table of contents This week's tablehopper: from Russia with love.

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

the sponsor
this round is on me

Elixir Cocktail Catering

hosting provided by

Zojo Media

DECEMBER 02, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO I hope your Thanksgiving-induced indigestion has subsided, or at least you’re ready for additional bodily harm, because you have a lot of eating and drinking to do this month. Uh huh, yes you do. My inbox is flooding with all kinds of events and special menus to get your physique into a dumpling-like shape right quick! I even wrote up a hearty Russian place for this week’s review. Apologies in advance—see ya on the treadmill.

My own dining and drinking docket this week includes dinner with Eddie for another “Dining With Eddie” excursion, dinner at the Café Majestic to check out what chef Louis Maldonado is up to, the champers tasting at Arlequin on Thursday (read all about it in the socialite), and a total pile-up of events on Friday, including the pork tasting I mentioned last week, Repeal Day boozing (see the wino this week for a piece by Duggan “Shotzi” McDonnell), and then a cool wine tasting (listed below) on Saturday! Lots of salads and water and bike riding in between it all.

Okay, let’s party. First, I’m doing a giveaway to a Golden Gate Wine Cellars holiday wine tasting this Saturday December 6th from 4pm–7pm. All the details about this unique tasting are below in the lush—three lucky tablehopper readers can win three pairs of tickets. To enter to win, please forward this week’s tablehopper newsletter to two friends (or more, you rock star!!), telling them why they would dig a subscription to the tablehopper e-column (don’t call it a blog or you won’t be entered in the contest, no joke), and CC or BCC so I know you sent it—I promise I won’t use anyone’s email address. Deadline to enter is midnight on Wednesday December 3nd. I know—it’s a fast one! I’ll notify the three winners on Thursday by noon. If you don’t hear from me by Thursday afternoon, then it means you didn’t win (sorry Charlie)—so if you were fired up to go to the event, you should buy tickets and go!

And then here’s something that won’t cost you a dime (well, except nice tips for your trusty bartenders): next Tuesday December 9th I am hosting the Scharffen Berger and chocolate and Sagatiba cachaça cocktail-and-food competition at Rosewood in North Beach from 6pm–8pm. There are going to be five teams of chefs and bartenders competing, with complimentary Sagatiba cachaça cocktails, mole sliders, and sweet treats for guests.

Wanna come? Of course you do! And yes, darling, the entire event is free! To get on the guest list, please email me your first and last name at, and if you have any guests coming with you (+1? +2? Fine. +7, however, is not cool.) Be sure to say “Party RSVP” in the subject line, thanks! Space on the list is limited, first come, first served, so please don’t RSVP unless you think you can make it. You can read more below in the chatterbox for additional details about the party.

Keep toasty, and on this Friday’s Repeal Day, toasting and toasted!

~Marcia subscribe
the chatterbox

Elixir Cocktail CateringDECEMBER 02, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO So here’s a recap of the event I’m hosting next Tuesday December 9th: it’s a fun chocolate and cachaça cocktail-and-food competition at Rosewood in North Beach from 6pm–8pm. Five teams, each comprised of a local chef and bartender, will be competing.

The event is celebrating the final month for entry submissions for Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker and's Chocolate Adventure Contest. To inspire beverage adventures, they’ve partnered with Sagatiba Cachaça, which is co-sponsoring this special event.

To get on the guest list, please email me your first and last name at, and if you have any guests coming with you (+1? +2? Fine. +7 however, is not cool.) Be sure to say “Party RSVP” in the subject line, thanks! Space on the list is limited, so first come, first served. Please don’t RSVP unless you think you can make it, schwanks.

The party is free, and we’ll be serving complimentary Sagatiba Velha cachaça cocktails (offering a sneak peek and taste of this soon-to-be-released aged cachaça!), plus some mole sliders from Veronica Salazar/El Huarache Loco and sweet treats from Kika’s Treats, both of La Cocina. We’ll also have my buddy DJ Jolu on the decks, providing a slick soundtrack to your eating, drinking, and carrying on.

Our fab judges include Elizabeth Falkner, chef and owner of Orson and Citizen Cake; Lisa Schiffman, founder of; Brad Kintzer, Master Chocolatier of Scharffen Berger; and Jordan Mackay, wine and spirits editor of 7x7, wine and cocktail contributor to, and author of the upcoming book Passion for Pinot: A Journey Through America's Pinot Noir Country.

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008
Rosewood: 732 Broadway at Stockton

And here are a few tips: for parking, I remember there’s a pretty darned affordable parking lot just around the corner on Vallejo, between Powell and Stockton. None of that $12 for 20 minutes B.S. And if you want to stick around the neighborhood for dinner, there’s always Lichee Garden (1416 Powell St. at Broadway) and Yuet Lee (1300 Stockton at Broadway). Or you can walk a few blocks down to ‘E Tutto Qua (270 Columbus Ave. at Broadway) for some affordable pasta—and drinks at 15 Romolo (at Broadway).

