tablehopper
table of contents This week's tablehopper: stop for a tea break.

the chatterbox
the word on the street
the regular
it's about time we met
the wino
in vino veritas
the socialite
shindigs/feasts/festivals
the health nut
take a lap, tablehopper
the starlet
no photos please
the matchmaker
let's get it on

the sponsor
this round is on me

Yelp

DECEMBER 11, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Ok, these are the final final entries in the Hi Helens category, thank you readers! Bubbie’s (Yiddish for grandma) Arms, Frumpster or Frumpy Flaps, let’s not forget the Bingo Wave, and my friend and I have always called them "Ciao Elenas" (the Italian version of Hi Helens, which is what happens to your arms after traveling and eating too much in Italy).

And now, a big thanks to chef Charlie Kleinman for his past three jetsetter entries, documenting his hoppings around Montreal, New York, Buffalo, and other easterly cities—I appreciate the foie and fried chicken wing consumption on my behalf. This week we have another guest writer: H from Elixir is back, with a new piece in the wino.

It wouldn’t be the holidays without a fun tablehopper giveaway! I have a variety of treats, so if you’re a winner, you get to take your pick! Here are the prizes:

A signed copy of Jonathan Waxman’s new cookbook, A Great American Cook: Recipes from the Home Kitchen of One of Our Most Influential Chefs.

I am giving away three copies of the awesome new book, Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to "Professor" Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar, by David Wondrich. (Check out his two punch recipes below in this week’s chatterbox.)

A pair of hip t-shirts from Upper Playground (a local chef favorite place to shop). For the boys we have a size medium taco truck shirt and for the ladies, a size medium sushi shirt. (Can you believe it, it’s not an extra large! Ladies, you know exactly what I’m saying.)

To enter the drawing, one, you have to be a tablehopper subscriber, and two, you have to forward this week’s newsletter to five folks (or more is great, you overachiever you) in order to be eligible to win. Just cc luckyme@tablehopper.com when you forward the newsletter to your pals (it’s best if you explain why you’re sending it to them). No, I won’t be collecting your friends’ emails, those will stay private—I just need to keep track of how many folks you forwarded it to. The deadline to enter is by midnight, Sunday, December 16. I will be randomly drawing the winners and will email you to let you know you’ve won next week. The first winner gets first pick of the prizes, and so on. I hope you get lucky.

I also put together a list of the tablehopper’s top ten holiday gift ideas—check it out in the chatterbox.

In closing, as I learned from someone this week:
Happy merry!

~Marcia subscribe
the chatterbox
YelpDECEMBER 11, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Things are seriously ticking in the Fillmore. Opening this Friday is the ~SUNDANCE CINEMAS KABUKI~ in Japantown. The multi-level project will include a cheese and wine bar, with a wine list from Courtney Cochran of Hip Tastes. Cochran tells me indie films inspired the 100-strong selections: they’re small production, handmade wines with a dash of flair (you know, a little quirk, like an indie flick!). There will be an adventurous list of 25 wines available by the glass at the wine bar (which you can take into the theaters), and all 100 selections will be offered in the 130-seat restaurant next door, Kabuki Kitchen.

So, about the restaurant: executive chef Vince Schofield, who has worked at Boulevard and traveled and studied in Italy, has put together a totally revamped menu of New American-Mediterranean fare. A preliminary menu includes some SF classics, like a Little Gem salad with Green Goddess dressing, and Dungeness cioppino, along with small plates like shaved squash salad with a poached egg; Coca-Cola pork ribs; and house-made chorizo with fried garbanzo beans and tomatoes in a garlic paprika broth. Larger plates may include a roasted game hen with sausage and spinach hash; pan-seared pork chop al pastor; grilled sea bass; plus pastas; pizza; and a burger made from Niman Ranch beef. The urban casual look features a lot of steel, neutral colors, and there’s a counter overlooking an open kitchen. Open 5pm–10pm nightly.

There’s also a bistro, with both wine and vittles available, like pizzas, make-your-own cheese plates, panini (spicy coppa, ham, and provolone panino, here I come!), etc., plus a full-service 21-and-over bar, offering high-end spirits and more bites; the bar is made from reclaimed wood, and there is also a woven carpet, and cool lighting. For the record, you don’t have to have a movie ticket to visit the bistro or bar. Oh, and sweet detail: you can reserve your seats in advance in the eight-screen theater. This place is seriously going to become an all-in-one date destination. 1881 Post St. at Fillmore.

