tablehopper
table of contents This week's tablehopper: nobody puts baby in a corner.

the chatterbox
the word on the street
the regular
it's about time we met

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

Paraduxx

imageSEPTEMBER 16, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Yup, I am back from the mountains, the land of chattering chipmunks and blue jays, and if it wasn’t for the pain of dial-up internet access at my family’s cabin, I’d still be trying to figure out how to stay up there and get my work done. Alas.

Let’s party. It’s time for the monthly “back to school” book giveaway from Chronicle Books. This one is sure to please you sports fan types, because I am giving away three copies of The NFL Gameday Cookbook by Ray "Dr. BBQ" Lampe. This month, three lucky winners will score a copy of the book, plus a Chronicle tote bag. To enter to win, just forward this week’s 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 September 21st. I’ll let you know next week if you are the proud owner of a book and tote. Let’s kick it off!

Since I’m feeling all “giver goddess” (a la Judy Tenuta), I have another fun enter-to-win to throw your way: I’m busy planning and hosting two cool invite-only events this week for the launch of the TuttiFoodie.com and Scharffen Berger Chocolate Adventure Contest, and I have one extra seat to give away to this Thursday evening’s event!

The winner will get to watch pastry chefs William Werner of polite/persuasion and Boris Portnoy of Candybar do a unique chocolate cooking presentation at Sur La Table on Maiden Lane, and of course munch some tasty treats. Yes, fo’ free. The invite-only event runs from 6pm–8pm. To enter to win the sole spot, just email luckyme@tablehopper.com what your favorite sweet treat to eat in San Francisco is. Deadline to enter is by 9am on Wednesday September 17th—I’ll let you know if you won by noon that day.

I’m also hosting a cool event at the Macy’s Cellar on Wednesday October 1st with Ryan Farr of Orson and Daniel Hyatt of the Alembic. Yes, there will be pig and bourbon involved. A veritable flav-o-rama. Check it out in the socialite.

And now, let’s dive into this doozy of an issue.

Glurg.

~Marcia subscribe
the chatterbox

ParaduxxSEPTEMBER 16, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Is all my news about businesses that are on corners this week? Pretty much. As I mentioned ages ago, Rob Lam of Butterfly was taking over ~EASTSIDE WEST~ for some ch- ch- changes, and so it finally closed for its redux. Jacques Bezuidenhout is a managing partner, and will be creating some spiffy cocktails along with Tequila maestro Julio Bermejo, so the bar is definitely taking a step up. Dino Vasquez is the chef/partner and will be focusing on regional American fare made with quality ingredients, and Kurt Niver is the GM. I took a look at the menu, and there’s lots of seafood, like fritto misto for $10, raw bar items plus Bloody Mary oyster shooters ($3), a variety of salads like wild arugula or a chopped Greek salad, plus comfort classics like a cheeseburger, buttermilk-fried Rocky Jr. chicken, mac and four cheeses with peas and mushrooms, and a grilled Berkshire pork chop. There will also be a Sunday roast special of horseradish-crusted rib eye, with scallion popovers, spinach soufflé, and au jus for $25, or baked lasagne night on Wednesdays! Brunch will also be in effect, with eggs Chesapeake (poached eggs, crab Louis, toasted English muffin, and hollandaise for $14), scrambles, omelettes, and more.

As for changes to the space, they took down a partition, so the front room will feel more open, with a now spacious bar area. There’s also a new paint job, new tables, and banquettes, too. The back room will be available for private dining and parties, but it’s also going to double as a game room, with shuffleboard, a pool table, a couple flat-screen TVs, plus high bar tables, darts, and a portable back bar (the fish tank swam away). Look for a reopening sometime mid next week. Brunch will be served on the weekends, dinner nightly, and the popular happy hour will continue Mon–Fri from 4pm­–7pm. 3154 Fillmore St. at Greenwich, 415-885-4000.

Another corner spot: ~MERCURY LOUNGE~ has completed its move from lonely Lombard Street to SoMa, and is now in the more spacious and former Sneaky Tiki digs. The menu has many Southeast Asian flavors, ranging from Filipino to Vietnamese and Thai, and there are even some Korean dishes, too; they’re still tweaking things as they go along. Local workers will be happy to know about the lunch menu that includes a quick rice plate lunch for $8.50, with soup of the day, a cucumber salad, and a choice from various steamed rice dishes, like chicken adobo. There’s also a weekly $8 rice plate special (Thursdays mean Filipino oxtail stew), and dishes like Vietnamese-style sandwiches, one-plate dishes like pad Thai and pho, and salads—not much even hits the $10 mark. Dinner brings an even wider range of eats, from lumpia to sisig to rolls to dumplings and more. Open Mon–Fri for lunch 11am–2pm, and dinner 5pm–10pm. 1582 Folsom St. at 12th St., 415-551-1582.

