table of contents This week's tablehopper: a farewell to (h)arms.

the chatterbox
the word on the street
the lush
put it on my tab
the socialite
the health nut
take a lap, tablehopper
the sugar mama
get some
the starlet
no photos please

the sponsor
this round is on me

SF Cocktail Week

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APRIL 28, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO I can’t believe I was out of town for yet another sunny weekend–this time I was up in St. Helena researching an upcoming piece for tablehopper (and for another project I’ll share with you in a moment). If you have a chance to head up to wine country during this magical spring season, jump on it.

imageHighlights from my weekender included a visit to Schramsberg (I had no idea the winery’s history was as extensive as it was, quite remarkable); a high-falutin’ wine tasting (Atelier) at Acme Fine Wines with winemakers Andy Erickson, Celia Welch Masyczek, and more in the mix (you can read the Napa Man’s detailed recap of the event here); a tasting at Orin Swift’s arty-chic headquarters; a break from all the wine with a lunch at Go Fish that was delightfully paired with sake; and I had my first burger after weeks of just saying no thanks (that cloth napkin burger quest really did me in) at Taylor’s. Lip smackingly delicious. The view from my patio at the Wine Country Inn was quite peaceful and pretty. And I will never, ever tire of sleeping in the dream beds of Meadowood.

After 48 hours of complete and total hedonism, I came home and promptly started a three-week detox/cleanse. (I know, what a send-off. Hey, if you’re gonna do something, do it right.) No, the Dalai Lama has nothing to do with this decision. You can read all about my upcoming three weeks of monk-like existence in the health nut. Yeah, it was about time that section returned–I had to find a flashlight first. (Cough.)

So, ya ready for some big news? I am pretty damned excited about finally letting this one outta the bag: I just finished signing a contract for my first book! It’s going to be a tablehopper guidebook to dining and drinking in the City and outlying areas (title forthcoming). The award-winning Ten Speed Press will be publishing it, and the book is going to be released in spring 2010. I’ll share more about the concept later, but there is definitely going to be a twist to differentiate it from the other guidebooks out there.

I’m incredibly excited, as you can imagine, and also going to be incredibly busy for the next few months writing this thing (my manuscript is due in July). What does this all mean? Well, I am definitely going to be less available over the next two months. I will need to make this column a bit shorter (well, I will try); I won’t be attending as many events; I won’t be answering as many emails, or at least keeping my replies short and sweet… You get the drift. Gotta buckle down, batten down the hatches, and write, write, write. So thanks for supporting me in this very exciting next chapter (har), and for inspiring me to do all this in the first place!

All right, it’s time for me to go munch some carrots and drink green tea.

Yours in health and happiness,
~Marcia subscribe

the chatterbox

Cocktail WeekAPRIL 14, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO It just goes to show that sometimes wicked talent and THAT Burger just aren’t enough to keep a restaurant afloat during rough economic times. Was sorry to hear from executive chef Jonnatan Leiva that ~JACK FALSTAFF~ is closing on Saturday May 9th. Leiva said they had a great run and that he feels like they are leaving on a high note, including a recent Beard House dinner, numerous accolades, and lets not forget all his television appearances. Leiva is currently looking into a few options, and there are sure to be more as the word spreads (he won’t be staying with the PlumpJack Group–the reopening of the Café space in Cow Hollow was discussed, but the project is too far off)–but his greatest concern is finding good positions for his loyal crew. Here’s wishing them all the best, and to all you burger lovers, here’s hoping Leiva appears somewhere local soon. 598 Second St. at Brannan, 415-836-9239.

Hot off the wire: just found out that executive chef Richard Corbo is leaving ~DUCCA~ to pursue other opportunities. He will be initially consulting in Miami, then working in New York with friends for a bit, then staging in Iowa with La Quercia salumeria, then off to Italy for two months staging, traveling, and studying. There are other interesting options in his cards later this year, but nothing is firmed up yet. He will be at Ducca until mid-June helping with the transition. 50 Third St. at Market, 415-977-0271.

And another departure in the news is chef de cuisine Chad Newton is no longer at ~URBAN TAVERN~ (he was previously the chef of Baraka). He had just finished launching the new menu. His last day was last Wednesday, and he is now looking for his next place, ideally a smaller venue. 333 O'Farrell St. at Mason, 415-923-4400.

Many were surprised to learn of the impending closure of Wolfgang Puck’s ~POSTRIO~ after 20 years in business, quite a run. The restaurant is going to undergo a redesigned interior, courtesy of EDG Interior Architecture + Design (EDG is also remodeling the entire hotel). When it reopens in late 2010, there will also be a new menu and concept. The main dining room will end dinner service sometime in mid-June; the restaurant will continue to provide breakfast service to hotel guests, and the bar will offer “enhanced lunch and dinner menus” to the public. The restaurant is planning to host a series of notable chef dinners the second week in June (and yes, Wolfgang will host one of the nights). I know there are folks who have been working at Postrio since the joint opened in 1989–best wishes to them all in finding a new place to work. So many people, so many memories there. 545 Post St. at Taylor, 415-776-8135.

