table of contents This week's tablehopper: on the rebound.

the chatterbox
the word on the street
the lush

put it on my tab

the socialite

the starlet
no photos please

the sponsor
this round is on me

Alkemie ice cream

Gather Restaurant

NOVEMBER 17, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Oh. My. God. I made it. My sea of paper is now at low tide. I finished my second pages. Break out the Willett Pot Still Reserve bourbon. Oh wait, I already did. Heh. I believe the worst is over, so I’m fired up and ready to get back to some regular exercise and nights out on the town, and answering my email. Oh yeah, and how about some writing? Oh yeah, that. I’ll have a review for you next week, and in fact, I’m gonna have a whole lot of something else for you next week too. All will be revealed. I don’t mean to be all mysterious and David Blaine-like, but let’s just say I’ve got something in the hopper, and it’s gonna be cool.

Last week’s highlights (when I wasn’t hunched over my book galley with my green pen): the sherry tasting at Stable was awesome (here’s a little video our event chef, James Stolich, took of Neyah White flaming some orange peel for our final cocktail), and the very next night I was invited to a private dinner party at James’s house (gotta love some home cooking). We had a delicious salad of burrata, escarole, and endive. Turns out James demonstrated the dish at a Ferry Building Market to Table session, so here’s the recipe for you (I’d serve it with asmattering of breadcrumbs).

imageI also headed over to the 510 on Sunday night for some last-minute recon, and I ended the evening with a stellar copa of gelato at Almare Gelato (2170 Shattuck)–the creamy texture and authentic flavors were off the charts, check it out. So nice to have caffè gelato really taste like espresso.

Can’t wait to go to the annual McEvoy Ranch private party this weekend–time to stock up on some olio nuovo. Also on topic: I was happy to see my dad featured in the weekly CUESA newsletter in a piece about his olive-curing process written by tablehopper intern Daisy Chow (she also contributed to the ‘hopper this week, check it out). Carmen’s cracked green olives are really the bomb. More seasonal goodness I’m excited about: yesterday’s local Dungeness crab season kickoff! I’m so ready to swing by the Alioto-Lazio Fish Company and pick up some crab at their storefront at 440 Jefferson Street–it’s time to do some damage.

So, let’s get crackin’.


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the chatterbox

Alkemie Ice CreamNOVEMBER 17, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO Plenty of openings this week: ~PINKIE'S BAKERY~, a wholesale operation from Cheryl Burr (formerly the pastry chef at EOS and bacar) as of yesterday has a new retail storefront, right next to Pizza Nostra at the base of Potrero Hill. On the menu: danishes, muffins, pecan sticky buns, cookies (I can vouch for how delicious these are), cupcakes, cakes, cream pies, and fresh-baked artisan breads. Her “roommate” in the operation is ~BENTO 415~ from Chris Beerman, who offers a variety of bento boxes named and inspired by various San Francisco neighborhoods (the Haight, North Beach, etc.), a total of four each day (perfect for a grab-and-go lunch made with organic ingredients). I also hear a breakfast biscuit is in the works (with sausage from 4505 Meats, stand by!). Starting next week, Blue Bottle drip coffee will also be available. Hours are Mon–Fri 6:30am–3pm (since it’s opening week, hours and offerings are subject to change, FYI). 300 De Haro St. at 16th St., 415-355-1619.

And opening today is ~LA BOULANGE DE NOE~ in the former Noe Valley Pizzeria space. And you can’t miss it: the corner location is not blue or green, it is a bright “French lavender.” Or as I’d call it, power periwinkle. Same menu as the other Boulanges, and they also have beer and wine, with outdoor seating on both 24th Street and Sanchez. Open daily from 7am–7pm. 3898 24th St. at Sanchez, 415-821-1050.

Over in the Marina, ~TACOLICIOUS~ will be taking over Laïola for T-Lish Tuesdays every Tuesday from now until the end of the year, from 5pm to close. You can check out the menu here (it’s a PDF). T-Lish Tuesdays will bring six kinds of tacos (three for $10, including fried fish), plus salads, ceviche, pozole, and cocktails! And then there’s this kick-ass special: a shot of Don Julio Reposado, a can of Tecate, and the taco del dia for only $10. 2031 Chestnut St. at Fillmore, 415-346-5641.

