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The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco: Find the Right Spot for Every Occasion.

This week's tablehopper: mountain mama.

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Today is my annual sad day—the day I leave the lake. My family understands, heck, anyone who comes up to Lake Tahoe regularly does. This place is so special—and it’s not just because I’ve spent every summer in the same cabin in Tahoma (West Shore) since I was a baby. It’s a powerful thing to have a place to return to every year, one that is familiar, and has a smell you recognize upon your arrival. I like knowing the skinny patch in the cove where I can walk into the lake on sand instead of hard stones, the way the water makes every cell in your body spring to life upon your first dive in, having the video store lady greet me warmly after a year’s absence, seeing Gary Romano at the Tahoe City farmers’ market with his incomparable greens, and after a week, intimately knowing the playlist on The River, the classic rock station I listen to up here. Yeah, it was good to get out of town.

But, back to the rat race. And it’s shaping up to be one hell of a busy week. Starting tomorrow afternoon, when I will be moderating a panel as part of SF Chefs week. The panel, an industry seminar entitled Hospitalitarianism: Love Thy Guest, is featuring quite the lineup of local service luminaries: Umberto Gibin (Perbacco, barbacco), Annie Stoll (Delfina), Giancarlo Paterlini (Acquerello), Nick Peyton (Cyrus), and Tim Stannard (Spruce, Café Des Amis). It starts at 3pm, come on by for sure-to-be-insightful answers to the questions I’ll be asking.

Friday evening is the big opening party for SF Chefs (Hog in the Fog), but don’t eat toooo much pig, because the after party I’m hosting at E&O, Happy Ending, is featuring all kinds of delicious. The lineup of Asian street food already has me hangry, and the bevvies are also going to get spirits high (har). Big thanks to liquor sponsors Brown Forman Spirits, wine sponsors Robert Sinskey and Honig (nope, we don’t mess around), and Blue Moon and Tiger beers. The party gets started at 10pm, and DJ Jeffrey Paradise will have us partying until 1am. Tickets are selling quick, get yours here.

Saturday I am going to have to shake the after hours outta my head and hair, and scoot up to Corte Madera for the Book Passage Travel, Food, & Photography Conference (my presentation is I Did It My Way—A Talk with the Tablehopper). Looking forward to seeing who’s attending. And then I’ll be hustling back to town for more SF Chefs parties that evening. Sunday: lather, rinse, repeat with more SF Chefs shampoo.

And with that, it’s time for my last dip in the lake… Ciao!

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Aug 10, 2010

Changes in the Daniel Patterson Enclave

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I recently met with chefs Daniel Patterson and Jeremy Fox to discuss their upcoming project, ~PLUM~ (and garden!), but the phone call I received yesterday from Fox held news of another trajectory: alas, he will no longer be involved in Patterson’s Plum project(s). So sorry, Oakland. Well, no need to cry just yet, because Fox is very close to signing a deal on a restaurant space; and who knows where that is, because he’s not talking (yet)—he doesn’t want to jinx it. (Of course I’m hoping for the 415.)

As for who is going to be in the kitchen at Plum, the talented Lauren Kiino will be the opening chef until the Bracina project at Jack London Square gets going in 2011. And Patterson is very close to hiring a chef de cuisine for Plum, so stand by. The opening date is still targeted at mid-September, and in the meantime, you can taste Plum preview meals at Il Cane Rosso on Monday nights in August—the one last night was reportedly all kinds of delicious.

As for the BIG QUESTION, yes, it was an amicable parting—like they say, timing is everything. Patterson found the news to be sudden, yes, but he wishes Fox well with his venture. Fox mentioned to me that he really enjoyed the work he has been doing with Patterson the past few months, and that they’ll still be cooking together at Le Grand Fooding in New York (along with Melissa Perello, Mourad Lahlou, Laurence Jossel, and James Syhabout).

Plum - 2214 Broadway Oakland - 510-444-7586

Michael Mina's Plans at the Westin St. Francis: Bourbon Steak

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Photo from BOURBON STEAK.

Michael Mina’s plans for The Westin St. Francis on Union Square have been announced: since he’s moving MICHAEL MINA to the former AQUA location, he’s going to be opening BOURBON STEAK in its place. Restaurant MICHAEL MINA will close mid-September (it’s due to re-open late October on California Street); after a quick remodel, BOURBON STEAK’s opening is set for October 7th. (Are there enough all caps in that paragraph? Good.)

