September 2013

September 24, 2013

I’m heading to the land of ‘nduja. It’s a magical place. Photo: ©

Buon giorno! Yes, I am furiously prepping for my trip to Italy and trying to integrate as much Italian as possible into my daily banter. My father is already on his way to Rome, and I’ll be leaving for SFO at the ungodly hour of 5am tomorrow morning. I mean, really, why sleep? That was sadly the theme this weekend as I had to slog through my 2012 taxes (one of the worst parts of being a small-business owner, truly) and write a slew of columns and articles that are due while I am traveling. Deadlines, deadlines. Fortunately I got all that shit signed, sealed, and delivered, so it’s time to pack!

I’ll be in Rome for 24 hours (gotta find the best amatriciana, my favorite pasta), then my father and I are heading to Calabria to be with our family (commence a terrifying amount of food consumption), and then making our way up to Chianti at the tail end of the trip to experience the gorgeous Il Paluffo. A jaunt to Lipari is also being discussed; we’ll let the weather gods decide. Per usual, I’ll be posting pics of my adventures and meals on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, take your pick!

As you can guess, tablehopper will be going dark until Friday October 11th, which is a few days after I return. So, publicists and people pitching me, plllllease hold off on emailing me about any event coverage between now and then, grazie. No guarantees about getting anything in the October 11th issue—Tuesday October 15th is more likely. Anything to keep my email from exploding while I’m away (cleanup in aisle seven!), please and thanks.

A few tidbits for you: first, thanks to the Examiner for this piece about my gay singles event, appreciate the coverage!

I also put together my first Mosey! It’s a cool new site that features walking adventures curated by locals who are passionate about all kinds of things, from history to music to fashion to food. I created one around some of my favorite San Francisco classics to eat and drink, check it out. I’ll be doing more in coming months—Moseying and tablehopping are pretty simpatico.

So one of the reasons I am returning home when I am is that I committed to emceeing a very important event on October 10th: the Actions Speak Louder Than Pink: Food for Thought event. It’s in support of Think Before You Pink, a project from Breast Cancer Action, an organization that advocates for action against breast cancer (not merely awareness) and demands more transparency and accountability in breast cancer fundraising. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, I hope you’ll consider joining me at this dinner (check out the chef lineup!) and fundraiser.

Lastly, on a somber note, I was very sad to read on Eater that William “Chili Bill” Eichinger recently passed away. He was a longtime bartender at Finnegan’s Wake, and would occasionally email me about his many restaurant finds (he was such an avid diner). So very sad. Finnegan’s is hosting a “going away party” in honor of Bill this Saturday September 28th from 2pm-6pm (no all-black attire requested). I hope he’s enjoying a big plate of dumplings right now. Sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Yeah, life is short. Which is why I’m taking this last-minute trip with my Dad—work can wait. Italia, we’re coming for you!

Ciao tutti!
Marcia Gagliardi

September 20, 2013

Violet Flower Margarita at La Urbana. Photo: ©

Hey there, ho there, hi there. Since I’m leaving for Italy next week (I know, I’d hate me too), I needed to visit some new places before I leave, and man, this week was a tour de force: Tuesday night was a preview/friends and family dinner at Fog City (opening Monday)—it makes me happy to see this SF classic get such fresh air whooshed through it. I am still thinking about the grilled beef tongue dish, and I had no idea how good the combination of pickles and housemade ranch dressing would prove to be. The South has many tasty secrets.

Wednesday night was a visit to 1760, and the hamachi with pluots, yuzu kosho, and puffed rice was what I’d like to call a killer app; I didn’t want the bowl of corn ravioli to end, oh lordy. And it’s worth noting the kitchen is open until 11pm nightly, so if you find yourself in need of a cocktail and a late-night bite, get this one on your radar. (It’s feels like a Nob Hill Nopa.)

