table of contents   This week's tablehopper: tablehopper gets a spanking.

the chatterbox
the word on the street
the regular
it's about time we met
the wino
in vino veritas
the socialite
the starlet
no photos please

the sponsor
this round is on me

Full Plate Restaurant Consulting


FEBRUARY 27, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO G’day mates! Oh yes, I am back, sporting a golden glow that is rapidly disappearing in this Seattle-riffic weather, and I am unfortunately the exact same size I was when I left. (Simply slip me on the barbie for a hearty, substantial meal.)

I thoroughly enjoyed my action-packed vacation Down Under with my sis, replete with kangaroo and koala sightings (I also ate some kangaroo, quite delicious, cheers mate), imbibed too many pots and schooners to count (Aussie beer size nomenclature—I’ll school you soon enough), had some fantastic and sadly hella expensive feasting (jetsetter reports coming VERY soon… and why the hell was that country so expensive? Crikey.), did a three-day safari to the Red Centre in the Northern Territory (Uluru really is all that), tasted wine in the Mornington Peninsula with a Master Sommelier, lazed around Bondi and the gorg Tamarama/“Glamarama” beaches, and let's hear it for Greek boys with Aussie accents, woot woot, a whole new paradigm in hot! I gotta say there is a fantastique bar scene in Melbourne—it made me want to move there so I could become a regular at a minimum of five of them. I promise to write it all up very soon (well, not quite everything).

Thanks all who forwarded the most recent issue of tablehopper to friends and family—I so appreciate it. And can you believe tablehopper is ONE!? (Hence the spanking.) The first issue went out last year on February 21st! Thanks all for your support, enthusiasm, and feedback this past year—I am thrilled to blow sh*t up this second year in business (and counting!). Feel free to send Champagne. Really.

Since it’s my baby’s birthday, I thought it was fitting to write up my past birthday lunch at Rubicon in the regular. I’ll have a slew of reviews of new places in the coming weeks—it’s a little dangerous how much catch-up I have to do.

Cheers, darlings~

the chatterbox

Full Plate Restaurant ConsultingFEBRUARY 27, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO So just three days after getting home, I shook off my jet lag like a wet dog and scooted down to Carmel for the ~MASTERS OF FOOD AND WINE~, which felt like my preferred version of the Oscars©. The cooking demos with Rick Tramonto of TRU and Michael Mina were a blast—Mina recounted a hilarious story about Andre Agassi and steak (remind me to tell you over a drink sometime) while making a downright wicked butter poached lobster dish. I got a sneak peek of the kitchen before the grand finale dinner—Gary Danko was there, plus a slew of chefs who were ready and waiting to bang out the six-course feast for over 200 people (four were meat courses, I almost keeled over). Local winos like Emily Wines of Fifth Floor (love the new look, lady!), Paul Einbund of Coi, and Chris Wright of Aqua were on the floor keeping our glasses full (thanks gang!). The after party was the highlight: I can’t believe I got to shoot the breeze with Grant Achatz and a couple chaps from his kitchen (we were on the hunt for bourbon), David Kinch and Cal Stamenov from Marinus were having a good time, and there were some wickedly memorable wines being poured at a few scattered tables that night. But I didn’t get to bed until 4am, so please don’t ask me to remember what they were, ha ha. Now excuse me while re-hydrate for the next 48 hours… and here’s hoping I get to attend the next one in Mendoza! A girl can dream.

Lots of changes while I was gone, so let’s just dive in. I feel like I am giving birth here, help me breathe! Breathe!

At long last, the ~NORTH BEACH LOBSTER SHACK~ is open, the new SF location of the Old Port Lobster Shack in Redwood City! Can’t wait to schlep my heinie in there for a lobster roll. East Coasties, you can get Ipswich clams! Shacktastic. 532 Green St. at Jasper Place, near Grant St., 415-829-3634.  

And not too far away, ~AVENUE G~ has opened in the former La Felce space after a series of soft opening dinners and events. Expect dinner nightly, 6pm-11pm for now, with the intent of staying open later on the weekends, perhaps 1am—all will be revealed. 1570 Stockton at Union St., 415-989-0399.

