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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: get my goat.

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Goat and al pastor tacos from El Norteño. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Sun, is that you? I hardly recognize you. It’s about time you showed up—you have been missed. Welcome back. I thought I was going to have to wait until driving to Burning Man next Tuesday to even see you at, oh, say Vallejo. What I do know is that Burning Man has exploded all over the inside of my apartment—it looks like a drag queen, a furrier, a cowgirl, a ’70s diva, and a kaftan-wearing bohemian emptied their closets onto my floor and ran away. It’s a pileup.

Today we have an update on all the excitement happening at Michael Mina, along with an action-packed 707 Scout update from Heather Irwin, in case you feel inspired to embark on a weekend getaway into some warmth. Another option: you can head to Mezzaluna in Princeton-by-the-Sea/Half Moon Bay for an Italian feast (it’s a Gagliardi family favorite)—you can hear all about what to order in this week’s episode of You Gotta Eat This on KGO Radio.

I also want to point you to my post this week on 7x7.com, with my monthly roundup of five new restaurants to check out in case you need a reminder of what’s new! So. Many. Openings.

Okay folks, enjoy the weekend, and I need to get back to preparing for this monster trip! It’s always such a doozy. Thank GOD I got out of jury duty—I was sweating bullets on that one. At least I got to tuck into some El Norteño goat and al pastor tacos across the street from the Hall of Justice, pictured here! All hail the chivo.

Ciao!

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)
Aug 24, 2012

Ron Siegel Is the New Executive Chef at Michael Mina SF

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Chef Ron Siegel. Photo provided by Ritz-Carlton San Francisco.

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Chef Michael Mina. Photo provided by Michael Mina.

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Interior photo by Drew Alitzer.

Big news came over the wires this week, with the announcement that chef Ron Siegel is coming to ~MICHAEL MINA~ as executive chef. Siegel is leaving the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco (Parallel 37) after eight years at the property and should be in the Mina kitchen in a few weeks.

I had a chat with Michael Mina, who is tremendously excited to be working with Siegel again—Mina first hired Siegel in 1991 as a line cook at AQUA. Yeah, that’s some history. Siegel is one of the city’s most talented chefs, with a background that includes Masa’s of San Francisco, Charles Nob Hill (where he was named a best new chef by Food & Wine magazine), and, of course, being the first-ever American chef to win the Japanese “Iron Chef” competition.

Siegel and Mina have always maintained a good friendship, and when the most recent chef de cuisine at Michael Mina, Michael Davis, wanted to leave the restaurant and head back east, Mina reached out to Siegel. He said Siegel was excited, saying it would be his dream job and how much he’d love to return to where he started. The two chefs are already writing menus together, of which Mina said: “It’s so easy—and fun! It’s great because we already know each other so well. We have a great history of collaboration.” Guests should expect new and exciting creations developed by both chefs independently, as well as many dishes that they will come up with together. Both chefs share a strong affinity to Japanese cuisine—stylistically they are already quite simpatico.

Mina added: “It will be nice for the staff to have Ron on board. He builds a great family in his restaurants. I told him: ‘Expectations are high, brother!’ But this is exactly the kind of stage he needs to be on.” I know I am not alone in my excitement to see what these two powerhouses put together in that beautiful restaurant. Buckle up.

MICHAEL MINA - 252 California St. San Francisco - 415-397-9222

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the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
Aug 24, 2012

(Sponsored): Bluxome Street Winery's "Meet Market" Is This Saturday!

We at Bluxome stand accused of enjoying the finer things in life, which is why we could hardly resist the temptation to gather some of the best culinary purveyors in the Bay Area under our eaves to create the once-a-month Meet Market at Bluxome Street Winery. Think of it as the world’s most selective farmers’ market with a little wine thrown in for good measure. A crackerjack of an idea, if we do say so ourselves.

Located at 53 Bluxome Street in San Francisco, The Meet Market runs the last Saturday of each month from noon-5pm, which means you should come by tomorrow Saturday August 25th! Enjoy a glass of wine (or several) while perusing some of the best of SF, like Paulie’s Pickling or INNA Jam—there are 22 purveyors in all! And wait until you try the empanadas from El Sur. Bonus: the first 53 folks who mention tablehopper get styled with a free tote!

For more information on vendors and more, go to bluxomewinery.com. See you there! It’s time for pinot and purveyors!

707 scout

Wine Country Buzz (it’s what happens there)
Aug 24, 2012

Cochon Heritage Fire, America's Cup Napa Style, Tasting Petaluma, Hard Cider, and a First Look at Spinster Sisters

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Cochon’s Heritage Fire in 2011. Courtesy of Cochon 555.

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Bank Café and Bar in Napa. Courtesy of Bank Café and Bar.

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Tomato gazpacho at Social Club. Courtesy of Heather Irwin.

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Inside Social Club with GM Damian Wallace. Courtesy of Heather Irwin.

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Liza Hinman at Spinster Sisters. Courtesy of Heather Irwin.

By 707 correspondent Heather Irwin. Sign up for the BiteClub Newsletter.

