tablehopper
table of contents This week's tablehopper: lady in the water.

the chatterbox
the word on the street

the lush

put it on my tab

the wino
in vino veritas
the socialite
shindigs/feasts/festivals
the starlet
no photos please
the matchmaker
let's get it on

the sponsor
this round is on me

DISH

AUGUST 12, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Hiya—last night I had fun as a guest on Talk Show Live, and it was nice to see some tablehopper readers in the audience (thanks for coming!). But I did lose about four hours of my usual writing time, so I’m bailing on writing a review this week, sorry Charlie. I hope you enjoy reading about lambrusco in the wino instead.

Speaking of bailing, I am actually leaving town this afternoon, and am off to Lake Tahoe for my annual break—looking very forward to five days of brown rice, vegetables, and minimal email. How hippie, I know. I can’t wait. So pretty please no chitchat emails or questions for a week unless it’s necessary, time-sensitive, or juicy gossip, cool? I will only be working in the mornings and can’t deal with my usual 200 emails a day up there. My body and brain both need a break. I’m sure you understand. Grazie.

I hope to get a bunch of reading done this week, and how timely, a review copy of the new A16 Food + Wine book from Ten Speed Press just showed up in the mail today! It’s gorgeous. I’ll have to try not to break my brown rice diet for meatballs. You’ll be reading all about this book in the bookworm soon enough, but just so you don’t feel left out on some fun book action, I am starting a monthly “back to school book giveaway,” courtesy of the folks at Chronicle Books. This month, three lucky winners will score a copy of Grill Every Day by Diane Morgan, stashed in a nifty new Chronicle tote bag! Sweet.

To enter to win, just forward the tablehopper newsletter to one friend, telling them why they would dig a subscription to tablehopper, and CC or BCC luckyme@tablehopper.com so I know you sent it (I promise not to use anyone’s email address). Deadline to enter is midnight on Sunday August 17th. I’ll let you know next week if you are the proud owner of a book and tote. Good luck!

Oh, and I was kindly invited by my bud Evan Goldstein over at Wine Couch to come in for the first of a series of online video segments—we will be featuring some of our favorite local restaurants, discussing their wine program, and a few other things we like. You can check out episode number one on Nopa here. Yes, it’s probably one of the few times I’ve actually spit wine. Kidding. (Kind of.)

Okay, I am off! In a few hours I’ll be picking up some peaches at Ikeda's and Machado Orchards in Auburn, and tomorrow, a bracing dip in the lake!

Cheers my dears,

~Marcia (rhymes with garcia) subscribe
the chatterbox

DISHAUGUST 12, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO This weekend was definitely an emotional one, because a favorite San Francisco restaurant, a food and wine institution, really, closed its doors this Saturday. ~RUBICON~, after 14 years of entertaining us, wining and dining us, educating us, and enchanting us, is no more. There are a number of reasons why it closed. Itís not unlike the end of a relationship: there are usually all kinds of things that add up to create the ultimate subtraction, many of them personal. But after sitting with executive chef Stuart Brioza and his fiancée, the talented pastry chef Nicole Krasinski, I learned that the primary cause was a shrinking profit margin, plus some other basics, like lease issues, the current cost of doing business in San Francisco, and others. For now, there are a few parties interested in the space, but nothing is final. The Chihuly sculptures are being packed up this week, and as for the remarkable wine cellar, well, many can dream that it will be sold at auction, but that decision isn’t final yet either.

Stuart and Nicole wanted to express a few things to their many loyal customers, friends, and the local dining community: they really valued the opportunity to make Rubicon their own, and after being there for 4 1/2 years, they don’t see any failure in that. They were creating new dishes every day until the very end, inspired by the remarkable ingredients from local purveyors and farmers. They said the evolution of their craft, and their dishes, was very much inspired by their access to top-notch ingredients; they feel like both their food and the restaurant were made better because of these relationships with the people supplying them. They were also so grateful for their solid and talented staff behind them, many working there for years. And lastly, they were proud of their relationship with Larry Stone and owner Drew Nieporent, who were so very supportive of their food. In fact, Drew would tour the farmers’ market with Stuart and would dine in the restaurant continuously whenever he was in town from New York.