The disappearance of spendy places to dine continues: ~THE TERRACE AT THE RITZ-CARLTON, SAN FRANCISCO~ has closed–the space is going to be used for private meetings. Nope, you can’t enjoy a Ramos Fizz alfresco during the famed Sunday brunch on the Terrace anymore. The $55 Sunday brunch will now be served in the Dining Room (get that pinkie up), and breakfast, lunch, weekend afternoon tea, and dinner service are all now served in the Lobby Lounge. 600 Stockton St. at California, 415-296-7465. 

Last week the industry was buzzing about the opening of ~RN74~, the wine bar and restaurant at the base of Millennium Tower from the Mina Group. Dinner started last Friday, and lunch and late afternoon lighter fare menus launch imagetoday, Tuesday April 28th. Sample dishes from the initial dinner menu include chilled salad of Japanese big fin squid with sea urchin, Dungeness crab, cucumber, white sesame, and yuzu; pea tendril velouté with sweet carrots, macadamia nut, and navel orange; hand-cut pappardelle with cardoons, spinach, and red chili, Castelmagno cheese; and Four Story Hill Farm chicken with Swiss chard, white truffle bread pudding, and roasted chicken jus. Lunch dishes ring in at $11–$14, and dinner dishes are priced $14–$17, while the Wine Bar menu ranges from $9–$15 per dish (and includes the “RN74 slice” topped with fingerling potatoes, Epoisses, fleur de sel, and rosemary). Desserts and artisan cheeses are $9 each.

Wine director and restaurant partner Rajat Parr’s wine list includes the best expressions of red and white Burgundy (but of course), as well as new world pinot noirs and chardonnays, and a selection of varietals from other world regions. The list has over 50 wines by both the glass and taste. Also on the list: some wines by executive chef Jason Berthold (yup, he’s both a chef and winemaker), Parr, as well as contributions from renowned wine collector Wilf Jaeger. And just in case you don’t remember what RN74 means, it’s named after Route National 74, the major thoroughfare passing through the heart of France’s Burgundy region. AvroKO, the killer New York design firm, is behind the space, which sports a 30-seat bar and 75 seats in the restaurant. Lunch is Mon–Fri starting at 11:30am, and the wine bar will serve until 11pm on weeknights, and midnight Fri–Sat. Millennium Tower, 301 Mission St. at Beale, 415-543-7474.

Luis Villavelazquez, the pastry chef from ~ORSON~, is now at ~ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR~. He will oversee the dessert program at Absinthe as well as revamp the offerings at Arlequin Café as well. The famed chocolate pot de crème won’t be going anywhere, but look for new additions like olive oil cake with candied rhubarb sorbet, lemon pepper yogurt, and Chartreuse, and new to-go snacks at Arlequin, like a yogurt-covered pine nut granola bar. There will also be new scones and breads during brunch as well. 398 Hayes St. at Gough, 415-551-1590.

In the meantime, Elizabeth Falkner is developing and adding her own new desserts to the menu at Orson, including the Bomb Pop (chocolate fudgesicle, tangelo sorbet, lavender whip) and the Santorini (cardamom-date phyllo cigar, candied kumquats, yogurt, pine nuts). 508 4th St at Bryant, 415-777-1508.

Cool new pop-up restaurant alert: once a week, some gents from the Chez/OPEN Restaurant gang (and friends) will be hosting a restaurant upstairs at ~BRUNO’S~ and serving killer bar food in the bar area downstairs. The chefs and partners in the project include Chris Kronner (recently of Serpentine and Slow Club, Chez Panisse), Sam White and Howie Correa (front of house at Chez Panisse), Danny Bowien (Bar Tartine, and World Pesto Champion), and Oliver Monday (flour + water). Unlike Mission Street Food down the street with its rotating roster of guest chefs, this will be a set group of chefs cooking each Thursday. Dinner will be upstairs in the private room, and unlike the chefs’ Cal-Med-Chez pedigree might lead you to believe, they’re trying a different style here. In keeping with the flashy 1960s casino/steakhouse-meets-strip club vibe of Bruno’s décor, look for dishes like sous vide Prather Ranch prime rib for two and other steakhouse cuts, whole fish for two, and house-made pasta, served by staff in vintage suits. White tablecloth, natch. You know the products will be of superior quality, but the well-edited menu will be priced to be affordable. There will only be 35 seats upstairs, and dinner will be served from 8pm–1:30am. Since there’s a bar upstairs (five seats), there will also be a featured artisanal cocktail–guest bartender Christa Manalo (Town Hall, Beretta) will be making some vermouth, so expect an authentic martini for the inaugural night.