And now, some restaurant news: ~SAMOVAR TEA LOUNGE~ is opening a third location in the former Laguna Sidewalk Café corner spot in what they are calling the “Zen Valley.” (The project is through a partnership with the Zen Center, who owns the building.) The opening is scheduled for Monday December 15th. This location will have a tea-tasting bar so guests can interact and learn more about tea, and the menu will be almost the same as the other two Samovar locations. The overall size will be similar to the Sanchez Street location, and there will also be a similar large table in a raised-platform area, with room for 15 (perfect for small gatherings). The materials used in the space are recycled, salvaged, or sustainable, including some lovely wind-fallen old-growth redwood. Hours will be 10am–10pm daily. 297 Page St. at Octavia.

Over at ~FRINGALE~, there is a new executive chef, John Marquez. He was previously chef de cuisine at Coi, and was trained at French Laundry, Picasso, and Per Se. He was the sous chef at Fringale for six months before taking the position as executive chef, replacing Tripp Mauldin, who was the executive chef for just shy of a year. 570 Fourth St. at Brannan, 415-543-0573.

We’ve got more BBQ firing up on the local scene: opening on Saturday December 13th (barring any permit and construction snafus) will be ~BABY BLUES BBQ~ in the former “The Drug Store” space on Mission, right across from El Rio. I know many of you have been awaiting this opening since I mentioned the project a year ago! To recap, it’s a second location of the original Baby Blues BBQ that was started in Venice Beach by Rick McCarthy and Rick Fischer—brother Paul Fischer is the one launching the SF location. There will be 45 seats, and a décor style that is “country BBQ-meets-SF hip,” including recycled materials (the table bases are old manhole covers and factory wheels), and the eight-seat counter is made from reused marble. The meats feature a Texas dry rub, a special house blend that does its magic overnight, and then the meat is slow smoked; the sauce is a North Carolina vinegar-based sauce. The menu will be pretty similar to the Venice location, but the chicken here will be free-range. There will also be a four-cheese mac-n-cheese, 12 vegetarian dishes, and desserts made by a local lady. Hours will be 11:30am–10pm daily, and until 11pm on the weekend. 3149 Mission St. at Precita.

I heard from a tablehopper reader that the Filipino restaurant in the Castro, ~PALENCIA~, has a sign on the window that says something like “due to economic conditions, we are taking an extended holiday closure to retool.” But according to some posts on Yelp, it sounds like it’s a complete closure. My calls and email went unanswered, so that’s all I have for now. If the owner is in fact planning to reopen, I’ll let you know when I hear back. 3870 17th St. at Noe, 415-522-1888.

More interesting Yelp findings: ~PIAZZA MARKET~ is potentially opening this Wednesday December 3rd, according to a sign on the window. I drove by this weekend and it looked pretty darned huge, lit up, and close to opening. About a year ago, I reported that Piazza was moving into the former Rossi’s Market space, and is going to be a grocery store that will also offer food for take-out, catering, and there will also be an area for casual, self-service dining. Diners can choose from a number of hot and cold buffet-like stations, and there will also be a large array of specialty foods, and a wine shop featuring Italian and Californian wines. These details were from a year ago—we’ll see what’s changed once it opens. Hours were originally slated to be 11am–10pm. The phone number isn’t listed yet, so details are sketchy! 627 Vallejo St. at Columbus.

I know some of you have been wondering what’s happening with ~QUINCE’S~ projects in the former Myth and Myth Café spaces. A small timing update: they will be opening the casual café concept first, probably late winter, and then the fine dining part of the project that’s moving into the Myth restaurant space will launch in early spring. As for the names, the concept, the food, the fate of the original location, etc., well, that will take some time, so sit tight for more. 470 and 490 Pacific Ave. at Montgomery.

More project updates: ~CENTRAL PARC~, the bistro opening in the former Café Organica space near Golden Gate Park, is now looking like a May 2009 opening. The owners are from Baker Street Bistro, Jacques Manuera and his wife Claude Belliot. 562 Central Ave. at Grove.

~SUSHI BISTRO~ is getting closer to opening their second location on 24th Street, next to St. Francis Fountain in the Mission. If everything goes well, it should be ready in early 2009. Sushi Bistro will also be moving four doors down from their current Richmond location, just next door to Namu. The new space will offer more storage and seating—the build-out is scheduled to be complete in late winter or early spring. 2809 24th St. at York; 445 Balboa St. at 6th Ave., 415-933-7100.

Here are some details on Jessica Gorin’s menu at ~THIRSTY BEAR~: a few new dishes include chorizo and lentil soup with spigarello kale and garlic croutons; jamón Serrano flatbread with black Mission figs, Idiazabal cheese, and micro arugula; piperade with soft-cooked egg and garlic breadcrumbs; and empanadas stuffed with ground pork, roasted Musque de Provence pumpkin, and queso fresco. Overall, look for quality organic ingredients, slightly more complex flavors, and a fine-tuned tapas format. There’s also a new pastry chef who just started, Julie Ausiello, who will be rolling out some changes soon. 661 Howard St. at 3rd St., 415-974-0905.