A bit further up the street, I know many have been wondering what was moving into the ~FILLMORE GRILL~ space. I had to sit tight with the news for months, but can now release some preliminary info: Come March 1, ~THE LONG BAR AND BISTRO~ will be opening in its place. The owner is Alan Walsh, who is starting a new era of Irish ownership of the restaurant; he has worked as a bartender at Campton Place, Pebble Beach, and the Park Hyatt. The Fillmore Grill has been closed since March 31, but due to legal issues, the project hit some snags and delays—now things are on track. The Long Bar will be a classic establishment, with a look inspired by old-school hotel bars. The mahogany bar is 30 feet long, and there will be dark woods, rich colors, three fans suspended from the tall 17-foot ceilings, plus there will be outdoor seating under heated awnings. There will also be high-top tables close to the front windows, ideal for cocktails or a bite, along with tables along the length of the room, and booths in the back for more formal dining. The walls will be padded for noise abatement in the 80-seat room, the bathrooms are being remodeled, and painting begins soon. I’ll release more info about the dining style and chef when I’m given clearance. Look for dinner to start, with early hours for the bar. 1301 Fillmore St. at Clay.

Yo vegans and vegetarians: Here’s a new place to potentially add to your roster! I got a notice about a recent restaurant opening, ~ALL ABOUT HERBS~, a vegetarian restaurant that opened near Union Square. (No, it’s not your latest pot club.) The restaurant shares the Paris Café space (although there are two separate kitchens), and according to the email I received, “specializes in contemporary Asian fusion vegetarian and vegan cuisine. All dishes are created just to order, blending the freshest local ingredients with traditional spices to create delicious and healthy vegetarian meals… Our cuisine is influenced by the flavors and styles across Southeast Asia and all of our dishes are completely animal-free.” Some dishes on the menu include a spicy lemongrass salad; laab made with tofu, roasted ground rice, dry chili, mint, shallots, and fresh lime; a few soups including a five-spice soup with egg and shiitakes; and a red curry (with no fake meats). Let me know if someone has checked it out! Open for dinner Mon–Sat 5:30pm–10pm. 704 Post St. at Jones, 415-292-6856.

GraceAnn Walden had the (sad) scoop that Roy Fong’s original ~IMPERIAL TEA COURT~ in Chinatown is closing by year’s end. You can still visit the Ferry Building Marketplace and Berkeley locations. 1411 Powell St. at Broadway, 415-788-6080.

~MONK’S KETTLE~, the new beer and wine tavern in the Mission, was originally hoping to open tomorrow, Wednesday, but that’s not looking likely. So, when will you be admiring a nice pour? “Soon” is the best we have right now. Will let you know next week if it opened! 3141 16th St., at the corner of Albion, between Valencia and Guerrero, 415-865-9523.

Also in the Mission, ~CAVA22~ opened in the former (and somewhat cursed, but let’s change that) Bahia Restaurant space. Look for Spanish-French-Latino tapas from chef Roman Beltran, whose kitchen history includes COCO500, Dry Creek Kitchen, and Splendido. There is also a full bar, with fifty-plus tequilas (look for even more handcrafted tequilas to come). The exterior is nicely spruced up, with chocolate and gold, and the interior has high ceilings, rustic wood tables, and warm tones of burgundy and dark chocolate; there will also be rotating art, with the first reception on January 14. Owners are Ramon Valle, his brother Samuel Valle, and Roger Magaña. Hours are Mon–Thu 5:30pm–10pm, and until 11pm Fri–Sat, with brunch 10am–3pm Sat–Sun. The bar is open later Thu–Sat. 3239 22nd St. between Bartlett and Mission, 415-642-7224.

