know a dog walker, that information could also be helpful.
There of course are also additional expenses not foreseen that your
contributions will help defer.
Your help in giving towards Hector's recovery efforts has
already started by you reading this email. Your next choice is to
dig deep and see if you can contribute.
If you cannot contribute financially please contribute by forwarding
this email to your own friends on your own email distribution list
to give them the opportunity to pay it forward with this random
act of kindness.
Thank you in advance of your kindness and well wishes for Hector.
It Forward is about Trevor McKinney, a twelve-year-old boy in a
small California town who accepts the challenge that his teacher
gives his class, a chance to earn extra credit by coming up with
a plan to change the world for the better—and to put that
plan into action. What is his idea? Trevor chooses three people
for whom he will do a favor, and then when those people thank him
and ask how they might pay him back, he will tell them that instead
of paying him back, they should each "pay it forward"
by choosing three people for whom they can do favors, and in turn
telling those people to pay it forward. It's nothing less than a
human chain letter of kindness and good will.
The second tragic accident is in regards to ~LANCE BELL~—please
see this week's charity event in the
socialite below to see how you can help.
10 29th St.
Cross: Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
16, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO
you talkin' to me? Oh, so you got a hankering for some chicken?
You want some frickin' chicken? FINE, you can have your frickin'
chicken! All you have to do is get a membership at Costco for their
obscenely tasty but so NOT organic crack-injected sodium-boosted
rotisserie chicken, or forget all that mayhem and go hit the bizarrely
named ~GOOOD FRIKIN' CHICKEN~ (and no, that
extra "o" is not a mistake, nor is the new-style spelling
is one of those joints in the Outer Mission I've been meaning
to hit for some time (I have to say, the parking out there really
does my head in—I've spent 45 minutes fruitlessly looking
for a parking spot on summertime El Rio Sundays, and it's
a long and windy haul on my bike, Peach One). So a chef pal got
me all fired up to go hit GFC (nope, no Colonel here) one night
with her girlfriend, and I even got picked up and dropped off, so
color me stoked. Frickin' sweet.
my pals are GFC pros, I was in good hands. Here's how you
do it: go for the fried cheese to start (it was like the awesome
Halloumi cheese you find in Greece, bliss), and eat some of the
four hunks of blistered tangy cheese with your salad that you're
gonna end up getting as one of the sides with your chicken (just
push the out-of–season tomatoes to the side—it was wintertime
when we ate there).
it's time to engage in a lip lock with your frickin'
chicken: the open flame chicken is the way to go. My pro pals know
to order it extra crispy (now we all know). The complete meal gets
you a salad and one side dish ($8.75 for half, and $15.75 for a
whole chicken). It's $6.45 for a half chicken a la carte,
or $11.45 for a whole bird. Instead of opting for the pilaf or mac
and cheese sides, go for the garlicky hummus or smoky baba ghannoush.
hold that chicken leg for one second, because I have two caveats
here. First: this chicken is pretty darned good, but still does
not compare to the chicken fabulousity that is Zankou in L.A. I
miss that frickin' chicken like a long-lost parent, Flying
Saucer, and my now-discontinued Dior red lipstick, all rolled into
one. That chicken is the straight-up chicken heavyweight champ,
with a big ole shiny belt on. (Peck peck, it will kill you.)
the hummus and baba g are good, but that frickin' Mediterranean
Spirit has totally ruined me on both those counts. Oh, and I
can't even order chicken shawerma anywhere else either. Oh,
and falafel too! Fie on you, Mediterranean Spirit! Must you ruin
it for everyone? And why aren't you in my neighborhood?! Criminy.
digress. All this frickin' talk has me fired up. But for the
record, GFC also has shawerma (chicken or lamb), falafel (also available
in a vegetarian combo plate), and chicken or beef kebabs. Everything
is like $7.25 or under, a la carte.
so this chicken was hella tasty, with an herbal marinade that it
rests in overnight. I always go for dark meat, so my pieces were
juicy fo sho. I loved the complimentary griddled pita dusted with
zaatar and doused in olive oil. (Trust, you'll end up ordering
more.) Be sure you get the garlic dip (to keep away vampires, right?),
ask for the spicy sauce too, and I say dispense with the silverware
and just get in there. Everything is dusted in herbs, from the chicken
to the pita to the salad. You will be too.