While this will be the fifth BOURBON STEAK location, Mina stresses he’s going to have the San Francisco location really highlight California product, producers, and farms, like All-Star Organics, Hamada Farms, White Crane Springs, Dirty Girl Farms, and Iacopi Farms. And yes, the beef will also be from California: Brandt Farms in Brawley, which raises hormone- and antibiotic-free beef. About that beef: Mina’s technique is to slow poach the cuts of beef in butter and herbs for several hours at a low temperature, and then roasting the meat. (Pure evil.)

Of course there will be a rocking wine list assembled by Rajat Parr: it will emphasize Burgundy, Rhone, and California, accented with selections from Bordeaux and Spain. Handcrafted cocktails will also be available in the 42-seat bar and lounge. (As far as hotel bars go, I loved the bar at MICHAEL MINA—here’s hoping the swish vibe remains.) Dinner will be nightly from 5:30pm-10:30pm; bar open at 5pm. Reservations can be made beginning September 22nd by calling 415-397-3003.

Restaurant Michael Mina - 252 California St. - 415-397-9222

New Chefs Around Town (Spruce, Circa)

Over at ~SPRUCE~, the Inside Scoop reports executive chef Mark Sullivan is promoting his chef de cuisine, Ben Cohn, to exec. Sullivan will remain busy and involved with Spruce as chef-partner, in addition to continuing to oversee The Village Pub in Woodside and Mayfield Bakery & Cafe in Shallow, ahem, Palo Alto (that one’s for you, MM!). I had a chance to catch up with Sullivan, who said while he’s been busy helping with the 10 Bacchus Management Group’s businesses, Cohn really rose to the occasion and has been doing an amazing job at Spruce, so they wanted to make sure they honored his efforts. Kudos.

I received an email from chef Amy Glaze, who recently did a short stint at Le Club, letting me know she is now working at ~CIRCA~ in the Marina. She was originally brought in as a consulting chef, but since there hasn’t been an executive chef in place since Erik Hopfinger left, she has assumed the title. Sure, it’s a big stretch from Le Bernardin and Guy Savoy in Paris—but let’s see what she puts together over there. Glaze says she is creating a California bistro menu with a seasonal and sustainable focus, highlighting the purity of ingredients. 2001 Chestnut St. at Fillmore, 415-351-0175.

1550 Hyde to Become Seven Hills

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Photo from 1550 Hyde website.

Liquor licenses announce the new tenant for 1550 Hyde, ~SEVEN HILLS~, listing Alexander Alioto as a partner. Inside Scoop has further details on what’s going in: the restaurant will be “classic, straightforward Italian with seasonal focus,” and the plan is to open by October (they take possession September 1st). It ends up Alioto, a 30-year-old chef, has been staging in Italy for two years—which means he’s fired up to offer up to five kinds of fresh pastas daily. (Even though the name refers to the seven hills of Rome, it doesn’t sound like it’s going to be a Roman-focused menu.) Alioto’s brother-in-law and partner, Alexis Solomou, will run the front of house, and Alioto will be getting assistance on the wine list from his father, Nunzio Alioto (it helps when your pop is a Master Sommelier). Your last day to dine at 1550 is August 14th. 1550 Hyde at Pacific.

Alas, Restaurant Cassis Is Fermé

Alas, Eater reports the challenging spot where ~RESTAURANT CASSIS~ was located has proven to be a curse to yet another business—the restaurant closed on August 1st after three years there. According to the letter on the Cassis website, a new restaurant called Sweet Maple will be moving in, serving breakfast, brunch, and lunch seven days a week. 2101 Sutter St. at Steiner.

Guest Chefs at Saison... And Pal's Takeaway!

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Photo by Lisa Nourse.

The next couple months will include some guest chef appearances at both $$$$ and $ establishments. Over at ~SAISON~, Joshua Skenes is inviting guest chefs to cook on the outdoor hearth on the Terrace for a Fire Dinner Series. First up: next Wednesday August 18th, Jeremy Fox (Ubuntu, and most recently working with Daniel Patterson on Plum), who told me he’s excited to feature some amazing and unique ingredients from some Napa Valley farms, like buckwheat leaves and asparagus grass. Fox and Skenes will be collaborating on the dishes together. Then on Tuesday September 7th, Mourad Lahlou of Aziza will be on deck, followed by Christopher Kostow of The Restaurant at Meadowood on Tuesday October 12th. The eight-course dinners are $98, and will be paired with rare wines by Mark Bright, an additional $88. Reservations: call 415-828-7990.

