table of contents   This week's tablehopper: take it with a grain of salt.

the chatterbox
the word on the street
fresh meat
new restaurant reviews
the wino
in vino veritas

the socialite
the starlet
no photos please

the sponsor
this round is on me

Parties that Cook


APRIL 24, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Well shoot, somewhere in my tablehopping around town last week I picked up a bug and got sick. Aw heck. Since I totally popped a flat, I flipped my hazards on and stayed home this weekend. Pffft. Chinese hot and sour soup in full effecty wecty, with a chaser of Zicam.

I wanted to give you a head’s up that I leave for Palm Springs/Coachella this Thursday and am not back until late Tuesday, so next week’s ’hopper is going to be a different animal, if it exists at all! Just “managing expectations,” as they say. This week’s edition should have plenty for you to chew on.

Ciao for now, and achooooo!

~Marcia subscribe

the chatterbox
Parties that CookAPRIL 24, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Okay, I have been too excited about this project for a couple months now, and I am finally able to talk about it. Excuse me while I unload a flurry of pixels about it! Joining the ranks of new wine bars around town will be a completely fresh concept for a wine bar and restaurant: ~SOUTH~ a modern food and wine bar with some serious and bona fide Aussie roots. The spiffy 50–60-seat space is slated to open in SoMa by August at 4th and Townsend, and will reflect the relaxed and fun Aussie lifestyle: think quality food and wine to share with friends in a sociable atmosphere—I am here to testify, it’s all I saw in Melbourne and Sydney! The chef/partner is Luke Mangan, a total superstar chef who is behind some honcho Sydney restaurants, such as the highly acclaimed Glass in the Hilton Sydney, Bistro Lulu, and Salt, and is opening another Salt in Tokyo. He also consults for Virgin—Richard Branson was impressed with his cooking and even had him cook on his private island, Necker Island. Mangan is crafting a contemporary and wine-friendly menu that will highlight Aussie and New Zealand gourmet products, like grass-fed sirloin, NZ lamb, and he is sourcing Antipodean seafood like barramundi, oysters, and Tasmanian ocean trout, while one of the desserts will include pavlova (natch). Working with Mangan will be Jennie Lorenzo, who was an executive sous at ame restaurant, and also worked at Fifth Floor with Laurent Gras, La Folie, and Blackbird in Chicago.

The South wine list will emphasize boutique and family-owned wines from Australia and New Zealand, along with a sprinkling of wines from South Africa, and a few surprises too. South will be open for lunch (Mon–Fri 11am–3pm) and dinner (Sun–Thu 5pm–11pm, Fri–Sat until midnight) and brunch will launch soon thereafter. The stylish space will include light cork tile for the flooring, jarrah (an Australian wood) for the tables and bar, a communal table, an 18-seat bar with red and white tiles inspired from Maori carvings, and artwork from modern Aussie artists.

Mangan’s partners in the venture are Anna Weinberg, a Kiwi who opened Stella in New York and has worked front of house at Town Hall Restaurant as the special events manager and maitre d’, and opened ame restaurant as the dining room manager; and Liz O’Connell, an Aussie whose background includes upper management roles at Foster’s Wine Estates Americas, and the Americas’ headquarters of Southcorp Wines, Australia’s largest premium wine company. Both women’s families have wine backgrounds: Weinberg’s family are winegrowers for Villa Maria in the Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, and O’Connell’s family owns Mandalay Road, a boutique West Australian grower and maker of wine. Can’t wait to stick my fork in some grilled barramundi and have my glass full of some lovely Aussie vino—this project is gonna rock.

