tablehopper
table of contents This week's tablehopper: eat, drink, and be full.

the chatterbox
the word on the street
the regular
it's about time we met
the jetsetter
get outta dodge

the socialite
shindigs/feasts/festivals
the bookworm
another place for your nose
the lush
put it on my tab
the health nut
take a lap, tablehopper
the starlet
no photos please

the matchmaker
let's get it on

NOVEMBER 27, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Got your reindeer ears on? Or perhaps a full bottle of something brown and potent at your side? Hey, whatever will get you through the holidays. One thing that should be helpful is this week’s holiday edition of the bookworm from Green Apple Books’ Pete Mulvihill, who mentions a couple books I’ve been enjoying this past month (James Peterson’s awesome Cooking, and Cecilia Chiang’s Seventh Daughter). Be sure to take advantage of the 20% discount for tablehopper readers over the next two weeks if any of Pete’s choices catch your fancy, or will make good gifts, which I think they just might.

It doesn’t stop. The Hi Helens saga persists, with the latest reader additions of “Bingo Arms” and “Bingo Wings,” and the classification of them as one of the “seven deadly fats AKA UADD (under arm dingle dangle)! Others include back fat, thunder thigh and melon tit (eeeeek)!”

Eeek is right, and double eeek on the seven deadly fats (!), especially after the Thanksgiving feast my family put on this year. We made the stuffing this time with the additions of my dad’s homemade boar sausage and a splash of grappa, a total winner—it was so good I had leftovers (smothered with grandma’s giblet and hard-boiled egg gravy) two more nights in a row. Thank god for my trainers.

Chef Charlie did this week’s work for me again with another jetsetter installment (glad someone is out there eating on my behalf), but I thought I'd throw in a little breakfast for ya too, in the regular. Actually, a big breakfast.

Ciao chow,

~Marcia subscribe
the chatterbox
NOVEMBER 27, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO After almost a year of closure from a fire sparked by a faulty electric car, the ~WARMING HUT~ at Crissy Field will be reopening on December 3! Walkers and picnickers rejoice. They will continue serving food made with local and organic ingredients (“local and luscious,” as they like to call it), and keeping their emphasis on sustainability and packing up everything with recyclable items. The menu got freshened up, and ditto on the kitchen equipment (but they fortunately retained their chef, Matt Wolf). Did you know that all the profits from the café and bookstore go to the Crissy Field Center, which is designed to support environmental use leadership? Cool. Open 9am–5pm daily. Building 983, at the West Bluff Picnic Area, 415-561-3040.

More news on a reopening after a fire: ~BENDER’S~ in the Mission is open again. And there is a mighty cool project inside the full kitchen: Weird Fish has launched ~SATELLITE~ as of last Friday. Look for some Weird Fish favorites, like fish and chips and tacos, along with the buffalo cat wings (deep-fried and spicy catfish) or buffalo girls (seitan)—both come with blue cheese and celery, like they should. There are also cheese steaks, burgers, and all kinds of fries, onion rings, and yes, the fried pickles. Vittles will be served Wed–Sat, starting around 6pm–7pm, and going to 1am, if not later, which should keep you at least upright at the bar. The space is supposed to look amazing, with new lighting and a raised ceiling. There’s a sleek new bar; the multi-levels are gone—it’s now one convenient floor—and Yelpers seem to be pleased with all the room around the pool tables. The backyard will be coming back later, but the smoking room is still in effect. Cash only, babies. 806 S Van Ness Ave. at 19th St., 415-824-1800.

John Ruggieri, the former chef de cuisine at ~EMPORIO RULLI GRAN CAFFÈ~ on Chestnut Street is the new chef at Kitchen at 868 Grant in Novato. No word yet about his replacement.

I was bummed to read on Chowhound that ~FLYING PAN BISTRO~, the offshoot of ~JAI YUN~, has closed. I had an awesome catfish noodle soup there just a month ago for lunch and was craving more. Dang. In a weird twist, the reservations-only Jai Yun is reportedly leaving their tiny space on Pacific Avenue, and is moving into this slightly larger and more modern space instead. No lunch service (for now), but I know fellow noodle lovers can dream, and hint, and request. 680 Clay St. at Kearny, 415-981-7438.