The downstairs action will be equally appealing, with $6–$7 old school cocktails (break out the Cutty Sark and Beefeater). There will also be tasty bar food, like chicken wings, pork bahn mi sandwiches (quite possibly on Tartine baguette), Prather Ranch hot dogs with kimchee, and smoked beef heart chili, plus hand-cut fries, rillettes, and more (I heard Ryan Farr might be doing corndogs). Cool guest DJs pushin’ a soul-lounge vibe are also in the works. The night has no name yet, but should be kicking off next Thursday May 7th (I’ll confirm next week). If you want to make a reservation for dinner, email Otherwise, just swing by for bites and drinks downstairs. Heck, do both. 2389 Mission St. at 20th St., 415-643-5200.

Over in Bernal, ~BLUE ELEPHANT THAI CUISINE~ has officially opened in the former Tinderbox space–it’s from the folks behind Dupont Thai on Grant in North Beach. The menu offers some usual suspects, but there is also free delivery with a $15 minimum. 803 Cortland Ave. at Ellsworth, 415-642-9900.

~OTORO~ opened last night in Hayes Valley in the former Laurel's Cuban Restaurant space. I mentioned a few weeks back there will be a combination of Japanese dishes, ranging from izakaya-inspired small plates, to noodles (udon, soba, and three kinds of ramen), and sushi from the appropriately named chef Maki. The spot is small, with about 30 seats and an eight-seat bar, where they serve sake, soju, and, of course, soju cocktails. Lunch Mon–Sat 11:30am–2:30pm, dinner Mon–Thu 5pm–10:30pm and Fri–Sat 5pm–11pm. 205 Oak St. at Gough, 415-553-3986.

~BRICK~, now ~FLY~ is reopening more quickly than expected. Like, tonight! The plan is to open at 5pm, just in time for happy hour. (The grand opening is this Friday May 1st.) You’ll be able to munch a bunch a new bunch of appetizers, pizzas, salads, sandwiches, and a few other additions, but nothing will be over $11; there are also $7 cocktail specials. Lunch starts next Tuesday. 1085 Sutter St. at Larkin, 415-441-4232.

Changes are coming to Russian Hill’s ~HYDE ST. BISTRO~. The restaurant will be closing within the next week or so, and after a one–two month remodel, it will be opening with a new look and concept. I spoke with the new co-owner Michael Audry, who was previously the chef at La Provence for three-plus years (he left about four months ago). He has partnered with Hyde Street Bistro owner Aurore Martinez; Audry said they will share more about the changes soon. The bistro should be closing within the next week or two. 1521 Hyde St. at Jackson, 415-292-4415.

~WOODHOUSE ON FILLMORE~ started dinner service (you can check out the PDF of the menu here) and the beer and wine is pourin’! I also hear Tuesdays means $1 oysters. Open Sun–Thu 11:30am–10pm, Fri–Sat 11:30am–11pm. 1914 Fillmore St. at Bush.

More Fillmore news: after three days of closure, ~LA BOULANGE DE FILLMORE~ is reopening with a fresh paint job and 20 seats on their mezzanine. The menu has also been revised and expanded, now with burgers, fries, and more egg dishes. 2043 Fillmore St. at Pine, 415-928-1300.

imageSpeaking of brunch, the reports of ~SPORK’S~ new Sunday brunch are bueno: Four Barrel coffee, coffee cake, their awesome back patio (shhhh), and I am happy that the delish Mission eggs I tried for lunch a long time ago are now back for the brunch menu: slow-roasted carnitas, broken eggs, avocado, corn tortillas, queso fresco, and spicy green cabbage. You can get hunger pangs while scoping the menu here. Sundays 11am–2pm. 1058 Valencia St. at 21st St., 415-643-5000.

More Mission news: I think sandwiches and hot dogs are going to be neck-in-neck for the dish trend of the year. Recently opened in Tony’s Market is ~PALS’ TAKEAWAY~, serving up quality sandos. Here are some examples previously listed on their rotating menu: Vietnamese-style with grilimageled marinated beef, pickled carrot-daikon, cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro, and herbed canola mayo on an Acme roll ($7.25); slow-roasted Becker Lane pork shoulder with wild arugula, herbed mayo on Acme sesame Kaiser roll ($7.25); and Full Belly asparagus tossed with Meyer lemon and Reggiano, Riverdog soft-cooked ranch egg, Full Belly greens, and herbed canola mayo on Acme whole wheat seed ($6.75). There are salads, too, like farro and Massa Organics brown rice with flame radish, asparagus, parsley, chives, and rice wine vinaigrette for $3.75. Mon–Fri 10:30am–3:30pm. 2751 24th St. at Hampshire.

