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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: old ironsides.

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Celebrating early last week: hopper at the HOPR (House of Prime Rib).

Well, I thought I was old ironsides. It takes a lot to knock me down, but something I ate over the weekend definitely laid me out. Ahhh, food poisoning. It was like my last day in India all over again. Well, I needed to lose some weight anyway.

Fortunately I am back in action, because tonight I am celebrating tablehopper’s fifth anniversary! I looked up the traditional fifth wedding anniversary gift (because lord knows, I’m pretty damned wedded to this thing, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer), and how appropriate: for traditional anniversaries, it’s wood, and for modern anniversaries, it’s silverware. Sounds about right since I’ll be dining on a wood table tonight, silverware in hand with my dear friend at a Tartine Afterhours supper (with a good bottle of Champagne in tow, oh you know it).

So, you ready for my big news? No, it’s not on the scale of Oprah’s secret sister, although the actual news isn’t that far off topic: tablehopper has a new sister site, Deep Dishing! It’s a new kind of forum about Bay Area restaurants: a positive one, focusing on the best dishes, drinks, and hot tips! The Deep Dishing community and site will guide you to what to order and what’s delicious the next time you’re heading out (especially useful if it’s your first time somewhere, or you’re just looking for inspiration). If there was something you didn’t like, well, on Deep Dishing, you don’t talk about it—it’s only about what’s good.

I’ve been working on the site for months with the fantastic folks at Phile, a service that lets anyone create a website to share information about the things they love in an organized way. (And a big shout out to Noise 13 for designing another fab site for me!)

We’ve had a incredible group of beta testers the past three weeks, who have inputted a bunch of fab places, pics, and tips—but there’s oh so much more to include! You can vote and comment on dishes—which is an important function of the site—and there’s also a Tip Please! forum where you can ask questions, and help solve the dilemmas of your fellow diners.

I’m so excited about the launch of Deep Dishing, which will be a friendly place for the tablehopper community to share and quickly find details about what’s good in restaurants in the Bay Area (and beyond). We’re starting locally (Bay Area and wine country), but the site’s locations will expand soon. And some functionality and cool features will be coming, too—just you wait. Be sure to follow Deep Dishing on Twitter to keep up on special highlights and news.

And that’s not all, folks. I am also very fired up to announce I am adding a monthly wine country news and events section called 707 Scout. It will be written by my sister in sass, Deirdre Bourdet, who additionally writes for WineCountry.com and her own blog, Hedonism Ink (here she is on Twitter). She graduated from the Cordon Bleu’s culinary program in Paris, and worked for a time at Zagat Survey in New York City researching restaurants, hotels, and bars around the world. After a stint practicing big-firm law in San Francisco, she moved to Napa to focus on the good life. Cheers to that, and I am thrilled to have her on board.

Lastly, since we’re on congrats, all the best to the James Beard Foundation Awards restaurant and chef semifinalists. The finalists will be announced March 21st. Not sure if I’ll be heading out there again in May for the Awards—I sure had fun as a correspondent last year!

Okay, I’m hopping over to Deep Dishing to add more content and vote on dishes. See you there!

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Feb 22, 2011

New Chef at Radius: Matt Kerley

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Chef Matt Kerley; photo by Adi Nevo.

Last week, I was invited to be on a panel for Entrepreneurs’ Organization, and got to hang out with the new chef of ~RADIUS~, Matt Kerley, at the event. Chef Kerley has also brought on Chris Geremia as his sous chef—the pair was most recently running culinary operations at Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery; Kerley has also been a sous chef at Zinnia, Slow Club, and Myth. The restaurant’s 100-mile-radius sourcing philosophy will continue—as well as a few of the restaurant’s favorite dishes on the menu—but look for new dishes coming soon (Kerley is a big believer in whole animal butchery), along with special dinners in the spring and summer on Radius’ outdoor patio.

Radius - 1123 Folsom St. San Francisco - 415-525-3676

Signs of Life Around Washington Square Park

Someone is taking over the Washington Square Bar & Grill space: Inside Scoop reports Sens chef Dane Boryta and his wife Liz Ferro will be taking over the space. They are hammering the final nail in the coffin of the Washbag, and are going to be opening a new concept called ~BOTTLE CAP~. The basics: ingredient-driven, casual American cuisine, and open continuously Tue-Sun 11am-10pm. Stand by for timing and more details in coming months. 1707 Powell St. at Union.

And since we’re in the neighborhood, Scoop reported earlier the name for Anna Weinberg and Jenn Puccio’s project in the former Moose’s/Joey & Eddie’s will be ~PARK TAVERN~. Stand by for a summer opening. With valet parking, holla. 1652 Stockton St. at Union.