Some switcheroos in wino world: since ~JEFF ANDERSON~ left Ame in mid-September to work with Jason Alexander at Gary Danko, Ame’s sommelier/wine director position has now been filled by ~AARON ELLIOTT~, who was most recently at Aqua, and prior to that, TRU in Chicago and The Peninsula Chicago. Taking over for Elliott at Aqua is ~KEN WAGSTAFF~, a senior dinner server who I am told rocks the house.

Meanwhile, ~STEVE IZZO~, who was at One Market, is reportedly moving over to Kuleto’s WaterBar as the sommelier and buyer. Taking his place overseeing One Market’s all-American wine program of more than 400 labels is 29-year-old ~MELANIE ALIOTO~, who just started yesterday—she was formerly the GM and wine buyer of the Wine Bar & Shop at Embarcadero Two Center. Alioto’s grandfather (Joe Alioto) was a cousin to the other Joe Alioto, who was the former mayor of San Francisco.

And, in the final move, taking Alioto’s place is ~BRAD GUSTAVSON~ from Santa Barbara and local ~MICHAEL OYEN~, who are the new owners and buyers for the Wine Bar as of three weeks ago. I spoke with Gustavson, who said to look for more West Coast wines on the list, and new furniture will be coming in at some point that looks more “wine bar and less like Starbucks.” Cheers to that.

You follow all that? Time for a glass of wine. Take your pick where.

There are lots of openings to report!

It’s soooo totally soup season, and I’m excited that ~POT DE PHO~ is less than a week from opening (the soft opening is next Monday, December 3rd)! The project is from chef Khai Duong of Ana Mandara, who has transformed the former Spanish Fly space into a total pho headquarters, with room for 60. It will offer the magic combo of organic (whenever possible) produce, meats, poultry, and seafood, and affordable, traditional Vietnamese dishes, with entrées averaging $9–$10, topping out at $15. The pho will feature house-made noodles in rich broths made from Kobe beef and free-range chicken bones. There are six variations, with some featuring organic chicken or seafood imported from Vietnam, and natural grass-fed Black Angus beef. The house-made noodles will be made in the traditional Vietnamese manner, with bean sprouts in the noodles. Dishes will be served with traditional sides, like cilantro, scallions, basil, lime, pickled onion, and hoisin and chile sauces. The pho soups will start at $6; there will be a small and large size available.

There are other dishes like pork and shrimp imperial rolls; soft shell crab rolls in cold rice paper with avocado; braised organic pork belly with pickled bean sprouts; and rice chicken Hainam, a Chinese dish that is popular in Vietnam. The beer and wine license should be in effect any day now, but they might not have it in time for the opening next week, so you may be choosing from their selection of organic fruit drinks, smoothies, and coffees and teas in the meantime. Hours will be 11am–10pm, and until 11pm Fri–Sat, closed Mon. 3300 Geary Blvd. at Parker, 415-668-0826.

This evening, the third location of ~O'NEILL'S~ will be opening in Ghirardelli Square. Now you know where to get your Irish breakfast (which you can even have al fresco) and a proper Guinness. Yes, at the same time. 900 North Point St.—H 104 (near Beach Street), 415-771-8560.

Remember the Thai place I mentioned that was moving into the Fogon space in North Beach? Wow, these folks work quickly. Open as of last night is ~TUK TUK THAI CAFÉ~, whose owners are also behind Tuk Tuk Thai Café and Asian Market in Berkeley. Hours are 11am–1am nightly, convenient for when you want to Thai one on, har. 659 Union St. at Stockton, 415-445-7839.

A little reminder that tonight is the opening of ~BAR JULES~ in Hayes Valley, Tue–Sat for dinner, and Sun for brunch. 609 Hayes St. at Laguna, 415-621-5482.

Looking forward to attending a test dinner this week at ~LOCAL KITCHEN AND WINE MERCHANT~, the Cal-Italian restaurant from executive chef and partner Ola Fendert, with Mark Bright overseeing the wine bar and retail wine shop. The opening is slated for next Wednesday, December 5. While the kitchen will be highlighting local and organic ingredients on the rustic menu (hand-made pizza from the massive wood-fired oven, or whole-roasted fish, anyone?), the wine program will be more global, with a lot of organic choices, and few surprises from some lesser-known regions, like India and China. The retail wine shop will also sell some gourmet food items from local artisans. Open Mon–Fri for breakfast, lunch and dinner; Sat–Sun for brunch and dinner. More on Local after I check it out! 330 First St. at Folsom, 415-777-3200.