More sandwiches: chef Joshua Skenes, formerly the executive chef of Chez TJ in Mountain View, has created ~CARTE415~, a grab-and-go lunch cart offering sandwiches, salads, and snacks made with fresh, organic, and locally sourced products. The menu will change often, but some items include a sandwich of cava-cured salmon, fennel, red onion, and dill on ficelle; roasted lamb, vadouvan spices, chicories, yogurt dressing; and house‐made snacks including BBQ vegetable chips, Greek yogurt with rhubarb jam, and sweets, plus locally produced organic lemonades, iced teas, sodas, and Blue Bottle coffees. Salads will run $6–$8, sandwiches $8–$9, and snacks $3–$5. Everything will be packaged with 100% recyclable and compostable materials, and the cart itself consists of reused and recycled materials and will require no electricity, using alternative methods to keep the food hot or cold. CARTE415 will be open from 11:30am –2:30pm. The first cart will be in the glass atrium at 101 Second Street and will open May 4th. Additional locations will be announced in the coming months, and there will be delivery services this summer.

The Kentucky Derby is coming up, and ~PICAN~ is hosting a Bourbon and Burgoo Kentucky Derby Party at 1pm on Saturday May 2nd. Women must wear hats, and prizes will be given for best hat for the ladies and for the most dapper man for the gents. In addition to the usual fare, Pican will serve a Kentucky stew made of meats and veggies called Burgoo, plus Pican Derby Pie, and Bourbon Balls for dessert. And Mint Juleps, naturally. 2295 Broadway at 23rd St., Oakland, 510-834-1000.

Sunday May 3rd is a Pig-Out at ~COFFEE BAR~. Chef Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats will be doing a live butcher demo around 3pm, and the buffet-style dinner begins at 6pm. $35 per person ticket price includes one drink (Big Daddy IPA or Balletto pinot noir), plus chicharrones and other meat goodies, Red Wattle heritage pig roasted on the grill and the rotisserie, charred carrots, potato and leek salad, market greens, grilled spring vegetables, and bacon, peanut butter, and chocolate brownies. Coffee Bar will provide some inventive and refreshing coffee and espresso drinks and music from DJ Denizen. There will also be a video screened about a day in the life of pigs, followed by Porky's. 1890 Bryant St. at Mariposa, 415-551-8100.

There are still some seats available for the third dinner in the ~A MOVEABLE FEAST~ series to benefit CUESA on Tuesday May 5th at Picco restaurant in Larkspur. Chefs Bruce Hill, Chris Whaley, and Greg Dunmore (Ame) will create a multi-course dinner highlighting grass-fed beef and pork from David Evans of Marin Sun Farms, the guest farmer for the evening. The evening menu may include: chilled English pea soup with bone marrow crouton; lamb kibbe with zaatar flatbread, mint, and red onion; grilled beef tongue with asparagus, mizuna, and shichimi; roasted chicken breast, braised leg, egg yolk ravioli, dandelion greens, and parmesan broth; mesquite-grilled bavette steak with black trumpet mushrooms, potato, baby shallot, and wild ramp puree; and for dessert, strawberries, larded pastry crust, and caramel ice cream. Tickets can be purchased online here. $80, or $100 including wine, inclusive of tax and gratuity (a percentage of each ticket cost will benefit CUESA). 7pm. 320 Magnolia Ave. at King, Larkspur, 415-924-0300.
The fourth dinner in the series will be held at Spruce restaurant on Tuesday June 2nd with chef Mark Sullivan of Spruce and Loretta Keller of Coco500 and The Moss Room, with guest farmer Kristie Knoll of Knoll Farms.

It’s time to take stock of your cooking skills with the latest series of classes at La Cocina, a ~THREE-PART SERIES ON STOCKS, SOUPS AND SAUCES~. On May 7th (6pm–7:30pm) the class will focus on stocks; May 21st (6pm–8pm) is all about soup; and the last class on June 4th (6pm–8pm) will cover the more complex world of sauces. Free for La Cocina program participants. $20/class for partner organizations, $40 for one class, $100 for the series for the general public. Buy tickets here. 2948 Folsom St. at 25th St., 415-824-2729, ext. 303.

~BURMA SUPERSTAR OAKLAND~ has opened in the old Horseshoe spot on Telegraph. The menu is similar to the San Francisco location, and includes the tea leaf salad, rainbow salad, samusa soup, and their spiciest dish, the chili lamb. Seating is for about 50 people, but is much roomier than the SF location. Hours are Sun, and Tue–Thu 11am–3:30pm and 5pm–9:30pm, Fri–Sat 11am–3:30pm and 5pm–10pm. 4721 Telegraph Ave. at 47th St., Oakland, 510-652-2900.

In next week’s issue: details on Bar Crudo (slated to open May 8th), flour + water (opening for dinner on May 15th), and Schmidt’s Deli (opening next week).

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

the sponsor

SF Cocktail Week

Sure, happy hour is a magic thing, but then there’s Cocktail Week! The third San Francisco Cocktail Week kicks off May 11th and runs through May 18th.

