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Chocolate Adventure Contest

OCTOBER 7, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Hey there, thanks to everyone who turned out for the Macy’s Cellar event last week! Will I see you at WhiskyFest this Friday? I definitely know four of you are going because you won tickets on tablehopper! A special thanks goes to Frank Melis of Golden Gate Cellars, who kindly offered up his own set of tickets (he couldn’t go) so I could give away four instead of two! (If you want to check out his groovy wine shop, wait until he returns to SF on 10/17!)

Speaking of wine, I have another video appearance on Wine Couch with Evan Goldstein—this one is about the food and wine at Perbacco, enjoy!

Oh, and I am getting ready to head to LA for a few days at the end of next week—anyone have some new can’t-miss bites and bars to tell me about? It’s been a while since I lived there, so of course I’ll be hitting Mozza, but also getting a Zankou fix! Can’t wait.

Tick tock, the giveaways don’t stop! This week I have some new book releases from Ten Speed Press to hand out. First, I have three copies of the fantastic A16 Food + Wine cookbook (you can read all about it here), and I also have three copies of the just-released Artisanal Cocktails book by Scott Beattie, the bar manager of the acclaimed Cyrus in Healdsburg. We’re talking 50 exceptional drink recipes—both pretty and tasty. Whether you win a copy of Scott’s book or not, you can visit him at a variety of Bay Area book signings, from October 13th at Flying Goat in Healdsburg to Cantina on November 3rd to Macy's Cellar in San Francisco on December 2nd (his appearances are all listed on his website).

To enter to win, just forward this week’s tablehopper newsletter to two friends (or more, you star!), telling them why they would dig a subscription to the tablehopper e-column, and CC or BCC so I know you sent it (I promise not to use anyone’s email address!). Deadline to enter is midnight on Sunday October 12th. I’ll let you know next week if you’re a winner, and you get your pick of the books. There are six chances to win!

Good luck!

~Marcia subscribe
the chatterbox

Chocolate Adventure ContestOCTOBER 7, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO True to my name, I’ve had quite the imageweek of tastes, many of them new, so I thought I’d do a fun mini-recap. Taste-hopping, if you will. First, have you tried the roasted corn ice cream with skillet bread and honey and bacon brittle at Nopa? Mother of god. And with some bourbon to sip on the side? Uh huh. Flavor nirvana.

imageAnother winner: my macchiato and chocolate spice doughnut from Dynamo Donuts at Four Barrel Coffee on Sunday (we had three kinds of doughnut to choose from—yes, we chose all three). If only every Sunday started this way.

Also got to try the new Bols Genever at a launch party last week (NOT for breakfast). Look for the smoky glass bottle at bars around town—it’s a delicious Dutch spirit based on malt wine and botanicals, unlike anything you’ve ever tasted, and sure to appear in many a new cocktail (or classic one being faithfully resuscitated).

Had a charming meal at Velo Rouge Cafe on Thursday during the new weekly supper night, courtesy of personal chef Melissa Claire. It’s a fun night because you sit with strangers at three communal tables while munching on a downright generous prix-fixe meal for $45, all made with seasonal, organic, and quality ingredients (the flat-iron steak with chimichurri hit the spot). It’s a casual, easygoing, and homey affair—so if you’re looking for a little something different than the usual restaurant set-up, check it out. You can read the weekly menu and learn more on Melissa’s site.

Was also thrilled to have literally the last bite from Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski’s table at the Sunday Supper reception: warm sweetbread and tongue terrine, bound with some crème fraîche. Like, whoa. Which reminds me: Stuart and Nicole have returned from their month of marriage festivities and are full-tilt into their private cheffing. If you have a holiday gig coming up, and want some supreme vittles, email Stuart at

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the perfetto clam pizza I had over lunch last Friday at the new Pizzeria Delfina California Street location, and for dessert, the affogato made with espresso off their Faema E61 and homemade gelato. So very meow, although a few items were less-than-meow (eh, growing pains). 2406 California St. at Fillmore, 415-440-1189.

