table of contents This week's tablehopper: readin’ about eatin’.

the chatterbox
the word on the street
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

Nob Hill Spa

hosting provided by

Zojo Media

DECEMBER 9, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Hello readers (and partners in crime)! It feels like this past weekend was the official holiday party season kick-off, no? I was in full tablehopper mode, to be expected. And this chilly weather has put me into much more of a holiday mood. Break out the coats and gloves and bourbon!

Since we are in holiday mode over here at tablehopper HQ, I wanted to let you know this Wednesday and Friday you will be receiving two special sponsored holiday emails in your inbox, one on entertaining, and one on gifts. Generous sponsors like the ones that will be featured (and the one in this issue!) are what keep tablehopper going, and since almost all of them are locally based, you can help keep these businesses going strong as well! So please take a peek, click, and buy local, yo! Grazie from all of us.

Now it’s time to give a little something to you! This week is my monthly Chronicle Books giveaway: this time we are featuring The Tagine Deck: 25 Recipes for Slow-Cooked Meals by one of my culinary idols, Joyce Goldstein. The odds for this drawing are good because there will be three winners (you also get a Chronicle tote bag). To enter to win, please forward this week’s tablehopper newsletter to one buddy (or more, you star!!), telling them why they would dig a subscription to the tablehopper e-column (if you call it a blog, you are disqualified, 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 Sunday December 14th. I’ll notify the three winners soon thereafter!

Want to read more? Thanks to Pete at Green Apple Books, we have a bookworm this week, full of holiday book ideas for everyone on your list. His bookstore is another lovely local biz to support! Swing by, get some cookbooks and fiction and art books for your friends, and then go grab a bag of wicked cheap baked pork buns across the street at Wing Lee Bakery as your prize, yum.

As many of you know, I have a big party to host tonight at Rosewood! So I gotta keep this week’s issue short—no time for a review. Many apologies to all of you who I couldn’t get on the guest list! Dang, that thing filled up fast. To repeat, the list is FULL. But I promise you, there will be other parties soon. Thank you for all of your support and interest and nice notes—I hope to host you in ’09! And those of you who did make it onto the guest list, it’s a hot ticket, so no flaking! I look forward to seeing y’all tonight!

Check out tonight’s competing teams o’ talent: Duggan McDonnell (Cantina) and Lauren Kiino (Coi); H. Ehrmann (Elixir) and Scott Youkilis (Maverick); Scott Baird (15 Romolo) and Justin Simoneaux (Moss Room); Jen Ackrill (Rye) and Jane Tseng (A16); and Aurora Siegel and Alicia Bidnic (both Rose Pistola). I will be doing a recap next week of who won what (best drink, best bite, best pairing).

Oh, and if you’d like to see what else I’ve been up to lately, click over to the buzz page for a few bits of press and videos, like a wine-hop I did with The Tasting Panel magazine, and you can listen to a snippet of my segment on Oprah & Friends (scroll down to appearances)! I also have written some non-tablehopper articles, posted on the who is the tablehopper page, including a link to a story I wrote on SF chefs who use the whole animal for a recent Meatpaper issue, plus some chef interviews in Edible San Francisco.

Have a swell week. Ta!

~Marcia subscribe
the chatterbox

Nob Hill SpaDECEMBER 9, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO ~SERPENTINE~ is undergoing some executive chef changes: Chris Kronner, the executive chef of Serpentine who has been working at owner Erin Rooney’s Slow Club and Serpentine for a combined total of almost four years, is departing at the end of the month. Kronner is currently looking into other opportunities—will keep you posted. Taking his place is Mark Young, who just came over from Ottimista Enoteca, where he was the chef for the past three years. Young actually worked at Slow Club previously with Sante Salvoni, so you could say he’s coming full circle. Young has already started on lunch service, and will be doing dinner service once the transition is complete. Rooney mentioned prices might come down a bit, and menu changes will be subtle—they still want to maintain their close relationships with farmers and purveyors, like Mariquita.