This coming Sunday is the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s 13th annual ~WINTERFEST PARTY~, with live entertainment, beer from New Belgium Brewery, and great deals on bike goodies, plus local art, handcrafted items, and gift certificates from local favorites. I wanted to let you know yours truly will have a special tablehopping night on the town as one of the auction items. We’ll hit a couple spiffy restaurants, all on our bikes! $15 sliding scale admission for SFBC Members; $40 for people joining at the door (includes SFBC membership and admission). 6pm–10:30pm. SOMArts Gallery, 934 Brannan St. at 8th St. Free valet bike parking provided.

The holidays are here, which means ~BIX~ starts serving lunch on the weekdays for December. I can’t think of a better location for a multi-martini mid-week holiday lunch. 56 Gold St. off Montgomery St. between Jackson and Pacific, 415-433-6300.

Heading to Civic Center for the San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker at the War Memorial Opera House? Take note that holiday hours are on at ~JARDINIÈRE~! The restaurant will be open for lunch (for the first time ever!) on Fridays throughout the month of December from 11:30am–2:30pm, and will open at 4pm on Nutcracker matinee days (December 12th, 13th, 14th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 26th, 27th, 28th). The new lunch menu includes a warm bread salad with roasted artichokes and Bellwether Farms marinated-crescenza cheese ($15); Dungeness crab sandwich with house-made pickles and spiced potato chips ($17); and carnaroli risotto with butternut squash, Asian pears, toasted walnuts, and aged balsamic ($18). The entire menu looks mighty appetizing. 300 Grove St. at Franklin, 415-861-5555.

Now, this is exactly my kind of holiday special: ~JEANTY AT JACK’S~ is starting an early holiday happy hour this month: a dozen oysters and a glass of Champagne for $25. The oysters will be brought in from Hog Island every day, and the Champagne will rotate—the happy hour is kicking off with G.H. Mumm Brut. Fun fact: did you know that oysters have been on the Jack’s menu for almost 150 years? The offer is Mon–Fri 2pm–6pm. Jeanty at Jack's, 615 Sacramento St. at Montgomery, 415-693-0941.

~A16~ has conveniently come up with a holiday family-style five-course menu for parties of six or more in December, with a variety of menu selections and optional wine pairings. Menu orders must be placed one week in advance—call for menu details. Prices range from $50-$75 per person, exclusive of wine, tax, and gratuity. 2355 Chestnut St. at Scott, 415-771-2216.

~LA FOLIE~ will be open on Sundays during the month of December. (La Folie will also be open on Christmas Eve, serving a five-course dinner for $105 per person, not including beverages, tax, and gratuity.) 2316 Polk St. at Green, 415-776-5577.

And restaurant event managers, we all know these are tough times, but don’t forget there are some fraudulent people out there ~TRYING TO SCAM MONEY~, often with too-good-to-be-true large party bookings. The latest I’ve heard is there is someone “in Scotland” trying to book reservations for a large party (like 15) for three consecutive nights that they will pre-pay for. (I got a note from Allison Hopelain at Camino who said one time the company was one that actually existed, so she emailed them to check up, and then discovered it was a scam.) Be careful!

As of yesterday, ~JOEY & EDDIE'S~ is going to run a family-oriented special on Monday nights: all children under 12 will receive a free 8" cheese pizza. (How do you card a kid?) 1652 Stockton St. at Union, 415-989-7800.

Chocolate lovers, Michael Mischer will be visiting ~FOG CITY NEWS~ on Friday December 5th, from noon–2pm, featuring his New American Classics Collection (banana split, apple pie, and more). And Ginger Elizabeth Hahn will be in on Monday December 15th, from noon–2pm (I gotta try this bar: Salty Cocoa Nib Brittle Dark Chocolate Bar, a rich, creamy 70% dark chocolate offset by a crunchy brittle of cocoa nibs and a hint of salt). 455 Market St. at 1st St., 415-543-7400.

This is sure to be a madhouse: ~THOMAS KELLER~ will be at Sur La Table—Ferry Building next Wednesday December 10th at 5pm, signing his new book, Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide. Sur La Table, Ferry Building, 415-262-9970.

Truffle mania continues! Over at ~FARINA~, they have some spectacular truffles from Alba from their special purveyor—the truffles should be available until the end of next week. You can indulge in dishes like the unforgettable tortino caldo di formagetta della Valle del Bitto—I still dream of this dish, a soufflé-like number with shaved white truffle from Alba ($20); plus there’s whole-roasted young chicken stuffed with white truffle, pork sausage, and potato, served with Madeira sauce ($38); and hand-made taglierini served with egg yolk, butter, and white truffle from Alba ($50). 3560 18th St. at Guerrero, 415-565-0360.