The timing of the closure actually synched up with a big change in Nicole and Stuart’s lives: they are off to Hawaii on September 4th to be married (Larry Stone is actually marrying them and acting as the master of ceremonies); so, really, they were ready for both this personal change, and a professional one. They plan to “go subterranean” for a while, and will pop back up in October, doing private dinner parties and events. Stuart plans to visit and work on a few farms (in fact, today he was in a tree picking peaches at the Masumoto farm with Nicole), plus will be visiting Peay during harvest, while Nicole will be consulting on various pastry-related projects. As for next steps, they intend to stay local; they really value being a part of the San Francisco restaurant community, and the new guard of chefs who are pushing things forward here. Both said how grateful they are for all the support over the years, and especially the outpouring this last week… They said it was a wonderful way to celebrate a great run.

imageThe closing party on Saturday after service was touching, and of course was totally fun, too, with a great turnout of friends of the house. You know there was some good stuff being poured, and all I can say is from now on, I want a couple sommeliers to always be nearby when I’m eating at the Tonayense taco truck (they had one parked next to the restaurant all night). Care for some Côte Rôtie with that carnitas taco? Uh huh. Here’s wishing Stuart and Nicole all the best in these new chapters in their lives, and may the notable staff of Rubicon land some quality gigs at places around town. Thanks for all the memorable meals, and good times—may they be continued soon!

So, more shifts around town. This weekend I had a chance to catch up with Christie Dufault, the former wine director of ~QUINCE~. After two years with the widely adored restaurant, she has decided to embark on a new chapter in her life while the restaurant transitions to the new (and much larger) Myth space. She has greatly valued her time working with the Tusks at Quince, and has been instrumental in developing the award-winning wine program there (the restaurant just received a Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator in 2008). While her last day on the floor was this Saturday, Dufault is still going to be involved with Quince, just in more of an advisory capacity. Lindsay Tusk of Quince said, “Yes, we miss her already—she built a very dynamic wine program for Quince and we are all sad to see her go. She was and is an integral part of the restaurant and really created something that didn't exist—we are very proud of her contribution. Personally, I learned a lot from her.”

Christie is off to France this fall, working as a guide in Burgundy and developing more trips plus some yoga and wine-tasting retreats throughout France. After that, she intends to continue to teach regularly at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) at Greystone in St. Helena, and to continue to act as a sommelier with Vintrust. While she has no plans to be working at any restaurants in the near future, she did allude to another project that might be coming down the pike: but she told me any details are a ways off on that one. I’ll keep you posted on this, and of course on any news of upcoming hires at Quince. (I should have more details about the new project next week, stand by!)

A few blocks away, there is yet another restaurant project coming to Fillmore Street! Moving into the former Toraya spot will be a second location of ~WOODHOUSE FISH COMPANY~, an East Coast-Meets-West Coast old school-meets-new school fish shack from Dylan MacNiven of Woodhouse Fish Company on Market Street. He said the menu will focus more on West Coast seafood, like Dungeness crab, local oysters, and more, which is kind of already happening at Woodhouse number one. He said the space is going to entail quite the build-out, so expect at least six months or so until the opening. It will be a bit more up-market than the casual Market Street location, with about 50–75 seats. Lunch and dinner will be served daily, and MacNiven is mulling over possibly launching brunch as well. Ironically, before the space was transformed into a restaurant 40 years ago, it was actually a Japanese fish market. Good juju, I’d say. 1914 Fillmore St. at Bush.

