December 2011

December 20, 2011

Not sure if Santa was totally buying that I was a nice girl this year. (I might have been a little naughty, too.) Photo: ©

Whoa, how is Christmas in five days? Commence holiday shopping freakout right now. (Well, at least for me.) For those of you who were curious, yes, I survived the weekend (well, barely), and managed to hit seven of the eight holiday parties I had on my hitlist. Hopper holiday tip: always keep a few bottles of bubbles and booze in cute bags in your car trunk! (The trunk of my Alfa looked like a mobile bar this past week.) You never know when you’re going to end up at a party, and there’s nothing worse than showing up empty-handed. Party foul!

There is also a lot of latke making happening out there (I was lucky to get some on Sunday, plus brisket and matzoh ball soup—talk about a hangover helper!). Happy Hanukkah to everyone. (Psssst, did you see this hilarious photo Gael Greene posted last month from a Chinese restaurant in New York?)

So, I have some exciting news: I am currently writing not one but two city guidebooks! I’m updating the restaurants for the Fodor’s 2013 San Francisco guidebook, and am writing the restaurant section for the first Louis Vuitton San Francisco city guide! I know, two fantastic gigs. But since both are due in early January, yours truly needs to carve out some time to write. Type, tablehopper, type!

I am putting the tablehopper e-column on a mini-vacation, and will be back in your inboxes on Tuesday January 3rd. You can follow me on Twitter for updates on dining news, discoveries, and more since I’ll be doing a ton of dining out research for both books the next few weeks. Lord have mercy.

But before bailing on you, I wanted to be sure you had some New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day dining options lined up for your consideration. Check ‘em out!

Ooooh, one last thing! Feel like doing some holiday volunteering? You can call the St. Anthony’s Holiday Volunteer Line at 415-592-2829 to sign up—they have some definite needs in January. And if you are throwing a party and have excess food left over, please remember to call Food Runners, and they will pick up any excess food from businesses in San Francisco and deliver it to neighborhood feeding programs. Simply call 415-929-1866 to leave a message about your donation.

I’d like to take this moment to thank all of you, my fabulous readers, for subscribing to my column, sharing it with your family and friends, and for always being so informative and supportive. I couldn’t ask for a better community—you’re solid gold. I also want to profoundly thank my advertisers this past year who have supported my column—without your generous sponsorship, this column would cease to exist. Grazie!

Here’s wishing you all a meaningful and memorable holiday season. May it be warm, full of love, laughter, precious family, and dear friends. And delicious food and drink, natch. Let’s raise our glass to the happy memories of 2011, and here’s to good health, prosperity, and happiness in 2012! I’ll let the Swedish Chef show you how a good holiday toast is done. Buubbly buubbly!


Marcia Gagliardi

December 16, 2011

Saturday means Primavera chilaquiles! Photo: ©

Happy Friday, yo. You ready for tomorrow night, which is most likely the biggest holiday party night of the month? I seriously think I have five parties to attend tomorrow night. December 17th, thy name is insanity. I need a magic carpet to get around. I think my bike, Peche Trois, might be the answer—I’ll just be sure to be lit up like a Christmas tree, a blinky light extravaganza.

So today I have for you part two of my East Bay eating excursion I went on a couple weeks ago. Before my friends and I paid a visit to the fabulous Hotsy Totsy, we got our tacos on and our mac and cheese on in Oakland. Read all about both spots in today’s fresh meat.

Oh, and since we’re talking the 510, this piece of Oakland news just came in: Tanya Holland’s B-Side BBQ is now open! More details for you on Tuesday, but I thought you’d like to know the smoker is in effect. (Here’s a link to the most recent news about the project on tablehopper.)

I don’t know about you, but this elf’s list of things to do is VERY long, so I am signing off!

Holiday cheers!

Marcia Gagliardi

December 13, 2011

Cake. And Jamet (the dog). Photo: ©

Oh yes, it’s that charming time of the year when my apartment feels more like a meat locker than a place of residence. At least all my wines are now at a proper cellar temp. Hic. One fabulous way to keep warm is to be invited by kind people to their apartment for a Sunday dinner, for steaming bowls of bun rieu, and plenty of sake and wine (thanks Mark Bright!), and cup after cup of Iron Goddess tea, and coffee crunch cake, and chocolates! Yeah, that is definitely one way to stay warm.

When I look at the menu for the Chaac Mool pop-up dinner this week, I get immediately warm thinking of how good their chicken soup will taste. And then there’s the classic way preferred by many San Franciscans, and that is to get your booze on. This week has plenty of options for you, whether it’s a tequila tasting (tonight!) at The Boothby Center, to Champagne at The Bubble Lounge, to trying one of Camber Lay’s cocktails at the newly opened Parallel 37.

My personal way to keep warm this week will be to pack myself in a room at the sold-out McSweeney’s/Lucky Peach 2 release party at Electric Works tonight (very pleased to know Anthony Myint will be there dishing out a whole-cooked pig to the hungry masses), and just because I need more meat in my life, I’ll be getting some barbecue this week as well (bring on the hot sauce). Oh yeah, and let’s not forget cassoulet for lunch tomorrow! Very excited for that one.

