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Mar 22, 2010 27 min read

March 23, 2010 - This week's tablehopper: party crashed.

March 23, 2010 - This week's tablehopper: party crashed.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: party crashed.

Boy, do I love this city. Hard. Sunday night was one for the books, and the book: I was so fortunate to be able to throw my book launch party at the dramatic ORSON, a dream venue for this event. I was originally hesitant to write about the party in my column, because while I wish I could have invited every single one of you, the ever-restricting factors of available space, food, and drink had to be considered—so I had to limit it to the friends, family, and colleagues I am in close contact with (basically, anyone in my iPhone). My sincere apologies to anyone who felt left out—I am certain I forgot a few important people (let me tell you, this guest list was not an easy thing to compile), and I know some people never received their invite who should have (damned spam folders—it’s the problem with using email instead of real mail).

Anywhoo, it was truly a memorable night, with a remarkable lineup of guest chefs who so kindly donated their time and cooking talent: Alex Ong and Mike Siegel, Betelnut; Katharine Zacher and Ryan Ostler, Bruno’s; Laurence Jossel, nopa; Mike Selvera, Bar Crudo; Ravi Kapur, Boulevard and Prospect (coming soon); Rob Lam, Butterfly; Senthil Kumar, DOSA; and Staffan Terje, Perbacco and Barbacco (blood ‘nduja, anyone?). Thanks to all of you for sharing your mind-blowingly good food… I heard so many complimenti from all the guests!

Elizabeth Falkner and the entire Orson crew were amazing—thank you all a million times over for hosting us in your spectacular space. Elizabeth (pictured here) even made special “Lady Gaglia” macarons for the event (violet-cassis and rose-raspberry), which tasted as pretty as they looked. And no, we didn’t plan to have them coordinate with my dress.

The bars were shakin’ with the music of cocktails from bartenders Aaron Gregory Smith, 15 Romolo; Brian MacGregor, Jardinière; Dominic Venegas, Smuggler’s Cove, 83 Proof; Greg Lindgren, Rye and Rye on the Road, Jeff Hollinger, Absinthe and Comstock Saloon (coming soon); and Victoria D’Amato-Moran, Cent’Anni Cocktails, who even did a special cocktail, “La Hopper,” with Campari and SKYY Ginger. Thank you all for your fantastic drinks, such pros!

There is no way I could have dreamed of hosting this party without the staggering generosity of the following wine and spirits folks: American Wines, Beverage Artistry, Blythe Beaubien (Bagrationi and Bluecoat), Cadre Noir Imports, Craig Roby & Winesellers Ltd., Crimson Wine Group, Dalla Terra Winery Direct, Domaine Select Wine Estates, Folio Fine Wine Partners, Heaven Hill Distilleries, The Henry Wine Group, Iron Horse, Preiss Imports, Robert Kacher Selections, Siena Wine Group, Southern Wine and Spirits, Terlato Wines Intl., Trumer Pils, Vias Imports, William Grant & Sons, and Young’s Market Company. My sincere thanks. I also want to thank Debbie Rizzo with Drink PR for her help in securing sponsors, Alex Fox and Patricia Gums for their massive party organizational skills, Amy Sherman for her wine donation, and Massimiliano and Lorella at La Ciccia, who sent a case of vermentino in their stead. The lineup of wines and spirits was so quality—I apologize for the many hangovers that ensued.

Big disco thanks to Jeffrey Paradise for the on-point party soundtrack (and Sean Evans for the soundsystem), to Daniel Detorie for being the most charming doorman ever, to Barbara Haimes and the volunteer servers from the Culinary Arts & Hospitality Studies program at City College of San Francisco, to Abbey Rents for their assistance with all the glassware, to Square and Beau Smith for letting me be a beta tester for their fantastic product (so cool—and it’s coming soon!), and to my editorial assistant, Daisy Chow, who was the best wingwoman ever.

Here are the official party pictures from the ever-engaging Ricky Camargo, along with some fun party portraits from the lovely Ava Berlin, and coverage from my fellow “hoppers,” the Bunrabs! Thanks for documenting, darlings!

I am overwhelmed and humbled by the outpouring of support, generosity, and kindness everyone has shown for this party, my e-column, and now, my book. Thanks to everyone who came—it was so lovely to par-tay with you. Most of all, it was a great honor to have my family at the party so they could finally meet a lot of the people they hear me talk about.

Guess what? I’m freaking exhausted. So excuse the brevity of this week’s column, but I feel like I just had a wedding or something. Alas, there’s no rest for the wicked or the tired, because this week has me out every night of the week (like that is something new, ha): a book signing at Omnivore tomorrow, a culinary conversation with Michael Chiarello at the Marin JCC on Thursday (you can read about both events here), the Air concert on Friday, and then Whiskies of the World on Saturday. Where’s that auxiliary fuel tank?