Last night I was able to walk two blocks to dinner, to the newly opened La Urbana. It’s already in full swing, and the Acapulco-Manila cocktail was so unexpectedly good, my date and I had it twice (who knew two parts mezcal Agave de Cortés and one part sake would work so well?). I have also found my next hangover cure: The Mexican Dude, made with housemade horchata, vodka, mezcal, and espresso coffee liqueur on ice (although my friend and I were calling it “Dude, Where’s My Mezcal?”). Thank God they are so close (although having their mini Manchego quesadillas nearby is kind of dangerous).

The next two nights, I am happy to be off the track and enjoying some dinner parties. You looking for some things to do this weekend? Here’s a link to some pop-ups this weekend, there are two cool wine events on Saturday (or if meat and beer is more your speed, check out NotOberfest on Friday), you can visit Joyce Goldstein at her book signing in the 510, and you can check out the new “Bad Ass Brunch” at Jasper’s, or at Chambers in SF and A16 Rockridge, and Picnic at the Presidio on Sunday. Yeah, you have plenty to do.

Final notes: I wrote a piece for on the most recent cafés to open (caffeination is serious business in this town), and also on the liquid plan, I wrote up the latest beer halls, breweries, and wine bars for this week’s Beer + Wine issue of the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Marcia Gagliardi

September 17, 2013

Sunday pizza party with the fam; my Dad rocking the brick oven he hacked (he built it on our old gas barbecue). Photo: ©

Why hello there. You ready for today’s hefty tablehopper issue? So much going on right now. My dance card this week is definitely full, checking out newcomers Fog City, 1760, and La Urbana. (Here’s a reminder/cheat sheet I wrote for of five new openings this month, just in case you’re having trouble remembering everything.)

I have just one week left before I leave for Italy with my father—commence freak-out sequence now. Nothing like having to finish your taxes before a big trip (yeah, I am the queen of asking for the October extension).

Oh, and I just wanted to point you to a couple cool giveaways we’re doing here on tablehopper in case you missed it: last week we featured a sponsored giveaway of $50 gift certificates for lunch or dinner delivery from Caviar (considering you can get Turtle Tower or Bar Tartine sandwiches delivered to your door, I’d recommend you check it out!), and we are also giving away an amazing Coravin (more details on this wino dream device here). There is still time to enter both giveaways, by the way, so hop to it.

Okay, it’s time for me to attack my very long to-do list, have a fab week (tomorrow is supposed to be gorg!). See you Friday.

Marcia Gagliardi

September 13, 2013

It’s about that time! Plump grapes at Jordan Winery. Photo: ©

Happy foggy Friday to you. I also think if you attended last night’s tablehopper singles event, you may be experiencing another kind of fog—the one that comes from drinking too much wine! Last night’s event at MKT Restaurant—Bar at the Four Seasons was a blast. I mean, really, what’s not to love about being in an elegant room with 30 fabulous gay men all at once? Total catnip. Huge thanks to everyone who came to the event, to the fantastic Four Seasons team who helped me pull off another fun singles event (the logistics on these things are not easy, let me tell you), and especially to our sponsors—Purple Wine Company, Charbay, and Boisset Family Estates—who helped everyone get verrrrrry comfortable as the night went on, heh heh.

More wine! Today I have a totally awesome giveaway in the sugar mama: a Coravin Wine Access System! (I was so fired up over the technology that they generously gave me one to give away to y’all.) Check it out.

Quick shout-out to the amazing team at Bar Tartine, which was the scene of my dear sister’s birthday dinner party on Wednesday evening. How is it possible that the food just keeps getting better over there? The smoked potatoes were already magic, and now they’re really beyond. Ditto the farmer cheese dumpling, wow. And you have to try the tomatoes with smoked salmon sauce and laver. The entire meal was such a bounty—thanks all for such a memorable meal!

Okay, last tidbits: Over on, here’s my monthly recap of five new restaurants to check out now (so many openings!) and here’s my Tablehopping column at the SF Bay Guardian (check out that pic of the Nombe ramenburger!).

