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Nov 7, 2011 26 min read

November 8, 2011 - This week's tablehopper: soup to nuts.

November  8, 2011 - This week's tablehopper: soup to nuts.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: soup to nuts.                    

My afternoon bite at Zuni on my birthday. Really, what more does a lady need? Photo: ©

Thank God birthday week is officially over—I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the end. Sorry, liver. Sorry, brain. Sorry, waistline. It was just as well that I took last week off—with my computer in the shop for three days, I wasn’t going to get much done anyway. And now guess who is paying for it? Yeah, you AND me, because today’s column is a hefty mofo.

One of last week’s highlights was going to listen to Adam Gopnik speak at the JCC (I took full advantage of having Monday night off!), and I even got to tip him off on where to eat when he was done signing books (I sent him to Cotogna, and I guess he liked the cranberry bean soup). Nothing like creating your own starlet sighting. :)

Um, whoa, temperature drop! Such psycho weather. Are you already plotting where to get some soup tonight? I totally grabbed some posole from Nopalito last week—that was one satisfying dinner.

And you’re gonna go vote, right? Right! More than anything, I’m just happy the onslaught of political phone calls (like at 8pm on a Sunday, really?) and the fliers in my mailbox are all finally, truly coming to an end. Stop the insanity.

Okay folks, let’s dive in here. And keep toasty!

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

AQ Now Open in SoMa/Mid-Market


AQ’s open kitchen (and groovy whisk lights). Photo: ©


The view from the dining room toward the front of AQ. Photo: ©

Last week, AQ opened in SoMa, and let me tell you folks, the space is a looker. At a preview event a couple weeks ago, I admired the brick walls and historic façade, complete with tall windows and ceilings, timber beams, and unique light fixtures from Omega Too Lighting (I loved the one with the whisks). You’ll be able to see chef Mark Liberman working away in the open kitchen (there are 10 seats at the kitchen counter), plus there are two nearby 12-seat tables. The dining room  has 60 seats, and the copper-topped bar has 14 seats. The space was designed in partnership with Rebecca Amato of Amato Architecture and Eric Heid of Martin Heid Design/Build (Commonwealth, Serpentine).

The restaurant will change seasonally, which will also be reflected in the décor and staff uniforms. The menu is described as innovative California cuisine, and the dinner menu pricing is set at $9-$13 for starters and $24 for main dishes. You can check out a PDF of the menu here. Lunch is more casual, with salads, sandwiches ($13), and a daily pasta, plus a few dishes off the dinner menu for $18. He’s a talented chef, and has worked for Daniel Boulud, Joël Robuchon, and locally was the chef de cuisine at La Folie.

Beverage director Kristen Capella worked with Master Sommelier Jesse Becker on the extensive wine program, and there are also locally brewed beers and unique imports. Head bartender Timothy Zohn (Alembic) is making some delicious vermouth-based cocktails like the Churchill’s Bain and the Palanquin served in vintage glassware (full liquor will be coming later in the year—and you’ll also find bartender Brandon Josie working there). Dinner Sun-Thu 6pm-11pm, Fri-Sat 6pm-12am, lunch Mon-Fri 11am-2pm, brunch soon.

AQ            - 1085 Mission St. San Francisco - 415-341-9000

Izakaya Yuzuki Opens Tonight in the Mission


Renkon mochi (lotus root dumpling) and tsukune. Photo by David Pham.


Hot sake service; photo by Rebecca Kinney. ©

Due to open tonight is IZAKAYA YUZUKI, a project from first-time restaurant owner Yuko Hayashi in the former Ebb & Flow space in the Mission. Yuko believes that “San Francisco is ready for real, authentic Japanese food.” The chef is Takashi Saito; his menu (you can take a peek here) includes an otsumami section, with smaller dishes ($4-$9) like spicy cucumber with sesame oil and braised beef tendon that are designed to be enjoyed with drinks such as sake. There are also four yakitori choices (like chicken meatballs and wings), plus steamed clams, chawan-mushi with uni, and chicken kara-age marinated in koji. In fact, much of the food at Izakaya Yuzuki utilizes koji, a mold that is fermented on rice (in a background statement about the restaurant, Yuko mentions that koji not only makes food easier to digest, but it’s also tastier). Izakaya Yuzuki wants to be the first restaurant in the U.S. to specialize in food prepared using koji. They make their own tofu, as well.

Seating includes a walnut bar and newly finished walnut tables, with a splash of warm orange paint on the back wall, paintings of vegetables done in the style of Japanese calligraphy on the walls, and a noren (traditional Japanese room divider). Izakaya Yuzuki will serve their hot sake in an earthenware vessel that looks like a teapot, which means no more burning your hands on scalding hot ceramic carafes. Yuko expects to be open tomorrow, and you can make reservations on Urbanspoon. Hours will be Mon-Sat 5:30pm-10pm. 598 Guerrero St. at 18th St., 415-556-9898.