Until next week,

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Congrats to James Beard Nominees


It’s always an exciting time of year when the JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION AWARD finalists are announced. And way to go, San Francisco, because three of the six Best New Restaurant nominees are here!

Flour + Water San Francisco Chef/Partner: Thomas McNaughton Partners: David White and David Steele

Frances San Francisco Chef/Owner: Melissa Perello

RN74 San Francisco Chef: Jason Berthold Owners: Michael Mina and Rajat Parr

And then when we scoot to the Outstanding Chef nominees, two of the five nominees are local chefs: Gary Danko and Charles Phan. Boulevard is one of the five nominees for the Outstanding Restaurant Award; Pat Kuleto is a nominee for the Outstanding Restaurateur Award; Michael Mina for Outstanding Service; and Nicole Plue of Redd in Yountville is holding down one of the five nominee spaces for Outstanding Pastry Chef. Thrilled to see Shelley Lindgren of A16 and Jason Alexander of Gary Danko each get the nod for the Outstanding Wine Service Award. One of the Rising Star Chef of the Year Award nominees is Timothy Hollingsworth of The French Laundry. Three of the five nominees in the regional Best Chef category are the ex-chef of Ubuntu, Jeremy Fox; Michael Tusk at Quince; and David Kinch at Manresa.

Congratulations and good luck to all: you can read the entire list of nominees here. The winners will be announced in New York on May 3rd.

More Hopping Around Town


You’d think I’d be taking it easy this week, but no, the fun book parties must go on! And since these are public events, I hope you’ll attend! This Wednesday March 24th, I will be at Omnivore Books at 6pm for a free reading and signing. Andrew Mariani of Scribe will be pouring his delicious 2008 Pinot Noir, Carneros, Sonoma. And Patrick Horn, owner of the Pacific Brewing Laboratory, will be serving “Blood of the Lamb,” a Belgian dark strong ale aged in bourbon oak (it will be paired with some good Irish cheeses, even though it’s past St. Patrick’s Day!). 3885 Cesar Chavez St. at Church, San Francisco.

Then this Thursday March 25th, I am thrilled to be moderating a culinary conversation, demo, and tasting with Michael Chiarello from Bottega Ristorante of Napa Valley, the Top Chef Masters finalist (and fellow Calabrese!). We’ll be at the Marin JCC. 7pm, $18 members/$20 public (mention in the comment area when purchasing tix online and get the member price). Here are the event details. Osher Marin Jewish Community Center, 200 North San Pedro Rd., San Rafael.

This Saturday March 27th, I’ll be on the air with Dining Around with Gene Burns—be sure to tune in to KGO AM 810. The show begins at 10am, and my interview should air around 10:30am.

We also have just a few seats left for the Cooks With Books Lunch at Perbacco on Wednesday March 31st at 12pm. Read Staffan Terje’s delicious menu here, which includes an artichoke and pecorino sformato with an egg yolk center (sexy) and morel mushroom and fava bean stew, mamma mia. $100 (includes wine, book, tax, tip). Get your ticket here. 230 California St. at Front, San Francisco.

There are a bunch of other events coming up in April, including the just-announced Hop Dog Happy Hour on Wednesday April 14th at the Ferry Building, and a two-martini lunch at Bix on April 29th. You can keep track of the lineup here.

Absinthe Team Taking Over Hayes Valley's Citizen Cake Space


Flickr photo from michicat.

Rumors have proven true, and the ink is dry on the lease: the ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR team will be taking over the now-vacant Citizen Cake space in Hayes Valley. Obviously details are slim at this point, but one thing that’s certain is the new restaurant will fall in the middle of the higher-end offering at Absinthe, and the casual Arlequin. A number of concepts and styles (and chefs!) are being discussed, but the team does envision a comfortable neighborhood restaurant, offering lunch, dinner, and brunch.

The bar program (to be overseen by Jeff Hollinger, Jonny Raglin, and Carlos Yturria) will be simpler than Absinthe’s but still creative—some culinary flair will be featured. Stand by for more on timing (depending on how the liquor license transfer goes, we could be looking at late summer), the concept, and the name.

As for the latest on Elizabeth Falkner’s CITIZEN CAKE location on Fillmore, that’s looking like a month out (can’t wait).

Noe Valley Gets Two Spin-Offs

The Noe Valley SF blog was full of tidbits today: first, the Bistro 24 (formerly Kookez, and Miss Millie’s) space is going to house a second location of THE LITTLE CHIHUAHUA. According to a note from owner Andrew Johnstone, “Hopefully we will be open in May after some interior updates to fit the concept. We will be operating with the same menu and format as our Divisadero restaurant, with both takeout and dine-in etc. We will expand into our brunch menu once we are up and running.” 4123 24th St. at Castro.