All righty folks, have fun this weekend, I’ll see you next week. Marcia Gagliardi

September 10, 2013

Nombe’s Japanese summer salad with stunning vegetables and tofu noodles. Photo: ©

Greetings from Lake Tahoe, where I am sad to prepare for departure tomorrow. Early September is pretty ideal up here, with minimal people at the beach, and it’s still sunny and warm. (I am also convinced the lake warms up a few degrees by now.) So you can bet as soon as I hit “send” on this thing, I am pedaling to my favorite little beach for one last dip.

As you may know, Thursday is the tablehopper gay male singles event at MKT Restaurant—Bar at the Four Seasons. We just confirmed Boisset is going to be providing some bubbles to pair with the smashing uni and scrambled egg course, yay. In case you’ve been on the fence about going, you will be well fed, overserved (heh), and hopefully well matched too, so get your ticket and come check it out. The event is designed to be fun and far from awkward! See you!

So someone may need to call the gypsy hotline about me, because, er, I am leaving town again in two weeks. To Italy, to be exact. Mamma mia! I know, someone handcuff me to my desk. Ends up my father is going for a last-minute trip to see his family in Calabria, and to visit the farm where he was born. We haven’t been in Calabria together since our trip in 2001, and this was not an experience I felt right about missing. No siree. I was lucky to find a pretty decently priced ticket, and was happy to cash in a hefty ticket voucher I had that was expiring soon. Boom. Crazy how things work out.

We’ll have 24 hours in Rome together, and will then be heading down to Calabria, with a possible visit to dreamy Lipari (part of the Aeolian Islands) off Sicily—I was there when I was 19, but my father has never been and has always wanted to go. (Am happy to oblige on that request!) At the end of our trip, he’s going to head north to visit his winemaker buddy Lucio Gomiero in Padova while I am going to veer to Chianti to stay at the stunning Il Paluffo for a few nights (that was not an invitation I wanted to decline). Two weeks in paradise, I can’t wait to return to the Bel Paese, and with my father, so special. I know, I am one lucky bitch!

One more thing: I hope you enjoy today’s fresh meat review of 1601 Bar & Kitchen—last Friday’s image snafu got sorted, so here it is.

Okay, it’s time to pack up my beach rucksack and hop on my bike because I have spent way too much time at this computer the past few days. The gypsy must ride! I’ll see you again on Friday, ciao!

Marcia Gagliardi

(aka “la zingara”)

September 6, 2013

Behold: the wicked-tasty faux-nut from Stag’s Lunchette. Photo: ©

Greetings from Lake Tahoe, which is where I will hopefully be taking a dip this afternoon as soon as I get this column out (yesterday was way too windy for a beach day—but it was perfect for drinking a beer on the back deck of my family’s cabin, let me tell you). I’m already scheming for tomorrow’s farmers’ market in Homewood—of course I already used up all my tomatoes in a panzanella (the official dish of September, I swear). The kitchen counter is covered in ripening peaches I picked up at Ikeda’s in Auburn on the way up (I always have to stop)—their perfume is promising. Peaches, do not disappoint me! No getting rotten from the middle, or any mealy action. Be cool, peaches. Be good.

So guess who had a total tech snafu? Yeah, me. I was going to finish editing my images last night for today’s fresh meat review and let’s just say iPhoto’s new “share a photo stream” feature did not work as planned on my poor traveler laptop. Lame! Whatever. You’ll get the review on Tuesday instead—it’s worth waiting for.

Okay, so some news. You know that fabulous gay singles event I am hosting next Thursday September 12th at MKT? Well, after some friends have been having issues with the age range on it (although I said the age range was only a suggestion!), I have decided to remove the age range completely on it. So are you 28 and want to come? Do! Are you a sporty 61 and make most 40-year-olds look tired? You better be there. Let’s just have a roomful of a bunch of great gay guys, drink good wine, eat tasty food, enjoy our cocktails, and have a blast. Done. Any of you who can spread the word, tell your friends, and post about it are total fricking rock stars, thanks!