Over in the Mission on the corner of Church and 18th Street, the former home of the skanky Shukri's Scrumptious Deli, will soon be ~LILAH BELLE’S~. The focus is on healthy take-out dishes made with organic and seasonal ingredients by chef Traci Higgins (the menu will rotate weekly, but you can check out a menu here). Now, that’s a nice switch from what the place was! Most dishes will be low fat, low sodium, and served in single or family-sized portions. Saturday September 27th is the grand opening, with free food samples of sandwiches, salads, beverages, dessert, and eco-friendly bags, from 11am until 2pm. All entrées will only be $5 for the first three hours as well. The grand opening hours are 11am–7pm, and then the regular hours are Mon–Fri 8am–2pm, and 4pm–7pm, and Sat–Sun 11am–6pm. Park-goers will appreciate the “while you shop” tie-up stations outside for their pooches with water bowls and treats. 3801 18th St. at Church, 415-255-9473.

Then the Ebb Tide Café has morphed into, you guessed it, ~MY CORNER CAFÉ~. All-day breakfast is served, plus salads and sandwiches. Open daily from 7am–5pm. 1500 S. Van Ness Ave. at 26th St., 415-550-2382.

Even more corner news: Alice Cravens’ ~MODERN TEA~ in Hayes Valley is shifting its focus from being a café, and is dedicating energy to Modern Cooks, a non-profit educational program for local youth. Want to help out, or learn more? Be sure to check out the site. You tea freaks can still get your fix for retail and wholesale purchases by appointment or through the Modern Tea online shopping cart. As for your weekend waffles on the Civil War irons, I guess you’re out of luck. 602 Hayes St. at Laguna, 415-626-5406.

While out on one of my “attempt to burn off the wages of sin walks,” I noticed the Laurel Heights neighborhood corner joint ~CAFÉ LO CUBANO~ is closed. 3401 California St. at Laurel.

And now, a break from the corner action. ~JEN BIESTY~, previously of COCO500 and cheftestant on the most recent season of Top Chef has been named the executive chef of Scala’s Bistro over at the Sir Francis Drake. She starts at Scala’s on October 15th, and is excited to integrate more artisan products into the menu, like house-made ricotta, sausage, salumi, and pastas, and really help deliver on the Kimpton Group’s promise of greening their businesses, using quality local and organic products. 432 Powell St. at Post, 415-395-8555.

More details on the ~JCC PROJECT~ from Joanna Karlinsky and her business partner, Victoria Smiser, who will open the food court in the former deli on the ground floor of the JCCSF. Featured will be JO-JO-TO-GO, selling cold and hot gourmet prepared foods for either dine-in or carry-out service; CONFECTIONS, a full-service bakery offering a daily selection of freshly prepared baked goods, cakes, pies, cookies, and always chocolate; LUCKY DAWG, an upscale ice cream and frozen yogurt bar; LULU DRINKS, pouring fresh juices, coffee, espresso drinks, and wine and beer; PRESSED, hot pressed sandwiches to order using local artisanal cheeses; and EMMA PEEL’S PIZZA PIE, providing on-site or delivery gourmet pizzas with upscale add-ons. THE MEETINGHOUSE name will be kept alive through full service catering and the online Meetinghouse Biscuits catalogue will continue to ship biscuits nationwide. The projected opening date is November 15th. 3200 California St. at Presidio.

The former Senses space on Valencia is now home to ~JANITZI~, a Pan-Latin restaurant, with the bright and snazzy colors to prove it. The food spans from Mexico to Argentina, and the three partners are from Mexico and Puerto Rico. The menu includes a bunch of seafood and meat dishes, from ceviches to fish tacos to enchiladas to mole, and a lot of side dishes, like cassava fries, nopales, and arepas. Most main dishes are around $12, and about double that for any steak dishes, which come with a choice of sauces, like chimichurri. The restaurant is named after a princess of the Michoacan tribe, for you folks who like to know ”what does it all mean?” Open for lunch and dinner 10am–10pm daily. 1152 Valencia St. at 22nd St., 415-821-2310.

And now, a few downtown tidbits: ~CHILL~, a 24-seat specialty dessert café is opening in mid October from Trang Nguyen. The menu includes items made with all natural and exotic flavors, many with Asian and tropical influences. There will be shaved ice desserts, nonfat frozen yogurt and vanilla custard with unique toppings like Valrhona chocolate rice pearls, crispy dessert crepes (sugar or coconut) filled with fresh fruit, sweet rooibos red tea drinks, fair trade coffees, floats, frosted hot chocolate, house-made sodas like ginger lemongrass, and artisan cupcakes. Antioxidant ingredients like açai and goji berries will also be making appearances. Hours will be Mon–Fri 11am­–7pm, Sat 12pm–5pm, closed Sun. 125 Kearny St. at Post, 415-433-1233.

A tablehopper reader let me know that a third location of ~SAUSALITO ESPRESSO~ is opening in the old SF-New York Deli spot in Embarcadero #5. The Mediterranean menu reportedly looks the same as the other two locations (think falafel, gyros, etc.).

