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Dec 12, 2011 24 min read

December 13, 2011 - This week's tablehopper: warming to the idea.

December 13, 2011 - This week's tablehopper: warming to the idea.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: warming to the idea.                    

Cake. And Jamet (the dog). Photo: ©

Oh yes, it’s that charming time of the year when my apartment feels more like a meat locker than a place of residence. At least all my wines are now at a proper cellar temp. Hic. One fabulous way to keep warm is to be invited by kind people to their apartment for a Sunday dinner, for steaming bowls of bun rieu, and plenty of sake and wine (thanks Mark Bright!), and cup after cup of Iron Goddess tea, and coffee crunch cake, and chocolates! Yeah, that is definitely one way to stay warm.

When I look at the menu for the Chaac Mool pop-up dinner this week, I get immediately warm thinking of how good their chicken soup will taste. And then there’s the classic way preferred by many San Franciscans, and that is to get your booze on. This week has plenty of options for you, whether it’s a tequila tasting (tonight!) at The Boothby Center, to Champagne at The Bubble Lounge, to trying one of Camber Lay’s cocktails at the newly opened Parallel 37.

My personal way to keep warm this week will be to pack myself in a room at the sold-out McSweeney’s/Lucky Peach 2 release party at Electric Works tonight (very pleased to know Anthony Myint will be there dishing out a whole-cooked pig to the hungry masses), and just because I need more meat in my life, I’ll be getting some barbecue this week as well (bring on the hot sauce). Oh yeah, and let’s not forget cassoulet for lunch tomorrow! Very excited for that one.

Looks like I’ll also need to keep warm riding my bike and running with all these “keeping warm” activities. Maybe I need to move to Norway, where they don’t have any butter right now. Or not.


Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Parallel 37 in the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco Is Now Open


The dining room’s back wall with glass panels. Photo by Cesar Rubio.


Dining room tables and wine storage. Photo by Cesar Rubio.


Lounge seating. Photo by Cesar Rubio.

Last Friday evening, I had a chance to attend an opening party at the new PARALLEL 37 at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco. The look by EDG Interior Architecture + Design is urban and comfortable, featuring a spacious bar and lounge area (the bar counters are soapstone, fabricated by stone masons in the Dogpatch). There’s a NorCal vibe throughout, with lots of wood elements (the dining room tabletops are made from myrtlewood, while the cocktail tables are white oak), and the glass panels in the dining room feature photographs of live oaks from the East Bay hills. There are two private rooms; one is a chef’s table, with a window into the kitchen. The color scheme is warm and a bit reminiscent of the 70s with all the oranges and smoky glass.

While it’s a biiiig departure from what was previously there (heavy upholstery, to-the-floor table linens)—and the rest of the hotel—I didn’t find the style to be particularly edgy. But the room is well appointed, feels relaxed, and is going to work well for a variety of occasions, whether it’s a business meeting, double date, or after-work destination—and dinner will no longer be a three-hour (plus) affair.

Chef Ron Siegel is a wicked-talented chef, so even though the menu is now simplified and casual, he’ll still be doing the same top-notch ingredient sourcing and applying the same excellent technique. The dinner menu has appetizers like kampachi sashimi ($15) with orange-ginger marinade and crisp rice, and short rib ravioli ($16) with onions, celery root, and curry. Entrées include sea bass en papillote ($27), and max out at $29 for the beef rib-eye with potatoes, chanterelle mushroom, red onion jam, and pinot noir reduction (pssst—based on the excellent beef he is using, that dish is a steal). You can look at a sample dinner menu here. I’m happy that I’ll be able to afford having Siegel’s excellent cooking more than once a year.

The bar bites menu will be a fun one to work your way through, from the crispy chicken wings ($6) to the blue cheese balls ($6)—and you know his cheeseburger ($15) is going to rock. Dessert has a few selections like a Nutella croquette and lemon semifreddo.