Set to open tomorrow is ~STONE KOREAN KITCHEN~ in Embarcadero Four, in the old Oishii Sushi space. Three best friends have come together to offer a menu featuring Korean dishes from their families. They are starting with a limited menu, which will expand over the coming weeks. You’ll be able to check it out for lunch during the week and happy hour (Thu–Fri), with dinner launching after Thanksgiving. Gi Paoletti Design Lab designed the 75-seat space, and there’s also a patio that will be developed and quite nice in less-chilly weather. 4 Embarcadero Center, Street Level, 415-839-4070.

Right on schedule, ~NOMBE RESTAURANT~, the new izakaya from Gil Payne and Mari Takahashi (formerly of the now-closed Sozai Restaurant) and chef Nicolaus Balla (most recently of O Izakaya and Lounge) is opening this Friday November 20th. The izakaya will be opening in the former Tacos Santana Bar & Grill space. How organized, the website is already up with the menu; I am very happy to see Balla’s pork belly on there, with not one but two different executions, plus quite the selection of yakimono (grilled) items. There will be 80 seats, and over 75 brands of sake, plus shochu cocktails, and eight Japanese and local beers on tap. Look for a window with Japanese street food offerings on the weekends that will start at 11pm (keep track on their Twitter feed). Sun–Thu 6pm–11pm, Fri–Sat 11am–2am. 2491 Mission St. at 21st St., 415-681-7150.

Another opening slated for this Friday the 20th is ~REPUBLIC~, the project in the Marina in the former Jones space. I got a peek at a few brunch dishes: how about Republic chorizo and egg sliders on house-made English muffins with Bellwether crescenza cheese, scallion, and cherry pepper preserves, or a Liberty Farms corned duck hash? Sounds good to me. 2401 Lombard St. at Scott, 415-817-1337.

Over in SoMa, ~OZONE THAI~ is now open in the Jack Falstaff space. Ozone is open for lunch Mon–Fri, dinner nightly until 11pm, and offering late-night bites in the bar after 10pm Thu–Sat. There is a happy hour from 3pm–6pm, and then again from 10pm–1:30am Thu–Sat, with $4 apps and drinks. Delivery to the neighborhood is sporadic, so call and see. 598 Second St. at Brannan, 415-536-3266.

Also heard ~BOSSA NOVA~ is now serving lunch Mon–Fri from 11am–2:30pm. The recession-friendly dishes cost $8.50–$9.50, including coconut laced Rio-style moqueca (fish stew) and feijoada (slow-braised pork and black beans), plus sandwiches and a hamburger. Since I am always on a perfect Cubano quest, the Bossa Nova pork sandwich definitely caught my eye: it features a 12-hour slow-roasted pork, seasoned with Brazilian spices, sliced, and paired with Manchego cheese, thin-sliced ham, slivers of cornichons, and a fiery Dijon mustard. Sign me up. 139 8th St. at Minna, 415-558-8008.

There’s much bigger news brewing in SoMa, however: I knew chef-owner David Gingrass was planning to close his restaurant ~TWO~ at the end of this month or early December, but Eater broke the news that this Friday will actually be the last day of dinner service. (TWO will continue to host private holiday parties in December.) Gingrass is going to think about what his next venture will be–whatever it is, he said he was ready for something new. Best of luck to him—that location was part of many diners’ memories, 15 years’ worth.

Gather RestaurantAs for who is taking over the space, I finally got a chance to connect with Corey Lee, who has worked with Thomas Keller for the past eight years (both at The French Laundry–where he was the head chef during the latter half of his time with Keller–and for a year opening per se in New York City). He will be opening ~benu~ in the spring of 2010, perhaps May or June. Lee will be completely gutting the space and starting from scratch, so the dining room will be an entirely new layout and experience. There will be two menus available: a set tasting menu designed to last two to two and a half hours, and an à la carte menu, where guests are at liberty to order as much or as little as they’d like. There will be some fine dining elements (with very polished service, natch), but it will also feel like an urban setting. I asked Lee what we’re going to see stylistically from him, and he said his cooking style will certainly have classical roots and feature quality ingredients, but there will also be modern touches, with some global influences as well. I know, we are all so damned excited, right? I’ll certainly keep you posted about his team, timing, and more in the New Year. 22 Hawthorne Lane at Howard.

