tablehopper
table of contents This week's tablehopper: do you eat what I eat?

the chatterbox
the word on the street
the lush
put it on my tab
the socialite
shindigs/feasts/festivals
the wino
in vino veritas
the hardhat
watch your step
the starlet
no photos please

the sponsor
this round is on me

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DECEMBER 23, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Hey gang, you ready for your week of holiday hootenanny-time?! And yes, I have got to get these Christmas carols off repeat in my head. Happy Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, and Buon Natale, and Merry imageEverything! My week features a triple play, starting with my dad’s birthday this Tuesday night, our family’s Feast of However Many Fishes We Want To Prepare on Christmas Eve, and then a lovely Christmas Day with my grandma (I can’t wait for our annual breakfast of my Mom’s Christmas bread, my dad’s killer homemade sausage, and fried eggs, oh yeah!). Family feasts and gatherings like mine make me count my blessings—especially since we don’t have any bad cooks, ha ha!

I enjoyed reading this Boston Globe article forwarded to me about an East Coast Feast of the Seven Fishes, and check out my friend Maroun’s Lebanese Christmas Eve spread (recipes included). I love me some international overeating.

The chilly and wet weather provided the perfect timing for this week’s issue of the wino from Jessica Boyd on hot sake. And we also have a hardhat for you. Be sure to check the socialite for info about the cooking demo I am hosting in January for the Dine About Town kick-off event at the Macy’s Cellar. I was all fired up to write a review of a ramen place for you, but I have too many presents to wrap! Sorry, presents trump “the regular” this week. ’Tis the season.

Oh, I almost forgot: I’ll be in Los Angeles celebrating the New Year at my friend’s sweet pad in the Hollywood Hills, awwwww yeah, and am looking forward to checking out more of the ethnic places that remain on my list from my last visit. Since I will be traveling, next week’s issue is going to be pretty light. (Unlike me, oh well.)

It wouldn’t be the holidays without some giveaway action, would it? That’s right, and this one is a boozy one! I’m actually giving away two books to each winner: one is Wings of Cherubs by Guillermo Toro-Lira, a book about his intensive and historical quest to discover San Francisco’s secret and original Pisco Punch recipe (the one you can drink at Pisco). The second book is The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks by Dale Degroff, features 100 “essential” recipes, from the Bee’s Knees to a Gin Fizz, with great quotes, instructions, and yay, pictures.

But here’s where I could really use your help! All I want for Christmas is more subscribers! (I already asked Santa, we’ll see what turns up.) So if you are going to enter to win this giveaway, please forward this week’s tablehopper newsletter to a minimum of three buddies, but even more would be so very fabulous. Just tell your friends why they would dig a subscription to the tablehopper e-column (if you call it a blog, you are disqualified, I wish I was kidding!), and CC or BCC luckyme@tablehopper.com so I know you sent it—I promise I won’t use anyone’s email address. Deadline to enter is midnight on Friday January 2nd since I know many of you are traveling. I’ll notify the three winners soon thereafter! Yee haw! Oh wait, Ho Ho Ho!

Okay dear readers, here’s wishing you safe travels, tasty eats, inspired drinks, and the happiest of holidays with your family and friends.

Happy Merry!

~Marcia subscribe
the chatterbox

BiteClubDECEMBER 23, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Okay, before we dive out of holiday happenings, I had to forward this ~CUTE AND CLEVER HOLIDAY NOTE~ I received from Sent Sovi in Saratoga:

‘Twas the holiday season of 2008 and all through the house, many creatures were stirring, but definitely not a mouse. (They cause problems with the health department.)

The settings were placed on the tables with care with hopes that our guests would soon be there (in this economy, hope is a good thing).

The wine was nestled snugly in the cellar, aging gracefully, hopefully becoming better (or tempting me to transfer it to my “personal cellar”).

With me in my coat and Khin in her dress, we settled in to serve our wintertime best. (She looks a lot better in a dress than I do in a chef coat.)

The rain pounded, the pots did clank, but by five o’clock it was all in shape. (Yes, our staff does read this - 5:05 is not 5:00, actually 4:50 is 5:00.)

Through the door came with such a quiet sound a steady stream of people that wanted to sit down! And down they did, and down they will, at first one couple, and then the room did fill.