To celebrate the unique cocktail culture here in SF, there will be a bunch of activities and parties (and yes, happy hours), but a few to pay attention to include the United States Bartender’s Guild Competition on Tuesday the 12th (local competition starts at 11am, national at 5pm); Education Day on Thursday the 14th (with different sessions where you can learn about everything from creating house-made ingredients to the nuances of today’s gin); and of course the North Beach Historical Cocktail Crawl on Saturday the 16th, hosted by your very own tablehopper! Check out the entire line-up of events and find links to buy tickets here.

You will also want to know that some bars, restaurants, and lounges around the Bay Area will be featuring two limited-edition cocktails: one classic recipe and one original cocktail created by that bar’s “Cocktail Champion,” so look for those as well. Cheers!

the lush

Cocktail WeekAPRIL 21, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Opening this Friday May 1st is ~TRIGGER~, the latest Greg Bronstein bar project. Designer Craige Walters reportedly re-did the former Jet/Detour (oh, the days) plus an adjoining space into a completely new look described as SoHo loft meets Hollywood Regency. There will also be Black Card memberships (I have been hearing a price ranging from $500–$750, uh, is this 2009?) that will include table and bottle service, complimentary valet parking, and a VIP restroom (no word if it comes with a special mirror). Happy hour lounge and food service, daily 4pm–10pm, club from 10pm–2am. 2344 Market St. at Castro, 415-551-CLUB.

~BACAR~ has decided to continue with Sunday brunch service, and is offering bottomless Bloody Marys made with Lotus vodka. Sundays from 10am–2pm. And did you know on home game days, you can show your ticket stub to enjoy a Pabst and a burger for $8 in the main bar? 448 Brannan St. at 3rd St., 415-904-4100.

~1300 ON FILLMORE~ has launched happy hour Mon–Thu 4:30pm–6:30pm, with $5 well drinks, $5 house wines, $3 draft beers and $3 sparkling wine in the bar and Heritage Lounge. 1300 Fillmore St. at Eddy, 415-771-7100.

~GRAND CAFÉ BAR~ has a revitalized look, refreshed interior, a new chef (chef de cuisine Sophiane Benaouda), and more. His all day bar menu highlights Southern French classics with a lighter twist, including salt cod beignets and pissaladière, plus hearty brasserie dishes like beef bourguignon or steak frites paired with a beer or glass of wine for $18; there is also a renewed focus on desserts. The 3–7 happy hour is, you guessed it, Mon–Fri 3pm–7pm with drinks and appetizers priced $3–$7. Jacques Bezuidenhout and Danielle Kuzinich just designed the cocktail list. 501 Geary St. at Taylor, 415-262-0100.

Ruby Wine, ~SLOW CLUB~, and Serpentine are celebrating the release of 2008 rosé wines for the month of May. It all starts with a rosé release party at Slow Club hosted by Ruby Wine on Sunday May 3rd, 4pm–7pm. You can taste several wines and enjoy some nibbles for $20 per person. Kids are welcome and free. For the entire month of May, get discounted prices on 2008 rosé wines at Ruby Wine, Slow Club, and Serpentine. Slow Club, 2501 Mariposa St. at Hampshire, 415-241-9390.

More rosé: mark your calendar for ~PINK OUT! SF 2009~ from the Rosé Avengers and Producers on Tuesday May 12th at Butterfly Restaurant. This extensive walk-around tasting will feature 40 classic still and sparkling international rosés, accompanied by tasty appetizers from chef Robert Lam and chill DJ grooves. The event is 6:30pm–8:30pm. $35 online advance; $45 at door, if available. (NOTE: this event has sold out in advance every year.) You can purchase tickets and see the line-up of wines here. Pier 33 (The Embarcadero at Bay St.).

After hosting a few beer dinners at the ~MONK'S KETTLE~, they have decided to do them regularly. The first Wednesday of every month they’ll host either a four- or five-course beer pairing dinner featuring a craft brewery. A representative of the brewery will be on hand to talk about the beer (a brewer if possible). The next one will be Wednesday May 6th with Oskar Blues from Lyons, CO. You can see the menu (regular or veggie) and more details here. $85 per person plus tax and gratuity. Monk’s Kettle is also about to start a cask beer program as well, so watch for that. 3141 16th St. at Valencia, 415-865-9523.

I recently took a peek at Aussie ~MATT SKINNER’S~ latest book, Heard It Through The Grapevine, and it looks like he’ll be in town signing books at Book Passage in the Ferry Building at 6pm on Thursday May 7th. It’s a friendly intro book for fledgling winos.

the socialite

Roses from my mother’s garden

Mother’s Day
Sun. May 10th, 2009

Various locations

APRIL 28, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO ~MOTHER’S DAY~ brunch and lunch and dinners will be hosted at practically every restaurant with a kitchen on Sunday May 10th. If you (or Mom) have a favorite place to dine, call and see what they’re offering. I was totally and completely inundated with Mother’s Day press releases, but I picked out just a couple that stood out for various reasons. Here you go:

San Francisco:

I recently brought my grandma, her best friend, and my mom and sis to lunch at Waterbar, and both the food and ambiance scored high with the ladies. I just found out their special Mother’s Day prix-fixe brunch menu is only $40, mighty reasonable considering the prices I am seeing out there. You get an amuse of sea bass ceviche; first course (choose one): Maine Lobster bisque, little gem salad, or house-cured smoked sturgeon; main (choose one): Dungeness crab Louie salad, stuffed cornmeal crepes, or local halibut papillote; and lemon pound cake for dessert. 11am–3pm. Reservations: 415-284-9922.

