Raising Cain! Photo: © tablehopper.com.
I have such crazy, dumb luck sometimes. As you have probably figured out, I’m not a huge sports fan: I’ll watch the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia, the Olympics, World Cup games when Italy is playing, and the occasional baseball game—but that’s really about it. So when I was invited to see the Giants on Wednesday evening and experience the Off the Cove food truck gathering, I thought it would be a blast to catch a game and chow down on some Curry Up Now (oh yeah). I invited my baseball fanatic friend (he offered to be the Virgil to my Socrates, and give me info and share tips about the game) and we plunked ourselves down in some amazing lower box seats, just four rows back from the field. It was a beautiful evening, with the Hangar One blimp lazily cruising around overhead like a big bumblebee.
But what happened Wednesday night still gives me goose bumps. The way the night unfolded was such magic. After the first few innings, it was apparent something very special was brewing, and it only got stronger. Nope, I can’t believe I got to witness a perfect game. The energy, the elation of both the crowd and the team playing off each other is a feeling I will never forget. It was historic and profoundly moving.
As I rode my bike home that night, I was mulling over all the elements that went into making that game perfect. So many moving parts, so many significant decisions. It’s a lot like a perfect meal in a restaurant—all those people and moments and timing that have to synchronize to become greater than the sum of their parts. Or a symphonic piece, or a play, or any performance, really. Wednesday was poetry in motion, and I am so grateful I was there to witness it, and cheer loudly for it. These are the moments that make life extra sweet. You feel it down to your toes.
So here we are. Apologies, no review for you today, but I do want to share a link to my first piece for 7x7 magazine (it’s currently in the June issue), which is about the new vanguard of SF chefs cooking from the heart. I hope you enjoy it. I also have a cheat sheet of five new places to open in the city that was on 7x7.com this week.
As for today’s issue, we have some 707 news for you and a peek at a brand-new watering hole for you to visit. I am hustling to scoot off to Sonoma for my salumi class this evening and a weekend of baking in the summer heat. Hubba.
Have a stellar weekend. Nay, a perfect one.
A report by Dana Massey-Todd: The team that brought you Bourbon & Branch, Rickhouse, and Local Edition has now turned its focus to a new venture, TRADITION, which recently had its soft opening and will open with its full cocktail menu and service on Tuesday June 19th.
Many of you will remember the space as the former home of MR. LEW’S WIN WIN BAR and CLUB 441, but after extensive renovation the space is large, airy, and barely recognizable. The ceilings are high, and there is a mezzanine level in the back, so boozehounds have plenty of room to breathe, drink, and socialize.
This time around, they’ve decided to offer a crash course in the history of American cocktail traditions through the ideal medium: the cocktails themselves. The menu is divided into sections that each identify one of the disparate roots of contemporary American drinking. First, we have “The Big Easy,” which identifies New Orleans’ rich history as a drinking town and features the familiar Mr. Lew’s Sazerac. Then we have the “Speakeasy,” an obvious toast to the necessary innovations developed during Prohibition. This section features a Bathtub Gin Punch for four, which sounds like great fun. Island-hopping on, we salute the “Tiki” craze of the 1940s with a Scorpion Bowl for two (an inexpensive alternative to that tropical vacation you and your sweetie can’t quite make time for). There are also sections that nod to the Irish, Scottish, and English pubs and spirits that inform American bar culture. And, as we all learned in high school, we can’t talk about history, even fun, boozy history, without talking about class and money. Hence, “The Grand Hotel” and “Dive Bar” sections, which celebrate both the snobbiest (French 75) and trashiest (Frozen Margarita for five) sips in America. Each section will also have a corresponding beer, because one really can’t celebrate American drinking traditions without it.
In a further toast to American ingenuity, they will be blending and aging their own spirits in charred oak barrels washed with various other spirits. Some combinations to look out for are a rye aged in a Chartreuse-washed barrel and gin in a pinot noir barrel. They are also serving a housemade version of Pimm’s, and though the exact technique is a trade secret, I was told that the magic is all in the infusion. Some of these spirits may appear in cocktails, while others will be available on a rotating basis as a shot with a beer back called the “Industry Special.”
One side of the bar is available by reservation only and features a series of “snugs,” or cozy booths, which are decked out to correspond to each of the menu sections. The Grand Hotel snug seats larger groups under a fancy chandelier, while the Scottish Pub is actually two little snugs, each accommodating a party of two. The other side is more open, has high barstools, and is for walk-in patrons. The menu served on this side will likely be simpler than that available at the snugs, though these details were not solidified at the time of my visit. The mezzanine level also accommodates walk-ins, though in the future it may be available by reservation to large parties. The walls are covered in vintage alcohol advertisements, which should be excellent conversation starters. Keep your eyes peeled for Pierce Brosnan with ’80s hair.
As of Tuesday June 19th, the regular hours will be 5pm-2am, Monday through Saturday. You’ll be able to make reservations on their website if you’d like a reserved spot. Until Saturday June 16th, you can stop in for the soft opening after 6pm, though note that they will be closed Sunday June 17th and Monday June 18th. 441 Jones Street at O’Farrell, 415-474-2284.
By 707 correspondent Heather Irwin.
Chef Louis Maldonado of h2hotel’s SPOONBAR has been tapped to open a new wood-fired pizzeria at sister property HOTEL HEALDSBURG in August. Dubbed Pizzando, it looks to be more than just another upscale pizzeria, with former A16 chef Liza Shaw consulting on the menu. Also involved is Paolo Petron of Mill Valley’s venerable PIAZZA D’ANGELO, whose hospitality group manages Hotel Healdsburg, h2hotel, and Spoonbar. Hotel Healdsburg also houses Charlie Palmer’s DRY CREEK KITCHEN.
Want to get an advance look? Maldonado will preview the menu at a series of bimonthly pop-ups inside Spoonbar beginning Wednesday June 27th. Expect gourmet pizza (made in a portable Mugnaini oven, natch) with stinging nettles, burrata, lardo, or hen-of-the-woods mushrooms; fried chicken; the chef’s own take on spaghetti carbonara; and grilled romaine hearts to make appearances. The three-course tasting menu, $32, is served family style. Limited seatings by reservation. 219 Healdsburg Ave. at Westside Rd., Healdsburg, 707-433-7222.
Meanwhile, longtime Cal-Ital trattoria BOVOLO is pulling up stakes from its downtown Healdsburg location at 106 Matheson Street. Co-owner John Stewart, also of ZAZU RESTAURANT + FARM, says they’ll be moving to the nearby DAVIS FAMILY VINEYARDS tasting room. 52 Front St. at Hudson, Healdsburg, 707-433-3858.
In St. Helena, it seems it’s never too early to start thinking about Christmas. The RESTAURANT AT MEADOWOOD has announced its annual TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS chef and vintner lineup for 2012 with some sparkling-bright names attached. The luxe eat-and-drink-a-thon and benefit pairs Michelin-starred chef Christopher Kostow with esteemed toques. Beginning with chef Scott Anderson of New Jersey’s ELEMENTS on December 7th, the list includes Jason Franey of Seattle’s CANLIS, Oakland’s James Syhabout of COMMIS, and Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson of the CATBIRD SEAT in Nashville. Vintners participating in the dinners include PHILIPPE MELKA and Bill Harlan of BOND. 900 Meadowood Lane, St. Helena. Tickets start at $1,240 (includes lodging and dinner for two), and reservations can be made by calling 707-967-1205.