table of contents This week's tablehopper: fire in the hole.

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 starlet
no photos please

the sponsor
this round is on me

Melbourne Australia

Fancy Food Show

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Zojo Media

JANUARY 13, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Springtime in January... Hrm. Anyone in the mood for cold beer and ceviche? Seriously, what happened to cassoulet weather? In honor of the record-breaking warm weather, I have a write-up in the regular that is all about heat—it would make Scoville proud.

After finally kicking my lame ten-day cold to the curb last week, I had a good time emceeing the first Edible Pursuit event—I’ll keep you posted on the next one, because let me tell you, the prizes were sweeeeet, and the questions and team rivalry kept things interesting. In the meantime, yours truly has her monthly article in the latest issue of Edible San Francisco, and surprise surprise, it’s all about meat; here's where to find a copy near you, or even better, do you subscribe? You should, so the magazine sticks around and continues to throw fun parties. Like Meatpaper, which had its sold-out event at Acme Chophouse on Sunday night. Lines were long, but the delicious food made it all worthwhile. Oxtail terrine and shank chili and headcheese, hells yes. Here are more event pics from the intrepid Bunrabs. And mark your calendars: Ryan Farr, who did a pig butchery demo at the event will be cooking at Mission Street Food again, on Thursday the 22nd.

This Wednesday the 14th (yes, tomorrow) I am emceeing a cooking demo by Jake des Voignes, executive chef at Fish & Farm, at the Dine About Town San Francisco launch party. Sorry to report the event is sold-out, so stand by for the next one in June! Don’t forget Dine About Town begins this week on Thursday the 15th. And then the Fancy Food Show madness begins on Sunday, with gourmet parties kicking off this weekend. I’ll be writing up some show (and party) highlights next week!

Real quick: Patty H., you emailed a tip please request to me about Chinese New Year locations, but didn’t give me an email! Please get in touch.

Wine Country Book It’s a New Year, which means new book giveaways! Every month for the next six months, I will be giving away a book from the award-winning independent publisher Ten Speed Press. This month I am giving away three copies of Wine Country Cooking by Joanne Weir to three lucky tablehopper readers. All you need to do is send an email to, telling me your favorite wine country place to dine (or if you don’t have one, where you want to go)! Looking forward to seeing your faves. Deadline to enter is midnight on Sunday January 18th, and I’ll get back to the three winners next week!

All righty then, let’s dig in.

~Marcia subscribe
the chatterbox

Melbourne AustraliaJANUARY 13, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Yup, this is definitely going to be a challenging start to the year. So many restaurants are hurting out there, and a bunch of them will not be able to weather this horrid economic climate. I am really going to hate having to write about so many places closing in the coming months, but it’s a harsh reality. Just this past week, we’ve had a lot of closures after the holiday party season wrapped up. Sigh. Here goes:

I was most saddened by learning about the closure of ~BARAKA~ in Potrero Hill. Chef Chad Newton (Postrio, Redd) was doing good things up there on the hill, and I liked the new restaurant owners, Michelle and Justin Hughes. Alas, one of my favorite little romantic spots is no more. Here’s wishing them all the best, and I hope to be writing up Newton’s latest location soon. Not sure who or what is slated to go into the space. 288 Connecticut St. at 18th St.

I got word that ~AZIE~ in SoMa has closed. 826 Folsom St. at 4th St.

~MARCHÉ ON THE SQUARE~ at Ghirardelli Square has closed. I received an email about “continued problems with the cost related to earthquake proofing and permitting.” I was told their excess food was donated to Food Runners, and they are trying to find homes for their employees. They may continue the profitable wine business at another location in the future.  

One interesting solution is to just go into a hibernation of sorts: ~CETRELLA~ restaurant in Half Moon Bay normally has a winter break in January, but they decided to extend it through April 31st of this year, reopening on May 1st, when the busier season kicks in. (Yup, it helps when you own the building.) 845 Main St., Half Moon Bay.

Melbourne AustraliaOr hey, you can just ~START CHARGING FOR BATHROOM ACCESS~. Might be profitable if you’re in a busy area. You can even make a festive sign like this one, with balloons. (Seriously?)