At press time, the word is that ~YOSHI’S~ is slated to be opening the jazz club this Wednesday, and the restaurant is opening on Saturday. 1330 Fillmore St. at Eddy.

If everything maps out according to plan, I might be returning to New York in January for another week of tablehopping, and I fully plan to visit ~ABRAÇO~, Jamie McCormick’s (of Blue Bottle barista fame) awesome new venture that I mentioned a couple months back. I was so stoked to see this great write-up he just got in New York Magazine, and can’t wait to try some of the pastry from Ms. Elizabeth Quijada from Babycakes and Suspicious Suppers! Go Jamie go! 86 E. 7th St. at First Ave., New York, 212-388-9731.

On the local coffee front, things are getting close for ~COFFEE BAR~, the venture from Jason Paul and Luigi DiRuocco that is moving into the former Arc Café space. As of now they are targeting December 1—will let you know next week what’s up, and if that happened! 1890 Bryant St. at Mariposa.

I loved this generous holiday coat drive that ~JOVINO~ in Cow Hollow is putting on: ~COATS FOR CAPPUCCINOS/JACKETS FOR JAVA~ (not to be confused with a Java Jacket). Now through December 31, Jovino will be collecting clean, reusable coats and jackets to assist the One Warm Coat community service effort. Coats of all shapes and sizes are welcome, and children’s sizes are the most needed. One Warm Coat is dedicated to distributing reusable coats, free of charge, directly to local children and adults. The program is a great way for you and your family to pass along coats and jackets that you no longer need. Just bring your clean, reusable coats to Jovino anytime between 7:30am–9:30pm, and Jovino will take care of the rest. All donated coats will be given to One Warm Coat for distribution to the community.

Anyone who provides a coat or jacket will receive a gift card, good for FIVE FREE coffee drinks. (One per customer, please.) Not a black coffee drinker? How about a latte or cappuccino, or a nice cup of tea? Whatever your drink is, they will provide it for FREE, just for donating to this wonderful cause. 2184 Union St. at Fillmore, 415-563-1853.

You didn’t think I’d let a week go without a boozy event, did you? Heck, here are two. First, ~CANTINA~ is hosting a book release party for Wings of Cherubs by Guillermo Toro-Lira, which documents the history and secrets of San Francisco’s pisco punch! Did you know pisco was the drink of choice in San Francisco at the end of the 1800s and beginning of the 1900s? You’ll learn this, and more, so come on down for some free pisco punch, complimentary apps, and a Q&A with the author on Monday, December 3, at 7pm. Personally signed copies will be available for purchase at $19.95 plus tax. 580 Sutter St. at Mason, 415-398-0195.

Then over at ~SEASONS STEAK & SEAFOOD~, there’s an Opus One Winery dinner next Tuesday, December 4th: a five-course dinner paired with a special selection of various Opus One vintages, for $150 including tax and gratuity. Reception at 6:30pm, dinner at 7pm. 757 Market St. at Grant, 415-633-3838.

A reader passed this interesting site on to me: ~FOODIEBYTES.COM~. Just type your favorite food into the search box and you’ll get a list of restaurants that serve that dish. I was surprised with how many results I got from oxtails! Pregnant and have a craving for salade Lyonnaise? This is all about you.

Got a hot tip? You know I'd love it (and you). Just reply to this email!

 
the regular

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Andalu
(review for brunch only)

3198 16th St.
Cross: Guerrero St.
San Francisco, CA

415-621-2211
website

Brunch:
Sat–Sun 10:30am–2:30pm

Dishes $7.95–$14.95


NOVEMBER 27, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO ~ANDALU~ has been holding down the corner of 16th and Guerrero for some time, but they have never offered brunch, until recently. It’s funny, because the space is quite well suited for brunch—there’s nice light and hello, full bar. I went by with a friend to check it out, and while it won’t knock my favorite brunch trio from their rank (Foreign Cinema, Slow Club, Universal Café), I thought the brunch fare was solid (if a bit heavy), prices were good, especially compared to what some dives have the nerve to charge around town, and the portions were downright ginormous, which will please big eaters.