Izakaya Yuzuki            - 598 Guerrero St. San Francisco - 415-556-9898

Jeremy Tooker of Four Barrel Is Opening a Café/Bakery on Divisadero


Four Barrel Coffee founder Jeremy Tooker. Photo via Four Barrel’s Facebook page.

Man, my neighborhood just doesn’t quit. Was thrilled to read that Jeremy Tooker of Four Barrel Coffee is going to be opening a café in the former (and rather fabulous) Emblem Market space on Divisadero. But it’s not going to be another Four Barrel—it’s going to have a different name, vibe, and aesthetic (the name is currently TBD), but of course the coffee will be from Four Barrel.

Since it’s such a spacious location, Jeremy is going to have the talented Josey Baker open a bakery in the back. The menu will include a toast bar, featuring Josey’s bread with a variety of spreads, from honey made from bees on the roof to homemade peanut butter. There is also a backyard that can be made into a garden, and possibly an outdoor space for customers. There will be about 50 seats or so in the café. The target date is currently spring 2012. 736 Divisadero St. at Fulton.

Keiko à Nob Hill Opens Tomorrow in the Le Club Space


The former Le Club bar and lounge; photo from Yelp.

Opening on Wednesday November 9th on Nob Hill is KEIKO À NOB HILL—well, it will be partially open. During the soft opening period, lunch will be served, and half the dining room will be open for dinner (i.e. very limited seating will be available). After the soft opening period wraps up, lunch will be discontinued and both dining rooms of the former Le Club space will be open for dinner.

Some will recognize the owners’ names from their time at El Paseo in Mill Valley (where chef Keiko Takahashi won a Michelin star) before Tyler Florence opened his steakhouse concept in the location. But since chef Takahashi is now in the city, she is going to be offering a more innovative style of Franco-Japanese cooking than what she was doing in Mill Valley. The dining room will offer a tasting menu (priced at $88 for eight courses), while there will be a bar and lounge featuring an à la carte (and more casual) izakaya-style menu as well (click here to view a PDF of the bar menu—it may be “casual” but dishes still clock in at an average of $20 each). Click here for a PDF of the initial tasting menu, which includes dishes like Shigoku oyster gratin and Hokkaido scallop sauté with sea urchin. Owner (and husband) Seigo Takei accumulated quite the wine collection at El Paseo, and guests will have access to 5,000 moderately priced vintage bottles. Opening hours are Tue-Sun 11am-2:30pm and 5:30pm-10pm.

Keiko à Nob Hill            - 1250 Jones St. San Francisco - 415-829-7141

Southpaw BBQ Opening in the Mission


Interior photo by Rebecca Kinney. ©

Due to open Thursday November 10th is SOUTHPAW BBQ, a Southern barbecue restaurant with a focus on Memphis-style barbecue and cuisine from various parts of the deep South. The three founders (chef David King, GM Elizabeth Wells, and bar manager Edward Calhoun) are all from the South, and want to be true to Southern cuisine. Menu items include dry rub pork shoulder and spare ribs, whiskey-brined chicken, mustard-crusted smoked ham hock, and Delta Grind cheese grits. The meats will be sourced locally, except for some specialty items from the South. There will also be a variety of housemade sauces. The bar program will be focused on American spirits, wine, and beer (there are 12 taps, and a local brewer will be making home-brewed beer on site), plus a number of American whiskeys on the list.

The 49-seat restaurant features a rustic look, with reclaimed materials and found objects, including a bar made of reclaimed claro walnut and light fixtures made out of Belgian beer bottles, chicken feeders, and grain bin metal coils. There are also two flat-screen TVs for game days. Starting hours are Tue-Wed 3pm-12am, Thu-Sat 3pm-1am, Sun 3pm-12am, closed Mon.

Southpaw BBQ            - 2170 Mission St. San Francisco - 415-934-9300

Three Thai Openings on 11-11-11: Lers Ros Hayes Valley, House 530, and Osha


Interior photo of Osha Thai’s 2nd Street location from Facebook.

Three new Thai places are capitalizing on the fortuitous 11-11-11 action, starting with the much-awaited opening of LERS ROS HAYES. The Hayes Valley location has comfortable seating, and while the food menu is basically the same, there will be an emphasis on the wine program. Hours will be 10am-11pm. 307 Hayes St. at Franklin, 415-874-9661.