Arren Caccamo is no longer the chef at ~LEVENDE LOUNGE~ (he is now in New York to start a family with his new wife). The new executive chef is Sean Randall, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in Manhattan, who has also worked at Balthazar, Essex House (Randall rose to chef de partie under Alain Ducasse), plus positions at La Grenouille, La Gouloue, and was the sous chef at The Core Club, headed by Tom Colicchio. His new menu of “urban California cuisine” at Levende is focused on seasonal and local ingredients, from sake and miso-marinated halibut, plus some comfort dishes like skirt steak, and mac and cheese. Open Wed–Sat for cocktails, dinner, and entertainment from 5pm–2am, with dinner served nightly until 11pm, and brunch on Sundays 11am–3pm. 1710 Mission St. at Duboce, 415-864-5585.

Things are moving along for the ~MOSS ROOM~ (nicer sit-down dining) and the ~ACADEMY CAFÉ~ (the quick service portion) at the California Academy of Sciences under Charles Phan and Loretta Keller (COCO500). The Academy’s grand opening is scheduled for September 27th, and both The Moss Room and the Academy Café will open for lunch service that day, but The Moss Room doesn’t begin dinner service until October 7th.

Executive chef Justin Simoneaux (previously of COCO5OO) will be overseeing The Moss Room, and the dinner menu includes appetizers like Malpeque oyster and chorizo beignets with tarragon and mustard aioli ($12), and country-style pork terrine with house-made pickles, fruit mostarda, and frisée ($11), while entrées include house-made pasta with red wine braised duck sugo and pecorino ($19), and oven-roasted whole fish with aromatics, lemon, sea salt, and olive oil ($29). Yeah, there has to be some seafood on the menu there, huh. Lunch has some of the same menu items plus more salads, but only one dish tips the $20 scale (a bavette steak).

The executive pastry chef is Rachel Leising, formerly of Petite Patisserie in Potrero Hill. Leising has been making pastries professionally for 22 years, baking bread and pastries at Fran Gage’s Patisserie Francaise for seven years, plus Citizen Cake for over seven years, and was the pastry chef instructor at Tante Marie’s Cooking School for two years before entering the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena. A peek at her preliminary Moss Room dessert menu includes raspberry upside-down cake with cardamom anglaise and malted milk chocolate cream, Dagoba Mexican chocolate pot de crème tart, and almond cake with honey-steeped fresh blueberry compote, lemon yogurt ice cream, and honeycomb nougatine. There will also be a variety of grab-and-go sweet treats for the Academy Cafe, from crème brûlée coffee cake to cookies to some different pot de crème flavors in a jar, like caramel and tapioca. Lunch will be daily 11:30am–2:30pm, and dinner 5:30pm–10pm. 55 Music Concourse Drive, 415-876-6121.

The Academy Café has a range of savory items, like Vietnamese soups and spring rolls, panini, some slow-cooked and noodle dishes, steamed buns, and a few Mexican-inspired dishes too, like tacos, tamales, and quesadillas (good for the kiddies). Open daily 8am–5pm, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. 55 Music Concourse Drive, 415-876-6124.

And now, a few more places where you get your brunch on: ~PRESIDIO SOCIAL CLUB~ has started weekend brunch, offering Sloe Gin Fizzes and Ramos Fizzes, and actual sustenance in the form of chilaquiles, rum-soaked challah French toast, a daily frittata, biscuits and gravy, and more. Mmmm, brioche beignets. Sat–Sun 10am–2pm. 563 Ruger St., Building 563 near Lombard Gate, 415-885-1888.

More brunch-age: ~SERPENTINE~ is serving brunch Sat–Sun from 10am–2:30pm. Some menu items include red flannel hash with braised beef brisket and poached eggs, summer vegetable succotash with baked eggs, whole-grain pancakes with fresh berries, savory bread pudding, and their Prather Ranch hamburger and fries. Breakfast cocktails are also in effect. Parties of six or more can make reservations. 2495 Third St. at 22nd St., 415-252-2000.

imageThe Stanford Court Hotel on Nob Hill, which is undergoing a $35 million renewal, has announced that ~AUREA~, its new restaurant and lounge, will open in October. Aurea will be located on the lobby level of the hotel, and some design elements include a Tiffany-style dome, plus sculptures, chandeliers, and a glass-encased, floor-to-ceiling “wall of wine.” The restaurant can seat up to 130, with “cocktail cubbies” that function as work areas (yup, they are wired) or as dining nooks, plus there are communal tables, and there’s an alfresco dining area in the courtyard.

The chef is Jeffery Surprise, who was the hotel’s sous chef in 2007, and also worked at Quince and a couple Ritz-Carlton locations. Surprise’s menu is taking on Fish & Farm, and is actually sourcing the majority of produce and meats from within a 50-mile radius of the hotel. The wine list will focus on organic and California wines, featuring 40 wines by the glass, plus handcrafted cocktails made with fresh ingredients and locally produced small-batch spirits. The hotel is scheduled for completion in November 2008. There’s also reportedly a nightly sabering (“swording”) of a Champagne bottle in the hotel’s courtyard to signal the transformation from day to evening service in Aurea. Goodness. 905 California St. at Powell, 415-989-3500.