How do you say degroovy? Japantown’s petite 27-year-old diner, Café Mum’s, is now ~MUM’S RESTAURANT AND BAR~ and has just finished undergoing a spiffy remodel from designer Anthony Laurino. Mum’s is in the Hotel Miyako, now named the Hotel Tomo. The family restaurant (dad runs it during the day, and one of his three daughters helms it at night) is a Japanese-influenced diner serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and is well known for its all-you-can-eat shabu-shabu dinners. The cheerful space seats 50 and has room for 12 at the counter; the look has 70’s styling, like bright poppy coloring, a mosaic pattern at the counter, and cork flooring, with some Japanese pop aesthetic working its way into the look as well (wait until you see the 20-inch portraits of all the family members that will be hung in a couple weeks). Mum’s is totally the word. 1800 Sutter St. at Buchanan St., 415-931-6986.

~DISTRICT WINE BAR~ in SOMA has opened. Based on some feedback I’ve been hearing, it’s spacious, swanky, and happy hour central. Since Daily Candy recently wrote it up, you know the place must now be swarming with chicks. No liquor, however, just good vino and beers and bites, yo. Oh, and sake and soju cocktails—personally, I’ll stick with the good wines. 216 Townsend St. at 3rd St., 415-896-2120. Hours Tue-Sun 4pm- 2am (1am on weekdays).

Another wine bar that should be opening up next week is ~ROUGE ET BLANC~, a joint venture from the Aqua folks and Viansa in the former Enoteca Viansa in Union Square, just down the street from Café de la Presse. Laurent Manrique has devised a casual food program for the space, with croque monsieurs and other simple fare served from 11am-4pm, and cold dishes like charcuterie, smoked fish, and cheese plates available from 4pm-10:30pm. 13-14 wines will be available by the glass, including some international choices, and of course you can expect to see Aqua’s Acvs label (love the chard). The concept is to be more of an easy location to stop by and hang out over a glass of wine, and less about wine education like other places around town. Wines will also be available for retail purchase. For now, the space is being repainted and some modern lighting is being put in, nothing major. Salud. 334 Grant Ave. at Bush St., 415-391-0207.

Also in the neighborhood, ~CORTEZ~ is temporarily closed while they upgrade some old plumbing. It’s a significant job that will require some excavation, so they expect to be closed for about a month or so, until late March. I spoke with the Bay Bread folks, and they said they are taking the opportunity to freshen up some elements like the paint and carpet, and Co-Executive Chefs Seth Bowden and Louis Maldonado also mentioned there will be some “spring cleaning” on the menu, with the removal of some signature dishes to make room for some new concoctions. The chefs also are talking about introducing a daily market prix-fixe menu, highlighting dishes that may have more of a rustic tone. While the chefs will be retained, they sadly will have to wait and see if some of their cooks can return since most have to find work elsewhere during the closure. The chefs helped their cooks line up some stages at various restaurants in the City as best they could, and personally are “looking forward to going out and meeting some of the farmers and purveyors that [we] have been dealing with but never met.” Here’s hoping for a speedy reopening since things were really on a roll over there. 550 Geary St. at Jones St., 415-292-6360.

I was not happy to be cruising up Market Street and see that ~YUM~ was closed and gone. There was an obscure note in the window about reappearing in another location. Based on their website, which mentions a “Grand Re-opening of our online gourmet foods store,” I wonder if it means they will be moving to strictly online? Once I hear back from the owners I will let you know.

A couple tablehopper readers were concerned and inquiring about ~SUSHI ZONE~ closing, when in fact it’s just that Sushi Zone is now closed on Mondays. You may return to your regularly scheduled programming.

~CHOUQUET’S~ has a new chef who recently started, Laurent Guillaume. Yes, he is French. 2500 Washington St. at Fillmore St., 415-359-0075.

After holding it down on the corner of 9th and Irving for a while, the Sunset’s arty ~CANVAS GALLERY~ will be closing soon. Taking its place will be ~PACIFIC CATCH~, a casual seafood restaurant that already has locations in the Marina and Corte Madera. For those unfamiliar with the concept, the burgeoning chain is known for an array of fresh seafood dishes made to order, like fish tacos, Hawaiian sandwiches, rice bowls, salads, and the like. Plans are to open in late summer, offering lunch and dinner daily, and to be open continuously throughout the day. With the full bar license, they also plan to stay open late on the weekends, and to maintain a funky and urban vibe. Also, they are looking for a VP of Operations if anyone is interested!

