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Jan 23, 2012 22 min read

January 24, 2012 - This week's tablehopper: heat-seeking missile.

January 24, 2012 - This week's tablehopper: heat-seeking missile.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: heat-seeking missile.                    

Warming up with Sapporo-style miso ramen at Kirimachi. Photo: ©

Nothing like a torrential rainstorm to keep you inside to finish a monster writing project. (Yeah, like I was going to be able to go anywhere this past weekend with my Sunday deadline anyway.) But no sooner is one guidebook out of the ring, and the other one gets tagged back in. I can’t wait for this month to end. My desk chair and I are not getting along like we used to. Le sigh.

Today’s tablehopper has plenty of options to help ya warm up, whether it’s a bowl of bun rieu or getting heated over some cocktails. Last week, my heat-seeking tactics included a bowl of ramen at Kirimachi (pictured), jook in Chinatown, and some chicken noodle soup I made at home. After watching an episode of Easy Chinese on the Cooking Channel, this recipe for Savory Sour Chicken Noodle Soup is gonna be what’s cooking next over here at Hopper HQ.

Okay, more food! Check out today’s episode of You Gotta Eat This (airing on KGO)—I cover three big, bodacious, behemoth sandwiches around town that are each less than $10. Have a listen here.

And now, it’s time for me to head back to the salt mines. Well, in my case, the Maldon sea salt mines.

Marcia Gagliardi

the chatterbox

Gossip & News (the word on the street)

Now Open in Bernal: 903


The front of 903 (avec smoker!). Photo by Renee Crawshaw.

After checking in with Sandbox Bakery owner Mutsumi Takehara a few times this past month, I was happy to see her tweet that her new second business officially opened in the former Maggie Mudd location, 903. She is serving breakfast and lunch daily from 9am-3pm, and dinner will launch February 1st.

On yesterday’s lunch menu: crispy shrimp ball with aioli and sweet and sour plum sauce in a challah hot dog bun, chicken tsukune burger on a potato roll, and Panang fish curry in a Bernal roll (all items $7-$9, and come with mixed greens). You have the option of getting dishes like these (and more) over rice or salad, or you can upgrade to a bento for $3 more and get rice, and your choice of two sides, like corn fritter with Kaffir lime (um, hello), soba noodle salad, or crispy kale.

In case you’re wondering about the smoker out front, Mutsumi’s husband, Mike (who did all the work for the restaurant and bakery), welded the giant smoker. His dad owns a farm in Oregon and the couple is getting some pigs from them, and then butchering and smoking them in the smoker! Today, there were some ribs and a roasted porchetta sandwich to add to the menu mix, and they also do brisket and pastrami.

There are about 20 seats total at a communal table and a couple four tops, plus some stools at a counter. The website will eventually go live here. 903 Cortland Ave. at Gates.

New Projects Underway: Juhu Beach Club, 20 Spot, Bask


Juhu Beach Club’s Notorious JBC, aka vada pav. Photo from Facebook.

According to Mission Loc@l, Preeti Mistry of JUHU BEACH CLUB is trying to open her brick-and-mortar location in the (currently vacant) Quic Pic Grocery on Mission Street. Here’s hoping all goes smoothly with the change of use from the planning commission. Stand by for more in coming months. 2141 Mission St. at Sycamore.

More Mission action: SFist announces the upcoming 20 SPOT due to open in mid-spring in the former Force of Habit record shop in the Mission. Further details from Eater mention the owner Bodhi Freedom (owner of Russian Hill’s Bacchus for the past 12 years) is planning to offer plenty of vino, along with well-sourced/local food courtesy of a former nopa sous chef (stand by for who that is). There will be a wood bar (seating 10), tables (seating 28), and “colored blown glass light fixtures made in a friend’s glass blowing studio in Mexico City.” June is the current target. 3565 20th St. at Lexington.

