Dahi vada at Dosa on Fillmore.
Yeah, I am definitely feeling spring fever, with my apartment full of flowers from my mother’s rose garden, cherries and strawberries from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on my table, and sunlight streaming in the windows (however, I could do without this lame wind, thanks Mother Nature). This cleanse I’m on right now has also been great—I am hardly at a loss for healthy and vegan/vegetarian things to eat in this town, as my Friday night dinner at Dosa on Fillmore and Sunday night preview dinner at Piccino can attest to (you can read all about the new Piccino in the chatterbox).
Last night it was hard to focus on writing my column while watching the live stream of the James Beard Foundation Awards. Big congrats to all the winners and the nominees, but especially to our local talent: Michael Tusk of Quince, who brought home the Best Chef: Pacific award last night. You can check out all the winners across the nation on the site.
Tonight’s entertainment has me heading to a media screening of Vanishing of the Bees, part of the Whole Foods Market Do Something Reel film festival, and that’s about it. Really trying to stay focused on this pile of work I have to do, and damn, being vegan is hard work—it requires a fair amount of prep to make a fulfilling meal.
Now excuse me, I have some vegetables to go chop.
And so dream projects really do come true. Opening this Wednesday May 11th is the Yellow Building, a stylish and unique collaboration in Dogpatch between Margherita Stewart-Sagan and Sheryl Rogat of PICCINO, the ever-curated clothing store MAC (Modern Appealing Clothing) in Hayes Valley, and a new wine shop, DIG. I had a chance to check out the three spaces (plus Piccino’s new café) on Sunday night at a friends and family dinner, and was thrilled with it all (kudos to architectural firm Sagan Piechota).
Pass through the main entrance on the side of the 150-year-old building on Minnesota Street, and you’ll see the interior of Piccino is as sunny as the butter yellow exterior, blending natural modern, arty chic, and warm rusticity. There’s a black oak bar with room for 12 overlooking the open kitchen (the lights overhead are by Tom Dixon), and the main dining room—which will eventually seat a max capacity of 98—features beautiful cypress communal tables down the center of the room, with reclaimed black oak floors inspired by the Tate Modern (the room smells sweetly of wood). The fixtures are so choice, from the Eames stools at the bar to the dowel and metal chairs in chocolate, plus the softly glowing globes overhead from FLOS. The artwork by Suzie Buchholz and the back panel of cornflower blue also add punches of color, and I also loved the texture in the room, from the pebbled feel of the banquettes, to the smooth wood tables, to the pattern of white wood rafters overhead. I also fell in love with the spoon images by Michael Harvey (with wood spoons by Nic Webb). There is additional seating for 12 outdoors, which will be especially prized by lunchtime diners.
The menu from chef Rachel Silcocks (previously at nopa), while obviously expanded (and say hello to a new fryer!), is still very much Piccino, with an array of salads and vegetables—wait until you try the leek and sorrel fritters, and asparagus salad with a bright mint vinaigrette, both $9. There’s also a selection of homey pastas, and an expanded pizza menu, with eight in all (we tried the pisello, with English peas, lovage pesto, and buffalo mozzarella, $18). There are also a couple larger plates, like pan-seared halibut ($21) and braised lamb with favas and polenta ($19).
Desserts from Alicia Harper included a brûléed semolina budino with Burlat cherries ($7), and, of course, there’s an affogato from the coffee bar next door. Speaking of the new coffee bar, you’ll be able to order antipasti and desserts off the restaurant menu, in addition to a variety of treats baked just for the café. You can view an entire slideshow of the space (and the preview meal we had) on my Flickr page.
As for the neighbors, DIG is the wine shop from Wayne Garcia, which will highlight food-friendly wines from France and Italy that you’ll be able to try at the tasting bar. And considering the Rega turntable I saw in there, you’ll be listening to some choice vinyl as well (Wayne is quite the audiophile). And Ben and Chris Ospital of MAC will not only be tempting you with their incredible designer looks, but they are also going to be reviving Chez MAC, with home furnishings and more. DIG will be open Tue-Sun 12pm-7pm, and MAC will be open Tue-Sun 11am-7pm.