The fusiony ~MALACCA~ on 18th Street in the ‘Stro has closed and moved into the short-lived ~CRAVE~ space on Market Street. I heard the two menus are now combined? (Comfort fusion small plates? If I was a cop, I’d be forced to pull this one over.) As far as the old Malacca space, it seems the owner is keeping the building. No phone calls back, so no word what is potentially moving into the 18th Street space. And the Crave number is disconnected, so it’s all wacky. Malacca/former Crave, 2367 Market St. at Castro St., number disconnected.

Over in the Marina, the New City Lounge is now ~SWEET AROMA~, a casual and well-priced Vietnamese restaurant. The (very sweet) owner was originally with Cordon Bleu restaurant on California, so you will find the popular three-item combos on the menu (one of the tastier deals in town, seriously, and go for the grilled meats!), plus different kinds of pho, salads, and spring rolls. Hours: 11am-10:30pm Tue-Sun. 1779 Lombard St. at Laguna St., 415-563-1927.

Folks on Nob Hill are up in arms over the fate of the ~FRONT ROOM~ and the ~JOHN BARLEYCORN~. A new landlord, Luisa Hanson, purchased the building at 1500 California Street and is not renewing the leases for either business (she also owns Luisa’s on Union Street, Notte, and Delaney's Bar on Chestnut—based on some of the posts about the restaurant on yelp, people are ticked). The Front Room was originally opened by Sam Duvall in 1967, with several locations opened elsewhere in the City and the Bay Area. The current owner, Lori Laghaei, has endured some tough times the past five years, including the illness and eventual death of her husband (and former owner of the Front Room) at the age of 32 from brain cancer, and withstanding the financially troublesome times after 9/11. She is moving the business down the street into the now-closed ~FIERRO EN GUERRA~ space (it was a café), at 1550 California Street. She hopes to reopen April 1st (no joke) in time for the 40th anniversary of the restaurant since the lease ends in March. Owner Laghaei remarked, “It’s expensive to live in San Francisco, and here young people could get together for some pizza and beer and not spend a lot of money. It has always been a safe place, a fun place—we would only close two nights a year.” Here’s wishing them luck with their move—fortunately they are still in the neighborhood.

The ~JOHN BARLEYCORN~ was originally an annex of the Front Room (it was the aptly named The Back Room) and has been around for more than 35 years. This cozy little pub is chock-full of SF memorabilia, including pews from Old St. Mary’s, and is considered by many neighbors as their living room outside their home. The Barleycorn’s lease expires in June, so they launched a site that has a petition protesting the closure of both businesses; you can visit the site and sign the petition here. Best of luck to them; it’s hard on a neighborhood when a long-standing (and beloved) business closes.

Executive Chef David Cohen is no longer at ~SCALA’S BISTRO~. Which means the tally of Kimpton restaurants without executive chefs (and some are also without GMs) is growing: Grand Café, Fifth Floor, and now Scala’s. I’ll keep you posted as the positions get filled. There have been some murmurs of bigger names potentially coming into Fifth Floor, it could be exciting.

There is a new sous chef at Nob Hill’s ~RUE ST. JACQUES~, Cedric Lazarus, and supposedly he makes one heck of a choucroute (he hails from the Alsace/Lorraine region, hence the skills with the sauerkraut). This Wednesday, the restaurant will be hosting Choucroute Night, with choucroute loaded with sausage, pork shank, slab bacon, and other treats and a beer for $25. Perfect lousy weather for it. 1098 Jackson St. at Taylor St., 415-776-2002.

Major shakedown at ~BACAR~: sadly Arnold Alan Wong (who just sold his other restaurant, EOS) and Debbie Zachareas are no longer involved with the project after launching it six years ago. (The website is already stripped of any mention of the former partners.) Adam Timney, Chef de Cuisine, will be holding down the fort. Here are the letters I received from Debbie Zachareas and Arnold Eric Wong:

After six rewarding years as co-founder, General Partner, and Wine Director of Bacar Restaurant, I have departed as partner and manager of the restaurant. This shift enables me to focus my energy and expertise at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant and our upcoming retail venture, the Oxbow Wine Merchant in Napa.
These are exciting times for both corporations. I wish bacar continued success as one of the great San Francisco restaurants. I look forward to working more closely with my partners at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant in conceptualizing and growing our present and future wine retail, e-commerce and wine bar ventures.
Whilst there is some divergence of views vis a vis the way forward for bacar with the new management, I maintain faith in the abilities of the staff and personnel.