Looks like I’ll also need to keep warm riding my bike and running with all these “keeping warm” activities. Maybe I need to move to Norway, where they don’t have any butter right now. Or not.


Marcia Gagliardi

December 9, 2011

Braised pork taco at Cosecha Cafe in Oakland. Photo: ©

It can be embarrassing how much I live up to my business name. My dad calls me the gypsy, leaving me messages on my phone and saying I’m “sempre in giro” (always on the move). I can almost hear his hand wagging at me. Guilty as charged. But who am I to turn down two Champagne tastings, four restaurant visits, and two bar stops since you last heard from me? Exactly.

For the past week, my gallivanting around town has expanded a bit to the 510 (gasp!), and so today’s regular is about one of the restaurants I was really excited to try: Ajanta in Albany! I know, hold the phone. And since I was brought back to Albany by a friend (on a separate night, no less) to visit an amazing bar, I wanted to throw a mention in the lush as well. Dinner at Ajanta followed by a nightcap at the Hotsy Totsy Club would be one of the cooler first date nights I could come up with, let me tell you.

Tonight is keeping me in the city, swinging by the La Cocina Gift Bazaar (guess who is excited for tamales and a cocktail by Rye on the Road?), followed by a preview visit to Parallel 37, the new incarnation of the restaurant and lounge opening in the Ritz-Carlton on Monday. And of course there are a couple holiday parties thrown in for good measure as well.

Two reminders: so, are you coming by the Skrewcap holiday tasting tomorrow (Saturday)? There are going to be 40 fabulous finds under $40, and your brand-new 40-year-old (cough cough, that would be me) will be there signing books and talking shop, so come on by. And on Sunday, I’ll be on Edible Escapes, joining host Anthony Licciardi from 11am-1pm on KSFO 560AM—please do listen in!

Lastly, are you ready for this total lunar eclipse we’re having early Saturday morning? I’ll probably be sleeping. Actually, I totally will. I blame my social life.

Holiday cheers!

Marcia Gagliardi

December 6, 2011

Tom and Jerry’s amazing Christmas tree on 21st Street. Photo: ©

Ha, now I’m not the only one with Little Drummer Boy in her head. (I know, evil.) Based on the lineup of holiday activities in this week’s tablehopper, I hope you’re ready to dive in. I’m especially fired up over all the international options listed in this week’s socialite. Who knew that my family’s Feast of the Seven Fishes would be so in demand this season? Baccalà chic.

This week is full of great wine tastings, starting with the annual Arlequin Champagne tasting on Thursday evening, and this Saturday, I hope to see you at the Skrewcap holiday tasting—it conveniently starts at 1pm, so you can hit the market at the Ferry Building and then come on by! I will also be there signing copies of my book, and happy to answer any restaurant questions you may have.

There’s also Drag Queens on Ice this Thursday (I can’t wait to see that one), and don’t forget the La Cocina Gift Bazaar this Friday. On Sunday, I have been invited back to Edible Escapes, joining host Anthony Licciardi from 11am-1pm on KSFO 560AM. Please tune in—we’ll be discussing holiday meals and other kinds of tasty topics.

While I have your eyes: in the midst of all your holiday shopping, please consider making the holiday brighter for someone less fortunate. The fine folks at ECS will match you with a resident at their supportive housing sites, and you can fulfill a modest gift request for items like sweatshirts, sweatpants, bed sheets, blankets, robes, and other essential items for $25 and under. After the residents pay for rent and food each month, there is very little money left over for basic essentials. The holidays can be especially difficult for them in our consumer-oriented economy. 

Want to buy a present for a resident? Great! Please email Mallory Hasick or call 415-487-3348 by this Friday December 9th. Mallory will provide the resident’s first name, housing site, and gift request. All wrapped gifts can be dropped off at 1350 Folsom St. on December 13th or 14th from 3pm-7pm, or at 165 8th St. during regular business hours (9am-5pm) any time before December 15th. Thanks for adding a stranger to your holiday shopping list.

Warm wishes!

Marcia Gagliardi

Oh, since I’ve been called “Marsha” a couple times this past week, I thought I’d do a handy little pronunciation guide for you: it’s Marcia, rhymes with Garcia. Or, as a friend likes to joke, pizzeria.

December 2, 2011

It’s a perfect day to go get holiday ice cream from DeLise. Photo: ©

Um, wow. Are we all feeling a little calmer now? I know I’m not the only one who loathes the wind with a passion (long hair + lipstick + wind = cranky girl). But I love how the Santa Anas seemed to blow out every single last vestige of wind in the city—it’s so gorgeous and calm out that my workout in Alamo Square this morning was actually kind of enjoyable. I know, weird.

When it’s 73 degrees out, it’s a little odd to be writing about the holidays when I’m actually thinking about getting an ice cream instead, but that’s why we live in California. Right? Today I’m doing something a little different: a friend sent me an email asking where to hold a company/office holiday dinner party (in addition to about three other similar emails I have received in the past week), so I thought I’d do a round-up for y’all. It might be too late for some of you pre-planning types (sorry), but you can save the list for next year.

Okay, I need to get back to shoveling this massive pile of email. It may not be snowing out, but my inbox is buried under a snowdrift of pixels. Halp.

Buon weekend!

Marcia Gagliardi

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