Hopping over into the Mission… I had a chance to swing by ~FOUR BARREL COFFEE~ last week and get a peek at the space; it’s looking so good, with much more room dedicated to lingering than I thought there would be. As my friend charmingly noted, all the little chairs and desks look like coffee school. Sign me up! There is also a cupping table, where anyone can stand, taste, and learn at the daily cuppings. Really nicely fabricated tables and fixtures, and wait until you see the hunting-inspired bathroom floor. And yay, the opening is SO CLOSE. In fact, they are hoping to open next Tuesday August 19th. (I’ll be able to confirm this in next week’s column!) Hours will be 7am–8pm daily. 375 Valencia St. at 15th Street.

More Mission happenings: well, the new ~LIMÓN ROTISSERIE~ that moved into the Pollo Rico space wasn’t supposed to open until later this month, but according to a poster on Yelp, it’s up and running. Think Peruvian-style rotisserie, small plates, a ceviche bar, and beer, wine, and sangria are coming soon. 1001 South Van Ness Ave. at 21st St., 415-821-2134.

Mas Mish: I was reading the new Yum Diary blog from Tracie Broom over at SF Station, and she noted the somewhat recent opening of the ~ALHAMBRA HALAL MEAT COMPANY~ on 24th Street from owner Mohamed Hebar. Not only is it a halal butcher shop, but also all the meat (beef, chicken, lamb, bison, and the now-trendy goat) is all raised on vegetarian feed, without hormones, steroids, and antibiotics. Some Chowhounders also commented on the house-made sausages and more in this post. Hours are daily, Mon–Sat 10am–8pm, and Sundays 10am–7pm. 3111 24th St. at Folsom, 415-525-4499.

~URBAN TAVERN~ is looking like it will open this Thursday August 14th for dinner, and lunch will start next week. To recap, the executive chef is Patrick Kehler, most recently at Circolo, but he also served as chef de cuisine at Aqua, so this is a bit of a reunion for him and Laurent Manrique. Some initial dishes I heard about include appetizers like clams and chorizo with fingerling potatoes and piquillo peppers, and duck prosciutto with butter lettuce, melon, and endive. A few entrée choices are chicken “bouillabaisse” style with saffron and fennel broth, tomato confit, fingerling potatoes, and fresh dill, and beef daube "Catalane" braised in red wine, garlic, and rosemary with caramelized onions, olives, cherry tomatoes, and red bell peppers. There will be a charcuterie selection, omelettes served all day, and roasted meats carved tableside. For dessert, there is a classic peach Melba, and crème Catalane infused with star anise and saffron. 333 O'Farrell St. at Mason, 415-923-4400.

Eater noted ~BASIL CANTEEN~ has officially opened in the former Public space in SoMa. As I originally reported, it’s a casual Thai izakaya of sorts, serving a style of food called gap klaem, which are dishes designed to pair with a night of drinking. There will be about ten small plates/affordable bar snacks and a variety of noodles. It’s open daily for lunch 11:30am–2:30pm and dinner nightly from 5pm–10pm. 1489 Folsom St. at 11th St., 415-552-3963.

Down in Palo Alto, things are getting close for ~JOYA RESTAURANT~, the project from the Giovannotto family (they are also behind the neighboring La Strada Ristorante Italiano). The focus is on Latin American cuisine, with an emphasis on Spanish cuisine, with dishes like ceviche, paella, plus a tapas menu. Here’s one specific example of a dish that will be on the menu: pan-roasted Cuban-spiced pork tenderloin, with sweet potato puree and red onion compote. The chef is Fabrice Roux, who some will remember from Grand Café—he also was at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant at Paris in Las Vegas. Spain is very near and dear to chef Roux, who has some family who lives there. There will be 135 seats, and the restaurant will have a very open feeling, with skylights, high ceilings, sliding doors, and outdoor seating (ahhh, the balmy weather of the 650). The sleek space will also have a spacious lounge that is in a defined space, with plenty of comfy seating. The sophisticated but casual design by Shopworks will include lots of teak and metal—this design firm also did some W Hotels in New York, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle, San Francisco, and San Diego. There will also be live entertainment. Lunch and dinner daily. The restaurant is on track for an opening during the week of August 18th. 339 University Ave. at Florence, Palo Alto.

