table of contents This week's tablehopper: live, love, laugh.

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 bookworm
another place for your nose
the starlet
no photos please
the matchmaker
let's get it on

the sponsor
this round is on me

Urban Daddy

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Zojo Media

FEBRUARY 10, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Hey there, were you giving thanks for the rain this weekend? I sure was. Bacon and Eggs I was also giving thanks to the people who enabled me to make a perfect Sunday brunch: a plate of Soul Food Farm eggs slow-basted in marvelous bacon fat. And about that bacon: it was a bacon gift that was hand-delivered earlier that week from chef Ryan Farr. That bacon ruled. Damn, now I’m ruined.

I also give thanks for this sharp nose of mine (the nose knows, it always knows!). There is nothing like the smell of someone walking down the street with a hot pizza in a to-go box, right? Immediate Pavlovian salivation sets in. And truth be told, envy. But true happiness is when that pizza box belongs to YOU. Sunday night I merrily walked and sniffed my way home while carrying a box of Little Star deep dish from Little Star Pizza (light on the garlic). Happiness is... a hot pizza. It’s as simple as that

Speaking of hot boxes (hey, it’s the week for ’em), are you excited to learn who won Fork & Spoon’s Hot Box giveaway mentioned in yesterday’s sponsored email? See, you can win cool stuff from tablehopper-sponsored emails, yet another reason why you should read them, heh. Anyway, congratulations to tablehopper reader and now winner Jeffrey Langewisch! Woot! Just call 415-552-7130 to claim your prize!

Bummed you didn’t win? Fret not. The nice folks at Fork & Spoon have decided to offer tablehopper readers $25 towards your own Hot Box—now it’s only $125. Call Fork and Spoon for more info and to order yours (by Thursday at the latest!) at 415-552-7130.

Want another giveaway? Okay, you got it, sugarplum. It’s time for the monthly Ten Speed Press book giveaway! This month I am giving away three copies of the River Cottage Family Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to three lucky tablehopper readers. All you need to do is forward this week’s tablehopper newsletter to one buddy, but even more would be so very fabulous. Just tell your friend(s) why they would dig a subscription to the tablehopper e-column (if you call it a blog, you are disqualified, I wish I was kidding!), 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 this Saturday February 14th. Good luck!

This week is a beast of an issue, including a recap of last week’s CHEFS dinner in the regular and a bookworm, so let’s get to it. Oh yeah, and wait until you see who was all over San Francisco last week—read all about it in the starlet. Yay, A-list sightings!

In closing, I dedicate this issue to my remarkable grandmother, Judy, who is turning 80 years young this Thursday. My life would have been pretty dull without this extraordinary and one-of-a-kind woman. She has taught me so many important life lessons, including getting me hooked on Champagne early on, the joy of eggs Benedict or a no-holds-barred BLT, and to “live, love, laugh,” just as her necklace charm said that I remember her wearing. I raise my glass high to you, Mom! Happy 80th birthday!

And Happy Valentine’s Day, all!

~Marcia subscribe
the chatterbox

Urban DaddyFEBRUARY 10, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO It looks like ~TSUNAMI MISSION BAY~ is on track to open in the Avalon Towers this Thursday February 12th. The loft-like space features brick-layered and white oak-paneled walls and a custom granite bar, where a variety of spirits, including 20 gins and of course a number of sakes will be poured. Adachi Hiroyuki, chef at Nihon and Tsunami Panhandle and chef de cuisine Thomas Cooke have put together the menu, featuring traditional sushi items, plus some new-to-Tsunami dishes like a sunomono salad, Kobe beef tataki, and special rolls. Tessa Fernandez, formerly of Bacar Restaurant and Americano, is the GM. The restaurant will be open from 6pm–midnight, and the bar from 5pm–1am. Lunches and happy hour will start in March. 302 King St. at 4th St., 415-284-0111.

Things are getting close for ~THE TIPSY PIG~, the new American gastropub opening in the former Bistro Yoffi space in the Marina—the grand opening is Tuesday February the 24th. The crew behind the project is Nate Valentine, Stryker Scales, and executive chef Sam Josi of the Sustainable Restaurants group (Mamacita, Umami, and Blue Barn). The co-executive chef is Daniel Burckhard (Blue Barn, Foreign Cinema, and Greens). The brunch, lunch, and dinner menus will highlight American pub classics made with seasonal and artisanal ingredients, sourcing a majority of produce from the Josi family’s Oak Hill Farm in Sonoma. Dishes will include a spinach salad with kabocha squash, aged gouda, and a bacon-sherry vinaigrette; a maple-brined Niman pork chop with caramelized apples deglazed with brandy, grain mustard sauce, and Yukon Gold/Brussels sprouts/apple hash; and of course there’s a Tipsy Burger, but this one is made with three cuts of house-ground beef: sirloin, brisket, and chuck. 