Back to reality: we’re also going to see a lot of places diminish their hours and cut lunch service. Business-dining and power-lunch bastion ~AQUA~ has cancelled lunch service for January, and according to their monthly mailer, intends to resume service in February. Dinner service will be nightly, however. 252 California St. at Battery, 415-956-9662.

Okay, so how about some good news? Indeed. A few doors down from Aqua, Staffan Terje and Umberto Gibin of Perbacco are taking over the Rado’s Gourmet Delicatessen space, and will be opening ~BARBACCO~, a modern trattoria. During the day, lunch will be served—think a quick bite that’s light on the wallet. Dishes will include panini, a few soups, salads, and some baked pastas, like cannelloni. At dinner, you will be able to build your menu with well-priced apps and a few smaller entrées. The market-driven food will be fast, healthy, rustic, and will feature menu items that are different from Perbacco’s. In fact, expect to see dishes from all over Italy, and not just the Piedmont region. There will also be a rotating supply of Terje’s famous salumi (plus salumi to-go for those who work in the area), cheeses, and more pickled items. The 80-seat space will be full of counter seating, plus tables for two, and mini-communal tables for six. No cocktails—only beer and wine (about 50 by the glass!) that will be temperature controlled, so expect to get your red wine at a nice cellar temp. CCS Architecture/Cass Calder Smith is designing the space (CCS also did Perbacco)—the look will be inviting, and a bit more modern and younger in style. The opening is currently slated for the end of July. 230 California St. at Battery.

Over in Noe Valley, ~CITY GRILL~ is due to open tomorrow, Wednesday the 14th, in the former Kookez space. The project is from Stefano Coppola of Lupa. On the opening menu: affordable and traditional grill items, including steak and fries ($24—all prices approximate!), a pork chop ($17), a 10 oz. burger ($10), salmon, chicken, and a vegetarian choice. Coppola said once things are underway, he is hoping to add items like wild boar and venison, plus a nightly fish special. Dessert choices are also pretty straightforward, including apple crisp, maple pecan pie, and a chocolate flourless torte. Dinner Tue–Sun, and brunch will also be served Fri–Sun, and begins this Friday. It’s a soft-opening period, so expect things to develop and change in the coming weeks. 4123 24th St. at Castro, 415-285-2400.

Zojo MediaAnother opening this week: Charles Phan’s ~HEAVEN'S DOG~ (link not active yet) opens this Friday for dinner in the SoMa Grand. Some items on the preliminary menu include daikon rice cake, cured pork belly, lapchang sausage, dried shrimp ($6); braised pork belly, clam shell bun, scallions ($9); bean-curd roll, shiitake, cabbage, jicama, glass noodles ($7); noodles in a bowl, and soups like custard tofu hot and sour soup with fresh bamboo and fresh tree ears (all $7–$9); plus some stir-fry dishes like dan dan mein, ground pork, peanuts, sesame, red chilies, egg noodle (all $9–$12). $10 cocktails. Hours for dinner are 5:30pm–10pm. Lunch will begin in February. 1160 Mission St. at 7th St., 415-863-6008.

And lastly, ~SUMI SUSHI~ is opening in the Castro this Saturday for dinner. To recap, the folks from Sushi Ko in Berkeley are behind the project. Opening hours will be Sun–Thu 5pm–10pm, and until 11pm Fri–Sat. 4243 18th St. at Collingwood, 415-626-7864.

Got word that chef Jennifer Biesty is fully launching her menu at ~SCALA’S BISTRO~ this week (about 75–80% of the menu are her own dishes). The menu will continue to offer Northern Italian dishes with French country influences, but Biesty is also putting her strong local ingredient spin on the menu, with a number of items being made in-house, including pastas, cheeses (like the mozzarella for the pizzas), and cured meats. Some new additions to the menu include a crudo of the day, such as the sea bass ceviche with pickled chilis, watermelon radishes, micro arugula and lime salt; plus house-cured duck prosciutto bruschetta; pappardelle with tomato-braised pork sugo, Swiss chard, marjoram and Parmigiano Reggiano; and grilled rack of lamb with a sunchoke puree, braised kale, and romesco. Open 11am–11:30pm daily, offering a late-night menu until close. 432 Powell St. at Sutter, 415-395-8555.

