September 2015

September 29, 2015

The showstopping day boat scallops en croûte at Valette (it’s brushed with squid ink!). Photo: ©

Howdy, friends. I hope you had a stellar weekend, soaking in the blood moon vibes, stunning sunsets, and maybe a little kiss of leather from Folsom, ha! As for my weekend, I was fully immersed in the beauty of Healdsburg and friendship, celebrating my old friend’s heartfelt wedding in the prettiest of settings.

The bonus was daily dips in the gorg pool flanking the adorable cottage I got to stay in, thanks to a friend who seriously hooked me up. The unheated pool’s temperature hit that exquisite sweet spot between refreshing and too cold—I enjoyed pruning out in it all weekend. Such a luxury to be in a pool—now that I think of it, it has been quite the summer of floating in fabulous bodies of water. Priorities!

I also was lucky to have enough time to check out dinner at the new Valette (formerly Zin), just off Healdsburg Square. The updated space looks great, and chef Dustin Valette’s charcuterie board is a marvel. Ditto the elegant day boat scallops en croûte and the burrata they source from a local Italian guy, served with heirloom tomato and topped with smoked duck bacon (mamma mia). Look for an update on all this goodness soon.

Real quick: save the date for an upcoming tablehopper supper! On Thursday October 15th, I will be hosting a dinner at 1601 Bar & Kitchen, with fantastic wines courtesy of Maisons Marques & Domaines. I’ll have all the details in Friday’s column (and a ticket link!)—just wanted to give you a heads-up now since space is very limited!

Okay, it’s time to bounce, see you Friday!
Marcia Gagliardi

September 25, 2015

Foreign Cinema’s le grande aioli, with periwinkles, wild king salmon, clams, mussels, and late summer vegetables. Photo: ©

TGIF, amigos! I am scooting out of here pretty soon, hopefully before the 101 becomes a parking lot. I’m heading up to hot Healdsburg this weekend for a dear friend’s wedding and couldn’t be happier about it—we used to run cross-country together in high school, how about that?!

I thought it would be a good time to share a recap of my recent trip to Indian Springs in Calistoga in today’s jetsetter—hopefully it’ll inspire you to book an early fall or wintertime trip soon! That place is pure magic.

Speaking of magic, I can’t believe the evening skies we’ve had the past few nights. I love to see people stop in their tracks and stare up at the apricot and pink sky—making sure everyone around them sees it too. And all my friends are blowing up Instagram and Facebook with their peachy pics. SF, you are such a charmer.

Also exceedingly charming: dinner on the patio last night at Foreign Cinema! It was their 16th birthday, and the Chablis was flowing! They transformed their menu into quite the French lineup, from coquilles St. Jacques to le grande aioli, and for dessert, oeufs à la neige and gâteau victoire! What a night to be there. Best wishes to chefs Gayle Pirie and John Clark, and congrats on reaching sweet 16!

Have a great weekend everyone!
Marcia Gagliardi

September 22, 2015

My kind of pillow: a massive ricotta raviolo with Mission figs and rosemary brown butter at Gardenias. Photo: ©

Whooooosh, today’s column took me and associate editor extraordinaire Dana Eastland for quite the whirl today. Fortunately, we love espresso and coffee, so things got done over here. (Thank you, Dana!)

Another whirlwind was the SF Cheese Fest on Saturday, an event put on by the California Artisan Cheese Guild. Wow, what a great night—there were more than two dozen cheesemakers in the house, and local beers, wine, salumi, jams, and more. Discovered a few new cheeses, and am already looking forward to the next one.

I have been on a ’60s kick after watching the documentary The Wrecking Crew this past weekend (such a fascinating story—thanks to tablehopper reader Cynthia for the reco!) and digging back into the ’60s archives. Jefferson Airplane in the house (the inspiration for today’s column title) and Harry Nilsson too. Ready to see the Brian Wilson movie (Love & Mercy) next.