Good news in the Ferry Building: after the original bummer announcement that ~MISTRAL ROTISSERIE~ was leaving, it looks like now it’s going to be staying put for another year. Owner Betty Marcon wrote in to say, “We are now in the process of working out some sort of agreement with Equity Office Partners which would have us staying for at least another year. We will need to find another business partner... Many kudos to you [aw shucks], and to your readers. Everyone has stood by us and has been rooting for us and we feel the love!” Stand by for more.

Even East Bay businesses aren’t immune to corner-related news! The downstairs café at ~OLIVETO~ has been in the midst of remodeling, and new highlights include a Berkel slicer and salumi display cases, an expanded menu thanks to the new ovens to bake in (think pastas and roasts), a panini grill, and a refurbished Faema E61 espresso machine. They are phasing in all the changes, and things should be close to complete by next week. 5655 College Ave., Oakland, 510-547-5356.

~LITQUAKE~ is coming up, and I’ll be emceeing the “Now We’re Cooking” hour on the opening weekend, on Saturday October 4th. Guests reading from books about food and drink will be Elizabeth Falkner, Bryant Terry, Beau Timken, Tara Duggan, Julia Flynn Siler, Brian Yaeger, and Eric Gower. And it’s FREE! (Let’s see if a cranky local food writer shows up and graces us all with another novella-length recap of the event.) You can read the full schedule of events at litquake.org. This reading will be from 3pm–4pm at the San Francisco Public Library’s Koret Auditorium, Main Branch, 100 Larkin St. at Grove.

What’s not to love about a $40 wine dinner (plus gratuity)? Raphael Knapp, owner of International Vineyards, is hosting a three-course ~SOUTH OF FRANCE WINE DINNER~ this Thursday September 18th at Cote Sud Restaurant. You can read the menu here. Call the restaurant to make a reservation (from 6pm–10pm). 4238 18th St. at Collingwood, 415-255-6565.

A few folks were asking me about the upcoming ~DEMOLICIOUS~ event, you can read the revised event info in the socialite.

Mooo. On Monday September 29th at Café Rouge in the East Bay is ~THE PROVENANCE OF BEEF~, an interactive steak tasting and panel discussion. Co-hosted by The Artisan Beef Institute, the evening will begin with an interactive expert panel discussing how top ranchers, butchers, and chefs influence taste and texture to create their own signature styles of beef. From there you’ll go on to taste four different styles of beef, each from a different ranch and butcher team specializing in a specific breed, diet, husbandry, and aging technique in a blind taste test. The evening will run from 6pm–8:30pm. $70 per person will include a four-course meal with paired wines. For information and reservations, call 510-525-1440. 1782 Fourth St., Berkeley.

On Sunday October 5th, you can take a ~TOUR OF MARIN SUN FARMS~. It includes a walking tour of the Historic "H" Ranch within the Point Reyes National Seashore (it starts at 10am). View and discuss Marin Sun Farms production of chickens for meat and eggs, cattle for beef, goats for meat, pasture management, food system sustainability, animal slaughter, and more. Includes a delicious lunch. For details and to sign up, please click here.

If you don’t win a ticket to the chocolatey Sur La Table event I’m hosting this week, at least you can swing by Fog City News this Thursday to meet ~CHLOE DOUTRE-ROUSEL~ who will answer all your questions about chocolate, talk about and demonstrate her chocolate evaluation methods, and sign copies of her book The Chocolate Connoisseur ($12.95 paperback). The event is free. Noon–2pm. 455 Market St. at First St., 415-543-7400.

While SF has Christopher Elbow, the East Bay now has artisan chocolatier Chris Blue, who just opened ~CHOCOLATIER BLUE~ in central Berkeley. Blue is the only chocolatier in the United States licensed to use Amedei chocolate, and the cream he uses comes from a farm called Clover Clove in Nebraska, where all the cows are grass-fed and free graze on land that has not been fertilized in over 30 years. Oh, and the Five Star brand organic butter he uses has the highest fat content of any butter in the world (don’t say I didn’t warn you). Beginning in October of this year, and running through January 2009, customers can enjoy lemon, peppermint, pumpkin, tangerine, caramel, hazelnut, pistachio, passion fruit caramel, palet d’or, espresso, cinnamon and chili, apple cider, and eggnog fillings. In addition, the peppermint, hazelnut, tangerine, apple cider and palet d’or flavors are also available in a vegan formulation. Open Wed–Thu noon–7pm, Fri–Sat noon–9pm, Sun 1pm–6pm. 1964 University Ave. at Milvia, Berkeley, 510-705-8800.

A tablehopper reader wrote in to tell me the outside of ~MARITIME EAST~ was suddenly changed to just Maritime, and then shortly thereafter I was told the restaurant has closed. Mark Mitcheltree was no longer involved in the project, hence the dropping of the “East.” We’ll see who moves into the space. 2826 Telegraph Ave. at Oregon.



