table of contents This week's tablehopper: road warriors.

the chatterbox
the word on the street
fresh jetsetter
get outta dodge
the lush
put it on my tab
the socialite
the starlet
no photos please

the matchmaker
let's get it on

the sponsor
this round is on me

Roth Vodka


NOVEMBER 13, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO I’m so fired up! Getting ready to leave for a four-day trip to Vegas this Wednesday (yes, of course I’ll do a jetsetter recap—not everything will “stay in Vegas,” ha ha). As a warm-up, I’ve got a unique jetsetter this week, courtesy of the two former Fifth Floor chefs, Charlie Kleinman and Jake Des Voignes, who are on the road right now. Thanks for doing my work for me this week, guys.

Ya know, you are all a really funny bunch, because, the “Hi Helens” jokes keep coming. Not only do we have last week’s “Soup Coolers” added to the list, then there’s this: “My friend and I call the upper arm flabs ‘Morgan Fairchilds.’ We saw her on an awards show recently, thought her face and body looked great, but wait a minute, why aren't her arms as toned as the rest of her? Yes, a little catty, but... So now, it’s ‘Are you gonna cover up the Morgan Fairchilds tonight or go sleeveless?’” Ouch, ha ha, it hurts!

Also got this one in: “We used to call it 'teacher's swing' because all suburban teachers have the arm flab action. Almost as bad as cankles (calf-ankle combo for those not in the know).” I think I have inadvertently struck upon a goldmine of arm flab jargon. Time to submit these to Urban Dictionary—wow, Hi Helens are already in there!

Heck, anything to make me laugh in what has been the saddest week for our poor polluted Bay, and beyond. Heartbreaking. Poor crabs, and birds, and beaches, and oysters, and people. The entire thing is beyond nauseating. So much for eating local seafood right now, and supporting our hard-working fishermen.

And now for a public service announcement: last week I got a couple emails inquiring about Thursday’s sponsored email (the one from Yelp). The sponsored emails are advertising, and not unlike the ones that Daily Candy and Thrillist send to subscribers on behalf of their sponsors—theirs are just called “dedicated emails” or “allied info.”

Gang, this is how tablehopper will continue to exist: through the generous support of my sponsors. I can’t cover my costs and do all this work for free, and I don’t charge people to subscribe. So moving forward, there may (or may not) be a few non-Tuesday sponsored emails each month. They will always say “sponsored email” in the subject line, so you can simply delete them if you find them disruptive, or you have a few other choices: you can subscribe to the tablehopper RSS feed, or set up a email rule with your mail program.

Otherwise, I hope you’ll find future sponsorships relevant, interesting, and even worth a click—there’s a reason they want to advertise here. Thanks to you, and my advertisers, for all the support.

Keep on truckin’,

~Marcia subscribe
the chatterbox
Roth VodkaNOVEMBER 13, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Could this be the moment many city dwellers have been waiting for? Word on the street is the ~NOPA~ crew will be opening a Spanish restaurant in the Mission on Harrison Street, not far from El Metate and Blowfish is what I heard. I can’t get any confirmation or details from the NOPA folks at the moment, so look for more exciting info in the coming weeks. Yay, is New York’s fabulous Spanish restaurant trend finally making its way west? ¡Adelante!

Since we’re on Spain… some folks are grappling with the rise of popular local restaurants with a no reservations policy (“What if I’m on a Friday night date and don’t want to wait for two hours?”)… Well, starting this Friday, ~LAIOLA~ has decided to offer partial reservations on OpenTable. Some seats will be left open for walk-ins, and of course, there are seats at the bar, my favorite seat in the house. Speaking of Laiola, as of last Thursday, ~CAMBER LAY~ is no longer managing the bar there. Will keep you posted where she lands next. 2031 Chestnut St. at Fillmore, 415-346-5641.