~MACY'S UNION SQUARE~ has a couple Cellar events coming up: this Wednesday August 13th at 6pm, GraceAnn Walden is covering “The Fillmore District Old and New” with chef David Lawrence of 1300 on Fillmore. Enjoy a taste of the featured recipe, a glass of wine (compliments of the Jug Shop), and neighborhood history from GraceAnn.

Then on Tuesday August 26th at 6:30pm is “Home Run with Slow Food Nation and Acme Chophouse.” This will be almost like a sneak preview of Slow Food Nation: you can meet the creators of Slow Food Nation's book Come to the Table: The Slow Food Way of Living, and buy a copy already signed by Alice Waters. (The book profiles a dozen small farmers in California dedicated to growing food that's healthy for people and the planet.) Dan Bagley and Liz Cunninghame will be present, the husband-and-wife team who own and operate Clark Summit Farm, a sustainable beef, pork, and poultry producer in Marin County (I love their eggs!). Executive chef Thom Fox of Acme Chophouse will prepare choice cuts of meat from Clark Summit Farm. 170 O'Farrell St. at Stockton.

I wish I could be in town for this one: On Thursday August 14th is the opening of ~TASTY~, a new exhibition and sale of works dedicated to and inspired by food at San Francisco’s Creativity Explored. There will be original drawings, paintings, and sculptures that include anything from dancing radishes to Jell-O to odes to pies. (Some meat also makes an appearance.) The show opens with a reception featuring live music from 7pm–9pm, and continues through October 1st. All artwork may be purchased at the Creativity Explored Gallery, open Mon–Fri 10am–3pm, Thu until 7pm, and Sat 1pm–6pm. For further information about the exhibition, call 415-863-2108. 3245 16th St. at Guerrero.

Next Tuesday August 19th, ~SOUTH FOOD + WINE BAR~ is hosting “Around the world with Luke Mangan.” (In case you need a memory refresher, Luke is the Aussie chef and South’s owner.) The four-course dinner will include tastes from Luke’s three restaurants: Glass in Sydney, Salt in Tokyo, and naturally South in San Francisco. Each course will be matched with wines from Australia and New Zealand. Click here to see the menu and wines for the evening. $95 per person, plus tax and gratuity. RSVP to info@southfwb.com or call 415-974-5599; please include a contact number. 330 Townsend St. at 4th St., 415-974-5599.


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the sponsor

DISH

Parkmerced presents SF Weekly's DISH, an event featuring sampling from local restaurants, a hosted bar, and live music.

Featured restaurants to include: O Izakaya, Zazil Mexican Cuisine, LarkCreekSteak, Straits, Papalote, Frisee, Clementine, Roots, New Delhi, Buena Vista Café Irish Coffees, and more to be announced.

Thursday, September 25th, 6pm–9pm
Under the Dome
Westfield San Francisco Centre
845 Market Street

Proceeds will benefit Project Open Hand.

Space is limited and tickets are half off. Tickets are on sale for $25 through August 31st. Click here to purchase your tickets.

Thank you to our sponsors: Miller Brewing Company, Crunch Fitness, SF Chocolates, SF Explore Card, Yak Pak, Sake2me, and The Art Institute.

 
the lush

DISHAUGUST 12, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Yesterday I popped by to check out ~MINI BAR~ in the Western Addition, a project I’ve been excited to have opening in the ’hood. It’s an intimate spot, but hey, at least it lives up to its name. The owners are really keen to cater to folks in the neighborhood, and keep things comfortable and personal. The narrow space has a simple and timeless, masculine look, with a couple slate-grey booths with button-tufted backs, plus a bar with room for eight or so, plus there are some standing bar areas. There’s also a back lounge with low-slung chocolate brown lounge chairs and wood block tables (a perfect space for private parties).