Dear Investor and Friends,

As co-founder, General Partner, and Executive Chef of Bacar restaurant since its inception, the new majority owner and I have decided to part ways.

In the past couple of weeks as the new majority owner has stepped in, I've had to struggle with the moral, ethical and professional dilemmas associated with Bacar's ongoing enterprise. I tried to come to a compromise that would uphold my personal and professional integrity while working with the new general partners. As difficult as it is, my decision is to separate from Bacar. I will continue to focus my energies on my bakery Raison d'etre, travel with my beautiful wife, and dedicate time toward future ventures.

In the last six years, talented and amazing people have come and gone, many still remain. I will be leaving behind a vision that was built upon strong relationships, commitments, sacrifice, and dedication from the staff and the many investors. I want to personally thank the staff, both front and back of the house, that have been so loyal and dedicated to my passion. I trust that they will succeed at Bacar and in their own future endeavors.

Arnold Eric Wong

Okay, who the hell stole the ~MALTESE FALCON~ replica from John’s Grill? Come on now, people, put the bird back. Plus there are some vintage books missing as well, so if you meet someone who is showing off a signed copy of The Maltese Falcon, I’d arch my eyebrow and call the police: there’s a $25,000 reward. Serious fowl play. (Sorry, that one practically pecked me, I had to use it.)

I wanted to share my dismay in finding out ~SHARON TYLER HERBST~ passed away while I was gone. I can’t imagine my job without the Food Lover’s Companion. I hope she rests in peace, and I know there are many food writers who are grateful for all her hard work over the years.

After a successful Dine About Town month in January, ~SCOTT HOWARD RESTAURANT~ has launched a three-course prix-fixe menu option for $32 that is available nightly, in addition to the restaurant’s regular a la carte menu. The three-course menu selections will rotate regularly and will often feature signature dishes. 500 Jackson Street between Columbus and Montgomery, 415-956-7040.

~PICCINO~ has been getting all kinds of buzz for their perfect pizzas, and as of last Thursday, they have kicked off dinner service. From Thursday through Saturday the pint-sized pizzeria will be open from 7am straight through the day, with their last seating at 8:30pm. Dinner starts around 5pm, offering an expanded dinner menu that will include a variety of roasted meats, birds, and other savory options. Hours: 7am-3pm Mon-Wed, 7am-8:30pm Thu-Sat, 8am-1pm Sun. 801 22nd St., 415-824-4224.

Okay, I am tired—that baby was huge. Coming next week: news on Urban Steak & Bar and JoVino!

Got a hot tip? You know I’d love it (and you). Just reply to this email!

fresh meat


558 Sacramento St.
Cross: Montgomery St.
San Francisco, CA 94111


Mon-Sat 5:30pm-10pm
Lunch: Wed 11:30am-2pm

Lunch only
Apps $8-$14
Entrées $16-$19
Desserts $8-$10

FEBRUARY 27, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO One of my very best friends and I have a ritual for our respective birthdays: we take each other out for “ladies who lunch,” which always entails a minimum of a two-to-three hour lunch and at least one bottle of champers. Past destinations have included The Rotunda (numerous times) and Café Claude, but when my birthday fell on a Wednesday this last November, I knew I wanted ~RUBICON~ to be it since the sole time they serve lunch is on Wednesdays.

I like to request one of the intimate wood booths downstairs, with their deep claret mohair seats. Although it means I have to look at the blown glass “Ikebana Installation” by Dale Chihuly, which may very well be owner Drew Nieporent’s favorite element about the restaurant’s décor, but it makes me want to sit back with a shotgun, a box of shells, and a six-pack of Buddy longnecks and play target practice with those damned flowers.

I know, some glass art aficionado is unsubscribing from my newsletter right now. Oh well. The installation just feels so early 90s, which is when the restaurant opened, in 1994. The flowers really need to come down. The Thonet chairs, however, are timeless. Ditto on the brick walls, exposed beams, and warm wood elements everywhere.