Bottle Cap - 1707 Powell St. - 415-529-2237

Greenburger's Moving into the Bistro St. Germain Space

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Image from Haighteration.

Haighteration gets the scoop on who is moving into the former Bistro St. Germain space in the Lower Haight. The new tenant will be called ~GREENBURGER’S~, from husband-and-wife team Matthew Nudelman and Stefanie Greenberg Nudelman. Details are slim, but it sounds like chef Matt’s hometown of Buffalo, New York will serve as inspiration, along with other regional American dishes following a local-sustainable credo. Timing is also TBD, so stand by for more in coming months. 518 Haight St. at Fillmore.

A Few Tidbits: Dumplings, Pizza, BBQ!

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Photo from Tenderblog.

Dagnabbit, my intern reports that one of the city’s best spots for dumplings has closed: ~LITTLE SAIGON CAFE~, the former brick-and-mortar operation from the owners of the Happy Dumplings cart. Fortunately, their seasonal pot stickers will still be available at the Stonestown farmers’ markets on Sundays. But, quick on the heels of this sad news, Tenderblog brings word that ~CHAIRMAN BAO~ is taking over the space, and will be using it as the kitchen for their food truck. The Chairman is also reportedly taking over the Baguette Express space next door, which will become a takeout counter in a few months, pending permits. (I will refrain from making any jokes about red tape.) 670 Larkin St. at Ellis.

7x7 brings news that the ~ORBIT ROOM~ has installed a pizza oven, a communal table (here’s hoping they got rid of some of those terrible granite cocktail tables), and updated their cocktail menu. According to a post on Yelp, there’s a new owner behind all these changes. 1900 Market St. at Laguna, 415-252-9525.

And just down Market, it sounds like things are on target for ~REBEL~ to open in the Triple Crown space on Monday February 28th, and Sneaky’s BBQ will be serving barbecue seven days a week (they just did a soft opening party last night). Dinner will be offered in the evenings Mon-Fri, and all day on weekends. Plus, they’re offering take out and delivery within a 1.5 mile radius during their business hours. 1760 Market St. at Octavia.

Cane Rosso Returns to Cook Dinner at Coffee Bar

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Photo from Coffee Bar.

I heard the last pop-up dinner was delicious, and chef Lauren Kiino of ~IL CANE ROSSO~ is coming back for a redux at ~COFFEE BAR~ this Friday February 25th. $35, three courses, details here. Carnivores and vegetarians can happily dine side by side. To RSVP, email first and second choice of seating times, contact information, and number in your party. The last event sold out, FYI! 1890 Bryant St. (corner of Florida and Mariposa), 415-551-8100.

Friday Feb 25, 2011
more info

A Couple Revamps: Tres Agaves and Solstice

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Photo from Tres Agaves.

Fear not, a couple neighborhood restaurants are just closing for renovations. ~TRES AGAVES~ is closing today for approximately nine days, reopening on March 3rd. 130 Townsend St. at 3rd St., 415-227-0500.

And over in Pacific Heights, ~SOLSTICE~ closed for a revamp over the weekend, and is due to reopen Tuesday March 1st with a new look, and a tuned-up menu and cocktail list. 2801 California St. at Divisadero, 415-359-1222.

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the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
Feb 22, 2011

So, You Ready to Dish?

There are a lot of restaurants out there, serving a whole lotta dishes, and slinging a whole lotta drinks. But before you head over to the latest and greatest, don’t you want to know what’s the can’t-miss dish, drink, and other insider tips? And hello, you don’t have a lot of time to figure all this out, right?

Welcome to Deep Dishing, a completely new kind of forum about Bay Area restaurants (and bars and bakeries and cafés and street food and pop-ups). What’s different? Well, to start, this community is based on positivity. It’s about what to order, not what to avoid. It’s about sharing what’s good, what rocks your socks off, what you’d tell your best friend to get, and why you’d want to return somewhere—not why you want to run away. It’s also about sharing secrets, like what’s off the menu, what’s your favorite super-duper sandwich combo, and when to pick up a bakery’s famous loaf of bread.

You can post pictures (food [rhymes with horn] alert!), vote and comment on dishes, share hot tips, and even ask questions in the Tip Please! forum—and help solve the dilemmas of your fellow diners.

We’re starting locally (Bay Area and wine country), but the site’s locations will expand soon. Content will also grow (obviously) since we’re just starting out here. Some functionality and cool features will be coming, too—just you wait.

Have fun dishing it up.

~Marcia Gagliardi
founder of Deep Dishing and tablehopper.com

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
Feb 22, 2011

So, What Did They Change at Zeitgeist?