Another Mission spot that just had its soft opening last Friday is ~BOLLYHOOD CAFÉ~, a relative to Bissap Baobab, and just next-door to Little Baobab. The menu offers a contemporary spin on regional Indian street food—many dishes are vegetarian (and affordable, yay), and ingredients will be organic and local whenever possible. The chef is Roger Feely, who has experience at Citizen Cake and a year of cooking, teaching, and traveling in India under his belt. The 49-seat restaurant is designed to be a modern space with a cinematic element (movies will either be played in the background, or expect upcoming viewings), and a sensibility that is inclusive and playful, dabbling with Southeast Asian/Indian, European, and American cultures. Partners are Ivan Jaigirdar, Marco Senghor, Andrea Pezzano, and Gianmaria “Giamma” Clerici. Look for brunch kicking in soon, and they also have a special New Year’s Eve event, with all three spaces open (Bollywood, Bissap Baobab, and Little Baobab) for food, dancing, live performances, and drinks ($42). Open Tue–Sat 5pm–midnight. 3372 19th St. at Mission, 415-970-0632.

~SERPENTINE~ opened yesterday in Dogpatch! The delicious-sounding lunch menu from Chris Kronner includes sandwiches like pulled pork with egg and cheddar; a Prather Ranch hamburger; chicken pot pie; and savory bread pudding made with king trumpet mushrooms, fennel, Emmenthaler, greens, and roasted baby carrots (does that sound freaking incredible or what?). For dinner there is Chantenay carrot soup; small plates of crispy oysters; rabbit liver pate; braised buffalo short ribs with Anson Mills stone cut oats, grilled persimmon, and erbette chard; roasted rabbit leg with brown butter nettles and spaetzle; and seared black cod with sunchoke and parsnip chowder. The mains are affordable: $24.50 is the most expensive item, for the Marin Sun Farms flat iron steak. Lunch is served Mon–Fri 11:30am–2:30 pm, and dinner Tue–Sat beginning at 6pm. 2495 Third St. at 22nd, 415-252-2000.

~LOCAL KITCHEN AND WINE MERCHANT~ is slated to open for dinner this Wednesday, December 12, but remember, opening dates can shift, just like plate tectonics. 330 First St. at Folsom, 415-777-3200.

Heard word that ~FIFTH FLOOR~ is closing on January 21 for the remodel, and is slated to reopen in mid-February. Expect new floors and furniture, and of course that new menu no one from Aqua is ready to reveal yet. In the meantime, chef Jennie Lorenzo has her pre-renovation menu in place, reportedly offering classic and good staple dishes. 12 4th St. at Stevenson, 415-348-1555.

So even though this project is waaaaaaaaay off (think 2009), it ends up the rumor I heard was true: Michael Mina and Rajat Parr are launching a wine bar and restaurant in the ground floor of the 58-story Millennium Tower in SOMA. It will be called ~RN74~ (named after Route National 74, the thoroughfare that passes through France’s Burgundy region)—similar to A16’s freeway inspiration. Groovy New York firm AvroKo will be designing it—I looooooove the spaces they have done in NYC (Monday Room, Stanton Social, EU, Public). Yes, the wine list will be fat, with a plan to offer 50 wines by the glass through an enomatic machine (like Vino Venue’s). The affordable menu remains TBD, but there are plans to take some elements from regional French cuisine. Stay tuned for more in coming months. 301 Mission St. at Beale.

Feel like experiencing some bites of Ron Siegel’s delish cuisine, but can’t afford the Dining Room tasting menu prices? You can swing by the ~RITZ LOBBY LOUNGE~ from 6pm–9:30pm for finger foods like crispy chicken wings ($11), plates to share like bay scallops with leeks and a carrot reduction ($21), and larger plates, like a creamy risotto ($25). There is also fab sushi available Tue–Sat 5:30pm–9pm. 600 Stockton St. at California.

There are now more late-night dining options in the NOPA ‘hood: ~POLENG LOUNGE~ will go back to their original late hours, and will have the kitchen open until 1am Sun–Thu (just remember it’s closed Mondays). Nice! 1751 Fulton St. at Masonic, 415-441-1751.

So, let’s do some holiday chitchat. ‘Tis the season, yo. I was happy to see this first blog posting from chef ~TRACI DES JARDINS~ on the Epicurious Epi Log about holiday entertaining—no surprise she’s a girl after my own heart: she suggests stockpiling Champagne, caviar, cheese, and charcuterie at home. And gougères in the freezer. You really don’t need to leave home if you follow her advice.

Throwing a party of your own? Here are a couple fab punch recipes I got from Imbibe! author David Wondrich. And no, these are not just for you to mix up for a quiet night at home by yourself.

