tablehopper
table of contents This week's tablehopper: clean up on aisle seven.

the chatterbox
the word on the street
the regular
it's about time we met
the lush
put it on my tab
the socialite
shindigs/feasts/festivals

the hardhat
watch your step
the starlet
no photos please

the sponsor
this round is on me

Cheese School of San Francisco

hosting provided by

Zojo Media

MARCH 31, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO How to sum up last week? Well, it was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Let’s start with the good stuff, like the dinner at Ottimista Enoteca with Gemma, the visiting Piemontese chef. Her rabbit with peppers dish, and the dessert of meringata, an incredible bowl o’ crunchy meringue topped with fresh whipped cream and torrone crumbles, are still on my mind. Lovely company on the patio that night, good wines, a grand time.

imageAnd as I hoped, my mini-trip to Sonoma could not have come at a better moment. Let’s just say Campari, rosé, and sun block figured prominently. Saturday night I was back in the City celebrating whiskey, and then walked over to Boulevard for a stellar late-night dinner of appetizers. The menu has one of the larger lists of apps I have seen in a while (try 13). The entire meal was so on point, from the slow-roasted black cod with a square of pork belly to the quail wrapped in house-cured bacon, stuffed with duck Merguez and paired with tabbouleh-like quinoa. Most of the apps hover around $16—why not sit at the bar with a friend and eat your way through four starters together? It would be a total tour de flavor.

Sunday I had brunch with my mom at the new DOSA on Fillmore (just like her daughter, she is now a slave for pani puri!), and then we did a City Guides walking tour of Victorians around Pacific Heights. Have you ever taken one of these tours? I’ve done four now, and have totally loved them all. Best of all, it’s volunteer- and donation-based, so it’s easy on your pocket.

Now, for the sad news: my recovered photo library is like a game of 52 Card Pickup. I have thousands (and I means thousands, like 90,000) jpeg files to go through. Yes, I am so damned lucky that I am getting a lot of my data back, but dag, my photo library is now one big jumble of files, with no names, no dates, no folders, nada. Those are a lot of food and drink photos with no i.d., people. Try six years’ worth.

Suffice to say, there was no way to piece together some pictures for a review this week, so I am just submitting a bunch of mini updates of restaurants I have already written about. We’ll have to see what shape things are in for next week as well. I might have to start a photo game of “Name That Dish.” (No joke.)

Thanks to Erin who wrote a hardhat featuring RN74 this week, so you will have a few new pictures to look at.

In closing, let me put it to you this way: have a backup of your computer and any external hard drives, people. And then make a backup of the backups. I wish this was an April Fool’s Day joke on me, but alas, it’s too damned real. Le sigh. Obviously, I have a lot of B.S. filing to get to, so let’s get crackin’.

Mreow.

~Marcia (rhymes with Garcia) subscribe
the chatterbox

Cheese School of San FranciscoMARCH 31, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO ~BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE~ is due to open their Ferry Plaza Marketplace café this Thursday April 2nd (it’s going into the former Oak Hill Farm spot). Now, while it’s not going to be as swish as the Mint Plaza location, it’s going to be a step up from the kiosks for sure. There will be a few stools to sit on, but not a bunch. And of course there are going to be some killer machines, namely a lever machine (the Idrocompresso by Kees van der Westen—you can geek out more on this beauty of a machine here) and a paddle wheel machine by La Marzocco. The outdoor kiosks will also remain on Tuesdays and Saturdays—the whole idea is to have shorter lines all the way around. There will be a few snacks and bites, and Caitlin Williams, formerly of Miette, will be makin’ cookies! Hours will be Mon–Fri 7am–7pm, Sat at 6am (farmers and vendors rejoice), and Sun 8am–5pm.

More coffee-related news: ~RITUAL~ will be offering baked goods from local artisans, all located within three miles of the cafe. Starting tomorrow April 1st, there will be buttery and flaky croissants to keep your morning cappuccino company, courtesy of Sandbox Bakery (the bakery I mentioned that is opening in Bernal). You can also find 4505 Meats' chicharrones (if you want to eat them for breakfast, it’s entirely up to you), and salted chocolate chip cookies from Gillian Shaw (formerly of the Liberty Bakery). 1026 Valencia St. at 21st St., 415-641-1024.

~BUSHI-TEI BISTRO~, the casual sister restaurant to Bushi-tei is opening tomorrow (April 1st) in Japantown. Both lunch and dinner will be served, closed Tuesday. 1581 Webster St. at Post, 415-409-4959.