Since we’re talking about East Coast-hailing female chefs on ~TOP CHEF~, kudos to Jamie Lauren of Absinthe for winning last week’s round. “Top Scallop,” indeed. The new judge Toby Young has got to be terrifying, and I was annoyed with half of his allusions, like, really? Stop trying to look so damned clever. Total verbal peacocking. And is it my imagination, or does it seem like Toby and Tom Colicchio aren’t very simpatico? I think there was a little tension there—maybe there’s only room for one intense chrome dome on the show. Speaking of tension, I can only imagine what will happen when Hung visits the show this week. Hold on!

Star tablehopper reader Jason B. Noticed that the Muddy Waters in Bernal has become ~CAFE SEVENTY8~. Per his report, “Same menu, new owners, at least that is what the girl behind the counter told me.” 78 29th St. at San Jose, 415-970-2233.

One bright side to this messy economy: if you have any money, it’s a good time to score some tasty and cheap vittles. Yes, even at ~EPIC~. The restaurant is offering a $20 Burger, Beer, and Brownie prix-fixe lunch in the upstairs Quiver Bar, which is available Monday through Friday from 11:30am–5pm. The burger is half a pound and ground daily, with your choice of a 12 oz. Anchor Steam or Trumer Pils draft beer, and yes, a house-made brownie. Plus there’s that killer view. 369 Embarcadero at Folsom, 415-369-9955.

Then across the Golden Gate Bridge, ~POGGIO~ is doing a porchetta supper every Monday night. Chef Peter McNee will be preparing the porchetta exactly as he learned to do it in Italy: deboning a small pig and stuffing it with herbed sausage before sewing it back up and roasting it in the wood-burning rotisserie. Porchetta will be available on Monday nights until March 30th. You’ll be able to enjoy it with another Tuscan classic, fagioli all’uccelletto, all for only $16 per person. Add a quartino of Chianti for $6. 777 Bridgeway, Sausalito, 415-332-7771.

More budget-friendly dining: this week’s menu at ~RADIO AFRICA & KITCHEN~ at Coffee Bar really caught my eye! Mezze ($6/$25) include Cornish hen bastilla with almonds and coriander oil; sautéed prawns with sinafich (Ethiopian mustard sauce); butter lettuce with tangerines, avocado, and goat cheese; spinach and leek soup with crème fraîche and grains of paradise; plus some hearty main dishes for $16–$20, like roasted leg of lamb with Ethiopian root vegetable alicha and saffron yogurt raita. Dinner will be served this Thursday and Friday night (January 15th and 16th) from 6:30pm–10pm. Reservations accepted but not necessary at 415-637-7343. Coffee Bar is located at 1890 Bryant St. at the intersection of Mariposa and Florida, 415-551-8100.   

Pig patrol: charming ~LA CICCIA~ is hosting a suckling pig dinner on Monday January 26th. The menu includes salumi and pickled vegetables; Sardinian semolina gnochetti served with pork meat sugo and pecorino; roasted suckling pig served with Sardinian-style root vegetables; and ricotta cheesecake for dessert, plus vermentino di Sardegna and cannonau di Sardegna. Dinner is $75 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Dinner begins at 7pm. Call for reservations. 291 30th St. at Church, 415-550-8114.

Speaking of oinkers, tickets for the very popular ~PIGS AND PINOT~ event on March 20th–21st at the Hotel Healdsburg are now on sale. You can make a weekend of it, and use my jetsetter guides on Healdsburg for ideas on where to go up there when you’re not eating pig and drinking pinot.

This past weekend, ~NOTHING BUNDT CAKES~ opened in Dublin. Yup, bundt cakes, and that’s it, yo. You can walk in and buy any size, bundtlet or bigger (8-inch and 10-inch sizes). Flavors are marble, chocolate chocolate chip, carrot, pecan praline (that sounds delicious), lemon, red velvet, white chocolate raspberry, white white chocolate, and cinnamon swirl. Store hours are Mon–Fri 9am–6pm, Sat 9am–4pm, closed Sun. 6601 Dublin Blvd. Ste. N., Dublin.