wait! Let's not forget the mosakhan ($6.45 a la carte/$8.75
meal)! What is this, you ask, this mysterious mosakhan? It's
like the grandmaster Mediterranean mother ship: a juicy pile of
chicken that has been cooked with soft golden onions, sumac, olive
oil, and pine nuts, all wrapped up in lavash like a burrito and
grilled to crispy perfection. Mother of God, the mosakhan is totally
a goldmine of goodness, the mack, the man, the mosakhan. It was
frickin' delicious. Here I am, writing this thing at 11:30pm
and now I am totally frickin' hangry.
make it to dessert since we could barely finish the bounty. But
I am so going back to try the kenafeh ($4.25), a dessert made with
thin shredded pastry, sweet cheese, and honey syrup. I had a variation
of this at Troya and loved it. There's also rice pudding ($2.25),
warbaat ($1.95/phyllo dough puffs with orange blossom syrup), and
two kinds of baklava ($1.65-$1.95).
space is pretty big, lit like a doctor's office, and has some
pastoral murals of the old country on the walls. But what you cannot
help studying is the totally hot frickin' waitress. Can't
vouch for all of them, but this one was full-on babe incarnate.
Seriously, I was considering for a hot minute what a lifetime as
frequent customers at Good Vibrations would look like. But then
one look at the meaty mosakhan reminded me I really do prefer boys.
Hey, it was fun to consider.
speaking of human nature, if nature calls, prepare for a fun little
adventure walk out the back door and down some stairs. Perhaps it's
related to their weird slogan, "Weee…do chicken best."
And while I would say that's quite a bold statement, they
certainly do chicken pretty frickin' well.
16, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO
your best friend (or your sweetie!) with a collection of clever
bags from Kept
this Valentine's Day. Kept offers an irresistible range of bags
that every woman needs while jet-setting about the world—whether
it's an overnight excursion or a month-long journey.
Wet Suit Bag offers a swimmingly chic solution for your beach-worn
or still damp from the pool bikini, while the Silk
Lingerie Bag is worthy of only your most delicious delicates.
You'll waltz through any security searches in style. Take
15% off all things Kept through February 10th by entering code "Tablehopper15"
1434 Lombard St.
Cross: Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94123
Sat-Sun brunch (in Feb.)
16, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO
The divey Luau Bar & Grill in Cow Hollow is almost done transforming
into the intimate ~MERCURY APPETIZER BAR~ that
is one part restaurant, one part lounge, and one part bar. The space
features distressed hardwood floors, a brick wall, treated metal
art pieces, and a polished stainless bar with hardwood borders that
Clements (formerly the bar manager at MECCA) is the GM; he met Mercury's
chef and one of the partners, Dominic Ainza, during their time working
together at Betelnut (Ainza is currently doing double duty, cooking
at Poleng Lounge too). They are just ramping up, but the menu of
Asian small plates includes some Filipino faves, like lumpia ($7,
five dumplings of pork sausage and a whole shrimp with the tail
still on) and ginger beef ($12), bites of filet mignon served over
sweet potato fries. You can check out the appetizing menu here
(yes, pun intended).
also feature some Asian flair, with homemade syrups made with lemongrass
and ginger. There's also a lavender martini and Thai basil
gimlet on the menu, plus additional composed drinks like the Chai
Iced Tea, made with Phillips Union Vanilla Whiskey, Voyant Chai
Cream Liqueur, Thai tea, and half & half.
a couple weeks they will be kicking off weekend brunch on Saturdays
are still getting worked out, but it sounds like it's shaping
up to be a nice late-night addition to the neighborhood.
16, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO
Madeira….or should I say pour Madeira? by Paul Einbund
been three years since Paul Einbund moved from
Los Angeles to San Francisco—he has no plans of changing locales
since he is now partners with chef Daniel Patterson at COI
restaurant. He had previously been at Tartare and then had a brief
stint at bacar. Sake, Lambic, tea, Madeira, wine, if it's liquid
then he wants to taste it! Demystifying! Emboldening! Imbibing!