The people feasted and laughed all in good cheer; I smiled in thanks and hope to see everyone again in the New Year.

Happy holidays to our loyal customers, staff and vendors. Thank you for all of your support.

Josiah Slone
Chef/Owner, Sent Sovi

Many of you in or who follow the food blogging community are already aware of this, but for the rest of you, the ~FIFTH ANNUAL MENU FOR HOPE~ has started! It’s an inspiring worldwide fundraising effort by food bloggers for a designated charity. This year the charity of choice is the United Nations World Food Programme, with the funds specifically going to an important school lunch program in Lesotho. Menu for Hope is hosted by Pim of Chez Pim, and is the annual major fundraising event for food bloggers. Last year, the event raised over $90,000 for the Lesotho program. This year’s amount is currently at $20,000.

The event is a raffle, with each ticket costing $10. There are a bunch of prizes this year, broken into areas of the world so everyone can participate, from the West Coast to the East Coast to Europe to Asia to Canada. Yup, some tickets make a great last minute holiday gift!

Many of the prizes are rather amazing, and how you strategize is up to you. One year I won tickets to the TASTE3 conference, my first time to attend, so I was beyond stoked. And some companies match charity donations, so be sure to look into that. Winners are announced on January 12th. Best of luck, and please consider buying some tickets to this fantastic raffle, and wonderful cause!

imageI was bopping around the Mission yesterday, running a few last-minute holiday errands when I really needed to be home writing my column, but at least I turned the outing into research! First stop: I managed to visit ~PHAT PHILLY~ on their first soft opening day! Okay, I know we’re all getting fat (NOT with a ph) on Bûche de Noël and fried fish and latkes and panettone, but upon my first bite of my classic Philly cheesesteak (made with Niman Ranch beef, caramelized onions, Whiz, and topped with hot cherry peppers), I had zero guilt. Why? Because it was so delicious that my brain stopped paying attention to calories. Well, maybe I felt a little guilt, because I also tried their criss-cut waffle fries with their house-made cheddar sauce made with Newcastle Ale, topped with sweet caramelized onions ($4). Sorry, my heart: hurts so good!

The 7" Amoroso rolls are flown in from Philly (the “phat” 12" size will be start arriving in early January) and are super soft. And let’s hear it for a quality beef sandwich for only $5.95 (the phat size will be $9.25). Until the 12" rolls arrive, the owner was talking about offering a “buy one get one half-off” deal or something like that—if your appetite is being demanding like that, ask and find out. There are some vegetarian options, eleven kinds with meat, plus chicken wings (BBQ or Buffalo), Italian beef sandwiches (even the giardiniera comes from Chicago), salads, and milkshakes! East Coast treats like Tastykakes, Herr’s Pretzel’s and Chips, and Just Born Peanut Chews are coming soon. There are lots of homemade sauces, like the marinara, cheddar beer sauce, and BBQ. Beer (Pilsner Urquell, Blue Moon, and Newcastle) will be on tap any day now—just waiting on permits. Oh, and there are free refills on sodas! Enjoy. Open daily 11am–10pm, and late-night weekend hours are coming soon—hopefully. 3388 24th St. at Valencia, 415-550-PHAT (7428).

I also trucked over to ~HUMPHRY SLOCOMBE~, the ice cream shop off 24th Street that is slated to open either Friday or Saturday, but of course that date could slip—especially considering all the hell owner Jake Godby (formerly of Coi, Fifth Floor, Boulevard) has gone through to get this place open. You’ll be able to try 10–12 flavors, and during the soft opening period they will only be serving one size—a single serving—and no sundaes yet. But check this out: during the first few days of opening, Jake will be offering “pay what you want/can,” a la Radiohead. Sweet. Some of the opening flavors will be secret breakfast (bourbon and cornflakes), coconut sherbet, and balsamic caramel. Check out the entire line-up of creamy culinary concoctions here—I foresee restaurants ordering the foie gras and black walnut flavors (or maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part). The space has red Woolworth’s swivel chairs that date back to 1947, a bright blue awning, and looks cheerful and modern. 2790 Harrison St. at 24th St., 415-550-6971.