The Piccino café is now open, and hours are 7am-10pm daily; and the restaurant will be open Tue-Sun 11am-10pm, closed Monday. Piccino, 1001 Minnesota St. at 22nd St., 415-824-4224.
Piccino - 1001 Minnesota St. San Francisco - 415-824-4224
As reported last week, chef Randy Lewis is opening CRIOLLA KITCHEN in the former Bagdad Cafe space this week (although it’s Criolla, not Criollo as I originally reported). Additional partners are Stephen PV Weber, Stephen H. White, and Michael Patterson. The menu—which traces soul food’s journey across the globe—features dishes from Africa, Puerto Rico, Louisiana (where Lewis is from), Portugal, and Cuba.
Dishes include starters like shrimp-stuffed hushpuppies with bread and butter pickle rémoulade ($5.90) and yam-yam tater tots with cilantro-lime crema ($4.90), while larger dishes include a selection of eight different rice and bean dishes (choose from either cast-iron, pot-simmered vegetarian black beans, or creamy ham-hock red beans, served with Louisiana long grain rice. Will it be calypso-spiced flank steak with rice and beans ($15.90), or plancha-seared Louisiana catfish with rice and beans ($14.90)? There’s also southern fried chicken, with your choice of waffle (original crispy, yam-yam sweet potato, johnny-cake corn, or savory herb)—and there’s even a choice with gizzards (I know my grandma would be thrilled with that one). There’s also a barbecue section, with ribs and brisket that are smoked daily in a barbecue pit in the East Bay. I am happy to see a Cubano on the menu ($10.90), with slow-roasted leg of pork, thin-sliced tasso ham, pickled okra, Swiss cheese, and Zatarain’s Creole mustard crema. Check out the entire hunger-inducing menu here. I’m ready to sit down and start shaking some housemade hot pepper sauce on the whole menu. Beer and wine will be coming soon, as will lunch, brunch, and 24-hour service. Dinner nightly at 6pm. 2295 Market St. at 16th St., 415-552-5811.
I got an update from Pete Mrabe of Don Pisto’s about his upcoming noodle/raw bar (which still doesn’t have a name, but it will soon enough). It ends up he’s going to be running the pop-up restaurant out of Amante (yes, the bar)—they will operate as separate businesses.
The menu will have three sections: noodles, raw, and Chinatown five-spice fried chicken. Noodles will include Thai spaghetti, pork belly ramen, prawn butter-corn ramen, and duck chow fun. The raw section will be ever-changing, with selections of ceviche, crudo, sashimi, and seafood cocktails. As for the chicken, you’ll be able to order at 10-piece bucket (it’s Mary’s organic chicken) with three Asian sides for $24 (it should be enough to feed three), or 20 pieces with five sides for $40. Sides will include kimchi coleslaw, white rice, and other dishes. Hours will be Tue-Sat 6pm-10:30pm for now—Mrabe might offer the chicken later into the night, depending on how things go. Look for an opening the third week of July, stand by. 570 Green St. at Stockton.
The interwebs were all abuzz that co-chef David Tanis, who has been working on and off at Chez Panisse since the 1980s, is leaving the restaurant in the fall after the restaurant’s 40th anniversary parties in September wrap up. Scoop also reports he will be writing more cookbooks, and a regular food column for the New York Times.
Chez Panisse - 1517 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley - 510-548-5525
More changes at WEIRD FISH: according to this post on Mission Local, the restaurant has been closed since April 1st, and partners Timothy Holt and Peter Hood are splitting ways. It remains to be seen how the whole thing will shake out, so the restaurant remains cerrado for now.
Was very sorry to read about the fire on Folsom Street last week, which claimed MOYA ETHIOPIAN in the blaze. No word about whether they’ll be able to reopen in the space—it sounds pretty dismal.
And something seems to be brewing at SOCHA CAFE at 3235 Mission in Bernal Heights. According to a tablehopper tipster, it appears the new owners now have the windows papered over. No word on what is going on. Anyone? Bueller?