And second, PATXI’S will be opening a third San Francisco location, serving up their deep dish pizza in the former Mi Lindo Yucatan space. 4042 24th St. at Noe.

New Pho Place Comes to the Western Addition


Yelp photo by Ting A.

One of my fellow Western Addition neighbors noticed a new Vietnamese place, MY FATHER’S KITCHEN/PHO PHUONG HONG, has opened on Divis—oh dear lord, hold me, I actually have a pho place I can walk to for lunch? Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a hold of the owners in time for my deadline, but according to a photo of their menu on their Yelp page, they are serving pho, plus bun (vermicelli noodles) and com phan (rice plates), along with Blue Bottle Coffee and pastries. Hours are Mon-Sat 8am-5pm. 1655 Divisadero St. at Post, 415-829-2610.

Sneak Peek of the Public House Burger

You ready to sink your teeth into a burger at Traci Des Jardins’s upcoming PUBLIC HOUSE (formerly Acme Chophouse)? Public House and Mijita at AT&T Park aren’t opening until April 9th, the day of the home opener for the San Francisco Giants, but you can find the burger now on the JARDINIÈRE bar and J Lounge menu. Here’s a hunger-inducing description for you: a Marin Sun Farms grass-fed beef burger, avocado, bacon, and Grafton cheddar cheese, with hand-cut Kennebec fries and house-made pickles for $16. You can pair that bad boy up with some Hacker-Pschorr, Weisse Dark Beer, Germany ($3), or for the wine drinkers, a nerello mascalese from Di Giovanna, Sicily, Italy 2008 ($8).

Public House            - 24 Willie Mays Plaza San Francisco - 415-644-0240

Georges is Now Open


Photo by Daisy Chow.

Now open for lunch and dinner is GEORGES from chef and co-owner Elias Bikahi (Nook, Caffe Sapore, Sapore Catering, and he started Valentina), who is cooking with chef Amanda Hamilton. To recap, the 55-seat restaurant will be focused on serving sustainable seafood, including a raw bar up front and at a 10-seat bar, plus local produce, and other sustainably raised ingredients. Be sure to have a cocktail after work from bar manager Rene Dominguez, who was at Quince and Boulevard. Lunch and dinner will be served Mon-Fri 11am-11pm.

Georges            - 415 Sansome St. San Francisco - 415-956-6900



Back in February, I mentioned the former GREEN CHILE KITCHEN location at Baker and Fulton was going to morph into CHILE PIES (& ICE CREAM). Well, that day is here! The opening is slated for tomorrow (Wednesday), and there will be a rotating selection of organic homemade pies baked fresh daily (available by the slice or whole pies to go); a green chile apple pie with walnuts and a cheddar crust served a la mode with red chile honey drizzle (whoa); milkshakes (including pie milkshakes, and I am so not kidding), sundaes, and floats with ice cream from Three Twins Ice Cream (along with a raw vegan ice cream from Café Gratitude); blue corn waffle cones; and organic ice cream from Straus (plus soft serve low-fat frozen yogurt).

There is also going to be a sole savory item on the menu: Frito chile pie! Imagine a bag of Fritos, filled with beans, New Mexican red chile sauce, and since GCK cares about the meats they use, they’ll be using ground Niman Ranch beef—so it’s not completely junk food, ahem. There will additionally be coffee from Ecco, and tea. Cash only. Hours will be Tue-Sun noon-9:30pm. 601 Baker St. at Fulton, 415-614-9411.

A Fundraiser for Alec Buenaflor


Alec Buenaflor.

I received this notice about a FUNDRAISER FOR A READER’S NEPHEW, named Alec Buenaflor, and I wanted to put the word out in order to help this young man who is waiting for a double lung transplant. He is currently a patient at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. His doctors have given him only a few months to live unless he receives a lifesaving transplant. As a result of this situation, a great deal of medical expenses will be incurred (transplant-related expenses are estimated to be $70,000). To help Alec, his family has joined COTA (Children’s Organ Transplant Association) to aid with a fundraiser; here’s Alec’s COTA page. All donations made to Alec’s fund will be tax deductible.

A fundraiser event will be held Thursday April 1st from 5:30pm-9pm (tickets are $50 each). Since Alec loves food, this will be a food-centric event (and for the adults, wine-centric) with donations from Sonoma and Napa wineries for the silent auction. Their goal is to raise $17,000 for his 17th birthday.

The owners of Level 236 in San Mateo have donated the space for the venue, and some very talented Bay Area chefs have offered to cook: Timothy Luym (formerly of Poleng), Alexander Ong of Betelnut, Kelly Degala (formerly of Pres A Vi), and Jeffrey San Diego of Red Lantern. Because of the size of the venue (they are targeting 200), they are seeking additional chefs who are willing to donate their time to cook a special dish; suppliers for products (proteins, produce, spices) for the event; press and media coverage of the event; and are seeking donations for the silent auction. Please contact Lennie DiCarlo for any help you can offer, thank you.