Well, our heat wave may have burned out (thanks for the beach time and picnic in the Panhandle!), but I’m still so ready to enjoy the patio at Foreign Cinema this Thursday evening, celebrating their 16th anniversary, with a glass of Chablis in my hand. Bring on the oysters on the half shell and coquilles St. Jacques.

Enjoy the week, see you again on Friday!
Marcia Gagliardi

September 18, 2015

Get it while you can: melon and burrata salad with Japanese cucumber (and poppy seeds) at Central Kitchen. Photo: ©

Your sunny weekend is here, right on time. Start chilling that bottle of rosé now. Maybe you have some beach time planned (really, you should!), or you’re scheming on where to find an outdoor table for dinner (psssst, the new Gardenias has a pretty back patio!). And if you’re going to Eat Real in Oakland (and Town Eats), I hope you’re digging out the SPF 50.

I’m excited to attend the SF Cheese Fest on Saturday night—there are still some general admission tickets left. Oh, and here are some new brunch spots too.

Just in case you were scheming to be one of the first 100 people in line for Lobster ME’s opening lobster roll giveaway on Monday, please note their opening has been moved to Saturday September 26th (with the giveaway now running September 26th-28th).

Today’s column is a report from 707 scout writer Heather Irwin, covering some of the incredible volunteer efforts happening around the Valley Fire. The fire is 40 percent contained—here’s to the amazing firefighters for all their brave and grueling efforts to get that thing under control. I know many of us feel rather useless hearing all the reports of the devastation and heartbreaking loss up there, but her piece outlines some ways you can help (as well as this roundup post on Eater).

Take good care. We’ll see you on Tuesday.
Marcia Gagliardi

September 15, 2015

Taste the rainbow—an array of Danny Louie’s fantastic cocktails at Chino. Photo: ©

How’s tricks? I think I recovered from my week o’ eating extravaganza. It was pretty stellar, from exploring the new 15-course menu at 1601 Bar & Kitchen (it still blows my mind how many people haven’t eaten there yet—the place is SO GOOD, people, trust me!) to checking out chef Ron Pei’s new menu at Chino (wait until you try the kimchi clams and mu shu-style braised lamb, and the XLB are on point).

I also got to attend a Moroccan feast at EatWith host Laila’s home (my meal was unrelated to this, but EatWith kindly sponsored last week’s column—thanks EatWith!).

It was also my sister’s 40th birthday weekend, which included a visit to Zazie (she’s obsessed with eggs Benedict) and a family-and-friend feast at Yank Sing (their atrium is so great for large parties on the weekend, and their hospitality is amazing, what a team). Speaking of Yang Sing, you saw my SF Travel video that featured them, yes?

Sunday was Heritage BBQ at Smokestack, whoa. All the chefs really turned it out, and a shout-out to Mr. Espresso for having espresso nitro cold brew and latte coffee on tap—whoosh! I got a lot of writing done that night, someone was PERKY.

This week, we have new places for you to visit, and don’t forget the Eat Real Fest is happening this weekend, plus the SF Cheese Fest (I am looking forward to this!) and Plate by Plate, a fundraising dinner, and a few more events mentioned in today’s hopper. Looks like we’ll all be hitting the town.

Also of note: Friday September 18th is the opening date for East Side Sushi, a new and heartfelt film by Oakland filmmaker Anthony Lucero. It centers on Juana, a Latina single mother, and her quest to become a sushi chef, which brings up plenty of issues around gender and race. Check it out. And it was filmed on location in Oakland!

Marcia Gagliardi

September 9, 2015

Yay, breakfast at Sam’s Social Club: toad in the hole, with Parmesan-crusted house brioche, mushroom fondue, and arugula. Photo: ©

Man, I am so feeling for everyone who works in a kitchen or near a pizza oven today. Heck, most restaurants in SF don’t have air conditioning, so it’s gotta be rough right now. Thanks for keeping us all fed, industry folks. Meanwhile, most somms must be carefully eyeing their rosé stock right now, everyone is drinking the stuff like water. I know I am doing my part. And so begins my favorite time of the year in San Francisco.

