tablehopper
table of contents This week's tablehopper: cheap thrills.

the chatterbox
the word on the street
fresh meat
new restaurant reviews
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


MARCH 4, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO I certainly had fun tablehoppin' around town this past week so I could taste my namesake/100th-issue anniversary cocktails. A big, honkin' thanks to Alembic, Absinthe, Presidio Social Club, and Cantina for concocting the swell swill! Those were some mighty fine dranks, with such clever names. And extra grazie to those of you who tried 'em with me! I loved seeing such cute pics of you enjoying them, thanks for sending! Congrats to Christopher D., who sent a pic of himself sippin' the 100 Tuesdays cocktail at Absinthe—he has (appropriately) won a copy of The Art of the Bar!

Also, congrats to Cecilia who won the tickets to the Artisan Cheese Festival that is happening this weekend in Petaluma. Thanks to all of you who provided suggestions on the reviews you'd like to see next—look for 'em in coming weeks!

Sunday night was the fourth tablehopper supper at Piccino in Dogpatch—what a feast! A bollito misto-sized thanks to the kind and talented crew at Piccino for hosting such an intimate and delicious dinner (I know where I want to host my next birthday dinner party!), and to Donnafugata/Folio for providing stunning wines (the Ben Ryé was a big hit over dessert, no surprise there). Check out our group's list of favorite restaurants—this time we each picked our favorite "high" and "low" places. The next supper will probably be in May, after everyone's tax woes subside. Ack.

Since many will be suffering from diminishing funds in April, this week I'm doing a roundup of three cheap eats places around town, including two that will give you yet another reason to visit the Dogpatch neighborhood for vittles.

Next Monday, I'm breaking my "no leaving the house on Monday night rule" yet again, this time to be one of the judges at the Battle of the Chefs event at Macy's. The competition is between two of the City's best Marks: chef Mark Sullivan of Spruce, and Mark Denham at Laïola. Unfortunately all the tickets for this event are sold out, but the next battle's tickets go on sale March 24; the competition will be between Ian Begg of Café Majestic and Joel Huff of Silks.

Oh, and last week I was interviewed about where I like to eat (and drink) in SF and more by the swank ladies at Splendora—check it out here.

Yup, spring is fast approaching, and if the thought of exposing your Bingo Wings is freaking you out, you might want to check out a freebie Fit Camp class with SF Titans—read all about it in this week's health nut. Maybe we can run stairs together.

Cheers dollinks,

~Marcia subscribe
the chatterbox
MARCH 4, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Here are some more details expanding on my January post about the changeover of Soluna to ~CIVIC RESTAURANT AND BAR~. The operating partners include René Denis, the former GM of Biscuits and Blues, along with Ed Ivey and Matt Norris. They will continue operating under the Soluna name and concept (they have already made some tweaks to the menu) until mid-April, when they will close Soluna for four days while they put in new décor and spruce the place up—a designer from RISD will be overseeing the new look. When it reopens, Civic's menu will feature fresh and simple food with local, organic, sustainable ingredients. Lunch and dinner will be served, with the eventual goal of weekend lunch and brunch, and open hours seven days a week. Later hours (until midnight) will be happening, plus live entertainment. They are working with the City to gain access to the corner lot that just uselessly sits there with the fence around it (it was an old powerhouse site), and to convert it into an outdoor patio for guests. An organic garden will also be going into the lot behind the restaurant—which means fresh ingredients for the cocktails. 272 McAllister St. at Larkin, 415-621-2200.

Oh, and the chef they planned to hire didn't pan out, so they're currently looking for someone creative with culinary know-how to lead the restaurant. Get in touch with René at rene@solunasf.com if you're interested, or know someone who should apply for the gig.

I'm sorry to report that it appears the ~FRONT ROOM~ has closed for good, after 40-plus years of business (Sam Duvall originally opened it in 1967). After getting squeezed out of its 1500 California Street home by the [insert whatever adjective/string of descriptors you want] landlord Luisa Hanson, it moved down the street to the tinier space at 1550 California last year. The phone is now disconnected—anyone know how to get in touch with owner Lori Laghaei? Best wishes from a lot of people in the neighborhood, and beyond. 1550 California St. at Polk.