While we’re boozin’ a little, there are things happenin’ in SOMA: first there is 83 Proof in this week’s “the lush,” and the former dive, the Eagle Drift In, is morphing into the ~LAVA GRILL AND LOUNGE~. The space has been under construction for the last four months, and will open as a lounge and will then launch an American fusion food concept in the beginning months of 2008. The 49-seat space has a light-up bar, hardwood floors, and a chrome front. Look for an opening around November 26. 527 Bryant St. between 3rd and 4th, 415-777-1333.

~KAPE~, the cute little Filipino café on 16th Street, is now closed and papered over. Looks like something is going in, does anyone who lives in the ‘hood know what the new business will be? 3463 16th St. between Dehon and Sharon.

Not far away, ~URBAN BREAD~ in the Castro is open, serving breads from Raymond’s Bakery, Panorama, and sweets and breakfast pastries from Raison d’ Etre. There are also coffee drinks, and free WiFi. 3901 18th St. at Sanchez, 415-552-8378.

~HORIZON~ is opening tonight. The website is now full of pics and includes the menu, which has the burger breakdown, and there are four kinds of fries (fat, skinny, truffle Parmesan, or zucchini). 498 Broadway St. at Kearny, 415-576-1118.

Also in North Beach, if Friday’s inspection goes according to plan, ~LA TRAPPE~ should be having its grand opening on Saturday the 17th, starting at 6pm. In homage to the former tenant, Buca Giovanni, there will be some rabbit on the menu, a rabbit stew with prunes and Affligem Dubbel (a Belgian beer) sauce. There will also be steak frites, using meat from Marin Sun Farms, and ten beers on tap (eventually there will be 15, then a hoped-for 20, as things proceed). Breakfast is when the famed waffles with pearl sugar will appear, and there will be lunch too—look for those hours to be added later on. Initial hours will be 5pm–midnight. 800 Greenwich St. at Mason, 415-440-TRAP.

Got a chance to catch up with Chris Hastings, the owner of ~LOOKOUT~ (which I mentioned last week—it’s the bar that opened in the former Metro), and he gave me some details on the pizzeria component. There are two kinds available, thin and deep dish, and guess who consulted and helped develop the recipes? Yes, the talented Sharon Ardiana, behind local fave Gialina. The thin crust pizzas are available in two sizes, while the deep dish comes in one; there are 6–8 kinds available, like a four-cheese version, pesto and chicken, vegetarian, and other classic combos. The pizzas are coming out of a two-deck gas oven with ceramic tiles. Pizza (for now) is served 5pm–11pm during the week, and until midnight Fri–Sat. The kitchen also cranks out some classic American bar fare, like burgers, nachos, chicken wings, and the like. As for the bar, look for an industry night on Tuesday nights, with happy hour pricing all night. 3600 16th St. at Market, 415-703-9750.

I know, anyone who lives in the Castro is always left to wonder what is up with the ~PATIO CAFE~, with its 24-hour glowing red neon sign in spite of the fact it’s been closed for over six years. Here’s a bit of an update: Hasz Construction, which was behind the construction of some local biggies, like bacar, Tres Agaves, and Supperclub, is currently working on this project and projecting the space should be ready to open in April or May 2008. What remains to be seen is who the operator will be—owner Les Natali has considered a few options, but no one is final yet. Stand by to hear who will finally bring brunch back to that huge space. 531 Castro St. at 18th.

A couple updates in ~RESTAURANT SCAM LAND~ (not a pretty place): first, did you catch this piece on the Home Menu Restaurant owner, who was charging customer credit cards months after the joint closed? Bad man. Busted.