Rocky Mountain Punch
(Serves 20)
5 bottles of Champagne
1 quart dark rum
1 pint maraschino
6 lemons sliced,
Sugar (superfine) to taste
 
(Some liquor recommendations from Dave: Perrier Jouet Champagne, Goslings or Lemon Hart Rum)
 
Mix the above ingredients in a large punch-bowl, then place in the center of the bowl a large block of ice (can be made by freezing a gallon bowl full of water the night before), ornamented on top with sliced lemons or oranges and fruits in season.

Iced Monongahela Punch
(Serves 16)
The day before you'll be making your punch, make a block of ice by placing a quart bowl full of water in the freezer.
For the punch: Peel six lemons with a vegetable peeler. In a large bowl, muddle the peels together with 1 cup superfine sugar until the sugar is infused with the lemon oil. Juice the lemons and strain the juice into the bowl. Add 1 quart water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove lemon peels with a slotted spoon. Add 1 bottle Wild Turkey 101 rye or bourbon and 2 ounces dark, full-bodied rum, such as Gosling's Black Seal or Lemon Hart Rum.
Slice two lemons into thin wheels, float them in the bowl, slide in your block of ice and serve. If you wish, you may grate nutmeg over the top (do not use the pre-grated kind)
.

 

So one major perk to being a food writer is exposure to all kinds of great products, and the people who make them. I thought I’d put together a little list of ~TEN GIFT IDEAS~ based on some of the groovy things I have tasted, drank, read, and encountered this past year, many of them local, because it’s good to support your local talents and businesses.

1. Last week I just tasted the new line of ~INFUSED PASSOT TROUT ROE CAVIAR~ from Tsar Nicoulai made in conjunction with chef Roland Passot. There is a vanilla, Kaffir lime, or brandy flavor, all three totally lending themselves to delicious food pairings. I liked the spark of the lime, but of course the brandy totally won me over.

2. For the gourmand who has everything, how about some ~COLATURA DI ALICI~ from Manicaretti? This fabulous little Campanian potion is a descendent of garum, extracted during the anchovy curing process: cleaned anchovies are layered with salt in plastic tubs and left to cure for around five months. It’s like an intense and pure Italian spin on fish sauce, and I loved it on my Shanghai bok choy with garlic and red pepper—can’t wait to top some pasta with it. You can get it at The Pasta Shop and online at www.markethallfoods.com—here’s a link to an article and recipe from Melissa Clark if you want to read more.

3. One of my favorite games to play with friends is “what would your last meal be?” (If you’re curious, here’s a link to what my last meal in San Francisco would be.) It felt like destiny when I won Melanie Dunea's book, ~MY LAST SUPPER: 50 GREAT CHEFS AND THEIR FINAL MEALS~ at the recent Anthony Bourdain dinner (yes, it’s signed by Tony). Perfect book for a globetrotting gourmand.

4. For the meat lover/salumi lover in your life, get them a subscription to ~MEATPAPER~, because as I was quoted saying in their media kit, “Meat is the new black.”

5. Of course I have to include some bubbles! Upon two sips I was smitten with the fruity and flirty ~BRUT ROSÈ CUVÈE DE LA POMPADOUR~ from Domaine Carneros. Gorgeous for $36. Hmmmm, I need to get some more for New Year’s Eve!
 
6. Need to bring a good host/hostess gift to a party? Have you ever tasted ~MEYER FAMILY PORT~? As a little package I received in the mail fully attested, it’s great paired with some Point Reyes Original Blue Cheese and Red Barn Chandler Walnuts. Heck, buy an extra trio of these goodies for yourself and call it a party!

7. I’m a bourbon girl through and through, but I was very impressed with the quality and flavor of  ~SWAN’S NECK VODKA~, especially the lemon zest one, made from grapes grown on French vineyards and distilled in copper alembics. Here’s where you can buy it around town.

8. I heart cookies. I know, who doesn’t? If you don’t have time to make some sugar cookies, check out the goods from Laura Mandracchia, who has been a pastry chef at restaurants around town like Circa and Fog City Diner, and has a baking company called ~LITTLE LAURA’S SWEETS~. Her cookies rock, especially the oatmeal raisin—and I’m not even a fan of raisins. (Yup, one of the very few things on this earth I don’t like to eat.)