The colors are all grey, cinnabar, and brown, and were chosen so the art will pop. I got to peek at some of the cool art they’re hanging; mini bar will hold group shows every six weeks showcasing emerging artists in the local community, only taking 20% of sales. There will be specialty cocktails with a Western Addition theme (Panhandle Punch, anyone?), plus four beers, including local brews from Magnolia and Speakeasy. The wines will also have a local focus, many of them boutique. mini bar is scheduled to have its soft opening this Friday, and will then be open Mon–Thu 5pm–11pm, Fri 4pm–12am, Sat noon–12am, and Sun noon–11pm, with bloody Marys on the weekends for you pre- or post-brunch boozing set. Happy hour will run during the week from 5pm–7pm, and look for later hours down the road. 837 Divisadero St. at McAllister, 415-525-3565.

Well, after all the ruckus surrounding the sale of ~JAZZ AT PEARL’S~, Eater noted the joint is now suddenly closed. The website just has a cryptic page of some candids, including one of North Beach fixture Millie, famed for her $5 Polaroids and cheeky comments. All so mystewious. 256 Columbus Ave. at Broadway, 415-291-8255.

Just in case you want to play “Where’s Waldo: Bartender Edition,” Dominic Venegas will be behind the bar at Range every Thursday night, and Carlos Yturria will be there on Wednesdays, with both of them behind the stick at bacar on Fridays.

Also just heard that Victoria Damato-Moran will be the day lead bartender and rocking the pisco at La Mar Cebicheria, the new Peruvian restaurant opening on Pier 1 1/2, next to the Ferry Plaza on the Embarcadero. Quick update for you: the restaurant is aiming to open to the public on September 18th for lunch and dinner. Victoria’s last day at Monaghan's Bar is Wednesday August 27th.

Big congrats to San Francisco bartenders who netted us some mentions in GQ’s Men.Style.com’s list of the ~20 BEST COCKTAILS IN THE U.S.~ Woot! Or should I say cheers!

This week I have another half-off wine deal to report: ~XYZ’S ANNUAL WINE OFFER~ is in effect: from now through August 31st, dine there for lunch or dinner and receive 50% off every bottle o’ vino on the list. Their list is pretty extensive, with over 200 bottles of organic and biodynamic wines, in case you want to check some out. 181 3rd St. at Howard, 415-817-7836.

Starting this Wednesday August 13th, ~JACK FALSTAFF~ is launching "Happy Jack Hour" featuring $5 cocktails and $5 bites, including Dungeness-jalapeno crab cakes, spiced lamb meatballs, house-cut fries with shaved cheddar, and more. Kick it while cocktailing al fresco on the enclosed patio or in the lounge. Happy hour is every Wed–Fri 5pm–7pm. 598 Second St. at Brannan, 415-836-9239.

And now, for the weekend: ~BAR BAMBINO~ in the Mission is launching Italian Pop Saturdays this Saturday August 16th, from 12pm–2pm. As the event release cutely says, “If you're not sunning yourself in the Italian Riviera this summer, think Mission District. Pack your stilettos, your Jackie O's, and make your way to the newly renovated patio at Bar Bambino. Celebrate the flavor, the sounds, and the feel of a true Italian Summer with the launch of ITALIAN POP SATURDAYS. Complimentary wine cocktails by the carafe, crostini bites, and the best of Italian pop music. What better way to spend a summer's afternoon?!” Indeed. tablehopper readers are invited to attend (yo, vino and crostini for free!) but you gotta RSVP! Space is limited, so pop a note to genevieve@ellisonmediagroup.com to secure your spot. 2931 16th St. at S. Van Ness, 415-738-0444.