The decadent corned beef hash ($8.75) was the total star, with perfectly cooked poached eggs on top, and you get your choice of hash browns or the honking Andalu polenta fries on the side, plus toast—the whole wheat was notably delish. You can also carbo-load with two straightforward waffles ($7.95), or there’s a savory version ($9.75) with ham, mushrooms, and the Cambazola fondue—an Andalu cheesy classic that’s on the evening menu.

There are five types of scrambles on the menu, including the Richie Rich-sounding Andalu Extravaganza (a five-egg scramble with arugula and Cambazola fondue, served on top of polenta fries) for $9.75, or all-you-can-eat for $14.95 for you beastmasters out there. I just hope you’re not planning to do anything afterwards—even breathing might hurt.

My dining pal had the ultimate veggie scramble ($7.95), which sounded like it was going to be healthy, but was super hefty and stuffed with cheese (was that brie?) and a medley of veggies—one bummer was the tomatoes were grey/out of season, something that needs to be banished citywide.

We dug the side of sugar-spiced thick-cut crispy bacon ($2.95), i.e. meat candy, and there is also plain or brown sugar bacon, plus chorizo, or bangers, or breakfast sausage (yo meatheads, you can pick three for $7.45). A fine attribute is Andalu’s full bar, so you can sip a kicky Old Bay Bloody Mary ($6.95), or heal up right quick with a Georgia Sunrise ($6.75, with bourbon, peach nectar, lemon, and soda), plus there all kinds of sparklers by the glass.

There are also classics like eggs Benny and French toast, a house-cured salmon and bagel platter, and salads and sliders for those who are more on the lunch tip, so you’ve got options. Insider tip: you can make reservations! (Great for group brunch functions, like birthdays and baby showers.)

The music was lively (some good rock), and the room was a weekend-y Mission mix of hungry hipsters and young parents and homos enjoying the French press coffee and chicks ready to do some vintage shopping together. There is a bar you can dine at, or wait at, but there didn’t seem to be too much of a wait for a table, even though it was pretty busy. For those who went the first month and experienced a long wait for their food, I think the growing pains have been worked out—the kitchen wasn’t prepared to be so slammed.

My favorite touch? The basket of complimentary donut holes that arrive while you’re deciding what the hell to eat. I think these folks know what hangry means.

 

 
the jetsetter

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NOVEMBER 27, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO By Chef Charlie Kleinman

Gluttony, thy name is Au Pied De Cochon (536 rue Duluth, Montreal, 514-281-1114). Okay, I guess that's not fair. A better name for gluttony would be Charlie Kleinman, Jake Des Voignes, and Ryan Farr. You see, the three of us have eaten enough in the last week to feed a small (well, not that small) country for a couple of weeks. Jake and I started in New York before hopping in our rented car and driving to Boston.

Why Boston you ask? Well, it’s a budding food city much like San Francisco, and more importantly I worked there for years and had to see a couple of friends about a couple of horses. Before making it all the way to Boston, Jake and I were feeling a little bit hungry and decided to stop at one of the East Coast’s legendary pizza places for a little lunch.

The place was Frank Pepe’s (163 Wooster St., New Haven, CT, 203-865-5762), a New Haven relic from the days when pizza was a religion and the Yalies were scared to go to the wrong side of town. Frank Pepe’s, or Pepe’s as it is known colloquially, is famed for one thing and one thing only. The clam pie. This is a brick oven pizza topped with clams, garlic, oregano, and just a touch of Parmesan cheese to round it out.

For all of those out there who think that cheese and seafood should not coexist, save it. You are just jealous of this religious experience we had. The crust was crisp yet chewy. Smoky from the oven, but not burnt as so many pizzas I order these days are. It was just great, and Jake and I finished it off with little hesitation before hopping back out on the highway for Beantown.

Boston was just one long food fest, with one friend after another jockeying to give us our best meal in the city. Its good to know people, but it’s even better to see the guys I used to work with grow into chef jobs and just kill it. With tasting menus at Great Bay (500 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA, 617-532-5320) and Tosca (14 North St., Hingham, MA, 781-740-0080), Jake and I kept our gullets busy, and began to truly empathize with those foie gras geese for the first time.