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

 
the sponsor

Paraduxx

Celebrate harvest in Napa Valley at the Paraduxx Winery Open House on Saturday October 11th! Roll up your sleeves with hands-on wine blending, and sample bites from some Napa faves: Go Fish, Tra Vigne, BarBersQ, and Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen. Enjoy library wines and advance releases of Paraduxx wines while listening to live music. One of the Duckhorn family wineries, Paraduxx celebrates its 15th harvest in Napa Valley. Tickets are $55 and can be purchased here.

Want to help with this year’s harvest? Limited to 20 people on the morning of October 11th, the harvest experience includes picking grapes, sorting fruit and sharing an elbow-to-elbow gourmet lunch with our winemakers. The $250 price includes admission to the Paraduxx Open House. Come join us.

 
the regular

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Pauline’s Pizza
260 Valencia St.
Cross: 14th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103

415-552-2050
website

Tue–Sat 5pm–10pm

Salads $7.50
Pizzas $13.50–$24.75
Desserts $6.75

SEPTEMBER 16, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO I’m calling this one a lazy review because it’s almost a no-brainer. Before pizza mayhem swept the Bay Area (tracking right along with wine bar and now frozen yogurt mania, yet again), ~PAULINE’S PIZZA~ has been holding it down in a gourmet-stylee for 20 years. When I first moved to the city 14 years ago, I totally remember having a pesto pizza epiphany here. And this place just seems to get better and better—there’s an entire Cali culture here.

It’s a true neighborhood place, a sunny butter yellow building located on a quieter stretch of Valencia. Pauline’s draws one of the more interesting cross sections of both servers and guests, from new parents with their kids drawing with the provided crayons on the paper tablecloths (actually, I think the adults do most of the drawing) to posses o’ tattooed pals on a pizza quest. And since the look is a step up from your usual pizza place (to wit, cloth napkins), you’ll see tons of dates, and double dates. Then again, it’s not a place where you can hang out because there are usually lines of hangry patrons waiting at the door for a table, so don’t expect to have a two-hour lingering meal.

It’s total California pizza, with toppings that come from the restaurant’s two organic gardens: one is located in Berkeley, and the other is Star Canyon Ranch near Angel's Camp in the Sierra Foothills. The pizza here is like the love child of Wolfgang Puck and Alice Waters. With all the stunning ingredients, the nightly pizza and salad specials are positively scrumptious. The eggplant we had one night on the vegetarian special was so delicate, and savory—especially when paired with fresh (and fragrant) oregano and tangy ricotta salata.

And you absolutely shouldn’t miss ordering a salad, or two. We’re not talking some standard mesclun, baby, we’re talking sylvetta, mache, all kinds of gorg greens—the farms will grow up to 40 kinds of greens in a year. And you’ll dig their killer breadsticks that come with the salads. Since this is tomato season, you really should get over there now for some primo end-of-summer indulgence.

This place probably has some of the quirkiest and tasty pizza toppings to choose from, including tasso, pancetta, all kinds of cheeses, fennel, even salted Meyer lemon puree. Perky sauce, too. While the garlicky pesto here is legendary, I find the other toppings hard to resist. I mean, really, who else in town gets Italian olive salad sent from the Central Grocery in New Orleans (famous for their muffaletta)? Exactly. Pauline’s grinds it up and offers it as the muffaletta topping.

The crust is handmade daily and is basically what I’d call American thin but definitely not Neapolitan thin—it has some great texture and crispiness and chewiness, with no shyness around cornmeal usage. One night one of our pizzas was a touch underdone, but the other was just right. Most larges are around $21—our table of four hungry folks went through two mediums, and no, there were no slices left over for breakfast the next day. Pity.

Desserts are also homemade and gourmet-minded, like the winning peanut butter ice cream sundae we had with salty pretzel sticks, or ice cream in flavors like olive oil—but rather ridiculous for one paltry scoop for $6.75, so stick with a sundae instead. There are also some house wines that Pauline’s makes, but truth be told, I really really love beer with my pizza, so I can’t vouch for their “Pizza Reds.” Maybe some other time.

A few deets: vegans, you can order a vegan crust and vegan pizza ahead of time, but you gotta pre-order 24 hours in advance. People also take advantage of the half and half policy here, which is only $1 extra (except the pesto). Oh, and yo, the private room upstairs is one of the city’s better secrets for a group birthdays and dinners. They outline the all the details on the website—it’s a super option to consider for group dinners and parties.

So, is Pauline’s my favorite pizza? Truthfully, no, my heart belongs to Italian-style pizzas, but I do appreciate what they are doing here—the fresh and seasonal ingredients are really hard to beat. It’s a true San Francisco pizza. Oh wait, I almost forgot: one of the best local bathrooms ever is here. It’s like a drag queen toilette fantasy of pink and black tiles, plus there’s a chandelier. Faaaaaaabulous!

 
the lush

SEPTEMBER 16, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Stop the presses. And hold the phone. It’s true, ~PRESS CLUB~ actually made it through the red tape and has opened. There’s plenty of wine to taste in the 9,000-square-foot space, from eight wineries in all, including Hanna, Chateau Montelena, Miner, Saintsbury, and others. There is also a bite-sized menu of dishes, both savory and sweet, designed to be paired with the wines. Press Club is just around the corner from the Four Seasons, on Yerba Buena Lane. Yes, near the cream puff headquarters. Tasting Room hours are Mon–Thu 2pm–9pm, Fri–Sat 11am–9pm, and Sun 11am–6pm. 20 Yerba Buena Lane at Market, 415-494-2000.