Meanwhile, in the Mission, PorPhol (Paul) Meeriyagerd is opening HOUSE 530. As mentioned previously in tablehopper, his parents are behind Thai House Express—while the menu will include some of the Thai favorites served by his parents at THE, there will also be some California influence and local ingredients. The 80-seat restaurant will offer bar seating and a modern look; takeout will be available. Hours are Sun-Thu 5pm-11am, Fri-Sat 5pm-12am. 530 Valencia St. at 16th St.

Eater reports OSHA THAI will be opening another location in Union Square at 432 Sutter St. at Stockton.

Lers Ros Hayes            - 307 Hayes St., San Francisco - 415-874-9661

Project Updates on Aziza in Jackson Square, Nopalito Sunset, and B-Side


Tanya Holland; photo from Facebook.

Inside Scoop brings word that Mourad Lahlou of Aziza will no longer be opening his second restaurant in the 500 Jackson Street location (most recently Zinnia). In the meantime, he’s going to be busy promoting his brand-new cookbook, Mourad: New Moroccan. You can catch one of his readings on Saturday November 12th at Omnivore Books from 3pm-4pm, and at Green Apple Books on Saturday November 19th at 1pm.

In case you were wondering about the timeline of the second location of NOPALITO that is opening in the Sunset, the most recent update points to an early 2012 opening. 1224 9th Ave. at Lincoln.

And here’s an update on Oakland’s B-SIDE from tablehopper intern Daniel Azarkman, which we last mentioned back in June: “By the beginning of 2012, chef/owner Tanya Holland of West Oakland’s Brown Sugar Kitchen aims to have opened B-Side, a new barbecue joint in the former space of Yardie Jerk. The 30-seat restaurant is going for an Old West look with exposed wooden beams, saloon-style bar stools, and even some wall art featuring Tanya dressed up as a cowgirl. The menu will pay tribute to the simplicity of some of the better local barbecue places, with house-smoked hot links, brisket, and pork ribs taking up most of the stage. Expect classic sides like baked beans and potato salad, plus maybe a few of the crowd favorites from BSK. As the neighborhood is one best suited to daytime foot traffic, it’s looking like lunch only at least in the restaurant’s early months.” 3303 San Pablo Ave. at 34th St., Oakland.

Charlie Palmer Is Taking Over the Crescent Hotel (and Opening a Restaurant)


Charlie Palmer; photo from Facebook.

SFoodie was the first to note Charlie Palmer seemed to be working on a project at the CRESCENT HOTEL. Inside Scoop got confirmation that he is in fact working with the developer City-Core to open a “chef-driven boutique hotel.” Palmer will be opening a brand-new restaurant concept in the hotel, and fans of The Burritt Room will be happy to know the historic bar will remain open. Renovations are scheduled to begin in 2012. 417 Stockton St. at Bush, 415-400-0500.

Tidbits: Comebacks, Openings, Closings, Tasty Tips


Moya’s vegetarian combo. Photo from Yelp via Todd I.

After suffering a nasty building fire months ago, MOYA ETHIOPIAN RESTAURANT AND COFFEEHOUSE will be resurfacing in another SoMa location. LiveSOMA says Moya is hoping to reopen by December 1st, and will be serving “locally roasted coffee, tea, pastries, and fresh artisan sandwiches and salads in addition to [their] special Ethiopian selection.” Beer and wine will also be served. 121 9th St. at Minna.

Eater reports LA OAXAQUEÑA has reopened after their (fortunately temporary) closure back in August. It’s hot chocolate time! 2128 Mission St. at 17th St, 415-621-5446.

A couple more locations of THE MELT are opening: at One Embarcadero Center and 345 Spear Street, serving new sweet options as well.

SFGate has details on the closure of LITTLE BIRD, a Tenderloin café. 835 Geary St. at Larkin.

Not too far away from Little Bird, Eater reports CANDY DARLING has shuttered. 798 Sutter St. at Jones.

Grub Street reports the Castro Gold’s Gym location of BEAUTIFULL! has closed. 2301 Market St. at Noe.

The Richmond blog mentions YET WAH has closed. 2140 Clement St. at 22nd Ave.

A fired-up reader (or perhaps a friend of the business I’m about to mention) reports having a delicious sausage from THE MISSING LINK cart downtown. The cart specializes in wild game sausage (elk, pheasant, boar, antelope, bison, boar). Mon-Fri 10:30am-2:30pm. 768 Sansome St. at Pacific.

And starting this Thursday, PAL’S TAKEAWAY in the Mission is going to be making TV dinners that you can bring home and warm up. This week it’s brined and roasted chicken breast with maple vinegar sauce, smashed fingerling potatoes from Martin Bournehouse with black olives, pimentón, parsley, and sautéed River Dog Farm rainbow chard with golden raisins. Just $12; available at Pal’s for pickup every Thursday, but there will just be a limited number to start.