The look by designer Christie Clark is rustic and warm, and includes the space’s original ten-seat wooden bar that dates back to 1931 and many recycled items, plus brown walls, wood floors, and large chalkboards announcing daily specials. There are two rooms: the main dining room is “The Living Room,” and there’s a more intimate “Library” room with a working hobbit stove (hold on the Frodo jokes). You’ll find a sunny 50-seat patio in the back with communal picnic tables, a canopy of trees, and a garden with pink lemons, grapefruit, Buddha’s hand, and herbs. The bar program will include updated American classic cocktails, wine, and eight beers on tap, with 15 beers by the bottle, including the “Tipsy Pig Brew,” an exclusive brew. The GM is Matt Brown from Buckeye Roadhouse. As for the name, here’s the story, “During England’s apple season (October–April), farmers would send pigs to retrieve fallen apples, and because the apples would often ferment, the pigs would get drunk or ‘tipsy.’” Awwww, drunk piggies. Hours will be 5pm–2am, with food served until 10:30pm. Brunch and lunch service will start a few weeks later. 2231 Chestnut St. at Pierce, 415-292-2300.

Miss G's Hot SauceGot word that executive chef Sarah Kirnon is leaving ~THE FRONT PORCH~—she has been there since they opened almost three years ago. Her last day is this Saturday, and then she’s taking a couple weeks off, and will be bottling her habanero hot sauce, Miss G’s Hot Sauce, a favorite at the Porch. It’s an homage to her great-grandmother, who was a cook and housekeeper on a sugar plantation and taught Kirnon how to cook. The hot sauce will be available at the Front Porch after February 22nd. She is also going to be taking a trip to the Caribbean, and will be busy focusing on her intended restaurant project on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley—she is still in negotiations, so stand by.

The Front Porch’s new chef is Michael Law, who hails from New Orleans. After being displaced by Katrina, he made his way west to work at Lark Creek Inn and was the opening sous at Epic Roasthouse. The Front Porch will be closed from February 15th—19th for some kitchen renovations, and will reopen on the 20th with his new menu—look for some NOLA, Southern, and yes, Caribbean notes on the menu (Law’s mother is from the Dominican Republic). 65A 29th St. at Mission, 415-695-7800.

The former executive chef of Baraka, Chad Newton, is the new chef at ~URBAN TAVERN~ at the Hilton San Francisco. He just started last Friday and will be working with Donna Scala, who is returning from a scouting trip in France this week. In the meantime, he’s just making small changes—there will be more to share about the new menu in the coming weeks. Laurent Manrique's C&L Partners and executive chef Patrick Kehler are no longer involved with the project. 333 O'Farrell St. at Mason, 415-923-4400.

Over in Cow Hollow, after 14 years of business, ~PLUMPJACK CAFÉ~ will be closing for a remodel and re-concepting, effective Friday February 28th. According to a statement from the publicist, the owners decided “It is time for the business to evolve to keep up with the changing desires of their neighborhood.” But where are earth are the regulars going to go for their tuna tartare cones in the meantime? 3127 Fillmore St. at Filbert, 415-563-4755.

There’s a lot brewing (har) in Hayes Valley, starting with ~MERCURY~, a new café opening in the corner space that was most recently Akelare. While there will no longer be live music, some book readings may occur down the road. On offer will be coffee from De La Paz, either in individually brewed cups of coffee or espresso drinks, plus soup and sandwiches. Hopefully beer and wine will be coming soon. There will also be homemade apple pie for dessert since the owner, Nick Parker, is a pie maker. The opening is another week or so out, stand by for additional details next week. 201 Octavia St. at Page.

~MODERN TEA~ will no longer be hosting the Modern Cooks program in the Modern Tea restaurant space—more on what is moving in there in a moment. In the meantime, tea maven Alice Cravens is still working on developing the program, which may include teaching cooking and vocational skills in a local school, and taking it into a network of restaurants. In the meantime, she is continuing to focus on her wholesale tea business for restaurants and cafes, and individuals can still buy her tea online through the website. Cravens writes, “We miss everybody (our customers were the best!!!), but we hope to have some exciting news soon.”