Fortunately, the dated vibe stops with the glass little shop of horrors, because Executive Chef Stuart Brioza’s cooking totally rocks my soxx—it’s the perfect balance between farmers’ market and luxe, New French and Cali, with some touches of New American and Euro flair. Innovation rules here.

Release the bubbly. Good, now we can focus. Lunch started with a lovely little amuse, and while we could have opted for the $25 business lunch (a set menu of two courses plus dessert) we were anything but business. We were birthday lunching.

My “lady friend” opted for the roasted mushroom salad ($12) with slices of pear, ribbons of pickled red onion, aged balsamic, and Parmesan cheese. I think there were some hazelnuts in there too. (I didn’t take notes—I hope you can understand.) Super-fresh ingredients. Yours truly couldn’t resist the orecchiette with steamed cockles ($11) in a tomato and saffron wine broth. Little hits of red pepper and lemon rind brightened the luscious seafood concoction, I even dunked my bread in the broth like a good (or bad?) Italian girl at the table.

We ramped up the decadence quotient with tender beef short rib ravioli ($18) resting in a truffle-rosemary broth, served with wild mushrooms and leeks. It was the kind of dish you just want to spoon. I porked out on the crispy spiced quail ($17), a gourmet and purely genius/pure evil version of fried chicken, accompanied with a small stack of shaved apple salad and Parmesan cheese, resting on a base of lemon confit and tart onions to counterbalance the fatty and rich quail. Yes, puuuuuure evil.

Now, excuse me while I drag out my soapbox. I really have a gripe with a lot of desserts in this town. (I gotta let off a little steam here.) Can you say BORING? Oh yes, so thrilling, trios of crème brûlée or pots de crème or an apple something something or bread pudding or flourless chocolate cake or a house-made trio of sorbets with passion fruit, strawberry, and lemon. Zzzzzzzzz. Bring a book. If there’s a cheese option, that’s what I find myself going for more and more. I just might start ordering foie gras for dessert, which is what a friend once did at Gary Danko—I thought it was a totally brilliant move. (Please, save the hate mail.)

But if you are at Rubicon (or perhaps having dessert at Campton Place, bless you Boris Portnoy), then get ready, because goddess Pastry Chef Nicole Krasinski is gonna make you want to order one of everything. She will totally turn you on for dessert. It’s almost like a Pentecostal dessert service: behold, the new frontier of pastry! Her desserts are just gorg: gorg ingredients, gorg presentation, and you will gorge. However, we restrained ourselves on this occasion and decided to just share one dessert since I had a big dinner coming up that night.

We dove our spoons into a little round of carrot cake ($10) with cubes of Fuyu persimmon on top, plus maple emulsion and a chestnut-Armagnac ice cream. Now, that’s what I am talking about! Krasinski really knows how to rock savory elements with her creations; one dessert we were eyeing was the bittersweet chocolate-saffron croquettes with spiced cashews and wildflower honey sabayon ($10). Meow. And here’s another fab detail: Nicole and Stuart are married, how’s that for a power gourmet couple? It’s amazing they are not both the size of Dom DeLuise. I’d need my own zip code.

For the record, our server was a little freaky—not sure what her deal was but she was one of those people who never quite hits the mark, kind of like when you’re on a difficult first date or something: hard to connect, weird jokes, and while both parties were trying hard to find a common ground, it all felt a bit forced and off. It was quite humorous. My friend and I decided she must have been stoned because everything she said was a touch weird, like we were talking in alternate universes. Although I really don’t think she was stoned, but if she was, she’d have the perfect place to manage any munchies. And no, for the record, it wasn’t us who had been smoking any funny cigarettes.