And we also have olio nuovo to celebrate! Man, I really love this time of year, I gotta say. Next Wednesday December 10th, ~COCO500~ is hosting a special dinner, Festa dell'Olio Nuovo, featuring olio nuovo from DaVero's Dry Creek Estate (yuuuuuum). The five-course dinner menu reads as follows: grilled Monterey squid, tangerines, olives, arugula; farro soup, fennel pollen, Buddha's hand, Parmesan; buckwheat cavatelli, squash, pecorino, chestnuts; slow-braised pork cheeks, chickpeas, cardoons, artichokes; and olive oil cake, quince. Sounds like a winner to me. $65. 500 Brannan St. at 4th St., 415-543-2222.

Tomorrow, Wednesday December 3rd, is a special DaVero olive oil dinner at ~PICCO~ in Larkspur. Picco is offering a seven-course à la carte menu, featuring DaVero's 2008 harvest Sonoma olive oil, and it’s only $50. Dude! With gas as cheap as it is (oh my God, did I really see it for $1.99 a gallon for supreme today?), I say hop in your ride and head over the bridge for this killer menu. They are also serving their regular dinner menu, so guests may choose items from either menu. The DaVero menu is as follows: Hog island oysters, Meyer lemon “caviar,” olio nuovo; white radicchio salad, watermelon radish, celery root, herbs, olio nuovo; Tuscan chickpea soup, soffrito, olio nuovo; olio nuovo-poached black cod, salad of arugula, fennel, tangerines, olives; Devil's Gulch rabbit roasted in the wood oven, soft polenta, rosemary, olio nuovo; Marin Sun Farms lamb loin, braised cipollini onions, new potatoes, olio nuovo; and for dessert, naturally, Straus dairy soft serve ice cream, olio nuovo, and sea salt. 320 Magnolia Ave. at King, Larkspur, 415-924-0300.

~ASTARIA RESTAURANT~ in downtown San Mateo has a new chef, Tony Flier, a local who was most recently the corporate chef for the Avenir Restaurant Group (Town, Nola’s, and Milagros). His new menu style is described as “robust California fare,” which will be seasonal and highlight local purveyors, as well as focus on sustainable ingredients. Astaria is in the space that was once the coffee shop in the Benjamin Franklin Hotel (a family friend used to work there many moons ago—I will never forget Freda, and the Shalimar perfume machine in the ladies room she used to douse herself with!)—it later became the Café For All Seasons, and most recently the Lark Creek Cafe. 50 E. Third Ave. at S. El Camino Real, San Mateo, 650-344-9444.

Another bit of chef news: back in May, I mentioned ~PICÁN RESTAURANT~, which is coming to Oakland in March 2009. They just hired their executive chef, Dean Dupuis, who will manage the California-influenced Southern menu. Dupuis hails from South City Kitchen, one of the first restaurants in Atlanta to offer “new” Southern Cuisine. (Fun fact: Usher had Dupuis cater his 2007 wedding.) 2295 Broadway at Grand, Oakland.

Opening in downtown Oakland this Friday December 5th will be the second location of ~OZUMO~. Jeremy Umland, Ozumo founder, will be joined by executive chef Jennifer Nguyen and chef de cuisine Christian Geideman. Nguyen most recently helped open Aja Steak in Chicago, while Geideman was the chef/owner of the Santa Fe restaurant Kasasoba for seven years. On the menu, there will be sushi and robata grill items, plus an izakaya (small plate) selection. The sake list has over 90 brands, plus there is a full bar, wine, and Sapporo and Kirin beer on tap. AGE Design of Japan did the décor with an underlying theme of water, air, and earth, with earth-tone slate floor tiles that extend up the walls and columns; custom oak-wood tables, chairs, and banquettes covered with traditional Japanese fabrics; a lounge with tatami mat bench seating with overstuffed pillows; and a charcoal-fired robata grill (seats 12) with a sunken kitchen area and hard wood counter top. Hours are Mon–Thu 5pm–10:30pm, Fri–Sat 5pm–11pm. 2251 Broadway Ave. at West Grand, Oakland, 510-286-9866.

And down in Palo Alto, Adam Torres, chef-owner of the popular Sancho's Taqueria in Redwood City, plans to open a ~SANCHO'S PALO ALTO~. (He cooked at Boulevard and at The Village Pub for three years.) He's shooting for a January opening, and the menu will be similar to the original location, with the famed red snapper fish tacos, plus a few additions and changes, such as different ceviches and more vegetarian options. It’s small: 16 seats, with a few tables outside. 491 Lytton Ave. at Cowper, Palo Alto.