Hey, remember I mentioned that faux-nut pop-up that’s happening this Sunday morning at Stag’s Lunchette in Oakland? Well, I had a sneak peek taste of a couple of them this week—Double G(ougin) (vanilla) and Red Hot (bourbon and chile)—and let me just say, “Whoa, Nelly.” They are damn tasty, and will put you into a cream-induced coma after you eat one. Yeah, you know you want it. Since things are gonna be a little crazy at Stag’s on Sunday morning (it opens at 9am), one lucky tablehopper reader will get front-of-the-line privileges, and one of each flavor (three total) will be waiting for you (guaranteed)—although you gotta pay for ‘em (they are $6 each), and you have to get there between 9am-11am. To enter to win, all you have to do is comment on today’s post featuring today’s newsletter on the tablehopper Facebook page about how bad you want to try a faux-nut. I’ll randomly pick a winner on Saturday and will ping you back on the good ole Book Face to coordinate. Good luck! And don’t forget your Lipitor.

Today we have a bookworm for you on fall cookbooks, and the final installment from Eugenio Jardim about Malbec Camp in the wino. I also have a piece up on about what the Emirates Team New Zealand sailors eat every day—I was invited to tour the base a few weeks ago and learn about their crazy training and racing eating habits. Sadly no one was in the shower room when I came by. What the hell.

Oh, and here’s this week’s Tablehopping column in the Bay Guardian, with some tidbits about Tu Lan, events at Omnivore Books, and some damn good carrot cake.

Enjoy the sunny weekend—of course the city gets warm when I leave town. Of course! [shaking my fist]

Marcia Gagliardi

September 3, 2013

The many trees and vines on the gorg Jordan Winery estate. Photo: ©

Ahhh, how was your holiday weekend? I hopped out of the city on Friday, heading up to Healdsburg for an overnight stay at Jordan Winery (the grounds are too beautiful) and took their new Estate Tour & Tasting on Saturday morning (tickets are available for tours starting this week). I enjoyed revisiting their wines at a couple of stunning locations on the property—the 2011 chardonnay had great acidity. Let me tell you, garden envy is a real thing—eating fresh fruit right off the tree is such a treat.

Saturday afternoon I headed over to my friend’s place at Roshambo Farms (off Westside Road), where I was able to join the Oro en Paz Wine crew and friends for an alfresco harvest lunch—they had just finished picking that morning. Dinner was a home-cooked affair, full of wonderful and just-picked ingredients from the farm—ditto the hearty breakfast the next morning with fresh eggs and farm-raised (and smoked) bacon. I managed to get a couple of naps in over the weekend on the shaded lawn, and of course came home with a bagful of produce (the Oro en Paz guys also stoked me with some vino, thanks guys!).

I begrudgingly had to head home Sunday evening (and battle that Golden Gate Bridge traffic, ugh) because this column was not going to write itself, Monday holiday or not. Welcome home to all the dusty and tired Burners I saw on the road—it looks like it was another amazing year on the playa.

I’m pretty stoked to be checking out the new Bay Bridge span tomorrow—I am heading up to Lake Tahoe for my final summer hurrah at my family’s cabin in Tahoma. I’ll still be working over the next week, but hey, writing on the back deck with the squirrels and blue jays and pine trees isn’t too shabby. Looking forward to cooking on the grill and having a daily dip in the lake. A week of cooking, I can’t wait.

Hey, single gay men, did you see the next tablehopper singles event is coming up on Thursday September 12th at MKT Restaurant—Bar? We are going to have a night of fab wine, food, and men—check it out and get your ticket soon! Time to get all of you food- and wine-loving gents in a room together. Can’t wait.

Enjoy the short week! See you Friday.
Marcia Gagliardi

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