Got word that chef ~RYAN SCOTT OF MYTH CAFÉ~ is punching the clock for the last time there next Friday, March 14. Seems the closure of Myth is also imminent around that time, although nothing remains confirmed. Next week will be a busy one for Scott since the debut on the new Top Chef premieres on Wednesday, March 12. Ryan is also busy ramping up his new business, Ryan Scott 2Go (I hope it involves sandwiches).

Fellow night owls, did you know about ~FARMERBROWN'S~ late night special? A tablehopper reader tipped me off to this: after 10pm, you can get a plate of fried chicken, with mac-n-cheese, and greens, plus a cold pint of beer. For $15. Sweet. 25 Mason St. at Turk/Market, 415-409-FARM.

Burger news around town: first, ~BURGER JOINT~ on King Street near the ballpark has finally opened. I think I mentioned this was in works over a year ago. Anyway, now you can get your burgers and fries on. Hours are 11am–9pm, daily. 242 King St. at 3rd, 415-371-1600.

Then over in Hayes Valley, you'll find ~DOUBLE DECKER~ in the old Zoya/Midori Mushi two-story tower at the Days Inn. On the menu: classic American fare, like Niman Ranch burgers ($5.95, or $6.95 for a double decker), spicy Buffalo "inferno" wings, plus homemade chips and fries. And that's about it! Oh, and there's beer. You can dine upstairs, or downstairs. Open daily 10:30am–9pm. 465 Grove St. at Gough, 415-552-8042.

I was on a walk and took a peek at the new ~TATAKI SUSHI & SAKE BAR~ in the old Subway space (good riddance) on California at Divisadero. The tiny 25-seat space has kind of a Zen spa-naturalistic Japanese look. The menu is mostly what I call California-style sushi (lots of maki). A partner in the project and the sushi chef is Raymond H*, (I can't type his last name lest this newsletter end up in everyone's spam filter, egad). His background includes Hana-Zen, Hamano, and Benihana—with five seats available at the sushi bar, maybe he will do some groovy tricks for you. Some namesake tatakis on the menu include beef, albacore, kampachi, ahi tuna, and artic char. There are also premium sakes available. Hours are Mon–Thu 5:30pm–10:30pm, Fri–Sat 5:30pm–11:30pm, closed Sunday. Lunch is coming soon. 2815 California St. at Divisadero, 415-931-1182.

This week's fresh meat review is of ~THICK & THIN PIZZA~, where they're starting a monthly event on the first Tuesday of every month called Dining for Drag. BeBe Sweetbriar (the reining Miss Gay SF and Miss Desperate Diva) hosts these evenings where she and her drag friends wait tables and take turns performing in the restaurant—I can only imagine the scene. 15% of all sales go to a different charity every month. This month it will benefit BAAITS, an LGBT Native American Organization. And to celebrate Madonna's recent acceptance into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, BeBe is dedicating the evening (and music) to Madge. The next Dining for Drag event is tonight, March 4, from 7pm–10pm. 3600 16th St. at Market, 415-431-0306.

Do you have spring fever? I'd wager yes, unless you've been living in a cave the past two weeks. To get you further into the spirit, ~MILLENNIUM~ is hosting a Spring Equinox Menu, full of tender, succulent greens, baby root veggies, peas, shoots, and other springtime favorites! It's a four-course prix-fixe menu for $50/person with a $23 optional wine pairing. The menu is available Thu–Sat for the month of March. 580 Geary St. at Jones, 415-345-3900.

So back in December I mentioned ~FOURBARRELCOFFEE~, the new coffee place opening in The Hub/North Mission from Ritual's Jeremy Tooker. It's not going to open until April or so, but in the meantime, you can have a coffee pulled from one the La Marzocco Mistral machines set up on an espresso cart, from 7am–5pm. It also looks like there will be more space for seats than originally anticipated—it's coming out to about 1,000 square feet of café space, with room for 40 or so total at the tables and two bars. But remember, no Wi-Fi—it's just a place to enjoy your coffee. 375 Valencia St. at 15th.