The lounge is designed to be a big draw, and Camber Lay’s cocktails will feature the same seasonal and local approach as the kitchen. Siegel and Lay are collaborating for the first time and are bringing the “kitchen to the cocktail,” utilizing the kitchen to create syrups, reductions, and more for the bar to use. Sure to be a hit is her Barfly cocktail ($14), with muddled Poblano peppers, bourbon, Benedictine, lemon juice, and vanilla simple syrup. Of course you’ll still be able to get some amazing wines. And one of my favorite changes? They lowered the valet charge for diners from $25 to $10. Open daily for lunch 11am-2:30pm and dinner 5:30pm-10pm (I am curious to see if the dinner hours will eventually run later).

Parallel 37            - 600 Stockton St. San Francisco - 415-773-6168

William Werner Announces the Launch of Outfit Generic


The Outfit Generic group. Photo by Aubrie Pick.

The talented William Werner (former executive pastry chef/founder of Tell Tale Preserve Company) has some good news. He is the Chief Creative Officer of OUTFIT GENERIC, a boutique hospitality group that includes managing partners Josh Chen (founder, principal, and creative director of Chen Design Associates), Kate Killoran (general manager of Tell Tale Preserve Company), and Lawrence Lai and Ann Lee (founders of Naivetea). The group has secured a 1,500-square-foot production kitchen, currently under construction in Bayview, and will be launching a contemporary patisserie in San Francisco in spring 2012. Further details, including the name, logo, location, menu, and design, will be revealed early in the New Year.

As for how Outfit Generic is structured, the press release breaks it down thusly: Werner is responsible for the creation of the group’s strategic vision and concepts, including menu development and overall look and feel. Josh Chen will be collaborating with Werner on the inspiration, branding, packaging and retail environment for Outfit Generic’s concepts. Chief Operating Officer Kate Killoran previously partnered with Werner to manage Tell Tale’s operations. Lawrence Lai (Chief Executive Officer) and his wife, Ann Lee (Chief Financial Officer), partnered earlier this year with Werner to launch the pop-up afternoon tea Kettle Whistle. Looking forward to seeing what this creative team has in store for us.

Spork in the Mission Closing Next Friday After a Five-Year Run


The famed in-side-out burger. Yelp photo by Karla S.

After five years of chef Bruce Binn making in-side-out burgers on Valencia, the groovily designed SPORK will be closing after service on Friday December 23rd. Co-owner Neil Jorgensen had this to say: “We’ve completed our five-year lease and are planning to focus on Thermidor and a few other potential little projects. We want to thank all our loyal fans and uber regulars for being so good to us over the years and would love to give everyone the opportunity to stop by for a high-five or a chance to enjoy a last meal.”

If you recall, the building is slated to be demolished and turned into condos in the near future, so it doesn’t look likely that anyone will move into the space. Here’s wishing the team all the best; I do know I’ll miss drinking wine on their super-secret patio when summer weather returns.

Spork            - 1058 Valencia St. San Francisco - 415-643-5000

Elizabeth Falkner Closing Citizen Cake on Fillmore


Citizen Cake’s exterior. Photo by Rebecca Kinney. ©

I was sorry to learn that Elizabeth Falkner is closing CITIZEN CAKE on Fillmore at the end of the year, as reported in the Inside Scoop. The restaurant went through a reconcepting a few months ago, and even though it has been busy, she reportedly has not been able to make up for the rough financial start when construction delayed the restaurant’s opening for nine months. Citizen Cake is open for limited hours until it closes at the end of the month: Tue-Thu 11am-5pm and Fri-Sat 11am-10pm. Orson, currently a private event space, is also on the market.

In the good news department, Falkner has been doing very well on The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs, and this Sunday is the final challenge: she’s up against chef Jeff Zakarian. Best of luck, Elizabeth! Ninja chef is in the house.

Come by Orson on Sunday December 18th at 2pm for brunch and watch a special screening of the seventh episode on Orson’s digital wall. Tickets are $40 in advance and can be purchased here or $45 at the door.

Citizen Cake            - 2125 Fillmore St. - 415-861-2228

Per Diem, Opening in FiDi on Friday


Photo from Per Diem; via Grub Street.