I Heart Eggs


Anyone who has taken a cooking class at Tante Marie probably knows Jodi Liano, who is going to to be doing a book signing of her second book, eggs, at the Chestnut Street Williams-Sonoma store on Saturday March 27th from 12pm-2pm. There will most definitely be samples of some of the recipes—and the book is just in time for Easter, Passover, and Mother’s Day. 2000 Chestnut St. at Fillmore.

Scribe Winery and Bar Tartine Special Event


If you looked at your April issue of Food & Wine, you probably noticed a lot of local folks in the feature article, Sonoma’s Wildest Wine Party. And so on Monday March 29th, Scribe Winery vintner Andrew Mariani and BAR TARTINE chef Chris Kronner will be celebrating Spring’s arrival with a feast recreating the menu from the article. They will prepare food grown, raised, and harvested on The Scribe Farm to pair with Scribe wines.

Here’s the menu: Grilled Ham and Cheese with Strawberry-Red-Wine Jam; Escarole and Roasted Broccoli with Anchovy Dressing; Fennel Mussels with Piquillo Rouille; Roasted Guinea Hen with Braised Vegetables; Rubbed, Braised and Glazed Pork Spareribs; and Strawberry Tart with Flaky Pastry. The wines poured that night will be: 2007 Scribe Chardonnay, Carneros; 2008 Scribe Pinot Noir, Carneros; 2004 Scribe Syrah, Scribe Outpost East, Napa; and 2004 Scribe Cabernet Sauvignon, Scribe Outpost East, Napa.

               Monday Mar 29, 2010 6pm and 9pm seatings $100 more info

Bar Tartine            - 561 Valencia St. - 415-487-1600

Lunch and a View


Photo from Medjool website.

While the fate of MEDJOOL’S Sky Terrace remains to be seen, a weekday lunch menu has been introduced (maybe this is a way to help pay for the roof legalization process owner Gus Murad is currently undertaking).

Executive chef Tomas Sazo and chef Hicham Senhaji have put together a menu that includes a Medjool sampler platter with hummus, baba ghanoush, and tabouli ($13); mixed green salad with Bartlett pears, toasted almonds, blue cheese, and shallot vinaigrette ($9.50); American Kobe beef burger with lettuce, tomato, and onion on a brioche bun ($10.50); and fish and chips with house-marinated cod, house-made tartar sauce, and french fries ($10.50). The cash-only menu is available weekdays from 11:30am-2:30pm. 2522 Mission St. at 21st St., 415-550-9055.

Locanda da Eva Opening in Berkeley This Summer


Many who read Chowhound know of Robert Lauriston the constant poster, but now he’s going to be a restaurateur as well. His restaurant, LOCANDA DA EVA, will be opening in the former Maritime East location—although the name was inspired by the restaurant’s history as Casa de Eva, a very popular Mexican restaurant that had a 37-year run there. The partner-chef is Huw (FYI, Huw is the Welsh spelling of Hugh and is pronounced the same) Thornton, who was most recently executive sous chef at SPQR under Nate Appleman, and prior to that, spent two-and-a-half years working the meat and pasta stations at A16. His sous is Daniel Sharp, currently working the pizza oven at the Café at Chez Panisse.

Thornton’s daily-changing and seasonal menu will be mostly Italian, featuring the best of local and sustainable purveyors, and will include pizzas from the wood-fired oven. A peek at the intended summer opening menu had this to offer: “small plates such as pork trotter crepinettes with padron pepper and corn salsa; dried fava bean purée with spicy Watson lamb soffritto, pine nuts, cilantro, and harissa; and tuna conserva on bruschetta with summer squash, cherry tomatoes, chiles, and basil. Pasta offerings range from rigatoni with ragù bianco and Grana Padano; to linguine with rock shrimp, chile-garlic soffritto, fiorelli, and shaved bottarga; and quattro formaggi ravioli with pesto. Pizzas may include margherita with Gioia burrata, basil, tomatoes, and cicoria: radicchio, wilted frisée, chiles, and pecorino. Main courses will come with a choice of vegetable and include oven-roasted California yellowtail with arugula, endive, griddled potatoes, pesto, and pine nuts; Becker Lane pork loin scallopine with cauliflower and okra giardiniera; and zampina of Watson lamb sausage with braised endive, mint, and spiced Straus yogurt. In addition to house-made gelati and sorbetti and a selection of house-made cookies, desserts will feature traditional Italian favorites such as affogato as well as fruit-based desserts such as griddled peaches with fresh Gioia ricotta, mint, and Marshall’s Farm honey.”