SFoodie announced that ~PAL’S TAKEAWAY~ is inviting five local chefs to create a sandwich for their menu. Starting tomorrow, Wednesday, Josh Capone, bread master and general badass at Orson, will be doing a roast lamb, chickpea purée, roasted eggplant, and greens number for the next one-two days. Next week will feature Chris Cosentino’s Mess Piggy; on Wednesday August 25th, Humphry Slocombe’s Jake Godby will be debuting his creation; on Wednesday September 1st is Dynamo Donut’s Sara Spearin; and on September 8th, Sharon Ardiana from Gialina will be doing her magic. Follow their Twitter feed for updates on the menu items. Inside Tony’s Market, 2751 24th St. at Hampshire, 415- 203-4911.

Drive-By Sightings

The ever-helpful tablehopper-reader-about-town, Jason B., writes in with these two tidbits: ~BAI THONG~ is taking over the Thepin Thai Cuisine spot at 298 Gough St. at Fell, and ~MIDORI SUSHI~ took over the Sushi Boom location on Geary in the Richmond (3420 Geary Blvd. at Commonwealth).

Slouching Toward the Inner Sunset

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Photo from La Boulange.

A couple tablehopper readers let me know about an upcoming open house to discuss the proposed location of a new ~LA BOULANGE BAKERY~ at 1224 9th Avenue, currently the location of Bistro 9. Yup, the Boulangeification of the city continues, almost tracking with the current pizzeria pace. For those who want to attend, the open house is Thursday August 19th at 6pm on the back patio of 1224 9th Avenue. To RSVP or for more information, contact Luis Cuadra at 415-788-1000 ext. 207 or email.

Coooooookie

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A new place to unleash your inner Cookie Monster has opened in the Fillmore: ~BUMZY’S COOKIES~. The mother-and-daughter team of Sheila Harris and Toni Young are making their organic cookies daily, seven in all, which are named after family members: Sweet Sadie (sugar cookie), Bumzy Classic (chocolate chip), Bumzy Classic with walnuts (chocolate chip and walnut), TY special (chocolate chip, walnut, and raisin), She La La (peanut butter), J&T (oatmeal, raisin, and walnut), and Walnutty (cookie dough with walnuts)—although I don’t think that last one is a relative. (Unless she was a nutty one?) As for the name Bumzy’s, it’s Toni’s nickname from her dad. They also make hand-churned vanilla ice cream every day for their cookie and ice cream sandwich.

The ladies have been selling their cookies online for the past four years, and decided to open a retail space in their neighborhood. Their cookie recipes have been in the family for 80 years, passed down from Toni’s grandmother, awww. Oh, and tip well, because the proceeds from the tip jar will be donated to the Lima Center, a day program for the homeless at St. Dominic’s Catholic church. Open Tue-Thu 11am-6pm, Fri-Sat 11am-7pm. 1460 Fillmore St. at O’Farrell, 415-346-3222.

Chef William Pilz (Hapa SF) at La Victoria Saturday August 14th

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Lumpia Shanghai from Hapa SF at Off the Grid.

If you’d like to see what chef William Pilz (formerly Citizen Cake, now Hapa SF) is up to, swing by La Victoria Bakery in the Mission this Saturday August 14th for dinner. There will be three seatings (first come, first served) at 5pm, 7pm, and 9pm. The delicious-sounding menu is going to feature an array of small plates.

Here’s the lineup (subject to change): sinigang: tamarind infused vegetable broth; nuts: adobo seasoned; dilis: crispy small fish; lumpia Shanghai: classic; sisig: thrice-cooked Long and Bailey pork, jalapeño, lime, soy, and shallot; ukoy: Star Route Farms beet and mackerel fritter, spiced vinegar; kinilaw: market fish, seasonal fruit, citrus marinade; skewer: Soul Food Farms chicken; adobo: a little surprise; adidas: chicken feet; sinangag: garlic fried rice; longaniza; naked pork sausage balls; halo-halo: far from classic, shaved ice, market fruits; and turrón: TCHO chocolate. I know, wow. La Victoria, 2937 24th St. at Alabama, 415-642-7120.

Celebrate Ferragosto at Piccino on Sunday August 15th

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Photo by Brian Desimone.

Ferragosto is a wonderful tradition in Italy—on August 15th, everyone takes to the hills or the beaches to cool off and relax with friends and family over bountiful picnics (and lots of vino, natch). ~PICCINO~ is going to be doing their own spin on a Ferragosto celebration this coming Sunday: they will be serving roasted choice cuts of pork belly, shoulder, and/or loin, dishing up a summer caponata and seasonal salads, and firing up their signature thin-crust pizzas. The vino, certo, will be pouring. Let’s just hope for the warm weather to show up and do its part. 12pm-5pm.