Pal's Takeaway            - 3066 24th St. San Francisco - 415-203-4911

Hires and Departures

Grub Street Los Angeles reports chefs Jeremy Fox and Charlie Parker are heading to Los Angeles to help consult and open FREDDY SMALLS BAR & KITCHEN. The restaurant is the latest from Jeff Weinstein, founder of burger chain The Counter. Fox will reportedly return to the Bay Area, while Parker will remain in LA as the executive chef. Yup, we lost him.

QUINCE and COTOGNA have a new pastry chef: Devin McDavid. He was formerly at The French Laundry, Per Se, Soho House, and Fleur de Sel.

And for those excited to try the Turkish cuisine of chef Vahit Besir at GRILL HOUSE MEDITERRANEAN (like me), well, it’s not gonna happen because SFoodie discovers he has departed. 533 Jones St. at O’Farrell, 415-440-7786.

Greens Launches Saturday Brunch This Weekend


The view at Greens. Photo: ©

Not getting enough greens in your diet? No more excuses now that executive chef Annie Somerville of GREENS is offering a brunch menu on Saturday as well as on Sunday. Starting on the weekend of Saturday November 12th, brunch fans will have two opportunities to take in views of the Bay while enjoying dishes such as the pinnacles scramble with yellow finn potatoes, poblano and chipotle chiles, scallions, cheddar, and cilantro. And ciabatta French toast with apple quince compote, huckleberries, and warm maple syrup sounds perfect for chilly weather. A menu like this could get you out of your warm bed a little earlier than usual on the weekend. Make reservations here. Brunch served 11am-2:30pm.

Greens            - Fort Mason, Building A San Francisco - 415-771-6222

Meaty News


Photo from BN Ranch’s Facebook page.

I was a fan of Peter Temkin’s charcuterie program when he was at Spruce, and so I am happy to learn SHOW DOGS has hired him as in-house charcutier. He has five new specialty sausages on the menu (merguez, wild boar, chicken curry, chicken boudin, and maple bacon), all made with locally sourced meats.

Executive chef Adam Keough of ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR is teaming up with Bill and Nicolette Hahn Niman of BN Ranch to offer a unique dinner on Monday November 14th featuring 100% grass-fed beef and heritage turkey, all raised sustainably, without chemical and drug additives. Here’s the three-course menu as it stands so far. First course: salad of roasted baby beet and quince, goat-cheese mousse, wild arugula; heritage turkey consommé, roasted sugar pie pumpkin ravioli, Brussels sprouts leaves, shaved chives; or BN Ranch beef tartare, violet mustard, green apple, red onion, cornichons, quail egg yolk, crostini. Second course: slow-roasted heritage turkey breast and confit leg, broccoli-cheddar mac ‘n’ cheese, cranberry-sweet onion relish, buttermilk onion rings, turkey gravy; or roasted strip-loin of beef, vadouvan-whipped potatoes, chanterelles, Bloomsdale spinach, garlic chips, caramelized onion jus. Third course: huckleberry parfait, yogurt panna cotta, huckleberry meringue, lemon streusel. 5:30pm-9:30pm. $68, excludes beverages, tax and gratuity; wine pairings by sommelier Aaron Wasserman available for an additional $32.

Bring the meatiness on home with the new line of barbecue sauces and spice rubs by S&S BRAND, an SF company from chefs Spencer O’Meara (Paragon) and Sarah Burchard (previously Barbacco). They’ve got three types of authentic, regional barbecue sauces—St. Louis, Tennessee, and Carolina styles—and six flavors of spice rubs for meat, fish, and poultry—4 Peppercorn, Poultry, BBQ Spice, Ranch, Fish, and Jerk, which can be used with or without the barbecue sauces. They also have an all-purpose brine mix, perfect for Thanksgiving. Avail online.

Show Dogs            - 1020 Market St. San Francisco - 415-558-9560

Fun Dinners and Food Events This Week


Old World Food Truck.

2_elizabeth falkner_ironchef.jpg

Elizabeth Falkner in Iron Chef; photo courtesy of Orson.


RoliRoti chicken; photo from the RoliRoti website.


Photo by Sita Bhaumik from the Cheese School website.