Now open in the revamping Parc 55 Hotel is a restaurant called ~cityhouse~, with a bar called cityhouse bar; the hotel will complete its $30 million renovation in June. The executive chef is Brian Healy, previously the sous chef at the Terrace Restaurant at Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, with training at the CIA in St. Helena. The menu features dishes like an appetizer of pan-seared day boat scallops with orzo pasta risotto, Dungeness crabmeat, and shimeji mushrooms ($13), and a main dish of clay pot sea bass with clams, fennel, onion, tomatoes, olives, and Pernod-saffron broth ($26), plus some offerings from the grill and rotisserie. I also learned that all of the desserts are made in-house, including the ice cream. (You can look at the menus here.) The bar offers both cocktails and bites and is decorated in “plush wine colors and rich, textured leather furniture.” The design firm Gensler is behind the look. One drink that was mentioned to me was the Bella Ruffina (some of you might recognize it from Scott Beattie’s Artisanal Cocktails book), with braquetto d’Aqui, Carpano Antica vermouth, Fee Brothers’ orange bitters, and amarena cherry ($10). Hours are breakfast 6:30am–11am, lunch 11am–2pm, and dinner 5pm–10pm. 55 Cyril Magnin St. at Eddy, 1-800-595-0507.

I was on a walk in my ‘hood last week, and noticed ~JANNAH~ is moving into the former Gabin space. The sign proclaims “Middle Eastern California Cuisine.” Will let you know timing and menu details once I hear back from the owner. Here’s hoping the sketchy scene of this location’s previous two tenants is no more. 1775 Fulton St. at Masonic.

Also up the street on Fulton, Fruitful Grounds is finito, and moving into the space is ~GAMBRINUS~. From what I could gather, it’s going to be a spot offering a variety of beers and affordable eats. The beer part would make sense, since King Gambrinus is the unofficial patron saint of beer (it’s about all I could get from the Russian man I spoke with, who pointed to a beer stein). He mentioned there are other locations in other cities, which made me wonder if it’s related to this one in Redondo Beach. Anyway, I’ll have more on this one as it develops. 1813 Fulton St. at Masonic.

Further clarification on the noodle place I mentioned last week that is moving into the former ~SUKHOTHAI~ space: according to permits, it’s called ~SOI GOW THAI NOODLE CAFÉ~. A little online sleuthing taught me that soi gow/suey gow are like pot sticker wrappers specifically for soups. No idea on the opening date, however. 1319 9th Ave. at Irving.

Starting Friday or Saturday, ~PICKLES~ kicks off their evening hours, open Tue–Sat until 11pm or so (exact hours TBD at press time). I also heard their frozen custard is now on the menu! 
42 Columbus Ave. at Jackson, 
415-421-2540.

And for those who remember ~CAFÉ PRAGUE~ on Pacific Avenue, it has reopened in the Financial District on Merchant Street, in an alley spot. You can get Czech classics like goulash and beers, plus standards like soup, salad, and sandwiches. Thrillist posted a copy of the menu here. Hours are Mon–Fri 7:30am–10pm, Sat–Sun 9:30am–10pm. 424 Merchant St. (between Washington and Clay) at Battery, 415-627-7464.

imageAfter my hot dog recap last week, I’ve been receiving some emails with the unfortunate news that after three seasons at the ballpark, ~LET’S BE FRANK~ has been “benched” and won’t be operating their hot-dog cart near Acme Chophouse at AT&T Park this season. Word on the street is Giants management made the decision after some concessionaires inside the park complained, leaving some folks are wondering if the grass-fed dogs pose a threat to Hebrew National (a subsidiary of Con-Agra). I know I am not the only one with an arched eyebrow.

Here’s more from another tablehopper reader and her husband (Terry Diggs and Barry Helft), “With its authentic cart and carefully wrought dogs, Let's Be Frank at AT&T Park reminded many of us of the America we go to the ballpark to look for—an admittedly imagined place when we could believe for just an afternoon that neither the dogs nor the hitters were chemically modified. Baseball has always been the 9-act ballet America wrote for itself; it's our shared loss that Frank won't be there this year playing the overture.”

Will let you know what I hear next… I can imagine a lot of Let’s Be Frank fans are not going to be happy eating industrial meat at the ballpark this season.

It’s time for some meal deals, yo!