So while this was just lunch, dinners here are elegant and relaxing, and wait until you crack that monster and fabled wine list. It’s an ideal spot for biz functions, fourth dates, special occasions, and the upstairs rooms are custom-made for private functions. It’s a quintessential SF dining experience, one that is worth getting a little spiffed up for, and I can actually overlook the fact that the crowd can be a little moneyed/older/stuffy/business for my taste. Then again, that’s part of living in SF, I suppose.

the sponsor

Full Plate Restaurant Consulting

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Enter Full Plate Restaurant Consulting. Their decidedly creative, personalized approach to hospitality operations from concept development and architecture to graphics and marketing (with all the front & back of house stuff & everything in between) has helped scores of restaurant owners “beef up” profits. And because they’re a collective, you can pick and choose from a comprehensive “menu” of consultant services. Maybe your business only needs help in a few areas. That’s OK – small and mid- size spots are a specialty. No long term contracts or forced relationships (been there, done that). Great client list, including top restaurants all over NorCal and beyond. Shouldn’t you be included?

the wino

Pamela S. Busch

FEBRUARY 27, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Pamela S. Busch of CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen started drinking wine at a Passover Seder when she was ten years old. By the time of her Bat Mitzhah, her first truly drunken experience, she graduated to hard alcohol, becoming a fan of apricot sours and tequila sunrises. During the 1980s, she could be found drinking the more sophisticated white wine spritzers at bars on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It wasn't until she spent six months in Israel in 1990 and was hit in the head with a shell that it dawned on her that it was time to stop drinking crap and get serious about her career if she wanted to become the most accomplished white zinfandel producer in the world. This dream took her to San Francisco where her career got a smashing start. She has never looked back.

What Do the Sommeliers Drink?

A while ago, no more than a while ago, Marcia asked me to write a piece for her. I suggested a story on what the sommeliers drink. She loved it. I wish I could say it has taken so long to write because I was at a dive bar somewhere drinking Wild Turkey but alas, I cannot because in truth, I don’t drink Wild Turkey. Trying to nail down my compadres is a bit like herding feral cats. Nonetheless, lasso in hand, I managed to get the skinny on what some of the finest palates in San Francisco drink when they are not drinking wine.

First, let me get Fernet out of the way. We’re all pretty much addicted to the stuff so I’m not going to mention it again during this piece even if I might be sipping as I write.

The first person I asked was Shelley Lindgren, partner/wine director/general manager and all-around babe of A16. I managed to track her down via email when she was in Italy and since she was a few months pregnant, lemonade was her drink of choice at that time. Fair enough, though I have seen her knock back more than a few shots of F…, no, I’m not going to say it.  When not pregnant, and not drinking wine, our dear Shelley has a penchant for gin drinks, especially Basil Gimlets and Negronis.

She is not the only gin drinker out there. Shana Dilworth, former Wine Director at Campton Place, Master Sommelier candidate and one of the my Fe… buddies, is a fan of the ‘snarl juice.’ Her favorites are Hendricks, Citadel and Old Raj, shaken cold and served straight up. For Shana, gin is all about the aromatics. She also has a thing for Chartreuse and, to quote, “the best thing is when you mix Chartreuse and gin together.” However, she stressed that when she goes out, her drink of choice is usually Campari and soda, or a Negroni.

The delightful Eugenio Jardim, Wine Director at Jardinière, fancies a drink called ‘Jasmin,’ made from you guessed it, gin, Campari, limejuice and Cointreau. After a long day of work, when he is fully enmeshed in wine talk with his customers and might have palate fatigue from a day of tasting, he finds a Jasmin gives him a refreshing lift.

Do we have a theme going there? Do all sommeliers drink gin and Campari? No, I hate gin. Tonic water too. Gin and tonics… shoot me first.

Like Shana, Paul Einbund, the Wine Director and partner at Coi, loves Chartreuse but also puts Spanish Brandies up there as a favorite. He is also more than partial to lambic bourbons and Mescal. Ah, sensible choices.

Joanna Breslin, the Wine Director at Ana Mandara is up for trying “intriguing cocktails as long as it does not involve whiskey or gin,” with the exception of Pimm’s Cup. She is also happy to have a margarita on the rocks, no salt, and made with a reposado tequila.

I also posed the question to the Tablehopper herself. When not tablehopping with a glass of Champagne in hand, Marcia can be found perched over a whiskey in one incarnation or another.