While we’re in the Mission, I finally had a chance to check out ~MISSION STREET FOOD~ last week, the Thursday night event with rotating cooks that takes over Lung Shan. It was such a cool scene, with all kinds of ages, from little kids to Mission hipsters to couples to industry folks to groups of friends out for a bite. The servers were so kind, the vibe was fun, and hello, let’s hear it for the poutine from Carlo at Piccino! Yeah, Marin Sun Farms beef and marrow gravy, with Cowgirl Creamery cheese curds, and Kennebec fries, holla! Some of the best $7 I’ve spent this month. I was also communing with the house special, the gooey cheesesteak (oh jeez, what is up with all the cheesesteaks in my life this week?) with pasilla peppers in a homemade flatbread, with onion and cheese ($6.50). $2 Tecates, oh yeah. Kudos to cook Anthony Myint from Bar Tartine for keeping this going—it feels like such a unique and authentic San Francisco thing. Be sure to check it out in the New Year.

Some downtown news: while I was doing some holiday shopping last week, I noticed a note in the window of ~MORROW’S NUT HOUSE~ that is was closing at the end of year. That place has been around for ages—sorry to see it go. It’s always been one of those kooky little SF spots to me. To be honest, I didn’t stop to get the whole scoop because the owner is quite a chatty character (see the name of the business). But for you warm nut lovers, get ‘em while they’re hot… 111 Geary St. at Grant, 415-362-7969.

Also got notice that ~SELLERS MARKETS~ has opened its third location. Plus there’s a new item on the menu: Niman Ranch cheddar cheeseburger sliders, and salt and pepper fries. Open Mon–Fri 7:30am–7:30pm, and Saturdays until 3pm. 721 Market St. at 3rd St., 415-615-0341.

Meanwhile, back in my ‘hood, Kathmandu Cafe has morphed into ~SAFFRON GRILL~. On the menu: North Indian dishes from chef G.S Bankoti, who has been in San Francisco since 1984, cooking at restaurants like Gaylord and New Delhi. Most dishes are around $11, you can check out the menu on the site. 1279 Fulton St. at Divisadero, 415-567-5100.

Also in the 94117, ~NOPA~ has a brand-spanking-new website, and has launched both a food and a spirits blog, check it all out here.

Set that dial: on New Year’s Day while you’re recovering on the couch, tune in to Iron Chef America on the Food Network to watch ~NATE APPLEMAN~ (A16, SPQR, and upcoming Urbino) battle it out against Iron Chef Michael Symon! 9pm.

Details are still sparse on this project, but out in Potrero Hill, ~HORATIUS~ is opening in the old Khyber Pass location. Here’s what I managed to get from owner Horacio Gomes of Head Quarters Advertising: “Horatius will be a Market Gallery featuring rare and gourmet products from local and international vendors as well as a Horatius store brand. Inside the Gallery there will be a bistro which uses some of the products from the Market Gallery in the dishes on the menu. The venue will also be available for corporate and private events. We expect to open in the first few days of March 2009.” When I get some menu details/more info, I’ll be sure to share. 350–360 Kansas Street at 16th St.

According to a permit, ~CITY KEBAB~ is moving into the now-closed (sniff sniff) Tajine space on Russian Hill. 1338 Polk St. at Pine.

Over in a Marina, a bus-ridin’ tablehopper reader writes in: “From my rainy day travels on the 22: ~RAMEN CLUB~ in the Marina closed (looks like it has been open for all of two months).” 3243 Scott St. at Chestnut.

Acme Fine WinesLast week I mentioned an upcoming event on January 6th, ~OPENRESTAURANT WITH SLOW FOOD NATION~. There are a few tweaks to the event: the organizers and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts have increased ticket capacity so they can serve more people, and $20 will now buy you a meal and glass of wine. Attendees are invited to come and participate in the discussion for free. Here’s the new event announcement: “Engage members of Slow Food Nation and the urban farming community as they join OPENrestaurant, a socially engineered informal dinner created by a collective of restaurant professionals. Participants will share a simple meal while chewing on the question: How can the urban landscape be productive? Meal ticket buyers will be able to enjoy dinner and a glass of wine while learning more about urban farming, foraging, and gleaning from people directly involved in these practices. Entry to discussion is open to everyone. Meal ticket is $20 general/$15 YBCA Members; discussion is FREE. For tickets, please call the box office at 415-978-2787 or www.ybca.org. The event begins at 7pm. YBCA Grand Lobby and Room for Big Ideas, 701 Mission St.