As someone who has lamented the City’s overall absence of non-taqueria places to go for authentic Mexican food (we should have tons of places!), I was pretty stoked to hear about the ~MEXICO DF~ project that will hopefully be open by the end of May in SoMa. Felipe Sandoval, owner of Maya, partnered up with Victor Hugo Juarez, who owns some taquerias (both are originally from Mexico City)—they brought on David Rosales as executive chef. He was formerly at Fonda in Albany, and most recently in Oregon. The concept is to serve Mexico City-style dishes with an organic focus, including bites like some house-made chicharron; ceviches and crudos; a selection of botanas (small plates that are traditionally served during the day) like guacamole with shrimp and bacon, queso fundido, sopes, and tamales; and four or five entrées like cabrito (roasted goat with nopal salad), and suckling pig carnitas sold by weight (I’ll take two pounds, thanks). Dessert may include some unique dishes, like goat's milk caramel flan and Chiapas chocolate cake with sweet corn ice cream, yum.

Since there is a full liquor license, in the evening the tables will become lowered (like the ones at Levende) and the space will transform into more of a lounge—plus a reduced menu will be served from 10pm until close. The space is the former LongLife Noodle Co., just above Shanghai 1930, and will have some big city ambiance, including banquettes, dark floors, a redwood communal table with room for 16–18, a DJ station, and a glam crystal chandelier (plus an innovative art program they asked me to keep as a surprise). There will be room for 45–50, and lunch and dinner will be served, with brunch down the line. There are plans of setting up a to-go program from 11:30am–2pm, with trios of traditional tacos and other dishes. Open Mon–Fri for lunch, and dinner nightly. 139 Steuart St. at Howard, 415-808-1048.

Some say there are locations that are cursed, but I say perhaps the right business has never been in there? What was formerly a Carl’s Jr., then the club VXN, and then the short-lived Byblos Bar and Grill in the historic corner building at Columbus and Broadway is now going to become ~CAMPIO DEI FIORI~ by Memorial Day or so. The project comes from Enzo Pellico, who opened Steps of Rome and owned it (and the trattoria) for 13 years before selling to Scott Holley. In fact, Pellico grew up at the Campo dei Fiori in Rome, so it’s the second time he’s bringing a little Roma to SF. The past five years Pellico has been traveling all over, and found some inspiration in Italy for this new venture. He envisions Campo dei Fiori as a place for people to come by, catch up, laugh and joke (“ridere e scherzare,” as he told me), and eat some authentic and regional Italian enoteca-style dishes, like small plates of arancini (rice balls), fritto misto, and croquettes, plus pasta, salads, and panini. He has a cook from Rome who will be whipping things up in the kitchen. Campo will serve beer and wine, and will be open continuously from 8am–2am. 270 Columbus Ave. at Broadway.

Just around the corner, things are trucking along for ~ENRICO’S~, which is aiming for a June opening, permits pending. Reza Esmaili, who is known by many from Pesce and lives 127 steps from the entrance (not sure if he has OCD, ha ha), has been brought on as an opening consultant GM. He is overseeing staffing and the bar program, and also crafting a classic cocktail list. A few more details since my last update: the outdoor area is getting pretty swankified, with banquettes, ottomans, and a comfy vibe, and it ends up there were heated concrete floors inside that were in place but not working, and are now fully functional. There is also going to be an elevated stage for the piano, and live music seven nights a week. The American bistro menu is taking shape, and pizzas from the wood-burning oven are on the list. Enrico’s sadly had to close in its 49th year of business, but everyone is quite excited to see this landmark come back to life all shiny, renovated, refinished, and restored. Hubbah.

A while back I mentioned ~RITUAL COFFEE ROASTERS~ was opening a second café in the new location of Flora Grubb Gardens in Bayview. It's now open as of last Friday! Take a peek at the pics; the whole setup is pretty sweet—flowers and succulents and Gibraltars! It’s a great excuse to try the new MUNI T-line and check out some lovely plants. The grand opening is May 12, and all are invited for a toast from 1pm–2pm that day. All weekend long there will be food, drinks, music, and Cyclecide’s awesome pedal-powered rides, too. 1634 Jerrold Ave. at Third, 415-626-7256.