Nearby, a reader tipped me off to a new spot, ~JACKIE'S VINOTECA & CAFÉ~, opening at Valencia and McCoppin. Anyone know anything, or anyone? A friend says it's looking close to finished. Bonus points if anyone has the owner's contact info! I didn't have time to cruise over and check it out this weekend—expect an update in next week's column!

In the meantime, things are getting closer on the Lower Haight's ~UVA ENOTECA~ from wine director/GM Boris Nemchenok (of Batali's Otto in New York and EOS) and executive chef Ben Hetzel (recently of the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton). The menu will feature an extensive list of antipasti, like semolina gnocchi with speck; locally crafted meats like bresaola, speck, lamb prosciutto, and nostrano; cheeses; inventive pizzas and panini (prosciutto with cherries and burrata, anyone?); and tramezzini and piadine. Some one-of-a-kind specialty items will also be available, like a custom cheese, artisan bread, and small-production gelato. There will be about 80–100 wines from small boutique Italian wine producers, with most sourced by wine consultant Jim Kennedy (Delfina, Sociale), and will be served quartino-style (a small decanter that holds a quarter of a liter). Chef Hetzel's wife, Camber Lay, (Epic, Laïola, Range, Frisson) will be consulting on a list of wine-based cocktails utilizing vermouths, wine-based simple syrups, and sparkling wines. The look is shaping up to be rustic and clean, with brick walls, dark wood-stained floors, marble countertops, and subway-style tiled walls, plus red cedar tabletops. The opening is looking like late March/early April for now. Hours will be Mon–Fri 5pm–12am, Sat–Sun for brunch—open from 10am–12am. 568 Haight St. at Steiner.

More wino news: ~THE PRESS CLUB~, the 9,000-square-foot tasting room opening up on Yerba Buena Lane in late April, just announced their two additional and final wine/vintner members (Fritz Winery and Landmark Vineyards). Other wineries include Chateau Montelena, Hanna Winery, Miner Family Vineyards, Mount Eden Vineyards, Pahlmeyer, and Saintsbury. Press Club will feature daily tastings, gourmet food, educational events, wine club opportunities, direct shipping, and private tasting areas for intimate gatherings, plus wine release parties and winemaker dinners. They also recently hired a GM, George Blanckensee, whose hospitality background includes the Westin St. Francis, and Sanibel Harbour Resort and Spa. 20 Yerba Buena Lane at Market, 415-494-2000.

Oh, and on Sunday, March 16, ~SOUTH~ is continuing their wine tastings and winemaker dinners with shirazaganza from 4pm–6pm. They'll be pouring 25 different kinds of shiraz, from Heathcote, to boutique brands like Craiglee and Clonakilla, plus Barossas from Torbreck and Elderton. Space is limited to 75 people. $35 includes tastes of 25 wines plus some heavy apps to keep you upright. Last time they sold out quickly, so RSVP early to events@southfwb.com with your phone number, and they'll call you for a credit card to hold your spot. 330 Townsend #101 at Fourth St., 415-974-5599.

~OTTIMISTA ENOTECA-CAFÉ~
has launched 2-for-1 Tuesdays! Every Tuesday in March from 5pm–7pm, all wines by the glass (of equal or lesser value) are two-for-one. Salud! 1838 Union St. at Octavia, 415-674-8400.

~THE PAGE~ has reopened after being closed for a short spell while they installed a new walk-in. Which means colder, and therefore better-tasting beer. A little taxidermy report: an elk and a bobcat have also been added. Lastly, they also win for one of the funnier FAQs. 298 Divisadero St. at Page, 415-255-6101.

Starting this coming Sunday, ~ALEMBIC'S~ Thomas Waugh is tending bar until March 12 at one of my favorite bars in New York, Death & Co. And in return, they are dispatching Phil Ward, their resident cocktail expert, to work behind the stick with Dan Hyatt. Look out.