And not 24 hours after a tablehopper reader told me they spotted some activity at the former Clown Alley/Pickles location in North Beach, Scoop reveals it’s going to be yet another Basque restaurant in the area called BASK. Two couples are reportedly behind the project: Sabrina and Patrick Thillard, and David and Suzanne Cot. On tap: lunch, dinner, tapas at happy hour. A quick remodel is in the works. 42 Columbus Ave. at Jackson.

Dottie's True Blue Cafe Up and Running


Dottie’s back dining room. Photo courtesy Dottie’s.

I got the confirmation too late for last week’s column, but DOTTIE’S TRUE BLUE CAFE has officially opened in its new SoMa location (the former Passion Café). It’s spacious, with wood floors and a marble bar, and lookin’ good! The new location’s hours are as follows: Mon, Wed-Fri 7:30am-3pm and Sat-Sun 7:30am-4pm (which are new, extended hours!), closed Tue. 28 6th St. at Market, 415-885-2767.

Sarah Kirnon Has Left Hibiscus


Kirnon’s famed fried chicken while at Hibiscus. Photo: ©

Last week, a tipster alerted me that chef Sarah Kirnon had left the restaurant HIBISCUS in Oakland. After calling her up, she didn’t want to talk about it at that moment, but now that the cat’s out of the bag, well, it’s out of the bag. In a text, she did mention she is going to do a pop-up at Bar Tartine on Monday February 13th, and is going to be working with the Starline Ballroom in Oakland on some projects. She also mentioned she’s helping a friend launch a sandwich shop in South San Francisco in late February.

Hibiscus contacted the Scoop with this information: they are launching a new menu on Thursday, a “revised comfortable and family friendly menu.” No word on who the new chef is.

Hibiscus            - 1745 San Pablo Ave. Oakland - 510-444-2626

Poppin' Up, and Food Trailer News


Bun rieu at Soup Junkie’s abode. Photo: ©

After tasting a very delicious bowl of bun rieu noodle soup that home chef Hung Lam (aka SOUP JUNKIE) kindly served me during a dinner party in his apartment a couple months ago, I was happy to hear he’s popping up this Friday January 27th at Vinyl Wine Bar. Hung’s bun rieu is a lovingly made soup with a six-hour crab- and tomato-based broth, with the most tender crab omelet tucked inside, plus housemade pork meatballs, rice vermicelli noodles, curled water spinach, bean sprouts, and fresh herbs. The recipe is his mother’s, and even though I haven’t tried his mom’s bun rieu, I imagine he’s doing it some very fine justice. $11 per bowl. There will also be a snack of crispy pig ears that are braised in spices for 15 hours, then fried. Hung is going to have enough for 40 bowls, serving from 6pm-10pm. Depending on turnout, he will hopefully do this again. Vinyl Wine Bar, 359 Divisadero St. at Oak, 415-621-4132.

A tweet announced JABLOW’S MEATS is taking over where Wise Sons left off, popping up with Saturday lunches at BEAST AND THE HARE from 11am-2pm. Look for housemade pastrami, bacon, and corned beef sandwiches, plus housemade ginger ale. 1001 Guerrero St. at 22nd St.

Tasting Table mentioned local seafood retail shop NEW ENGLAND LOBSTER CO. has added a food trailer in their parking lot, serving a lobster roll ($15.50), and one with crab meat ($14) on weekdays 11am-3pm; both rolls come with a side of coleslaw and a bag of chips. Menu and more here. 170 Mitchell Ave. at Harbor Way, South San Francisco, 650-873-9000.

What's for Lunch? Honkin' Po' Boys at Criolla.


The Rich’Boy. Photo courtesy of Criolla Kitchen.

While the crew at CRIOLLA KITCHEN ramps up on their redesign, they decided to open for lunch in the meantime, serving a variety of po’ boys made with local and sustainable ingredients. Starting this Wednesday, you can swing by for a sandwich in three different sizes (shorty, full, or loaf). Choices include the Rich’Boy ($13/$20/$40) with braised American Wagyu beef and foie gras mayo; fried Louisiana Gulf shrimp  ($10/$15/$30), caught and served fresh every day; and the pulled-smoked ham hock salad ($8/$12/$24) with cold ham hock, mayo, pickled okra, and Creole mustard. I know, they sound gooooood. There are 11 in all, with fried chicken, fried oysters, grilled andouille sausage, and more.