9. For those into San Francisco history, why not buy a gift certificate for one of ~GRACE ANN WALDEN’S GOURMET WALKING TOURS~? She holds them in North Beach, Nob Hill, or Chinatown, or there’s the Food Lover’s Tour, which will take you all over the city.

10. This year I wrote an article on local restaurants who make their own hot sauces for San Francisco magazine, and I’ll be damned if I don’t reach for my bottle of ~YOUK’S HOT SAUCE~ at least five times a week. It’s handmade and bottled by Maverick’s executive chef Scott Youkilis. I adore this stuff—it’s made from Hungarian wax peppers, and retails for $10. You can get it at Maverick, through the website, or at Avedano’s on Cortland Avenue.  

Looking for a place for a holiday lunch? A couple more places are adding holiday lunch service around town: chef Robbie Lewis at ~BACAR~ is cookin’ up lunch every Friday at 11:30am–2pm, and for the holidays bacar will open for lunch on Thursday, December 13, and December 20. The new lunch menu includes the SOMA chopped salad with hearts of romaine, smoked bacon, chopped eggs, radish, cucumber, and avocado vinaigrette; a classic Reuben; and an open-faced crispy trout sandwich.

~LE COLONIAL~ is open for lunch on Friday December 14 and 21, offering selections from chef Joseph Villanueva's French Vietnamese menu (from 11:30am–2pm).

Oh, and be aware the holiday ~RESTAURANT SCAM~ continues, with the fake group booking and cash advance mumbo jumbo. Here’s an example of a letter sent to South:

Hello Dear,

  I am Dr Adams Owen ,the director of Abbey Business center in Glasgow Scotland .I want to book dinner for my group of workers arriving from Scotland.They will all come for dinner in your place on 18th,19th and 20th Dec, 2007 by 7:00pm each day. They are are 15 in number.Get back with your response if there is availability in your restaurant.

Best Regards,
Adams Owen ABBEY BIZ. CENTRE
Glasgow . Scotland 

Got nothing to do tomorrow night? On Wednesday, December 12, Maverick is featuring the Carneros institution, Havens Vineyards, and winegrower/owner Michael Havens for a ~WINEMAKER DINNER~. It’s $72 per person (tax and gratuity not included), and includes a four-course dinner prepared by executive chef Scott Youkilis, along with wine pairings. A vegetarian four-course option will also be available. Seatings are available between 6pm–10pm. For reservations, call 415-863-3061.

 

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

 
the sponsor
Yelp

If you’re a big fan of tablehopper, then you’re definitely the sort of person who loves to know about the latest and greatest in San Francisco’s restaurant and bar scene. So why not do some tablehopping of your own and “yelp” about all the fabulous places you’ve been to, from the Marina to the Mission, for better or for worse, for richer, and for poorer?!

Yelp is a site that’s about sharing opinions and experiences on everything local, from restaurants and bars to cool boutiques and even your doctor, it’s the guide for telling it like it is. Heck, even the tablehopper does a little yelpin’ here and there!

 
the regular

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Modern Tea
602 Hayes St.
Cross: Laguna St.
San Francisco, CA 94102

415-626-5406
website

Wed–Fri 11:30am–9pm
Sat 10:30am–9pm
Sun 10:30am–3pm

Lunch
Salads $7.50–$11.95
Mains $9.75–$11.95
Desserts $1–$6.50

 

 

DECEMBER 11, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO While my heart beats faster for coffee than tea (maybe I need to lay off all the ristretto shots), I appreciate how soothing a cup of tea can be in this kooky, busy world. Tea drinking establishments tend to have either an “ancient Chinese secret” style or “Nor Cal crunchy fleecy” vibe, but ~MODERN TEA~ did an admirable job of making their establishment more classy than kumbaya.

It’s a sweet corner spot, almost like the space was waiting all along for this type of business to move in. The walls of windows let in an ideal amount of cheery light, illuminating undulating ribbons of colorful glass encircling the room—feel the healing vibes, man. There are a number of wood tables with matching classic wood chairs, plus a couple larger communal tables, and even more tables outside. You can park it at the tea bar if you want a ringside seat to watch all the wild and crazy tea brewing. Hold onto your hat, whoa. Dude.