Some will recognize partner-general manager Matt Derrick from Terzo, Pesce, Cortez, and Miss Pearl’s Jam House. Locanda da Eva will offer 20 to 25 wines by the glass (with none over $10), plus a reserve list that will eventually grow to around 100 bottles from wine director Robert Lauriston. It will be predominately European but also will include California wines. Jacqueline Patterson (Orson, Zinnia, Smuggler’s Cove, Heaven’s Dog) is in charge of the cocktail program as consulting bartender. She will be incorporating “classic Italian flavors into simple, delicious cocktails which incorporate regional produce and products from local distillers. There will be a strong focus on traditional styles of Italian beverages such as aperitivi and digestivi and attention to strong, clean flavors.” Dinner will be served Tue-Sun, including a bar menu after 10pm. Locanda da Eva is slated to open in early summer, 2010. 2826 Telegraph Ave. at , Berkeley, 510-665-9601.

Locanda da Eva            - 2826 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley - 510-665-9601


the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)


Pebble Beach Food & Wine Is Coming Soon: April 8th-11th

It’s time to treat yourself to a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Pebble Beach Food & Wine brings together 65 of the world’s greatest chefs (think Thomas Keller, Charlie Trotter, and Wolfgang Puck) and 250 notable wineries (read: Krug, Pio Cesare, and Domaine Serene) for four days, on one of the most picturesque strips of coastline imaginable.

The Lexus Grand Tasting (on both Saturday April 10th and Sunday April 11th)—featuring 25 chefs and 200 wineries pouring more than 500 wines—is just $175 per person, and the Celebrity Chef Cooking Demos or Wine Tastings start at just $100.

For more information, visit or call 866.907.FOOD (3663) and let us know the tablehopper sent you.

Pebble Beach Food & Wine—our location is legendary. Your experience will be, too.

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Dubbonet Aperitif Hours This Week

There are a couple special APERITIF HOURS this week in the city, courtesy of Dubonnet Rouge. This Wednesday March 24th, you can swing by CODA (1710 Mission St. at Duboce) from 5:30pm-7:30pm, and then this Thursday March 25th at BRUNO’S (2389 Mission St. at 20th St.) from 5:30pm-7:30pm.

Each venue will serve two classic preparations: the Dubonnet Cocktail (Dubonnet with gin and bitters), the Dubonnet Royale (Dubonnet with Champagne), and one wildcard cocktail made by the house mixologist to show how San Francisco “does Dubonnet.” At the conclusion of each event, one lucky patron will win a $500 gift certificate to spend at the host restaurant!

               Wednesday Mar 24, 2010 – Thursday Mar 25, 2010 more info

Bruno's            - 2389 Mission St. San Francisco - 415-643-5200

Rhone Rangers Giddy Up Into Town


It’s that time of the year again, when more than 100 vintners gather in San Francisco for the 13th annual RHONE RANGERS TASTING of American-produced Rhone wines, the largest American Rhone wine event in the country.

The Rhone Rangers Grand Tasting takes place at Fort Mason’s Festival Pavilion on March 28th (2pm-5pm), where you’ll have the opportunity to taste 500 of the best American Rhone wines from over 100 Rhone Rangers member wineries.

At the Grand Tasting, attendees can sample gourmet foods from more than 35 specialty food purveyors, including cheese, bread, olive oil, charcuterie, fruits, and chocolates. A silent auction will feature wines from the Rhone Rangers member wineries and wine-related items. Proceeds from the auction will benefit Meals on Wheels of San Francisco.

In addition to the Grand Tasting, the program includes three diverse tasting seminars:

~Bay Area Sommeliers Speak Out: Pairing Food with American Rhone Wines (Saturday March 27th), moderated by Jon Bonné, wine editor, San Francisco Chronicle; with special guest sommeliers Evan Goldstein, author: Perfect Pairings; Nicole Burke from Salt House/Town Hall/Anchor & Hope Restaurants; and John Toulze from the girl & the fig. Small plates from Salt House and the girl & the fig will illustrate principles of food and wine pairing. ~Grenache: Red, White & Pink! (Saturday March 27th), moderated by Jon Bonné, wine editor, San Francisco Chronicle. ~The Ageability of American Rhones (Sunday March 28th), moderated by Karen MacNeil, the Culinary Institute of America.

On Saturday March 27th, fifteen wineries will participate in a winemaker dinner at the Log Cabin in the San Francisco Presidio. The dinner will again be catered by the girl & the fig Restaurant in Sonoma (famous for its “Rhone Alone” wine list) and offers an opportunity to taste current and limited release wines and enjoy a three-course meal with fifteen leading Rhone Rangers winemakers. Tickets are $125. Following the meal, a brief live auction will feature fifteen lots of wine, unique wine country experiences, and travel packages, donated by the host winemakers. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Rhone Rangers Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to help educate the next generation of American Rhone winemakers.