And based on the famed New Orleans sandwich’s famous history (they got their name because they were originally offered up for the striking street car motor men and conductors during the strike of 1929), Criolla is offering a 25% discount on all sandwiches to any street car and cable car drivers in San Francisco. It’s just counter service, but catering is available (yeah, I’d like to cater my office—army of one). Sandwiches served Mon-Fri 11am-3pm.

Criolla Kitchen            - 2295 Market St. San Francisco - 415-552-5811

Meet u-sushi, Another Fast-Casual Sushi Option in the FiDi


The counter at u-sushi. Photo by Rebecca Kinney. ©

Report by Rebecca Kinney, tablehopper intern.

U-SUSHI opened on Market Street last week, bringing a fast-casual and healthy option to the Financial District. From the folks behind Ozumo, u-sushi brings takeout sushi to a new level. Customers can choose from about 40 ingredients which are hand-rolled before your eyes. The process, which takes less than a minute, is assisted by state-of-the-art machines from Japan. If you’ve ever made sushi and ended up with rice stuck all over your hands, you’ll really appreciate the first machine: it spreads white or brown rice in a perfectly even layer on your choice of seaweed or soy paper. The “u-chefs” then fill your roll with your choice of fish, vegetables, sauce, and garnishes before rolling it by hand for the final machine. Dubbed the “sushi elevator,” the machine lifts your roll through some very sharp blades to give you eight perfect pieces. The roll is quickly wrapped while you grab a green tea Arnold Palmer on your way out the door.

Take a look at the menu here. [Ed. note: Unfortunately I don’t see nary a mention of sustainability on the menu or website (or press release). Great, now we can deplete the diminishing quantities of unagi even quicker!] Open Mon-Fri 10:30am-7pm. 525 Market St. at 1st St., 415-543-7655.

Closures: Hing Lung, Brunch Drunk Love, More


Hing Lung exterior. Yelp photo by Janet G.

After speaking at a panel on Saturday, I had a mad craving for a bowl of jook from HING LUNG in North Beach. Had I read SFoodie on Friday, I would have learned the place was closed before looking for parking and walking over three blocks to discover the same piece of news. What royally bummed me out was to learn the SF Department of Health was forced to not only close the place down, but to revoke its license for six months due to repeated violations (“the inspector found several recurring violations, including a severe cockroach and rat infestation and unsafe food handling facilities”). Damn. That grosses me out so much. I don’t even really care if they reopen now. Well, unless I see a 100 proudly displayed in the window. Hell, if the El Tonayense taco truck can do it…. 674 Broadway at Stockton.

Eater brings news that Ryan Scott is discontinuing his Brunch Drunk Love at Bruno’s after this weekend (January 28th-29th). In mid-February, he will be opening his new quick-service restaurant, PLEASE & THANK YOU, serving salads, soups, and sandwiches. Scoop mentions he’ll be opening a second (and more tricked-out) location at 300 De Haro St. in April. 68 W. Portal Ave. at Vicente.

Eater also mentions LUNA in the Castro has closed. And it may have been closed for a while: someone on Yelp (posted on November 29th, 2011) said, “I find it interesting that basically I believe this place has closed and no one has even noticed.” Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. Fade to black. 558 Castro St. at 19th St.

Fans of HODO SOY’s products should note the kiosk at the Ferry Building Marketplace is closed for a remodel until the end of February (when they will relaunch with some new offerings). So in case you’re jonesing for some of their spicy yuba strips, you’ll have to find it at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Tuesdays and Saturdays for now.

Restaurant Birthdays Mean Deals for You


Bang the drums! Photo courtesy of Presidio Social Club.