Piccino - 1001 Minnesota St. San Francisco - 415-824-4224

Learn About the Magic of the Reuben at Sandwich Lab: SPREAD

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I am such a sucker for the Reuben. And I know I am not alone in my deep love for this sandwich. One partner in Reuben love is Meatpaper, which is throwing their third Sandwich Lab, SPREAD, on Tuesday August 17th at ~18 REASONS~. You’ll learn how to make a homemade version of Russian dressing, and along with the spread, you’ll assemble your own Reuben, with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, corned beef, and rye bread, to be thrown on the griddle. As you munch, Faun Skyles, Bi-Rite Market’s deli manager and an overall deli historian in her own right, will discuss the anatomy of the perfect Reuben, as well as the many beliefs behind the birth of this iconic sandwich. Beer will be provided.

Co-hosted by Meatpaper’s Sasha Wizansky and Bi-Rite’s Susan Kim, Sandwich Lab is a four-part series intended to get to the bottom of sandwich-mania. Attendees will learn about the sandwich from the outside in, make and eat many different sandwich types, and investigate why we love sandwiches oh so much. Be prepared to get your hands dirty!

Tuesday Aug 17, 2010
7pm–9pm
$25 for 18 Reasons members; $35 for the general public
more info

18 Reasons - 3674 18th St. San Francisco

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Aug 10, 2010

Natural Wine Week Starts August 23rd

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San Francisco is hosting its second annual ~NATURAL WINE WEEK~ from August 23rd-29th. There will be nightly events in partnership with 27 San Francisco restaurants (from Nopa to RN74 to La Ciccia), wine bars, and wine shops showcasing both well-known and boutique producers of natural wines from around the world.

Since the event is co-founded and led by Ian Becker, wine director for Absinthe Brasserie & Bar and Arlequin Wine Merchant, it only makes sense there will be an event at Arlequin Wine Merchant on Thursday August 26th. The event will host avant garde, California natural wines, including Broc Cellars, Donkey & Goat, Clos Saron, Copai, Unti Vineyards, Lioco, and more. 6pm-8pm. The cost is $20.

Check the site for details on all the events, like a three-course dinner at Terroir on August 23rd, Bar Bambino will feature rotating flights of Italian (plus Austrian and Slovenian) wines all week, and retailers like Bi-Rite, Arlequin, Biondivino, San Francisco Wine Trading Company, and The Jug Shop will feature natural wine tastings.

One event that is sure to book up is on Tuesday August 24th, when Arianna Occhipinti, Sicilian natural winemaking badass, is going to be at ~FARINA~. She will be there from 5pm-10pm, pouring a number of her wines by the 1 oz. taste, glass, and bottle. Executive chef Paolo Laboa will prepare an à la carte menu to accompany the wines (so it’s not a standard prix-fixe winemaker dinner kind of night). Yeah, it’s going to be frapatto heaven, so make a reservation, 415-565-0360.

Monday Aug 23, 2010 – Sunday Aug 29, 2010
more info

the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Aug 10, 2010

Eat Real Festival in Oakland Kicks Off August 27th

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Flickr photo by Kostas Pagiamtzis.

Event Info

Friday Aug 27, 2010 – Sunday Aug 29, 2010
Website

Starting Friday August 27th through the 29th, the ~EAT REAL FESTIVAL~ is taking over Oakland’s Jack London Square for three days of all things food—with a focus on food crafts, street food, urban homesteading, and fresh, local, sustainable ingredients. The festival aims to bring farmers, food producers, and eaters together to celebrate real food and the artisan “food crafters” who make it.

With four stages’ worth of events, this year’s schedule is jam-packed with demonstrations, performances, and contests all weekend long. You’ll be eating (with 80 street food vendors on-site), drinking (handcrafted beer, wine, kombucha), and learning how to grow, raise or craft your own food (think canning, preserving, cheesemaking, animal husbandry, vertical gardening). Here are some event highlights from the schedule to pique your interest:

  • Home-Roasted Coffee with James Freeman of Blue Bottle Coffee
  • Backyard Chickens 101 + Eggy Cooking with Heidi Kooy
  • Grow Your Own Mushrooms with Far West Fungi
  • Chinese Noodle Pulling with Chef Gordon of Ark Restaurant
  • Make Your Own Kombucha with Jessica Prentice of Three Stone Hearth
  • Homemade Bitters with Greg Lindgren of Rye
  • And plenty of butchery events (including steer, goat, and pig)

The entertainment stage will feature music, DJs, dancing, contests, and even a literary festival and food poetry slam. The Eat Real Fest is sure to inspire you to go home and do some food crafting, so an indoor farmers’ market will be held on Saturday and Sunday so you can get fresh, local ingredients for your own DIY food projects.