Serpentine is also turning one this Thursday, so they are celebrating from 5pm–7pm, offering a complimentary glass of sparkling wine and snacks, as well as their specially priced Neighborhood Night cocktail list. 2495 3rd St. at 22nd St., 415-252-2000.

Meanwhile, taking Mark Young’s place at ~OTTIMISTA~ is Glen Tinsley, an alum of Joe's Restaurant in Venice Beach, and most recently AKA in St. Helena. Here’s more from Ottimista: “You'll find an expanded selection of large plates and more market-driven specials, including three–four contorni (vegetable sides) each night. To whet your appetite, think baked penne with porcini fonduta, Robiola, and guanciale; pizza with duck confit, figs, butternut, and balsamic; pumpkin ravioli with crispy chestnuts, chanterelles, and brown butter; and roasted figs with Valdeon blue, Iberico ham, chestnut honey, and aged balsamic, just to name a few.” Wine director Don Jost has also moved on to boutique import companies Trilussa and Zigzagando, but you'll still find him behind the bar at Ottimista on Sunday nights. GM Lorraine Castillo has transitioned into the role of GM/wine director. 1838 Union St. at Octavia, 415-674-8400.

I was so sorry to learn ~TAJINE~ on Polk has closed—the last night was December the 2nd. The charming owner Mohamed Ghaleb has some personal family matters to attend to, and between his trips home to Morocco and running the restaurant, he sadly had to choose to close the business for a while. He hopes to reopen in a year. For now, let’s all wish him (and his family) well. 1338 Polk St. at Pine, 415-440-1718.

More sad closings: the Western Addition’s ~KATHMANDU CAFÉ~ has closed. I will miss their butter chicken and momos! But then again, I swung by last week and tried to get some take-out, and was told it was going to be 30–45 minutes. Huh? (Let’s just say it wasn’t very busy in there.) Oh well, I guess that was my last chance to have their butter chicken and I lost it. According to a Yelper, the owner “Udim was tired of running the restaurant and wanted to return home where the majority of his family lives.” And according to some permits, Saffron Grill will be moving in—no idea who is behind it, what it is, or when it’s opening, so stand by. 1279 Fulton St. at Divisadero.

Also found out the ~CALIFORNIAN BAR AND RESTAURANT~ in the Gramercy Towers on Nob Hill has closed. This place is now officially on the “cursed locations of San Francisco” list. 1177 California St. at Jones, 415-474-2000.

Not too far away on Mason Street, ~LALOLA BAR DE TAPAS~ just opened over the weekend. I personally find the name to be way too similar to the Spanish Laïola in the Marina, but hey, it’s not my restaurant. It’s a sleek tapas place that has opened in the former Fortune Wok location, serving a variety of pintxos (one for $3/two for $5), and small or large tapas to go with wines off the all-Spanish list (plus some beer and sangria). Thrillist transcribed the food and wine menu, check it out here. 1358 Mason St. at Pacific, 415-981-5652.

A tablehopper reader tipped me off to this little Thai tidbit: ~THE MONKEY CLUB~ in the Mission (most recently the Syn Lounge) now has the chef from SoMa’s Manora’s Thai, Maa Dom, cooking for them. She has been the chef at Manora’s since 1989, and is still helping the restaurant as she transitions off her full-time duties. For now, she is cooking lunch Mon–Fri 11am–3pm and dinner Fri–Sat 5pm–1:30am at The Monkey Club. The plan is to eventually offer dinner service during the week as well. The menu is very reasonable—check it out on the restaurant’s MySpace page. There is also a rather generous happy hour that runs from 5pm–9pm. 2730 21st St. at Bryant, 415-647-6546.