There’s a new happy hour on Fridays, ~LOOK OUT WEEKEND~ at 111 Minna, with the tasty Ichi catering! Not only will there be sushi on offer, but there will be an open bar hosted by Peroni and Fernet from 4pm­–5pm and 7pm–8pm, DJs, and art. Sounds like trouble to me. There is a small cover charge: $3 before 6pm, $5 after. Every Friday, 4pm–9:30pm. 111 Minna at 2nd St.

A few bar shifts: ~JACKIE PATTERSON~ is no longer behind the stick at Orson and will be the mixologist/bar manager at Zinnia when it opens in mid October or so, and ~THOMAS WAUGH~ has left the Alembic; in fact, he’s left San Francisco for New York. Jordan Mackay says on the Buzzed blog that Waugh will be picking up some shifts at two of my favorites, PDT and Death and Company.

Mmmmm, bubbles. North Bay bubble lovers, don’t miss this ~FEAST WITH DR. CHAMPAGNE~ and chef Nathan Lockwood of Fork Restaurant in San Anselmo on Thursday October 9th. The menu: Course One, albacore tuna and roasted red pepper involtini with caper berries and micro-herbs, 1999 Laurent Perrier Millesime Brut, 52%Chard, 48% Pinot Noir, Tours-sur-Marne; Course Two, mezzaluna (pasta) of duck and guinea hen, Romangola sauce, and crispy breadcrumbs, NV Jean Vesselle Oeil de Perdrix, 100% Bouzy Pinot Noir Rose Saignée; Course Three, potato-crusted black cod with sautéed Brussels sprout leaves and shallots, 2002 Deutz Blanc de Blancs Brut Millesime, 100% Chardonnay, Ay; Course Four, boneless braised beef short ribs on Yukon gold potato puree with celery and baby vegetables, 1996 Bruno Paillard Brut Millesime, 48% Pinot Noir, 52% Chard, Reims; and for the Dolce course, chocolate torta Barozzi with mascarpone cream. Cost per person, including tax and gratuity: $150. Seating is limited to only 30 very tasteful, responsive, and excitable diners. (Hey, that’s what it said!) 7:30pm. Payment is required in advance to reserve your seat(s). Your personal check or cash in Dr. Champagne’s hands ensures your place at the table. Please snail-mail your check immediately, if not sooner to:

Jerry Horn, Dr. Champagne
60 Corte Ortega #10, Greenbrae, CA 94904

Questions, need further info? Email Jerry at drchampagne@comcast.net. Fork, 198 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo.

imageJust because this usually sells out quick, I thought you should have a heads up that ~THE JOY OF SAKE~ is coming to San Francisco on October 23rd, at the San Francisco Design Center. Tickets are $75 in advance, or $85 at the door (or call 888-799-7242). 6pm-8:30pm. 101 Henry Adams St.

 
the wino

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SEPTEMBER 16, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Wayne Garcia on Rosé

In addition to his work as a freelance writer and illustrator, Wayne Garcia oversees the tiny but carefully chosen wine list at Piccino Café in Dogpatch, where his wife Sher is a partner, and writes a wine column for Edible San Francisco. When not sipping rosé, Garcia also writes about music and high-end audio gear for The Absolute Sound magazine, is editor of the soon-to-be-launched website marshallphoto.com (showcasing the work of San Francisco’s legendary music photographer Jim Marshall), and spends many hours tending the wood-fired oven in the couple’s Potrero Hill backyard.

Of Cowboys & Indian Summers

While musing over the course of the current presidential campaign, a friend compared the McCain/Obama contest to the rivalry between John Wayne and James Stewart in John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. In that 1962 classic, Ford tells the story of an old-fashioned warrior and a new-fashioned lawyerly thinker, who only fights when no other choice presents itself. “Americans seem to like John Wayne,” my friend sighed.

His observation also summarizes the kind of wines most of us prefer—big, strong, none too subtle, and ready to battle all comers for the Parker prize. And let’s not even get on the subject of the French!

But I’m going to anyway, because with San Francisco’s Indian Summer around the corner, there is no better time to uncork what is arguably the most French of all wines: rosé.

Perhaps most strongly identified with Provence—where hot days require a cool, quaffable, food-friendly wine—rosé is simply a blush wine made from any region’s red wine grape varieties, typically by a brief maceration of juice and skins immediately following the crush. After separating the liquid from the skins, the juice is fermented in the same manner as white wine, and is generally released from six to nine months after the harvest. Although some rosés gain complexity with a few years of aging, most are best drunk in their youth, when their bright fruit flavors and crisp acidity are at their peak.