Then I got this note from Joan Simon of Full Plate Restaurant Consulting and owner of the convention concierge service Reservations Tonight, who alerted me to a new scam targeting restaurants (she books lots of group dinners). It’s kind of like the classic Nigerian B.S. (“My father left me a million dollars in a super secret bank account and only you can help me.”) but with a culinary twist. I don’t think many people would fall for this, but then again, you never know:

I am Dr Murrieen Greenhill of university of public health and epidemiology birmingham uk.We have a program in your country and I want to book dinner for my members in your Restaurant.Please ,kindly provide dinner for 8guest from the 4th of the 12th of Jan 2008 and forward a comprehensive bill for the period so that a credit card will be issued to you for the booking.
Thanks and God bless you.
Dr Greenhill

And another:

I am Engr George Ammany,the director of Staff welfare Independent petroleum UK. I want to book dinner for my group of workers arriving from London. They will all come for dinner in your place as from  Nov 28th, 29th and 30th, 2007 by 7:00pm each day. They are  15 in number. Get back with your response if there is availability in your restaurant.
Kind Regards,

If you write back and say you can help but need more details (Simon knew they were fakes but was curious to see what the response would be), they then give a story about giving you a credit card in advance, but you will need to charge an amount and then pay their transportation person, because they want it all to go through a single source or some hokey reason that makes no sense if they were valid. You follow that? Like this:

Thanks for your reply and assistance so far and we will book for the  dining room at your resturants I will make a payment of 2,000.00 euros  to you in advance, this is because we are not sure of what the guests might like to eat and drink as such  will cover the cost of their meals, and their transportation arrangement to your place. Moreover, we were able to make an arrangement with a pre-paid car hiring agent  who will supply the guests with vehicles and drivers  that will be used by the guests to and fro your place. So inorder not to share the credit card information with a third party, I have decided that only one person will have to handle the credit card information.
 Moreso, the prepaid agent is not yet a credit card merchant therefore cannot charge credit cards. On my own side, i would have sent him his money direct. So once you are in receipt of my credit card details,you are required to charge 10,000.00 euros in your account then deduct 2,000.00 euros as initial deposit and  transfer 8,000.00 euros to the prepaid car hire agent , whose information I will forward to you once this is confirmed.

Confirm this message and provide me with your (1) YOUR FULL NAME (2) FULL ADDRESS (3) PHONE NUMBERS for office record.
All checks and balances shall be done with the group leader on the final day of their dinner.
Get back to me imediately.
Kind Regards,

Engr.George Ammany

I know, like, huh? Simon has received two emails of this nature, ostensibly from England, and they also refer to "your restaurant" but not by name, and they have a high-flying title or affiliation but the email address is generic (e.g., gmail, etc). And my personal favorite, let’s not forget all the bad grammar and punctuation and weirdo names. Oh yeah, and the God bless yous—those always kill me. Anyway, this was partially for amusement, but also JUST in case someone out there receives an email query like this and believes it might be legit. Looks like hotels have a history of getting hit up too.

Now for something sweet: ~MASA’S~ has a new executive pastry chef, John McKee. Executive chef Gregory Short says, vis-à-vis the press release, "Chef McKee was the chef-instructor who trained our assistant pastry chefs Cassandra Strus and Michael Talabatai (during their studies at California Culinary Academy), who have been doing exceptional work while we have been seeking a new Executive Pastry Chef. It should come as no surprise that with great talent already in place, with the opportunity, we hired Chef McKee to join and lead Masa's into our 25th Anniversary." McKee, a Bay Area native, has been making pastries and desserts for over 30 years, working at the St. Francis Hotel, Hyatt Hotels in Michigan and San Francisco, and for 15 years he was part owner of Le Seine Bakery on Chestnut Street. He has also been a Master Instructor at the California Culinary Academy for the past three years. 648 Bush St. at Powell, 415-989-7154.
Last Thursday, ~PERBACCO~ restaurant raised $10,000 dollars at their one-year anniversary/tartufi bianchi dinner, with proceeds all going directly into their pockets. Kidding, the proceeds benefit the swell Meals on Wheels

Now, I don’t quite have the ducats to be donating by drinking barolos, but I can ~DONATE RICE~ through my vocabulary. Huh? Yes, play this addictive multiple choice vocabulary game, and with each word you get right, the site will donate rice to the UN World Food Program. Have fun. I couldn’t stop.