Meanwhile, ~TRES AGAVES~ is hosting a monthly third Thursday event that will include a tasting and special dinner. This month, on Thursday August 21st, there is a special advance preview of Tequila Ocho, the first Tequila to ever be released as a vintage-dated, single-estate bottling. The tasting starts at 5pm and the dinner begins at 7pm. Cost for the dinner, including the Tequila tasting and entertainment is $100, inclusive of tax and tip. 130 Townsend St. at 2nd St., 415-227-0500.

People in the industry, don’t freak out, but it seems there is a shortage of “owl beer,” the delicious ~HITACHINO NEST~ which I tried for the first time at Momofuku in New York. (You can get it at Monk’s Kettle in the Mission, and I’ve also seen it at Coffee Bar.) The new Bon Appetit “Foodist” blog has more—basically there’s too much demand, but with a new brewery opening soon, production will be boosted back up, and then some. Now, if only the price could come down a little, man. Or should I say (s)hoot.

 
the wino

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AUGUST 12, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Oakland-based travel photographer Adrian Reynolds muses about travel, food, wine and the wonderful world of cured pork products on his blogs Piccolo Gastronomo and Culatello. Adrian also has a Masters of Science in Gastronomy from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Parma, Italy, aka “Slow Food U.,” and developed a knowledge and passion for artisan lambrusco while teaching English in Modena. In this week’s wino, he discusses lambrusco’s usefulness both as a social lubricant and as a great match for the soulful cuisine of Emilia Romagna. There is a forthcoming lambrusco tasting hosted by Adrian, date TBD, at Local Kitchen and Wine Merchant in San Francisco.

The Terroir and Diversity of Lambrusco

Lambrusco, despite its au courant-ness amongst salumi hounds and food blogs looking for the newest new new thing, it is not a fine wine in the same league as compatriots Barolo, Taurasi, amarone, sagrantino, et al. The old paradigm was lambrusco as a cheap picnic quaff made in large quantities and mass marketed, but with the efforts of importers such as NYC’s Lambrusco Imports and Oakland’s Oliver McCrum, and Bay Area restaurants Oliveto and Perbacco, artisan lambrusco’s reputation as the go-to cured meat and lusty pasta sauce-pairing wine is being established.

It still takes some getting used to: a red wine that not only must be chilled, but also lightly sparkling or frizzante. Lambrusco is from Emilia Romagna, which not coincidentally produces some of the most prized cured meats in Italy, especially prosciutto di Parma and its more upscale counterpart, culatello di Zibello. The secret to lambrusco, and a good lot of Italian wine, is that it is first and foremost a food wine, meant to pair with the autochthonous products of the region where the wine is produced.

Lambrusco is found all over Emilia Romagna, from a kitchen table in a humble apartment to the four-table dining room of a 400-year-old Michelin-starred salumeria in Modena’s center, Hostaria Giusti. I taught English as a Foreign Language in Modena, lambrusco’s home base, back in 2002–2003, and one of my students would pay me in lambrusco, in lieu of cash. He wasn’t a rich man, but as Modena’s overseer of agricultural production at the Camera di Commercio (or Chamber of Commerce), he was the connection to find a great lambrusco.

Before the teaching gig, my only lambrusco experience was at a drunken college party in Florence ten years earlier. That vile bargain-aisle tipple was sweet and syrupy, with an alarming corona of violet foam dancing on the edge of my plastic cup. That lambrusco was Italy’s answer to hobo juice like Mad Dog 20/20 or a non-vintage Thunderbird.

For many years, Riunite’s marketing muscle ensured the low-quality lambrusco spigot wouldn’t shut off easily, and artisan producers struggled to sell their product. Only the most savvy winos and intrepid chowhounds knew of lambrusco’s true bounty and variety. In fact, there are four main types of lambrusco: Sorbara, Grasparossa di Castelvetro, Salamino Santa Croce, and Reggiano.