Now open on one of the grittier blocks in the City is ~SPLIT PEA SEDUCTION~, a petite take-out spot for tasty and healthy bites made with quality ingredients and a slow food frame of mind. The project comes from Sarah Ellison-Pinkin and Christian Noto, who are behind Jersey Tomatoes, the catering outfit they are running in the back of the Split Pea space. Breakfast includes homemade muffins, scones, and open-faced breakfast crostatas, while lunch brings gourmet soups, salads (roasted chicken, dandelion greens, Asiago, and red wine vinaigrette, anyone?), and savory crostatas made with ingredients like cauliflower, carrot and cheddar; plus some combo lunches are offered, like soup and salad. They also serve Mr. Espresso drip coffee, and homemade cookies, cupcakes, and shortbreads for dessert. I noticed a bunch of homemade jams, like quince and pear. There is a small counter where you can stand and eat, and if you are looking to cater an office breakfast or lunch, they have a variety of options. Check out the rotating daily menu here (it's a pdf). Open Mon–Fri 7am–4pm, Sat 8am–3pm, closed Sun. 138 6th St. at Minna, 415-551-2223.

It’s official: the ~CANVAS GALLERY’S~ last day is April 29, when they will be going out with a bang and hosting a big party. For more on the new project going in, you can check the older tablehopper article here.

~TWO~ is launching their cool TWO-Go box-lunch program, beginning this Wednesday, April 25. You can order lunch “TWO-Go” on their website and pick it up in the drive-through courtyard 30 minutes later! Choose a freshly made sandwich on one of their house-made breads, a seasonal salad, and a sweet bite for dessert. A selection of interesting sodas and soft drinks are also available. The offerings will change from time to time depending on what’s in season, but the initial line-up includes rare roasted beef sirloin on crusty baguette with celery root tapenade and arugula, or grilled chicken salad on a potato roll with house-smoked bacon and avocado, or spicy salmon salad on green onion focaccia with sweet pea and mint puree. (I would be thrilled with one of each, thanks.) Box lunches are $12 each, plus beverage and sales tax. For more info, call 415-777-9779. 22 Hawthorne St. at Howard.

And now it’s time for a ~PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT~, courtesy of a tablehopper reader who unfortunately got her purse snatched off the back of her chair at Mamacita in the Marina a few weeks ago. She recounts, “A shady couple sat down at the table behind us, demonstrated totally questionable behavior (they asked the server where they could smoke in the restaurant!), ordered take-out, and left before it arrived. When I got up to leave, my purse was gone.” It seems a similar incident has happened at other locations in the Marina (including A16), and another purse snatching happened when I was dining at Pescheria about a month ago.

I was also just forwarded this email from someone over at Chaya: “Well, it appears that the purse snatcher is back in operation. She went into One Market last Saturday evening, didn't get anything, but did come to Chaya and got a purse from one of our guests. One of our managers led her into the dining room after the woman gave the name of a party she was looking for. We think she will stand at the front desk and listen for names of several parties, then ask if "such and such" has been seated and will be shown to the table. She is an African American woman, 5' 9" or 10", heavy set, braided hair, pleasant smile and nicely dressed. She goes for bags that are hung on the back of chairs and will even pretend to drop something on the floor, reach down, grab what she dropped and snatch the purse that may be resting on the floor as well.”

She seems to be going all over town, so ladies, keep your purse close by, and gents, watch your shoulderbags/murses/briefcases—the “loop it over the chair” maneuver isn’t proving to be the safest. Restaurant folks: please watch out for her and make sure your guests keep their bags attended to.

Did you guys catch ~IRON CHEF~ Sunday night, with Cosentino vs. Batali? It was so awesome watching Chris Cosentino of Incanto and his crew, Ravi Kapur of Boulevard and Jonnatan Leiva of Jack Falstaff, rock it so hard. I thought I was gonna have heart failure watching it—total stress. Bummer I was home sick and missed the viewing party/ruckus. Batali prevailed, but way to go, guys, for making it that far and doing such a killer job! And that close! Two points, criminy! And hey, nice presentation with the squab talon, caw!

