A closer look at Tom and Jerry’s massive tree on 21st Street. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Brrrr! I know, we’re such babies here—it dips below 50 degrees and we start cryin’. But my Edwardian building is so unkind in the winter—at least my red wines here in my apartment are showing nicely. I’m actually glad it was a chilly night when I took my dear friend out for my first unofficial tablehopper holiday spirits tour last week—check it out in the lush.
This past Saturday I co-hosted BLK Saturday, a holiday pop-up event I helped curate. (Here’s a nice recap with some lovely pics.) The lineup of food makers and vendors I invited was awesome, and even if you missed the event, all the goods are still available!
You can swing by The New Black from 10am-6pm (now through Saturday) for some great last-minute shopping and stocking stuffers from Jarred, INNA Jam, Starter Bakery (there are just two left of their incredible panettone!), a fab holiday selection from Socola Chocolates, olio nuovo from McEvoy Ranch (limited supply), Nana Joes Granola (wait until you try the new chocolate-covered Tony’s trail mix), and the brand-new “cereal thrillers” from sideshow by Nicole Plue, which you can only get online for now unless you come on out!
The full line of tablehopper vintage restaurant T-shirts is also there, so you’re able to check out all five designs. There are also some fashiony items—from bags by Basil Racuk to clothes by N.I.C.E. Collective. You can come by for lunch from a couple food trucks at Mission Dispatch (just next door!) and get some shopping done. The New Black, 1999 Bryant St. at 18th St., 10am-6pm through December 22nd.
Lastly, if you want a break from all the holiday fare, check out my list of five new restaurants to check out this month on 7x7.com. I had a fab business lunch last week at Hakkasan—it was packed with industry folks enjoying holiday lunches. It’s an ideal location because it’s close to downtown shopping. And don’t forget the $29 lunch deal I mentioned last week!
Soooo, it’s been a very hard week for the U.S.—the world, actually. I was scheduled to send out a tablehopper issue on Friday but it just felt tacky and wrong—which is why today’s is such a hefty one. The world has been crying over the innocence lost in Connecticut, and I know that heartbreaking event has reshaped all of our perspectives on many things, from guns, to family, bravery, mental illness, schools, and yes, the holiday. So many things to think about and process. Thoughts and prayers to all of the families and friends suffering from the utterly horrific tragedy. We are all so, so sorry for their suffering. Their pain and loss are unfathomable. And so our forthcoming actions and changes in this country will be fueled by our commitment to making sure nothing like that can ever, ever happen again.
Sending love, see you on Friday.
XOXO Marcia Gagliardi
If you’re at all like me, you have probably procrastinated on finishing up your holiday shopping. (I’m just so good at it!) Just in case you still need to buy a few presents, here are a few ideas from yours truly.
First, of course, I am going to plug my line of tablehopper T-shirts with vintage San Francisco restaurant and bar graphics. There are five in all, whether you want to go classic with the Blue Fox or sassy with Players Club or boozy with Tippy’s (yeah, these shirts are also good for your favorite booze lovers too). They’re all printed on quality cotton shirts that have a nice fit and they’re supersoft. Tees are $25, and the Blue Fox hoodie is $45 (it’s really plush). You can order online, or even better, this week you can swing by The New Black in the Mission, where they are available from 10am-6pm through Saturday (along with a bunch of treats from other local vendors!).
You worried that your favorite gourmand already has everything they need in their kitchen? Concerned that you’ll buy them the wrong kind of mandoline? Why not get them a spot in a class? You can go Italian with a wonderful cooking class from Rosetta Costantino, or a cheese class at The Cheese School, or a butchery class with 4505 Meats, or even a walking tour with Edible Excursions, or a membership at 18 Reasons.
You have a total wine lover in your life? Well, they’d probably be thrilled with a copy of the brand-new film by Terry Theise and the folks at Farm+Cellar, Leading Between the Vines. It’s a heartfelt and visually gorgeous look at German riesling and some of the families who produce it. It can be preordered now for $19.99, and will be available on Amazon and later for online download (December 21st).
One of my favorite things about this season is the new-harvest olive oils that are now just in from California and Italy. From Italy, there’s liquid gold from Capezzana and Laudemio (it’s gorgeous), or the piquant olio verde from Gianfranco Becchina from Sicily. Domestically I’ve enjoyed the discovery of the smooth Arbequina from Séka Hills (it’s made in the Capay Valley by Native Americans), and of course, there’s olio nuovo from McEvoy Ranch and DaVero. You can find a lot of these quality olive oils at Bi-Rite Market, Cheese Plus (check out their olio nuovo notes here), Rainbow Grocery, Andronico’s, Bryan’s, and in the East Bay, head to Market Hall.
I was gifted a bkr water bottle, and now I can’t stop using it (I also can’t stop doing Beaker imitations). I love having a glass bottle to drink from instead of plastic or metal. I dig the bright colors it comes in. The 16-ounce size is just right for a workout or short road trips. And the spongy silicone exterior keeps it from getting broken (mine has survived numerous mornings in my gym bag with my hand weights). Say “buh-bye” to plastic bottles. $28.