And in the industry FYI department, NOPA is closed tonight, Tuesday, for a fifth anniversary party. Happy birfday, neighbor!
After a bunch of rumors and misinformation and no information, Grub Street reports the official closing for TI COUZ is this Sunday May 15th. My intern was poking around and discovered a sign for Giordano Bros., home of the famous all-in-one sandwich in North Beach. An email in to Giordano’s owner Jeff Jordan got me this response: “It’s still premature. Lots of moving parts that need to be tied down in the next few weeks.” I’ll let you know once I hear from him if the deal is final. I can imagine his shop doing very well in the neighborhood, but Ti Couz will be missed by many. 3108 16th St. at Valencia, 415-252-7373.
Via Uptown Almanac and Eater, just around the corner, it appears MAHARAJA INDIAN has shuttered: the phone line is dead, and UA refers to a Craigslist ad advertising a space on Valencia. 525 Valencia St. at 16th St.
Thanks to buddy and girl-about-town Rebecca Chapa, I learned OYAJI in the Outer Richmond is now open for lunch Wed-Sun, and is serving a different menu than dinnertime. Now, what is on the menu currently remains mysterious since I couldn’t confirm anything before my deadline (Oyaji is closed Mon-Tue), and God forbid someone actually have a new menu posted on their website. Anyway, stand by for deets.
Oyaji - 3123 Clement St. San Francisco - 415-379-3604
Coming up this Friday May 13th (awooooooo!) is the first San Francisco Nomadic Pizza Throw-Down! Four traveling pizza ovens (Pizza Politana, Fist of Flour, Copper Top Ovens, and Casey’s Pizza) will converge on COFFEE BAR, donating proceeds to a Japanese tsunami relief fund. $12 will get you four pizza slice tasting tokens, one drink token (beer or wine), and one voting token. (There is also a $12 whole pizza token.) Pie-tastic! 6pm-9:30pm. Corner of Florida St. and Mariposa St.
Were you bummed to miss the M.F.K. Fisher dinner I wrote up at WOODWARD’S GARDEN? Here’s your chance to attend another cool one on Wednesday May 18th, with author Rebecca Solnit of the book Infinite City. She will be accompanied by fellow Infinite essayists and mapmakers at the Garden. The three-course menu of classic San Francisco dishes is $45 per person (does not include wine, tax, or tip). Call to reserve at 415-621-7122.
And then on Tuesday May 24th, forager Connie Green of Wine Forest Wild Foods, and the recently released cookbook The Wild Table, will be at SALT HOUSE for A Wild Table Dinner with Connie Green. Chef Robert Leva has created a five-course menu showcasing the very best wild foods, and Salt House bartenders will be foraging with Connie Green in the woodlands of Sonoma to create three seasonal cocktails. Beverage director Nicole Burke is pairing local, sustainable wines as well ($35). $70 per person for the dinner, not inclusive of tax or gratuity. Cocktail reception starts at 6:30pm, dinner at 7pm. Advance reservations are recommended.
I know I’m not the only one who is a fan of Italian food, so these upcoming Italian meals should please many of you. On Thursday May 12th, Marin Organic and FRANTOIO RISTORANTE in Mill Valley are putting on a meal to celebrate Cooking with Italian Grandmothers, by chef and author Jessica Theroux. Chef Duilio Valenti will prepare recipes featured in Theroux’s book, utilizing organic ingredients grown by Peter Martinelli of Fresh Run Farm and other organic producers in Marin. There will be a conversation between the author, the farmer, and the chef. $60, plus 9% tax and 15% tip. More info and tickets here.
OLIVETO in Rockridge has an ongoing event celebrating the cuisine of Puglia, from three separate areas of the region. Take a look here for all the details on the menus and more. There will be a $65 prix-fixe menu alongside the regular (but shorter) à la carte menu, spending four evenings on each place. Several of the Puglian menu dishes will also appear on their daily à la carte menu. Through May 16th.