Grub Street reports PER DIEM is opening in the Financial District this Friday December 16th in the Chancery Building. The project is from Darren Matte and Logan Shedd (Brick Yard), Cameron Baird, and Sean Wells, with chef Adam Hinojosa (Osteria, Café des Amis). You can look at the Cal-Ital menu here, with pastas ($12-$14), pizzettas ($11-$13), and five entrées (under $23). It’s spacious (2,500 square feet) with a full bar and private dining. Open Mon-Fri 10am-2am, serving lunch and dinner, with happy hour 3pm-6pm. 43 Sutter St. at Montgomery, 415-989-0300.

Smaller Openings Around Town


Exterior of Precita Park Cafe. Photo by Rebecca Kinney. ©

Getting close: PRECITA PARK CAFE is due to soft open this Friday December 16th in Bernal Heights (the project was mentioned a while ago in tablehopper). It will be open seven days a week, from 7am-8pm. The hours of operation will be longer than at their other cafes Dolores Park Cafe and Duboce Park Cafe because Precita Park Cafe will eventually have dinner service (look for hours to extend until 10pm in the New Year). There will be a good variety of wines as well, plus eight beers on tap, and a few bottles too. 500 Precita St. at Alabama, 415-647-7702.

The new Good Taste column on NBC mentions the owners of CURRY VILLAGE are opening a second location in the Mission in the Cafe Petra space by the end of the month (current target date is December 26th). There will be 30 seats; lunch and dinner will be served. Note: their popular $10 all-you-can-eat buffet will only be available at their Sunset location. 483 Guerrero St. at 17th St.

According to Gianni’s North Beach blog, the owner of Pinocchio (Giovanni Zocca) at 658 Vallejo Street will be opening a deli next door, GEPPETTO’S SALUMERIA, possibly before Christmas. Eater shares more info: “Zocca says that he will feature panini and other prepared foods not otherwise available in North Beach, perhaps in hopes of giving nearby local Molinari Delicatessen a run for the money. He also claims he will stock carefully selected Italian imports that are hard if not impossible to find in the States.”

The American Eatery Opens Friday December 16th


Flickr photo by yipe.

As mentioned in tablehopper a couple weeks ago, Prather Ranch Meat Co. is opening THE AMERICAN EATERY in the Ferry Building—the opening date is this Friday December 16th. The retail shop and Eatery have moved across the hall and are opening in a new space.

Chef Erica Holland-Toll has created a meat-centric, seasonal, American menu focused on takeout dishes, including soups (beef and barley soup), salads (like one with roasted pork tenderloin, little gems, toasted walnuts, feta, and roasted beets with Dijon mustard vinaigrette), sandwiches (including pulled beef, pulled pork, meatballs, and roast beef), chili (with dry-aged Prather Ranch chuck, Rancho Gordo beans, sharp cheddar, scallions, and sour cream), sausages, stews, a variety of their delicious burgers, and a selection of side dishes, like tallow-fried french fries. Uh huh. Some breakfast items are also offered, like a sandwich with fried egg, cheddar cheese, and sausage patty on an Acme challah roll, and weekend-only specials.

Abueg Morris Architects designed the space, with wood paneling from an 1880s barn on Prather’s Bella Vista property, Heath tiles, concrete countertops, and blown glass light pendants. Hours are Mon-Sat 7am-7pm, Sun 9am-5pm. 1 Ferry Building, shop #33, 415-391-0420.

Dogpatch Happenings: Gilberth's Rotisserie and The Goat

More eats coming to the Dogpatch (and drinks, too). Opening in the American Industrial Center at the end of January will be GILBERTH’S ROTISSERIE & GRILL, from Gilberth Cab and Julia Rivera of The New Spot (one of my very favorite places for pupusas) and Oralia’s. The Latin-fusion menu will feature dishes with Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Central American influences, like roasted pork neck with plantain mofongo, and Cuban baby back ribs with a guava glaze, fried plantains, and gallo pinto. And, of course, chicken off the rotisserie. There wil be 45 seats, and it will be open daily 11am-3pm and 5pm-10:30pm. 2427-2429 3rd St. at 20th St.