I was thrilled to hear the sweet chef, Kamar U. Barbhuyan, and his wife, Nimmie, who used to be at my favorite Indian place, Little Delhi, have found a new location! They will be opening ~LOUCKNOW BIRYANI HOUSE~ in the Tasty Curry location in the Inner Sunset. Kamar has been traveling all over India (including Jaipur and Delhi), and is excited to unleash some new dishes on us. Look for an opening in December. 1375 9th Ave. at Judah.

A third THE PLANT Cafe Organic, ~THE PLANT downtown~, will be opening in the next few weeks (either the end of November or first week of December) at 101 California, in the old Palapas Mexican joint. Hours will be Monday to Friday for light breakfasts and full lunches (and catering). It will have a similar menu to the Marina location, such as create-your-own salads, fresh juices, smoothies, grain bowls, sandwiches, the plant burger, all-organic house-made baked goods, Blue Bottle coffee, etc. They’ll also be adding rotisserie chicken to this location, a more-extensive grab and go selection, and some new items such as a fish sandwich and a breakfast burrito. Every ingredient is 100% organic, almost exclusively locally sourced, only sustainable seafood is served, and poultry is free range and organic. Cass Calder Smith also designed this location, so you’ll see similarities to other PLANT locations with the hickory slatted ceiling, tables, and many of the same fixtures are used. 101 California St. (at the corner of Front and Pine).  

~MARIN FARMERS MARKET AND LIFE INGREDIENTS~ have joined together to offer educational tours and cooking classes for those experiencing cancer (and for their caregivers). To celebrate Thanksgiving, this weekend on Sunday the 22nd, their weekend market tours will be offered to anyone wishing to learn more about market agriculture, nutrition, and recipe ideas. The market tour will be located at the Stonestown Galleria location and the tours will start at 10am. Please RSVP at anais [at] so they know you are coming.

imagetablehopper intern Daisy Chow went to ~SUGAR RUSH~ last week in my stead since I was stuck home editing, and here’s her excellent recap of the event (sorry for inducing any afternoon cravings for sweets): “At 111 Minna Gallery last Thursday, top Bay Area dessert-makers plied the crowd with a surfeit of sweet treats as part of Sugar Rush, a fundraiser for non-profit Spark. Participants included Chez Panisse, Range, Millennium, Boulevard, Michael Mina, Humphry Slocombe, Sibby’s Cupcakery, Spruce, Recchiuti Confections, and Gastronaut Catering.

“My favorite of the night was Boulevard’s hazelnut semifreddo and chocolate cake (pictured), topped with a boule of Campari foam and garnished with burnt orange caramel, chocolate streusel, candied hazelnuts, and a honey tuile—well-executed and elegant.

“Nostalgia-inspired desserts were crowd favorites: Range’s ultra-smooth butterscotch pudding served with vanilla bean whipped cream, bits of crunchy toffee, and a tiny vanilla wafer; Humphry Slocombe’s ice cream sandwiches in pepper-mint, peanut butter curry, and oolong gingersnap; and cupcakes in classic flavors from Sibby’s Cupcakery all garnered praise.

“Other venerable Bay Area restaurants provided equally delectable bites. Michael Mina’s Bill Corbett plated butternut squash with coconut curry ice cream and red pepper caramel sauce. Chez Panisse’s chocolate-dipped pizzelle cookie cones were filled to the top with chocolate pastry cream and candied cranberries. Adam Becker of Spruce highlighted velvety textures in his hazelnut mousse on dark chocolate feuilletine and milk chocolate-passionfruit crémeux on dacquoise cake.