On Wednesday November 9th, Old World Food Truck will host a one-time Eastern European pop-up dinner at LA VICTORIA BAKERY in the Mission. Guests will move through five courses, each reflecting a unique heritage. Diners will start with gefilte fish, then move to vareniki (the Ukrainian version of pierogi) stuffed with kabocha squash and farmer’s cheese served with caraway spiced sour cream and toasted walnuts. Take a quick jaunt over to Poland to try a classic stuffed cabbage dish called galumpki. The galumpki are salt-fermented cabbage leaves that are stuffed with rice, mushrooms, and bacon, and then baked in tomato sauce. Moving on to the lower Volga region, the dinner will also include braised oxtails and buckwheat with a side of roasted kohlrabi, rutabaga, and turnip topped with crème fraîche and dill. Finally, land in Lithuania with a doughnut filled with poppy seed custard accompanied by candied berries. See the entire menu here. The five-course meal includes tax but not gratuity. BYOB (no corkage). Non-alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased here. 7:30pm-10pm. 2937 24th St. at Alabama, 415-630-0205.

Join chef Elizabeth Falkner for an exclusive screening of The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs this Thursday November 10th. Watch the show with chef Elizabeth at ORSON on their digital wall, get the behind-the-scenes info, and dine on hors d’oeuvres inspired by the episode. Orson will be hosting the pop-ups as long as she is competing. Good luck chef! Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 at the door. 7pm-10pm.

Also on Thursday November 10th, learn about food trucks at ChromiumForum: A Conversation with Thomas Odermatt of RoliRoti. Would-be food truck entrepreneurs can listen to Odermatt discuss how to build a successful food truck business. Topics will include identifying and seizing opportunities, navigating government regulations, and building a dependable supply chain. Network with other professionals over Odermatt’s famous porchetta and rotisserie chicken (without having to stand in the ever-present long line at RoliRoti!). Tickets are $20. 5:30pm-9pm, ChromiumForum, 440 Brannan St. at 3rd St.

On Friday November 11th, the THE CHEESE SCHOOL OF SAN FRANCISCO is holding their annual Meet the Cheesemaker event. Along with some new cheeses, there will be grilled cheese, goat milk fudge, salumi, cheese art, and music. Guests can mingle with cheesemakers from Cowgirl Creamery, Bellwether Farms, Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co., Cypress Grove Chevre, Nicasio Valley Cheese Co., Bleating Heart, Beehive Cheese, Shamrock Chevre, Redwood Hill Farm, Fiscalini Cheese, Marin French, Laura Chenel, Barinaga Ranch, Epicurean Connection, North Bay Curds & Whey, and more. Tickets are $35, and all proceeds go to the California Artisan Cheese Guild. 7pm-9pm, 2155 Powell St. at Francisco, 415-346-7530.

Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar Is Coming: Get Your Crack Pie!


Make your crack pie and eat it, too, when Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar comes to ABSINTHE BRASSERIE & BAR on Wednesday November 9th. Tosi is on tour to promote her cookbook Momofuku Milk Bar, which includes the recipe for the famous pie. You can buy the book ($35) and a slice of said pie ($5.25) at a bake sale to be held at Absinthe. Tosi will partner with Absinthe’s executive pastry chef Bill Corbett in the private dining room where you can choose from assorted sweets, including Corbett’s German chocolate candy bar and oatmeal cream pie. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the San Francisco Food Bank. 12pm-3pm. (Tosi will also be appearing at OMNIVORE BOOKS that evening from 6pm-7pm.)

Absinthe Brasserie & Bar            - 398 Hayes St. San Francisco - 415-551-1590

Origen Now Open in Berkeley


Interior of Origen; photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Now open in the former Locanda da Eva space in Berkeley is ORIGEN, billed as “a farm to fork restaurant” from co-chefs Daniel Clayton and Trace Leighton of The Fig Tree in Pleasant Hill. The menu includes small plates, mains like duck confit sliders with green plum sauce and sweet potato chips, a paella made every hour, and wood-fired thin crust pizzas from the brick oven. Both wine and cocktails are available, and there’s a bar food menu from 3pm-5pm. Open Tue-Sun 5:30pm-11pm, and opening soon for lunch Tue-Fri 11am-3pm. Good luck with that location, guys. 2826 Telegraph Ave. at Stuart, Berkeley, 510-848-9200.


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the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Openings: Doctor's Lounge, Mark's Bar, and Dell'Uva's Second Location


And there you have it: Mark’s Bar. Photo from Facebook.

Over in the Excelsior, Eater has the details about the conversion of The Dr’s into THE DOCTOR’S LOUNGE, from new owners Rochelle McCune and David Henry. The combination bar and restaurant will continue to offer weekend brunch and Thursday night family-style dinners (“cooked by Harold,” who seems to have been doing it for years), although chef Damon Bruner has been brought in to update the brunch menu. Cathead’s BBQ will be handling weekday lunch and dinner on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday evenings, along with offering a bar bites menu. The grand opening is scheduled for this Friday, 11-11-11. Open Mon-Fri 9am-2am, and Sat-Sun 8am-2am (weekend brunch is 8am-2pm). 4826 Mission St. at Ocean, 415-586-9730.