A few deals for your radar. First, on Sunday January 29th, PRESIDIO SOCIAL CLUB is celebrating its fifth anniversary with a par-tay. There will be two signature cocktails for $5, free Roederer Estate sparkling wine, and some free bites (Gruyère cheese toasts with tomato dip, fried chicken bites with buttermilk dressing, chicken liver pâté on rye toasts, pork and kimchi sliders, and dirty dozen beignets), along with live music. 3pm-6pm. All month long, PSC is serving a couple of their classic cocktails from the opening menu for $5 (Presidio Pink Lemonade and Gun Powder Cocktail). RSVP here.

EPIC ROASTHOUSE and WATERBAR are turning four, and are celebrating on Sunday January 29th and Monday January 30th with special $4 and $44 offers. On the 29th, EPIC will offer a $44.44 prix-fixe menu featuring gumbo ya ya, cedar-smoked scallops seafood paella, Schmidt Ranch beef tenderloin, and chocolate soufflé for dessert. EPIC and Waterbar will both host a $4 happy hour on Sunday (3pm-6:30pm) and Monday (11:30am-6pm), with a signature cocktail, red and white wine, and beer.

I was happy to learn my neighborhood usual GREEN CHILE KITCHEN is offering half-off all regular breakfast burritos Mon-Thu (9am-12pm) and half-off all appetizers and drinks (excluding guacamole and Pacifico beer) for happy hour Mon-Thu (4pm-6pm) until the end of February. Why the deals? They’re celebrating their six-year anniversary. Maybe this will help make up for the sometimes cranky service and mixed-up to-go orders I seem to encounter there each month. Two new items to look for on the menu: stuffed sopaipillas (filled with meat or vegetables and topped in red or green chile) and carne adovada (pork marinated for 24 hours in red chile and spices). 1801 McAllister St. at Baker, 415-440-9411.

Special Meals: Périgord Truffles at Spruce, Crab at Americano


Périgord black truffle; photo courtesy of Spruce.

Truffles. Crab. Nope, neither suck. At all. From January 23rd through February 5th, SPRUCE will have a Périgord black truffle menu for dinner service, including potato gnocchi, oxtail ravioli, and more. $125 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity; $50 optional wine pairing.

AMERICANO at Hotel Vitale is hosting a Crab and Champagne Dinner on Friday January 27th in the tented patio (and since the rain went away for the week, it should be a nice setting). Guests will enjoy local Dungeness crab served family-style with drawn butter and housemade sourdough bread, accompanied by Champagne and wine selections. Also on chef Kory Stewart’s menu: heirloom chicory salad with winter citrus, avocado, and ricotta salata, and apple-huckleberry pie with housemade vanilla ice cream for dessert. 6:30pm-8:30pm. $65 per person for three-course dinner, inclusive of tax and gratuity. Reservations must be booked by January 26th: call 415-278-3777 or book a 6:30pm reservation through OpenTable by visiting and noting “Crab & Champagne Dinner” in the Special Requests box.

Americano            - 8 Mission St. San Francisco - 415-278-3777

Oakland Update: Noble Cafe Opens, Restaurant Week Underway


Noble Cafe. Photo from Facebook.

According to a tweet from ABC7 News, I learned the NOBLE CAFE, reportedly the country’s first 100% carbon-neutral coffee shop, is now open in The Grand apartment building in Oakland. Although I’d like to shoot their website designer who makes me feel like I’m having an eye exam every time I click something on their website, the site mentions that the coffee is from Blue Bottle, with tea from Rishi. You can get French press, pour over, or siphon coffee, plus espresso drinks. There are pastries and some breakfast items, but an all-organic lunch menu will launch later. Open Mon-Fri 7am-7pm. You can read more about the café’s green practices on their Facebook page. 100 Grand Ave., Suite 111 at Valdez, Oakland, 510-444-3800.

And it’s already underway, but the second annual OAKLAND RESTAURANT WEEK is on now through Sunday January 29th. You can try a bunch of special prix-fixe menus priced at $20, $30, and $40, with drink specials often included. Check it out!