Tickets: Saturday seminars $50-$70/ticket; winemaker dinner $125/ticket; Sunday seminar and Grand Tasting (combined ticket) $100/ticket; Grand Tasting (only) $65.

Credentialed members of the wine trade and media can register online.

               Saturday Mar 27, 2010 – Sunday Mar 28, 2010 more info

New Happy Hour at Local

LOCAL KITCHEN AND WINE MERCHANT in SoMa is kicking off a new happy hour, with $1 oysters and half-off all wines by the glass Tuesdays through Fridays from 5pm-7pm. Cheers! 330 1st St. at Folsom, 415-777-4200.

It's Time for the Tour de Champagne

IMG_0016jpg-photo Laurent Alfieri-.jpg

The TOUR DE CHAMPAGNE returns to San Francisco for its second anniversary, so start priming your palate for tastes of the Champagne region’s top wine producers. This year, Tour de Champagne will partner with The Bubble Lounge, bringing together champagne from a variety of prestigious grand marques as well as grower champagne houses, plus some bites from local chefs, and live entertainment. Restaurants that participated in the last San Francisco Tour de Champagne included Farallon, Ruth’s Chris, The Bubble Lounge, and desserts from White House pastry chef Roland Mesnier. (This year’s chefs will be announced soon.)

During the evening, guests will have a chance to buy raffle tickets for a special prize, which will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Ticket holders will also enjoy an Après Party with dessert, Cognac, and more Champagne. Tour de Champagne attendees must be 21 and older. And it’s a bit fancy: the dress is requested to be cocktail attire (black tie optional).

Admission: $80. All-inclusive tickets include: tasting of Champagnes and food, entertainment, and raffle. Also, Cognac Après Party until 11pm. Extremely limited number of VIP tickets: $95. VIP tickets also include a special pre-event Champagne seminar (TBA). Please note space is limited.

               Wednesday Apr  7, 2010 6pm, VIP pre-event Champagne seminar; 7pm–9:30pm, Tour de Champagne; 9:30pm–11pm, Fin de Soirée Après Party more info


the sponsor

This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)

No Foolin' Around: Get Your Headshot On...

On April 1st, RICK CAMARGO PHOTOGRAPHY will be hosting a Professional Headshot Day at MR. Barbershop and Urban Lounge from 10am through 6pm. (And even though the place is called MR., both ladies and gents are welcome!).

Update that long-overdue portrait in a comfortable atmosphere and have fun in the process. This photo opportunity is perfect for chefs, corporate executives, actors, corporate PR, websites, advertising, and more.

Your session ($225) will include your choice of a high-resolution (color or black and white) retouched portrait, makeup touch-up if needed, and multiple poses to choose from.

After your sitting, enjoy a refreshment in the wonderful MR. Lounge, where they serve up a wide variety of bubs, wine, and beer!

Marcel’s on Wheels will also be serving up some great eats starting at 11am until 8pm, for only $9. The last menu consisted of mouthwatering sliders, wedge-cut fries, savory wings, and velvet cupcakes!

MR. Barbershop and Lounge is conveniently located at 560 Sacramento St. at Montgomery, San Francisco, in the Financial District.

We require an appointment, so please reserve your session by calling 415-572-0402. Space is limited, don’t delay!

the socialite

Shindigs, Feasts, & Festivals (let's party)

Passover Celebrations


 Event Info

Wednesday Mar 31, 2010 – Monday Apr  5, 2010

Wanted to point out a few PASSOVER CELEBRATIONS happening around town.

On March 31st, guest chef Joyce Goldstein is hosting A Passover Dinner celebrating traditional Jewish cooking in Italy with recipes from Cucina Ebraica at PERBACCO. You can read the entire menu here. $49 per person.

On Monday April 5th, Heeb magazine is partnering with MISSION BEACH CAFÉ for its annual Slow Food Seder: traditional Jewish dishes—made with fresh, seasonal, local, and organic ingredients—will be served alongside the very best in New American fare.

Seder Menu First Course Matzo Ball Soup or Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Parsley, Quail Eggs, and Champagne Vinaigrette

Second Course Smoked Black Cod with Potato Kugel and Chived Crème Fraîche or House-made Matzo Flatbread with Haroset, Balsamic Reduction, Basil Scallion Pesto, and Mezzo Secco Cheese

Third Course Braised Prather Ranch Lamb Shank with Butter Beans, Oyster Mushrooms, Baby Carrots, Red Pearl Onions, Green Garlic, and Parsley or Oven-Roasted Duck with Israeli Couscous, Jerusalem Artichokes, Pea Shoots, and Orange Sabayon or Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Hash with Sautéed Savoy Spinach, Asparagus, Chanterelle Mushrooms, and Sage-Red Wine Reduction

Fourth Course Flourless Chocolate Decadence Cake or Passion Fruit and Mango Sorbet with Anise Shortbread

(Menu subject to change.) Seatings available from 5:30pm-10:30pm. $55 per person for four courses, excluding tax and gratuity. Reservations: 415-861-0198.