And here’s our PSA: don’t forget comfortable shoes, your hat, and some sunblock!

The Eat Real Festival was founded by a group of people who believe that delicious, convenient, affordable, and sustainable food should be celebrated through an annual food festival. A small percentage of proceeds from the event will be donated to La Cocina, Community Alliance for Family Farms, and People’s Grocery.

the sugar mama

Giveaways (get some)
Aug 10, 2010

(Sponsored): Enter to Win Tickets to Sunset's Savor the Central Coast

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For more than a year, Sunset Magazine’s event team has been working behind the scenes on a new, one-of-a-kind event featuring the largely undiscovered culinary, wine, and travel scene found on California’s beautiful Central Coast. This event is Sunset’s Savor the Central Coast.

The main event of Sunset’s Savor the Central Coast takes place October 2nd and 3rd, 2010 on the historic 14,000-acre Santa Margarita cattle ranch nestled halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles in San Luis Obispo County, California. More than 100 Central Coast wineries and 35 celebrity chefs, including Tyler Florence, will transform the ranch into a food and wine lover’s paradise.

Here are some event highlights:
- Farmers’ Markets recreated from throughout the region with chefs, farmers, and our food editors demonstrating how to “shop” a farmers’ market.
- A two-plus-acre kitchen garden was planted earlier this year with a unique blend of ornamentals and edibles—we will be featuring gardening demonstrations throughout the weekend.
- Tour the Central Coast Pavilion, where you can sample winning wines from Sunset’s Western Wine Awards, “travel the coast” all in one stop, and shop the Savor General Store.
- Take a seat in Chef and Winemaker Central, where you can enjoy educational seminars with Sunset’s expert editors, local winemakers, and celebrity chefs.

Tickets are available at SavorCentralCoast.com.

tablehopper is giving away one pair of tickets (two tickets total). All you need to do is forward this week’s tablehopper newsletter to one friend (but even more would be so very fabulous), and add a note to your friend(s) about the event, then Cc: or Bcc: me at luckyme@tablehopper.com so I know you sent it—I promise I won’t use anyone’s email address. The deadline to enter is Sunday August 15th by 11:59pm. I will notify the winner on Monday the 16th. Good luck!

(Sponsored): Want to Win a Pair of Tickets for Hog in the Fog on Friday Night?

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Are you in the restaurant industry? Would you like to try to win a pair of tickets for HOG IN THE FOG on Friday night at SF Chefs? Of course you would.

The best answer for “Why you deserve to pig out” wins the pair of tickets! Email your answer to R3 Builders by Thursday August 12th at 5pm, and they will select their favorite answer.

Tickets courtesy of R3 Builders, restaurant contractors.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
Aug 10, 2010

Philip Seymour Hoffman on the Town

A tablehopper Twitter follower (shouldn’t you be one too?) let me know that ~Philip Seymour Hoffman~ dined at Paragon. (Alas, couldn’t get more details by presstime.)

Further Proof of Frances McDormand's Good Taste

Not only does ~Frances McDormand~ have good taste in coffee, and husbands, but we can also add restaurants to that list. On Tuesday night, she dined at A16 with her husband, Joel Coen, and one of the Kitchen Sisters, Davia Nelson. They had about five courses, including a jumbo gulf shrimp special with Meyer lemon and herbs, chicken meatballs, calamari panzanella, and the mezzi paccheri; she drank County Line rosé.

Back for the First Time

On Sunday night, rapper ~Ludacris~ dined at Farallon. He only had half an hour before his show, but had a good meal with a female companion and a friend. The hipper members of the restaurant staff were reportedly quite excited.

Huey Lewis, in the News

A tablehopper reader wrote in that ~Huey Lewis~ was spotted at Piazza D’Angelo in Mill Valley following his “conversation” at the Throckmorton Theatre last night. It was actually a double play: he also came in for drinks and snacks before his show.

Party Time with Ali and Roberto

The Bachelorette’s ~Ali Fedotowsky~, and her new fiancé, ~Roberto Martinez~, had a party at The Republic on Saturday night to introduce her friends to him. An Us Weekly photographer was there to capture the event.

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