New Haps in Berkeley: Green Earth Cafe & Bakery and Kitchen on Fire Expands


Green Earth Cafe & Bakery exterior. Photo from Facebook.

An article in Berkeleyside mentions the opening of GREEN EARTH CAFE & BAKERY, with a menu around macrobiotics, and what they are calling “L.O.V.E.S.” (local, organic, vegan, ethical, sustainable) principles. (Cough.) The menu includes soups (like “cream” of broccoli soup), salads, sandwiches, wraps, pizzas, and more—plus desserts. Chef Ciren Zhuoga “has cooked at Manzanita Restaurant in Oakland where she specializes in weekend brunch menus.” Breakfast, lunch, and Saturday brunch for now, and dinner is launching soon. 2124 Center St. at Shattuck, 510-981-8404.

And fans of cooking classes might want to swing by the opening party for the new and second location of KITCHEN ON FIRE in West Berkeley this Saturday January 28th (7pm-9pm). The mission of founder-chefs Olivier Said and MikeC. is “make great food accessible to everyone by demystifying kitchen and entertaining skills in a fun, technique-driven, empowering environment.” At the party, you can check out the space, sample some breads and pastries, and see what’s in store for the new spot. 2940 7th St. at Potter, Berkeley, 510-548-2665.

Two New 510 Happy Hours


B Restaurant Oakland’s group dining table. Photo from Yelp.

The Oakland location of B RESTAURANT & BAR has a new 510 Happy Hour, and it’s very much what it sounds like: locally focused with lots of 5s, 1s, and 0s. Tuesday to Friday between 5:10pm-6:10pm, all Alameda wines on the menu will be $5.10/glass, rotating cocktails with Hanger One or St. George will be $5.10, and a selection of local beers will also be $5.10. Local wines on their menu hail from Dashe Cellars, Urban Legend, JC Cellars, and Rosenblum Cellars. 499 9th St. at Washington, Oakland, 510-251-8770.

BOCANOVA also has a new happy hour gig, which they’re dubbing Late Nite Boca Bite. Between 9pm-10:30pm Thursday to Saturday, you can get cocktails and Bocaditos at happy hour prices, like yucca and cheese fritters ($4), fried plantains with cilantro aioli ($3), oysters on the half shell ($1.50), Dungeness crab deviled eggs with chipotle aioli ($1.75), a daily taco with pickled cabbage ($3.50), and pork ribs with guava barbecue sauce ($2). Drink specials include special cocktails ($5), select wines ($6), and seven-ounce Linden Street beers ($2.50). Holla for late(r)-night eats! Their regular happy hour runs Mon-Sat 3pm-6pm. 55 Webster St. in Jack London Square, Oakland, 510-444-1233.


the sponsor

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

(Sponsored): Golden Glass Returns to Fort Mason February 4th

Slow Food San Francisco’s eighth annual Golden Glass brings together wine and food artisans from around the world in celebration of Slow Food’s work to advocate for sustainability, biodiversity, and preservation of food traditions.

Taste wine from over 200 hand-selected wine producers, and enjoy tasty bites from San Francisco’s best restaurants and artisan food producers, all while supporting Slow Food San Francisco’s School Gardens Initiative and Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste.

This Golden Glass will also mark the publication of the English edition of Slow Wine, Slow Food Italy’s new, comprehensive, and meticulously researched guide to Italian wines.

the lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)

Southern Pacific Brewing Grand Opening on Friday!


Photo from a holiday party at Southern Pacific Brewing. Photo from Facebook.

This Friday January 27th, owners Chris Lawrence and Anthony LaVia are kicking off SOUTHERN PACIFIC BREWING’s grand opening weekend. House-brewed beers by Andy French include pale ale, IPA, porter, golden ale, and wit; coming soon are extra IPA and black lager (all beers $3-$5).