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

the sponsor

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the regular




Katia’s Russian Tea Room
600 5th Ave.
Cross: Balboa St.
San Francisco, CA 94118


Wed–Fri 11:30am–2:30pm
Wed–Sat 5pm–9pm

Apps $2.50–$13
Entrées $13–$19
Desserts $6

DECEMBER 02, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO You know when you have a place you want to try out that has been lingering on your to-try list foh-evah? ~KATIA’S RUSSIAN TEA ROOM~ has been gathering dust on my list for years. Glad I finally took out the feather duster and went to check out this place for lunch. In a word: charmed.

I would have liked to go and visit it again before mentioning it to y’all, but there was this pecan pie we had for dessert that was so damned delish, and since it’s only around for the holidays, I had to write this place up quick. More on the evil pie in a sec.

Now, the room is not what I’d call a looker. It’s an intimate, simple room that is a bit feminine, with some framed paintings of flowers and scenery on the peachy walls, plates with floral edges, and bentwood chairs that would benefit from some cushions. Anyway, there’s no flash or pretension here. It’s almost like being in someone’s modest but tidy house.

But that is exactly why I liked it—it’s comfortable, like a no-makeup day (ladies, I know you hear me on that one). And it’s personal—Katia herself came out to take our order, talk a bit about the menu, and she even pulled up a chair to join our table and chat with us a few times. She’s spunky, smart, earthy, and welcoming—almost like Gena Rowlands as Gloria, but nicer. Like, can I adopt you as my aunt?

The menu had exactly the kind of food I was craving on that rainy day, starting with the homey beet borscht ($5). Seriously, the best borscht I’ve ever had. It was a gorg ruby red, with ribbons of cabbage and petite pieces of potato and tomato in it, on-point seasoning, a beef-broth base, and a dollop of sour cream on top. (There’s also a vegetarian version.) I want a gallon of the stuff to get me through January.

The menu has all kinds of zakuski (little bites) to choose from: we dug into the eggplant caviar ($4.50), a cool dip with tomato, garlic, dill, onion, and a slight kick, spreading it on the rye bread that was served when we first sat down. Dag, we shared the beef piroshki ($2.50), so it disappeared in a few bites—it had such a savory filling inside its flaky crust. Hey, where did you go? Next time, I will try the cabbage version! And the mushroom. And the beef again. (You can actually order these for parties.)

We shared the potato vareniki ($6.50 for five)—Katia kindly let us order a smaller portion, because it normally comes with ten for $13. The tender potato-filled dumplings are a bit bland by themselves, but come topped with tasty caramelized onions and sour cream. And man, these dense little carb pockets are perfect if you’re working in the field all day, but for this desk-bound writer, one was plenty of this starch-on-starch item. I will admit they warmed up nicely for a late-night snack—soaked up the post-2am booze like an effective and edible sponge, spasiba.

The hands-down winning dish was the sautéed pel’meni ($13), almost like meat-filled Russian tortellini, with lightly browned edges, and a buttery curry sauce. Oh yeah, we scarfed ‘em down like hungry foremen.

I gotta say, everything had an authentic homemade taste—I was quite content. On the list for next time: the blini, salade Olivier, the shaslik (strips of lamb), and more piroshki! I also want to try the Russian beers they have on the menu. And more pie!

Yeah, the pie. It has a scrumptious buttery cookie crust, with a hint of almond, and I loved how it crumbled just so. You can order an entire pumpkin, pecan, sweet potato, cinnamon apple, or cranberry apple pie for $12.99. Show up with one of these at a holiday party and poof, you’ll have a room full of slaves—what you ask of them is up to you.

Not sure how the dinner entrées are, or what the restaurant vibe is like at night, but I could see it being a relaxing spot for a leisurely meal (things don’t move very fast here) and potentially quiet. Let’s just say everyone in the restaurant could listen to our conversation at lunch—so it’s definitely not the place to break up with someone. But on Saturday nights, things get bumping with some live music (7pm–10pm)—a friend said the accordion player is tops.

I could see Katia’s being a good choice for a group of friends who want to catch up (but no interventions). I’d actually love to book a tea party here—get some folks together, eat some blini, have Katia bring over the samovar, linger over some Russian tea… It’s that kind of place. No rush. If you don’t have a living room big enough to host your friends, well, this might be the best new stand-in.

the lush

Elixir Cocktail CateringDECEMBER 02, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO This Friday is the 75th anniversary of ~REPEAL DAY~, the day the 18th Amendment was repealed, ending thirteen years of Prohibition. And in this cocktailing town, you KNOW there are going to be some parties. Places hosting events include Cantina, 21st Amendment, Elixir, Alembic, Forbidden Island, Bourbon and Branch, Swig, and NOPA. Erik Ellestad is keeping track of all the events on his blog, Underhill Lounge, thanks to some initial research by Jane Tunks.