Mother’s Day brunch will be served at Silks from 9am–1pm, and you gotta love an endless flow of mimosas (those puppies can add up quick otherwise). The list of items to be served includes but is not limited to: chilled soba noodle salad; smoked salmon; steamed dim sum; scrambled eggs, bacon, chicken-apple and pork sausage; and carrot ginger soup. A dessert table will offer a wide array of sweets. $49 for adults and $25 for children, plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are suggested and may be made by calling 415-986-2020.

Luce (and I-SPA)
If you want to wine and dine and pamper mom, the I-SPA at the InterContinental San Francisco has teamed up with their restaurant Luce to offer a one-day Mother’s Day getaway for $149. It includes lunch or dinner at Luce for Mom (a special Mother’s Day menu will be offered), chocolate box takeaway, spa treatment (50 minute massage) at I-SPA, spa gift bag, and parking (to be validated in Luce). The package needs to be booked by Thursday May 7th by calling 415-616-6597.

Parties That Cook! Mother’s Day Brunch Class
Take Mom to the Ferry Plaza for a fun morning of sipping mimosas and whipping up a gourmet brunch in the kitchen with Parties That Cook! At this hands-on cooking class, you and your mom will learn new cooking techniques, then sit down to a buffet brunch that will include miniature smoked salmon croque monsieur sandwiches and asparagus and green garlic frittata bites. Coffee and mimosas included. $75 per guest. 10:30am–1pm. View menu and sign up here.

East Bay:

Pican will open early at 11am and will have three brunch seatings that will include crawfish eggs Benedict and bourbon-Champagne mimosas. For reservations, call 510-834-1000.

Wine Country:

Martini House
Because Martini House is Mother’s Day central, this lovely St. Helena restaurant will offer a prix-fixe lunch and dinner menu for $45 on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (May 8th, 9th, and 10th). In addition, Martini House will have its à la carte, tasting, and cellar menus available. Call 707-963-2233 for reservations.

I know my mom would love admiring the gardens at this place. Executive chef Anne Gingrass-Paik of Brix in Napa is hosting a special buffet-style Mother’s Day brunch, with items like sourdough pancakes with pecans, soft scrambled eggs with fromage blanc, carved beef filet, along with a seafood bar with barbequed mussels, Beau Soleil oysters, and a Laughing Bird shrimp cocktail. $44 per person, children age 12 and under are $22 per person, exclusive of taxes and gratuities. Orange juice and coffee is included. 10am–3pm. Call 707-944-2749.

For a wine country Mother’s Day brunch, the $35 price tag ($19 per guest under twelve) on this one at SolBar at Solage is hard to beat, and the setting in Calistoga is faboo. The menu begins with a parfait of strawberries and granola with honeyed yogurt and brut rosé granita, then a first course (Forni Brown whole leaf lettuces, or little gem Cobb salad, or SolBar smoked salmon with Delta asparagus, or house-made tagliatelle with Mendocino morels and English peas. The second course choices include a Belgian-style waffle, or bacon and onion quiche, or poached eggs on their English muffins with Monterey artichokes and Dungeness crab hollandaise, or Pacific coast halibut. Macadamia-crusted cheesecake is offered for dessert. To make your reservation, call 707-226-0850.


Farm Dinners
May 2009

arious locations

APRIL 28, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Upset that the local Outstanding in the Field events are all booked up? Despair not, because there are all kinds of ~FANTASTIC FARM-BASED EVENTS AND MEALS AND FUNDRAISERS~ coming up.

Papermill Creek Children's Corner Fundraiser at Devil’s Gulch Ranch
On Friday May 15th, there is a dinner/fundraiser for Papermill Creek Children's Corner at the Devil’s Gulch Ranch main house with chefs Margaret Grade and Daniel DeLong of Manka’s Inverness Lodge. There is a tour and dinner at the 75-acre Devil’s Gulch Ranch, with pours of Dutton-Goldfield Devils Gulch Ranch Marin County pinot noir, Sean Thackrey Andromeda Devils Gulch Ranch Marin County pinot noir (Sean Thackrey will be present!), Stubbs Vineyard chardonnay, Stubbs Vineyard merlot, Kalin Cellars sauvignon blanc, Pey-Marin Marin County riesling, Pey-Marin Marin County merlot, and more special surprises! 30 seats total at $200 per person (this popular event sold out last year). 100% of the proceeds will go to Papermill Creek Children's Corner. On-site childcare available. 6pm–9pm. Buy tickets here.