The affordable menu of what I’d call California pub fare from chef Tyler Moorish includes a variety of bar bites (pickles, charcuterie, crab fritters), appetizers (barbecue wings with fresh horseradish, salads, “chicken noodle soup” stuffed agnolotti), pizzas (smoked tasso ham with red onion and chile oil, pale ale pork sausage with pepperoni, black olives), sandwiches (smoked pastrami on rye, confit chicken salad), burgers (black and blue with chile rub and bleu cheese), and entrées (lasagne with wild mushroom, sweet onion ricotta, spicy tomato, or steak frites). You can check out the entire menu here.

Hours this weekend are Fri 7pm-2am, Sat 7pm-2am, and Sun 7pm-12am. After the grand opening, SPB will be open for lunch and dinner daily, 11am-12am, and open later Thu-Sat. We already covered a lot of the architectural details in the hardhat by Seth Boor of Boor Bridges Architecture, so click if you need a recap.

Southern Pacific Brewing            - 620 Treat Ave. San Francisco - 415-341-0152

SF Beer Week Returns February 10th


Three vintages of Orval at the 2011 Monk’s Kettle Trappist dinner. Photo from Flickr.

10 straight days of beer-filled festivities: that’s what you have to look forward to for SAN FRANCISCO BEER WEEK 2012, February 10th-19th. As always, the schedule is filled to the brim with beer tastings, beer release parties, and food pairing dinners all over town—and outside of town—so check out the full schedule online. We’ll just mention a couple highlights to get ya started.

The beer starts flowing on Friday February 10th with the SF Beer Week Opening Celebration at the Concourse Exhibition Center in SoMa, hosted by the San Francisco Brewers Guild. From 6pm-10pm, 50 NorCal breweries, from new nanobrewers to craft brew legends, will be pouring unlimited samples of new, rare, and classic beers into your commemorative glass. You can also purchase from a range artisan choices and food options, and there’ll be live music. Tickets are online for $65. 635 8th St. at Brannan.

The MONK’S KETTLE is hosting events throughout SF Beer Week, notably the second annual Dinner of the Trappists, an extensive seven-course dinner paired with beers from the monks of the seven Trappist breweries. Starting at 6:30pm on February 13th, you’ll have a rare chance to try beers like the Westvleteren 12 (not available in the U.S.) alongside a course like duck fat-roasted beets with lamb’s lettuce and fromage blanc croquette. Other courses include seared spot prawn with roasted chanterelles and bison two ways; see the full menu here. $195 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Reserve by email.

For Valentine’s Day, Tuesday February 14th, visit Monk’s Kettle for a “Sweet and Sour Valentine,” featuring a sour beer known as Cantillon Rosé de Gambrinus. Rosé like the wine, yes, but it’s a beer. They’ll also have sweeter offerings, like Dieu du Ciel! Aphrodite, to represent the other end of the spectrum.

In honor of SF Beer Week, ANCHOR & HOPE is holding a Shrimp Boil on Thursday February 16th, 4:30pm-7pm. It’s an all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-draft kinda thing with three brewers (Anchor Brewing, 21st Amendment, and Pacific Brewing Laboratory) and 16 of their drafts. $30. Give ‘em a call to RSVP: 415-501-9100.

               Friday Feb 10, 2012 – Sunday Feb 19, 2012 more info

New People (and Beverages) in the Booze and Wine Scene


The bar at Jardinière. Photo: © 2010.

A few quick updates: first, swing by the bar at JARDINIÈRE this Thursday January 26th for a cocktail from guest bartenders David Lytle and Stephen Bassman from Frommer’s Travel Guides. They are serving dueling Manhattans ($9 each), and there is going to be a special pastrami slider, also $9. Proceeds go to Family Builders. 6pm-8pm.

Over at HARRY DENTON’S STARLIGHT ROOM, bar manager Joel Teitelbaum has put a carbonated, pre-bottled Negroni on the menu (it’s the first of what will likely grow to become a separate carbonated section of the menu). The Negronis are carbonated and sealed in a 375mL bottle, and opened and poured tableside over a glass of ice with an orange garnish. Fizzy Negroni, sign me up. Sir Francis Drake Hotel, 21st floor, 450 Powell St. at Sutter, 415-395-8595.