The new owner of the former Lush Lounge location, Mark Aloiau, finally got his liquor license (well, a temporary one), and has opened MARK’S BAR. Eater reports: “Like predecessor Lush, it’s a ‘super straight-friendly gay bar.’” 1092 Polk St. at Post.

And I heard from the owners of DELL’UVA, alerting me they have opened their second location on Mission Street in Bernal. The owners will be offering the same combo as their North Beach location: wine, beer, and small plates of Mediterranean food. They mentioned a wine selection that comes from all over the world, and a list of artisanal beers. For food, they mentioned cheese plates, pâté, cured meats, salads, thin crust pizza, and a small dessert menu, with more to come (as well as later hours) in the future. Mon-Fri 9am-midnight, and Sat-Sun 10am-midnight. 3235 Mission St. at Fair, 415-970-0511.

Check Your Calendar: Almanac Beer Events Next Week


Flickr photo from Almanac Beer.

It’s time for the latest release from ALMANAC BEER: Autumn 2011 Farmhouse Pale with Plums, and there are a few events lined up to celebrate. On Monday November 14th, Hapa Ramen will be doing a pop-up dinner at Bar Tartine (two seatings at 6pm and 8:30pm). Tickets are $86.80, which includes food, beer, tax, gratuity, and fees. See the menu and purchase tickets here.

You’ll also be able to try the beer at the Fatted Calf Pork Happy Hour on Wednesday November 16th (from 5:30pm-7pm) in Hayes Valley, and there will be a City Beer Store Bottle Release Party on Friday November 18th at 6pm, with Almanac-inspired chocolates by Nosh This, and a special keg of Sour Summer 2010 Blackberry Vintage Ale will be available as well.

The 13th Annual PinotFest Is at Farallon on Saturday November 19th


Make a toast to West Coast pinot noir at the 13th annual PinotFest Grand Tasting event at FARALLON on Saturday November 19th, 3pm-6pm, in the restaurant’s private dining rooms. This extensive tasting of pinot noirs features 60 of the best producers from Oregon and California (you’ll get to meet the winemakers too), plus hors d’oeuvres prepared by chef de cuisine Ryan Simas to complement the wines.

The killer lineup of participating wineries includes Adelsheim, Alma Rosa, Argyle, Au Bon Climat, Beaux Frères, Bonaccorsi, Brewer-Clifton, Brittan, Byron, Calera, Cambria, Chehalem, Cobb, Costa de Oro, Domaine Drouhin, Domaine Serene, Drake, El Molino, Etude, Failla, Fiddlehead, Flowers, Fort Ross, Foxen, Freeman, Freestone, Gloria Ferrer, Greenwood Ridge, Handley, Hartford, Hendry, Hitching Post, Iron Horse, J Vineyards, Keller Estate, Lioco, Littorai, Londer, Lynmar, Marimar Estate, Melville, Merry Edwards, Michaud, Morgan, Patz & Hall, Paul Hobbs, Peay, Pey-Marin, Ponzi, Radio Coteau, Robert Sinskey, Saintsbury, Siduri, Skewis, Soliste, Soter, Talisman, Talley, Tendril, Testarossa, Thomas Fogarty, Whitcraft, and Williams Selyem.

$100 per person; tickets online.

               Saturday Nov 19, 2011 3pm–6pm $100 more info


the socialite

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

The Ahwahnee's Annual Vintners' Holidays Series Is On!


Photo courtesy of The Ahwahnee.

Event Info

Sunday Nov  6, 2011 – Thursday Dec  8, 2011 Info                        The Ahwahnee 1 Ahwahnee Dr. at Tecoya Rd., Yosemite National Park 801-559-4903

Be wined, dined, and educated in beautiful Yosemite National Park: now in its 30th year, the VINTNERS’ HOLIDAYS event series is underway at The Ahwahnee hotel with 32 of California’s best vintners. Through December 8th, guests at each session will have personal access to meet the vintners, learn about the latest trends in viticulture, taste the wines, and enjoy a five-course, candlelit gala dinner in The Ahwahnee’s grand Dining Room. Executive chef Percy Whatley will design the gala dinner to compliment the often rare or limited-release wines from participating wineries. New wineries joining this year include Hitching Post Winery and Blackbird Vineyards.