Moving into the space will be ~ALTANO CAFFE~, an affordable Italian lunch and dinner place, offering panini, pizza, and pasta. The new owners plan to appeal to the symphony and opera crowds. The chef is Ali Kazakaya, who also was chef-owner at Trapeze in Burlingame. The outdoor seating will continue, and brunch will come soon. The opening is currently pointing toward March 1st. 602 Hayes St. at Laguna.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that the folks from El Delfin in Delano were potentially opening a restaurant called ~MARINO~ in the former Mad Magda’s/Frjtz space. I finally connected with one of the owners, Raul Vargas, who is opening Marino with his sister, Maria. It will be a sit-down Mexican restaurant, featuring seafood dishes (they are from Mazatlán). Sadly the patio was all covered up with a restroom and storage by the time the siblings took over the place, so that’s the end of that little secret oasis. I’ll have more details in coming weeks, but for now, they hope to open in mid-March. 579 Hayes St. at Laguna.

There are also two big Hayes Valley anniversaries to note: both Zuni and Hayes Street Grill are turning 30. ~ZUNI~ turns 30 on February 15th, and will be celebrating both Sunday and Tuesday since y’all know they are closed on Mondays. On the menu will be classics from the past three decades and wines from 1979—be sure to mention the anniversary when making a reservation. 1658 Market St. at Franklin, 415-552-2522.

~HAYES STREET GRILL~ is going to be working through three decades with three different dinners, at $30 a dinner. Thursday February 12th is the 80s, Wednesday March 4th will celebrate the 90s (hello warm spinach salad), and Tuesday March 17th (yup, St. Paddy’s Day) will be the Hayes Street Grill’s 30th anniversary, starting at 8pm. You can check out the menus on the site, and reserve now. 320 Hayes St. at Gough, 415-863-5545.

Hey, I want to do a small public service announcement: this one is about the ~HEIMLICH MANEUVER~. I hope this article from Joan Nathan in the New York Times is a good reminder for everyone about the importance of knowing how to help a choking victim. Lucky Joan had Tom Colicchio save her life while she was hosting a dinner party. Yeah, scary. (And Tom is rad.) Here’s a how-to.

Okay, back to the news. In case you’re wondering why ~PANCHO VILLA TAQUERIA~ at Pier One on the Embarcadero is now featuring Southwestern items on the menu, no, you’re not in New Mexico. It’s just that Pancho Villa has been replaced by a place called ~PIER ONE SOUTHWESTERN GRILL~. There are still some quesadillas on the menu, plus egg breakfast dishes, burgers, hot links, chipotle chicken wings, nachos, and the like. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are available. Pier 1, Embarcadero at Washington, 415-982-2182.

~INCANTO~ has started serving Sunday brunch. On the menu: house-milled whole-wheat polenta with a poached farm egg, a brunch version of the legendary handkerchief pasta, Boccalone meats, and a black truffle-mortadella panino with potato-leek salad. You can order up a Roman Bloody Maria and let the healing begin. 10am–2pm. 1550 Church St. at Duncan, 415-641-4500.

~PICCINO~ will now be open for dinner on Sunday evenings. They will feature roasts and braises, perfect for scrumptious family dinners, and pizzas, of course. The first-ever Sunday dinner kicks off this Sunday February 15th. 801 22nd St. at Tennessee, 415-824-4224.

There’s a small delay with the opening of ~CONTIGO~: now it’s looking like the last week of February instead of the 17th, stand by. They have also decided to open without reservations unless you have a party of six or more. 1320 Castro St. at 24th St., 415-285-0250.

I had a chance to chat with the owner of ~SUNFLOWER~, who is going to be opening a location in the former Baraka space on Potrero Hill. He said they are in a holding pattern right now. They are deciding what kind of concept they want to open in the space, so there’s nothing to report at the moment. 288 Connecticut St. at 18th St.

I spoke with one of the owners of the Hard Knox Café about their rumored opening of a location in the ~LIBERTY CAFÉ~—he said nothing is determined at the moment and negotiations are still underway. Someone whose husband works for Liberty Café wrote in to Eater: “There are new owners- one owns hard knox cafe and the other owns sally's in potero [sic]. They don't intend to change the name or anything else. They both love the format and want to keep it just the way it is.” Well, that’s nice to hear, but ultimately time will tell. 410 Cortland Ave. at Bennington.

tablehopper reader Jeff W. asked what is going on with ~MEDICINE EATSTATION~ in the Crocker Galleria since the suspicious “closed one week for remodeling” sign has extended into its third week, and not much is going on inside. Emails and calls have gone unreturned, so nothing is confirmed except it’s currently closed, and based on the evidence it looks like it might be permanent. 161 Sutter St. at Kearny, 415-677-4405.

Also downtown, tablehopper reader Jason B. has noted Mediterranean ~CAFÉ 36~ “had a note posted on their door saying they had closed up shop for another opportunity.” 36 5th St. at Stevenson.

Out on 24th Street, the second location of ~SUSHI BISTRO~ that was supposed to be opening up next to St. Francis Fountain has hit a snag due to a neighbor protest on their beer-and-wine license. Yup, just one non-partying person can seriously cramp your biz plan. The build-out is all done and they are ready to get the restaurant rolling, but that protest is holding things up indefinitely. A public hearing might be next. 2809 24th St. at York.