Meanwhile, the Sea Star Club is now THE GOAT. Bartender-owner Christopher Webster has been bartending at the Double Play and Dogpatch Saloon the past six years, so he’s no stranger to the neighborhood. He said it’s just meant to be a neighborhood bar “with stuff and style.” The stuff includes a pool table, an impending jukebox, and there are 12 beers on tap, primarily microbrews from the West Coast. Open daily 12pm-2am. 2289 3rd St. at 19th St., 415-252-7988.



Dottie’s True Blue Cafe (and perma-line). Photo by Rebecca Kinney. ©

I received word that the last day for DOTTIE’S TRUE BLUE CAFE at 522 Jones Street will be Saturday December 24th. After 18 1/2 years in their Tenderloin location—as previously mentioned on tablehopper—owner Kurt Abney is moving the business to the former Passion Café space. No official open date has been set for the new location. 28 6th St. at Market.

The Richmond SF blog says CAFE MEREB, known for its Eritrean and Mediterranean fare, is closing December 20th. 1541 Clement St. at 16th Ave., 415-668-2988.

And the city just became a less-tacky place with this news from SFist: HOOTERS in Fisherman’s Wharf is closing December 21st.

Chef/Pastry Chef Hires Around Town


Photo courtesy of Zaré at Fly Trap.

A couple bits of hiring news: over at ZARÉ AT FLY TRAP, chef-owner Hoss Zaré has hired Zack Freitas (Station 1, Commis, Manresa) as his chef de cuisine. Scoop mentions while the Persian-Mediterranean menu will keep its focus, there will be an updated menu in January.

I always like to keep an eye on where pastry chef Majkin Klare is working: she is currently at HEIRLOOM CAFÉ. Her mint-chocolate chip profiteroles and cheddar shortcakes with brown sugar apples are on the menu, along with the usual fresh-baked cookie and affogato combo.

Heirloom Café            - 2500 Folsom St. San Francisco - 415-821-2500

This Week: Pop-Up Dinners and a Block Party


Crabs! Photo courtesy of The Whole Beast and Bernal Supper Club.

Over the next few days, these fun, unique, and sure to be tasty neighborhood events are coming to a ‘hood near you. Keep ‘em on your radar as you’re making dinner plans.

Now that Dungeness crab season is finally underway, you can enjoy a pop-up WHOLE DUNGENESS CRAB FEAST from the combined forces of The Whole Beast (John Fink) and Bernal Supper Club (Jonathan Sutton, Miles Carnahan, and Tony Ferrari). Their five-course Dungeness crab tasting menu will be served Thursday and Friday, December 15th and 16th, at Winemakers’ Speakeasy (1152 Valencia St. at 22nd St.). It’s a whole-crustacean menu that will feature crab butter on toast; Dungeness crab bisque (made from the shells) with Cognac, fennel, tarragon; crab salad with winter greens, market citrus, persimmons, Champagne vinaigrette; Dungeness crab raviolo, crab coral, chanterelles, leeks, spinach; deep-fried whole crab tossed with classic Chinese-style ginger-black peppercorn sauce; and lime sorbet, gingersnap cookie, pomegranate. 6:30pm and 9pm seatings. $48. Resos: 513-910-8896, or email.

Dinner and a movie is nothing new. How ‘bout dinner and some Mayan legends? On Wednesday December 14th, CHAAC MOOL, a La Cocina participant, is hosting a pop-up dinner at Haltun, where chef-owner Luis Vazquez will serve authentic Yucatecan dishes while explaining the history of each dish and its roots in Mayan lore. (FYI, “Chaac” is the Mayan god of rain.) Sign up online so you can learn the legends behind these dishes and eat them too: sopa de cool (chicken soup with cabbage, herbs, pumpkin seed vinaigrette), ensalada Chichen Itza (salad with purslane, spinach, grilled corn seeds, sweet mango dressing), platillo mestizo (pork legs rolled in a beef steak, baked with herbs and potatoes), and borrachitos (almond cake filled with fresh guava and marinated in a Yucatecan wine). 7pm. $50, includes glass of red or white wine or Mexican beer; add a bottle of wine for $20. Haltun Restaurant, 2948 21st St. at Treat. Tickets.