Grub Street tipped me off that DOPO in Piedmont is offering a four-course menu featuring foods from Campania on Sunday May 15th (chef Jon Smulewitz reportedly visited winemaker Bruno De Conciliis). Four courses, $75 per person (including wine pairing). Two seatings available at 5pm and 8pm. Call 510-652-3676 for reservations.
On Sunday May 15th, SAM’S CHOWDER HOUSE is putting on their annual Sam’s Lobster Fest, with Sam’s delicious lobster rolls, seafood, picnic-style dishes, beer and wine, and Treatbot ice cream for dessert. There will also be live music, dancing, a silent auction, an oyster shucking and eating contest (those totally gross me out, to be honest), as well as arts and crafts booths, with face painting and train and slide rides for the kiddies. Attendance is free, but tickets for food, drinks, rides, and kids’ activities can be purchased at a discounted rate in advance and collected at will call. For $30, partake in Sam’s Lobster Bake (hello Maine lobsters and corn-on-the-cob); pre-order, served at 1:30pm. More details and tickets here. 12pm-5pm. American Legion Fairgrounds, 70 Capistrano Rd., Half Moon Bay, Princeton Harbor.
Trac, Matt, Sarah, and Mel, Bi-Rite Market’s trusty wine team, have one of the best wine selections in town. Surrounded by amazing cheeses, salumi, fresh produce, and a world-class deli, the team is inspired to choose wines that aren’t just “food friendly” but rather living partners with food that elevate the dishes they’re served alongside. That selection includes a wide array of wines under $15, including the latest in natural, organic, and biodynamic wines, plus hard-to-find cult wines from Comtes Lafon, Clos Rougeard, Sean Thackrey, Bartolo Mascarello, Movia, Quintarelli, and more.
During Bi-Rite’s Spring Wine Blitz (May 19th-22nd), all wines are 20% off when you purchase any 12 or more bottles. The sale includes every wine in the store, and delivery is free in San Francisco! Don’t miss the preview tasting at 18 Reasons on May 11th for your opportunity to sample the offerings before you make your Blitz choices!
Bi-Rite Market, 3639 18th St. between Dolores and Guerrero, in the Mission District. For more information, call the store at 415-241-9760 or email.
MILLENNIUM is hosting a spring sparkling wine dinner with Farm Wine Imports on Tuesday May 17th. Five courses and an amuse, paired with six non-traditional French, Italian, and Spanish sparkling wines. 6pm-9:30pm; dinner served at 6:30pm. $85 per person (before tax/gratuity). Call Alison to reserve your seat at 415-345-3900, ext. 13.
And on Thursday May 19th, BAR BAMBINO is hosting owner Jean Michel Morel of Kabaj Wines in Slovenia. Having recently returned from a gastronomic tour through Friuli and Alto Adige, proprietor Christopher Losa, chef Elizabeth Binder, and pastry chef Alyce Shields have created an exciting menu. Winemaker Jean Michel Morel will guide diners through six of his wines paired with a four-course menu, like a shellfish brodetto steamed in pinot grigio with saffron and flaked Hungarian paprika, and a grappa-roasted duck with savory cherry jus and a napoleon of crispy potatoes and fava beans. Space is limited to 20 people; $85 per person (gratuity and tax not included). Call 415-701-VINO (8466) to reserve your seats or via email.
On Wednesday May 25th, trade and media are invited to this fantastic and inaugural Champagne tasting, featuring 31 of the top Champagne houses and growers, and over 90 different Champagnes in all. Each house is featuring a non-vintage, a vintage, and a third wine of their choice—and in many cases, the third wine of their choice is something quite exclusive or new. It’s probably one of the first times that all these brands have appeared together in one room, and this event will hopefully be taking place annually or bi-annually. Looking at the list of participants, I’m happy to see a couple I got to taste during my trip to Champagne last September during harvest, like Mailly Grand Cru—will be great to taste them again. Other houses pouring include Alfred Gratien, Besserat de Bellefon, Bollinger, Bruno Paillard, Pommery, Gaston Chiquet, Gosset, Champagne Henriot, and Pol Roger.