More congrats to ~NATE APPLEMAN~ of A16 and his wife, Clarisse, who had their baby boy, Oliver, at 1:25am this Monday morning. Auguroni!!!

Let’s continue the congrats-fest to swell Tim Stookey of the Presidio Social Club who won the mixing competition at Le Colonial Restaurant on April 9. He will be representing Northern California in the ~UNITED STATES BARTENDERS' GUILD NATIONAL COMPETITION~ in a couple weeks in Chicago. Ten bartenders competed, creating drinks using either Midori melon liqueur or Zen, a tea liqueur. Judging was performed by notable mixologist and USBG member Marco Dionysios, chef Loretta Keller of Coco 500, Steven Oliver of Le Colonial, and Kim Beto, key accounts manager for Southern Wine and Spirits. MC and technical judging were done by David Nepove of the USBG. Participating bartenders were Jodi Brust, Victoria Moran/Monaghan's, Jon Santer/Bourbon & Branch, H. of Elixir, Ronaldo Colli/Lulu, Jackie Patterson/Le Colonial/Elixir, Zole Andahazy/Bernardus Lodge, Shane McKnight/Globe, Jonny Raglin/Absinthe, and Tim Stookey/Presido Social Club. 2nd and 3rd place went to Shane McKnight and Zole Andahazy, while Ronaldo Colli won the award for top technical performance. So what was Stookey’s winning drink?

The Manuel Especial:
1 ½ oz Skyy Citrus
1 ½ oz Pink Grapefruit Juice
3/8 oz Aperol
3/8 oz Zen Green Tea Liqueur
1 dash Regan’s Orange Bitters 

And lastly, please don’t forget this Thursday is ~DINING OUT FOR LIFE~. Please look at the event details here and consider eating at one of these restaurants for lunch and/or dinner that day!

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

the regular


Salt House
545 Mission St.
Cross: 1st St.
San Francisco, CA 94105


Mon–Thu 11:30am–11pm
Fri 11:30am–midnight
Sat 5:30pm–midnight
Sun 4pm–9pm

Apps $8–$17
Entrées $22–$28
Desserts $8


APRIL 24, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Is it fair to write a review when you have a head cold? This one might not be the sassiest. At least I’m not eating at the restaurant with a head cold, but even so, I have a feeling the punchy flavors of the food at ~SALT HOUSE~ would still prevail. I’ve eaten at Salt House three times: once during the opening at the end of October, once for lunch, and again for dinner, and each time the place has featured an explosion of bodies. Borderline carnage. There they are, guys with ties and hot chicks and stylish couples and hipsters, all packed at the bar like it’s practically trench warfare, clustered around the communal table, bumping the back of their chair into yours while you’re eating. Hey, it’s tough to be popular (I’m talking about the restaurant, not me, silly).

It’s been interesting to watch the restaurant evolve, and I think the seasonal focus and rotating dishes mean the menu will be constantly in a state of flux, some winners and some losers both getting their fair share of rotation. The food is masculine and rather swashbuckler in style, with gutsy flavors and some daring combos, and is pretty meat-heavy. But the food also has some elegant plating when it’s called for, and many of the preparations show some underlying sophisticated techniques.

Some call the style gastropub, the restaurant calls it “contemporary tavern” fare—it’s food that’s built for a foggy or soggy San Francisco night, or after a rough day of work and you just want something savory and satisfying. Not the kind of food if you are trying to eat light or avoid meat—go hit Café Gratitude instead, and hey, you very well may have the last laugh when all is said and done.

A natural place to start are some fresh oysters listed on the tall blackboard, but I also have to throw a vote in for the baked oysters ($13), a sextet of Kumamotos laden with bacon, leek puree, and spinach. If you’re starving, nibble on the wicked mixed nuts ($6) with truffle honey and sea salt—I wish I could buy these at the store, my waistline says thanks God I can’t.