And in the not very meow at all department, ~THERE’S ANOTHER PURSE-SNATCHER ON THE LOOSE~, brazenly hitting up some of the city’s best restaurants. He seems to have a penchant for the Embarcadero, because he’s been spotted and/or has struck at places like Boulevard, Chaya, Americano, Waterbar, Shanghai 1930, Town Hall, and Salt House over the past two weeks. I spoke with some GMs at a few of the restaurants, and here’s what he seems to look like: he’s in his 30s or early 40s, shaved head with ears that stick out, stocky build (maybe about 5'6"–5'10"), and appears to be ethnically mixed, with medium-toned skin. He has a prison-style homemade tattoo on the inside of his left forearm, and a more decorative tat on his left bicep. He’s smooth and dresses to fit in well—he was spotted with a white button shirt with short sleeves, tucked into jeans or dark pants, and he carries a shopping bag (it was once a GAP bag). He will either hit a restaurant’s bar area, or smiles at the host and then goes into the dining room, taking womens’ purses off the back of their chairs and putting them directly into his shopping bag, and then he’s out of there. He’s been spotted alone, as well as with a few accomplices who “shadow” him, including an Asian woman, but he tends to mix up his company.

So if any of you are bringing a purse or shoulder bag into a restaurant, put it where you can see it. We had a bunch of purse-snatcher nonsense happen last year too, so it’s always an unfortunate possibility, especially when times are tougher than usual. Ladies, have you tried a purse holder yet? I know Town Hall / Salt House / Anchor & Hope just bought 60 of them for their guests to use while dining there—it’s a lot better than having your purse on the floor, or on the back of your chair where you can’t see it. And front of house staff, be on the lookout for this guy—he’s pretty brazen. If you are FOH and want to see a picture of him, Matt Stuhl, the Director of F&B at Americano, has a security picture of the purse snatcher that he can forward to you—just call the restaurant at 415-278-3777 and ask for Matt. Everyone in the restaurant community wants this guy stopped, immediately.

There’s another shift happening at ~ORSON~ in SoMa: chef de cuisine Ryan Farr is leaving on October 25th to pursue other interests (more on this in a moment). The restaurant has been open for seven months and is continuing to make adjustments to its style and format, not exactly unexpected in this increasingly challenging economy. I spoke with Elizabeth Falkner, who said upon Farr’s departure, Orson’s menu will be morphing into a brasserie style, a modern Stars of sorts, offering honest and creative fare at a reasonable price. She said to look for the wood-burning oven being utilized even more, for dishes like mussels, plus additions like a modern Caesar, boudin blanc with potatoes mousseline, and grilled items, including grilled quail. Falkner also said she is considering adding some familiar dishes to the menu, like a burger, and steak frites with creamed spinach pudding, but there will still be elements of flair and playful flavor.

Falkner stated, “The restaurant has been stamped too much as a fine dining location, and I want to broaden its audience and appeal to more people.” (I tend to think this is what happens when you open a stylish place in SF—some equate stylish with fancy, which it’s not.) In the meantime, Falkner and Farr are gearing up for the Whiskey and Pig dinner this Wednesday, and their Beard House dinner on October 14th. She is not looking for a replacement at the moment, and said with this economy it makes sense to hold on that for a bit. Instead, she is working closely with the restaurant’s talented sous chefs, Elgin and Josh, during this transition. Falkner added, “Restaurants are supposed to take care of people when they’re not feeling great, and besides, people need to drink in times like this.” I say amen, and to that end, don’t forget their killer happy hour from 5pm–7pm, with $5 drinks.

Meanwhile, Ryan Farr is off to pursue his interests, which include working more with nonprofit and educational/community groups like Nextcourse. He will also be the new CHEFS (Conquering Homelessness Through Employment in Food Service) instructor starting in November, plus continuing his work with butchery, charcuterie, and will also be doing some private chef gigs (at the end of the month he is off to New York to host a high-end dinner for a client). Farr stated, “I’ve been working with Elizabeth and Sabrina [Riddle] for the past 2 ½ years, I have been very fortunate to share their vision and dreams on this project. I love this restaurant and its wonderful staff, I know that it will be a success and I am looking forward to seeing it bloom.”