Paul invites you to join him in the lounge for a bite to eat or
a glass of something from what is becoming one of the city's
most interesting beverage programs.
my mind there could be nothing more exciting in the entire world
to drink than Madeira. When else can we experience a wine from 30,
50 or even 170 years ago without completely breaking the bank, this
is exactly what we can do with… Madeira!
people think of this succulent caramelized elixir exclusively as
a mere cooking wine, but no! Behold! Imagine the best aspects of
a tawny port: caramel, toffee, and tropical fruits blended with
the soft and more round characteristics of a sweet sherry.
what you need to know. The four major grapes, in order from driest
to more sweet, are: Sercial, Verdelho, Boal, and Malmsey (also called
Malvasia/Malvazia). The drier end of the spectrum can be great as
an aperitif or with foods like stews and braised meats, while the
sweeter wines are the best pairing for cheese, or even in lieu of
dessert. Personally, I like to end the evening with a glass of something
slightly sweet once I get home (but before I settle in for cozy
it comes to pairing Madeira with food, think of it this way: we
are used to cooking with the stuff, but instead of adding it to
the dish before it's done, drink a glass with the finished
product, and check out how it adds that extra spice that was missing
of the great aspects of Madeira is that this is a "cooked
wine." The wines are aged in rooms that are heated by the
sun for many years, with the end result being a wine that is nearly
indestructible… seriously, you could stick this stuff in your
oven and once it cools down (yikes!) it will be perfectly fine.
more importantly, the wine doesn't degrade for at least a
year after it has been opened. "Yeah, but what does that mean
to me?," you may ask. Open a super expensive bottle of Madeira,
but have no fear, it's not going to go bad before you finish
it. It's okay, take your time. Heck, you could even save it
for a special occasion (like bed time!). This indestructibility
makes Madeira the ultimate wine by the glass in a restaurant because
it doesn't matter when the bottle was opened, it won't
here's the downside: in the ten years since I have been a
sommelier, the availability of good vintage Madeira has dwindled
from little to next to none. It's hard to find but when you
see it, buy it. For most of the really old wines, you have to be
on a list and when they are bottled (to order) and shipped to the
US of A they call you and let you know. But sometimes you can stumble
across a bottle or two. The best place to find Madeira has got to
be the Rare
Wine Company, though one or two other importers also bring some
into the country.
moral of the story is drink Madeira! The odds are good it will be
in great condition, no matter the storage temperature or when it
was opened and gosh darn it, it just tastes good!
for Lance Bell
Wed., January 17, 2007
3251 Scott St.
Cross: Chestnut St.
San Francisco, CA 94123
16, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO
I received the notice about this benefit from a friend in the industry—he
tells me ~LANCE BELL~ was previously living and
working in New Orleans as a bartender for a Kimpton property when
Hurricane Katrina devastated his home and work. My friend was managing
at Scala's Bistro, and offered Lance a job and to move him to SF
through a Kimpton employee transfer program. Lance loved the City
and his coworkers so much that he decided to stay and make SF his
new home. And now, sadly, tragedy strikes again.
Party for Lance Bell "Bring Chocolate Love Back"
Monday, January 1st, Lance Bell, a truly generous and caring person,
was taken to General Hospital after being found unconscious. He
had received several blows to the head. Lance remains in the hospital
still unable to speak and faces a long road to complete rehabilitation.
Please come help us raise money to aid and support Lance and his
family during this difficult and stressful time.
those who attend will receive a raffle ticket to win fabulous prizes.
There will also be both a silent auction and "bid for a date
with a bachelor" (please no credit cards). DJ Roy Oblivion
will keep the festivities hopping until 2am. We invite all those
who know Lance and those who haven't yet had the chance to meet
him to come out for a night of fun and excitement.
and Silent Auction donations from Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants,
Roy's, Tortilla Heights, Vino Venue, Cheese Steak Shop, Ceja Wines,
Frascati, Southern Wine and Spirits, Pacific Wine and Spirits.
dinner by Chef Michel Koenig Grgich Hills, Cafe Du Nord, Swiss Garage.
questions or donations, email: aidlance [at] yahoo [dot] com
Winemaker and Mushroom Dinner
Wed., Jan. 24th, 2007
580 Geary St.
Cross: Jones St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Erica to reserve your space.