More goodies and renegade-style cooking in the Mission: this Thursday, Ryan Farr, most recently the chef of Orson, will be cooking at ~MISSION STREET FOOD~ at Lung Shan. One look at his menu and you can see why this guy is one of our top local talents. How about corned lengua, fried farm egg, spiced pork belly rice, and fennel sprouts ($12), or pork and kumquat sausage, curry Brussels sprouts, persimmon, and herb salad ($12)? Uh huh. But dessert is the one that really make me arch an eyebrow: reconstructed pecan pie, bourbon cream, and lines of bacon "snow" ($7). Bacon snow, is that the latest thing the Mission kidz are getting hopped up on? It’s gonna be a late night. 6pm-midnight. 2234 Mission St. at 18th St.

Are you keeping up on ~BURRITO EATER’S 2008 SLAB SCRUM~? The semifinals are almost done! And I thought my job was tough on my body…

Over at ~AQUA~, Ron Boyd has been named executive chef after two years as chef de cuisine.

Now, let’s venture to see what the Italians are up to. Stefano Coppola, the owner of Lupa in Noe Valley and the new owner of the Kookez location, has decided to open an American grill in the space, called ~CITY GRILL~. He plans to have the restaurant open Tue–Sun for dinner and Fri–Sun for brunch. The interior is getting freshened up—will keep you posted on the opening date and menu. 4123 24th St. at Diamond.

Meanwhile, the Giuseppes of Tiramisu and their other Belden properties are opening up ~QUATTRO STAGIONI~, a casual pizza and to-go place in the former Pasta Paradiso spot in the Financial District. In addition to pizza, there will be salads, soups, plus cannelloni, and other lunch items. There are only 25 seats, so it’s primarily meant for to-go orders. Timing is TBD while they are waiting on permits, but the space is almost done, so stand by. Lunch Mon–Fri. 318 Kearny St. at Bush.

A small name change: due to some legal issues, Lettüs Organic in the Marina is now ~THE PLANT CAFÉ~. Same owners, menu, hours, everything—just a different name. When the Pier 3 location opens (for now it’s looking like mid-March), it will also be The Plant Café—Pier 3. 3352 Steiner St. at Chestnut, 415-931-2777.

More holiday menus: ~LE COLONIAL~ is doing a special three-course holiday prix-fixe lunch this Friday the 12th and next Friday the 19th for $21.95 (excludes tax, gratuity, and beverages). You can take your choice of soup, a vegetarian roll, or crab cakes; then lemongrass chicken, red snapper, or vegetable curry; and chocolate flourless cake for dessert (no substitutions). The regular menu is also available. 20 Cosmo Pl. at Taylor, 415-931-3600.

I was at ~INCANTO~ last week for an, ahem, enchanting wine tasting dinner, where we tasted a variety of Il Molino di Grace wines (I personally loved the ’04 Chianti Classico Riserva—super smooth, and an awesome pairing with the dish of corzetti with trotters, foie gras, dates, and breadcrumbs, swoon). I was talking to chef Chris Cosentino about their private room and parties, and in case you haven’t figured out a location for your friends/family/office holiday party yet, and you’re a bunch of bona fide carnivores, it’s hard to beat the deal of a Whole Beast Dinner! $1500 (food and beverage minimum) for a whole pig, goat, or lamb, plus side dishes, and wine, and you can fit 12–20 people in the private room. I know, total bacchanalia! Check it out. 1550 Church St. at Duncan, 415-641-4500.

Now, this campaign isn’t quite as dire as the post 9/11 “America: Open for Business” campaign, but locals should check out the ~SHOW YOUR ZIP CAMPAIGN~. Residents in the nine-county Bay Area (San Francisco, San Mateo, Marin, Napa, Sonoma, Contra Costa, Alameda, Solano, and Santa Clara) can show their ZIP code in San Francisco during the month of December and get special offers at participating merchants, from restaurants to museums and more. (It could be on a driver’s license, business card or other proof of residence.)

There is only one week left to vote in ~7X7’S EAT & DRINK AWARDS~. Vote for your favorite places and help support local businesses—winners will be announced in the February 2009 issue.