Get fired up for ~COCHON HERITAGE FIRE~ this Saturday August 25th in Napa. The second largest Cochon 555 event will again celebrate heritage breed animals such as goat, lamb, pig, rabbit, and wild birds from 3:30pm to 6:30pm at The River Terrace Inn of Napa. The fourth annual outdoor event spotlights wood-fired whole animal cooking with 14 local chefs, including Sonoma’s John Stewart and Duskie Estes from Zazu Farm and Restaurant (they were Grand Cochon winners in 2011); Lars Kronmark of the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone; Jordan Mackey of Napa’s Restaurant Cuvee Napa; John Fink of The Whole Beast; Kim Wiss of Antica Napa; and Jason Vincent of Nightwood in Chicago. Also returning is Dave the Butcher of Marina Meats in San Francisco, who will host the butcher demonstration and guest-favorite “Team Toast,” under the helm of Peter Jacobsen of Jacobsen Orchards in Yountville.

Following Cochon Heritage Fire, the celebration continues next door at Restaurant Cuvee. The after-party features an exclusive menu with plancha-fired shrimp and grits, barbecue ribs, and watermelon slaw, and flights of select wines, brews, and spirits. On Sunday, Jordan hosts the first-ever Heritage Hash Brunch, an elaborate feast featuring a menu of wood-fired plancha dishes including heritage hash, farm eggs, johnnycakes, and an heirloom Bloody Mary bar. Tickets are $150 per person and available here.

Landlubbing it during the SF America’s Cup World Series this weekend? Enjoy a viewing party with the sailing set in Napa at the ~BANK CAFÉ AND BAR~ at the Westin Verasa. Chef Ken Frank’s casual side of the legendary La Toque restaurant will be serving up Miner Family Winery’s “The Oracle” wine by the glass and showing the races in HD on large flat-screen televisions on Sunday August 26th from 11:30am to 1pm. 1314 McKinistry St. at Soscol Ave., Napa, 707-257-1800.

The forthcoming ~SOCIAL CLUB~ is among the restaurants serving up nibbles and noshes at this weekend’s Taste of Petaluma, Saturday August 25th from 11:30am to 4pm. Other newcomers to the event this year include Rosso Petaluma (burrata on bruschetta wth prosciutto, or spaghetti and meatballs); Andy’s Sushi (purple yam tempura, Thai barbecue pork); Three Twins ice cream (sea salted caramel, chocolate orange confetti); and Paradise Sushi (ninja roll, chicken teriyaki). Ticket packages include 10 tastings and are available for $40 at the event or $35 in advance. Get details by calling 707-763-8920 or going online to tasteofpetaluma.org.

More on ~SOCIAL CLUB~: BiteClub got a first look at the still-under-construction Petaluma space recently with GM and beverage manager Damian Wallace (Wexler’s, Bistro Aix, Gary Danko, and Myth). He dropped more tantalizing details on the staffing, which will include chef de cuisine Bob Simontacchi, formerly of Brick & Bottle, along with the Cosmopolitan’s Steven Levine. On the opening menu, look for starters such as Penn Cove mussels and nectarines; “social plates” that include pulled pork and pork belly sliders and chicken wings; entrées of grilled Prather Ranch flatiron steak and Petaluma fried chicken with jalapeño whipped potatoes; and baked-to-order chocolate chunk cookies, roasted figs, and chocolate Nutella cake for dessert. September 5th is the anticipated opening date.

If you’re headed farther north, the recently opened ~SPINSTER SISTERS~ is worth a stop in Santa Rosa’s funky SOFA (South of A Street) District. Just weeks after opening their doors, hospitality alums Liza Hinman (in the kitchen) and Giovanni Cerrone (wine) have nailed the vibe and the menu. The interior of the rehabbed space is sparse and clean, with a wraparound bar taking up three-quarters of the room. It’s the perfect height and width to feel like an extension of the dining tables rather than simply a drinking space. The menu is broken into bites ($2-$4), charcuterie and cheese plates ($6-$16), vegetables ($5-$7), small plates ($7-$14), and large plates ($14-16). Each works beautifully as a single sonnet, or together as an epic poem. Here, Hinman is able to gently tie flavors together with spice, texture, or theme in a loose bow, rather than an unmanageable knot of confused ideas. Some favorites on the opening menu:

  • The Sister’s Pickle Plate ($6): Seasonal veggies with daikon carrots and beets have a light dilly pickling. Kimchee packs a garlic punch, breath-rescuing ginger foils the funk.

  • Sweet Corn Coconut Fritters with Sriracha Aioli ($8): Oh. My. God.

  • Crispy Berkshire Pork Belly with Watermelon, Feta, Ginger, and Mint ($10): Fatty, sultry pork; crisp, clean watermelon and mint.

  • Crispy Chicken Thighs ($14): Packed with flavor, and gently panfried with plenty of salt and pepper, the thighs sit atop creamy, yielding white beans and arugula. A grilled nectarine makes it weep-worthy with perfect, of-the-moment summer flavors.

Around the bar are eight wines on tap, delivered to the table in a 500ml beaker. Plus, more than 20 by the glass or bottle including Finger Lakes riesling, coastal pinots and syrahs, Italian primitivo, and French gamay. Plus several beers on tap, cider, and Cock ‘n Bull ginger beer. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, weekend brunch beginning at 9am. Closed Monday. 401 South A St. at Sebastopol Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-528-7100.

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