More on truffles… ~FARINA~ is getting some tartufi bianchi in from Alba next week, and starting November 19, will be offering special dishes on the menu, some that hail from Medieval or really obscure recipes. I spoke with chef Paolo Laboa (one advantage to speaking Italian!), and he mentioned a few starters that may show up could include fonduta con fontina della Valtellina al tartufo (this is an old recipe—cheese fondue with Fontina and truffle), and uova al tegamino con tartufo (a classic: fried eggs with truffle), while some pastas might be tagliarini ai venti rossi mantecati al burro con tartufo (tagliarini made from 20 egg yolks, with butter, hello, and truffle) or raviolini di vitello al barolo con tartufo (another older dish, little ravioli made with veal, barolo, and truffle); mains like duck, veal, and boar with truffle might be rotated in. I am so curious about the desserts, like his gelato made from gorgonzola dolce, served with truffle and honey. Gotta try that. There’s also a beignet-like dish (“bignoline”), filled with walnut and truffle cream. Depending on the season, which is a tough one this year, the truffle dishes may be on the menu for the next two weeks or so. 3560 18th St. at Dearborn, 415-565-0360.

Now that Michael Lamina, the new executive chef at ~CAV WINE BAR & KITCHEN~ is in place, they have launched a Saturday night tasting menu, a four-course menu highlighting what’s in season, and some of Michael’s future menu ideas. Last weekend the menu featured rabbit AND venison, but could very well be more vegetable-focused next week. Or not. The menu has been $50 the past two weeks, including an amuse, and dessert, so it’s actually coming out to a bit more than four courses. There are also wine pairings available, which have ranged from $35–45 (depends on what is being poured, natch). Oh, and you can’t miss CAV’s bright new red sign on Market. 1666 Market St. at Gough, 415-437-1770.

And then on Sunday, ~OTTIMISTA ENOTECA~ is celebrating their second anniversary, with live jazz, a glass of complimentary prosecco, snacks from the kitchen, and special birthday cupcakes from That Takes the Cake on Union Street, the latest addition to the city’s cupcake scene. 5pm–7pm. 1838 Union St. at Octavia, 415-674-8400.

Last week Pete from Green Apple mentioned ~ALICE WATERS'~ new book, The Art of Simple Food, in the bookworm. A reader wrote in to mention Waters has two book signings coming up in December at Cost Plus World Market stores for those who want an inscribed copy. She will be at the Cost Plus store in Marin on Saturday, December 1, 11am–1pm; and the San Francisco store on Sunday, December 2, 2pm–4pm.

Oh, and not like it hasn’t been posted on every food blog, site, and discussion board in town, but just in case you haven’t seen it, the Chronicle’s article yesterday about the grim financial reality of working in San Francisco kitchens is a must-read, and it’s not just because it contains the word “bifurcating.” Ditto on all the comments—there are a bunch to read.

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

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the jetsetter




NOVEMBER 13, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO On the Road (New York) with Chefs Charlie Kleinman and Jake Des Voignes
By Charlie Kleinman

The three words every guy wants to hear… You know what I’m talking about: “pickled lamb’s tongue.” Lucky me, I got to hear those words just two courses into my meal at ~BLUE HILL AT STONE BARNS~ (630 Bedford Hills, Pocantico Hills, NY, 914-366-9600) this week.

Perhaps I should back up a bit. Jake Des Voignes and I quit our jobs as the chefs at the Fifth Floor and have embarked on a two-week culinary tour of the Northeast. Five cities, two weeks, and all of the food and drink we can stuff in our bodies in that time.

We started in New York City, where, after getting off of the plane Jake and I headed straight to ~MOMOFUKU SSÄM BAR~ (207 2nd Ave., 212-254-3500). For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure, this is one of those must-sees in a city full of great food. So good in fact that Jake and I ate here twice in the last week. The ssäm bar is named after the Korean burrito-like sandwich that combines braised pork, kimchee, rice, edamame, and shiitakes in a tinfoil-wrapped delight. These ssäms are great and alone are worth the wait for a table, but are by no means the only stars on this menu.