Book now for special two- and three-night packages at The Ahwahnee ($896 and up) and Yosemite Lodge at the Falls ($665 and up), which include lodging, two tickets to the gala dinner, four wine tasting seminars, and admission to the Meet the Vintners reception. The Vintners’ Holidays package gives you the option for a special Thirsty Thirties add-on package ($30) that includes preferred seating at tasting seminars for two, one bottle of fine wine per room, and one complimentary breakfast for two adults—enter promo code 30VINTNERS when making your reservation. Also, additional tickets for the gala dinner may be purchased for a reduced price of $199 per person, including gratuity and excluding tax.

Here’s the schedule for the remaining sessions: Session II November 9th-10th (Wed-Thu): Hitching Post Winery, Blackbird Vineyards, Rombauer Vineyards, Corison Winery; moderator: Gilles de Chambure, M.S., director of wine education, Meadowood. Session III November 13th-15th (Sun-Tue): Mumm Napa, Provenance Vineyards, Villa Toscano Winery, Sbragia Family Vineyards; moderator: Evan Goldstein, M.S., and president, Full Circle Wine Solutions, Inc. Session IV November 16th-17th (Wed-Thu): Talley Vineyards, Rosenblum Family - Rock Wall Wine Co., Jaffurs Wine Cellars, Joseph Phelps Vineyards; moderator: Michael Stepanovich, wine journalist and judge. Session V November 27th-29th (Sun-Tue): Handley Cellars, Dutton-Goldfield Winery, Simi Winery, Terre Rouge & Easton Wines; moderator: Peter Marks, M.W., and vice president of education, Icon Estates. Session VI November 30th-December 1st (Wed-Thu): Halleck Vineyard, Mount Veeder Winery, Gianelli Vineyards, Ravenswood Winery; moderator: Peter Marks. Session VII December 4th-6th (Sun-Tue): Tablas Creek Vineyard, Huge Bear WinesandBeckstoffer Vineyards, Failla Wines, Turley Wine Cellars; moderator: Dan Berger, wine journalist and judge. Session VIII December 7th-8th (Wed-Thu): Ceja Vineyards, Karly Winery, Tolosa Winery, Chateau Montelena Winery; moderator: Dan Berger.

Make reservations online or call 801-559-4903. The Ahwahnee, 1 Ahwahnee Dr. at Tecoya Rd., Yosemite National Park.

Can You Smell It? It's Truffle Mania!


Oliveto’s honking 604-gram truffle from 2010. Photo from Oliveto.

You don’t have to travel abroad to enjoy the wonders of truffle season, they’re coming to all kinds of local restaurants near you!

Truffle season begins tonight at POGGIO, where chef Peter McNee will feature the tartufo bianco of Alba, shaved tableside, on dishes from a special dinner menu focused on the Piemonte region (available through the end of the truffle season). Look for simple fried duck eggs, eight different handmade pastas, and rich egg yolk fonduta, as in the raviolo con uovo (a single large ravioli with ricotta and soft egg yolk), and tajarin al trentacinque rossi (hand-cut tagliatelle pasta with butter and sage).

Starting tomorrow, November 9th, PERBACCO will offer a special white truffle menu from chef Staffan Terje for as long as the truffle supply lasts; each dish from the dedicated menu will have three grams of white truffle. Every year, owner Umberto Gibin and chef Staffan hand select the truffles from their Italian purveyor who personally delivers the truffles from Piemonte. Highlights from the menu include antipasti of raviolo di topinambour con uovo (pasta filled with Jerusalem artichoke, farm fresh hen yolk, Langhe hazelnut butter), and primi of raviora del plin con fonduta di midollo (agnolotti filled with roasted bone marrow fonduta, chive butter, parmigiano reggiano) or cannelloni di vitellone al forno (rolled pasta filled with slow-roasted veal breast, savoy cabbage, seirass baked with fonduta Valdostana). Prices will reflect market price of truffles.

At DELFINA, they’re celebrating two things, truffle season and their 13th anniversary! Join them on Monday November 14th, Tuesday November 15th, and Saturday November 19th for Piemontese white truffles and an à la carte menu inspired by Piemonte. The optional truffles can be shaved over any dish on the menu. Delfina will also be serving wines to suit the fare, some oldie but goodie dishes, and some new dishes too. Only a few seats remain.

SAISON is offering a 12-course, truffle-inspired menu November 15th-19th. Select dishes will incorporate white and black truffles; expect the menu to feature ingredients sourced from the surrounding land, and open-fire cooking. Approximately $248 per (including a supplemental charge of $50/gram of truffles).