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

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Melbourne Australia

Melbourne, Victoria – Australia’s cuisine capital

Did you know Melbourne, Victoria is Australia’s cuisine capital? With a few tastes of our one-of-a-kind food products, you’ll see why. Come to Andronico’s stores in the greater San Francisco Bay area this January, and you’ll be able to experience organic, indulgent, and authentic outback flavors.

Victoria’s delectable cheeses, gourmet crackers, specialty oils, sauces and splashes are all for the tasting at Market Day at all Andronico’s locations Friday January 16th and Saturday the 17th.

Our best food artisans are looking forward to tantalizing your taste buds, so come down, say “G’day!” and savor the best of Victoria’s culinary delights. See you there, mate!

You can read more about featured Australian products here.

the regular

Stinky tofu at Spices!
Stinky fried tofu

Stinky tofu at Spices!
Gangsta hot pot

Gansta hot pot at Spices!
Calamari with mustard

294 8th Ave.
Cross: Clement St.
San Francisco, CA 94118


Daily 11am–9:45pm

Fish filet bowl

Shredded eel

Spicy beef combo

Spices! II: Szechuan Trenz
291 6th Ave.
Cross: Clement St.
San Francisco, CA 94118


Daily 11am–12am

Melbourne Australia

JANUARY 13, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO What can I say, I like it hot. Rawr. My pantry and fridge are packed with all kinds of hot sauces and chili oils—I think my Calabrese blood definitely plays a part in my spice addiction. I even got into a “how hot can you handle it?” contest with my creative director at Henry’s Hunan years ago while we were at an ad agency lunch. We had the kitchen make the spiciest dish they could muster, and then we added more hot sauce and peppers to it as the competition went on. It was hilarious (and kind of scary) because neither of us would back down, so we had to call a draw. Not sure it helped when I asked for a raise soon thereafter. Maybe.

When a city (hint: ours) has two Szechuan/Taiwanese places called ~SPICES!~ and ~SPICES! II~ within two blocks of each other, you can bet I’d want to check them out. The menus at both of these heat outposts are monstrous. Like, over 100 sweat-inducing items. So after figuring out that some fellow heat-obsessed chef buddies were big fans of Spices! and Spices! II in the Richmond, I thought it would be fun to dine with them and write up what they like to order at each establishment.

While there are some differences between the two places, a few things are the same, namely: an all-female staff of hottie Taiwanese waitresses, loud pop music and TVs blaring music videos and performances, quirky interior design schemes, bright yellow flags flapping outside on the sidewalk like you’re coming in for a landing, the price is right, and you’re gonna set something on fire. Actually, two things. Anyway, you ready? It’s time for a spanking.

First, Spices! And no, the exclamation point is not a mistake. In fact, you’ll see it all over the menu, following words like stinky! And fire burst! And they are so NOT kidding about the stinky, sadly. This place is known for their stinky tofu “specialty”—and dag, does it live up to its name. The first time I dined here, as I was getting shown to my table, I walked by a table of diners and my nose was assaulted by a pungent smell, a smell so foul that I hadn’t smelled it since my babysitting years. Yeah, so-not-fresh fresh diaper. I looked over at the waitress and asked, “Stinky tofu?” She gave me a knowing nod back to affirm. Eep.

Did I try it? Well, of course I had to go against everything in my heart that was pleading, “DON’T DO IT!” But it was one of those nasty eating challenge things, like balut. I forced myself to try a bite of the fried stinky tofu, and was promptly shoving Szechuan peppers into my maw to burn the stanky taste out of my mouth. One of the nastier things I’ve eaten. I think some 14-year-old’s week-old sweat socks would taste better. But hey, the room full of happy diners scarfing down all kinds of stinky tofu says otherwise. Amazingly, chef Timothy Luym of Poleng Lounge not only didn’t mind the dish, he kept eating the stuff. What can I say, he’s O.G. And has probably eaten more funky things in his lifetime than I can ever imagine.