 Event Info

Sunday Apr  4, 2010

EASTER is just weeks away, and here are a few options that have hopped onto my desk:

THE RITZ-CARLTON, SAN FRANCISCO always does Easter in style, offering an Easter brunch buffet in The Terrace Room from 10am-4pm. It features a selection of seafood, salads, hand-carved meats, a build-your-own omelet station, cheeses, seasonal fruits, selection of European-inspired desserts, and more. A jazz trio will play. $98 for adults; $49 for children five to 12, exclusive of tax and gratuity. Reservations are required: 415-773-6198.

And then there’s the cuddling zoo (with long-eared bunnies, baby chicks, and ducklings) and an Easter egg hunt in The Terrace Courtyard from 10am-4pm, with the Easter egg hunts at noon and 2pm. Reserved for guests dining or staying at the hotel. (I swear, I wanna go and pet the bunnies!)

The TOP OF THE MARK at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins will host an Easter buffet brunch from 10am-2pm. The brunch will offer classic items such as banana, coconut and macadamia nut pancakes with pineapple compote and traditional eggs Benedict with hollandaise sauce, along with a beef filet medallion with wild mushroom demi glace and white bean cassoulet; cauliflower veloute with truffle essence, spring fava bean, and Dungeness crab; and pan-seared halibut with caramelized fennel, fire-roasted peppers, and citrus beurre blanc. An assortment of seasonal salads and a children’s menu will also be available. Sharman Duran will be on the piano, and there will be a special appearance by the Easter Bunny. $89 per adult and $49 per child ages 4 to 12, exclusive of tax and gratuity. 415-616-6940.

SPRUCE is breaking from the typical Easter brunch tradition, and is offering a spring-inspired dinner menu instead: Zuckerman Farms asparagus sauce Maltaise
Don Watson’s spring lamb spring vegetables; 
artisan sheep’s milk cheese; 
gateau Basque Dirty Girl strawberries; 
house-made chocolates. The price of the prix-fixe menu is $68 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity. To reserve, call 415-931-5100.

There are a bunch of Easter options listed on OpenTable, check them all out here.

If you’re on the Peninsula, ROSEWOOD SAND HILL in Menlo Park will host its first-ever Easter Sunday celebration, featuring a gourmet brunch at Madera restaurant (four courses, $62; a children’s version of the brunch menu is available for half price, and Madera’s full children’s menu will be available as well) and a petting zoo on the hotel’s Vista Lawn with ducks, chickens, dwarf goats, pot-bellied pigs, turkey, sheep, and rabbits. The celebration is open to local community members, hotel guests, and Madera patrons; Rosewood Sand Hill will donate all proceeds from the petting zoo admission (a suggested donation of $10 per person) to the Palo Alto Humane Society. 11am-3pm. 650-561-1500.

the wino

Guest Wine & Spirits Writers (in vino veritas)

White Wines with a Different "Dimension"


Mauro Cirilli is the wine director of Perbacco ristorante + bar and the newly opened barbacco eno trattoria. While living in Italy, Mauro attended the three-year Italian Sommelier Association Program and worked as sommelier at the celebrated il Cibreo. He went on to work as assistant sommelier at the renowned La Rivista in the Hotel Ca’ Pisani in Venice, as well as five-star hotels, including Hotel Baglioni and Hotel Danieli. Mauro moved to San Francisco in 2001, and became the lead sommelier at Aqua. In 2006, Perbacco opened with Mauro as the wine director, garnering a number of national wine awards. With the Perbacco team, Mauro opened barbacco eno trattoria in 2010, and continues to oversee both wine programs.

White Wines with a Different “Dimension”

You may be thinking, “What is this all about?”

You may already know that white wines are made slightly differently from red wines. While with red wines the skin and seeds are kept in contact with the juice during the fermentation for a period of time to allow extraction of color and tannins, with white wines usually the skins and seeds are removed immediately before fermenting.

In the last fifteen to twenty years, things have changed. A few producers from Italy, mostly from the northeast regions, have been experimenting with a very old and almost forgotten technique of longer skin maceration for white wines. While in the last century, the market required a more pristine and clean style of whites, which commands more manipulation; these winemakers are going back to how wine used to be made thousands of years ago, when technology did not exist and the product was more natural.

Why are they doing that?

Contact with the grape skins extracts not only color and tannins, but also minerals that bring to the actual wine a different “dimension.” It is best to say that these wine producers are very strong believers in natural winemaking, where wine must represent the unique terroir of the vineyards.