The rosé that many fans identify as the one that awakened them to the beauties of blush is Domaine Tempier’s Bandol, from Provence. Made largely from the region’s mourvèdre grape, Tempier rosé is the ideal wine for the region’s bouillabaisse, has long been imported by Berkeley’s Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, and is a perennial on the Chez Panisse wine list.

Rosés are now available from a wide range of growing regions outside of France. Especially Spain, Italy, and California, which is finally recovering from the lengthy hangover “white” zinfandel gave to so many wine drinkers, who to this day steadfastly hate all pink wine.

But rosé is hugely popular in the Bay Area. Their color spectrum runs from the faintest hint of blush to pale and rich salmon, copper, watermelon, strawberry, magenta, and some that are borderline purple, so close to red wine is their color.

And their range of aromas and flavors is equally varied, offering a lovely expression of the grape varietals and regions they come from.

Take Italy, for instance. From the Veneto comes the classic Bardolino “Chiaretto,” which blends grapes such as rondinella, corvina, and molinara into a vibrant, richly hued wine that might suggest cranberries and spices. From Trentino and the region’s native lagrein come rosés hinting at floral and cherry aromas, with a pronounced minerality. Or how about a nebbiolo rosé from Piedmont, full-bodied, yet elegantly balanced between berry fruit and spice elements. Or a weird yet completely beguiling lacrima di moro rosé from the Marche, which is akin to sniffing a glassful of dried, spiced rose petals.

Spanish rosés can be either musky and full, and smelling of cherries and raspberries, as delivered by the tempranillo grape in the Duero region, or sassy with the bright fruit of garnacha (grenache), from Navarra.

Returning to France, the Languedoc is blending syrah, mourvèdre, and cinsault into salmon-colored wines that manage to ideally balance ripe fruit with bright acidic finishes; the Loire Valley creates earthy, terroir-driven, less fruity bottlings from cabernet franc, as well as an unusually delicate rosé of pinot gris, which presents clean and slightly floral mineral notes. Tavel rosés from the Rhône valley can be big, fruity, and seemingly of the stony earth they grow in, while a marsannay rosé from Burgundy lends a twist to that area’s pinot noir.

Although I’ve tasted several fine California rosés, I find our state’s wines more representative of the winemaker and grape varietals than of any particular growing region. That said, check out Unti Vineyard’s classic provençale blend of grenache and mourvèdre, one of Robert Sinskey’s pinot noir rosés, or Pey-Marin’s vin gris, which blends pinot noir and merlot into a full, dry wine flirting with strawberry, herbs, and a touch of flintiness.

If you’ve yet to discover what all the fuss is about, add to the above list these more specific suggestions below, followed by a list of a few places to purchase them.

France
07 Régis Bouvier, Marsannay, Burgundy
07 Mas Champart, Saint-Chinian, Languedoc
07 Domaine de Fontsainte, Gris de Gris, Languedoc
07 Bergerie de l’Hortus, Languedoc
07 Charles Joguet, Chinon, Loire
07 Domaine de Reuilly, Loire
07 Domaine Tempier, Bandol
07 Domaine de Terrebrune, Bandol
07 Château de Trinquevedel, Tavel, Rhône

Italy
07 Nicola di Buscareto, Lacrima di Moro, Marche
07 Cesconi, Lagrein, Trentino
07 Corte Gordoni, Bardolino “Chiaretto,” Veneto
07 Ioppa, Nebbiolo, Piedmont

Spain
06 Gonzalez Lara Fuente del Conde, Cigales,
07 ZaZa, Navarra           

Where to purchase:
Biondivino Wine Boutique
Kermit Lynch
Paul Marcus
Terroir Natural Wine Merchant
Ruby Wine
Whole Foods

 
the socialite

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Gourmet Dating "Kitchen Challenge" Singles Cooking Class & Dinner
Sun., Sep. 21st, 2008

Sur La Table Union Square
77 Maiden Lane
Cross: Grant Ave.
San Francisco, CA

415-441-3595
website

6pm–9pm

$95 per person
buy tickets

SEPTEMBER 16, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Parties That Cook introduces the all-new ~GOURMET DATING KITCHEN CHALLENGE~, an upscale culinary event where singles meet and compete in teams to create the best gourmet meal from a basket of "secret ingredients."

At this hands-on cooking party (hey, just don’t take that hands-on thing too far, eh?), guests are greeted at the door with a nibble, nametag, and glass of wine. After an introductory cooking lesson, guests break into coed cooking teams. With the help of the Parties That Cook chefs, each team comes up with a gourmet menu to cook up using the secret ingredients: a protein, starch, and vegetables.

Singles sit down to enjoy their meal with new friends (or maybe a romance), and prizes are awarded to the team with the evening’s best dish, as judged by the lead chef. After the event, copies of the recipes, digital photos, and e-mail address aliases are sent to the group.

Parties That Cook designs fresh seasonal menus for each event. Guests don’t need cooking experience to attend. The price includes cooking instruction by professional chefs, tapas using the finest, freshest ingredients, and copies of the recipes.

Please bring a bottle of wine to share with the group! 

Vegetarian options are available, if requested in advance. Class size is limited to 15 men and 15 women, and an effort is made to ensure equal numbers of gender enrollment.