Alcademics has all the details on the latest incarnation of the sherry-centric cocktail program over at GITANE by lead barman Ramon Garcia (“with some aid from Neyah White [formerly of NOPA]”). Of the many new drinks, there’s a Sherry Shrub, and a Smoked Palomino with crema de mezcal, amontillado sherry, grapefruit, lime, and soda water.

And over at QUINCE and COTOGNA, wine director David Lynch’s replacement has been named: Chris Baggetta of New York’s Eleven Madison Park. She begins February 6th as Lynch’s St. Vincent project in the Mission gets underway. Note: the press release states Cotogna’s $40 by-the-bottle and $10 by-the-glass selections will continue.


the socialite

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

"Meaty" Events with Meatpaper and COCHON 555


Here’s a couple meaty events for your consideration, whether you call yourself a meat eater, flexitarian, omnivore, whatever—just have a good time, these events don’t come around all the time.

Meaty publication Meatpaper invites you to celebrate their new “Bones” issue at the BONES: 20TH STREET CORRIDOR CRAWL, a night of art, music, food, and drink in the Mission. The event’s free and open to the public, so come on out on Friday February 10th, 7pm-11pm, to explore all things related to bones.

Expect food and drink from Jerome Waag (Chez Panisse), Nick Balla (Bar Tartine), and Leah Rosenberg (Blue Bottle Coffee at SFMOMA), plus Trumer Pils and biodynamic wine. Tickets will be on sale for tasting plates. You’ll also get to enjoy installations and performances by local artists, and music by Chicken Paw. Other participating organizations include Rebar, 500 Capp Street Foundation (David Ireland’s house), Kadist Art Foundation, Southern Exposure, and The Thing Quarterly.

Roving culinary competition and heritage pig celebration COCHON 555 is back in Napa this Sunday January 29th at The Culinary Institute of America. Taste all the porky goodness that’ll be going down, and see if last year’s national grand champs, Duskie Estes and John Stewart of Zazu, can successfully defend their title. Four more chefs will compete against last year’s “King and Queen of Porc”: Lars Kronmark (CIA), Chris L’Hommedieu (Michael Mina), Mark Dommen (One Market), and Michael Tuohy (Dean & Deluca). Each will prepare a nose-to-tail menu to earn the votes of attendees and local judges. The winner goes on to compete at Grand Cochon in June at the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen.

This feast of pork will be accompanied by wines from five wineries: Behrens Family Winery, Wind Gap Wines, Matthiasson, Scholium Project, and Elk Cove Vineyards. Plus there’ll be butcher demonstrations, an interactive tasting contest, and the C555 Perfect Manhattan Bar. Rounding out the food and drinks will be savory dessert, beer from Anchor Brewing, and a champagne toast to the James Beard Foundation for their 25th anniversary. Tickets are $125. Veeps ($200) get in an hour early at 4pm to enjoy select wines, sustainable oysters, Black River Caviar, cocktails, and more. 5pm. The Culinary Institute of America, 2555 Main St. at Charles Krug, St. Helena.

Get Your Tickets for the Annual Artisan Cheese Festival


 Event Info

Friday Mar 23, 2012 – Sunday Mar 25, 2012 Info/tickets                        Sheraton Sonoma County-Petaluma 745 Baywood Dr. at Lakeville Hwy., Petaluma

Welcome, once again, to the wonderful world of artisan cheese: now in its sixth year, CALIFORNIA’S ARTISAN CHEESE FESTIVAL will offer quite the lineup of local farm tours, grand tasting events, beer and wine pairings, and cooking demos. The festival’s homebase will be the Sheraton Sonoma County in Petaluma, with lots of events happening off site. Get your tickets now ‘cause many events are already sold out (you cheese phreeks, you). Taste, learn, appreciate, and repeat all weekend long, March 23rd-25th.