According to Uptown Almanac, while everyone’s dreams of having the grody bathrooms at ~ZEITGEIST~ updated will not be fulfilled, here’s what they did do: “completely gut their bar, add more taps, and build some windows behind the bar that allow bartenders to serve drinks directly to patrons on the back deck (who knows if they’ll ever do that, of course).” Ha. 199 Valencia St. at Duboce, 415-255-7505.

Special Champagne Dinner at The Rotunda (Meow)

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Photo from The Rotunda.

This is quite the evening with quite the setting: a special wine dinner featuring Champagne Henriot and Bouchard Père et Fils at ~THE ROTUNDA AT NEIMAN MARCUS~. The event is Thursday March 10th, and will feature five courses from chef Barney Brown with paired wines.

The menu features an amuse bouche of foie gras nigiri with apricot soy glaze, paired with Champagne Henriot Blanc NV Reims; duck egg Benedict with duck breast prosciutto, brioche, blood orange hollandaise, paired with Champagne Henriot Brut 1998 Reims; sea scallops with Santa Barbara uni butter, sea beans, paired with Bouchard Père et Fils Bourgogne Blanc Reserve 2008; Cantonese crispy roast duck with sweet stewed soybeans, black mushrooms, and steamed buns, paired with Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune du Château Rouge 1er Cru 2006 Côte de Beaune and Bouchard Père et Fils Beaune Grèves “Vigne de l’Enfant Jesus” 1er Cru 2006 Côte de Beaune. There will also be a cheese course, with Spanish Manchego, Ossau-Iraty, Garrotxa, and Bleu de Basque. 6:30pm-9pm. $100 per person. Reservations: 415-249-2721. 150 Stockton St. at Geary.

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the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)
Feb 22, 2011

Academy Awards Viewing Parties

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Event Info

Sunday Feb 27, 2011

Get in on the glitz and glam of ~OSCAR NIGHT~ on Sunday February 27th at any of these fabulous events.

Merchants Exchange Productions and San Francisco Magazine present Lights! Camera! Oscars! Stroll down the red carpet starting at 4pm with “paparazzi” and drag-Joan and Melissa Rivers, then enter the Julia Morgan Ballroom, where you’ll enjoy bites from Credo restaurant, an endless glass of Moët & Chandon all evening, a beauty bar by Benefit Cosmetics, and raffles and voting on awards. Tickets are $45 per person and benefit the Symphonix League of the San Francisco Symphony; cocktail attire required. 465 California St. at Leidesdorff.

Have Dinner and the Oscars! at ~1300 ON FILLMORE~ for a classy way to watch Hollywood’s biggest night. Dress for the red carpet, and enjoy the silver screen and chef David Lawrence’s food. The restaurant will also be holding a contest for everyone in attendance: each person will get a ballot to cast their vote in each category and get a chance to win dinner for two at 1300 on Fillmore. Make your reservation here. 1300 Fillmore St. at Eddy, 415-771-7100.

~BIN 38~’s first-ever Academy Awards Party (5pm, red carpet coverage at 3:30pm) will show off their new 50” flat-screen in a heated, tented patio. Truffled popcorn and plenty of bubbly will be on-hand. Those arriving before the first award can enter for the chance to win a $50 BIN 38 gift certificate or a bottle of bubbles (for the winner and runner-up).There’s only room for 40 people to watch, so advance reservations are strongly recommended (starting at 3pm, last reservation at 5pm) to guarantee a spot. Parties of two may share a table with another couple, and groups larger than 8 should email ahead. 3232 Scott St. at Chestnut, 415-567-3838.

Chefs Popping Up at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show

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Protea at the Garden Show.

Event Info

Wednesday Mar 23, 2011 – Sunday Mar 27, 2011
Wed–Sat 10am–7pm, Sun 10am–6pm
Advance purchase single-day $16 online, $20 at the door; multi-day, all-show pass $25; half-day pass $15; children under 16 free
Info
San Mateo Event Center
1346 Saratoga Dr., San Mateo
925-605-2923

The ~SAN FRANCISCO FLOWER AND GARDEN SHOW~, coming up March 23rd-27th at the San Mateo Event Center, is celebrating chefs in the garden for the first time ever with a series of garden-to-table cooking demonstrations and talks with leading local chefs Alice Waters (Chez Panisse), Roland Passot (La Folie, Left Bank), Sean Baker (Gather), Jeffrey Stout (Alexander’s Steakhouse), Andrea Froncillo (The Stinking Rose), plus Margo True, food editor, Sunset magazine. Another highlight is filmmaker Deborah Koons Garcia screening excerpts from her upcoming film project, “Symphony of the Soil.”

