December 2020

December 31, 2020

Some of my favorite doors in SF. Let’s open the doors to 2021 with love. Photo: ©

Ho ho howdy, hopper posse. I hope your holiday season has been merry and bright and full of delicious things. I know the latter is the case if you ordered a hopper holiday restaurant gift bag! It has been so fun seeing your pics and notes and reports of your favorite items and dishes you’re making. And let me tell you, it felt so good to be able to pay all these restaurants for their beautiful products and wares. They all send their gratitude.

Thanks to all of you for your generous support—the buyers, the volunteer elves, and especially to Nopa for letting me take over their restaurant dining room for two days of bag assembly (61 bags of 18 items each, you do the math of chaos!), and then distributing the gift bags to folks who opted to pick them up in person (and during their busy last days of takeout before their holiday break—whoosh)! Thanks, neighbors.

And thanks to everyone who bought a bag, we were able to donate $610 to SF New Deal! Fantastic! Speaking of, today is the last day you can make a tax-deductible donation to a non-profit, so please consider making a big fat donation to SF New Deal, the SF-Marin Food Bank (they have a matching donor right now), UndocuFund, Give2SF, the USBG Bartender Emergency Assistance Program (BEAP), Feed Hospitality (CUESA), and the new 86Fund has a $10k matching donor right now! Thank you for supporting these organizations in their important charitable work, there is so much need.

Oh, and while we’re at it, can you please throw some money at our precious Twin Peaks Tavern? They need our help, and we simply can’t risk losing this historic and irreplaceable bar. No, sir!

So, to be honest, I was pretty wiped out from all the logistics of that last-minute gift bag, and then boom, it was Christmas Eve! I’m going to take a little time off to decompress, reset, and work on some exciting new tablehopper projects for 2021—I’ve got some ideas, and they need some time and space and attention for me to bring them to life. It looks like I won’t be back in your inboxes until January 12th, thanks for understanding.

But you don’t think I’d leave you without an end-of-year issue of the bore, do you? I take traditions seriously over here, as you may have noticed—although this year’s missive is a bit different. I hope you enjoy it.

Well, gang, it’s the last day of this blasted year. We made it—many of us, just barely. It has been so awful for so many. Too much loss, and grief, and sadness. I’m not going to get into it, it’s too immense. We’ve also seen so much strength, and generosity, and kindness, and grace, and love. And hope! I’m sending you my best wishes for this new year—we are not out of the woods, by a long shot, so I’m sending you fortitude, and optimism, and most of all, best wishes for good health. Stay safe. Raise a glass to your blessings tonight.

Buon Anno! XO

December 16, 2020

Hey everyone, thanks for your patience as I worked to get this Hopper Holiday Restaurant Gift Bag reindeer rodeo under control and live! (Thanks to the wonderful team at Square for their amazing help, this was a tricky one to set up!) You can read about alllll the treats in this bountiful gift bag below, 18 items in all, ho ho ho! Some of these goodies are custom-made and exclusive to the gift bag, so enjoy!

The restaurant gift bag is $225, and delivery (in SF only) is $12 if you want Santa to bring it to you. ORDER HERE. Please read the instructions carefully for pick-up and delivery times! Email me any questions and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Thank you for all your support! It has been incredible to work with all these restaurants and bakeries and industry folks on putting this together. They all say THANK YOU!

Happy Holidaze!!
~Marcia (Champers the elf)

December 15, 2020

A beautiful mural from the Paint the Void Project. It says, “May you be safe.” Photo: ©

Hey everyone, I want to thank you so much for all your feedback about my essay last week about the dire situation we find our local restaurants in, and what we need to do to help and show up for them since our federal government isn’t. I really appreciate all the amplification of my piece, and some of you tagged me and sent pictures of your takeout, which made me SO HAPPY, you have no idea. Keep it up!

Remember when I suggested you do your holiday shopping at local restaurants this year? Well, I’m about to make that super-easy for you to do: today’s column features the announcement of the first Hopper Holiday Restaurant Gift Bag! Imagine a gift bag packed full of some of the best independent restaurant products, chosen by yours truly, from hot sauces to cookies to preserves to pasta. It’s looking like 17 amazing products, folks. The Hopper Holiday Restaurant Gift Bag is going to launch tomorrow, read below for details about this limited and last-minute offer that is designed to help support our local restaurants and celebrate all the culinary magic they make. Thank you for your interest and support!

More culinary radness: if you follow me on Instagram (@tablehopper), you may have seen my first Club Feast Pick of the Month today! I’m grateful for their sponsorship the next three months as I scout out the best dishes on their delivery platform (which operates differently than the big third-party apps) and highlight my favorite finds. Read more below, and take $20 off your first order with code HOPPER20.

Since I’m catapulting myself into full-tilt holiday mode over here with this gift bag, this is the last newsy newsletter of the year (of course, I’ll be doing something around the New Year…but let’s just say “the bore” is going to be quite different this year).

Do you smell the latkes and holiday spices in the air? I’m doing hella daily updates on Instagram in my Stories about holiday meals, treats, and more—don’t miss the goodies. Shop local! Check my Highlights for recaps, including Holiday! and Hanukkah. And the commercial Dungeness crab season is supposed to start on December 23rd, so there’s that. (YAY.) I will also be starting a New Year’s Eve Highlight soon (because: 2021!). If you can order any holiday meals from our restaurants, that would be amazing and so appreciated. Please look out for the small ones.