I wanted to extend a big congratulations to ~JAMIE LAUREN~, the executive chef of Absinthe, who will be the sole chef representing SF in the upcoming and fifth season of Bravo’s Top Chef. You can read more about whom she will be competing against here. The season kicks off November 12th!

And now, a couple items in the hi-lo category. I’m already a big fan of the burger at ~SPRUCE~, and now they had to go and make it all extra-Spruce-y with their new Sunday special of Burgers & Burgundy. Through November, Spruce will open three boutique red Burgundies from their extensive cellar. The burger is $14, and the three different selections of Burgundy are available at $12, $25, and $50. A flight of all three is also available for $40. The selection will rotate each week and may include Saint-Romain, Christophe Buisson 2006; Mercurey, Les Montots, Aubert de Villaine 2006; or Nuits-Saint-Georges, Les Bousselots, Robert Chevillon 1999. You can also “spruce” up your burger with house-made pancetta for $3 or seared foie gras for $13. See you there. Oh, and congrats to the Bacchus team who is in New York gearing up to accept an award from Esquire magazine as one of their “Best New Restaurants.” 3640 Sacramento St. at Spruce, 415-931-5100.

Folks were fired up in the Mission last week when Anthony Myint, a cook at Bar Tartine, started his new late-night gourmet street food venture called, appropriately enough, ~MISSION STREET FOOD~. On Thursday nights from 8pm–2am, you can walk up to the food truck he’s subletting at the corner of 21st and Mission for fresh home-made flatbread sandwiches with combos like fried pork belly, marinated jicama, pickled jalapeno, and cilantro aioli (you can peek at a Yelper’s pic of this new-style PB&J here), or a veggie one with king trumpet mushrooms, triple-fried potato, garlic confit, and scallion sour cream, all for $4–$5 each. He emailed me to say last Thursday his truck wasn’t delivered until late, so expect a few kinks while the deets get worked out, but let’s hope this is a tradition that continues. You can read updates on the truck’s blog here. Corner of 21st St. and Mission.

A while back I mentioned a café that was opening called Stefano Café in the Outer Mission. Well, a tablehopper wrote in to tell me the place is much more than a cafe. Namely, it’s now ~STEFANO CAFE & RESTAURANT~, serving authentic pasta dishes and pizzas (you can read the menu online). I spoke with Sicilian Stefano, and he said the lasagna is delicioso. He also mentioned their coffee is from Messina, and they feature other Italian products. The place has 32 seats, and serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Hours are 9am–3pm, and then 5pm–10pm daily. I’ll check it out soon and will report back! 59 30th St. at San Jose, 415-970-9213.

Not too far away, another tablehopper reader wrote in to say, “The latest I have heard about ~BELGANO~ in Noe Valley is that it is going to become a ~TUTTIMELON~ [frozen yogurt place]. Their website indicates that too and I had heard that the folks who ran Belgano are in fact the guys who are the ones behind the franchising of Tuttimelon (can't confirm that part though).” Thanks, T! 3901 24th St. at Noe.

And now, a brunch report. ~RESTAURANT CASSIS~ in the lower Fillmore is kicking off brunch service beginning this Saturday October 11th. The menu includes omelettes, poached egg dishes, caramelized French toast (natch), and some more lunch-y items—perfect for a weekend brunch (or lunch) date followed by a movie at the nearby Sundance Kabuki. Cassis is also working on adding outdoor sidewalk seating very soon. Hours will be Sat–Sun 10:30am–2:30pm. 2101 Sutter St. at Steiner, 415-440-4500.