~JOVINO~ is now running a $9 nightly dinner. Here’s the line-up: Sundays—meatloaf and cheddar mashed potatoes; Monday—vegetable curry rice bowl; Tuesdays—chicken cacciatore and polenta; Wednesdays—lasagna (your choice of meat or veggie); Thursdays—beef stew with carrots, potatoes, and peas; Fridays—fried chicken and mashed potatoes; and Saturdays mean spaghetti and meatballs with a glass of house vino. Just $9, my friend. 2184 Union St. at Fillmore, 415-563-1853.

imageI know some of you are fans of ~COZMO CARDS~, the restaurant discount cards. Each restaurant's CozmoCard gives you a $15 discount when you spend $50 or more. I was just informed tablehopper readers can get 10% off the 2009 deck. The individual decks are $30 each, or you can customize your 52-card deck and take your pick of just your favorites (i.e. you can pick multiples of just one place, like ten Destino cards) for $65. There are definitely some good restaurants in there, like Metro Kathmandu, Farina, and Uva Enoteca—you can check out all the participating restaurants here. Just be sure to use the code "TH2009" when purchasing your deck.

I think the tablehopper Festa del Pesto inspired ~FARINA~ to offer another similar special on pastas. Every week for the month of April, two of chef Paolo Laboa’s handmade pastas will be offered at $10 each, and a select wine by the glass for $5. 3560 18th St. at Guerrero, 415-565-0360.

Now, this is what I’m talkin’ about: for the month of April, ~SPQR~ is going to be featuring some wines and dishes of Calabria. Break out the chili pepper and the gaglioppo (I recently tried a magliocco from Librandi and it was love, sweet love). The following dishes will be available alongside their regular menu: insalata di polipi (Calabrian octopus salad with calamari, shrimp, and mussels with garlic, parsley, and red wine vinegar); rigatoni alla pastora (rigatoni with fresh ricotta, lamb sausage, and pecorino); fettuccine ccu ri sarde (fettuccine with sardines, currants, and parsley); zuppa di cipolle (Calabrian onion soup with chile and tomato, thickened with bread, finished with pecorino); pesce stocco bruschetta (stewed salt cod with potato, olives, and tomato over bruschetta); braciole calabresi (pork braciole with pecorino, garlic, and parsley); and alalunga in agrodolce (tuna cooked in onion and vinegar). I already have a napkin tied around my neck. 1911 Fillmore St. at Bush, 415-771-7779.

Speaking of Calabria, a fellow food-lovin’ friend has been living there for a little while, and just sent me this latest tidbit about ~’NDUJA (SPICY PORK) GELATO~! I say move over bacon, now there’s something spicier!

On Tuesday April 14th, ~DELFINA~ will be celebrating the food and wine of Le Marche with guest winemaker Luciano Landi. He will be pouring the latest vintages of his wines, including the Lacrima di Morro d’Alba “Gavigliano,” along with other fantastic blends, and Delfina's longtime favorite, the Lacrima passito dessert wine. There will also be some dishes inspired from the Marche, which may include: brodetto di pesce (with 11 different kinds of seafood!), fregnacce with Louisiana white shrimp, lasagna vincigrassi, and rabbit in pottacchio. 3621 18th St. at Guerrero, 415-552-4055.

Just like Bix, ~AQUA~ is now hosting Friday lunch service. 252 California St. at Battery, 415-956-9662.

Speaking of the French (and fish), ~LEFT BANK RESTAURANTS~ will be celebrating Poisson d’Avril this Wednesday April 1st at all of their Bay Area locations (Larkspur, Menlo Park, Pleasant Hill, San Jose, and San Mateo) and La Folie. “Poisson d’Avril” is traditionally celebrated in France and goes something like this: you try to trick your friends by sticking a paper fish onto their backs (better than a real one, which would be stinky, and challenging). When they find out, the prankster yells “poisson d’avril!” (Oh, the French.) So this Wednesday, the Left Bank restaurants will be featuring CleanFish’s Icelandic Char as their “Poisson du Jour.” When the “Poisson du Jour” is ordered on April 1st, part of the proceeds with go to benefit the Marine Science Institute, a non-profit organization that provides hands-on marine science experience to Bay Area students.

On Sunday April 5th, the inaugural and Italian-themed ~FESTA DI PRIMAVERA~ is going to be from 4pm–7pm in the upstairs Grand Hall of the Ferry Plaza Marketplace Building. There will be a variety of food stations, each accompanied by wines specially chosen to pair with each featured food. Participating merchants will include Acme, Boccalone Salumeria, Ciao Bella Gelato, Cowgirl Creamery, Far West Fungi, Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, I Preferiti di Boriana, McEvoy Ranch, Miette Patisserie, Prather Ranch Meat Co., Recchiuti Confections, and San Francisco Fish Co. Here’s the line-up of featured wines: Estate Wine Imports, Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, Graziano Wines from Mendocino (a Gagliardi family favorite), Hatcher Winery from the Sierra Foothills, and Italia Wine Imports. There will be music by The Hot Frittatas as well. Advance tickets: $25 per person; same-day tickets: $30 at the door. Tickets can be purchased and picked up at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant inside the Ferry Building, Shop 23. Tickets are limited. Oh, and here’s a hint on how to get a discounted ticket: olive oil. (I shouldn’t link directly to the site with the discount info, so the rest of the sleuthing is up to you.)