There will be a media briefing at 1pm, and the media preview is from 1pm-3pm; trade can attend the grand tasting from 3pm-5pm. The new communications director of the CIVC (Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne), Thibaut Le Mailloux, will be present and available to interview on all things Champagne. For additional information or to RSVP, please email DJ Carella. Westin St. Francis, Imperial Floor, 335 Powell St. at Geary.
Spring is here, and you can sip on some wine alfresco at the annual GHIRARDELLI SQUARE UNCORKED! WINE FESTIVAL on Saturday May 21st. There will be more than 40 wineries pouring, plus live entertainment, cooking demonstrations and a sampling of dishes by executive chef Mark Richardson of Seasons at Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco (1:30pm-2:30pm) and chef Karen Chiappone of Cellar 360 (2:30pm-3:30pm), and wine education seminars (1pm and 3pm, $5 per person). Uncorked! will donate a portion of proceeds raised from ticket sales to support Save The Bay. Tasting tickets are $50 per person and include unlimited tastings and a souvenir wine glass; buy tickets here. 1pm-6pm. 900 North Point St. at the corner of Beach and Larkin Streets.
Saturday May 21, 2011 1pm–6pm $50 more info
There’s a grand opening party this weekend for the new ROCK WALL WINE COMPANY tasting room in Alameda, featuring light bites, musical entertainment, wine (of course), and those killer sunset-on-the-bay views from the new deck. And it’s free! Swing by from 5pm-8pm for the Sunset Celebration (RSVP required through Eventbrite—only Sunday tickets remain). Since it’s conveniently located next to Hangar One, you can do a double play. And mark your calendar for June 11th, when Rock Wall holds a Wine Rodeo, featuring country music and barbecue from award-winning chef Ray Green of North Main BBQ in Euless, Texas. Early bird tickets can be purchased in advance for $30 until May 20th. 2301 Monarch St., Suite 300, Alameda.
THE BOOTHBY CENTER FOR THE BEVERAGE ARTS has two upcoming classes you should take a peek at: on Wednesday May 11th is When It’s Cocktail Time in Cuba with Charlotte Voisey and Philip Greene, author of To Have and Have Another: The Hemingway Cocktail Companion, to be published in 2012 (I don’t think I can possibly love that title any more than I already do). The duo will lead a tour back through the years, covering Cuba’s historic role in sugar cane and rum distilling; and you’ll learn about the favorite cocktails of Ernest Hemingway, and hear stories about Sloppy Joe’s, the Floridita, the Hotel Nacional, and other venues. Sample punches, cocktails such as the Papa Doble and the El Presidente, plus delicious appetizers, as well as get some great recipes and instructions on how to make these classics at home. 7pm-9pm. $45; buy tickets here.
And on Tuesday May 17th, Carl Sutton of Sutton Cellars will be teaching a vermouth class. Start with a lesson on vermouth’s history and cultural significance, including a comparative tasting of popular and boutique vermouths. Next delve deeper into Carl’s own formula, tasting the components of the popular vermouth that he makes right here in San Francisco and is served in many of the city’s top cocktail bars and restaurants. Then look at vermouth’s role in a cocktail (and taste one of those while you’re at it) before moving on to a flight of wine-based aperitifs and digestifs. That’s a lot of tasting and education for only $25. Buy tickets. 7pm-9pm.
The Boothby Center for the Beverage Arts - 1161 Mission St., Suite 120 San Francisco
Saturday May 14, 2011
This Saturday May 14th is the second annual NATIONAL FOOD BLOGGERS BAKE SALE, where bloggers bake up the fabulous goodies you’re always seeing online and make them available to you in real life, then they donate 100% of sales to Share Our Strength. There are two San Francisco locations this year: come by 18 Reasons (10am-6pm; 593 Guerrero St. at 18th St.) or Kiehl’s in Pacific Heights (noon-4pm; 2360 Fillmore St. at Washington) for items like blueberry hand pies, macaron pops, mochi, salted caramels, gluten-free lemon poppy seed loaves, mango mousse cake, and whoopie pies.