~A.G. FERRARI~ is hosting a series of free cheese-pairing parties on Sundays in their 13 stores. Next Sunday December 28th (2pm–4pm) is prosecco and cheese; January 11th you will taste six regional pecorino cheeses paired with Italian mostarde; and January 25th is a tasting of fresh Italian cheeses, like burrata. All cheese tastings are complimentary! Click here for locations.

Tonight, Tuesday December 23rd, at 18 Reasons is ~CHANUKAH PARTY: SPIN AND FRY!~ As the event announcement states, “Feast on gourmet latkes and local wines, spin dreidels and enjoy festive music. BYOM (Bring your own menorah).” 7pm–9pm, $5–15 suggested donation to benefit 18 Reasons. 593 Guerrero St. at 18th St.

Meanwhile, this afternoon I am making a trek down to Princeton to check out my dad’s Southern Italian buddies’ new café, ~CAFFÈ MEZZA LUNA~. The same owners of nearby Mezza Luna have opened this Italian style caffè, serving coffee (the espresso is Mokarabica Caffè President), panini, piadine, a hybrid style of pizza/focaccia a taglio, and eleven kinds of homemade gelato. But here’s the part I’m most excited about: they brought Domenico Spadafora from Fuscaldo, Calabria, to be the pastry chef, and he is making traditional imageSouthern Italian pastries, like cakes, cookies, and tortas (he also makes the gelato). I even requested they make Southern Italian pesche (peaches), and guess what, they are doing them (here’s a pic of a batch I learned to make at one of Rosetta Constantino’s classes)! I am going tonight to pick up my dad’s birthday cake (shhhhhh), so I will regale you with delicious details soon. Open 6am–8pm daily. 240 Capistrano Rd. at Prospect, Princeton. 650-560-0137.

Up in Marin, Heidi Krahling of Insalata’s is planning to open her new Mexican and Latin restaurant, ~MARINITAS~, on February 2nd in the former Eat space. About the name, “This is my playful Spanish interpretation meaning ‘people of Marin,’ ” says Krahling. Heading up the kitchen will be Frank Villas, the chef de cuisine at Mamacita for three years, and prior to that, he was the sous chef at Sausalito's Sushi Ran for five. More info on the menu, hours, and background on the restaurant will be available soon. 218 Sir Francis Drake Blvd. at Bank, San Anselmo.


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the lush

BiteClubDECEMBER 02, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO I was very sorry to learn local bartender ~TONY DEVENCENZI~ (he works at the Clock Bar) was in a terrible accident last Sunday night when out walking, and has had to undergo some major surgery. He is in stable condition and doing well, but unfortunately does not have health insurance, and will be missing a lot of time from work as he heals. The bar and restaurant industry, and the San Francisco chapter of the United States Bartender Guild have rallied to set up a fundraising benefit for Tony at Enrico’s on Monday January 5th.

Enrico’s has volunteered exclusive access to the entire restaurant, and is donating passed apps (sliders and pizzas) from 6:30pm–9:30pm. While the official hours of the event are 6:30pm–11:30pm, people are encouraged to come later when they get off work, too. The entire bar staff will be USBG volunteers who are donating 100% of their tips to Tony’s fund. (The majority of bar revenue will also benefit the fund.) Reza Esmaili of Conduit and Zare at Fly Trap is managing the event and happy to take inquiries/volunteers. Event organizers are taking donations at the door, and will be selling raffle tickets for restaurant gift certificates, wine, and silent auction items and other prizes, including chef Joey Altman cooking at your home, spirit gift baskets, and collector cocktail books from Gary Regan and Dale Degroff. There will also be music (to be confirmed next week) and a great crowd of folks. I’ll have additional details next week. 504 Broadway at Kearny.