I hoped the tofu was going to be like cheese, which sometimes smells nastier than it tastes, like Epoisses. You know, good stinky. But stinky tofu, as a friend of mine likes to say about some things, is the opposite of good. I couldn’t even have it on the table one more second, and had to get it cleared, stat. Foul! Put that sh*t in the penalty box, yes, outside.

But to the good stuff. Because man, the eats can be quite good here. Chef Nate Appleman of A16 and SPQR prefers Spices! over Spices! II. His favorite dishes include the spicy pig ear with red oil ($3.95)—thin ribbons of slightly chewy ear that are delicious with the fresh hit of cilantro. It’s served cold, so it’s one of those dishes that fools you because the heat has nothing to do with the temperature. The numbing spicy beef tendon ($4.25) is another winner, in fact, it’s my favorite dish at both Spices locations. It’s also served cool, with some sesame oil flair. The salty spears of numbing spicy cucumber ($2.95) make this a perfect side dish (another cool dish).

As for the hot dishes, the cumin lamb ($12.95) is a must-order, just do it. So tender and flavorful, you will keep eating it until it’s gone. Explosive chicken wings ($8.95), buried in a foreboding pile of peppers, are also delish—just fried little pieces of bad for you. The kitchen must go through 50-pound-bags of peppers each day, I swear.

Appleman digs this place so much he even has his preferred menu plans. When he’s dining solo, he likes to order the twice-cooked bacon, the cucumber, and the eggplant and garlic. When he’s with wifey, they get the sweet and sour fish, Chinese watercress with garlic, and yes, the twice-cooked bacon. One night he got VIPed by chef Wang and scored some calamari with hot mustard sauce, so we had to order it. I loved this dish, a take-no-prisoners double play of two of my favorite things: chili and mustard. Hoo hah!

A few things to note: cash only; cold water will not cool your mouth off; the décor is crazy (think bright colors, funky halogen lights, jungle tchotchkes—no, you’re not on mushrooms, well, maybe you are, but I wouldn’t know that); some dishes verge on the oily/greasy; the servers can be a little, uh, remiss; and this location has a number of hot pots to choose from—you ready for the gangsta hot pot, complete with pig’s blood? Go for it.

Bonus point features: the disgustingly named “saliva chicken” (is that because it injures your mouth and makes you drool like a mad dog?), the wall of air fresheners, and not one but two pictures of owner Wang on the walls with some newscaster (I think). Yes, it’s the exact same picture.

I found out Spices! II is the favorite location of chef Rob Lam of Butterfly (who gleefully yelled at me on the phone when we were setting up a time to meet, “Your ass is gonna be on fire! It’s gonna hurt! Bad!”). It's also a favorite of Ryan Farr, most recently of Orson and now doing his own thing with Ivy Elegance.

So, how does chef Lam like to roll? His favorites are the fish filet in flaming red oil ($12.95); the shredded pork stir-fried with coins of bouncy rice cake, with scallion, cabbage, and shiitake ($7.95); and the unique soup with bamboo skin and squash, sporting a gentle broth with some kick ($6.95/$7.95)—I loved the textures in this dish. The bamboo skin is actually from the heart (the pit) and is rehydrated—it looks like little brains. But is actually vegetarian, have no fear!

I’ve eaten here the most with chef Farr and his fab wife, who are also addicted to the numbing and incomparable beef tendon, the cumin lamb, the filling and meaty twice-cooked bacon, and the cucumber. Additional winners on their list are the shredded eel with vermicelli, which are almost like gelatinous beans in a veritable lake of fire ($12.95); and from the “snacks” section, the tofu skin braised with five spice and shiitake that offers a nice mellow counterpoint to all the infernal heat and is delicious cold the next day ($6.25); the hot and spicy beef combo with tripe, a medley of meat, sesame oil, and peanuts ($6.25); and the salt and pepper chicken tenders, which are like McNuggets for the devil ($6.95). Just reading that line-up makes me want to head over, right now. Live dangerously and leave the extinguisher at home!