The chorizo parsnip puree that chef Adam Fuller paired with scallops at Great Bay gave me a new appreciation for eating vegetables (especially when pureed with smoky pork products). Fuller’s talent as a chef is equal only to the size of his personality, which on its own is reason enough to visit the restaurant.

Tosca also provided an excellent meal and is worth the visit to the South Shore if you have a car in Boston. Chef Kevin Long has a deft, if not light hand with all manners of Italian comfort food. His pork Milanese with mustard was delicious, but my personal favorite is still the fried calamari. I know this sounds kind of pedestrian, but I dare you to find a better version in the country. Crispy and tender with spicy aioli, it is mixed with pickled onions, cucumbers, and chilies, as well as some wild arugula.

The next night was our marathon of eating and drinking. We started off at Eastern Standard (528 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA, 617-532-9100) for cocktails. The menu warned, “Consuming raw eggs may increase your risk of being held in high regard by the bar.” This was all the prodding we needed, so we ordered a pisco sour and gin flip respectively. These drinks were balanced and crafted with the care you expect to find in the best restaurants in the world. Of all the cocktails I have had in the last couple of weeks, and believe me there were many, the ones at Eastern Standard inspire me as a chef to execute my food at the highest level possible.

After cocktails we went for a three-headed dinner at Radius (8 High St., Boston, MA, 617-426-1234), Troquet (140 Boylston St., Boston, MA, 617-695-9463) and Toro (1704 Washington St., Boston, MA, 617-536-4300). Three very different restaurants, all with excellent results.

At Radius the highlight was the torchon course, mostly for its pairing with a buttery rugelach that would make my people proud (the Jews, in case you are wondering.)

The charcuterie and cheese plates at Troquet were delicious, but the star of the show here is the wine. This is the best wine list you have never heard of, and we cherry-picked the 1976 Chateau Palmer for a mere $129. While this might not be the best year for this wine, it was simply unbelievable, especially at that price.

Our last stop in Boston was Toro, a tapas bar from “celeb” chef Ken Oringer. This little spot decorated with a bull’s head delivered some excellent razor clams a la plancha, but the tripe was one of the poorest examples I have ever had the misfortune to taste.

Done with our time in Boston we met our friend and fellow chef Ryan Farr and headed to Montreal. Taking care not to eat too much on the way, the three of us fearlessly made our way across the border, into what we could only assume was the wilderness. Our firm grasp on English (or at least some of our firm grips on English) would do us no good as we breached the language barrier in search of a meal that just might kill us. This meal was at Au Pied De Cochon, and strangely everyone spoke English to us and couldn’t have been nicer.

The meal, in this palace of porcine overindulgence, was everything we expected and more. The eponymous dish was so big that when we saw it delivered to another table, we all burst out laughing. A whole pig’s trotter, stuffed and fried, was sitting atop mashed potatoes and smothered with a gravy of mushrooms and onions. Rich you say? Ha!

That was light compared to our boudin noir and cured foie tart, which could have stopped a Kenyan marathoner dead in his tracks on mile two. This tart was so over the top that the foie was the third richest item on it. Yes, the boudin noir was artery clogging, but believe it or not, the buttery crust of the tart had more butter than a banquet hall full of chicken Kiev. Croissants envy this crust for its buttery texture, and I thought it just might be the last thing I ever ate.

Not to worry though, our trip continued for a whole other week with plenty more food and booze to tell you about. Hopefully Marcia will continue to find our gluttony a newsworthy event. Until then, Marcia please send your Italian indigestion remedy. [Ed. note—my family makes it through the holidays, and monster truck-sized feasts, thanks to Brioschi. Good luck.]

 
the socialite

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Festa Dell'Olio Nuovo Dinner
Tue., Dec. 4, 2007

COCO500
500 Brannan St.
Cross: Fourth St.
San Francisco, CA 94107

website
415-543-2222

$55

Call or click for reservations


NOVEMBER 27, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO I already adore DaVero olive oil like you wouldn’t believe (so does Bruce Hill —it’s what he puts on the soft-serve ice cream at Pizzeria Picco), so my ears definitely pricked up over this upcoming dinner at COCO5OO: ~FESTA DELL'OLIO NUOVO~, a five-course dinner featuring just-pressed virgin oil from DaVero's Dry Creek Estate in Healdsburg, Sonoma.