“For chocolate lovers, Recchiuti Confections brought their signature flavors with burnt sugar ganache, s’mores, and fleur de sel caramels. Millennium presented a decadent vegan treat of pumpkin cream with spiced white chocolate mousse and cocoa nib tuile in cups made of Michel Cluizel single-plantation chocolate.

“In a break from the sugar rush, newcomer Gastronaut Catering offered one of the only savory-leaning bites of the night: blue cheese and caramelized onion crisps with fall fruit compote.” For a photo album of the event, click here. (Photo by Daisy Chow.)

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the sponsor

Alkemie Ice Cream

Try dairy-free Alkemie Ice Cream, made with creamy cashews and coconut. Available in 25 Whole Foods stores in Northern California. Flavors include Vanilla Bean, Dark Chocolate, and Mint Chocolate Chip (suggested retail: $5.99).

Why our ice cream tastes so delicious:

  • We use raw cashews heated to 110 degrees F; most “raw” cashews are heated to 185 degrees F.
  • We use the entire coconut, not just coconut milk.
  • Instead of sugar, we use agave nectar.

And now, a testimonial:

"I’m a dairy farmer’s daughter. I grew up in Wisconsin. And to this day I can’t drink any milk less than 2%. So, you can imagine my hesitation when Daniel asked me to try his raw/vegan ice cream. WELLLLL, it is nothing short of AMAZING!” ~Irene K. (3/11/2009)

the lush

Gather RestaurantNOVEMBER 17, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO If you have the ducats, there’s a special four-course white truffle dinner in honor of H. William Harlan and the 25th anniversary of Harlan Estate at ~POGGIO~ on Thursday November 19th. There will also be an auction featuring wines from Harlan Estate and special travel and dinner packages (partial proceeds from the auction benefit The James Beard Foundation). 6:30pm. $500 per guest. For information and reservations, call Susanne Cullen at 415-354-8307. 777 Bridgeway, Sausalito.

Coming up on Saturday afternoon on November 21st is ~PINOTFEST~, which is in its eleventh year. The pinot noir bacchanalia returns to Farallon Restaurant, with an extensive tasting of pinot noirs from over 50 of Oregon and California’s best producers. In addition, the afternoon features hors d’oeuvres to complement the wines (last year’s spread included foie gras torchon on brioche and truffled grilled cheese sandwiches), plus the opportunity to meet the winemakers. Participating wineries include: Adelsheim, Alma Rosa, Argyle, Au Bon Climat, Bonaccorsi, Brewer Clifton, Byron, Calera, Cambria, Chehalem, Cobb, Costa de Oro, Domaine Drouhin, Domaine Serene, El Molino, Etude, Failla, Fiddlehead, Flowers, Fort Ross, Foxen, Freestone, Gloria Ferrer, Greenwood Ridge, Handley, Hartford, Hendry, Hitching Post, Iron Horse, J Vineyards, Keller Estate, Kosta Browne, Littorai, Londer, Lynmar, Marimar Torres, Melville, Merry Edwards, Michaud, Morgan, Patz & Hall, Paul Hobbs, Peay, Pey-Marin, Ponzi, Rex Hill, Radio Coteau, Saintsbury, Robert Sinskey, Siduri, Skewis, Soter, Talisman, Talley, Testarossa, Thomas Fogarty, Whitcraft, and Williams Selyem. 3pm–6pm. Admission to the event is $100 per person. In the week leading up to the tasting (November 15th–21st), Farallon will also feature flights of pinot noir from several of the participating wineries in the restaurant, and a special five-course chef’s tasting menu paired with pinot. For tickets, click here or call 415-956-6969. 450 Post St. at Powell.

There is quite the party next Tuesday the 24th at ~15 ROMOLO~: a night of Tequila and Tacos, Mustaches and Mariachi. Five brands, including Partida, Don Julio, Tequila Ocho, and Tecate will be in the casa, and there will be specialty cocktails costing $6–$8, small Mexican munchies, and musica! 6pm–9pm. 15 Romolo at Broadway, 415-398-1359.