Bonus features at Spices! II: the fish bowl television, the zodiac-inspired drinks (this is just in theory—I have never wanted to drink anything besides beer here), it’s a larger space (good for group dinners), they take credit cards, and they have later hours (open until midnight). Don’t let the tendon dish freak you out—it’s a must. After that, you can ramp up with an intestine dish (you have something like six to choose from). Oh yeah, and the restaurant has “Trenz” in their name, how cool is that? Like, hot.

And for heaven’s sake, wash your hands really well after eating here—don’t touch anyone in the bathing suit area, especially yourself. Ow!

the sponsor

Fancy Food Show

Winter Fancy Food Show Returns to San Francisco with 80,000 Products from Around the World

The Fancy Food Shows are North America's premiere trade showcase for the hottest trends in food and beverage. Retailers and foodservice professionals will get a strong start to the New Year at the 34th Winter Fancy Food Show, which is on pace to be the largest yet, with 1,500 exhibitors representing 35+ countries. 

On January 18th–20th, 2009, the Moscone Center will be filled with 80,000 specialty foods and beverages from around the world, including natural and organic products, cheese, olive oil, spices, tea, chocolate, and ethnic specialties.

Learn more and register at Only members of the food trade may attend, and credentials will be required.

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the lush

Fancy Food ShowJANUARY 13, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Of late, I’ve been following a few pieces of ~BAR NEWS IN THE CASTRO~, like what was opening in the second location of the Metro (formerly Expansion) and whaddya know, the Bay Area Reporter did a very detailed piece covering all kinds of booze news. So I’m just going to happily pass the pint glass over to this article by Matthew Bajko. Schwanks!

A tablehopper reader wrote in to say they spotted a place called ~MINI~, a wine and Champagne bar, that’s opening in a tiny tiny tiny space next to Esperpento on 22nd and Valencia in the Mission. Not to be confused with mini bar on Divisadero. Ahem. According to the sign in the window, they are opening on January 20th. Anyone know more details about this mini project?

~TRES AGAVES~ is hosting Guillermo Erickson Sauza, a fifth-generation family member of the legendary Sauza Tequila family for the “Third Thursday” dinner on January 15th. Señor Sauza will feature his artisan, handcrafted La Fortaleza Tequila made with stone-crushed agaves. Each event features margaritas, a Tequila tasting of the featured brand, a speaker representing the distillery and a multi-course dinner. Live Mariachi music accompanies the dinner. Event begins at 6pm, space is limited. Cost for the dinner including the Tequila tasting and entertainment is $75, all inclusive of tax and tip. Call 415-227-0500 or email for reservations.

Upcoming “Third Thursday” dinners are: Corazon Tequila February 19th with Export Director Jorge Aceves; Tequila Arette March 19th with owners Jaime and Eduardo Orendain; 7 Leguas Tequila on April 16th (can’t wait for this one!) with owner Fernando Gonzales; and Corralejo Tequila on May 21st. 130 Townsend St. at 2nd St., 415-227-0500.

~PISCO LATIN LOUNGE~ is now open on Mondays, and closed Sundays. This month PiscObama Punch is on the menu to honor Obama’s inauguration, and is only $5 on January 12th, 19th, and 26th to “inaugurate” the new Monday hours (regularly $8). Pisco is open six days a week from 5pm–midnight, with a late menu available on Fridays and Saturdays until 1am. The nightly “Social Hour” has been extended from 5pm–7pm. 1817 Market St. at Octavia, 415-874-9951.

I heard last week’s fundraiser for ~TONY DEVENCENZI~ at Enrico’s was really successful—over $30,000 was raised for the United States Bartenders Guild Bartender Relief Fund. GREAT news. Tony is now recuperating with his family in Redwood City and is expected to make a full recovery, but those hospital bills are not pretty. Big round o’ applause and kudos to everyone for raising such an incredible amount of money to help.