"In Italy, 'olio nuovo' is a coveted treat, with strong, feisty flavors that are well suited to winter dishes. Those of you who have had ours before know that it's something special and short-lived; we offer it only in the winter months. While we use it on just everything we eat, we may be a bit extreme. But we're sure you'll find that it's an extraordinary addition to winter dishes...there's simply nothing better!"—Ridgely Evers and Colleen McGlynn, DaVero Olive Oil.

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The 12 Days of Christmas
Fri., Dec. 7–Sat., Dec. 22, 2007

Masa’s
648 Bush St.
Cross: Powell St.
San Francisco, CA 94108

415-989-7154
website

$175

NOVEMBER 27, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO I see a lot of holiday event press releases cross my desk, but this one really caught my eye: Masa's will be offering a ~12-COURSE HOLIDAY TASTING MENU~ specifically designed to reflect the song, "The 12 Days Of Christmas." As an example, executive chef Gregory Short’s tribute to "Turtle Doves" is a Mock Turtle Soup with braised oxtail and crispy bone marrow, and the "Golden Rings" are farm-raised California golden osetra caviar with Yukon Gold potato blinis, fried shallots, and crème fraîche.

Throughout the 12 Days of Christmas event, a portion of every evening's proceeds will be donated to Project Open Hand.

Here’s more on the innovative menu:

Mock Turtle Soup braised oxtail, crispy bone marrow

Hen Egg Custard Burgundy truffles, toasted brioche

California Golden Osetra Caviar Yukon gold potato blinis, fried shallot, creme fraîche

"Waldorf Salad" Sierra beauty apples, toasted walnuts, Burgundy truffles, micro celery

Sole "Veronique" petrale sole, sultana raisins, sauce mousseline

Lobster "Newberg" baby root vegetables, champignon de Paris, lobster coral oil

Chilled Mallard Duck Foie Gras "Au Torchon" pear relish, baby greens, toasted brioche

Oven Roasted Breast of Sonoma Farms Goose roasted chestnuts, dried cranberries, candied kumquats, orange gastrique

Pan-Seared Medallion of Milk-Fed Veal truffled pomme boulangère, melted young leeks, sauce Perigordine

"Christmas-in-a-Glass" orange-cranberry cocktail "slurpee"

"Swans-a-Swimming" mango sorbet, prickly pear jus

"Ladies Dancing" roasted pear charlotte, black pepper persimmon mousse, ladyfingers, lemon foam, cinnamon ice cream

 
the bookworm

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NOVEMBER 27, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO By Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple Books

Don’t forget: these books below are available at 20% off for tablehopper readers for two weeks following this review—simply use the code "tablehopper" at checkout (either at the store or online) for your discount.

You asked for it, and here it is: The five best cookbooks for the holiday season. It’s a little weighted towards local cooks and dessert, but that seems appropriate, given tablehopper’s focus on the Bay Area food scene and her sweetness, eh? [Ed. note.—Sweetness? Ha! I will cut you! Now excuse me while I finish this puppy sandwich.]

First up is Elizabeth Falkner’s Demolition Desserts. Falkner is the chef/owner of Citizen Cake, and I appreciate that she begins the book with chocolate chip cookies, straight up. From there, it all gets more complicated and interesting, but most recipes include versions for both the more serious and experienced baker, and the short-on-time enthusiast. From single items like cupcakes and cookies to plated desserts, there’s a reason Citizen Cake is always crowded, and much is revealed herein.

While we’re on local desserts, consider Indulge: 100 Perfect Desserts by French Laundry pastry chef Claire Clark. Now, this book is out of my league—this is not a book for beginner bakers—so it’s hard to say too much about it. But it’s lush and dense with recipes, photos, and informative sidebars. And even before landing at French Laundry, Claire Clark’s reputation was made long ago, so anyone serious about making dessert will surely learn a thing or two.