Did you miss your shipping delivery window? Don’t want to get 50 feet within the post office? I feel ya. For the techie in your life, you can get them a few different iPad subscriptions, like Panna, a new video cooking magazine with master chefs like Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer (Canal House Cooking), Anita Lo (Annisa), Nancy Silverton (Osteria Mozza), Michael Tusk (Cotogna, Quince), and Jonathan Waxman (Barbuto). There are six issues in the first year released bimonthly, each containing 13 seasonal 10-minute video recipes. Through December 31st, a subscription is on sale for $14.99 ($24.95 after January 1, 2013), or you can buy individual issues.
I love physically handling a book (hello, like the GORGEOUS Japanese Farm Food), but sometimes the digital format offers more opportunities than print, like this e-book: Tables from the Rubble. You can read more on SFoodie, but in short, this is an in-depth look at some of our treasured restaurants in SF that opened after the 1906 quake, like Swan and Liguria Bakery—there are lots of images, stories, menu, videos, and more. Oh yeah, and recipes!
Happy holidays to you!
Franck LeClerc (Café Claude, Gitane, Claudine, 5 Claude Lane gallery) has a few new projects for 2013. First, he is planning to take over Joseph Manzare’s HECHO (escrow should close in 60-90 days), and Scoop reports he will be opening a classic French brasserie. A bar will be placed both upstairs and downstairs. Look for more news in coming months, and a potential opening in April. 185 Sutter St. at Kearny.
LeClerc also has plans for a second Café Claude opening in mid-2013 in the Marina. 2120 Greenwich St. at Fillmore.
Lastly, he will be closing the 5 Claude Lane gallery space and using it as an 1,100-square-foot extension of Café Claude, according to Eater. The space will include a lounge area, a bar, and there will be room for a jazz quartet to play until midnight, five nights a week (Claude currently can only hold a jazz trio). Look for an opening in May or June.
One upcoming project is a second restaurant, a 2,000-square-foot space, just a couple of doors down (and flanking De La Paz Coffee). Details are sparse, but Scoop mentions chef Mark Liberman is fired up (heh) to do live fire cooking (read: no stove), and it will be more casual, offering lunch and dinner. Look for an opening that is potentially late in 2013. 1077 Mission St. at 7th St.
The other project was revealed by a liquor license not too long ago: MÉLANGE MARKET, which is moving into the former Pronto kiosk by Bar Bambino at ODC Theater. According to Grub Street, it will have “sandwiches, baked goods, and sweets from different local vendors” and AQ pastry chef Maya Erickson. It will be open during the day and on performance nights. Stay tuned for more in coming months. 3153 17th St. at Shotwell.
Not too far away: there’s finally a taker for that lame Pizzeria space on Valencia Street: the folks from CURRY UP NOW are finally gracing San Francisco with a brick-and-mortar location. Scoop reports they plan to open the 60-seat space in mid-January. There will also be outdoor seating, and beer and wine. Oh, and look for news about another SF location as well. 659 Valencia St. at 18th St.
As mentioned on tablehopper back in August, Venezuelan restaurant PICA PICA MAIZE KITCHEN is opening a third location in the Castro. The new location is 1,500 square feet, with two levels and seating for 55. Like the other locations, you’ll find arepas and other Venezuelan-style sandwiches, plus beer on tap, wines from South America, and sangria too. They’ve also added a few new menu items, like platters, meal-size salads, more desserts, and starters to share—and bonus, the menu will remain 100 percent gluten-free. It also seems like this location will be better for lingering. The spot is across from the F-train turnaround, and the opening is set for close to January 15th. They’ll be open daily 10am-10pm. 3970 17th St. at Market.
Pica Pica Maize Kitchen - 401 Valencia St. San Francisco - 415-400-5453
Yesterday, owner Christopher Losa of BAR BAMBINO announced the restaurant’s final night of service will be on New Year’s Eve, December 31st, 2012, after nearly six years in business. You can come in and say farewell over the next couple of weeks. Best wishes to the staff.
Meanwhile, old-timer GIO’S has been sold after 25 years, much to the sadness of the establishment’s many, many devoted regulars. The Scoop reveals owner Giovanni Costabile has sold the restaurant to the folks behind nearby pub Irish Times. The restaurant will be open for the next couple of months while the license is transferred. Best wishes to the Costabile family and their staff. 531 Commercial St. at Sansome, 415-362-0800.
Last week, Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard sent out an announcement (cleverly entitled “Doonsday?”) that the Santa Cruz restaurant LE CIGARE VOLANT is unfortunately closing December 31st, 2012. The tasting room will continue to be open in the location. 328 Ingalls St., Santa Cruz, 831-425-3625.