The “Designing a Chef Worthy Garden” seminar series, with its roster of California chefs, fits right in with this year’s “Life in the California Garden” theme. On Saturday March 26th, Alice Waters and staff will give a cooking demonstration at 2:30pm and a special lecture at 3:30pm celebrating the 40th anniversary of Chez Panisse and its focus on the local food movement. More garden-to-table cooking demos with Sean Baker on Wednesday March 23rd, Andrea Froncillo on Thursday March 24th, Jeffrey Stout on Friday March 25th (all starting at 1pm), and Margo True (11am) and Roland Passot (3pm) on Sunday March 27th will be paired with pointers on how to grow a chef’s garden.

On Friday March 25th at 6pm, see excerpts from Deborah Garcia’s new documentary project, “Symphony of the Soil,” which examines the state of community-based and scientific growing practices worldwide, with an emphasis on green, sustainable practices. Segments premiering will cover dry farming grapes in Napa, vegetable gardening in England, and a successful biodynamic community in Egypt, followed by Q&A with the filmmaker.

Also of interest to the food-centric gardener will be edible garden experts, like author Rosalind Creasy, with kitchen-friendly garden techniques; a farmers’ market with flowers and produce; the 6,000-square-foot Modern Homestead edible garden display by Star Apple Edible Gardens of Oakland, featuring an elegant chicken coop and demonstrations on beer and jam making; and a new wine garden tasting area created by the Livermore Valley Wine Growers Association. Local wineries Concannon Vineyard, Crooked Vine Winery, Cuda Ridge Wines, Darcie Kent Vineyards, Stony Ridge Winery, and Wente Vineyards will offer wine tastings.

As always, the show will feature garden installations from top Bay Area designers; seminars and book signings by experts on a range of topics like flower arranging, design trends, water conservation, lawn alternatives, and growing walls; a marketplace with over 200 vendors selling plants, seeds, tools, and gift items; the Sproutopia children’s garden with fun, hands-on learning opportunities; and brilliant art installations.

Tickets can be purchased online here; admission includes all regular seminars and demonstrations.

707 scout

Wine Country Buzz (it’s what happens there)
Feb 22, 2011

Terra Adds New Bar Scene in Sleepy St. Helena

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Egg to the third power at Bar Terra; photo by Deirdre Bourdet.

Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani (of ~TERRA~, ~AME~) opened the taverny Bar Terra last month in the north half of the groovy stone building that houses Terra on the south side. The place channels the vibe of the departed Martini House cellar bar with its low lighting and a non-Main Street location, and seems to be filling that gaping hole in the community with its own brand of sexy cocktails and sophisticated snacks.

The cocktail list steers clear of cloying, and sticks with balanced blends of fresh citrus and quality liquors. They make their Jack Rose—my new fave—with Lecompte Calvados and Allspice Dram, which lend a savory undertone and serious food affinity. Speaking of which, the awesomely affordable snack menu includes such delights as Egg3 (deviled Jidori eggs with salmon roe and uni), a jarful of beef tartare with Thai chiles, Red Necks and Wings (a ducked-up version of hotwings that includes necks), and the heart-stopping “caviar dip”—a glass jar layered with luscious cream, tobiko, salmon roe, and California osetra served with toasted baguette chips. A couple of salads and a few larger plates allow for more traditional dinners, but grazing through the starters is the obvious choice for tipplers in this kind of setting. Only half the seats at Bar Terra are available for reservations, too, so that walk-ins have a great shot at scoring a spot on any given night.

Terra next door has also done some revamping, and now boasts an eye-catching wine wall in the dining room, as well as a new slew of prix-fixe options: four courses for $66, five courses for $81, six courses for $92, or the chef’s choice omakase if you simply must have more. A special daily set menu of 3 courses for $57 brings the Michelin-starred experience within reach of more modest budgets, too. 1345 Railroad Ave., St. Helena, 707-963-8931.

Hot, Haute Breakfasts at Hopper Creek Kitchen

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Apricot smoothie, mini English muffins with bacon butter amuse; photos by Deirdre Bourdet.

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Pork consommé with slow-poached egg.

The metamorphosis of the Yountville Inn into the swank Hotel Yountville is nearing completion, and official grand opening celebrations will take place sometime in late March or early April 2011… once the liquor license arrives.

The hotel’s ~HOPPER CREEK KITCHEN~ is already up and running for breakfast, though, and soooo worth a hotel stay (it’s only open to guests, boo). Chef Adam Clark takes the most important meal of the day into the gastronomic big time, turning breakfast into breakfeast with techniques and flavors normally found only at haute lunch and dinner destinations in wine country. When I visited, the tasting menu (yes, a breakfast tasting menu) included pork consommé with 63-degree-C slow-poached egg, crisped duck confit with yuzu-filled donuts and quince agrodolce, and a willpower-annihilating French toast soufflé with huckleberry-rum raisin sauce for dessert.