The menu is rustic American, with simple but savory dishes like a non-dairy chicken quinoa chowder ($7), a cheesy bread strata ($9.50), a delicious kale and hijiki “coleslaw” salad ($7.50), and sandwiches like the chicken and house-made chicken sausage meatloaf ($9.75)—a dining partner noted it would be totally rocking if it was served warm, I have to agree.

The grilled portobello sandwich ($9.85) stuffing was almost like a duxelle, and comes with an earthy dry jack cheese, served in two buttery slices of crusty sourdough. The sandwich was served way over-grilled, burnt actually, but after sending it back, the second round redeemed the sando. Sandwiches come with a side salad—the greens were fresh, but I didn’t really care for the sweet, citrusy house dressing.

I haven’t made it for brunch (I really want to try the waffles made on irons dating back to the Civil War!) but they don’t serve coffee, so perhaps that’s what has been holding me back. I guess I just need to fire up my Gaggia, throw back a shot (or two) of Blue Bottle espresso at home, and then cruise on over for some eggs. And waffles. And the famed cast iron custard cornbread with maple syrup. Yeah, ok, I can do this.

Alice Cravens is the kindly owner, who many restaurant owners know and thank for setting up their tea programs, at places like Delfina, Zuni, and Chez Panisse. The teas are high quality, organic, and fair trade, thoughtfully grouped by caffeine level (none to more). I counted 21 teas, plus there’s a separate Pu-erh menu too. Your server will explain the steeping procedure for your individual tea, so pay attention. Oh, and there’s a retail component too if you are seeking some tea ware, cool gifts, or bulk tea.

I could just return again and again for tea and dessert, actually. The lemon buttermilk pudding cake ($5.25) is one of my favorite desserts in the city—it comes in a little jar, topped with whipped cream. I could crawl in there. If you just want a bite of something sweet, you can order the Texas sheet cake by the inch ($1/per inch), but it’s so good you’ll want more than an inch. Go ahead, be a size queen.

Modern Tea is pleasant place to take your mother, or a good spot for a casual business meeting, or a “catch up with your girlfriend who just left her loser boyfriend/girlfriend lunch,” or brunch with your honey. Since you can make a reservation, even for brunch, I’d say it’s custom-made for a bridal shower party at one of the big tables. And if you’re going to the symphony or the opera and looking for a pre-performance bite, the dinner menu here should fit the bill (nothing is over $16).

They also have an awesome burgeoning gardening and cooking program with neighborhood youth—I look forward to hearing how this program develops.

 

 
the wino

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Yelp

DECEMBER 11, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO

H. Joseph Ehrmann on Organic Cocktails in the Colder Months

H. Joseph Ehrmann is the proprietor of Elixir, San Francisco’s first certified green bar, and founder of CocktailAmbassadors.com. He travels as a consultant to teach and demonstrate mixology, green bar, and organic cocktail lessons around the country. His “green goal” for 2008 is to help the rest of San Francisco’s bars make green business decisions and delicious organic drinks. Visit www.ElixirSF.com/greendrinks.htm and www.CocktailAmbassadors.com for more info.

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to making organic cocktails in the colder months is the decrease in access to fresh, ripe produce. Our beautifully sweet watermelons, peaches and tomatoes are no longer overflowing from the market shelves, but fear not! Organic cocktails in the coming months can be simple when you plan for them.

Let’s look at some potential ingredients, keeping in mind that because times are cold, we must sometimes find cocktail ingredients in unique places during the winter chill.

Fall fruits: Apples, pears, persimmons, dates, figs, grapes, plums, and pomegranates are all plentiful into the end of the year. Some of these may not seem like cocktail ingredients to you, but try subbing them into your traditional recipes and you’ll find great variations. (Try an organic fig margarita with 4 Copas Organic Reposado.) Make purees with a touch of lemon or limejuice as a preservative, put them in a squeeze bottle in the fridge and you can use them all week. Remember: A cocktail a day keeps the flu away. 

Nuts: Almonds, chestnuts, hazelnuts, and walnuts are all beautiful fall and winter flavors that you can bring into your cocktails by grinding them and using them as a rim garnish, cooking them into simple syrups, or incorporating them with nut liqueurs, like nocino or amaretto. (Try a Square One Organic Vodka martini using amaretto instead of vermouth and garnish with an organic chocolate-covered almond.)