And, just in case what you’re wondering, I’m not much of a cocktail drinker, but I actually crave The Algonquin, a rye, dry vermouth and pineapple juice drink served at Bourbon and Branch. I also love Armagnac and good whiskeys, but in truth, in moderate quantities, I can drink anything, with the exception of gin. Yuck!

the socialite

French Wine Affaire
Map from K+L Wines site

French Wine Affaire
Sunday, March 4, 2007

Fort Mason
Buchanan St.
and Marina Blvd.
San Francisco


$55 members; $65 non-members


FEBRUARY 27, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO C’est magnifique! The French Wine Society of San Francisco will be pouring wines from all of the leading regions in France at their ~FRENCH WINE AFFAIRE~ in San Francisco. K&L Wine Merchants, one of the Bay Area’s leading wine retailers, will be providing an opportunity to order the wines at a special price, which will include well-established favorites, as well as smaller yet undiscovered gems from all over France.

Launched in November 2005, as the inaugural event of the FWS in Washington, DC, the French Wine Affaire is the flagship event of the society. This March 4th walk-around tasting will be the inaugural event launching their San Francisco chapter, gathering over 150 French wines from every major French wine region. From Alsace to Burgundy, Champagne to the Loire, Bordeaux, the Rhone Valley, Beaujolais as well more obscure wine regions, attendees will experience the meaning and diversity of French terroir.

Featured wines will range from such well-known producers as Louis Latour, Guigal, Chapoutier, Hugel, Roederer among others; as well as fine wines from smaller, low-production houses. A gourmet buffet of hors d'oeuvres and fine cheeses will be served.

Register in advance as tickets are very limited.

Festa della Donna

Festa della Donna
Thursday, March 8, 2007

2355 Chestnut St.
Cross: Divisadero St.
San Francisco, CA 94123

(and later for wine)

FEBRUARY 27, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO ~FESTA DELLA DONNA~ was one of my favorite days while living in Italy, an explosion of yellow mimosa everywhere and a showing of female solidarity and appreciation. This year celebrate International Women's Day Italian-style at A16:

Wine Director Shelley Lindgren will pour her favorite wines from women winemakers and, as is the custom throughout Italy, women are encouraged to enjoy celebratory dinners with their women friends. All the wines for the night will be from women winemakers and representing every region of Italy, from Abruzzo to my beloved Veneto. Morgan Clendenen (Cold Heaven, Santa Barbara), Chrystal Clifton (whose Botasea rose proceeds are donated to Breast Cancer research, and she also is a partner in Palmina, all Italian varietals grown in Santa Barbara) and Pam Starr, one of the coolest and most talented winemakers in California will be here from Napa.

Also, the front of house and kitchen at A16 will be almost entirely female as a symbol of how far women have come today, not without struggle and hard work. Liza Shaw, A16 Chef de Cuisine and Jane Tseng, A16’s Pastry Chef, have put together some great additions, such as a special app of Hawaiian blue prawns with shaved artichokes, lemon, chiles and mint; ricotta ravioli with mosto; an entrée of Berkshire porchetta with lemon, rosemary and black pepper; and a special dessert: pistachio and rosewater meringue with rhubarb gelato and lemon.

The dining room will be decorated with yellow mimosas, the flower traditionally handed to Italian women on this day. The evening benefits San Francisco’s La F Cocina (“The Kitchen”), a non-profit commercial kitchen and business incubator providing low-income women food entrepreneurs with fully licensed affordable commercial kitchen space, technical assistance, and access to new market opportunities.

International Women’s Day has evolved and taken different forms and meanings over the years, but it has always been strongly associated with women’s struggles, both tragic and victorious, and women’s rights. An event that was both tragic and victorious, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911, in which mostly Italian and Jewish women workers perished in a burning building whose exits were locked to prevent labor organizing is often commemorated in Italy. This tragedy led to progressive new labor laws. Just as this tragedy led to triumph, the sunny mimosa, one of the March’s first flowers, symbolizes the promise of spring after the darkness of winter.

the starlet

FEBRUARY 27, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO James Hetfield, the lead singer of Metallica, recently dined at Michael Mina with his pregnant wife and three kids. I don’t imagine a lot of wine was consumed at that table.

Carlos Santana was spotted at Lulu. (No idea if he dined with a Black Magic Woman.)

Jim Marshall, famed Rolling Stone photographer, grabbed some dinner at 2223 restaurant in the Castro.

Rob Lowe dined at Luella, and even stopped by the kitchen to tell the crew that everything was great. He had the ahi tuna tacos, oysters, mac ‘n’ cheese, and beef filet.