Swing by the Wurst Holiday Block Party ever, coming up on Friday December 16th, 4pm-8pm, in Merchant Alley (between Battery and Sansome) at CAFE PRAGUE. Go after work for the beer specials (half-liter $4.80, liter $8), $3 mulled wine, and $3 grilled sausages with sauerkraut. Go early for free barbecue chicken wings (4pm-5pm), and for $1 off Staropramen beer to the first 100 guests. Free admission. 424 Merchant St. at Battery.

Two Events for You to Waffle Over


Liège waffle; photo courtesy of Suite Foods.

On Friday December 16th, Suite Foods—a wholesale bakery specializing in Liège waffles from Belgium—will be making their waffles to order and on site at DUBOCE PARK CAFÉ from 2pm-6pm. 2 Sanchez St. at Duboce, 415-621-1108.

And on Sunday December 18th, Benoit, the man behind the Benwaffle®, will be celebrating his second year making Belgian waffles for brunch at BAR JULES. There will be the traditional bacon/maple syrup combo, plus a banana/Nutella version available. 11am-2:30pm.

Bar Jules            - 609 Hayes St. San Francisco - 415-621-5482

Haven Opens Wednesday in Oakland


Dining room; photo by Daniel Patterson via Twitter.


Counter seating at Haven; photo by Daniel Patterson via Twitter.

It’s been a long time coming: opening for dinner this Wednesday December 14th in Jack London Square is HAVEN, the latest Daniel Patterson Group project. Executive chef Kim Alter (Plate Shop, Ubuntu) will be offering a menu of new California cuisine, featuring whole animal and vegetable preparations, and most items on the menu are meant to be shared. Some sample dishes are roasted chicken with farro, foie chicken jus, and fall vegetables, and family-style clams with bacon, bourbon, turnip, and sea beans. Just wait until you try her smoky fettuccine with pancetta and egg, a dish I tasted at one of her preview dinners at Plum. (You can also peek at this snapshot of the menu from a friends and family dinner Monday night.) Pastry chef Matt Tinder’s desserts include a half dozen profiteroles with salted almond and burnt orange caramel, and cocoa nib torrone with dates, shortbread, and rice sorbet.

Like Patterson’s other restaurants, Scott Kester designed the 3,000-square-foot space; it features handcrafted and salvaged materials, Shaker-style chairs, plus exposed brick and vintage factory lighting. There’s also a view of the water and plenty of windows and natural light. There are 65 seats, plus a 12-seat bar and 12-seat dining counter overlooking the open kitchen. Full bar. Hours are Sun-Thu 5pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm.

Haven            - 44 Webster St. Oakland - 510-663-4440

Stag's Lunchette, Opening in Oakland in January


Fixin’s for the charcuterie plate at Bar Dogwood, the big sis to Stag’s. Photo: ©

I had a chance to catch up with Alexeis Filipello, owner of Bar Dogwood in Oakland and her upcoming project STAG’S LUNCHETTE. She’s opening a lunch spot in the former Uncle Dougie’s, and will be serving a variety of sandwiches made with sustainable and house-cured meats, like pastrami, salami, sausage, and game meats—like goat sausage and duck—all cut to order. Yup, there will be a duck pastrami Reuben in your future. Filipello is one of the few female charcutiers in the area, and has brought on Spider Davila from Austin to assist for the next month or so.

There’s going to be a honking rotisserie (it’s big enough to fit two suckling pigs at a time), which will have porchetta spinning on it, plus there will be a smoker. You’ll also be able to order seasonal seafood, like a killer crab roll with drawn garlic butter and green onion rémoulade. Sauces and spreads will be housemade, from the mayo and mustard to the hot sauce and sauerkraut. The morning will feature housemade pastries, and some quick egg-and-sausage type items, and a cold case will hold items for take-out or to simply take home, like salads, crab cakes, and the like. Perfect for the “stag” bachelor. Sandwiches will range from $8-$9, and there will also be specials, like shrimp and grits.