Last week I mentioned a special Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon winemaker dinner at ~COI~: the date has been moved to Monday December 1st. To recap, Grahm will be reading from his new book, Been Doon So Long, in between courses and pairings. You can peek at the special menu here. 6pm. $175 (inclusive of tax and gratuity). 373 Broadway at Montgomery, 415-393-9000.

the sponsor

Gather Sneak Preview

Take your place at the table of downtown Berkeley’s newest dining destination at a pre-sale sneak peek!

Designed to inspire community, Gather in the David Brower Center showcases abundant farm offerings to delight both omnivores and vegetarians. Open to the public December 15th, Gather offers complete restaurant service plus a casual café, private dining, and full bar featuring organic spirits and biodynamic wines.

SPECIAL PREVIEW PARTY and 10% DINING BONUS OFFER Monday Nov 23rd and Tuesday Nov 24th starting at 7pm.

Meet the team, view the setting, and taste the fare. Purchase a “Community Subscription” of $1000 and you’ll be credited an additional $100 good for dining, catering, or gift cards. Email or call 510-859-9180 to reserve a sneak peek space today.

the socialite


Ninth Annual Taste & Tribute Benefit Gala
Fri. Nov. 20th, 2009

Four Seasons Hotel
757 Market St.
San Francisco, CA



Tickets are $300.




NOVEMBER 3, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO In support of Tibetan Aid Project’s efforts to preserve Tibetan culture, the ninth annual ~TASTE & TRIBUTE~ benefit gala for the Tibetan Aid Project will grace the ballroom of the Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco. Featuring 22 of the best Bay Area chefs, Taste & Tribute gives 220 guests the rare opportunity to watch the tableside creation of a gourmet, four-course meal. Chefs work in pairs to create a unique dining experience for eleven different tables. Proceeds support the Tibetan Aid Project’s efforts to rebuild and protect the endangered spiritual heritage of Tibet.

Chef Laurent Manrique was the inspiration behind Taste & Tribute, and has been the coordinating chef since its inception in 2001. Participating chefs at this year’s event include: Peter Armellino of Plumed Horse, David Bazirgan of Chez Papa Resto, Gaetan Biesuz of Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay, Jean Paul Carmona of Manresa, Bruno Chemel of Chez TJ, Ben Cohn of Spruce, Preston Dishman of Viognier, Mark Dommen of One Market, Khai Duong of Ana Mandara, Dmitry Elperin of The Village Pub, Elizabeth Falkner of Citizen Cake/Orson, Bruce Hill of Bix/Picco, Gerald Hirigoyen of Piperade/Bocadillos, Joseph Humphrey of Murray Circle, Jennie Lorenzo of Fifth Floor, consulting chef Laurent Manrique, Jean-Pierre Moullé of Chez Panisse, Morgan Mueller of Jardinière, Orlando Pagan of Silks, Mark Richardson of Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco, and Liza Shaw of A16. The event also features fine wines and a live and silent auction.

Founded in 1969, the Tibetan Aid Project helps Tibetans rebuild, preserve, and strengthen their cultural and spiritual heritage for the benefit of all humanity. Last year, Taste & Tribute netted over $150,000 for the ongoing text preservation project, which has led to the distribution of nearly two and a half million traditional Tibetan texts to Tibetan refugees throughout Asia. These treasured texts are presented annually at the World Peace Ceremony in Bodh Gaya, India, where over ten thousand Tibetans gather each year to offer prayers for peace and the well-being of all humanity.

the starlet

NOVEMBER 17, 2009 | SAN FRANCISCO I love these kinds of sightings: Fabio was spotted having lunch at Waterbar.

Wine country was full of food media sightings, all in town for the CIA Worlds of Flavor Conference (this year’s theme was street food/comfort food). Ruth Reichl and LA’s Jonathan Gold and Laurie Ochoa were spotted having the spaghettini with tripe at Terra; Ruth Reichl also went to Meadowood, Jonathan Gold was at ubuntu (inspiring my favorite Tweet: “When Ubuntu waiter confessed he was a sunchoke guy, I refrained from saying I was a pork belly guy. I think he knew.”), and Rick Bayless dined at Bottega.

Since we’re on the topic of food folks, the fabulous Lidia Bastianich was at Poggio.


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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