I’m also going to be pausing the On the Fly by tablehopper podcast so we can take a season break. Producer Lola and I need to regroup, and I obviously have a bunch of stuff I’m working on right now. However, we will be airing the final episode with Charles Chen of Basuku shortly. (With all the upheaval over outdoor dining being canceled, let’s just say it wasn’t exactly the right moment last week.)

Okay, gang. You’re going to hear from me tomorrow about the Hopper Holiday Restaurant Gift Bag, but otherwise, I’m signing off. Hang tough, stay safe, be kind, be generous, and let’s do our best to get through this together. I know our holiday season is rough in many ways, and so many are experiencing terrible loss and grief, but try to find some moments of joy and gratitude if you can. We are resilient. We are strong. We need to stay safe.

With love and gratitude for all your support and readership.
~Marcia AKA Champers the elf

December 8, 2020

We are. Photo: Andy Samwick. Dobb’s Ferry sign by @signsbyLAF.

On Friday afternoon, I heard the devastating news about our shutdown after returning from an outdoor holiday lunch with a dear industry friend, and like so many of us, felt like our city was just sucker-punched, even though we knew things were not looking good. I started to imagine the panic, fear, anger, sadness, desperation, and sense of dread and defeat rippling through the hospitality industry (among others). So many lives and livelihoods affected. Too many.

I spent the weekend speaking to some industry folks, reading so many missives on social media, and doing a lot of thinking and writing. If there was ever a moment when I would hope you could take the time to read my column, this is it. Apologies in advance, it’s a long essay, but I felt it was important to share these observations, which is why I’m in your inbox on my “off” week. What is happening to the industry right now is dire, and there are various ways we really need to step up, now.

I know many of you are wondering how to help. It’s kind of like Groundhog Day, and we’re returning to March again, wondering who’s open, who’s doing delivery and takeout, and now who’s hibernating, and tragically, we’re seeing who’s closing for good. I’ll be sharing updates in my @tablehopper Instagram Stories and Highlights, as I’ve been doing the past eight months. Stand by for further action items coming—I should have some updates on tablehopper’s Twitter and Facebook accounts soon.

We need to be diligent about staying safe and getting this surge tamped down, now, so I have some thoughts about that, too. I’m sure you’ll have some thoughts and comments and ideas as well. I will try to reply when I can, but my inbox is truly out of control right now, thanks for understanding.

Help save independent restaurants. Our bars. Our clubs. Our industry. All our local businesses. They need us now more than ever.

Thank you for all your support,

December 1, 2020

Had to share my Dad’s masterful turkey-carving job this year, and Mom’s two cranberry sauces and sweet potato soufflé. (Yes, we also had two kinds of gravy, and I’m grateful for it!) Not pictured: the fennel-spiked stuffing, and sissy’s epic red kuri squash/pumpkin pie! Photo: ©

Howdy, friends. I hope you were able to enjoy Thanksgiving in whatever form you had it (or didn’t!) and could downshift over the long weekend while the intensity keeps building around us. Ooof. Breathe. I was so happy to get off Twitter for a couple days and be up in Healdsburg watching sheep, let me tell you. Things have been a bit too 2020 over here: I managed to fracture a wisdom tooth while eating a burger on a crusty Italian roll (ow, damnit!) and had to get it extracted a week before Thanksgiving, THAT was fun. I’m all better now, thanks to the wonderful Dr. Temlock (and tablehopper reader Kia for the reco!), but it definitely forced me to chill out a bit and enjoy a wide array of soft foods, LOL.

Today is Giving Tuesday, as I am sure your inbox is telling you, and I’d love for you to take a look at SF New Deal, the SF-Marin Food Bank, and the new 86 Fund (an emergency fund to support restaurants and help them “weather the winter” to make it to spring), all such worthy places to donate. I know money is tight, but any amount helps take care of others!

Yup, it’s December. Whoa. This tablehopper issue has some holiday suggestions for you, with more to come…I am truly inundated over here with announcements and trying to post as much as I can. If you feel like donating to my tip jar, that will put some “ho ho ho” vibes into Champers the Elf’s holiday work and headquarters. Thanks so much for all your support, always!

One thing that is making me chuckle are the sparkly cannabis-coconut-cacao flakes I’m eating, my own version of California snow, ha-ha! If you follow me on @tablehopper or @mymilligram, I hope you saw the news that MONDO cannabis powder is back (after three years!), one of my favorite cannabis products ever! If you would like to try adding some low-dose sparkles to your day, give it a try (click here for NorCal delivery through my local delivery partner, Sava). MONDO helps me with mood (need it!), energy, productivity, and creativity, and never leaves my desk! You can watch the video with Mrs. Doper (that’s me) to learn more. Feel free to reach out to me if you’re curious or have any questions!

One last thing: stand by for this week’s episode of the On the Fly podcast with Charles Chen, the founder of Basuku Cheesecakes! I’m so excited for you to learn more about everything that goes into making this extraordinary Japanese-inspired, Basque-style cheesecake that is captivating everyone who is lucky to try it. Obsessed! Charles is also a longtime restaurant consultant—it’s a fascinating interview to learn about his background and career path.

I have to sign off since I need to get my bratty Fiat to the mechanic (yes, another thing wrong over here), so I’ll catch ya later. Keep your head up, mask on, stay safe, and please pay a visit to your favorite restaurant this week and order some takeout—they’d love to see you.

Marcia Gagliardi

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