A proper lambrusco tasting would start with the elegant, austere, and crisp Sorbara, named after the growing area that is slightly to the northeast of Modena’s centre. It pairs wonderfully with cooked salumi such as mortadella di Bologna and the typical deep fried (with a splash of lard) bread puffs of Modena/Reggio Emilia/Parma, known as gnocco fritto (or torta fritta in Parma). Often served along with gnocco fritto are the small baked bread discs known as tigelle that have a texture similar to piadina, the signature flatbread of Romagna, the area stretching from Bologna to Fellini’s hometown of Rimini on the Adriatic.

Another Modenese specialty that works beautifully with a Sorbara lambrusco is borlengo, a super thin flatbread similar to a papadam but rubbed with cured lard, rosemary, pancetta, and parmigiano. Sorbara lambrusco is also enjoyable on its own without food, as an aperitivo. It tends to be closer to a spumante (more sparkling) than frizzante, and whets the appetite for an unctuous supper.

Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro is from the southwest of Modena, toward Maranello aka Ferrari-land, and shares a similar flavor profile to another type of lambrusco, Salamino di Santa Croce. The latter is named after the grape bunches that resemble a whole salame, and is grown on the opposite side of Modena, north of the town center going towards Carpi and Mantova. A lovely version of Grasparossa is made by a producer called Barbolini, and is more often than not the only lambrusco being sold in stores and restaurants in the Bay Area. The upside is that it is one of the finest examples of the Grasparossa typology, the downside is that Barbolini’s excellence and ubiquity (thanks to a successful importer) makes artisan lambrusco seem monolithic, which it is not.

With Grasparossa and Salamino, there is a lingering spiciness and smoke on the palate, and in particular with Grasparossa, a bracing acidity at the finish that cuts sharply through the richness of prosciutto and salumi. Salame di Felino is a beautiful match, slightly garlicky and named after the town of Felino near Parma, not your whiskered companion.

Though pricey, seek out culatello di Zibello, which is similar to prosciutto but cured in wine, a spice mixture, and sea salt, and aged in the temperature extremes of the Parma lowlands. Culatello, meaning “little ass,” is made from the hind quarter of the free-ranging Mora Romagnola breed, not the non-native “large white” pigs used for prosciutto di Parma. Mario Batali’s dad Armandino makes a domestic culatello at his store in Seattle, but there is no substitute for bringing contraband from the low country near Parma (don’t tell anyone about my secret plan for my trip to Parma next month). A more adventurous pairing outside the bounds of terroir would be speck from Alto Adige, a smoked prosciutto that harmonizes with the spice and smoke of Castelvetro and Salamino.

Lastly, to finish with a touch of sweet fruit and spices, and less acidity, is old school-nasty lambrusco’s grown-up version, Lambrusco Reggiano, named after Reggio Emilia. Where old and nasty punches you in the jaw with sugary berries and too much purple froth, Reggiano is liltingly sweet and finishes with a slight tang in contrast to Grasparossa’s striking acidity. It is a flavor match for prosciutto San Daniele’s salty/sweet split personality, which shows that lambrusco can stray beyond its farmstead origins in Emilia Romagna and reward a curious and adventurous palate.

Cin Cin, buona bevuta, e buon appetito!

Some lambrusco links for you:

You can find Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro “Barbolini” at:
Oliver McCrum Wines
Paul Marcus Wines
biondivino wine boutique
Most Whole Foods sell it, as does Berkeley Bowl Marketplace.

Terre Verdiane by Cantine Ceci is another nice example of the Grasparossa di Castelvetro typology, and uses Verdi’s mug affixed to a sleek, beveled bottle.

“Ermete Medici” is a top producer of Lambrusco Reggiano, but not sure who imports it.

By far the best selection in the country is from Lambrusco Imports in NYC and its sister restaurant, Via Emilia, on 21st near Park Ave. South in the Flatiron District. William Mattiello and his wife Tomoe import the wine and run a wonderful restaurant focusing not just on the cuisine of Emilia Romagna, but of Modena in particular. The wine is exclusively from Emilia Romagna, and there are about ten different producers of lambrusco on the list, representing the four main typologies.