See the full schedule online with all its opportunities to try limited-production, rare artisan cheeses and to learn about the art of making cheese from local and sustainable farmers and cheesemakers.

The Friday farm tours are a chance to look behind the scenes at local farms and creameries, and they sell out fast. Slots are still open for Farm to Creamery: Two Sebastopol Dairies ($75). This tour takes you  from relative newcomer Bleating Heart to the 40-year-old Redwood Hill Farm, the first certified humane goat dairy in the U.S. New this year is the Lagunitas Brewery tour and cheese-pairing dinner ($135), which includes a six-course dinner prepared by chef Danny Mai (Tolay Restaurant).

Saturday is seminar day with local industry experts, chefs, and cheesemakers leading interactive seminars and demos. All seminars include catered lunch, nice. Topics include The Cheesemaker and the Chef: Milk’s Mysteries Explored from the Creamery and Into the Kitchen with Peggy Smith and Sue Conley of Cowgirl Creamery, Cheese Making Workshop: Fresh Cultured Cheeses, and even The Hows and Whys of Fermented Foods. $65/session.

Saturday evening, 6pm-10pm, it’s showdown time at the Grand Cheese Tasting and Best in Cheese Competition. Top Bay Area chefs highligt artisan cheeses in their dishes, from soufflés to sandwiches; you vote for your favorite. Wineries and breweries are in on the action too. $75.

Another new event this year is the very tasty-sounding VIP brunch Sunday at 9:30am: Bacon, Bubbles and Brunch + More Great Cheeses with Duskie Estes. Nosh on a cheese-filled breakfast featuring Black Pig bacon, sip on Iron Horse bubbly, and enjoy a cooking demonstration with the chef-owner of Zazu, Bovolo, and The Black Pig Meat Co. $100, includes VIP access to the Marketplace.

Don’t forget the big one, the expanded Artisan Cheese Tasting and Marketplace on Sunday starting at noon. Sample the wares of 65 artisan producers, winemakers, brewers, and chefs, and discover new cheese products, books, and recipes. Enjoy more cooking demos with wine country chefs, and fill up your ACF insulated cheese tote bag with your faves to take home. $45.

Wanna stay the night? There are discounted rates on Sheraton rooms. The Artisan Cheese Festival donates 10% of all ticket proceeds to Sonoma Land Trust, Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Petaluma Future Farmers of America, California Artisan Cheese Guild, and Redwood Empire Food Bank. Sheraton Sonoma County-Petaluma, 745 Baywood Dr. at Lakeville Hwy., Petaluma.

the starlet

Star Sightings in Restaurants (no photos please)

A Scorpion Bowl for Mister Franco, Please

On Thursday night, James Franco was spotted at Betelnut with friends. They had dumplings and scorpion bowls before heading off to a special screening of The Iron Lady.

No Pepper Needed at This Table


Lovely ladies: Angie Dickinson with Park Tavern owner Anna Weinberg.

A fabulous sighting at Park Tavern on Friday night: the incomparable Angie Dickinson came in to dine with the glamorous Denise Hale. I know it’s not polite to discuss a lady’s age, but when you look that fab at 80, well, you gotta say something. Go Angie.

Dueling Football Teams on the Field, and in Restaurants

Yeah, rough weekend for football fans. I was amused to learn on Friday night that the owners of the 49ers and the New York Giants dined at different restaurants in the Delfina Group (Delfina and Locanda). And on Saturday night, the owners and agents of the Giants team dined at Park Tavern.

Hey, Guy


Guy Savoy with the Atelier Crenn crew. Photo via Facebook.

I’m sure the team at Atelier Crenn was beyond thrilled to cook for chef Guy Savoy. Oh wait, here’s a picture of the crew. Yup, beaming.

On a Mission

Chef Robert Irvine (of Food Network’s Dinner: Impossible, Worst Cooks in America, and Restaurant: Impossible) tweeted about having a good time at Havana in Walnut Creek. My tipster says, “he is in the area doing a remodel of a restaurant in Benicia,” which according to his tweets is Pappas Restaurant.

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