Spices: Nothing screams fall and winter flavors like warm spices. Cinnamon, cardamom and, of course, nutmeg are great cocktail ingredients. Nutmeg is such a classic cocktail ingredient that the earliest cocktailians of the mid 19th century used to carry silver nutmeg cases that had a grater on the top half so they could add nutmeg to a drink whenever they pleased!

Preserves, Sauces and Dried Fruits: These ingredients will be around all winter long and are packed with flavor. Organic preserves, jellies, and jams are simple to keep behind the bar and easy to find in most markets. Use a spoonful instead of fresh fruit and adjust the sugar level by balancing with an acid, like citrus. By using dried fruits to infuse a bottle of organic vodka, you’ll not only get the real essence of the fruit amplified by the effect of a high quality distillate, you’ll have some built-in sweetness.

Remember: Only use organic dried fruit with their natural residual sugars, no added sugars whatsoever. For something really different, try apple, almond or pumpkin butter or even applesauce in your recipes.

Teas: Talk about a world of possibilities. Master tea blenders are like mixologists in the way they combine numerous flavors to create beverage profiles that dazzle your palate. Teas are actually designed to infuse, so when you use tea blends to infuse a high quality spirit, you create something totally new and different to play with.

I recommend tasting the teas you think you might like to use and then try infusing just 4.25 oz. of organic vodka with one tea bag in a teacup. Use that to see if you can come up with potential cocktails. Some teas can remain steeping for hours or days, while others will get more tannic or bitter, so you’ll have to experiment.

Coffee: Like tea, there is a wide array of flavors to be found in coffees, so don’t just settle on “coffee” as a cocktail ingredient. Look for the bean and the roast that you want. And don’t be confined to a hot coffee drink. Try using just an ounce or two as a modifier to a more complex recipe, hot or cold.

Sugar: Organic agave nectar can vary from producer to producer. The darker it is, the more it has been roasted, creating more caramel tones and less agave flavor. Try several and find the one you like. Organic sugar can easily be made into simple syrup by adding water on a one to one ratio and shaking it up. It will be brown because it is not processed like normal white sugar, so don’t be freaked out by that.

In closing, remember that we humans have known how to survive through the winter for as long as we have known how to feed ourselves. We have ways of preserving flavors and foods that are all organic and natural. By being creative in how you incorporate those items into a cocktail, you’ll surprise yourself with how inventive you can be. Push the envelope and you may just come up with the next organic cosmopolitan.

 
the socialite

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Dine About Town
Jan. 15–31, 2008

Various locations

website

DECEMBER 11, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO ~DINE ABOUT TOWN~ will announce its complete restaurant list this Friday, December 14, on the official Dine About Town San Francisco web site. Reservations may be made online through OpenTable.com. Each three-course prix-fixe lunch is $21.95, and dinner is $31.95, exclusive of tax and gratuity. (A la carte menus will also be available.) Some restaurants on the preliminary list include A16, Aziza, Café Claude, Absinthe, LarkCreekSteak, and One Market—there will be 100 in all.

The program (in its seventh year) runs January 15–31, and again for a summer promotion June 1-15, 2008.

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In Search of Good Food Benefit
Sat., Dec. 15, 2007

Million Fishes Art Collective
2501 Bryant St.
Cross: 23rd St.
San Francisco, CA

7pm–11pm

BYOB

RSVP promptly to reserve seats. Space will fill up quickly.

Sliding scale donation: $40–$100 per person


     

DECEMBER 11, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO I got an email about this dinner event designed to celebrate the local fall and winter harvest, and is also a fundraiser for the film ~IN SEARCH OF GOOD FOOD~, a movie about the food system in California. Here’s more: “This documentary series in the making explores the emerging ‘sustainable’ food system in California by traveling the state, interviewing those who are working hardest to bring ecologically friendly, socially just, and straight-up tasty food to your plate.”

Entertainment includes a trailer to the film, and the music of Divas de Los Muertos and Hannah the Raven.