Staying local but moving away from desserts, check out The Seventh Daughter: My Culinary Journey from Beijing to San Francisco by local legend Cecilia Chiang. Chiang brought authentic Chinese food to the Bay Area with her Mandarin restaurant (1961-2006), fusing real, gutsy northern Chinese regional cooking with impeccably gracious service. This book is largely a memoir of her journey from the little girl who wasn’t allowed in the kitchen in Beijing to the culinary revolutionary lionized by the likes of Julia Child and Jacques Pepin. But there are also 75 easy recipes that show just how simple good Chinese food can be.

Ranging a little further afield (to Big Sur), here’s our vegetarian option (and this may be one of those menus on which the veggie option is also the best). It’s the new Tassajara Cookbook: Lunches, Picnics, and Appetizers. Here’s what E.H., my veggie co-worker has to say about it, "I've had this cookbook less than two months and my copy is already dog-eared, counter-worn, and full of protruding scraps of paper. These are delicious, interesting, really user-friendly recipes. There are many vegan options, and the ‘vegan cookies and sweets’ chapter is the best dairy-less desserts chapter I’ve ever come across. This book is the perfect way to upgrade the vegetarian/vegan lunchbox and cookie jar."

Last month, I mentioned Alice Waters’s The Art of Simple Food, and I have to re-plug it here—it’s a lovely basic primer on simple seasonal cooking.

In the same vein are a few other textbook-y new releases (including one from Jamie Oliver). Aside from Alice Water’s primer, I favor James Peterson's Cooking. It’s a notable career’s worth of knowledge distilled into one master-class. This could be an essential reference book for the occasional home cook, a textbook for someone determined to learn the basics of technique, or the ultimate edition of Cook’s Illustrated; it includes 1500 photographs, mostly of the how-to variety. Compared to the industry's standard textbook (The New Professional Chef), this is both more user-friendly and way cheaper.

Finally, we have about 25 more signed copies of Anthony Bourdain’s new book No Reservations. Call or come in to make sure you get a signed one. If none of these strike your fancy, feel free to ask for me when you’re in the store. I love talking cookbooks.

Thanks for reading.

 
the lush

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mini bar sf
837 Divisadero St.
Cross: McAllister St.
San Francisco, CA 94117

NOVEMBER 27, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO A sweet new bar will be opening in the Western Addition, hopefully by February 2008. ~MINI BAR SF~ is exactly like its name: a tiny slip of a space (about 15 feet wide, to be exact—it was a barbershop back in the day), and the name was also inspired by all the traveling two of the partners have done.

The concept is modern art and classic cocktails. The bar will have a strong art program, designed to support local and emerging artists (read: not charging horrible commissions). The art should rotate every six weeks or so, and actual openings will be held for each new cycle.

The look will be sophisticated and simple, with shades of grey, and good lighting to highlight the art. (One of the partners does visual merchandising!) I know I’ll be parked at the 13-foot bar, happy to not leave the ‘hood for a cocktail, and an easy stumble home.

The four partners in the project are Sommer Peterson (she’s lived in the ‘hood as long as I have, 13 years) and her husband John Ordona (a total SF native), along with their two good friends, Molly Bradshaw (a bartender at Kilowatt and the Fillmore and Warfield) and Nerius Mercado, a pal of John's since they were eight.

Will keep you posted with more details as the space and concept develops—it’s shaping up to be a cool addition to the neighborhood.

 
the health nut

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NOVEMBER 27, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Oh thank my lucky little stars for Titan—I got to work my post-Thanksgiving calories OUT on Saturday in Dolores Park, and the sit-ups and presses they had me do were all business. A couple of my teammates are looking really good, dropping some poundage, while I’m feeling firmer.

Since the holidays are here, uh, hi!, Titan has put together a special offer for tablehopper readers: sign up for some classes before the end of December, and you’ll get a free copy of Patricia Unterman's awesome San Francisco Food Lover's Pocket Guide. (Heck, it will probably get you into more trouble, but at least you’ll be working out.) And if you and a pal (or group of pals) sign up, you each get a copy of the book, AND 10% off your package. (That would be a fitness package, my friend.)

 
the starlet

NOVEMBER 27, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Danielle Steele was spotted at Presidio Social Club on Saturday night with a entourage of peeps, including her two younger daughters.

 
the matchmaker

Nopa Restaurant (Divisadero @ Hayes) is looking for a great cook. If organic produce and wood-fired cookery excite you, please respond to laurence@nopasf.com.

 

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