Gearing up for Wednesday’s episode of ~TOP CHEF~? Even though local chef Jamie Lauren was on the chopping block last week (side note: damn, why are eggs so difficult? I guess it’s because they are so delicious.), her corn soup seems to be Padma’s fave dish of the season so far. Go Jamie!

imageThis Thursday December 11th, chef ~DEBORAH SCHNEIDER OF THE RANCHO LA PUERTA FITNESS RESORT & SPA~ in Tecate, Mexico, is coming to San Francisco on tour for her new book (co-authored with Deborah Szekely), Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho La Puerta. She will demo a selection of winter recipes at the Macy’s Cellar: quinoa cranberry salad, saffron vegetable stew with lemon zest aioli, and Mayan chocolate sorbet. She will be available to answer questions on essential cooking tips and techniques, and will show ways to transform favorite recipes into healthy meals. Copies of her cookbooks will be available for purchase and signing after the demo. 6:30pm. 170 O'Farrell St. at Stockton.

Then on Saturday December 13th, ~MARISA CHURCHILL~ of Bravo’s Top Chef season two, the Food Network Challenge, and pastry chef at Zaré at Fly Trap, is all about indulging without the guilt. In this demo, she’ll show you how to make decadent desserts that won’t completely sabotage your skinny-kick: one of the top-selling desserts from Zaré at Fly Trap’s dessert menu: a silken panna cotta, and her low-fat chocolate torte. 2pm. 170 O'Farrell St. at Stockton.

This Thursday December 11th is the second ~DIVISADERO CORRIDOR ART WALK~. From Geary to Haight, a total of 25 galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and bars are offering discounts, food and drink specials, and showcasing local artists. The festivities start around 5pm. Shop, eat, drink, repeat.

John Hurley, Justin Hafen, and Scott Sasaki have opened their 40-seat neighborhood place, ~MARZANO~, in Oakland. Chef Robert Holt (formerly of Cetrella in Half Moon Bay) is preparing dinner (antipasti, pizzas from the wood-fired oven, a few larger plates, contorni, and soft-serve gelato for dessert) and brunch on the weekends. Check out the site for the menus. Full liquor too! 4214 Park Blvd. at Glenfield, Oakland, 510-531-4500.

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

the sponsor

Nob Hill Spa

Make your holiday shopping a breeze with our new online spa store and give the gift of tranquility from the Nob Hill Spa at the Huntington Hotel. Relaxation is the ideal gift for the body and mind, and a visit to the urban oasis of the Nob Hill Spa provides an all-around experience, with access to our indoor infinity pool, Jacuzzi, fireside lounge, steam and sauna rooms, outdoor patio, workout room, and yoga studio.

Our Spa Store features gift certificates, skin care items, and gift merchandise, allowing you to share the award-winning Nob Hill Spa experience with those on your gift list.

Happy Holidays from the Nob Hill Spa!

the lush

Nob Hill SpaDECEMBER 9, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO This Thursday December 11th, ~CORKAGE~ (the wine and sake shop next to Tsunami) is hosting a Champagne and sparkling wine tasting from 7pm–8pm. Space is limited, so come early—then you can walk around the neighborhood for the art walk! Here’s what will be poured: Deutz Champagne; Louis Roederer Champagne; Roederer Estate California sparkling wine; Varichon & Clerc Blanc de Blanc; and Bailly-Lapierre Brut and Rose sparkling from Burgundy. Corkage is offering the bottles tasted that night at 10% off. $15 at the door. 1304 Fulton St. at Divisadero, 415-567-6503.

This Friday December 12th is ~CASK’S~ grand opening. Starting at 11am, the Bushmill’s Pipe Band will perform outside Cask; Bourbon & Branch bartenders will be on hand to show you the store’s fine spirits, wine, beer, barware, books, and more; and noon is the “Champagne Blessing of the Cask Delivery Tricycle,” followed by the observance of its maiden voyage (hopefully up the hill to me in the Western Addition). should also be up and running by then. 11am–7pm. 17 Third St. at Market, 415-424-4844.