Oh, and in case you missed the Valentine's Day Savoy Cocktail Night, the Alembic will be rolling it out on the last Tuesday of every month. Here's more: "The Savoy Cocktail Book is a famous old cocktail book, one of the first, and it contains hundreds of great recipes, and a few strange ones, the likes of which we have been hard at work re-creating behind the scenes. So you get the book, close your eyes and point, and chances are we have the stuff to make it for you. Anyway, Round 2 is on Tuesday, March 25." 1725 Haight St. at Cole, 415-666-0822.

On Monday, March 10, ~RYE~ is hosting their monthly mixing competition, this time with Bluecoat Gin! There will be some nibbles by Chuck Fitzgerald and fab deals on Bluecoat cocktails. The competition kicks off at 7:30pm, but the cocktailing begins at 5:30pm. If you are a bartender and want to compete, please contact Greg at greg@rosewoodbar.com. Ten bartenders total will compete for prizes, including the winner's USBG dues will be paid for a year! Rye Bar, 688 Geary St. at Leavenworth, 415-786-7803.



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

 
the sponsor


Yup, it's all about location. Where you advertise should be the same. tablehopper offers prime real estate, buzzing with thousands of visitors every day. Open 24 hours, seven days a week.

Want to get your [insert groovy product or place or service here] in front of thousands of educated, hip, savvy insiders? (After all, you read tablehopper too.) Tablehopper readers live to eat, drink, and hit the town, in San Francisco and beyond. Many are in the industry, both Front of House, and Back of House. They are in the house. 

There are a variety of creative opportunities available. Please contact Kate Ellison for a media kit and rates.

 
fresh meat

image

Thick & Thin Pizza
3600 16th St.
Cross: Market St.
San Francisco, CA 94114

415-431-0306

Mon–Thu 5:30pm–9:30pm
Fri 5:30pm–10pm
Sat 3pm–10pm
Sun 3pm–9:30pm

Apps $3–$8
Pizzas $8–$19
Dessert $9

MARCH 4, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Anyone who knows me knows I am crazee nutz about pizza. This is what happens when your family owns a pizzeria when you're a kid. Heck, it was seriously in the family genes—even my dad's brother had a pizzeria (anyone in the East Bay remember Frankie G's?)! I'm blessed to have Little Star Pizza merely a block away from my apartment—then again, that would be considered unlucky by some. I never even knew I was a deep dish-pizza lover until trying the namesake Little Star (but I ask them to go easy on the garlic).

I have found another lover. And who knew it would be in the Castro? Heh. The next time I'm in the neighborhood and hangry, you just might find me happily perched up in ~THICK & THIN PIZZA~, located in the Lookout, AKA the former Metro Bar and Restaurant—it's right above the (tragically named) Squat and Gobble.

Back in the day, I remember as you'd walk up to the second-story Metro Bar, there was some serious wafting of Chinese food from the adjoining restaurant. Then it became Tapeo, and now with the new bar owners, it's a pizza place, Thick & Thin Pizza. Now, I wouldn't necessarily drive from the Outer Sunset for this dining experience, but the pizza is damned good, and a no-contest winner for killer take-out.

We started with a hefty winter salad ($7) of fresh spinach, with dried cranberries, blue cheese, and walnuts, with a good citrusy vinaigrette. Dressed perfectly. And now, the pizza! Sharon Ardiana of Gialina consulted on the crust, and dude, it's mighty tasty. With the large cornicione (lip of the crust), you'll also note it as a distinct Gialina cousin.

Naturally, I couldn't resist the charms of the Italian Stallion ($15), a 12" "thin crust" pie topped with sautéed mushrooms, caramelized mushrooms, Italian sausage (great kick and nice fennel taste), bacon, pepperoni, and provolone. I know, dude. It was a mountain of meat. Personally, a few too many toppings for me—next time I'll go much simpler because I wanted to taste the spicy sweet sauce, and fab crust. There are four other kinds of thin-crust pizzas, including quattro formaggi, chicken pesto, vegetarian, and tomato basil.