The sheer novelty of ordering the indulgent poutine ($10) should happen at least once, but attention French Canadians: do not be disappointed when your fresh cheese curds are amiss, and you find some inauthentic cheese in its place, like cheddar or Fontina. It’s still delicious, and worth the extra sit-ups tomorrow. The pork belly’s ($12) texture weirdly reminded me of brisket, more dry than custardy—it did sport some intense porky flavor, which melded like a champ with the runny poached egg and the chunky Parmesan tuile.

The kitchen has a deft hand with charcuterie. If the boudin blanc is on the menu, order it; a downright dreamy and luxurious sausage—I’ve had it with braised red cabbage, and house-made sauerkraut. I also enjoyed the Merguez ($11), which was juicy and haunting. (Hey, that’s what my notes said.) It was served with some chickpeas and carrots that needed more cooking, but I loved the deep savory tang of the chermoula; it was one of my favorite dishes.

Lighter eaters can pick at the bright ricotta salad ($11) with chicory, Asian pears, and toasty hazelnuts, or the tower of Dungeness crab ($15) and perhaps let their non-fat phobic friend eat the fried baby artichokes on the side. Although I am not quite sold on Niçoise olive and crab as a winning combination—the flavors were a little challenging for me. Others seem to dig it. Discuss.

Mains include more hefties, like a deconstructed cassoulet ($24) with flavorful gigandes, garlic sausage, and duck confit, which also turns up in the Muscovy duck leg confit ($22). The wild striped bass ($26) didn’t really thrill me—the puree of spinach reminded me of baby food, and I wasn’t in a high chair. Oh, and vegetarians, don’t freak out: you can ask for the vegetarian dish that isn’t listed on the menu.

At lunch our table feasted on the crispy shrimp ($13) (read: fried) with a kicky (read: downright spicy) dressing over just-blanched green beans (read: a touch undercooked) and topped with thin ribbons of pink Serrano ham (read: delicious). I couldn’t resist the pork Cubano ($15) that was pretty good but not magic, so my quest for a swoon-worthy Cubano continues. Donde eres?? (Sidebar: the one I just munched at Falletti’s on Broderick was pretty tasty, but not very authentic, although they do use a sandwich grill press.) My dining companion tucked into the juicy house-ground burger ($15) with the punishable-by-death onion rings that were more like onion strings: tiny, crispy, and almost like Zuni frites, but onions. You will eat them all.

For dessert, I was totally lip-locked with the lemon pudding cake (all desserts $8) with a swirl of browned vanilla marshmallow on top. Meanwhile, the warm rhubarb gratin with crunchy oats and lavender cream made me feel like I was a hippie in Big Sur, eating dessert on an est retreat. (Not very fitting for the urban vibe.) I also got bored with the maple walnut tart after a few bites.

Salt House just shimmers during the day, light streaming in through the tall windows, and glows at night. The welcoming space housed a printing press in the 1930s and has a long layout, truly a relative to Town Hall, its big sister. The look is the essence of industrial chic: brick walls (some painted white in areas), a high beamed ceiling, well-used wood floors, and a dramatic Don Quixote mural whose colors are echoed in the moody red and black bathroom. (The women’s bathroom also has a one-way window that looks into Harlot, the new club next door: voyeur-iffic.)

Details I liked: the milk jug water carafes embossed with a punky Salt House logo, the pain epi from Acme that is served wrapped up in brown paper (all the better to dunk into the poutine short rib gravy), the inspired light fixtures made from what looks like postcard racks, the mismatched flatware and seating (ranging from parlor chairs to bistro seats), the friendly staff’s white shirts and striped aprons, the random antique-y touches like the rustic ladder leaning against the wall, the small host stand table, and the stuffed pheasant perched in the front. I also noted Beck playing, which struck me as apropos.