Small reminder about the upcoming ~MOVABLE FEAST~ that is next Tuesday April 7th at One Market, with chef Mark Dommen and The Lark Creek Inn guest chef Erica Holland-Toll, who are collaborating with (the very cute, I might add) David Retsky of County Line Harvest. The evening’s menu will include spring garlic soup, marinated Liberty duck breast, rainbow Swiss chard ravioli with a porcini mushroom emulsion, crispy skin steelhead salmon, and candied fennel fritters. Tickets to A Moveable Feast can be purchased online. The dinner is $80 per person, or $100 including wine, inclusive of tax and gratuity, and begins at 7pm. A percentage of each ticket cost will benefit CUESA. 1 Market Plaza at Steuart, 415-777-5577.

(Please note: the third dinner in the series will be held at Picco in Larkspur on Tuesday May 5th with chef Bruce Hill and chef de cuisine Chris Whaley, both of Picco, and Greg Dunmore of Ame, with guest farmer David Evans of Marin Sun Farms.)

image~POGGIO~ is hosting their second annual Spiedo Misto della Pasqua festa from April 7th–11th. Spiedo Misto will focus on the spit (spiedo), featuring young pig, rabbit, and goat, all spit-roasted in Poggio’s wood-burning rotisserie oven. You get the trifecta of meat, plus traditional polenta and fagioli all’uccelletto, all for $19. There will also be some special antipasti and house-made pastas available: piccione (squab), often found on the spiedo, may be made into a rich sugo for tagliatelle, while quail, another traditional spiedo component, will appear in spiedini as an antipasti. Stinging nettle and green garlic sformato with fresh spring peas is another likely addition. 777 Bridgeway, Sausalito, 415-332-7771.

~DELFINA~ is hosting their tenth annual Passover week, from Wednesday April 8th–Monday April 13th. The menu features special dishes inspired by Passover (please note it’s not a seder, nor is it kosher—it’s a week-long, à la carte, daily-changing menu). Dishes may include: brisket, carciofi alla giudea, poached bass with gelatina and walnut sauce, veal tongue dolce-forte, risi bisi, Passover ribollita, an edible seder plate, and matzoh ball soup made in the Stoll family tradition. Delfina will also be celebrating Easter on Sunday April 12th (think spring lamb, local spring vegetables, stracciatella, and more). 3621 18th St. at Guerrero, 415-552-4055.

This just in: for those who don’t want to deal with a formal sit-down Easter brunch, ~4505 MEATS AND FATTED CALF~ are coming together to host a Bunny BBQ at Bloodhound on Sunday April 12th. For $25, you get a rabbit sausage, grilled rabbit, and Taylor's smoked ham, all the sides (like green salad, Taylor's tasty pot of beans, chicharrones, bacon-peanut butter brownies, and other goodies), and a seasonal harvest beer. Grills will fire up around 1pm, and the little bunny foo foo feast will be available from 2pm–7pm. RSVP at info [at] bloodhoundsf.com since space is limited to 100 spots! 1145 Folsom St. at 7th St.

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

 
the sponsor

Cheese School of San Francisco

The Cheese School of San Francisco is on a mission to help San Francisco Bay Area restaurants and retail shops raise their cheese IQ. Send us your chefs, servers, sommeliers, cheesemongers, and other serious foodies for three delicious days of tasting, demonstration, discussion, and lecture—we’ll deliver back to you enthusiastic cheese aficionados who are at the head of the class when it comes to sourcing, caring for, selling, and serving premium cheeses at a professional level.

Our Three-Day Intensive Cheese Education Program on May 3rd–5th is led by Daphne Zepos, a veteran instructor who helped create the 'Master Class' program at Artisanal Premium Cheese Center in New York. A program overview and registration form, including payment and cancellation policy details is available here (a PDF). Higher learning never tasted so good!

 
the regular

MARCH 31, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Instead of a review this week, these are just a bunch of mini updates of pre-existing reviews. You can read the original reviews on the site, linked to each update.

CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen

With all the salumi mayhem going on out there, with some places giving you three slices of something for $9, I gotta hand it to CAV, which delivers one heck of a spread of salumi and more for $20. The plate was a total bounty of house-made charcuterie, cured meats, compotes, and pickled items. Some of the salumi were a bit more successful than others, but the bottom line is this: if you’re looking for a little something something to share with a friend over a glass or two of wine (heck, make it a bottle), this platter is a total meaty playground.

image

Gialina

Goddamn, how did this pizza outpost manage to get even better? Well, let’s start with the addition of a wicked appetizer: the pork belly ($10) on a bed of “angry” beet greens with currants and baby pine nuts and the tang of preserved lemon—almost like a spicy version of Italian collards. No gelatinous mass here—the pork fat was caramelized and sliced thin enough to be enjoyed in smaller bites with the spiced-up greens, a new perspective on this over-used piece of pork. Purr.

Prices have gone up a little (about $2 on the pies, $1 for each year Gialina has been open I guess, seems about right), but no matter: the pizza continues to hold steady in my top three—no one does a crust like chef/owner Sharon Ardiana. I tore into my leftover slices of Atomica ($15) and Puttanesca ($13) the next day like a raptor. Oh yeah, and we ended the pizza party with the blood orange Italian ice made with Campari ($6), a smashing finish.

Morty’s Delicatessen

I originally said of the Big Easy sandwich, “It’s not one I’d order again unless someone at Morty’s went to NOLA, carted back a muffaletta from Central Grocery, studied the olive salad very very closely, and then gave it their best shot to recreate the mother lode of olive salad. Game on?”

So a while later, here’s what charming owner Tim wrote to me, “Someone brought me back a Muffaletta from NOLA and I did dissect the olive salad. I have tweaked mine and hoping it will meet with your approval.” Well, hot damn. You gotta love it when the owner of an establishment emails you to let you know they took you up on your tossed gauntlet. Of course I headed back in for round two with the Big Easy. The chopped-up olive salad was definitely a step in the right direction, and it’s a mighty delicious sandwich. But I have sadly realized nothing is going to make me stop missing the muffalettas in NOLA.

Cheese School of San Francisco

One more thing: do you know about the Reuben at Morty’s? Let me tell you, that sandwich continues to dominate the local Reuben scene, oh yesirree.

Namu

Since we don’t have a Momofuku, chef Dennis Lee’s food helps fill that blank in my book for creative food that is a bit Korean, a bit modern, and totally delicious—and I also appreciate the late-night hours (Thu–Sat until 1am). Uni shiso fry ($14)? Now, that’s fun with tempura. Sadly the line-caught black cod isn’t a constant on the menu, but the crispy chicken wings are ($10 for six). The spicy pork ribs now come four to a portion ($15), but the kalbi skirt steak, while totally tasty, has gone way up, to $19. Hrm. The food here rocks, the menu keeps getting tweaked and expanded, and I hope this little update reminds people to check it out.

The Pizza Place on Noriega

Yo, the Pizza Place has expanded into another room! So if you’re looking for a space for a pizza party, or just a spot for a large group, they can seat about 35 people in the new side room. The back patio is also going to be opening in the spring (hopefully May 2009).

Healdsburg—Where to Eat (Jetsetter)

The last time I was up in Healdsburg, I finally had a chance to check out ~SCOPA~, the new rustic Italian café that opened on the square. It was packed, friendly, and smelled delicious. Loved the casual and cozy atmosphere, cherry red Naugahyde banquettes, wine served in tumblers, and the friendly servers. The antipasto plate ($7.50/person) looked rather generous, but we went with the special of favas with chili, greens, breadcrumbs, and tons of garlic. I was impressed with the nice fry on the fritto misto ($11) of calamari and vegetables served in a cone.

But the undeniable reason to come here is this dish: the Calabrese meatballs ($9). They were stupidly scrumptious, tender and springy, served in a piping hot cast iron skillet with smoked mozzarella. The deep, tomato-y, kicky sauce begged for bread—worth racking up the extra $2.50 bread charge (but would be nice if this dish came with some bread automatically, ahem). Pasta portions were huge but not quite on point—our baked bucatini with tripe and pecorino was too salty and heavy on the oregano, and a taste of a friend’s house-made tortelli pasta (ravioli stuffed with potato) was an interesting starch-on-starch fest. I’d definitely return to try more dishes, and a look at the website shows prices actually have come down a touch from these listed here, nice.

109A Plaza St. at Healdsburg, 707-433-5282.

 
the lush

imageMARCH 31, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Does this springtime weather have you in a tropical mood? Tonight, tiki legend Martin Cate is pouring a menu of vintage exotics in the library at ~BOURBON & BRANCH~. Get your Hawaiian shirt or hula skirt on and head over for some tiki classics—you can read the lineup here. Corner of O’Farrell and Jones.