I totally hearted the deep-dish pizza—a 9" pie is enough to feed three, seriously. We did the Castro Queen ($18), with chicken, mushrooms, spinach, skim mozzarella, and tomato sauce. The chicken was juicy, and had a tasty tang from its tequila-lime marinade. The cheese was totally ooey-gooey, and there was just the right ratio of sauce to cheese. The cornmeal crust was cooked evenly, and had lovely flavor and texture. And boy, did this warm up nicely the next day for lunch. Meow.

There is also a s'more pizza for dessert, a huge house-made graham cracker cookie topped with Belgian chocolate and toasted marshmallows. Such a stoner dessert. Get someone to share it with (we're talking about the dessert, babe—sorry, but the doobie is completely up to you), a glass of milk, and you're all set.

The space is a little short on ambiance—there are classic red-and-white-checkered tablecloths, and that's about it. The bench seating along the wall needs a ledge for your feet, so go for one of the high-top tables with stools instead (which are weirdly the old Metro stools with the "M" still on the back—maybe I should buy them?). Perhaps you'll find a few other people dining—I don't think enough folks know how good the pizza is here. Yet.

Or, if you're craving a cocktail and bar ambiance, just order your pizza while boozing next door in the Lookout bar. There are a bunch of other bar snacks you can order that will conveniently help counteract the hefty pours from the hottie bartenders, like curly fries, calamari, burgers, and the like. If you live in the neighborhood, welcome to your new take-out treasure! It's also open for late lunch on the weekends, at 3pm!

 
the regular

image

The New Spot
632 20th St.
Cross: 3rd St.
San Francisco, CA 94107

415-558-0556

Mon–Fri 8am–7pm
Sat 9am–3:30pm

Apps $3–8.50
Mains $7.25–$9.50
Dessert $2.50–$3.50

MARCH 4, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Since I managed to get some folks to visit Dogpatch for the tablehopper supper at Piccino, what the heck, let's give y'all another great reason to come to the 'hood: the best darned pupusas in the City. Buckle up, because the pupusas at ~THE NEW SPOT~ are gonna mess you up. You're going to become a zombie for them.

They are downright ethereal. Not greasy, or gluey, or dense. I really wasn't aware a pupusa could be light, but they actually melt in your mouth—they're that tender and delicate. It's a new pupusa paradigm, completely.

I munched one stuffed with chicharron and queso (pork and cheese/all $2). The zucchini special I had was also de-lovely. You have to order a minimum of two per order, but what's difficult will be ordering a minimum of two, for reals. You're gonna want them all: just cheese, or beans and cheese, or cheese pork and beans, or loroco and cheese, or chicken and cheese… plus there are special pupusas of the day too. Hungry yet?

I want to ask them to make breakfast pupusas. All I can think about is one with chicharron, cheese, and a fried egg on top. (I have a sick mind like that.)

They also come with a sparkling curtido (coleslaw), plus chips and homemade salsa. Call me a freak, but I love my pupusas with a side of sour cream, and a few shakes of Cholula—a holdover from my days of pupusa missions with my buddy Paco in L.A.

To be honest, I tried this casual little Mexican and Salvadorian place when it first opened about a year ago, and I wasn't impressed. Wasn't sure where the flavors were hiding, but they weren't here. Now they have come back in full force, yay. Like one day we started with a wonderful albondigas soup that tasted like something your abuelita would make for you (if you had one). Mighty good meatballs, man.

There's an impressive variety of dishes, like panuchos, pasteles, fried yucca with chicharron, chile rellenos, chimichangas, tortas, chile verde, enchiladas with mole… the list goes on. Good stuff, Maynard. Some folks were munching burritos or tacos, but I say save that for your Mission taquerias, and at least start with the home-style dishes here first. All are under $10, and the main dishes come with rice, beans, and salad. I've also heard some of the drinks are really good, and unusual, like a chocolate and corn drink I gotta return to try.