I also got notice that some artwork and wares are being created by staff, family, and friends of ~LEVENDE LOUNGE & LEVENDE EAST~ for some special silent auctions and additional fundraising events. There will be two events: one is at Levende Lounge on Wednesday January 21st, 7pm–midnight, with “S.T.I.R.” performing live at 9pm, followed by Roger 9ners Karaoke Extravaganza. Art and item auction closing at 10:30pm, winning bids announced at 11pm. Event number two is at Levende East on Wednesday January 28th from 7pm–midnight, with DJs Cornelius Foo and more, plus “S.T.I.R.” performing live at 10pm. Art and item auction closing at 10:30pm, winning bids announced at 11pm. 100% of the proceeds from the auction and raffle will be given directly to the Devencenzi family, along with a portion of proceeds from the bar. If you are unable to lend your support through the donation of works and/or by your attendance, donations may also be made through the United States Bartenders Guild Bartender Relief Fund, a 501c3 Charity. Checks can be made out to USBG and are tax-deductible. If you would like to make a donation please send an email to with the amount and a link to process payment will then be sent to you via email. Levende is accepting donations for the silent auction and raffle, so contact to confirm your participation.

Winos, take note that ~THE LARK CREEK INN~ is celebrating the start of its 20th anniversary year by offering guests half-off on all wines on Friday evenings throughout January and February. Nope, not on Mondays, how novel! And you can get chef Erica Holland-Toll’s Southern-fried chicken prix-fixe spread whenever you want! It was previously offered only on Sundays, but is now available seven nights a week ($19.95 per person). Slow-roasted prime rib has also been added to the menu on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights for $28.95, and includes a baked potato, Yorkshire pudding, and horseradish cream. 234 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur, 415-924-7766.

There are some ~SELVAGROSSA WINERY~ events happening this week. First up, tonight, January 13th, ~A16~ is hosting Anselma Taddei, mother of Selvagrossa winemakers Alberto and Alessandro Taddei. A16 will feature and help to create some of Anselma's pastas, passatelli, strozzapreti, and tortellini in their kitchen. Plus, of course, they will be featuring Selvagrossa wine (the Trimpillin, Poveriano, and Muschen wines). 2355 Chestnut St. at Scott, 415-771-2216.

~OTTIMISTA ENOTECA~ will also be hosting a special tasting of Selvagrossa wines and typical Marchese dishes with Alberto Taddei and his mother (an acclaimed cook!) on Thursday January 15th. Guests will taste a range of Selvagrossa wines paired with regional dishes based on Anselmina Taddei's own recipes. $40/per person (includes wine tasting and regional food pairings). All events are held on Ottimista's front patio. A credit card is required to make an event reservation.
 6pm–7:30pm. To sign up, call 415-674-8400. 1838 Union St. at Octavia, 415-674-8400.

Name change alert! The sports bar ~WOODYZIPS~ in North Beach is now ~THE BOARDROOM~ (the owner bought out his partner and decided to change the name). 1609 Powell St. at Green, 415-982-8898.
the socialite

Aqua logo

Year of the Ox Celebration—An Evening With Cecilia Chiang
Mon. Jan. 26th, 2009

252 California St.
Cross: Battery St
San Francisco, CA




JANUARY 13, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Man, I am bummed to be missing this dinner. I admire Cecilia Chiang very much, and she’s totally feisty. Oh, my Monday nights… Anyway, here’s more from the release, “On January 26th, chef Laurent Manrique and executive chef Ron Boyd welcome Cecilia Chiang to preside over the preparation and service of ~AQUA’S PREMIERE CHINESE NEW YEAR CELEBRATION DINNER~.
“Cecilia has been a celebrated restaurateur since 1961 when she opened the Mandarin, which quickly became a culinary landmark and San Francisco institution. In 1974, with publication of her cookbook The Mandarin Way, her career blossomed to include television appearances, cooking demonstrations, and contributions to international magazines and newspapers. She actively consults for popular Bay Area restaurants, including Betelnut and Shanghai 1930.

“Only 100 seats are available for this rare opportunity to meet the woman dubbed the ‘Chinese Julia Child’ by Alice Waters. Experience the foundation cuisine of Asia as inspired by the magnificent Cecilia Chiang—and launch the New Year again at AQUA!”