The accompanying “Coffee Experience” is also quite the production, with your choice of Equator Coffee beans ground to order, and brewed tableside using porcelain drip cones and a gleaming silver teapot of 201-degree-F water, poured slowly and with surgical precision over the grounds to maximize the aromatic extraction. Overly precious? Perhaps, but that coffee rocked—best of 2011 so far.

March is the perfect time to check this place out, and not just for the grand opening parties—room rates go up in April for the spring high season. 6462 Washington St., Yountville, 888-944-2885.

Jeremy Fox Leaves Ty-Flo, Heads to Yountville

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Jacobsen Orchards garden; photo by Deirdre Bourdet.

After only four months of collaboration with the Tyler Florence Restaurant Group, chef Jeremy Fox is moving on. According to Eater SF, sous chef Tyson Greenwood will be taking the helm at ~ROTISSERIE & WINE~ in downtown Napa, and Fox will be focusing his energy on his forthcoming vegetable cookbook, Seed to Stalk.

Fox partnered with Ryan Hill and Peter Jacobsen (well known for their Yountville gardens, which supply produce to some of the town’s finest restaurants) to help him grow the ingredients that will inspire the recipes. And, in the spirit of collaboration, the three will be hosting intimate, 20-25 person pop-up dinners to test recipes on eager guinea pigs like you and me.

No details yet on dates, locations, or cost, but Ryan Hill says there’s a good chance that they will host one at Peter and Gwenny Jacobsen’s fantastic outdoor kitchen in Yountville… the one that looks out at garden rows that supply The French Laundry with fresh produce and herbs. But, as Ryan pointed out to me, the “unique thing about pop-up dinners is that they can take place anywhere… in the world!” Does this mean a Copenhagen dinner at NOMA is in the works?

Two Fun Nights Ahead in Wine Country

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Scott Beattie and The Cucumber Collins; photo by Deirdre Bourdet.

Lots of fun events going on in wineland these days. On Wednesday February 23rd, ~SPOONBAR~, Classic & Vintage Spirits, and artisanal cocktail king Scott Beattie are hosting the Golden Barspoon cocktail competition in Healdsburg’s eco-chic h2hotel. Professional bartenders from Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties will be mixing up their best cocktail recipes using Classic & Vintage spirits in the Spoonbar lounge, competing for eternal glory and some kick-ass prizes from the sponsors. The hoi polloi can cheer them on whilst sipping $5 cocktails from Scott’s own repertoire of mind-bending beverages, and checking out samples of Classic & Vintage’s product line. The h2hotel is also offering a special $149 cocktail competition rate that night, to save you the DUI expense. 7pm-10pm. 219 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707-433-7222.

For a totally different kind of outing, the first ever Big Gay Wine Train is set to ride the rails on Saturday March 12th, thanks to co-sponsors Napa Valley Wine Train and Out In The Vineyard. Gay vintners from Napa and Sonoma will take over the Wine Train for the night, schmoozing with guests and pouring their wines for the specially paired five-course dinner from chef Kelly McDonald. Think lobster cakes with blood orange beurre blanc, scallops and pork belly in tarragon truffle purée, lamb lollipops, filet mignon, foie gras, and more decadence along those lines.

The party starts at the Wine Train Station with bubbly from J Vineyards, then it’s all abjoard with Greg Bjornstad (Bjornstad Cellars), Mark Lyon (Sebastiani Vineyards), Philippe Langner (Hesperian Wines), and Jeff Durham and Joey Wolosz (Poem Cellars), who will be circulating among the cars answering questions and generally being fabulous. No word on whether the station’s piano bar will be open late that night, but I have my suspicions. Sparkling reception starts at 5:30pm; train leaves at 6:30pm. Make your reservations online at winetrain.com.

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the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)
Feb 22, 2011

Reese's Pieces

The “absolutely gorgeous and gracious” ~Reese Witherspoon~ was spotted dining at Cotogna last Wednesday evening.

Hey, Jude

More fantastic ~Jude Law~ sighting around town. And boy, someone is having fun on the town (someone is quick on your heels, Willie Brown). Mister Law was spotted dining at both Boulevard and Farallon (where he reportedly loved the food and wine pairings), and according to a tweet from the one and only Leslie Sbrocco, he also had a drink at Rickhouse bar.

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All content © 2011 tablehopper, LLC. 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.