Reservations are limited.
wine reception 6pm-6:30pm
Dinner served promptly@ 6:30pm
gratuity & tax not included
16, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO
Millennium is hosting their third annual ~COTURRI WINEMAKER
DINNER~, featuring naturally made wines from Coturri
Vineyards and a serious night o' shrooming. Come in and
meet the folks behind Coturri Family Wines and experience wine and
mushrooms like never before—like five courses of 'em!
January 27-February 4, 2007
16, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO
No, you don't need me to tell you Spain is hot. And lucky
us, ~NAVARRA GASTRONOMIC WEEK~ kicks off January
27 in San Francisco, which means thirteen restaurants will be offering
menus highlighting Navarra's unique traditional dishes and local
wines. So prepare your palate for Piquillo red peppers and a Navarrese
wine, like one from the Bodegas Inurrieta, Monjardin, Alzania vineyards
to accompany a hunk of some Navarra cheese, like Roncal or Idiazabal.
There is also a wine seminar and wine pairing dinner at the Palace
Hotel on Feb. 1 and a culinary exhibition at the CIA at Greystone
on Feb. 2. For more details, click here.
restaurants in SF are:
252 California St. (bet. Battery & Front Sts.), 415-956-9662
44 Belden Pl., (bet. Bush & Pine Sts.), 415-986-6287
710 Montgomery St. (Washington St.), 415-982-2622
TARTINE, 244 Gough St., 415-553-4595
1015 Battery St. (Green St.), 415-391-2555
558 Sacramento St. (bet. Montgomery & Sansome Sts.), 415-434-4100
HOWARD, 500 Jackson St. (Montgomery St.), 415-956-7040
2000 Hyde St. (Union St.), 415-346-0800
4039 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, 510-883-0222
1515 Shattuck Ave. (bet. Cedar & Vine Sts.), Berkeley, 510-883-0222
120 Sir Francis Drake, San Anselmo, 415 457-7700
320 Magnolia Avenue, Larkspur, 415-924-0300
OF SPAIN, 1301 Fourth St., San Rafael, 415-457-8466
The region of Navarra in the north of Spain borders the Basque Country,
La Rioja, Aragon, and the Pyrenees which makes it a vital part of
El Camino de Santiago, (Saint James Way). This ancient kingdom's
rich history leaves its legacy within medieval villages and festivals
such as the famous San Fermin in Pamplona – eight days of
bull running celebrated each July and immortalized by Hemingway
in The Sun Also Rises.
unusual past and diverse topography has made it an attraction for
"off the beaten" path travelers and food and wine aficionados.
Graced with cool uplands and sun-drenched fertile valleys Navarra
produces superb culinary products and wines of the highest quality.
The old Kingdom of Navarra has preserved its royal nobility in a
rich tradition of food and wine.
16, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO
Jeremy Piven was spotted outside the recently relocated
Fior d'Italia. According to a tablehopper reader, it looked
like he was just wrapping up lunch, and had the black chauffeured
SUV ready and waiting.
if you were Gary Danko and were gonna throw a party
for your big 5-0, this is what it would look like: a buyout of supperclub,
with 170 guests kicking it in their socks (many sporting bhindis)
and digging the scene (and the five-course meal). What guests, you
inquire? How about Renee and Carl Behnke of Sur la Table, Connie
and Andy Debbane from Zarzuela, the Ritz Carlton's Jean-Pierre
Dubray, Cameron and Gerald Hirigoyen of Piperade and Bocadillos,
NOPA's Laurence Jossel and Allyson Woodman, Chantal and Hubert
Keller of Fleur de Lys, Tor and Susan Kenward of Tor Kenward Vineyards,
Ed and Mary Etta Moose of Moose's, La Folie's Roland
and Jamie Passot, Carol and John Sebastiani of Sebastiani Vineyards,
Delfina's Craig and Amy Stoll, Augustin Huneeus of Quintessa
winery, and Joanne Weir. You can check out pics here
(be forewarned, there are 757 of 'em).
it really was the week of power gourmands: Alice Waters
was spotted at Delica rf-1 over the weekend (yes, she was wearing
a hat), and Ruth Reichl had dinner at Kokkari (no,
she was not wearing a wig, those days are over.)
Long aka the apple of Sam Malone's eye was spotted
at Allegro Romano. Uh, Cheers!
my favorite sighting for some time: Marc Jacobs
was in Lulu last week.