Although I had a pretty idyllic 24 hours in Calistoga for the holiday—went up to Indian Springs for my first time, I can’t believe I have never had a mud bath there before! What a cool resort, which has a Palm Springs vibe in Wine Country. And their mineral pools, fueled by the geysers on the property? Pretty amazing stuff, especially when you’re floating in a 90-degree Olympic-sized pool at 11:30pm at night, with the stars overhead, and the sounds of the geyser trumpeting and flowing into the cooling tank nearby. Talk about rejuvenating.

I’ll be writing about this getaway soon—you’ll want to head up there, stat. Especially to check out chef Kory Stewart’s summery menu (yes, we had watermelon and corn soup!) at the resort’s recently opened Sam’s Social Club (although his fall menu won’t be a slouch either—the man lives for mushrooms).

I was also lucky to be invited to a designer pal’s house in Santa Rosa, who happened to have one of the prettiest and most refreshing pools I have dipped into in a while. Northern California in September, you are a dream. I also have to encourage you to catch the sunset at the beach tonight if you can—I left my desk (and deadline crush) for a couple of hours last night and it was so worth it.

On Saturday, I had a chance to dine at a friends and family test dinner at Oro—it’s due to open on Friday; read all about it in the chatterbox.

We are taking this Friday off and will see you next week—yours truly will be busy celebrating her sister’s birthday this Friday. Can you say spa day? And Friday brunch, what a treat.

Enjoy the heat. I sure am!
Marcia Gagliardi

September 1, 2015

Ritzy room service: pancakes! Photo: ©

Hi there. Did you miss us? My week in Tahoe was just what my summer-craving self needed, with a daily bike ride and dip in the lake, cooking summery meals for dinner, catching up on my pile of magazines (I think I went through something like 50) and some excellent movies and documentaries (don’t miss What Happened, Miss Simone?—it floored me). And lots of sleep, that was awesome. There is nothing like mountain air to knock you out—although the little squirrels were a bit rambunctious at night on our cabin’s roof. Dudes, get some sleep!

I also had a fun 24-hour getaway to the lap of mountain luxury: a revisit to the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. That property is such a great resort (perfect for families, if you have the money), and we had a fun birthday dinner for a friend at Manzanita in one of their big booths—the restaurant is such a looker. (And check out the lamb and herbed gnocchi I had with wild mushrooms, mixed legumes, smoked lamb jus, and shaved pecorino.) The beds are some of the best in the biz—I slept like a rock. (And I totally had pancakes for room service breakfast in the morning, oh you know it—I didn’t want to leave!).

But now I am back from the mountains, and associate editor Dana Eastland and I had quite a bit of catch-up to do with today’s newsletter, oof. One piece of really exciting news (well, for me): I am going to be co-hosting the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America Tour in October with Brian Boitano at Bimbo’s 365! I KNOW. Too excited. And the lineup of chefs is great—check it out in the socialite!

One more item: as some of you may know, I have been writing for San Francisco Travel over the years, and now they made a fun video with me, highlighting three of my favorite classic San Francisco restaurants: Yank Sing, Sam’s Grill, and the Big 4 (you can watch it on the tablehopper Facebook page). It was a blast to shoot (and we lucked out with the best weather that day), and even Bellina my little Fiat gets a cameo. I hope you enjoy it.

So Labor Day is here (yay)—we’re going to be back in your inbox next Wednesday instead of Tuesday since we’d like to take Monday off like the rest of you. Our deadline can wait a day! Am strongly considering brunch at Wise Sons on 24th Street (which will be open on Monday and serving brunch all day!). Pastrami and eggs, I hear you calling me.

Have a great loooooong weekend.
Marcia Gagliardi

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