This is a nationwide event, so tablehopper readers outside SF can look for a local bake sale on organizer Gaby Dalkin’s website. Last year’s SF Bake Sale raised $1700, with hopes to double that number this year. Funds raised support Share Our Strength’s efforts to end childhood hunger in America through their “No Kid Hungry” movement by helping fund after-school and summer feeding programs.
Also happening this Saturday is the NEW TASTE MARKETPLACE at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church (noon-5pm; 500 De Haro St. at Mariposa), featuring lovingly made local food, live music, and many first-time vendors eager to debut their goods. The market’s goal is to connect the community to great food, and increase awareness about hunger issues in San Francisco.
Some of the new items in May are “Soft Gold” ghee from Ryan Dematteo and gluten- and nut-free crunch caramels from The Nutless Professor. Also, some veteran vendors are collaborating to bring together paired food and drink, like Mission Gastroclub’s smoked pork shoulder with savory strawberry risotto paired with SodaCraft’s smoked strawberry vanilla soda. Look for a complete list of vendors at newtastemarketplace.org, and see photos from previous markets on Flickr.
New Taste Marketplace is a fundraiser for the The Food Pantry, which distributes groceries to over 600 low-income participants every week. The food pantry is set up farmers-market style, providing literally tons of fresh fruits and vegetables, rice, beans, pasta, cereal, bread, and more.
Friday Jun 10, 2011 6pm–9pm $100 Info/tickets The Galleria 101 Henry Adams St., San Francisco 415-487-3736
Save the date on Friday June 10th for the seventh annual SUMMERTINI, a one-of-a-kind food lovers’ party that benefits CHEFS, a culinary training program for homeless adults (and one of my favorite organizations in the city). From 6pm-9pm, you’ll be wining and dining on signature cocktails and specialty food from more than two dozen San Francisco restaurants in the Design Center Galleria in San Francisco, plus there will be music by SF jazz band 8 Legged Monster.
Signature martinis and hors d’oeuvres will come from A16, 4505 Meats, E&O Trading Company, LarkCreekSteak, Millennium, Patxi’s Chicago Pizza, Hayes Street Grill, The Plant Café Organic, ThirstyBear Brewing Co., Yield Wine Bar, Pause Wine Bar, Home of Chicken and Waffles, McQuade’s Celtic Chutneys, Sukhi’s Gourmet Indian Cuisine, and more.
Raffle prizes will be awarded throughout the evening, and the live auction will feature exciting items like a cooking class with chef Martin Yan; a VIP tour of the capitol and lunch with Congresswoman Jackie Speier in Washington, D.C.; tickets to a taping of The View in NYC, and many other special dining, travel, and entertainment opportunities.
SummerTini tickets are $100 and can be purchased online or by calling 415-487-3736. Proceeds benefit CHEFS (Conquering Homelessness through Employment in Food Service)—this unique, 12-month culinary training program provides classroom instruction, hands-on kitchen training in institutional and restaurant settings, and job counseling and placement in the food industry for homeless adults—and the Skills Center, where the students receive additional support with GED preparation, basic literacy, and résumé writing. Both programs are managed by Episcopal Community Services of San Francisco.
Super-hottie Clive Owen was spotted at Twenty Five Lusk (again!) with the producer of Hemingway & Gellhorn last Monday evening, and stayed until the lounge closed. (This is the third or fourth time he’s been in, so it’s safe to say he’s a fan!)
Also, actor and comedian Bill Bellamy visited the bar, dining on the lobster rolls, and he seemed to like the SF Yacht Club cocktail.
As a tablehopper reader writes: “File this under ‘Better Late than Never—Maybe’: spotted Curtis Stone and Steven Fretz [the executive chef of chef Curtis Stone’s Stones Food, Inc.] at Nick’s Crispy Tacos this past Saturday. Not sure which looked more delicious—Curtis or my Grilled Fish Taco Nick’s Way.” (I’ll take Curtis, thanks.)