The place is clean, and the folks are friendly. Love the macaw mural. It's a small joint, so there are only a few tables, and the lines can be long for lunch take-out, but everyone must agree it's worth it—and the food even comes in biodegradable containers, cool! The breakfast options are also notable, from chilaquiles ($5.95) to huevos rancheros ($5.95) to all kinds of scrambles. Enough to make you remember why it's the most important meal of the day.

image

Hard Knox Café
2526 3rd St.
Cross: 22nd St.
San Francisco, CA 94107

415-648-3770
website

Mon–Sat 11am–9pm
Sun 11am–5pm

Entrées $6–$10
Sandos $5.50–$6.45

MARCH 4, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Since this week is like my Dogpatch roundup, I want to mention one more spot that cracks me up: ~HARD KNOX CAFE~. The irony is this little soul food joint is run by a Vietnamese family who lived in Texas; they've been running this cozy and down-home place for nine years. It looks like a roadhouse, with corrugated metal siding for the walls, antique signs, a wood bar and floors, cute red vinyl booths, and some bluesy tunes. It's almost always busy, with a line out the door, but it moves pretty quickly.

I've tried a lot of things on the menu, but the fried chicken ($9) is where it's at. I think it's some of the better fried chicken in town, actually—my Southern pal agreed. You get three pieces (a leg or thigh, a wing, and a breast), with a light fry but good crunch, and the chicken is almost sweet it's so juicy. Plus you get two warm corn muffins, which are probably nuked, but oh well, along with a soft pat of butter, and you get a choice of two sides (which are all vegetarian). Yeah, I know, for $9. No, it's not Fulton Valley Ranch chicken. But it's commendable there's a place serving hearty portions of some decent comfort food in this town for under $10.

Of the sides, I think the potato salad is just perfect, and it's fun to dig in to some old-school kinda trashy stovetop mac and cheese that reminds me of being eight and having dinner at a friend's house (it tasted nothing like my mother's, who made hers by scratch, a baked version with a little milk, lots of cheese, and cut-up Polish dogs in it, yum!). Otherwise, the vegetable sides taste either canned to me, or just weird—like, I gotta have salt pork in my collards, and the yams were cloyingly sweet.

The spicy chicken sandwich ($6.45) is also the shiznit, with grilled onions, peppers, and a tasty sauce. For me, that's it—those are my two dishes. I know some folks love the spare ribs, the oxtails, and the Cajun meatloaf. But for me, the rest of the menu doesn't really rock me—for some unfortunate reason, I've had some pretty bland dishes here, and the vegetables haven't been shown much love. But I definitely dig the friendly service, the Mason jars for your lemonade or Arnold Palmer, and the cold (and super affordable) beer on tap. And the fried chicken. Bwok.

 
the wino

image

 

MARCH 4, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Mauro Cirilli on Five Italian Wine and Cheese Pairings

Mauro Cirilli of Perbacco hails from Padova, Italy, where he was introduced to the joys of wine at an early age, when he would visit his grandfather's vineyard in the Colli Euganei and join in the process of making wine for their friends and family. Mauro received his Sommelier Diploma from the prestigious Italian Association of Sommeliers in Firenze and worked as a sommelier at several renowned restaurants in Northern Italy. Shortly after moving to the United States in 2001, he worked as Lead Sommelier at Aqua. Eager to return to his Northern Italian roots, Mauro joined the opening team of Perbacco in October 2006.

Five Italian Wine and Cheese Pairings

If you are an Italian wine aficionado who enjoys the leftover red wine from dinner with some cheese, I have a few suggestions to try the next time you're home with a group of guests.

In Italy there are more than 600 indigenous grapes, and more than 400 cheeses, so there are a lot of choices to have fun with. My first suggestion is to forget the old idea that red wine is the only choice to pair with cheese, and open your mind to try something new.

It's always a good idea to follow a regional pairing. You might start with a light and very fresh cheese made with cow's milk, like mozzarella di bufala. This type of cheese is simple and delicate, and you will want to have a wine that enhances these qualities. Try pairing it with an elegant white wine, such as falanghina or a fiano di avellino, so not to overpower it. Both of these white wines and the cheese are from the region of Campania.