The Living Soil Spring Terroir Dinner at Quivira Vineyards & Winery
The grounds of Quivira are in the breathtaking Dry Creek Valley, so this event on Saturday May 16th definitely caught my eye. Quivira Vineyards & Winery is launching the first in a seasonal series of farm-to-table wine-estate dinners that lets visitors experience estate-produced wines paired with food sourced exclusively from the same farm, a unique expression of terroir.

In this inaugural spring dinner, guests will tour the biodynamic vineyard farm and learn the basics of farming biodynamically (composting, cover crops, “teas”) from Quivira staff. The meal from chef and biodynamic farmer Doug Nicosia will highlight seasonal ingredients like green garlic, pea shoots, and strawberries served family-style in Quivira’s estate garden. (I recently tried some of the farm’s products, including delicious honey and fig preserves, so you’re in for some quality produce–they even have their own olive oil.) Wines will be paired with each course, including Quivira’s 2008 mourvèdre-viognier rosé, 2008 Fig Tree sauvignon blanc, and 2006 syrah à Ampuis.

Tickets are $125 per person, with space limited to forty people. The cost includes appetizers, an estate tour with a biodynamic farming overview presented by Quivira’s farm manager and winemaker, a seated dinner in the garden, and Quivira wines enjoyed throughout. 4pm. To register for this event, please contact Relish at 877-759-1004 or

Farm to Feast Dinner–Dinner Under the Walnut Tree with Traci Des Jardins
The 3rd Annual Farm to Feast Dinner and Auction will take place on Summerfield Waldorf School’s 15-acre biodynamic farm on Saturday May 16th in Sonoma County.

Chef Traci Des Jardin of Jardinière, Acme Chophouse, and Mijita will be leading a team of renowned chefs: Duskie Estes and John Stewart of Sonoma County’s Zazu and Bovolo, and Galaxy Desserts pastry chef, Jean Yves Charon. They will be preparing an unforgettable meal with primarily local, organic ingredients (some produce and dairy even culled from sources 100 feet from the table), and premiere wines. 100% of the proceeds from this event will support tuition assistance for students who are immersed in studies of sustainable agriculture. 4pm–9:30pm.

Tickets are $175 per person, and are available online here or by calling 1-800-838-3006.

the health nut

APRIL 28, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO I’m the first to admit it: my job is incredible, full of amazing people, food, wine and spirits, places… but it also really takes its toll. No matter how much I ride my bike, walk, do yoga, and eat flax cereal and whole grains and organic vegetables at home, my body can’t hold up to the physical pummeling of dinner and events and drinks six nights a week.

I started noticing that I was “giving up” on eating light or healthy since it seemed futile to even try, with temptation at every turn. I have consistently been putting on weight since I started writing about food seven years ago, and the options in my closet have been getting smaller (while my waist size keeps getting bigger, WTF). My metabolism also isn’t what it used to be–it’s an unfortunate reality. And I have a strong constitution, so I tend to push my luck. But if I am going to continue doing this gig, I need to find some balance and instill healthier habits, because I don’t want to end up like Jabba the Hut, and damaging my body.

I was intrigued about this ~THREE-WEEK CLEANSE/DETOX~ that was going to be launched in partnership with my yoga studio. After some persuasive discussions with the practitioner, Lawrence Kampf, I decided it was a good idea to give my body a break from all the fat, booze, meat, and carrying on for three weeks. I did a more intense cleanse for three weeks about four years ago when I went to Lake Tahoe, and I gotta say, I was lookin’ and feelin’ good.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no intention of giving up my morning espresso forever, nor my Manhattans (those are at night, mind you), but for three weeks? Yeah, I can do that. I am also saying “ciao for now” to all alcohol, fish, and meat. I’m not going to be eating 100% vegan, but I’m going to try. I will be eating only organic and whole foods, no processed foods, and trying to eat as much seasonal, local, and raw food that I can (yay for spring fruits and vegetables).

During the next three weeks, I’m really not going to be going out too much–I’m going to be using this time to be in control of my diet, to cook, exercise, and write my book. But I won’t entirely be on lockdown: I’ll also be exploring some places in the City that are focused on offering organic, healthy, and clean food that fits into my program–or places that at least offer a few options. I’ll be sure to share my findings in the coming weeks, whether it’s a cool food product (like I am loving my Mighty Leaf detox herbal tea), or a restaurant, or a resource.

Truth be told, I’m excited about this “hard restart”–sometimes you just gotta shut off the computer to make it run better.