In the mood for dinner and a movie? There are a couple happenings around town, like ~COFFEE BAR~ in the Mission shows films the second Wednesday of each month. This week is Stanley Kubrick's Lolita. “Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta.” (Nabokov, you fabulous fiend.) You can also enjoy avant-garde desserts from Jasmine Rae Bakery, and of course coffee specials, beer, and wine. 8pm, space is limited, so RSVP. 1890 Bryant St. at Mariposa, 415-551-8100.

~FARINA~ is organizing an Italian brunch this Sunday February 15th, dedicating it to bambini, with a kid-friendly menu of pizza, pasta, and more. They will also be showing Ratatouille at 12:30pm. Reservations are required—the maximum seating capacity for the movie is 30 kids, and they must be accompanied by a parent. Brunch runs from 9:30am–3pm. 3562 18th St. at Dearborn, 415-565-0360.

San Francisco is getting an import from Livermore. No, not wine, but the restaurant ~BRUNO'S ITALIAN CUISINE~, which is opening a second location in the Fillmore District, just across the street from Yoshi’s. Thrillist has the details, and a copy of the menu—think pizzas and pasta. 1375 Fillmore St. at Ellis, 415-563-6300.

~SCOMA’S~ is kicking off its Second Annual Crab Challenge, when all crab lovers are invited to put a favorite crab recipe to the test. Last year, the winner was a tablehopper reader, with his winning “Crab Tower.” Shall we go for a double play this year? Simply email the recipe to before Friday February 27th, 2009. Scoma’s judges will choose the best one and feature it on Scoma’s menu for the rest of crab season. The top crab recipe also wins dinner for two at Scoma’s, and a weekend at San Francisco’s Orchard Garden Hotel. The winner will be notified no later than March 9th, 2009.

Tuesday February 24th, the great grandson of Auguste Escoffier, Michel Escoffier, will be the guest of honor at a special AIWF (American Institute of Wine and Food) dinner at the Michelin-starred ~PLUMED HORSE~ in Saratoga. AIWF members pay $120 per person for dinner only (includes tax and tip) or with wine pairings for $165. Non-members pay $170 or $215, respectively. 7pm. Leave a message on the AIWF hotline at 415-508-6790 for payment and reservation details (there will also be roundtrip transportation from San Francisco available for $20–$40). 14555 Big Basin Way, Saratoga.

MarinitasUp in San Anselmo, Heidi Krahling’s ~MARINITAS~ is now open, just two blocks from her first restaurant, Insalata’s. She is working with chef Frank Villa on the menu, which doesn’t have a single entrée over $17. The Latin-inspired menu features items like Peruvian empanadas, tacos dorados de verduras (crispy tacos filled with roasted corn, rajas, crushed potatoes with nopales salsa), bistec argentino (grilled skirt steak with chimichurri sauce), and pescado yucateco (roast cod with sikil pak, corn cakes with epazote, and cherry tomato-pumpkin seed vinaigrette). There’s even an ensalada mexicana, their answer to the Mexican fattoush, plus daily specials, like pork tinga on Thursdays. The full bar (featuring 70 tequilas and drinks made with fresh juices) and late hours (there’s a bar menu from 10pm–midnight) should make some people in the area very happy. See, you don’t have to turn into a pumpkin at 10pm! The restaurant seats 135 at booths, banquettes, and tables; the bar seats 15—there’s also a large stone fireplace. Open daily for lunch and dinner. 218 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo, 415-454-8900.

With all this whole-animal and butchery madness going on, would you like to get on board and learn some butchery skills yourself? On Monday February 23rd, ~CAFÉ ROUGE~ is hosting the second in a series of classes on the art of butchery: Butchering a Goat, with a demonstration and discussion. Owner Marsha McBride and Café Rouge butchers Scott Brennan and Ben Broadus will discuss and demonstrate the art of butchery and share their recipes for dry goat salami, kefta, and crepinettes. Special guests Jeanne McCormack and Al Medvitz of Montezuma Hills Lamb and Goat of Rio Vista will be on hand to discuss goat breeds, raising and breeding, and humane animal protocol. Students will be able to taste charcuterie made from goat with complimentary wine selected to go with the samplings. Limited to 40 people. $65. 6:30pm–9:30pm. 1782 Fourth St. at Virginia, Berkeley, 510-525-1440.