Have a young pecorino sardo (sheep's milk from Sardegna) with a white vermentino di Gallura (from the same island). This cheese has a soft and elastic texture with a slightly tangy flavor that will be a fantastic match with the zesty flavor of this wine.

If your cheese selection is a cheese made with goat's milk, like a fresh caprino with its classic pungent texture, consider a white wine that is lightly aromatic with good acidity, like a sauvignon blanc. Look for some producers from the northeastern Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

One of my favorite Italian cheeses is parmigiano reggiano. Although you can easily pair this with a good glass of red wine, I like to pair it with a glass of spumante, the Italian sparkling wine that is made using the classic method, méthode champenoise. The stunning acidity and bubbles of this wine help to clean your mouth from the strong flavor of the cheese. Look for vintage spumante, which will show more complexity and balance, chosen from top producers like Ca' del Bosco, Majolini, or Bruno Giacosa.

One of the most famous Italian blue cheeses is Gorgonzola. Try to find Gorgonzola piccante, which has a stronger flavor because it has been aged longer. With such a flavorful cheese you need to have a wine of good complexity. I suggest pairing this cheese with Marsala, especially the Vecchio Samperi Vent'anni (20 years) from the producer Marco de Bartoli.

Unfortunately, Marsala has always been a mass-produced wine, with a lot of low quality available in the market. However, Marco de Bartoli is, without discussion, the top producer. Marsala is made like sherry, using the Solera system. This is a long aging process using a series of barrels over a period of several years, and results in unique flavors and textures. It shows nutty and caramel aromas with a light sweetness balanced by a beautiful acidity. This is just what you need to pair with Gorgonzola piccante.

And lastly, as I always suggest to my guests at the restaurant, do not forget to follow a progression, from a milder cheese with a lighter wine, to a bolder cheese with a fuller wine—this simple rule can really make a difference in your dining experience.

I hope that you will find these suggestions helpful for your next pairing and give you the opportunity to try something new.

 
the socialite

image

Wine Events at bacar
Wed., Mar. 5, 2008
Sun., Mar. 16, 2008

bacar
448 Brannan St.
Cross: 4th St.
San Francisco, CA 94107

415-593-4100
website

Loosen dinner
Wed., Mar. 5, 2008
6pm
$125, sans tax and tip

Sommelier Supper
Sun., Mar. 16, 2008
7pm
$65, sans tax and tip

MARCH 4, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO bacar has a couple groovy wine events on the calendar. First, renowned German winemaker ~DR. ERNST LOOSEN~ will be pouring and discussing his wines for a five-course dinner this Wednesday, March 5. Guests will have the opportunity to meet with Dr. Loosen and taste 11 of his beloved wines, including his 2006 Villa Wolf Grauburgunder, and 2006 Dr. Loosen Graacher Himmelreich Riesling Spatlese and 2007 Dr. Loosen & J. Christoper "Two Worlds" Pinot Noir, over a dinner prepared by executive chef Robbie Lewis, with dishes such as local petrale sole with bacon-braised Savoy cabbage; Liberty Farms duck breast with medjool date puree and glazed turnips; and Berkshire pork tenderloin with porcini mushrooms, salsify, and creamed nettles.

The Dr. Loosen estate has been in the same family for more than 200 years. Once Ernst Loosen assumed ownership in 1988, he realized that with un-grafted vines averaging 60 years old in some of Germany's best-rated vineyards, he had the raw materials to create stunningly intense, world-class wines. His approach to winemaking combines contemporary technique with a respect for tradition. This has earned the estate an overwhelmingly positive response from wine writers and wine lovers the world over. Most recently, Wine & Spirits awarded him "Best German Producer" and "Best Producers of the Past 25 Years" in 2007.
 