It’s going to have a spiffy barn-y look, with reclaimed wood, walnut tables with bases made by a local blacksmith, mahogany wainscoting, and wood floors. It’s spacious, with room for 40. French press coffee will be available, in addition to espresso drinks, plus local beers and wines. The soft opening is slated for the beginning of January. Hours will be Mon-Fri 8am-4pm. 362 17th St. at Franklin, Oakland.

Oakland News: Paul Canales Finds a Spot, Monkey Forest Road, FuseBox


The future home of Paul Canales’ restaurant. Flickr photo from mental.masala via Grub Street.

Lots of activity in Oakland: chef Paul Canales (previously at Oliveto—for 15 years!) has decided on a spot for his next restaurant—it will be in the gorg Oakland Floral Depot building where Flora is located. Scoop mentions there will be a bar, music, art, and 80 seats. His partner in the project is Rocco Somazzi, who will be the GM. That’s about all we have for the name and concept, stand by for more in coming months. 468 19th St. at Telegraph, Oakland.

Over on Grand Avenue, Chowhound mentions MONKEY FOREST ROAD has opened across the street from Boot & Shoe, serving single-origin coffees from estates in Indonesia and elsewhere in Asia (some they import themselves) in the middle of their Southeast Asian furnishing and art store. Each cup is individually brewed, and there are also some scones and biscotti available. Open 7am-7pm. 3265 Grand Ave. at Elwood, Oakland, 510-327-2400.

I was excited to read this piece in Bay Area Bites about FUSEBOX, an upcoming “kkochi-gui pub”/izakaya from chef Sunhui Chang in West Oakland. The Korean restaurant will feature his own housemade gochuchang, pickles, different kinds of kimchee, bacon mochi, grilled skewers, and more. If you are at all into pickling, check out the article—I for one am excited. 2311 A Magnolia St. at 24th St., Oakland.

Comal Opening in Berkeley (with Chef Matt Gandin)


I’ve been trying to get official information on this project since July, and some details have finally been released (Scoop has their story here). Opening in 2012 is COMAL, a project from owner and first-time restaurateur John Paluska, the former manager for Phish. The focus will be on rustic, handmade Mexican cuisine, with an emphasis on Oaxaca. The chef is Matt Gandin, previously chef de cuisine at Delfina. Menu highlights from the press release: carefully sourced ingredients, “exceptional masa,” and much of the food will be cooked on either the large wood-fired hearth or the custom comal.

The Bon Vivants are developing the bar program, and Andrew Hoffman (previously at Chow and Eccolo) will oversee front of house, as well as the wine and beer lists. Abueg Morris architects (Nopalito, Roam) are behind the project; the building (dating back to circa 1927) will feature original Douglas fir beams and flooring, plus a new façade fabricated by Richmond’s Ferrous Studios, complete with custom steel doors and windows. There will be room for 140 total, with a 2,500-square-foot hidden patio with its own bar. Dinner nightly, and weekend brunch will launch later. The opening is slated for spring 2012. 2020 Shattuck Ave. at University, Berkeley.

Comal            - 2020 Shattuck Ave. Berkeley - 510-926-6300

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Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Upcoming Classes at The Boothby Center (and a Sweet Discount!)


Photo of H. Joseph Ehrmann by The Lush Life.

The latest classes on offer at THE BOOTHBY CENTER FOR THE BEVERAGE ARTS will entice any boozehound worthy of the name. Make some time in your busy holiday schedule to enhance your knowledge—the holidays will be that much brighter with a well-made drink in hand. And here’s another bright tip: get a $10 discount with code “tablehopper” for all events listed here. Nope, you won’t see that discount anywhere else!

You free tonight? Yeah, tonight! On Tuesday December 13th, there are a few tickets left for  Tequila Inside and Out with Julio Bermejo and Tomas Estes, the official tequila ambassadors to the US and Europe (respectively). Julio (Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant) and Tomas (La Perla, London, and several other European tequila restaurants) will lead the class through a tasting of eight distinctive tequilas while talking tequila culture, art, and history. The class is geared towards both newbies and aficionados, so sign up and benefit from the knowledge of two globe-trekking tequila experts. 7pm-9pm. $45; all proceeds go to the Boothby Center.