The ~LEVENDE LOUNGE~ and ~LEVENDE EAST~ folks have some news: they will be opening a second East Bay project in downtown Oakland, just around the corner from the Levende East location. It will be a full-scale spirits lounge that will also serve food, but will have a different name and concept from Levende East. The vibe will also be more social and casual, although the décor will be high-end. The space is being built out from scratch, and the opening is months away, so stand by. 481 Ninth St. at Washington, Oakland.

Alex Marsh, recently the chef of Brick, is now the executive chef of ~LEVENDE EAST~. Marsh is bringing his “California Comfort” style to the menu: think hearty, rich classics with a modern twist and seasonal ingredients from local and sustainable farms. Some additions to the lunch and dinner menus include cast iron white-corn grits with Dungeness crab and Old Bay-seasoned roasted vegetables and grilled Monterey Bay calamari with white beans and fennel salad. There will also be half-off on bottles of wine on Tuesdays, and a special late-night happy-hour menu of eats from 11pm–1am on Friday and Saturday nights, with tuna and lamb sliders along with some other bar food, all at a special price. 827 Washington St. at 9th St., Oakland, 510-835-5585.

~SIDEBAR~ just opened in the former Trio Bistro space, right off Lake Merritt. The gastropub project comes from executive chef Barbara Mulas and executive pastry chef Mark Drazek, formerly of ZAX in San Francisco and ZAX Tavern in the 510, and Anne Marie Adrain. There’s a bar serving a variety of beers (once it’s a full bar, Jonny Raglin will be busting out his bar consultant moves), plus there’s a lounge area, and counter seating. You can check out the appetizer-heavy Cal-Med bistro-esque evening menu here. Lunch begins Monday February 16th. 542 Grand Ave. at Euclid, Oakland, 510-452-9500.

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

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CHEFS at Poleng Lounge

tablehopper CHEFS dinner at Poleng Lounge
1751 Fulton St.
Cross: Masonic St.
San Francisco, CA 94117


Open Tue–Sun 4pm–10pm
Late-night menu Sun–Thu 10pm–1am

Small plates $3–$15

This write-up is a special recap of the tablehopper CHEFS (Conquering Homelessness Through Employment in Food Service) dinner that was held on Thursday February 5th with class/session number 34. The event was generously hosted by ~POLENG LOUNGE~. A huge thank you to executive chef Tim Luym, who not only prepared the flavorful feast, but also set up a special display area with a variety of ingredients and cooking utensils from the East to show the students—so thoughtful. We are also very grateful to owner Desi, GM Chris, and the rest of the kind staff—thank you all for your gracious hospitality.

We are also so touched that Poleng Lounge offered to host the entire evening, gratis. Dear readers who donated in the past, I wanted to let you know part of your donated funds went toward some food costs and staff gratuity that I wanted to cover that night, but this means I still have $1,100 to apply to another outing! I am hoping to arrange a trip to a farm and a meal for the next CHEFS session this spring.

Thank you all for making these evenings and events possible—they are so memorable for all involved, and the exposure to unique ingredients and preparations inspires the class immensely.

CHEFS at Poleng Lounge

CHEFS at Poleng Lounge

CHEFS at Poleng Lounge

CHEFS at Poleng Lounge

CHEFS at Poleng Lounge

CHEFS at Poleng Lounge

CHEFS at Poleng Lounge

CHEFS at Poleng Lounge

CHEFS at Poleng Lounge

CHEFS at Poleng Lounge

CHEFS at Poleng Lounge

CHEFS at Poleng Lounge

CHEFS at Poleng Lounge

CHEFS at Poleng Lounge

CHEFS at Poleng Lounge

CHEFS at Poleng Lounge

We had our own private table set up in the back private room, and chef Tim explained each course and the various techniques and ingredients. Below is the menu, with some helpful notations provided by chef Tim, FYI. The students impressively and valiantly tried everything, trotter and tongue included!

CHEFS Dinner at Poleng Lounge
February 5th, 2009

Hiyyako (cold tofu appetizer) with ginger, negi, and grated radish
The use of soy in Asian cooking is demonstrated with this simple tofu dish with a few garnishes and soy sauce. Opens up the palate for the rest of the meal.

Filipino Lumpia Shanghai w/ atchara (pickled papaya)
A Filipino favorite and the name is derived from the Chinese.

Walu Kinilaw (ceviche)
Use of coconut vinegar and coconut milk with some chilis make this the fisherman's inventive dish, showing the resourcefulness of a country utilizing the ocean’s harvest.

Balinese Lemongrass Satays
The use of a rich spice paste and why Southeast Asian countries like Bali use it as a staple to a lot of their food. Use of lemongrass as well.

Adobo Chicken Wings
A modern take on traditional Filipino adobo, but yet the same ingredients that would essentially be put in a stewed adobo.

Madras Samosa (vegetarian)
Veggie bite with the use of curry powder and tamarind in the chutney.