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Macy’s Cellar: City Bites Series
The Pursuit of Flavor

Wed., Oct. 1st, 2008

Macy’s Union Square
170 O'Farrell St.
Cross: Stockton St.
San Francisco, CA 94102

website

6:30pm
(doors open at 6pm)

free/$10 donation



SEPTEMBER 16, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Macy’s Cellar is presenting the ~CITY BITES SERIES~, four events moderated by local personalities that will showcase a hot gastronomic trend and feature two San Francisco culinary players to bring the topic to life.

Yours truly is hosting and emceeing a special evening I put together called The Pursuit of Flavor, highlighting two talents who I really think push the envelope when developing, playing with, and enhancing flavor: chef de cuisine Ryan Farr of Orson, and Daniel Hyatt of the Alembic.

You’ll be able to witness Farr’s cutting-edge techniques for making chicharrones (fried pork skin) and hamachi kama (yellowtail collar), and Hyatt will show how to highlight fruit flavors with an Evan Williams Single Barrel bourbon-based cocktail. Yup, pig, and kama, and bourbon. A taste of all the prepared dishes and the drink is just $10.

All proceeds benefit CHEFS, Conquering Homelessness Through Employment in Food Service, a nonprofit very dear to my heart that that helps train homeless men and women and place them in culinary positions.

No need to RSVP. Please just make your donation at the door. Doors open at 6pm. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Additional upcoming events:

Wednesday, 10/8: Altman, Mah & Barker
A well-known television host gets spicy with the executive chefs of two notable restaurants–Midi and Miss Pearl’s Jam House.

Wednesday, 10/29: Deseran, Mitra & Smith
Senior Editor and food writer for 7x7, the owner of DOSA and the wine director for the soon-to-open DOSA on Fillmore, share clever wine pairings.

 
the starlet

SEPTEMBER 16, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO I heard Molly Ringwald had a late dinner at Maverick.

Dale Talde (AKA the locker puncher) from Top Chef was at Circa Thursday night.

Justin Bobby/Justin Brescia from The Hills was at Mamacita over the weekend.

 
the matchmaker

Pacific Catch is seeking a highly experienced Executive Chef to operate their 150+ seat restaurant at their 9th Avenue location. Rated as “Best Seafood Restaurant” by both the readers and editors of Citysearch, Pacific Catch has ambitious plans to continue its growth as an emerging, successful restaurant chain. Candidate must be passionate about Pacific Rim and Latin cuisines and ingredients, developing people, and delivering exceptional food quality and service on a consistent basis. A combination of an outgoing personality, organizational and great people management skills are key. Please send resumes to tom@pacificcatch.com.

 

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Executive Catering Chef for Back to Earth Organic Catering. If organic, seasonal, local cuisine is your passion, come join our dynamically growing company. We cater everything from small parties to weddings and galas—all with a conscious emphasis on doing more than simply making a buck.

You will be responsible for all aspects of kitchen management including menu creation, ordering, staffing, cost controls, budgeting, etc. A heavily administrative position with long hours outside of the kitchen, excellent computer skills and a willingness to do whatever needed to get the job done a must. Five years experience and schedule flexibility are key. Full benefits $55–75,000 + bonus. Email cover letter and resume to staffing@backtoearth.com, 510-652-2000.

 

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Executive Chef needed for Terrain, a new organic dining venue opening in Berkeley in 2009. The ideal candidate for this cutting edge space across from the UC campus will have solid background managing a 100-seat venue with a breakfast café, full lunch with a strong “to go” component and dinner destination dishes for pre-performance clientele, as well as general dining and full bar menus.

Our goal is affordable, 100% organic food expressive of a commitment to simple, seasonal flavors with approximately 50% vegetarian choices. Email jsimon@fullplateconsulting.com. Be sure to put “Terrain Chef” in the Subject.

 

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General Manager interested in creating an environment where a sense of warmth and community are critical to success. Terrain, a unique organic restaurant with patio opening in Berkeley’s David Brower Center in 2009 will have a built-in clientele of office conference attendees and nearby university regulars, as well as neighborhood locals, pre-performance diners and anyone looking for high quality, creative, yet affordable fare.

We seek an experienced leader to oversee FOH for lunch with a strong “to go” component, casual dinner destination dining and full bar. Email jsimon@fullplateconsulting.com or fax resumes to Full Plate Restaurant Consulting at 707-795-4885. Be sure to put “Terrain GM” in the Subject.

 

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Delfina Restaurant Seeks General Manager

We're looking for an individual who is passionate and excited about food and wine, passionate about service and in love with the restaurant business.

This person will have prior fine dining management experience and at least five years in the business.

The right candidate will have excellent leadership skills: the ability to inspire, train and develop staff. This person will also be organized, have excellent communication skills and loads of energy.

Our general manager will oversee Delfina Restaurant and Pizzeria Delfina next door—a total staff of seventy-five.

Please paste your resume into the body of the email. Do not send as an attachment. Attachments will not be opened. Email anne@delfinasf.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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