The steamed pork buns are the thing I crave most when away from New York, and they couldn’t be simpler: pork, steamed bun, cucumber, and hoisin sauce. I love these so much that after my last trip to the city when I ate at Momofuku, Per Se, and Babbo on consecutive nights, it was these little pockets of porky love that consumed my thoughts on the long flight back. 

Other standouts here include the Brussels sprouts made with fish sauce and guanciale, and the pork and lemongrass sausage ssäm, which is a lighter version served in a butter lettuce wrap. If you notice a theme here, it’s that everything has pork in it, and unapologetically so. In fact, my favorite thing about this restaurant might be that the menu states that no accommodations will be made for vegetarians.

Our next day was a marathon of eating and drinking, including brunch at ~PRUNE~ (54 East 1st St., 212-677-6221), and dinners at the ~SPOTTED PIG~ (314 W.11th St., 212-620-0393) and ~BARFRY~ (50 Carmine St., 212-929-5050). Prune is one of the best brunches in the city, which is why we waited for two hours for our table. However, tucking into the huevos rancheros made it worth it, as well as the vegetable-packed Bloody Mary served with a little side of beer. I love it when booze comes with more booze. Unfortunately, temperance was not the order of the day, and my hangover the next day could not be helped, even by Marcia’s best hangover remedies.

This was my first time at the Spotted Pig but definitely not my last. Fried pig’s ear with lemon and capers? ‘Nuff said. From what I can see you can’t go wrong at this place, we enjoyed the gnudi (ricotta dumplings), and the roll mops (pickled herring), along with our pig’s ear. Make sure you try out the extensive beer list—I was drinking the cask-conditioned ales, a special treat when you can find them. Thank god for this meal, as our other dinner that night fell flat at BarFry.
While our dinner the next night at the ~FATTY CRAB~ (643 Hudson St., 212-620-0393) was as great as always. But I am running out of my allotted room and need to go back to where I started, those three little words.

Our pickled lamb’s tongue came diced, under a gently poached egg laid that morning by the hens at the farm at Stone Barns, with the addition of tiny pickled mushrooms, shaved matsutakes, and some lardo thrown in for good measure. Dan Barber and his crew created one dish after another that highlighted the unique situation of cooking on a working farm where the food comes from the ground to the plate in record time.

While Stone Barns and its restaurant Blue Hill are a must-visit for anyone, for a chef it should be a required reading, so to speak. We all dream that we can have this bounty at our hands and can treat it with such dexterity. While I am not one to wax poetic, this restaurant simply exceeds expectations.

I feel I might have abused Marcia’s generosity with my lack of brevity, so tune in next week for my tales of eating our way through Boston and Canada. [Ed. note: Yeah, like I’m one for brevity.]


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the lush


83 Proof
83 1st St.
Cross: Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94105


Mon–Wed 2pm–12am
Thu–Fri 2pm–2am
Sat 6pm–2am

NOVEMBER 13, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO SOMA has a new spot for boozin’, ~83 PROOF~, a project from Chris Barry, formerly the head bartender at LuLu for eight years, and Sky Wegman, whose background includes a start at Johnny Love’s back in ’97, Lucky 13, some East Bay joints like the Mallard, and Loft 11. The space used to be a rowdy dockworker bar back in the late 1920s. Flash forward to the sketchy last incarnation—when it was Attitudes Bar it was even the scene of a homicide back in 2001. The space has been abandoned for about three years, and was reportedly quite the mess.

There will be no more violent shenanigans or shankings — instead, the owners are putting in an upright piano so their talented pals can play while you get soused on some quality booze or beer from the eight taps, which includes some seasonal numbers at the moment. Ronaldo Colli, bar badass (Cortez, Americano, LuLu, amongst others), has put together a list of drinks designed to be tasty and quick to prepare so the after-work crowd isn’t stuck waiting ten minutes for a cocktail. And when you are in a holiday bonus frame of mind, you can just order a shot of Louis XIII de Rémy Martin cognac, sold at cost ($55). But don’t let that spendy shot fool you: the vibe here is designed to be casual and easygoing.