I was reading that ~ALEMBIC~ has some new and special additions on the whiskey shelf: “Michter's 25 year old bourbon and rye, a bunch of Willett single barrel selections, a full, albeit limited, selection of Van Winkle labels back in, the ever elusive Old Potrero 18th Century [tasted this at Whiskies of the World, whoooooo daddy!] and straight rye bottlings. And last, but possibly most exciting, a very limited release of some Stranahan's Colorado malt whiskey. We split a barrel with D&M liquors of the Grand Mesa, aged two years in heavily charred, new American oak, and finished for 8 months in used French oak wine barrels. Big and delicious. Get it while it lasts.” Heck, you don’t have to tell me twice! 1725 Haight St. at Cole, 415-666-0822.

I am happy to see the return of free food with happy hour drinks—it’s what got me through the early 90s. SFoodie had a mention of some free bites (“botanas”) during happy hour at ~MAYA~. Happy hour runs from 5pm–7pm, and according to the post, “all you have to do is order a $5 cocktail, glass of wine, or sangria, and you get an assortment of free appetizers.” 303 2nd St. at Harrison, 415-543-2928.

Here’s another happy hour that is gathering steam up in SoMa: ~THE COSMOPOLITAN~ is hosting a twice-weekly outdoor Bubbly & Beer Garden on its patio every Wednesday and Friday from 4pm–8pm. On offer: $4 Belgian beers (normally $8–$12) and bubbly. Featured discounted ales include Affligem Blonde, Duvel Golden Ale, Grimbergen Dubbel, and La Fin du Monde—and for the record, the discounted beer and bubbly pricing applies all night long on Friday. There are also happy hour bites like waffle and chicken sausage sliders, and pressed sandwiches with applewood-smoked ham and Gruyere for $6. 121 Spear St. at Mission, 415-543-4001.

~TERZO~ is offering a Spring Wine Special Sunday through Thursday, on now until May 31st. During this period, all bottles of wine priced at $40 or less are half off for dinner guests. Since Terzo specializes in small plates, dinner is defined as two small plates or one large plate per person. 3011 Steiner St. at Union, 415-441-3200.

Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco has launched a Meet the Winemaker series. ~SEASONS BAR AND LOUNGE~ will host a different winemaker every other Tuesday through the month of May from 5:30pm–7:30pm. The evenings will feature a flight of their latest release wines and hard-to-find vintages with paired appetizers (an additional $15). The schedule is as follows: April 7th is Jerome Chery of Saintsbury Winery of Napa, cost per flight is $35; April 21st is Bob Craig and Elton Sloan of Robert Craig Winery in Napa, cost per flight is $40; May 5th is Oded Shakked and Michael Melgoza of Longboard Vineyards in Sonoma, cost per flight is $30; and May 12th is Pete Seghesio of Seghesio Vineyards in Sonoma, cost per flight is $30. You’ll also be able to enjoy the piano music courtesy of Michael Udelson. 757 Market St. at Grant, 415-633-3838.

For those who get fired up on Napa wines and want to go deeper, head on up to St. Helena for the Atelier tasting at ~ACME FINE WINES~, their first-ever winemaker portfolio tasting on Saturday April 25th. You'll be able to walk through the wine shop, tasting and chatting with the crème de la crème of Napa Valley’s winemakers. Each winemaker who was invited to attend had to have at least three wineries in their portfolio in order to participate. The folks at Acme found 12 of the best and are excited to make this the first of many Ateliers. A complete list of winemakers and the wines each will be pouring is located here. You’ll taste Dancing Hares with Andy Erickson, Corra with Celia Welch Masyczek, Mercury Head with Dave Phinney, and La Sirena with Heidi Barrett (just to name a few), and you’ll be able to talk with each of the 12 winemakers about their styles and techniques. If you wish to sign up for one of the 100 tickets, contact Erin Sullivan at 707-963-0440 or erin [at] acmefinewines.com. $175 per person. The event is from 1pm–4pm. 1080 Fulton Lane at Railroad Ave., St. Helena, 1-888-963-0440.

 
the socialite

image

Napa Valley with Altitude
Thu. April 23rd, 2009

Officer’s Club
1 Fort Mason
San Francisco, CA

6pm–9pm

$75 tickets
$
60 for tablehopper readers
Enter code “hopper”

Purchase five or more tickets, and you receive one free ticket.