~CAV~ has started Saturday afternoon wine tastings between 2pm–5pm. Each week will focus on a group of wines from a winery, region, or grape varietal; this Saturday is Champagne, and next Saturday December 20th is Wine Geek wines. 1666 Market St. at Gough, 415-437-1770.

~AME~ has some namazakes on their sake list for the first time. Produced in small batches, namazakes are eagerly awaited for by sake aficionados in the early winter. Here’s more, “Most simply defined, namazake is sake that has not been pasteurized. These sakes have a fresher, livelier, and zingier touch to the flavor, with a much more active aromatic aspect than their counterparts. These sakes were aged for at least six months before release. As a result, winter namazakes show a richness on the palate and great complexity.” Go check ’em out! Kanpai! 689 Mission St. at 3rd St., 415-284-4040.
the socialite


Dine Out Against Hunger
Thu. Dec. 18th, 2008

Various locations
San Francisco, CA


DECEMBER 9, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO A number of San Francisco restaurants have come together for this event, ~DINE OUT AGAINST HUNGER~, an attempt to raise much-needed funds for the San Francisco Food Bank (which supplies food to 600 food programs throughout the city) by donating 10% of the total dinner service sales on Thursday December 18th. I am sure many restaurants could use that extra 10% right now, but that just means you need to get out there and dine!

The participating restaurants are Maverick, Slow Club, Serpentine, Foreign Cinema, Magnolia, Sociale, Slanted Door, Kuleto's, Delfina, Americano, A16, and SPQR.

The focus of this drive will be financial contributions from participants rather than tangible food donations, because the Food Bank is able to stretch monetary contributions much further than actual food donations. Based on their network of retailers and distributors, for every $1 donated, they are able to distribute $9 worth of food out into the community. Cash and/or check donations to the San Francisco Food Bank will be accepted, and Maverick will also offer customers who make a donation 10% off their bill.

One more thing: today, December 9th, Whole Foods will donate 5% of all gross sales to Bay Area food banks.


Edible Pursuit
Wed., Jan. 7th, 2009

Terroir Wine Merchant
1116 Folsom St.
Cross: 7th St.
San Francisco, CA


$15 advance
$20 door

buy tickets

DECEMBER 9, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Edible San Francisco is hosting the launch of ~EDIBLE PURSUIT~, a food-themed trivia game night the magazine will host at Terroir Natural Wine Merchant to celebrate the release of the latest issue. Edible Pursuit will feature challenging questions about San Francisco's local food scene, kitchen know-how, food politics, and more. Players form teams consisting of two to five people, and compete for over $3,000 in delicious prizes, including artisanal treats, restaurant gift certificates, cookbooks, and more!

And yours truly will be emceeing the event! For more information and a list of rules AND prizes, visit the Edible San Francisco website. Should be a blast—see you there.

the bookworm














DECEMBER 9, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple Recommends

Don't forget: the books mentioned below are available at 20% off for tablehopper readers for two weeks following this mention at Green Apple Books—simply use the code "tablehopper" at checkout (either at the store or online) for your discount.

It’s a great time for cookbooks and food writing—publishers present their best books at this time of year, and our cooking section is jam-packed with the seasonal bounty. Here’s a brief list of promising books for every food lover, baker, home cook, beginner, restaurant owner, line cook, and vegetarian on your list. (While these books are all 20% off for you tablehopper readers, given the current economics, I should also mention that we have thousands of used cookbooks in very nice condition and hundreds of “remaindered” cookbooks—as-new books selling for less than half the cover price.) Let’s get to it.

For the food lover who hates to cook:
The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food
by Judith Jones. As the SF Chronicle noted last year when this first came out, “You may not know her name, but Judith Jones’ stamp on the culinary world is indisputable. As a senior editor at Alfred A. Knopf publishing company for much of her life, Jones has been the woman behind such culinary greats as Julia Child, Marion Cunningham, and Joan Nathan, to name just a few.” This charming memoir recounts the post-World War II time she spent in Paris, her culinary awakening there, and her subsequent life discovering the delights of American food. Now in paperback, The Tenth Muse is an enchanting memoir for food-lovers.