I recommend requesting a seat in the back of the restaurant; not only is the bar hubbub farther away, but you can watch the busy open kitchen bang it out—most of the staff sport headbands and handkerchiefs, like a band of brigands. You really can appreciate how much hard work goes into the feeding of the 75 folks seated in the restaurant—that kitchen hustles. Hard. So if your dishes arrive a little late, you may be a touch more understanding. And if you like your sausage or your supper, it’s easy to salute the line as you walk by.

the lush

Parties that Cook

Dining for Darfur is a charity Dine Out created by Andrea Strong of the Strong Buzz to raise funds to help the people of Darfur who have been suffering through the 21st century’s first genocide. Participating restaurants have agreed to donate 5% of their gross sales for the evening of Sunday April 29th; 100% of the funds raised will go to the International Rescue Committee’s humanitarian relief efforts in Darfur and in the refugee camps in Chad. Please visit to become a participating restaurant or to make a reservation to eat out at a participating restaurant near you!

the wino

APRIL 24, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Russell Balch: “I started my career in the wine industry as a distributor merchandiser in chain retail to get my foot in the door. Eleven years later, I now work for a national supplier/producer here in the Bay Area representing some of the world’s finest domestic and imported wines. I have always had a passion for great food and drink but also for travel as well. You truly can experience a culture without having to leave the dining table (or barstool). I find the most pleasure in simple, well-made offerings using the best local ingredients. This, with a great glass of wine and good company always put a big smile on my face.”

Russell Balch on Italian Wines

Italy may be unified under one flag representing “La Repubblica Italiana,” but the city-state is alive and well when it comes to regional differences in wine and food. Our first encounter with Italian wine may very well have been the flask with the wicker basket fit for a candleholder. This notion has quickly given way in the U.S. to a revolution in regional Italian fare, with accompanying wine lists specifically tailored to the cuisine. The rise of regional wine and food has seen a flourish of new, distinctive Italian restaurants in the Bay Area. In San Francisco, you will find A16 with an eye toward Southern Italy and Perbacco with feet planted firmly in the North. Take the time to cross the Bay over to Oliveto in Oakland and experience their not-to-be-missed seasonal extravaganzas of heirloom tomatoes, white truffles, and my favorite, whole-hog dinners. But this is a wine article, right?? Grab a glass of Prosecco and listen up.

Wine is food in Italy. I’ve heard it mentioned that although vino di tavola, or table wine, may be a designation by law in Italy for low-end cheap wine, in reality ALL wine in Italy is “table wine.” Because that is where it ultimately ends up, at the table with the meal! What these wines bring to bear are the distinctions of hundreds, if not thousands of years of different cultures inhabiting the great peninsula at any point in time. I’m not sure if it is serendipity that the regional cuisines seem to go so well with the locally made wines, but they do. It may just be that Italian wines go well with all food, and it does!

Go south and you will find really interesting wines made from grapes such as Aglianico from Campania and Puglia and Nero d’Avola from Sicily. The name Aglianico is a derivative of “Hellenic,” or Greek, where it is thought the grape originated and whose cultural legacy in the South is evident today. These wines are dense and inky with that Southern Italian “soil” creeping in on the finish. Fuhgettabout Cabernet Sauvignon and try these with a nice steak!

While known for their reds, Italy will surprise you with their superb white wines. Whites such as Falanghina and Fiano di Avellino from the South and Arneis from the North are interesting if not elegant wines that have a great balance of acidity and minerality. These wines see little if any oak treatment, and go smashingly with food.

One of my favorite wines, and an often under-appreciated grape varietal of Piemonte found in Northern Italy is the grape (and wine) known as Barbera. These wines tend to drink well now and are typically great values. K&L, Wine Club, and Beltramo’s are but a few retailers in the Bay Area that carry a great selection of Italian wines. Talk to the staff, they will lead you in the right direction!

I have to add that Italy makes a really fun and inexpensive sparkling wine called Prosecco that I mentioned earlier. It is a lively, clean bubbly with a vibrant acidity that will jumpstart your palate.