Purchase tickets

MARCH 31, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Okay, fellow winos, here’s a little bit of Napa that is coming to San Francisco, the annual ~NAPA VALLEY WITH ALTITUDE~ tasting from Uncorked Events, featuring over 100 wines from Spring Mountain, Mount Veeder, and Diamond Mountain on Napa Valley’s western edge (the Mayacamas Range). Virtually all of these wines are over $60/bottle retail, many over $100, and for many of these wineries, this is their only public tasting of the year as many are highly allocated and/or tiny production.

Here’s more from the event announcement: “The Mayacamas Mountain range rises high above the western edge of Napa Valley, encompassing three distinct viticultural areas—Mount Veeder, Spring Mountain, and Diamond Mountain.

“These mountain wineries are remote—often hidden from view among forests and steep winding roads. Each has a unique story and diverse individuals—families, businessmen, farmers and artists—all unified by their deep passion for mountain grape growing.

“Though farming these mountains is backbreaking and labor intensive, the resulting wines are distinctive and profound—largely a result of the unique growing conditions that separate the mountain terroir from the valley floor.

“Wines from the Mayacamas Mountains are renowned for their richness, intensity, distinctive wild berry flavors and robust tannins—truly a testament to the relentless passion of a daring group of growers and winemakers.”

Participating Wineries:

Mount Veeder:
Godspeed Vineyards, Hess Collection, LaTour Vineyards, Marketta Vineyards, Mayacamas Vineyards, O’Shaughnessy Winery, Paras Vineyard, Random Ridge, Robert Craig, Rubissow, Vinoce, Yates Family Vineyard

Spring Mountain:
Barnett Vineyards, Frias Family Vineyard, Guilliams Vineyards, Keenan Winery, Marston Family Vineyard, Newton Vineyard, Paloma Vineyard, Peacock Family Vineyard, Pride Mountain Vineyards, Schweiger, Vineyards, Sherwin Family Vineyards, Spring Mountain Vineyard, Terra Valentine, Vineyard 7 & 8

Diamond Mountain:
Andrew Geoffrey Vineyards, Coho Wines, Diamond Terrace, Dyer Vineyard, Graeser Winery, J. Davies Vineyards, Kiss Ridge, Martin Ray Winery, Von Strasser Winery, Wallis Family Estate

Mariposa Kitchen and A.G. Ferrari will provide hearty hors d’oeuvres.

tablehopper readers get a $15 discount ($60 instead of $75), as well as an offer for a free ticket with the purchase of five or more tickets. Enter code “hopper” for your discount when purchasing tickets. little t

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Root Division: TASTE 2009
Thu. April 23rd, 2009

Root Division Gallery
3175 17th St.
Cross: S. Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94110

415-863-7668

event website

7:30pm–10:30pm
 
VIP: $150 (includes cooking demo and special tasting at 6:30pm, plus VIP gift bag)
$500 for four VIP tickets

Regular: $100
$75 before Monday April 20th
 
buy tickets

MARCH 31, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Root Division is hosting ~TASTE 2009~, an evening celebrating the beauty of art and food in San Francisco. TASTE 2009 will feature local chefs and over 15 visual artists for a night of food, drink, music, and art. Proceeds benefit local emerging artists, as well as Root Division’s free after-school art classes for Bay Area youth.
 
Other offerings at the event include a silent auction of gift certificates from over 30 Bay Area restaurants, spas, salons, and other venues and small artworks by local emerging artists. Guests will also have the opportunity to win the raffled Wine Chest, a collection of over 50 bottles of one-of-a-kind artist-decorated and collector’s choice wines. Wine Chest raffle tickets are $40/each or $75 for two tickets.

A limited number of VIP tickets will be available, with early access to appetizers, artwork, and specialty cocktails, plus a special cooking demonstration and tasting. VIPs also get a limited-edition screen-printed tote from Rickshaw Bagworks filled with goodies and gifts from various venues around town.

Participating Restaurants and Chefs:
Andalu, owner and chef Calvin Schneiter

Bar Bambino, chef Elizabeth Binder

Beretta Pizzeria & Bar, chef Ruggero Gadaldi

Bourbon & Branch, bar chef Joel Baker

Cantina Lounge, bar chef Duggan McDonnell

Cook Club, chef Alex Tamburro

La Cocina chef from Gorditas El Comal

flour + water, chef Thomas McNaughton

Madrone Art Bar, chef Michael “Spike” Krouse

Yabbie’s Coastal Kitchen, chef Daniel Guerrini paired with EOS Wine Bar

 
the hardhat

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Hardhats in action.

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Chef Jason’s new HQ.

imageWine storage.