And then, coming up is another ~SOMMELIER SUPPER~ (held the 3rd Sunday of every month). Wine director Mickey Clevenger continues bacar's monthly tradition by offering an intimate evening of food and wine. Capture an inside look into what it takes to make it on bacar's wine list. Guests will have the opportunity to preview and sample approximately two dozen wines not yet on the list in bacar below, and then enjoy a family-style dinner.

image

Toast of the Town
Thu., Mar. 27, 2008

War Memorial Opera House
301 Van Ness Ave.
Cross: Grove St.
San Francisco, CA 94102

800-847-5949
website 
 
VIP tasting
5pm–7pm
$185
$155 with the tablehopper discount

Grand Tasting
7pm–10pm
$95
$85 with the tablehopper discount 
 

purchase tickets


MARCH 4, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Wine Enthusiast Magazine will host its second annual ~TOAST OF THE TOWN~ food, wine and music event at the War Memorial Opera House. I went last year, and the venue made it really unique. This event, an annual highlight of the New York City, Chicago, and now the San Francisco epicurean scene will feature over 70 domestic and international wine producers, plus signature dishes from 30 Bay Area restaurants. There is also a silent auction, with donations from the participating wineries and restaurants, to benefit the San Francisco Food Bank, and live jazz from Loosewig.

Participating restaurants listed on the website include: Ana Mandara, Bar Tartine, Bistro Jeanty, BIX, Café Gibraltar, Campton Place, Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, Delfina, Étoile at Domaine Chandon, Go Fish Restaurant, Joe DiMaggio's Italian Chophouse, Michael Mina, Mustards Grill, Pica Pica Maize Kitchen, Pizzeria Delfina, PlumpJack Café, Poleng Lounge, Pres a Vi, Quince, Rivoli Restaurant, Straits Restaurant, Sutro's at the Cliff House, The Tonga Room Restaurant & Hurricane Bar and Z. Cioccolato.

Some participating wineries include:
Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Bernardus, Champagne Louis Roederer, Domaines Ott, Graham's, Masi Agricola, Perrier Jouet, Robert Mondavi and many more—check out the list here

tablehopper readers should enter the discount code of WCAL08, which is good for $10 off the Grand Tasting price, and $20 off the VIP Tasting price. For both tastings, space is limited and tickets will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

 
the health nut

image

MARCH 4, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Hey there—have you been curious about joining Titan Fitness's Fit Camp? I keep lovin' my Tuesday and Thursday workouts, especially with the increasingly better weather we've been experiencing. Boot camp this is not—it's a good workout, with supportive instructors—it's not one of those programs designed to punish you at 6am, five days a week, making you so sore that it's difficult to walk or even wash your hair.

Titan is offering a chance for interested folks to drop in on one of their classes for free, so come check it out and try it! The free week is going to be Sunday, March 16–Saturday, March 22.

The schedule is as follows:
Monday, 7am, Dolores Park
Tuesday, 6pm, Kezar Stadium
Wednesday, 7am, Dolores Park
Thursday, 6pm, Kezar Stadium

Just go to www.sftitans.com for more details and rates, or call Patrick Barresi at 415-235-9589.

 
the starlet

MARCH 4, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Cybill Shepherd was spotted having lunch last Tuesday at Vitrine at The St. Regis San Francisco (it's the hotel's breakfast and lunch restaurant on the fourth floor). She dined with Dr. Ernest Bates, a MOAD board member. She was also spotted Monday night at COCO500 having dinner with some gal pals, and reportedly "looked great!"

And now in the "Stars" Behaving Badly department, I heard Top Chef's Hung Huynh dined at Nopa over the weekend—his table sent back what is probably one of the city's best pork chops, claming it wasn't done enough (for them), and let's not talk about the 10% tip they left the server.

 
the matchmaker

MARCH 4, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Restaurant manager needed for Sundance Kabuki Cinema's unique dining and drinking concept. Love of independent film is a plus. The job offers good pay, full health coverage and two weeks paid vacation.

Please send your resume to dennis.gray@sundancecinemas.net.

 

All content © 2008 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

To unsubscribe from this list, send a blank email to %%email.unsub%%