To describe these non-conventional wines, wine journalists around the country started using the term “orange wines,” referring to the color that can vary from a dark yellow-orange to dark-golden brown. For me, the most exciting thing is not the color, but the dimensions of these wines; I’m referring to their texture, mouthfeel, and depth.

This style of white wine is denser and richer, with good weight on your palate. The presence of tannins and minerals add more complexity and a full flavor profile. They have unique aromas that can vary from apple or pear cider to warm spices, from baked fruit to earthy notes. Because of their texture and depth, these wines are very food friendly. They are definitely different compared to many other everyday whites available in the mainstream market.

I grew up in the Veneto region of Italy, where a few producers are following this ancient winemaking method. Here are two most notable ones:

Angiolino Maule, from the town of Gambellara, 25 miles east of Verona, makes one of my favorite whites, Sassaia, which is made with Garganega and Trebbiano grapes. He believes strongly in organic viticulture, where the use of chemicals is totally avoided in the vineyard in order to protect all the micro-organisms present in the soil. The vine roots are therefore able to extract important minerals from the volcanic soil of the vineyards.

After harvest, he macerates the grapes with skins and seeds for 24 hours, and then begins fermenting without using any added yeast except the indigenous one present in the grape. The wine is then aged in large barrels for almost 10 months before it is bottled without any filtration.

Sassaia is so different from any other white wines produced using Garganega and Trebbiano: the color is lightly orange, with aromas of apple cider, orange peel, honey, and nuts; and its texture is quite remarkable, with the presence of light tannins and great minerality.

Alessandro Sgaravatti is the owner Castello di Lispida, located in the same town where I was born, Monselice, just 15 miles south of Padova. Sgaravatti is a disciple of Josko Gravner, the pioneer who revived this old method of vinification. (Gravner, during a trip to Georgia in the former Soviet Union, mastered an ancient winemaking technique that dates back five thousand years, where grapes are placed in large clay amphorae, buried in the soil, and left to ferment in contact with skins and seeds for a very long time.)

Sgaravatti makes a wine named Anfora, using Friulano grapes (previously know as Tocai Friulano) following the technique he learned from Gravner. He puts the grapes in the amphorae so that their juice goes through maceration and fermentation in contact with skins. After six months, the skins are removed and the wine is left to age eight more months.

During this process there is no use of any temperature control, no addition of sulfites, and no filtration. This wine has a dark cloudy orange color, with lots of earthy aromas, warm spices, and resins. The texture is bold, very dense and thick, with tannins and minerals present in good quantity…a wine that truly comes from the soil!

Sgaravatti believes that wine is a natural product and has to be treated in a natural way. He once explained to me his philosophy behind the use of amphorae: “Grapes take nutrients from the soil through their plant. When we put them into an amphora made of clay, we bring them to their natural origin. During the fermentation, the grapes exchange energy with the soil, so the amphora works as a natural link between the two elements.”

Maule and Sgaravatti are just two examples of producers that are going back to the old, traditional winemaking technique that unfortunately had almost been forgotten. It is going back to our original roots; the connection between the man, the vine, and the soil.


the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

Hella Gorgeous Halle

More sightings of the lovely Halle Berry! She enjoyed dinner with friends at 1300 ON FILLMORE, and I’m told she’s a big fan of their corn bread and house-made red pepper jam (that makes two of us). She reportedly lingered in the restaurant for hours and enjoyed chatting with owners Monetta White and her husband, executive chef David Lawrence. The staff says she’s as beautiful and gracious in person as she is on screen. Loves!

Spruced Up

Thanks to a quick-to-write-in reader, who let me know Ashton Kutcher dined with a large party in a private dining room at SPRUCE last night.

Cocktails with Chapelle

Dave Chapelle was also spotted in W San Francisco’s Living Room during his stay at the hotel. He had a few drinks in the W Café last Tuesday evening (March 16th) and was reportedly “just enjoying the moment by himself.”

Additional Spacey Sightings

A few more Kevin Spacey sightings rolled in from last week: he popped in for a drink at FRANCES, and was also spotted at W San Francisco (he was seen stepping into Bliss spa).

Gaga for Gomez

Last Wednesday evening, I enjoyed a delish dinner at the bar with a friend at FRANCES, and at the end of service, got to watch a very excited chef-owner Melissa Perello run off with her boyfriend, Danny Dunham of Sebo, to see Gomez perform at the Great American Music Hall (I’m always happy to see industry folks get a chance to go out on the town like the rest of us). Well, guess which English indie rockers came in to dine at Frances on Thursday? Yup. And as Melissa wrote to me, “Can you hear my heart go pitter patter?” How great to be able to cook for a band you admire. Rock on.

Top Chef on the Town

Kevin Gillespie, the bearded Top Chef contestant (and fan favorite), was spotted having lunch at DOSA ON FILLMORE, where he reportedly loved the prawn Frankie (a savory roti wrap).

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