~PAUL K RESTAURANT~ in Hayes Valley has added brunch service, with menu items like brioche French toast, steak and eggs, and duck confit hash, with most hovering around $11. Sat–Sun 10:30am–2:30pm. 199 Gough St. at Oak, 415-552-7132.

Over in Cow Hollow, ~SPUNTINO DI OTTIMISTA’S~ grand opening is this Thursday October 9th. To recap, there will be a take-out selection of artisan cheeses, cured meats, and specialty food products, plus panini, par-baked pizzas, prepared foods, salads, and pastries made fresh daily in Ottimista’s kitchen just up the street. A permit for retail purchases of wine should be in effect in November. There will also be catering and optional sommelier wine tasting services for in-home and corporate events. Hours are Tue–Fri 11am–7pm, and Sat–Sun 10am–7pm. 1957 Union St. at Laguna, 415-931-6410.

And then in the Marina, if everything goes according to plan, the 65-seat ~CHILAYO~ will be opening in the old Andale spot on Chestnut this weekend. This is the third venture from owner Jorge Saldana of Tlaloc in the Financial District and Cancún in Berkeley. Chilayo is a Jaliscan stew-like dish of pork loin with vegetables, and Saldana said to expect some new dishes on Chilayo’s menu, many inspired by the mercado and sidewalk stands of Mexico. A peek at the menu includes authentic and affordable enchiladas, tamales, tlacoyos, plus a number of tortas (like one with poblano rajas!), a taquito special each day, and seafood dishes. Everything will be a la carte, instead of the standard beans and rice combo plates. Ingredients from his organic farm in Sonoma County will be featured, including a variety of heirloom tomatoes and peppers (hello salsas!), and even farm-fresh eggs. Lunch and dinner will be served daily 10am–10pm, with breakfast on the weekends. 2150 Chestnut St. at Steiner, 415-674-1814.

I didn’t get a chance to check out the opening of ~LILAH BELLE'S~ this weekend, the new healthy eating spot for take-out (or eat-in) by Dolores Park. Another new place that is similarly based on offering pre-prepared nutritious and delicious food will be image~BEAUTIFULL~ in the former Cafe Lo Cubano space in Laurel Heights. The plan is to open this takeout location in mid-January, offering “five-star spa food, with a foundation of nutritional science and research, and outstanding flavor.” The food is prepared fresh, and there will be on-site seating and grab-and-go options, with eventual expansion to high-end grocers. You can also have the food delivered to your home. (Two more locations are also in the works outside the City.) Items will range from $5 for smaller dishes to up to $20 for a salmon entrée. I had a chance to try a few of the meal items and I found the food to be tasty and well prepared (my steak was impressively tender, and the zucchini bread for breakfast was tender and moist); Donna Insalaco of Paula Leduc Catering and Dr. Dean Ornish were involved in the development of the products/concept. 3401 California St. at Laurel.

Next Thursday October 16th is ~MARIQUITA FARM NIGHT~, with another “guerilla” vegetable delivery. You can pick up your $25 “mystery box” from 5pm–7pm—just click here to place your order, and swing by Piccino for your pick up. 801 22nd St. at Tennessee, 415-824-4224.

More farm goodness: on Tuesday October 21st, ~JACK FALSTAFF~ executive chef Jonnatan Leiva is hosting a farm-to-table dinner highlighting Star Route Farms little lettuces, Manteca Farms suckling pig, and Iron Horse Vineyards. Guests will be able to mingle with the growers and winemaker all in one night. The dinner will be held from 5:30pm–10pm, $100 per person. For more info or to make a reservation, call 415-836-9239. 598 Second St. at Brannan.

Litquake continues: this Saturday October 11th is the Lit Crawl through the Mission (from 6pm–9:30pm), and Edible San Francisco presents ~A SMORGASBOORD OF FOOD WRITERS~ at 18 Reasons during the first session, from 6pm–7pm. Allison Arieff, Novella Carpenter, Sara Deseran, Andy Griffin, Bonnie Azab Powell, and emcee Bryant Terry will all be reading. Free. 18 Reasons, 593 Guerrero St. at 18th St.