MARCH 31, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Curious about what goes into opening a restaurant? Each month we’ll be checking in on the build-out process of various bars and restaurants around the City, highlighting the unique coups and complications when opening a business in San Francisco. This section is written by Erin Archuleta, tablehopper intern and half of the talent behind local outfit Ichi Catering.

~RN74~ is different from the other restaurants chronicled in this column for a few reasons: (1) they’re putting the finishing touches on the place, so there’s not much conduit hanging or lumber lying around; (2) they’re at the bottom of a skyscraper; and (3) they hired their executive chef a year before the project would be complete.

The space brings the surprising feel of a train station. New York design firm AvroKO (known for creating other fab restaurant spaces like Public and Social House) worked to create a modern version of a European train platform and station room, with locally sourced exposed brick and metals. Mina Group wine director Rajat Parr first conceptualized the wine bar and restaurant to reflect the experience of traveling through another locale and time, inspired after a trip to the Burgundy region of France. Raj has been the wine director with the Group since 2003, and he’s developed the wine programs at Mina’s other locations across the country. Raj had been waiting to launch a project featuring Burgundy wines, and it was perfect synchronicity when Tim Flowers, the former general manager of Mina’s Stonehill Tavern, and Jason Berthold, a winemaker-chef, came together on this project.

Meeting up with the fellas, it was clear that they’re in the home stretch, but need the work on the 60-story Millennium Tower building to be signed off on before they can finish the inspections on their own place. And they’re looking pretty close to done, with hopes to throw open those doors and welcome guests the weekend of April 24th.

The finishing touches are playful, like the two large train “schedule” boards. The first board is a wine list that’s designed to pair with the food menus. The second board is a little bit like wine Lotto, featuring an ever-changing selection of one-bottle-only options that will go to the first table or diner who requests it, immediately replaced on the list when the ordering system refreshes. These just-one-only bottles will reflect all price points, from a $20 bottle of something very special to a pricier bottle of something very spectacular. And when that wine disappears, a new one pops up with the sound of a train.

Raj assures that diners at every price level will have access to amazing wines, all kept at the perfect temperature. On display will be fancy enomatic machines at the bar, keeping each varietal at exactly the right temp, and the spacious cellar has storage for up to 6,000 bottles.

Tim and Jason are very excited about the layout of the restaurant, with wine service poised in the center of the dining room, and a communal dining table for sharing or large group reservations. Since the Mina Group hired Jason (a French Laundry alum) on the project even before the build-out started, his input on the kitchen supported the design of the space with consulting Oakland-based designer Mark Stech-Novak. The kitchen prep area is in a smaller, separate space from the line (which hosts four chefs: Jason, and his sous Rodney Wages, Jeremy Miller, and Ming Lee). This prep space will support lunch service while readying the restaurant for its dinner crowd.

The dish station is so sleek, I considered quitting my day job to work in its accommodating space, complete with task lighting (!). The ceilings are perfect for my 5'1" stature, but Tim (who is quite a bit taller) laughed and explained that the ceilings are low to accommodate the superb Halton hood and ventilation system that is so quiet even chef Jason had trouble detecting it.

In the next three weeks, occupancy, health, gas, and fire inspections will need to be passed, but by the looks of things, they’ll be waiting to pull out a chair for you and your friends soon enough.

 
the starlet

MARCH 31, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Ben Affleck, Mike Walrath (Senior Vice President, Yahoo—Right Media), and a third gent dined at a corner table at Spruce. Looks like Ben is a pork man, and they also enjoyed some fab wines.

Gerard Depardieu and two male friends briefly hung out over two pots of green tea at the Redwood Room at the Clift. Whoa, sounds like a wild night, fellas. You better slow down, because that green tea thing can get outta hand, really fast.

And not to fan the flames of Anthony Bourdain’s cult of self any further, but there were plenty of Tony sightings all over town, from a quick bite and a beer in the café area of Postrio to the head-to-tail dinner at Incanto to Aub Zam Zam in the Haight to doing the brasserie thing at the Grand Cafe and Bar while he was staying at the Hotel Monaco. One more tidbit from a reader: “He was headed to House of Prime Rib. I told him that National Prime Rib Day was not until April 27 (which is true). He said for him every day is prime rib day.” The truly obsessed can check out the map o’ Tony at Eater.

Sammy Hagar and his family came in to Joey and Eddie’s to watch the Rat Pack show and dine with Joseph Manzare on Sunday March 15th.

Rudy Giuliani was spotted (and applauded) during his dinner at the Cliff House, and was reportedly quite fired up on chef George Morrone’s cuisine.

And Senator Dianne Feinstein had dinner at Postrio on Saturday evening.

 

All content © 2009 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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