As I mentioned in today’s intro, this Saturday December 6th is a special ~GOLDEN GATE WINE CELLARS HOLIDAY WINE TASTING~ from 4pm–7pm. There will be around 20 wines to taste, and the following winemakers will be present: Ron Adams from Adams Ridge Winery; Jon Joseph and Dave Ramey from Joseph Family; Olivier Picault from 5 Russians (a new winery in the Russian River Valley); Peter Posert from Gain Bay Winery; Scott Rich (formerly with Etude) of Talisman winery; Susan Pey (Pey-Marin Wine Cellars); Heidi Barrett (pouring Amuse Bouche and Pharaoh Moans Syrah); Brown Family zinfandels; plus a surprise winemaker, and some other wines from Golden Gate Wine Cellars. Hors d'oeuvres will be provided. Cost is $35 in advance, and $50 at the door. Please RSVP at 415-337-4083. $35 will be reimbursed with a minimum wine purchase of $250. (The $35 “credit” applies to all Golden Gate Wine Cellars wines, but cannot be redeemed online, and one credit per order placed.) The event is being held in a private room at the Lakeside Café (2529 Ocean Ave. near Junipero Serra), just half a block down from GGWC (2337 Ocean Ave.).

Just in case you didn’t have enough wine to taste on Saturday (doubtful, but anyway), you can head over to ~BIN 38~, which is now offering 50% off your first bottle of wine (up to $100) all day on Sundays. Which means that bottle of 2005 Terra Valentine Spring Mountain cabernet sauvignon is only going to put you back $34. Cozy up with your bottle under the newly installed heated winter tent. 3232 Scott St. at Chestnut, 415-567-3838.

For the month of December, ~BACAR~ is pouring special Champagnes by the glass, half-glass, and in flights, featuring Perrier Jouet, Krug, Salon, Gaston Chiquet, and Rene Geoffroy, ranging from $18 to $99 a glass. Executive chef Morgan Mueller has created a special menu of small bites such as caviar with buckwheat blini and crème fraîche, and oysters with verjus mignonette and cocktail sauce—or you can just hang on for the oyster happy hour on Fridays! 448 Brannan St. at 3rd St., 415-904-4100.

Attention all consumers of wine, whether you’re a restaurant, wine bar, or just a total wine geek: do you know about ~RECORK AMERICA~? It’s a pilot program in California and the Pacific Northwest designed to recycle natural cork wine closures. The program is focused on obtaining used and surplus corks from winery tasting rooms, bottling lines, and quality assurance laboratories, but collection locations are also being established with key retailers and restaurants in larger metropolitan areas. So start saving those corks, especially during this cork-popping holiday season, and you can drop them off at a variety of collection locations, including the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, Whole Foods Markets, and Presidio Sports Basement. To see all the locations, click here. Only natural cork is being accepted—no plastic or metal closures.

More wine-related news: ~JONATHAN FARR~ is no longer the wine director at Shanghai 1930—he is the new assistant GM at Town Hall.

Some booze news: I mentioned a while back that Joie de Vivre Hospitality is opening ~SWANK~ in the space formerly occupied by G Bar in Laurel Heights. The opening is this Wednesday December 3rd. The vibe will be swingin’ ’60s (Harvey Wallbangers and Champagne cocktails are on the menu), and the space is sporting sleek retro décor. There’s a fireplace, an outside patio, and a lounge outfitted with shag rugs and comfy couches. Open Mon–Thu 5pm–12am, and Fri–Sat 5pm–1am, closed Sun. 488 Presidio Ave. at California, 415-346-7431.

After something like 15 years of ownership (female ownership, ironically), the ~MEN’S ROOM~ in the Castro will have a new owner (a man, this go-round), who is going to be changing the name to Last Call. Otherwise not much is expected to change, well, except the vintage rainbow sign—the neighborhood bar vibe is expected to continue. The changeover should happen in January. 3988 18th St. at Noe, 415-861-1310.

Tomorrow, Wednesday December 3rd, mixologist ~SCOTT BEATTIE~, formerly of Healdsburg’s Cyrus and his just-released first book, Artisanal Cocktails: Drinks Inspired by the Seasons from the Bar at Cyrus, will be teaming up with master distiller ~LANCE WINTERS~ of St. George Spirits (Hangar One vodkas) to discuss the use of hand-crafted spirits in winter-citrus cocktail making. It all goes down in the Macy’s Cellar Union Square. Scott’s “Waverly Place Echo” will be showcased, Lance will be available to discuss the spirits he produces, and Scott will sign copies of his book, available for purchase for $24.95. 6:30pm. 170 O'Farrell St.

the socialite


Arlequin Champagne Tasting
Thu. Dec. 4, 2008

Arlequin Wine Merchant
384 Hayes St.
Cross: Gough St.
San Francisco, CA 94102



$50 in advance
$60 at the door

DECEMBER 02, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Did someone say bubbles? I thought so. This Thursday, Arlequin Wine Merchant will host a ~CHAMPAGNE EVENING~, featuring tastes from well-known producers, including Krug, Pol Roger, Bollinger, Gosset, and Ruinart, as well as boutique producers including Vilmart, Pierre Peters, and Rene Geoffroy.