How you can help:
~Attend the event, donate, buy raffle tickets, tip big.
~Donate auction/raffle items (they are looking for spirit, wine, and beer sponsors for the event; monetary donations; raffle and silent auction items). If you or your company has something to donate, please contact Debbie Rizzo of Drink PR: darizzo[at]gmail.com.
~Write a check to the USBG. All proceeds will go to Tony through the USBG Relief Fund, a 501c3 Charity. Checks can be made out to the USBG and are tax-deductible. To make a donation, contact Debbie Rizzo (see above). Here’s wishing Tony a speedy recovery.

Over at ~MAGNOLIA~, growlers are back! What’s a growler? Uh, how about a two-liter German vessel with a ceramic flip top and rubber seal so you can bring your beer home! Cheers is right. That is 67.63 ounces, people, for $25 with beer and $17 for refills. Most beers are available for growler sales, though some seasonal and strong beers are just for pub consumption. Ask your server for more details. Also at Magnolia: they held one cask of 2009 Winter Warmer for Christmas Week, and it was just tapped this Monday. There are also some English cask ales on offer. 1398 Haight St. at Masonic, 415-864-7468.

 
the socialite

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Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
Wed. Dec. 24th–Thu. Dec. 25th, 2008

Various locations
San Francisco, CA



DECEMBER 23, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Last week when I ran some New Year’s Eve suggestions, I had some requests for ~CHRISTMAS EVE AND CHRISTMAS DAY~ dining locations, so here are a few spots below that have crossed my radar. Also, don’t forget most hotel restaurants are open!

Le Charm normally offers a fancier prix-fixe menu for Christmas Eve, but this year, with all the financial uncertainty going around, they have decided to offer their regular menu and their $30 prix fixe for Christmas Eve (also on New Years Eve). Please note Le Charm will be closed for seven days in January, reopening on the 8th, and chef Lionel Balbastre will be putting a true Toulouse cassoulet on their 2009 menu!

Cassis in the Fillmore is doing a Christmas Eve dinner for $55—you can take your pick from items offered in each course, like will it be the cauliflower soup with scallops, the foie gras, or the smoked salmon on potatoes to start? Check out a PDF of the menu here.

Americano is doing a three-course Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (three seatings) holiday-inspired prix-fixe dinner ($75); the regular dinner menu will also be available on Christmas Day as well.

SPQR is open on Christmas Eve—pretend you’re Italian that night and make sure everything you order is from the fryer, ha.

Rue Saint Jacques is hosting Christmas Eve dinner in case you want something rustic and Frenchy (includes oysters, a foie gras torchon, lamb noisettes, soft-shell crab, and Bûche de Noël for $60, wine pairing for $40).

Over at the Ritz-Carlton, there is a three-course Christmas Eve lunch and dinner in The Terrace Restaurant, plus a six-course Christmas Eve Dinner in The Dining Room. There is also a Christmas Day brunch in The Terrace Restaurant, Christmas dinner in The Terrace Restaurant, and in The Dining Room. Too many details to list, contact them for more.

I also mentioned last week that Metro Kathmandu will be open on Christmas.

And then you have the wonderful Chinese options! My top three would be dim sum at S&T Hong Kong Seafood Restaurant, dim sum or dinner at Lichee Garden, and Five Happiness.

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Dine About Town San Francisco
Jan. 15th–30th, 2009

415-391-2000
website

DECEMBER 23, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO The eighth annual ~DINE ABOUT TOWN SAN FRANCISCO~ returns January 15th–31st. Diners may select from more than 100 Bay Area restaurants, each offering prix-fixe lunches for $21.95 and/or dinners for $34.95, exclusive of tax and gratuity. Dates and times of participation vary by restaurant. A la carte menus will also be available.

New restaurants on the January 2009 Dine About Town San Francisco list include Catch; Ducca; E Tutto Qua; Eagle Café; Hana Zen Yakitori and Sushi Bar; Jeanty at Jack’s; Kuleto’s Italian Restaurant; Level III; Luce; Medjool; Sozai Restaurant and Sake Lounge; and ThirstyBear Brewing Company. Reservations are encouraged and may be made online through OpenTable.com
 
On January 14th, you can meet Dine About Town-featured chefs at a launch party in The Cellar at Macy's Union Square beginning at 6pm. With a $20 donation to Meals On Wheels, guests will receive 10 "tasting tickets" to sample offerings from Cafe Andree; Campton Place Restaurant; Chez Papa Resto; Colibri Mexican Bistro; Daffodil; Fish & Farm; First Crush Restaurant, Wine Bar & Lounge; Level III; Market Street Grill; Roots; and XYZ, as well as meet Dine About Town featured chefs.