For the beginning cook:
Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavor from Simple Ingredients
by Ina Garten. Reminiscent of Alice Waters’ seminal Art of Simple Cooking, this Barefoot Contessa book shoots straight with simple recipes that allow quality ingredients to speak for themselves. It’s mostly standards, like pot roast or Tuscan roasted chicken, but there are a few promising wild cards, too, like the creamy cucumber salad or roasted pears with blue cheese. And everything looks consistently delectable—it really made me want to go home and cook. Most importantly, for those who get nervous or lost in the kitchen, all recipes are beginner-friendly and relatively simple.

For the baker, aspiring or otherwise:
Bakewise: the Hows and Whys of Successful Baking
by Shirley Corriher. This is a real gem, my favorite book of today’s list, and long awaited by fans of her general cookbook, Cookwise. This book blends recipes, technique, and chemistry into some delicious sweets and breads. And you can use it in any of these ways: if you’re uncurious, these are foolproof recipes (as long as you follow directions). If you’re into food chemistry, you can skip the messy baking and just read up on what makes meringues weep or bead. Or you can study the hows and whys of her recipes, then apply them to your own recipes. Truly a fascinating, accessible, and multi-use baking book that’s more than just a collection of recipes.

For the vegetarian:
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food
by Mark Bittman. Sure, this book has been out a year already, but it’s definitely one of the best all-around veggie cookbooks, so it merits the attention. At 900+ pages and 2,000+ recipes, this is simply one of those essential all-in-one cookbooks that anchors anyone’s collection (the other veggie standard-bearer is Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, FYI). Bittman covers everything, and often offers simple substitutions to “veganize” many recipes. And at $35, it’s a real value. What’s that, .0175 cents per recipe?

For the line cook or aspiring chef:
On the Line: the Stations, the Heat, the Cooks, the Costs, the Chaos, and the Triumphs
by Eric Ripert. This is a complete and stimulating look inside a top restaurant, including its kitchen, hiring and training, efficiencies, finances, and flower bill. Be witness to the processes behind the greatness of New York’s Le Bernardin in this beautiful and engaging book. Oh, plus 50 of Eric’s favorite recipes.

For the serious home cook: beyond following recipes:
The Flavor Bible: the Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America’s Most Imaginative Chefs
by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. This is a food-based follow-up to their highly successful (and well-used at my house) book on pairing food and wine (What to Drink with What You Eat). After an impassioned and reasonable introduction on how cooking is an act of love, a creative process, and not just the transformation of food through heat, there’s an interesting chapter or two. But the bulk of this book is a dictionary style list of what ingredients best complement each other (and what techniques marry them best). Sound simple enough? You try pairing kohlrabi with dozens of things to discover that sesame oil works best. This book offers basic, tested help for those who wish to move beyond recipes to something more creative.

For the professional:
Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide
by Thomas Keller (of French Laundry fame). I humbly admit to being pretty much unqualified to review this book, but as it’s the first mainstream sous vide book published in the USA, it merits mention, right?

I hope I covered everybody on your list, or at least whetted your appetite. If you need any other recommendations, we have literally 1,500+ other food/cookbooks in the store, well organized for your browsing delight, plus helpful booksellers at your service. Happy holidays, and thanks for reading.

~ Pete

the starlet

DECEMBER 9, 2008 | SAN FRANCISCO Joel McHale from The Soup on E! came into Postrio with his wife and two children for dinner.

the matchmaker

Butcher Shop Manager

Experience in retail butchery, sausage making, inventory systems, and supervisory management of five-plus employees. Must be organized, motivated, and a creative problem solver. 40 miles north of San Francisco, in West Marin County. Spanish language skills are necessary. Salary based on experience. 100% grass fed and pasture raised meats.
Send resumes via email to  


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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