For two weeks from November 15th-30th, FIFTH FLOOR will showcase white truffles from Alba, Italy in a four-course tasting menu crafted by chef David Bazirgan. The courses include kampachi sashimi (sudachi, shiso, white truffle ponzu), traditional risotto with shaved white truffles, Fallon Hills Farm egg raviolo (chanterelle cream, grated white truffle), venison loin (chestnut, celeriac, pear, cassis, shaved white truffle), and white chocolate mousse (white truffle ice cream, white truffle pistachio macaroon sandwich, pear, cassis). Enjoy with wine pairings by sommelier Amy Goldberger, who has hand-selected wines from the same region.

Don’t forget the truffle dinners happening at FARINA, which tablehopper mentioned a couple weeks ago.

For East Bay truffle mania, Wednesday through Saturday, November 16th-19th, OLIVETO will be serving the truffles that they’re personally bringing back from Italy. For his first truffle event at Oliveto, chef Jonah Rhodehamel will be combining the traditional with the creative in a northern Italian-style menu, a nod to the Piedmontese, Tuscan, and Umbrian sources of their truffles. Some samples of what you can expect: vellutata of celery root, sformatino, warm tart of housemade ricotta and apple with frisée and black truffle vinaigrette, tortelli of hen with fonduta Val d’Aosta, and pancetta-wrapped pork rotolo with truffle-studded farsa. They’ll be happy to shave a few grams of white truffle over some tajarin al burro right under your nose. Stay updated on their truffle hunt here.

Down on the Peninsula, DONATO ENOTECA is now serving tartufi bianchi from Alba in dishes like raviolo all’uovo (large raviolo with egg yolk and ricotta), tajarin (classic Piedmontese shoestring pasta with butter), and risotto e tartufo. Prices range from $40-$50 for pasta and risotto dishes, and around $60 for meat-based dishes. 1041 Middlefield Rd. at Main, Redwood City, 650-701-1000

For a focus on black truffles from France, look to cookbook author and French-cooking expert Patricia Wells at any of these events celebrating her newest book, Simply Truffles. On Saturday November 12th, 2pm-4pm, join Wells at The Pasta Shop in Rockridge Market Hall for a book signing, conversation, and tasting. That evening, she’ll be at Oliveto at 6:30pm, where the menu will feature several dishes from her book, like poached truffled farm egg with chanterelle mushrooms and black truffle zabaglione, and Alaskan halibut with truffled brandade and wild nettle risotto alla pilota. Wells will also be in conversation with Jane Goldman, founder and editor-in-chief of, on Wednesday November 16th from 11am-1pm at Purcell Murray ($50), 185 Park Ln. at Valley, Brisbane.

Update: truffle mania is also underway at MICHAEL MINA, where they’ve been offering a five-course all-white truffle tasting menu since Wednesday November 9th, right after executive chef Michael Davis received a one-pound (whoa) white truffle sourced in Tuscany from a longtime friend in New York. The truffle-strewn five-course menu ($225) includes carne crudo with parmesan, sylvetta, and white truffles; soft-scrambled duck egg with porcini mushrooms, brioche, soft herbs, and white truffles; John Dory with young leeks, potato confit, black trumpet mushrooms, sherry cream sauce, and white truffles; buttermilk-poached chicken with albufera sauce (light chicken velouté with foie gras); and dessert service. You can also order porcini risotto with shaved white truffles ($85) à la carte.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

Martha Stewart Made the Rounds in SF

Martha Stewart was in town, demoing recipes from her new book at Macy’s San Francisco, swinging by Google for a fireside chat, and was spotted at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market over the weekend (one spotter says he saw her get chided by the Boulette’s Larder crankpots for taking a picture, classic).

But my favorite highlight of her SF tour was hearing about her visit to Mission Chinese Food for dinner. She came in with around 14 guests, and wanted to make noodles with chef Danny Bowien, but he told her she was there to eat (Bowien was recently on her show making hand-pulled noodles with her in New York). She was friendly with other tables, allowing people to take pictures with her, and here’s the best part: she came in to the kitchen at the end of the meal and drank a Budweiser with the kitchen crew. Seems drinking a Buddy out of a can is the new MCF celeb treatment, since Ferran Adrià did the same thing after his dinner at MCF last month. Cheers, Martha!

Spanish Chefs Spotted at Slanted Door

A tablehopper co-hort writes: “So, I was lucky to go to Slanted Door last night with a group of some of the hottest young chefs from Spain. The guy everybody kept pointing to was Dani García, the two-star Michelin chef of a restaurant called Calima in Marbella. Some consider him the ‘next’ Adrià.”

Hob Nob Hilling It

Folk rock singer/songwriter/musician Marc Cohn came by Venticello last night for dinner (he is playing tonight at Yoshi’s).

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