In the meantime, here’s a hodgepodge of health-related local news and more:

The timing on this opening couldn’t be better as far as my culinary calendar is concerned, and I plan to try it out in the next week: the first ~BEAUTIFULL~ “foodspace” opens in Laurel Village this Wednesday April 29th. (Cass Calder Smith iimages the architect.) According to the press release, the location “will be offering tasty, healthy, and convenient prepared food that is fresh, natural, and whole. Customers can dine in at the location, take out, stock up for the week or have the food delivered to their homes or offices. The company has been selling its prepared fresh food entrees and side dishes online and in several Bay Area grocery stores for many months. The company, founded by entrepreneur Eric Greenberg, is based in Emeryville and provides food in retail stores such as Blue Fog Market, Berkeley Bowl and Real Food Company and through home delivery.” Hours are 7am–8pm daily. 3401 California St. at Laurel, 415-728-9080.

I didn’t have time to check this out, but according to a tablehopper reader, ~INDULGENCE~ has opened (it’s in the former Popolo space on Bush Street near Belden Lane). Here’s what the reader said, “Stopped in yesterday on my way elsewhere, just have coffee and tea now, say they are adding breakfast and lunch soon, all healthy eats. Looks like your typical Fidi spot.” 375 Bush St. at Kearny.

Another reader confirmed that ~ENJOY VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT~ has opened its second location in Chinatown last weekend. Here’s more: “Like its Sunset District location, it offers [an] awesome 125-item a la carte menu plus $7.50 lunch specials with soup, rice, and spring roll. While the Sunset location is closed Mondays, the Chinatown location is open seven days a week.” 839 Kearny St. at Washington, 415-956-7868.

Got word that vegetarians now have the option of ordering from a separate, meat-free menu at ~ZARÉ AT FLY TRAP~ in SOMA. A highlight of the new menu is Hoss Zaré’s vegetarian kufteh, one hundred percent vegetarian “meatballs” made predominantly of bulgur and beans such as lima, fava, or adzuki, then stuffed with sautéed seasonal wild mushrooms and roasted garlic–he spent a lot of time developing the recipe. The featured dish costs $17 and includes two baseball-sized vegetarian kufteh flavored with Persian spices such as coriander, cumin, and harissa and served with seven-spice carrot-verjus emulsion and Mediterranean avocado salsa on the side. Other items on the menu include salads, roasted beets, crispy polenta, arancini, braised Italian eggplant, portabella mushroom kebabs, and marinated chickpeas. 606 Folsom St. at 2nd St., 415-243-0580.

I wanted to let you know about this event before it sells out: coming up is an ~URBAN DESSERT SOIREE~ with VegNews Magazine on May 21st at CandyBar. It's going to be an evening of vegan desserts by CandyBar's pastry chef (five courses!), libations (sparkling wine, lattes, Italian sodas, etc.), guest-of-honor and green chef Ani Phyo, and much more. All guests will also receive a complimentary copy of Ani's just-released cookbook, Ani’s Raw Food Desserts, and hear her secrets for living an eco-fabulous life. 6pm–9pm. Details and tickets can be found here. 1335 Fulton St. at Divisadero.

the sugar mama

SF Cocktail Week

APRIL 28, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO The third San Francisco Cocktail Week is May 11th–May 18th, and there are a bunch of boozy events you’ll want to attend. One in particular is World Cocktail Week Happy Hour; Bayou On The Bay on Friday May 15th, 5pm–8pm at Epic Roasthouse (369 The Embarcadero).

tablehopper is giving away one pair of tickets to the event. You and a guest will be able to enjoy Friday afternoon cocktails shaken up by some of San Francisco’s legendary local mixologists, such as Duggan McDonnell, Jon Santer, Dominic Venegas, H. Joseph Ehrmann, Jeff Hollinger, and Epic Roasthouse’s own Camber Lay (please note the line-up is subject to change). They will be pouring one-of-a-kind cocktails that were individually developed for this event.

To enter to win, all you need to do is forward this week’s tablehopper newsletter to one buddy, but even more would be so very fabulous. Tell your friend(s) about Cocktail Week, 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 Friday May 1st–I’ll notify the three winners over the weekend.

All guests must be 21 and over. If you want to get your own tickets, they are $30 per person. Admission includes two drink tickets and snacks; additional drink tickets are available for sale.

the starlet

APRIL 28, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Vince Vaughn had lunch at Perry's on the Embarcadero on Sunday with his new fiancée, Kyla Weber. They shared a grilled artichoke, each had French onion soup, then she had a chicken BLT and he had Perry’s club sandwich.

A tablehopper reader who had lunch at The Slanted Door noticed chef Eric Ripert was dining there as well.

Hottie Benjamin Bratt dined at Zuni Cafe with three other folks this past Friday April 24th. He reportedly had oysters, and was looking dapper in his suit.

Green Day had dinner at Foreign Cinema last week. Chef Gayle offered a green menu and brought out English pea velouté shooters to start, along with green chili-studded brandade; avocado mache salad; and risotto verde made with English peas, kale, and prosciutto. My source says they were super sweet and total gentlemen!


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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