The comfortable space has room for 20 at the bar, and there’s a mezzanine with room for 15—sure to become a favored spot for post-work birthday or going-away gatherings. Things are still in progress, so there will be some art and mirrors added to the walls, and other touches soon. Plus happy hour. Oh, and depending how things go, Sundays are a possibility too.

the socialite


Dine Around
Wed., Nov. 14, 2007

San Francisco, CA
Various locations


NOVEMBER 13, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Trying to figure out where to eat on Wednesday night? Join thousands of neighbors and friends in neighborhoods all over the city in ~DINE AROUND~, providing much-needed financial support for those fighting AIDS and breast cancer, by simply eating a meal out. When you have dinner at any of the participating 48 neighborhood restaurants, you not only support local chefs, you help raise funds for two great charities: AIDS Emergency Fund and Breast Cancer Emergency Fund. Participating restaurants have agreed to donate 25% of their food and beverage receipts from this day.

Some restaurants are doing breakfast and lunch too—why not pick up a burger at Custom for lunch, and then do dinner at Firefly? Some of the restaurants on the list are Anchor Bar, Chez Spencer, Metro Kathmandu, luella, and Destino—check out the entire line-up here.

Photo: from Maverick

Turkey + Wine
Wed., Nov. 14, 2007

3316 17th St.
Cross: Mission St.
San Francisco, CA 94110



$35, plus tax

William Cross Wine Merchant
2253 Polk St.
Cross: Green St.
San Francisco, CA 94109




NOVEMBER 13, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO This Wednesday the 14th, winos and turkeys unite! Maverick is hosting its eleventh “One of a Kind Wednesday.” This one is ~ALTERNATIVE BUT PERFECT THANKSGIVING WINE PAIRINGS~, focusing on wines to pair with Thanksgiving dinner (and they’re not talking the obvious pinot noir and chard). They will pair an Amador Foothills mourvedre with turkey, a North Coast cabernet franc with all those lovely side veggies, and an Oregon pinot blanc with the stuffing. Limited to ten folks.

Then, over at William Cross Wine Merchant, the seventh annual ~WINES TO PAIR WITH THANKSGIVING~ tasting will be going on. Ruggero Gadaldi, owner and chef of Upper Polk’s Antica Trattoria and Pesce (and Last Supper Club in the Mission) will be preparing the birds for the tasting. The tasting will involve a variety of wines, and you can decide for yourself what tastes good with turkey! Gobble gobble.

the starlet

NOVEMBER 13, 2007 | SAN FRANCISCO Billy Joel and his guitarist were kicking it at the bar at the Four Seasons on Saturday night, and then Joel sat down at the piano and gave an impromptu performance. He sang for over an hour, more like an hour and a half, singing songs from the Beatles, Hendrix, and the Stones, with guests joining in. The piano man was also spotted dining with a small group at Bong Su last night, and told his server that he "would be back again." He was wearing a baseball cap as a slight disguise.

Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon have been on a culinary tour de force the past few days: I received reports of them at Chez Panisse on Saturday, Bouchon in Yountville on Sunday afternoon, and at the Slanted Door for lunch and kisses on Monday.

On Monday night, chef Steffan Terje of Perbacco and celebrity chef Cat Cora teamed up to cook a six-course dinner for guests who had bid on the dinner at an auction earlier in the year to benefit the Headlands Foundation. 59 guests paid $500 apiece for chef Terje and Cat Cora to cook up an Italian feast at Perbacco, paired with spiffy wines.

the matchmaker

CONDUIT seeking professional servers and bartenders.

CONDUIT, a dynamic 120-seat restaurant opening at 280 Valencia, is seeking professional quality servers and bartenders. Servers must posses extensive food, wine knowledge and upscale service skills. Bartenders must have extensive knowledge of both classic and modern cocktail culture, as well as food, wine, and dinner service skills particular to a bar. Have three years upscale restaurant experience, a good attitude and work ethic, and above all, be nice.

Email your resume to Brian Gavin at


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