The evening also includes a cooking demonstration by Jake des Voignes, executive chef at Fish & Farm, moderated by yours truly. Napa Valley wines will be poured and guests will receive a keepsake ‘Only in San Francisco’ wine glass. Tickets for the launch event may be reserved here. Space is limited and reservations are required by January 11th. See you there!

 
the wino

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Acme Fine Wines

DECEMBER 23, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO 10 years ago, Jessica Furui tasted sake for the first time. She didn't know then all the inspiration it would bring. Currently, sake sommelier and buyer of Ozumo Contemporary Japanese Cuisine, she spends several nights a week “finding something that her guests don't know they want.” Lucky to travel to Japan several times, she is humbled to share her experiences with those interested. A bonsai enthusiast, she enjoys a nice glass of sake while tending to her many “babies.” Jessica and her husband look forward to moving back to Japan to grow vegetables, rice, and make sake in Nagano. She chronicles her love of sake and life at sakemama.blogspot.com. You can also visit her at Corkage Sake and Wine Store generally on Thursdays.

Warm Sake, Warm Heart

It was during the cold winter months in Truckee, California, that I tasted sake for the first time. As the sky dropped quarter-sized snowflakes gently upon the world below, my coworkers and I sipped “the hot stuff.” Ah yes, hot sake. When you just want a warm little belly (or heart) and smile on your face, the hot stuff will definitely do the trick. It just so happened that I met my true love, cold sake, at the same sushi bar, Soul Sushi and BBQ (maybe some you have been there?). It was the best place to work, and the owner Gary Flood, who sadly passed away in August, inspires me to this very day.

Over time, several trips to Japan, reading various publications, and of course personal experience, I feel compelled to say these words: it is ok to warm “good” sake. With that being said, like most stories in the world of sake, there are a few caveats. One of which is this: if you are drinking a beautifully light and fruity ginjo or daiginjo, you should reconsider. As the sake warms, it’s aromatic subtleties (the ones the brewers work so hard to coax out of the fermenting mash) float way into the ether. On the other hand, a rich, round sake with profound flavor profiles like most junmai, and especially yamahai or kimoto brews, are in fact quite amazing. Warming allows these brews to relax and express themselves in a most delicious way.
           
And of course there are more exceptions. Just because it is a daiginjo or ginjo doesn't mean that it’s fruity. There is a multitude of ways that sake can be made. And often, it is simply a brewer’s philosophy that you’re drinking. Some daiginjo can be full bodied with savory aromas such as buttered toast, cedar, shiitake mushrooms, ripe persimmon, or grilled pineapple. Sakes will most definitely taste different at different temperatures. Experiment with your favorite brew and find your optimal preference.
           
Here are a few specific warming temperatures, along with some of their rather poetic descriptions:

Hinatakan: about 86°F, as you lay in the park with the sun warming your face.

Hitohadakan: around 95°F, this word translates literally “person’s skin,” but refers to sake heated to body temperature.

Nurukan: about 104°F; lukewarm.

Astsukan: heated above and about 122°F.

Tobikirikan: around 134°F: “fly-away-for-good-hot.”

For many years in Japan it was typical to find a person employed at an izakaya (sake pub) for the sole reason to heat sake to the desired temperature for their patrons. Unfortunately this position has somewhat fallen out of fashion and isn’t seen much anymore.
           
Warming sake does not have to be difficult. The best way to do it: heat a pot of water on the stove. Fill a tokkuri or carafe with sake and place in the hot water. It will warm it gently, without burning off all the good stuff. Should you warm it in the microwave?  Eh…it doesn't really matter, except that you are micro waving it, but seriously, just don't spend decent money on something you are going to heat into oblivion.