The 7x7 Bits and Bites blog had the scoop on Joseph Manzare’s new joint, ~HECHO~, “a high-end sushi and robata restaurant with a touch of Mexican.” Which I guess means tequila and tataki? It’s going to open in SoMa in the beginning of 2009 on Stevenson Street near 2nd Street. Read all about it here.

Oh, and wanted to report that less than a week after the ~TYSON HUNGER RELIEF SITE~ kicked off, they went over the top with 2,000 comments. Which means 200,000 pounds of high-protein foods are headed for Bay Area food banks. Good work.

A tablehopper reader wanted to be sure I knew chef Fabio Flagiello, formerly of Risibisi Restaurant and Wine Bar in Sonoma County, is now at ~BRIO RISTORANTE~ in Burlingame. Flagiello was raised in Trieste, was reportedly the guy who taught Tony Shalhoub how to cook for the movie Big Night. On October 22nd, he is celebrating the restaurant’s grand opening in the former train depot building that is now Brio. For a look at the menu and wine list go here. 1190 California Dr. at Broadway, Burlingame, 650-348-6615.

Over in the East Bay, ~MUA~, a new restaurant-bar-lounge-art studio-gallery-neighborhood joint is opening Monday. The husband and wife team includes Soizic owner Hi-Suk Dong and his wife, San Ju Dong. More from them about their vision for Mua: “[it’s] a place where the amazing variety of people they have gotten to know over the years as restaurateurs and artists, would enjoy coming to eat, drink, see some art, hear some music, watch some video, have an event or just hang out. Mua aspires to be a pan-generational cross-cultural place with interesting as well as comforting food in a lively, eclectic space… seasonal and random inspirations from San Ju's fabulous new additions to her kitchen staff will also be featured.” The Deco building will be open for dinner starting Monday October 13th and will expand to lunches soon. 2442a Webster St., at Broadway, 510-238-1100.

And then over in Hayward, ~BIJOU RESTAURANT & BAR~ is offering contemporary French/California cuisine at reasonable prices by executive chef Christian Nam-Hee, a native of Paris. The wine list was compiled by Tom O’Connor of Manresa, and there is also a full bar. The space sounds sleek, with one-of-a-kind glowing ring chandeliers, leather chairs, a lounge area, plus an outdoor sidewalk patio. Lunch and dinner daily (until midnight Thu–Sat). 1036 B St. at Main, Hayward, 510-888-1092.

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Chocolate Adventure Contest

Chocolate and Thai basil? It’s not that farfetched anymore.

That’s why we’re calling all bartenders, pastry chefs, sous chefs, stage-de-cuisines, pantry chefs, short-order cooks, chef wannabees, home cooks—anyone with culinary imagination—to the Chocolate Adventure Contest. Create a few inventive recipes using Scharffen Berger chocolate plus at least one adventure ingredient. Submit your recipes by January 4, 2009. The judges will do the rest. Among them: John Scharffenberger, Elizabeth Falkner and Alice Medrich.

The rewards?

$5000 goes to a grand-prize winning recipe in each category: Sweet, Savory and Beverage. Plus, each grand-prize winner gets a mention in Saveur magazine, on TuttiFoodie and in the Scharffen Berger e-newsletter, plus Scharffen Berger chocolates, and award-winning cookbooks by their esteemed authors. There are second-prize goodies, too.

So enter the contest. You might win $5,000.

fresh meat




151 Noe St.
Cross: Henry St.
San Francisco, CA 94144


Tue–Thu 5:30pm–10pm
Fri–Sat 5:30pm–11pm

Apps $6–$16
Entrées $16–$28
Desserts $7

OCTOBER 7, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Hello, mon amour. You know how much I adore you, don’t you? Oui, I am feeling romantique tonight. Let’s go get a bite—I want to drink too much red wine and make eyes at you. Besides, you make me hungry. I know the cutest little place, it’s right on a corner in Duboce Triangle. Yes, the pretty neighborhood with all the tree-lined streets and wide sidewalks to amble along—let’s walk there. What’s the bistro called? Oh, it’s ~L’ARDOISE~. Yes, that’s how you say it: lard-whaaz. It means blackboard in French. You love it when I speak French to you, non?