Featured houses will pour more than 30 different Champagnes, accompanied by gourmet fare from Arlequin Café. All featured Champagnes will be available for purchase at special event pricing at Arlequin Wine Merchant. To purchase tickets in advance, visit



December 2008
The Twelve Days of Christmas

Meadowood Napa Valley
900 Meadowood Ln.
St. Helena, CA 94574


$350 per person
$1225 per couple, per night, with lodging

DECEMBER 02, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Now, I know money is super tight for a lot of people right now. But for some folks, it isn’t. And for those with a little dough to spare, this event is going to tempt you something fierce. ~THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS~ is a Meadowood signature event, when twelve renowned chefs from around the country collaborate with twelve of Napa Valley’s preeminent vintners to present holiday feasts on twelve December evenings. The event is an amazing fundraiser for Share Our Strength, a 24-year-old national organization working to make sure no child in America grows up hungry. Maybe a dinner can be a holiday gift for your honey?

The line-up of guest chefs and partner vintners includes:
Tuesday, December 9, Michael Symon, Lola, Cleveland, OH; Vintner Partners: Pam Hunter and Carl Doumani, Quixote Winery
Wednesday, December 10, Anita Lo, Annisa and Bar Q, New York City; Vintner Partners: Charles and Ali Banks, Jonata and Screaming Eagle
Friday, December 12, SOLD OUT Nancy Silverton and Matt Molina, Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza, La Brea Bakery, Los Angeles; Vintner Partners: Kelly and Paul Fleming, Kelly Fleming Wines
Saturday, December 13, Koren Grieveson, Avec, Chicago; Vintner Partner: Bo Barrett, Chateau Montelena
Monday, December 15, Roland Passot, La Folie, San Francisco; Vintner Partners: Ann Colgin and Joe Wender, Colgin Cellars
Tuesday, December 16, Floyd Cardoz, Tabla, New York; Vintner Partners: Donn and Molly Chappellet, Chappellet Vineyard & Winery
Wednesday, December 17, Daniel Humm, Eleven Madison Park, New York; Vintner Partners: Bart and Daphne Araujo, Araujo Estate
Thursday, December 18, April Bloomfield, The Spotted Pig, New York; Vintner Partner: Deborah and H. William Harlan, BOND Estates
Friday, December 19, Joachim Splichal, Patina Restaurant Group, Los Angeles; Vintner Partner: Tor and Susan Kenward, TOR Kenward Family Wines
Saturday, December 20, Piero Selvaggio and Luciano Pellegrini, Valentino, Las Vegas; Vintner Partners: Jeff and Valerie Gargiulo, Gargiulo Vineyards
Tuesday, December 23, Traci Des Jardins, Jardinière, Mijita Cocina Mexicana, and ACME Chophouse, San Francisco, with Alejandro Ayala, Meadowood; Vintner Partners: Susan Boswell, Chateau Boswell, Joshua Peeples, Jacquelynn Wines
Wednesday, December 24, Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena; Vintner Partner: John Conover, PlumpJack Winery and CADE Winery

Each chef’s story and menu preparation will be captured on video and will premiere on for 12 consecutive nights in December, along with all of the recipes.

Pricing for The Twelve Days of Christmas begins at $350 per person including tax and gratuity for dinner, or $1225 per couple, per night, and includes one night’s lodging at Meadowood and dinner seating for two. There will only be one seating per evening and space for each dinner is very limited. Reservations will be confirmed as received.

The $1225 lodging and dinner price per night excludes occupancy tax, but includes dinner gratuity and will be charged to your credit card upon receipt of your reservation. Should you need to cancel your reservation, a notice of thirty days is required for a refund.

the wino


DECEMBER 02, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Duggan McDonnell is a partner in the Latin cocktail lounge Cantina, an educator, consultant, and a culinary boozehound who says, “America: love it or leave it!”

Repeal Day: The Fight for Your Right to Party

This Friday, December 5th, marks the 75th Anniversary of one of the most significant dates for American liberty. In 1933, with the House having secured enough votes from states across the country, the 18th Amendment was overturned by the 21st Amendment and the era of Prohibition was repealed. And this Friday there will be rampant celebrations happening across our City as we toast to our freedom.

It’s wise to remember that those thirteen years of Prohibition were some of the darkest times in American history. Figuratively, we waged a Civil War upon ourselves: jobs were lost, poverty skyrocketed, literary and visual artists fled overseas, crime syndicates were formed and then bullied business for decades thereafter. The list of sins that the Anti-Saloon League, Mrs. Carry Nation and her Temperance Union inflicted via the Volstead Act (the 18th Amendment’s street name) upon Americans resulted in generations of cultural, sociological, and even, physical death. It was only the 21st Amendment that brought new life back into this country; and it is December 5th, 1933, ‘Repeal Day,’ that this barman insists is the day America was born again.