So what’s with the “hot stuff” you find at the local sushi joint? Most often the hot sake on their menu is something that comes from a box. This box sits atop an exquisitely engineered machine that heats it and fills the tokkuri perfectly. Often this sake is a low grade of sake that wouldn't taste very good should you drink it cold. Restaurants that actually give you a choice of warm sake are all right in my book. If they give you a temperature option, even better, but I haven’t been able to find a place like this.

Just remember that the weather offers its serving suggestions to you. Listen to your heart, it may just want to get a little warmer this season.

Some of my favorites warmed and a few pairing suggestions:

Daiginjo
Kokuryu Ryu
Nurukan with roasted savory duck.

Koshi no Kanbai Chotokusen
— I like this hitohadakan just by itself.

Masumi Nanago
— An incredible yamahai daiginjo warmed nurukan with anything braised.

Ginjo
Tamanohikari Yamahai Ginjo
— Atsukan with steamed clams or mussels in butter and sake.

Kokuryu Junmai Ginjo
— Again, this “Black Dragon” is great gently warmed all by itself.

Junmai
Nishida Denshu
— Roasted meats and veggies.

Tedorigawa Yamahai Junmai
— Atsukan with seafood stew.

Daishichi Kimoto Classic
— Atsukan with Japanese curry.

 
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the hardhat

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NOVEMBER 18, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Curious about what goes into opening a restaurant? Each month we’ll be checking in on the build-out process of flour + water, a new restaurant project that is underway in the Mission. The hardhat will highlight the unique coups and complications when opening a restaurant in San Francisco. This section will be written by Erin Archuleta, tablehopper intern and half of the talent behind local outfit Ichi Catering.

These next few weeks may be the most crucial for the flour + water build out. Now that their plans have been approved by the city planning and building departments, David White and David Steele are moving forward with crews of plumbers, electricians, tilers, and drywall installers.

David White’s project manager process has moved a bit like this (while reading say this list as fast as you can, and you sort of get a sense of the pace these guys have been working at the past few weeks): get the drains in the floors, put in all the rough plumbing, venting for the kitchen, lay all concrete slabs—then acid wash, stain, and cover the floors, install the walk-in box (the giant fridge), tile the floors, cove the kitchen floors, do all the remaining plumbing simultaneously, then have the electricians work in all the conduit, get in the mechanical engineer to vent the hood, finish up the roof, get all the insulation in, and then (drum roll here)… sheet rock.

Last week David W. had some major deadlines to meet. In order to get the sheet rock crew in they needed to finish framing all the walls for the electricians so that they could run conduit, speaker, and computer wires before they become enclosed and are taped and mudded. With this speedy and interconnected process, even small nuances like the weather can affect whether or not the build turns out smoothly.

For instance, the sheet rock process will need two days to install, four days to hang, and then eight to mud and tape. The taping is critical because it’s a fire tape that creates more fireproof seams in the walls, protecting the inhabitants and the structure itself from the rapid spread of a blaze. The real doozy is that if there’s any rain, the mud won’t dry in time. If the mud doesn’t dry in time, then it holds up the rest of the building process.

And, much of the process hinges on city inspections. The order of operations for this is pretty intense. First, the roof must be signed off on, then the framing, the HVAC, the walk-in box, the plumbing, the electrical, the cover-up, insulation, and then the nailing inspection. The city literally comes out to count the number of nails between studs hanging the sheet rock. If they find anything unsatisfactory, the guys have to do it again and schedule a new inspection. Each inspection takes about a week (or longer) to schedule.

Their crews are working through the holidays to keep on the original opening schedule; the nailing inspection is scheduled on New Year’s Eve, and the mudding inspection is scheduled for New Year’s Day.

Wishing all of you just a little rest over the holiday season, and we can’t wait to see the place with walls!

 
the starlet

DECEMBER 23, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO There were some fun sightings at Fleur de Lys! A tablehopper reader spotted Paul Stanley from KISS (and his wife?) at the restaurant. Barry Zito was also in “the maison” that night. Paul Stanley was additionally spotted at A16—and yes, he is totally rocking some rocker hair.

And one of my personal faves: MC Hammer was in the house, two days in a row, actually, at South! He had the chicken confit with house-made Kiwi baked beans one day, and then came back the next day for the Aussie Wagyu burger with beet chutney and blue cheese, and a limeade.

 
 

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