Maine Lobster ShumaI
Carrot Consommé, Cilantro

“Lion's Head” Meatball
Braised Napa Cabbage, Shallot-Ginger Pistou

Winter Melon Soup
Lovage, Serrano Ham, Cracked White Peppercorn

Crisp Crab Crêpe
Bean Sprouts, Fresh Bamboo, Garlic-Chili Sauce

Tea-Smoked Squab
Mandarin Orange, Lily Bulb, Five-Spice

Glazed Chestnut, Onion Sprout, Persimmon & Gold

Steamed Black Bass
Bamboo Rice, Toasted Garlic, Ginger & Scallion

Coconut Tapioca
Lychee Gelée

Sommelier-selected wine pairings will be available for each course at an additional charge. There will be no regular dining this evening. The tasting menu will also be offered for the following two-week celebration (but no Cecilia).

Zap Festival
Photo: Wayde Carroll

ZAP Festival
Wed. Jan. 28th–Sat. 31st, 2009

Various locations
San Francisco, CA


JANUARY 13, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO The 18th Annual ~ZINFANDEL ADVOCATES & PRODUCERS FESTIVAL (ZAP)~ has a variety of events coming up, and always draws quite the crowd, especially the Grand Tasting. Bring on the zin freaks! For more details, check out the site links below, but here are the highlights:

Wednesday January 28th
Flights! A Showcase of Zinfandels

Featured sit-down tasting sessions and rare zinfandel tasting walkabout, featuring over 30 exceptional wines not to be poured at the other festival events.

$100 (ZAP members), $130 (non-members)

City College of San Francisco, Culinary Arts & Hospitality Studies Program
Ocean Avenue Campus
50 Phelan Ave., San Francisco
Read more details here.

Thursday January 29th
Good Eats & Zinfandel Pairing

A number of restaurants and caterers will be preparing bites to pair with wineries’ offerings for a fun walk-around tasting. Here’s the list of the restaurants and pairings.

$95 (ZAP members), $125 (non-members)

Herbst Pavilion
Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
Marina Blvd. at Buchanan
Read more details here.

Friday January 30th
Evening with the Winemakers
Guest registration opens 4:45pm
Pre-dinner tasting and reception 5pm
Live auction 6:15pm

$210 (ZAP members), $260 (non-members)

The Westin St. Francis Hotel at Union Square
335 Powell St.
Read more details here.

Saturday January 31st
18th Annual Grand Zinfandel Tasting

Trade and media 10am–1pm (requires special ticket and badge)
Members only: entrance time 1pm–5pm
General public 2pm–5pm
Silent auction 10am–4pm

This event is always packed—and it’s held in both the Herbst and Festival Buildings. When you enter, you will receive a complimentary ZAP wine-tasting glass. Replacement glasses may be purchased for $5 at Marketplace. Taste premier zinfandels, including barrel samples and new releases. An estimated 250 wineries will pour.

$49 (ZAP members), $59 (non-members), $69 at the door

Herbst & Festival Pavilions
Fort Mason Center, San Francisco
Marina Blvd. at Buchanan
Read more details here.

Parking is available at the Fort Mason Center on a limited basis. Fort Mason Center charges for parking. The first hour is free and the maximum charge is $8 per vehicle. There is limited parking at Ft. Mason so people, seriously, take public transpo or a cab—it’s safer, and the place is a total madhouse of cars.

the starlet

JANUARY 13, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO A tablehopper reader writes in, “My hubby and I were at Whole Foods in SoMa on Saturday January 3rd. We were making salads at the salad bar and noticed a dapper man. Upon closer inspection, lo and behold, it was Mos Def creating his own healthy salad. An older man, his driver, was close by. We were glad Mos eats healthy AND builds his own salads rather than sending someone in. He quickly ducked out so I was not able to accost him.” Word.

Another reader write in, “My friends and I swore that Emily VanCamp, who plays Rebecca Harper on ABC's Brothers & Sisters, was dining [at Cav Wine Bar & Kitchen] with a posse last Friday night.” I wasn’t able to get a positive I.D. from Cav (owner Pamela Busch watches different TV shows), so we’ll just have to take the reader’s word for it!


All content © 2009 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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