Last but not least, your culatello connection. Indulge in the olfactory bliss of the aging cellar at Antica Corte Pallavicina in Polesine Parmense near Parma and dine at the restaurant, Al Cavallino Bianco, with both the culatello making and restaurant being owned and operated by Massimo Spigaroli. He is the great grandson of a sharecropper who worked on Giuseppe Verdi’s farm, now the site of Antica Corte Pallavicina.

 
the socialite

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Demolicious: Pig Out the Vote!
Wed., Sep. 10, 2008

Terra Gallery
511 Harrison St.
Cross: 1st St.
San Francisco, CA

website

6pm–9pm

tickets: $75 (suggested donation)

AUGUST 12, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO This event, ~DEMOLICIOUS: PIG OUT THE VOTE!~, is a food, wine, and music extravaganza benefiting MoveOn.org. You can read more about the reason for this event on the site—I’ll just say McCain supporters might want to move on to reading the next event listed in this week’s socialite instead.

In 2004, a small group of friends came together to organize a wine and food tasting event, ‘86 Bush,’ for MoveOn.org. With the participation of over two dozen wineries and restaurants from Northern California, they raised $28,000, plus $15,000 in in-kind donations. Several members have reformed as a group called Demolicious, duplicating the event on an even grander scale, with a goal to raise $50,000 for MoveOn.org.

Demolicious is a small, grass roots cadre made up of San Francisco restaurateurs, wine professionals, school teachers, nurses, tech industry experts and filmmakers. It is a completely volunteer group and they are aiming to keep the costs associated with the event to an absolute minimum.

The suggested donation is $75, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. They are expecting more than 400 attendees in addition to chefs and winemakers.

Restaurants that will be present at the EXTRAVAGANZA include: Bar Jules, Café Rouge, CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen, Citizen Cake/Orson, Delessio, Gialina Pizzeria, Indian Peach Foods, Jardinière, Laiola, Let’s Be Frank, Piperade, Southern Slant Comfort Food, Yield, and Zuni Café.

Wineries include: America Uncorked, Broadbent Selections Inc., Chris Howell, Winemaker, Cain & Katie Lazar, Calera Wine Company, Freeman Vineyard and Winery, MacPhail, Premium Ports, Renard, Saintsbury, Sandler Wine Company, Skylark, Spencer–Roloson, and Terra Firma.

image

Masa's 25th Anniversary Gala
Sat., Sep. 13, 2008

Masa's Restaurant
648 Bush St.
Cross: Powell St.
San Francisco CA 94108

415-989-7154
website

two seatings: 5:30pm and 8:30pm

$250 per person


AUGUST 12, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Masa's Restaurant announces the return of guest chefs Julian Serrano, Elizabeth Falkner, Richard Reddington, and pastry chef Keith Jeanminette to celebrate ~MASA'S 25TH ANNIVERSARY~. The event will feature an all-star special nine-course tasting menu, highlighting Julian's, Elizabeth's, Richard's, and Gregory's talents. A wine pairing will be available, selected by Master Sommelier Alan Murray.

The event will benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Please note online reservations will not be accepted for this event.

the starlet

AUGUST 12, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO The annual Gumball 3000 race kicked off over the weekend, and spotted at the after-party at Temple nightclub were hottie Tyson Beckford, plus Jackass boys Bam Margera and Ryan Dunn, and Alfonso Ribeiro who played Carlton Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

 
the matchmaker

Sociale is looking for an experienced Host/Maitre D’ to join our small, fun, and unique staff. Must have two-plus years experience of hosting and or management experience in the restaurant industry. A solid background of Italian food, wine, and culture would be ideal. We are looking for a nice, unpretentious, sincere person looking for a career in the restaurant / hospitality business.

Please send all resumes to: gm@caffesociale.com.

 
 

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.

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