If a place was going to make you say je t’aime to someone special this fall, or perhaps inspire an affair, L’Ardoise just might be the spot. This très charmant bistro is from chef-owner Thierry Clement, who was previously the executive chef at Fringale in SoMa. I love it when someone goes out on their own, and ends up with a hit on their hands. My sister and I dined here on a Tuesday, and the place was packed by 7pm with happy diners. Granted, it’s small, er, very cozy, so it does fill up quick. You’ll ideally want to make a reservation, because there isn’t any room where you can wait inside if you’re trying to score a table (or if the couple who has your table hasn’t stopped being all lovey-dovey and paid their bill and gotten a room already).

The candlelit dining room is full of red tones, with wood banquettes and accents, and the carpeted floor helps absorb the buzz. The lighting is a bit dim for my taste because I really like to look at and admire my food before I scarf it, but it does make for a flattering, sexy atmosphere.

The bistro-style menu is unpretentious and quite affordable, including the trio of can’t-miss tiger prawn raviole ($10) that come in a buttery herb sauce vierge, with a touch of dill. Granted, the ravioli’s “pasta” was actually a won ton wrapper, but they are delicate and delectable nonetheless. (Let’s just say the shotgun kitchen doesn’t look like the ideal place to make a bunch of homemade pasta.) I was also sold on the butter lettuce salad ($8), crisp and cool whole leaves dressed in a unique smoked olive oil vinaigrette with shavings of petit Basque cheese—so nicely balanced.

Many can’t imagine a French bistro without escargots; the snails here ($11) come in little hollowed-out potatoes, with a garlicky parsley sauce. They were a bit chewy—not quite the plump, succulent kind I’ve been spoiled with before (and prefer), but the execution was flavorful and homey.

There was no way I was passing up the much-lauded duck leg confit ($19) for an entrée. Smart move (check out the big brain on Brad!), because the rich and crispy duck formed a “wow, sorry, I can’t share my dinner with you” kind of bite when paired with its accompaniment of nicely dressed greens, and decadent pommes landaises, a potato execution that is puuuure evil (raise pinkie finger to your mouth). These spud coins are fried in duck fat, and are accessorized with pieces of bacon for good measure. Uh huh. Shame I have never encountered this execution before, then again, it could be a blessing we didn’t meet until now. Don’t fret—you can get the pommes landaises as a side dish, too.

We also tried the ratatouille ($5) as a side, served in a mini red Le Crueset crock that is chock full of sweet squash, eggplant, onion, and plenty o’ herbs—it’s like snacking in a summery French garden.

I wasn’t as smitten with the almond-crusted barramundi ($18), napped in a savory lobster bisque reduction with a bed of mushrooms—it was overall a bit mushy, and the plate didn’t have the dynamic flavors and textures like the duck confit dish did. I feel like it needs a small side dish to keep your palate interested. I grew slightly jealous of the neighboring table’s plate of steak frites ($18), which a friend of mine simply raves about. I shall return!

There are a few clunker items on the menu that are personal pet peeves of mine, like the filet mignon that lists white truffle oil as an ingredient, or the out-of-season asparagus with the halibut. Small quibbles for me, non-issues for others.

You can finish up with a cheese course (read the blackboard), which I was tempted to eat instead of the classic desserts I have grown fatiguée of seeing (crème brûlée, bread pudding, chocolate fondant, all $7). But in the end, it’s a good thing we didn’t miss the lovely apple tarte tatin, with apple that was neither mushy nor too crisp nor too sweet—it was just right. The chocolate fondant the kitchen sent out was also a fitting finish, a well-executed warm and smooth flourless chocolate cake, but the raspberry coulis was too cloying—I would have been thrilled with some simple crème anglaise instead to highlight the dusky chocolate flavors instead of overwhelming them.