This Sunday December 18th, join Master Cicerone Rich Higgins for Beer and Italian Food as he pairs beers with the Italian cuisine of chef Ruggero Gadaldi of Delarosa. The class includes lecture and discussion (oh, like college), and lots of sampling of great beers and foods (so not like college). Rich will cover the basics of beer and food flavors, how to evaluate a beer, and how to pair beer with Italian food. This is the second class in a four-class series on pairing beer and food, which continues in January with Superbowl food and in February with Valentine’s sweets. 5pm. $65 per class.

‘Tis the season for merry-making, and nothing makes merry like a couple of Classic Holiday Cocktails (and a few other tricks). H. Joseph Ehrmann will lead this class on Monday December 19th, taking a fun and light-hearted look at traditional and less-traditional holiday cocktails, like egg nog, hot buttered rum, Tom and Jerry, hot toddy, spiced apple cider, and Champagne punches. The class includes ingredients and materials, and a guide to take home so you’ll never need an artificial or prepackaged ingredient again. Oh, and did we mention you get to drink everything you make? Sign up here. 7pm-9pm. $25.

There’s more to come in the new year, like a class on American Beer Traditions on Sunday January 8th, also with Rich Higgins, tasting a wide variety of styles to see where they fit in the world of beer, and Last Fridays with Scott Beattie, Vermouth with Carl Sutton, Whisk(e)y Around the World, and Wine and Spirits with Jordan Mackay—stay tuned.

Don’t miss the $10 discount with code “tablehopper” for all events mentioned! Tickets here. All students must be 21+.

               Tuesday Dec 13, 2011 – Sunday Jan  8, 2012 more info

The Boothby Center for the Beverage Arts            - 1161 Mission St., Suite 120 San Francisco

Skrewcap Returns with Another Tasting This Thursday


The entrance (and owner Christy Bergman). Photo from The Secret Wine Shop.

SKREWCAP is back with yet another holiday tasting this Thursday December 15th, 6pm-8pm, at The Secret Wine Shop (1097 Howard St. at 7th St., #209). You’ll taste at least 25 wines, including bubbly numbers like Champagne, cava, prosecco, and local sparkling wines; vintage Madeira and port; artisan sherries; and dessert wines.

Participating importers include Broadbent Selections, Europvin, The Rare Wine Company, Return to Terroir, and Vinos Unico. Local sparkling and dessert wines from The Secret Wine Shop include Mary Elke Vineyards, Brut, Anderson Valley; Terra Sávia, Blanc de Blancs, Mendocino; Pedroncelli local port, Dry Creek Valley; and Wellington local white port, Sonoma Valley. Plus get 10% off wine purchases. $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Tickets.

               Thursday Dec 15, 2011 6pm–8pm $25 advance, $30 door more info

Special POP-UP Bubbly/Wine Tasting and Sale at The Bubble Lounge


The Bubble Lounge. Photo from Facebook.

This Saturday December 17th, THE BUBBLE LOUNGE is hosting a POP-UP Tasting & Sale party featuring Return to Terroir and the The Bubble Lounge’s Bubbly Imports (Fleury and Couche). You’ll be able to stock your fridge, buy hostess gifts for upcoming parties, and pick up something for your boss in one fell credit card swipe/swoop. There will be quite the variety to taste and purchase, from Grand Cru Champagne to rare vin jaune from Jura, and wines from special guest Volta Cabernet from Napa.

Mixed case deals for six or more bottles purchased. All still wine and Champagne can also be delivered to your home for the month of December. 2pm-7pm. $10 (to be redeemed upon purchase). Email for complete listing and prices. 714 Montgomery St. at Columbus, 415-434-4204.

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Wine Country Buzz (it’s what happens there)

Brassica Hits Its Stride, La Condesa Goes Daytime


Brassica’s perfectly grilled mushrooms of the day; photo by Deirdre Bourdet.