Thai yellow vegetable curry infused w/ rooibos tea
Use of tea in cooking. Also making of curry pastes and overview of the spices and technique to achieve a superior curry.

Szechuan Chicken Lettuce Cups
Play on the hot and cool. Can't really go wrong with this one...

Crispy Pata (fried pigs trotter)
Filipino treat that shows how the less popular cuts of the pig are used to create goodness. Served with a garlic chili soy dip.

Lengua Estofado (beef tongue in mushroom sauce)
More on the adventurous side, recipe used by Filipinos but derived from Spain.

Baby Bok Choy Hearts
Nice greens found at the market served up with garlic, lily bulbs, shiitake mushrooms, and sauce.

Garlic Crab Noodles
A classic on the Poleng Lounge menu.

Broken Rice
We will discuss different types of rice and how the texture and starchiness is important to what it is paired with.

Bread Pudding and Ube Tapioca Bites

Calamansi Juice
Better than lemonade!

And here are the comments on the dinner from the students:

“I went to Poleng Lounge and was swept off to the Philippines in first class. It was an event that I won’t soon forget.” ~Michael Rose

“Like spending a day at the fair, having something wonderful at every booth but hard to remember which was the best.” ~Jonathan Alexandro

“It was wonderful, a whole new experience, I almost cried. Gave me the chance to try eating what I'm not used to. Also helped me understand what they are looking for when they judge on Top Chef.” ~Lisa Brady

“Deftly made and tasty, loved the fried pork trotter.” ~Doug Park

“Like being in another country, if this is street food I want to be there. I left feeling really good.” ~Rolf Apostolos

“An abundance of taste.” ~Neal Rockett

“It was wonderful, so tasty and different from what we usually get.” ~Antonia Perkins

“Good and zesty. Loved the satay on lemongrass, never had it before, it melted in my mouth.” ~Lennie Spicer

“Everything was great but I got hooked on the wings adobo and didn't really want anything else.” ~Jim Sandoval

“Presentation was awesome! Excellent lumpia and the very best pork I've ever had.” ~Michael Goddard

“Never tried tongue before, it was delicious and different, didn't expect it to be good, helped me to be open-minded.” ~Janet Ray

“Best chicken wings I've ever had. The food was ‘the bomb.’ Had a lot of fun.” ~Allison Edney

“Great food, really tasty, I enjoyed it all. Marcia and Tim were great at explaining. The lemongrass satay was my favorite and the calamansi juice was great. Why do they call it street food? It was all very elegant.” ~Antonio Amadeo-Vaz

“A compliment of the finest accord. The inspiration of a lifetime. It was pure pleasure, every morsel succulent, divine to my palate. Thank you for this worldly food experience.” ~Sally Ray

If you haven’t been to Poleng Lounge lately, or perhaps ever, I highly recommend you head on over and take your own tour o’ tastes (and support this very thoughtful business). Thank you.

the lush

Urban DaddyFEBRUARY 10, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Down in SoMa, ~JOHN COLINS LOUNGE~ just started demolition yesterday on an office space that will be transformed into the future home of their bar. They are moving the bar because of the impending Transbay-related demo of their current space. They hope to open and move into the new space within the next three to six months. 138 (TBD) Minna St. at New Montgomery.

In the meantime, there is a killer new happy hour at ~JOHN COLINS LOUNGE~ every Monday running all day and night: $2 domestic beers, $3 draft beers, $4 Guinness and Boddingtons, $5 cosmos, $4 well drinks, and everything else $1 to $2 off. The special runs from 5pm–2am. 90 Natoma St. at 2nd St., 415-543-2277.

Colin O’Malley of John Colins is also opening a new place with his wife, Leilani Brennan, called ~EVE~, just next door to Kate O'Brien's on Howard. It’s going to be a more feminine and upscale lounge than John Colins. The designer on the project is Yakuh Askew of Y.A. Studio, who did the latest location of Frjtz in Hayes Valley. It's a complete build-out since the space was an office—look for an opening in April. 575 Howard St. at 2nd St.

~NAMU~ is now offering 30% off wine and sake on Wednesdays. Come in for an early dinner with a ticket stub from the California Academy of Sciences (Namu is only two and half blocks from the garage) and you will receive a complimentary amuse to start. 439 Balboa St. at 6th Ave., 415-386-8332.

~EUGENIO JARDIM~, the ever-charming wine director at Jardinière, has been putting his stamp on the wine list at Orson (he has also built the wine programs at Eos, Acme Chophouse, COCO500, and Bar Jules), and is the wine expert for the PBS show Joanne Weir's Cooking Class.