Let’s just say it—the French servers here are as hot as they are efficient. Friendly too. The meal moved along at a nice clip, and they take care of all the details. Example: when you go to the bathroom (where you can inscribe some graffiti or prose on the blackboard), you return to find your napkin folded. And they don’t stand there and look at you helplessly when there’s not enough room to place everything down on your table—they make room. Merci, garçon.

The wine list is affordable and spans enough choices to pair well with the hearty food—mostly French with a few wine country choices, and a smattering of other international selections. It’s also organized by varietal, so if you’re not up on your French wines, you won’t sit there looking like a nitwit (a phenomenon that some wine lists seem to inspire).

The place definitely draws a hodgepodge of diners, from a slew of gay and straight couples all out on dates, ranging from 20-somethings to older, while singles are perched at the bar overlooking the miniscule kitchen. The place isn’t all rosebuds and hushed voices—it has some definite verve and liveliness. In fact, the music was a little funny—I think someone’s iPod had gone awry, spitting out Serge Gainsbourg one moment, and then some D’angelo-esque smoove jams that didn’t quite fit the Frenchie vibe. The menu jumps around a little bit that way as well. But in the end, this is exactly the comforting kind of food and place I’ll want during these upcoming chilly and damp months. À bientôt!

the lush

Chocolate Adventure ContestOCTOBER 7, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO This Wednesday October 8th is the ~MICHTER'S RYE WHISKEY MIXING COMPETITION~ at Rye, starting at 7pm. Come on down and enjoy complimentary Michter's cocktails and appetizers. 688 Geary St. at Leavenworth, 415-786-7803.

Bourbon? Bacon? Yes, it call all be yours at a ~BOURBON & BACON TASTING~ this Wednesday night (October 8th) at the City Club. This small mixer will feature a variety of pork-inspired hors d'oeuvres, including mini-corn dogs, bacon-wrapped scallops, and pulled pork sliders, plus the apple-maple-bacon donuts from Dynamo, alongside specialty cocktails featuring some of City Club's favorite bourbons. There will also be wine and some non-pork inspired nibbles as well. You must RSVP for this event. Please RSVP, or call 415-362-2480 x200. Cost is $25 per person, when calling in your RSVP, please let the City Club know that Roberta Economidis and tablehopper forwarded the invitation. 155 Sansome St. at Pine.

~PRESS CLUB~ has started hosting winemaker meet and greets, with the winemakers pouring behind their individual tables and chatting with guests. On Tuesday October 21st, all four of its Napa winemakers from Chateau Montelena Winery, Miner, Pahlmeyer, and Saintsbury will be there, from 2pm–7pm. And then on Tuesday October 28th, winemakers from Fritz Winery, Hanna Winery and Vineyards, Landmark Vineyards, and Mount Eden Vineyards will be available to offer tasting notes and to answer questions from 6pm–8pm. 20 Yerba Buena Lane at Market, 415-494-2000.

~BUSHI-TEI~ is hosting an omakase and sake pairing dinner on October 22nd, five courses, six sakes, one importer (who will be present). Here’s the menu: amuse and Yuki No Bosha Akitakomachi Daiginjo; hotate scallop ravioli, kiwi fruit vinaigrette, and Eiko Fuji Namazake Junmai Ginjo; Muscovy duck breast, matsutake, yuzu and Shichi Hon Yari Junmai; Saury pike, kabocha risotto, semi-dried tomato chutney and Chikurin Fukamari Junmai; antelope, wild mushroom ragout, chestnut five-spice confiture and Wataribune Junmai Ginjo; nigori poached fruit mélange, St. Andre cheese and Hou Hou Shu Sparkling Sake, plus petit fours. 6:30pm. $85 per person (does not include tax and gratuity). 1638 Post St. at Laguna, 415-440-4959.
the socialite


Baking Boot Camp
Oct. 23rd–26th, 2008

Various locations


OCTOBER 7, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO I just received a copy of Sur La Table's The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet, and was happy to see the accompanying ~BAKING BOOT CAMP CLASSES~ that coincide with the release of the book. The demo classes will run approximately three hours, and you must be 18 or older. It’s time to show your pumpkin pie crust who’s boss.