Italian wine to me evokes passion and emotion and makes you want to say ciao a lot. This little blurb is really the tip of something broad, deep, and very delicious. Uncork a bottle and go on a little holiday with your senses.

the socialite


Wok On The Wild Side
Friday, April 27, 2007

City College of San Francisco
Statler Wing
Ocean/Phelan Campus
50 Phelan Avenue SW156
San Francisco, CA 94112



$75 per person

APRIL 24, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO The Ninth Annual ~WOK ON THE WILD SIDE~ is coming up. It's an event that is prepared and presented by the students and chefs of City College of San Francisco’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Studies Department. The Culinary (CAHS) program at CCSF is the oldest public two-year A.A. program in the U.S., with stellar alums like Jeff Hanak at Nopa, Nick Peyton of Cyrus, and Sean O'Brien of Myth, just to name a few. Go to any fine restaurant, hotel or catering company in the SF Bay Area and beyond and you'll find a CAHS alum. That said, they are a public school in an era of low (really low) funding. The Wok is their annual fundraiser when they open their main kitchen and showcase the chefs and students.

The event means four kitchens, eight chefs, and lots of students, serving up the sweet, spicy, savory… and grilled, roasted and toasted. Take an international taste tour of exquisite food and wines, while a live auction will offer elegant dinners, romantic getaways, fine foods, wines, and overnight hotel accommodations to bid on.

This special event benefits student programs including scholarships and upgrades of kitchen and classroom facilities for the CAHS, a great event to support.


Silks Winemaker Dinners
Various dates

222 Sansome St.
in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Cross: Pine St.
San Francisco, CA 94104

Call Richard Dean
email rdean [at] mohg [dot] com

APRIL 24, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO ~SILKS~ is kicking in their second round of winemaker dinners—I’d say Wine Director and Master Sommelier Richard Dean has been busy. And you know how I feel about Chef de Cuisine Joel Huff’s wonderful food. That Henriot dinner is calling.

What’s unique about these dinners is that each event is preceded by an hour-long tasting seminar with the winemaker or winery representative. This allows for a comprehensive examination of the wines as well as greater interaction between the guests and the winemaker. Following the tasting seminar, a four-course dinner will be served that pairs the wines with a menu especially created for the evening.

Prices are per person and do not include tax or gratuity. The schedule for the rest of the year is as follows:

Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Freeman California Wine Dinner with Ken and Akiko Freeman
7pm, $160

Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Louis Jadot Burgundy Dinner with Olivier Masmondet, Matre Sommelier of Louis Jadot
7pm, $160

Tuesday, June 12, 2007
S.A. Prum Riesling Dinner with Raimund Prum of S.A. Prum, Mosel
7pm, $150

Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Domaine Carneros Sparkling Wine Dinner with Eileen Crane, Winemaker, Domaine Carneros  
7pm, $150

Tuesday, August 14, 2007
L’ Aventure Paso Robles Wine Dinner with Stephan Asseo, Winemaker, L’ Aventure Winery
7pm, $160

Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Champagne Henriot Dinner with Tanya Pringsheim of Champagne Henriot
7pm, $190

Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Opus One Wine Dinner with Michael Silacci Winemaker, Opus One, Mondavi/Rothschild Winery
7pm, $295

Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Cakebread California Wine Dinner with Dennis Cakebread, Senior VP, Cakebread Cellars  
7pm, $160

the starlet

APRIL 24, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Okay, this is some real star power. Luke Wilson was spotted waiting for his table outside Delfina last Wednesday (see, even Luke has to wait!). He was also at the Ambassador later that night with Johnny Knoxville. Like, swoon. How’s that for a man sandwich?

Now, I’m not a sports girl, but I figured some of you would like to know Omar Vizquel of the Giants celebrated his 40th birthday at Tres Agaves on Sunday after the game with 150 friends. Giants players attending including Rich Aurilia, Randy Winn, winning pitcher Matt Cain, and Armando Benitez, and Dusty Baker made a surprise appearance. There was live salsa music, and Omar even sang a couple songs. La Cucaracha? Maybe not.