On a very primal level, it is because of Repeal Day that you and I can enjoy a bloody Mary and an Irish coffee, then a mimosa and a glass of sauvignon blanc, then a pitcher of Trumer Pilsner and a shot of Tequila and a dram of Scotch. However, Repeal Day signifies much more than one’s choice of beverage, as it relies upon the uniquely American philosophy of personal liberty. Thomas Jefferson, over 100 years prior, wrote, “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences of too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.” Me too, Tom. Me too.

I very much enjoy the aspects and hours of urbanity, in particular the enjoyments of our culinary City, much of which is supported by the sale of alcohol. And it’s this selling of alcohol that deeply contributes to the language and community in our San Francisco Bay Area. Running a small business, I am very aware of this; as I imagine thousands of other entrepreneurs are, who offer jobs to millions more, all because of Repeal Day. This extends to the corn farmer in Nebraska who is sustained by selling his crop to the Jack Daniel’s distillery and the Saturday evening dishwasher at Gary Danko. I testify, it is because of Repeal Day David Nepove is Mr. Mojito. Ed Hamilton runs the Ministry of Rum because of Repeal Day. Camper English pontificates Alcademics because of Repeal Day. Eugenio Jardim is San Francisco’s sassiest sommelier because of Repeal Day.

Lance Winters distills Hangar One vodka because of Repeal Day. Robert ‘Bobby’ Cook opened the original C. Bobby’s Owl Tree because of Repeal Day. Scott Beattie created Artisanal Cocktails: Drinks Inspired by the Seasons from the Bar at Cyrus because of Repeal Day. Charles Neal. Julio Bermejo. Kermit Lynch. Marcovaldo Dionysus and Marco Karakasevic. Jacques B. and Dom V. and Hans P. Wolfgang Weber and Jon Bonné. The Speakeasy Brewery and the 209 distillery. And, of course, R Bar.

Without Repeal Day there would have been no Studio 54, no Last Word, no Sex on the Beach, no Rolling Rock, or Buttery Chardonnay. No Jungle Juice, Keg Stands, or Beer Bongs. Two Buck Chuck. Less Filling, Tastes Great. Shaken, not stirred. Beer pong, breathalyzers, and DUIs. Sam Malone and Cliff Claven. Bottle Service, and Gin & Juice. James Bond. “I get off at 4AM.” Jack Kerouac, William Saroyan, and Charles Bukowski. Jell-O shots, and malt liquor. Cosmopolitans and F***$n merlot! No NOPA, no Alembic, no Bourbon & Branch. Sommeliers. Bar managers. Bartenders! AA. 86’d. Chilled shots of Patron. “Would you like a beer back with that?” Modern Drunkard or Mr. Boston. Wine coolers or wine bars. The revival of the Sazerac-Manhattan-Negroni-Aviation-Pisco Punch-Caipirinha. Hooters. Alabama Slammers. White zinfandel. Zima. The King Of Beers.

Without Repeal Day, there would never have been a Happy Hour.

One of my favorite writers is William Saroyan, who spent much of his life living in San Francisco. Saroyan, in 1938, wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning play, The Time of Your Life, set in a saloon on our very own Pacific Street. A mere six years after Prohibition had been repealed, on Broadway, Saroyan achieved one of the greatest honors in American letters by staging life in an alcohol-induced setting. (Carry Nation, eat your heart out.) In his preface to the script, Saroyan wrote, “In the time of your life, live, so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life your life touches.” In this time of change for our country, Saroyan’s words resound loud and clear.

Recently, a friend who peddles wines and spirits by day, remarked, “I feel as though I’m not contributing much anymore. I don’t create new experiences or changes in peoples lives.” I buy a lot of hooch for my bar from this friend, and I said to him; “Kieran, on Election Night, Cantina broadcasted the results to a crowd of hundreds. It was a night many people will never forget. We went through three cases of Champagne in three hours. You sold me that Champagne. Because of you, people were able to celebrate. You helped to give them a night they will never forget.”

This Friday, why not repeal a restriction or two in your life; breathe in the nose of a lusty cabernet, the deep peat of an Islay Scotch or the tartness of a pitcher of Margaritas with friends; if there’s something we can be deeply proud of and grateful for, it’s Repeal Day.

the starlet

DECEMBER 02, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Rainn Wilson (Dwight from The Office) was spotted with his son at Citizen Cake one night, and then came in again the next morning. Yup, he’s a fan!

Grey's Anatomy star Eric Dane and his wife Rebecca Gayheart thoroughly enjoyed the waffles at Brown Sugar Kitchen in West Oakland a few Sundays ago.


All content © 2008 Marcia Gagliardi. I am more than happy if you want to link to my reviews and content elsewhere (thanks, glad you dig it), but republishing any part of them in any way, shape or form is strictly prohibited until we talk first. Please take a look at my Creative Commons license for more detail.

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