Here’s the gorg multi-course menu from chef Leif Hedendal:

Saltbush, young golden beet, Blossom Bluff Orchards Fuyu, pomegranate, cave-aged Marisa, filberts, Pedro Ximenez

Soup of Dirty Girl cannellini shelling beans, Carola potato, golden turnip, celeriac, and baby mustard

Tahini/porcini cauliflower, rapini, and rainbow chard with chanterelles and wild rice; Brussels sprouts with Knoll horseradish

Roasted delicata, shallot/apple/yam puree, chestnut-seed brittle

Maple/buckwheat gingerbread-spiced quince, quince/bourbon reduction, cranberry crème fraîche, candied pecans

Mignardise
 
the health nut

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DECEMBER 11, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO You gotta love my trainers at Titan (I do). Since everything counts during this month of overindulging, they put together a helpful list with ten tips for eating out (and not pigging out). Thanks guys!

1. Park further away or get off the bus a few stops early.
2. Eat half and take the other half to go. Typical servings at many restaurants are two per plate.
3. Avoid fried foods and go for baked, grilled, or roasted instead.
4. Have dressings, sauces, and gravies on the side to control portions, or avoid completely.
5. Have a snack before going to a restaurant.
6. Wear fitted clothes so you feel full faster.
7. Eat slower, savor each bite, and treat yourself to high-quality food. The better the bite, the sooner you’ll be satisfied.
8. Drink wine or light beer and stay away from mixed cocktails.
9. Ask for fruits or sorbet for dessert, even if it’s not on the menu.
10. Oh and um… please, for the good of all of mankind, stop eating mayonnaise with French fries!

 
the starlet

DECEMBER 11, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Guess who is back in town to tempt us with their cuteness? Yes, Jake and Reese are continuing their SF gourmet tours! They had lunch at Zuni last Thursday, where they sat at my favorite table (on the bridge overlooking the oven below), and ordered the house-cured anchovies and a salad, plus a chicken sandwich and grouper. To drink, they walked on the wild side with some lemongrass tea and apple juice. From my source: “Reese seemed a little aloof, but Jake (still looking nice and buff) was trying to warm her up by playing Mr. Flirty-flirt with her—even smooched with her. So effing cute!”

Then on Friday night they sat at the chef/pizza counter at A16, where they had minestra marinata, chicory salad, kale with anchovies (they must like anchovies!), butternut squash with pine nuts and currants, a margherita pizza with prosciutto, and a salsiccia pizza. Dang, no tripe.

John Cleese was spotted at Rose Pistola, and then on Monday night at Presidio Social Club, where he had the liver and onions, smashed peas, and frisee salad. No, he didn’t request a shrubbery, or rabbit with a vicious streak a mile wide, a killer!

Michael Symon, the affable and ever-chuckling winner of the Next Iron Chef was dining all over San Francisco with his darling wife Liz—they managed to hit Incanto, Jardiniere, Bar Jules, Slanted Door, Hog Island, Zuni, and Chez Panisse. I actually got to hang out and interview Symon at Hog Island—look for my interview with him next week!

Shuna Lydon has the word on Al Gore’s appearance at Sens.

I saw Dave Chappelle with my own two eyes at Straits in Westfield, where he is reportedly a regular.

Tonight RZA from the Wu-tang Clan is coming to Poleng Lounge following his performance at The Independent. Supposedly he chose Poleng because he wanted to go to a place that served tea, keepin’ it real with his Shaolin ethos. The event will be $10, here’s more info.

 
the matchmaker

Andronico's Market is a family-owned group of innovative, premium food stores that has been serving the Bay Area for 79 years. We are committed to offering unsurpassed hospitality and superior quality food to our customers.

Our stores feature specialty food products and beverages from around the world. Each store has a kitchen that prepares entrees on site daily. Currently we are seeking a dynamic individual to join our team as our Executive Chef. This is a unique opportunity for a talented individual who is passionate about food and can thrive in a fast-paced environment. We offer a competitive wage and outstanding benefits.

Email your resume to gene.reynolds@andronicos.com.  

 

All content © 2007 Marcia Gagliardi. I am more than happy if you want to link to my reviews and content elsewhere (thanks, glad you dig it), but republishing any part of them in any way, shape or form is strictly prohibited until we talk first. Please take a look at my Creative Commons license for more detail.To subscribe to this list, please visit http://www.tablehopper.com/lets_talk/subscribe.html

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