The killer margaritas at La Condesa have a cactus-lemongrass sugar-salt rim; photo by Deirdre Bourdet.


This pozole is pure shortribby goodness; photo by Deirdre Bourdet.

By 707 correspondent, Deirdre Bourdet.

BRASSICA—the Cindy Pawlcyn and Sean Knight concept that took over the Go Fish space in St. Helena—seems to be hitting its stride just in time for the holidays. On a recent food bender (generously hosted by the restaurant), I was lovin’ on their seared halloumi, grilled wild mushrooms, feta-crusted sturgeon, and the silky sherry-braised beef with cauliflower purée. Lord have mercy.

This kind of hearty, flavor-packed cooking cries out for wine, and Brassica has put together one of the most comprehensive and varied wine tasting programs in the entire Napa Valley. Over 70 wines are available by the 2-oz. taste, 5-oz. glass, 500mL carafe, and 750mL bottle, including the “Brassica 12”—a rotating selection of premium local wines from small producers, most of whom don’t have tasting rooms. The restaurant included plenty of interesting non-Napa choices too, like Trousseau Gris from the Russian River, old vine grenache from Mendocino, Moschofilero from Greece, Vermentino Nero from Tuscany, and the like. Since you can also take home any bottle off the list at 25% off (taking you down to retail price), Brassica is shaping into a truly awesome one-stop wine tasting destination.  641 Main St. at Mills Ln., St. Helena, 707-963-0700.

LA CONDESA in downtown St. Helena has added weekday lunches (11am-3pm) and weekend brunches (10am-3pm) to their lineup. The lunch menu has a tasty smattering of ceviches, tostadas, ensaladas, sopas, tortas, tacos y mas, while the brunch menu offers a short list from these categories (don’t miss the short rib pozole or the crab tostadas with green mango), plus a half dozen or so egg dishes. Note that the famed huaraches are only available at lunch and dinner, but the house-ground, oak-grilled sirloin hamburgesa can only be had at brunch. Torturous, evil choices. Fortunately the bar serves its unique cocktails, 100+ tequilas, beer, and wine at every meal … and corkage is always free, in true wine country style. 1320 Main St. at Hunt Ave., St. Helena, 707-967-8111.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

Hottie Alerts Continue in Half Moon Bay

A tweet from Liam Mayclem informs us that Gerard Butler is still in Half Moon Bay, wrapping up the Mavericks surfer movie this week. Butler has been witnessed in and around The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay over the last few weeks…. Mayclem tweets: “Gerard Butler is in da house & people are FREAKIN’ out. He’s just a SCOTTISH movie star!” Oy.

I asked Mayclem for more details, and he said in an email to me: “Meantime I ran into him in the elevator yesterday at RitzHMB…. one couple went running after him when they realized it was him and left their luggage behind in the elevator.” Oh, people.

Grand Café Plays Host to Quite the Lineup (of Musicians)

Talk about a revolving door at Grand Café: last Tuesday, Anthrax had drinks at the bar (a diner reports that the band was taking photos of the Fernet poster at the bar). Then on Friday, Mumford & Sons were in for some beer and cheese in the early afternoon (they had a concert in Oakland). On Saturday, Megadeth’s guitarist/vocalist Dave Mustaine dined with his family, and had chef Alicia Jenish’s new Vietnamese chicken sandwich (Dave was scheduled to play with Metallica in SF on Saturday night). And to wrap it all up, on Sunday, The Offspring came in for brunch! Busy, busy.

Power Dining at Venticello

One of my dining spies noticed Hollywood honcho Michael Ovitz had dinner last Tuesday at Venticello with Mark Davis, owner of the Oakland Raiders and son of the late Al Davis. My source surmises: “Not sure if you remembered reading, but Ovitz was behind a push to get the Raiders back to LA, but the plans for the suggested stadium site fell through and thus did the plans, and then Mr. Davis Sr. passed away. An interesting meeting of those two I thought…another plan to move the team? A movie bio about the history of his dad?”

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