Here’s more: “Baking season here! When the weather turns cool, there’s nothing better than a home filled with the scent of just-baked bread, an apple pie warm from the oven, after-school cookies, or a soft, tender cake.
“Many people are intimidated by baking, but whether you’re a first-time baker, or a seasoned pro, Cindy Mushet, author of the new book, The Art and Soul of Baking, has got the tips, tricks, and friendly advice to make every baking day a good one. During a dynamic demo, she’ll explain many of the most important techniques in baking, why they work, and how to avoid problems (as well as how to fix them!), plus five important tips for success that will improve your baking before you even turn on the mixer. She’ll answer your baking questions, and you’ll leave armed with knowledge that will apply to anything you bake.
“Cindy has the ability to make baking easily understood and entirely accessible. No more wondering what happened to your melted pie crust, heavy-textured cake, fallen soufflé or leaden bread. Whether you’re considering your first pumpkin pie or you’re looking for the fine points that make good baking even better, Cindy’s sense of humor and love for her craft will both inspire you and give you the tools needed to create wonderful baked goods at home.”

MENU: Versatile Bread Dough - Spongecake - Chocolate Toffee Scones - Classic Apple Pie with Flaky Crust - Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and Caramel Sauce - Chocolate Soufflé with Cocoa Nib

Date: October 23rd, 2008
Location: Sur La Table, 23 University Ave., Los Gatos, 408-395-6946
Time: 6:30pm
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Date: October 25th, 2008
Location: Sur La Table, 77 Maiden Lane, San Francisco, 415-732-7900
Time: 3pm
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Date: October 26th, 2008
Location: Sur La Table, 855 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, 650-289-0019
Time: 2pm
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One Night, One Heart Dinner
Sun., Nov. 9th, 2008

Various locations



OCTOBER 7, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Last year I was honored to attend one of the Zen Hospice dinners during their annual ~ONE NIGHT, ONE HEART~ fundraiser. This year, I am even more honored to be invited back as an event co-chair, and host for one of the meals! This year, 250 people will gather around tables throughout the Bay Area for a collection of intimate dinner parties to support the innovative work of Zen Hospice Project as they commemorate their 21st anniversary.

The array of chefs, hosts, and locations is exciting, including chefs Dennis Leary of Canteen and the Sentinel, Jamie Lauren of Absinthe (and Top Chef contestant!), and the dinner with yours truly features a double play of Elizabeth Falkner (Orson, Citizen Cake) and Ryan Scott (Mission Beach Café), with wines from Murray Street Vineyards of the Barossa Valley in Australia.

You can view all the dinners and choices with this PDF link. $1,000 assures your first dinner choice, $500 assures one of your two dinner choices, and $275 assures one of your three dinner choices. Please respond by Monday October 27th for best dinner placement. You can print out the faxable reservation card from the website here.

Dinners are valued at $40 per ticket. Contributions in excess of that amount are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. This is an amazing organization that helps people in extraordinary ways—you can learn more, and even make a donation on their website at

the starlet

OCTOBER 7, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Chazz Palminteri was spotted at Piazza Pellegrini.

Cutie Jared Leto came into Absinthe Brasserie with a female companion, and ordered “all veggie” (he’s a vegetarian).

To kick off the opening of the Sundance Catalog store in Corte Madera, Robert Redford dined at The Lark Creek Inn on Thursday October 2nd, along with his fiancée, Sibylle Szaggars, Stephen Gordon, CEO of Sundance Group, and 22 other guests, including investors in the store. Redford enjoyed the signature Lark Creek Pot Roast.


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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