Master Sommelier Emily Wines is launching her bi-weekly “Wines on Wine” classes at ~FIFTH FLOOR RESTAURANT AND LOUNGE~ every other Wednesday. $40/person per class; class fee is discounted by 50% if the guests stays for dinner. $325/person for the entire 10-course series. Class begins at 6pm and lasts for approximately one hour. The first one is February 11th. For details on each class, visit 12 Fourth St. at Mission, 415-348-1555.

This Friday February 13th, ~LIZA ZIMMERMAN~, wine educator, is teaching a class on her favorite discoveries and affordable wines at Bay Gourmet at the Commonwealth Club. Read more and reserve a space here, or call 415-597-6705. 6pm check-in, 6:15 program. $30 members, $38 non-members.

the socialite

Yeah, yeah, so these are summer cocktails at Tabla in NYC...

Winter Farmer’s Market Cocktail Night
Wed. Feb. 18th, 2009

San Francisco Ferry Building
One Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111

415-291-3276 x103


$25 per person
buy tickets 

FEBRUARY 10, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO CUESA and the San Francisco Chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild (USBG) are hosting an evening of ~WINTER FARMERS' MARKET COCKTAILS~ in the kitchen under the arches of the Ferry Building. For just $25, guests will get two full-sized signature drinks (the Original John Collins and an Old Sydneytown Winter Punch), taste 12 seasonally inspired cocktails, and nibble on bites from Beretta, Conduit, Globe, Michael Mina, and Zuppa. Guests are eligible to win bartending and farmers’ market prizes by casting a vote for their favorite drink.
Guest bartenders include: H. Joseph Ehrmamn of Elixir; Sierra Zimei of Seasons Bar at Four Seasons San Francisco; David Nepove, the USBG National VP; Greg Lindgren and Jon Gasparini of Rye and Rosewood Bar; Scott Baird of 15 Romolo; Brian MacGregor of Jardinière; Eric Castro of Bourbon & Branch; Victoria D’Amato-Moran of Cent'Anni Cocktails; John Burton of the Bartenders' School of Santa Rosa; Alex Smith of Thirsty Bear Brewing Company; and others.
Taste 12 different seasonal creations, take home some recipes, win prizes, and enjoy two signature drinks all in the name of supporting local, sustainable agriculture and the Bay Area cocktail culture. Cheers to that.

Cooking School at Cavallo Point

Cooking School at Cavallo Point
Various dates

601 Murray Circle
Fort Baker
Sausalito, CA 94965


FEBRUARY 10, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO The ~CAVALLO POINT COOKING SCHOOL~ has a number of interesting cooking classes and demos coming up—and the classroom itself is downright gorgeous. Here are a few classes to look at and consider—read the program on the site for more details about each class:

In My Kitchen: Visit and Cook with Judy Witts Francini, an Expatriate Cooking in Italy
Saturday 2/21, 4pm–8pm
$140 per person. Enroll in a cooking class and receive a special rate on overnight accommodations. Call 1-888-651-2003.

Judy Witts Francini traveled to Italy in 1984 and never came back. She lives in Tuscany surrounded by the best of Italian ingredients and those who love to cook and eat. Over the years, Judy has become a much sought-after cooking teacher leading classes and tours all over Italy. Come hear her story and join in a hands-on class to make some of her favorite recipes.

Hooves & Tales: A Two-Day Celebration of Sustainable Meat.

Discussions, demonstrations and hands-on cooking classes with David Evans of acclaimed Marin Sun Farms, and Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller from award-winning Fatted Calf Charcuterie.
Saturday and Sunday, 2/28–3/1
Starting at $750 per person, based on double occupancy (includes overnight accommodations, etc.). Day rate is $450. Call for details: 1-888-651-2003.

David Evans starts the weekend off with a discussion of pasture-raised meat: its health benefits, environmental merits, and delicious flavor. Then the cooking begins: learn about the lesser-known cuts of beef and the best methods for preparing them, watch a professional butcher break down a goat, and taste chicken the way it’s meant to taste. Taylor and Toponia continue the meat fest, teaching you about the different parts of the pig and how they turn them into cured salumi and charcuterie. Discover how easy it is to make fresh sausage and pate. Over the two days you will learn how to select, butcher, season, and cook a variety of meats, discuss the curing of different salumi, and make fresh sausage and pate, all while dining on tasty meals and sipping delicious wines.

Hands-On Cooking Classes with Kelsie Kerr:

Cooking from the Farmer’s Market
Friday 2/13 or Wednesday 2/25, 5:30pm–9:30pm

A Portuguese Evening
Thursday 2/19, 5:30pm–9:30pm

$125 per person. Enroll in a cooking class and receive a special rate on overnight accommodations. Book a room now, call 1-888-651-2003.

the bookworm

Secret Suppers

FEBRUARY 10, 2009 | 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.

The post-holiday publishing slump is here: I have no interesting new cookbooks to report on, and the only notable book on food is Mark Bittman’s Food Matters, but I think tablehopper readers already know what to eat and why.

So I divert a bit to an under-the-radar book that arrived in November and deserves some attention. It’s Secret Suppers: Rogue Chefs and Underground Restaurants in Warehouses, Townhouses, Open Fields, and Everywhere in Between. (Subtitle writers seem to be doing all my work for me.)

From Seattle-based publisher Sasquatch Books and LA-based author Jenn Garbee comes this introduction to a brave new world of food. Herein are profiles of ten underground eating experiences, the chefs that make the food, the recipes themselves, the various spaces that house the meals, and a few dozen black-and-white photos for flavor.

The ten secret suppers profiled take pace in our very own Cole Valley; and in Sonoma; south Seattle; Manhattan; Washington, D.C.; Dundee, OR; Des Moines, IA; various farmer’s fields in CA; and LA. They vary widely in price, style of food, formality, alcohol policies, and the necessity of wearing clothes.

A fun, informative peek into a unique subculture of food and cooking.

the starlet

FEBRUARY 10, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Over at Presidio Social Club, Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips (formerly of Luna and currently with Dean & Britta) and their entourage had a quick dinner at PSC before their show at the Palace of Fine Arts.

Private eyes, they’re watching you! John Hall of Hall and Oates was spotted in Venticello—and reportedly his pubescent son is working on a stache. (Must be part of a family gene contract.) Hall is off to Japan to tour solo.

A tablehopper reader writes in: “Kevin Connolly spotted at Ace Wasabi's last night. It was a dead night but ‘E’ was seen with a bunch of suits! He sat in the back...”

And now, the big-ass round-up o’ megawatt-star sightings, and one was with my own eyes, mind you. There I was, kicking it in the J Lounge at Jardinière on Friday night, enjoying a Pony Express (Jardinière’s barrel selection of Sazerac Rye, Qi white tea liqueur, maple syrup, and lemon, if you must know), and suddenly I see a super-cute man climb the stairs to the upstairs dining room. Was that... Ashton Kutcher? Oh yes it was! Yup, and Demi Moore was with him too, but I was too busy scoping the hot guy so I totally missed catching her. The Gavster and wifey arrived shortly thereafter. Good one, tablehopper!

The Demi and Ashton sightings rolled in all weekend: ends up Demi was at Waterbar for dinner on Thursday with a girlfriend, her daughters, and some of their friends, and the word is “they could not have been more sweet and unassuming.” They reportedly had a pretty quick meal (Demi had the ono), and she even stopped by the kitchen to say hello and thank the (shocked) chef—executive chef Parke Ulrich was off that night, so it was one of the sous chefs.

Demi, Ashton, and family had dinner at Foreign Cinema on Saturday night. Apparently they were celebrating the birthday of one of her daughters. The table shared some plates like the baked fromage d’ Affinois, and Demi, ever the healthy diner, ordered the fish (grilled mahi-mahi). The birthday celebration wrapped up with some sweets, including cheesecake and apple-huckleberry crisp.

Demi and Ashton were also spotted browsing at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant on Sunday. Go team!

Since we’re on teams, last night there was quite the private party at Specchio in the Mission for the New York Knicks, who are in town for their Warriors game tonight. Even the mannequins in the restaurant were wearing Knicks jerseys and hats. The group of 35 included players Danilo Gallinari, Chris Duhon, David Lee, Quentin Richardson, Malik Rose, and former player Allan Houston, head coach Mike D’Antoni and staff, former head coach and player Herb Williams, and GM/President Donnie Walsh.

the matchmaker

Pizzeria Delfina is hiring managers for our growing company!

We are looking for leaders who have at least two years of management experience in a high-volume and fast-paced environment. A strong knowledge of food and wine and a love for working with the public is a must. Please reply to Thank you for applying to Pizzeria Delfina!

Trade Your NYC Dream Pad for My Magical Napa Valley Farmhouse

A tablehopper subscriber writes:

It’s a super good deal for the right person. I need to be in NYC from June 29th–July 24th with my 16-year-old daughter, the perfect time to be sitting on my porch sipping viognier in the Napa Valley. So, if you have, or know someone who has a fab two-bedroom apartment in downtown Manhattan, let's play ball!

I'm trading my beautiful, turn-of-the-century 3BR, 3BA St. Helena farmhouse—with separate guesthouse and Meadowood passes—for a 2BR NYC apartment.

Not a bad deal; and, NYC in July? Yuk!! Click here for some photos: Let me know at: (Non-simultaneous trades for the visitor are an option.)

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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