There’s a change at BOUCHE: chef Nicolas Borzee has returned to France, and his replacement is Michel Réthoré. According to Scoop, he is fresh from France. He was recently at Restaurant Le Cygory in Montpellier, and when he was executive chef of Domaine de la Tortiniere in Veigné, he earned the restaurant a Michelin star. Look for changes in a month or so (Réthoré just started Sunday). As much as I wanted to, I never quite took a shine to Borzee’s menu, but very much like the intimate atmosphere and late-night vibe of the place. Looking forward to tasting Réthoré’s menu (and hope to add Bouche to my late-night dining app). 603 Bush St. at Stockton, 415-956-0396.
I know, we can all issue a collective “wah!” with this news: general manager Vinny Eng is leaving BAR TARTINE in mid-January. He started as a runner five years ago and worked his way up to GM and the outstanding “beverage co-curator” he is today. He really is a big part of the wonderful, hospitable feeling that prevails at Bar Tartine. I know the team there and all his loyal customers are going to be missing his warm spirit and smile at the restaurant, let alone his wicked pairings. He’s excited to “ease up” in the new year and enjoy some downtime, and is looking forward to spending some time with his family. Best wishes and thank you for all your years of such dedicated service, Vinny!
Bar Tartine - 561 Valencia St. - 415-487-1600
Every Sunday night, you can swing by SALT HOUSE for their B Side menu, which includes a variety of burgers for $15, and some great deals on bottles of wine for $25 (like Château Roc de Segur, Bordeaux 2010 and Viñedos De El Sequé, Alicante, Spain 2011) and beers for $6 (like Affligem Blond, Lefebvre Blanche de Bruxelles, and Stone Pale Ale from Escondido). There’s the house burger with caramelized red onions, horseradish aioli, and blue cheese or cheddar (plus fries!), or you can go big with Le PIG MAC alla Cochon, with raclette cheese, special sauce, classic fixings, and shoestring fries. Oh yes, and the lamb burger, with tomato chutney, feta yogurt, cucumber, and house chips.
Meanwhile, are you in the mood for some Christmas goose? GRAND CAFÉ is offering their final “Misfit Dinner” menu for the year, highlighting geese from Sonoma’s Liberty Farms from Thursday December 20th through Monday December 24th. Chef Alicia Jenish will be offering dishes like winter vegetable and goose consommé, $8; goose leg confit, savoy cabbage stuffed with chestnuts, mustard gravy, $24; and goose roulade, prune and caramelized onion pudding, sweet and sour cipollini, parsley sauce, $26.
Grand Café - 501 Geary St. San Francisco - 415-292-0101
Chef Ravi Kapur and his LIHOLIHO YACHT CLUB will be popping up at NAKED KITCHEN on Friday December 21st and Saturday December 22nd. Seatings are at 7pm, and you’ve two choices of where to sit: the main dining room for $75, or the chef’s counter for $100. In the main dining room you’ll get five courses, and at the counter there will be some surprises. The event is BYOB, and the menu and tickets can be found here for the 21st and here for the 22nd. 945 Valencia St. at 20th St.
Looking for a truly amazing way to spend a weekend in Sonoma County? Head up to TIMBER COVE INN on the Sonoma Coast for their Forage for Fungi weekend package on January 4th-6th. The package includes two nights of accommodation, plus an afternoon of mushroom foraging with author David Arora in the woods around Fort Ross Vineyard. After the foraging outing, you’ll return to the inn for a dinner made by chef Ben St. Clair with the mushrooms you found on your excursion, paired with wines from Fort Ross Vineyard.
The event is limited to 20 people but there are a few spots left. Packages begin at $649 per couple and reservations can be made by visiting the inn’s website or calling 707-847-3231. 21780 North Coast Highway 1, Jenner.
Friday Jan 4, 2013 – Sunday Jan 6, 2013 Reservations begins at $649 per couple more info
Jose Calvo-Perez of Fresca and Pasión restaurants in San Francisco is expanding to Pacifica with PUERTO 27 PERUVIAN KITCHEN AND PISCO BAR. He will be opening the restaurant in the Pacifica Beach Hotel, which used to house a Thai restaurant. The format will be Peruvian small plates served family style. The 140-seat, two-level space has great views (the upstairs will be a banquet area) and a spacious bar, which will specialize in pisco (running the bar program is Enrico Sanchez, previously at La Mar and Limón). They are just finishing a refresh of the space and plan to open in mid-January. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be served. 525 Crespi Dr. at Cabrillo Hwy., Pacifica.
Meanwhile, the rumor proved to be true: PIZZERIA DELFINA is expanding to Burlingame. The Scoop confirms the third pizzeria with their goldenrod logo will have 80 seats, a rear patio, and is targeting June 2013. 1444 Burlingame Ave. at El Camino Real, Burlingame.
Pizzeria Delfina - 3611 18th St. San Francisco - 415-437-6800
Are you up for the Adventure? Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker and TuttiFoodie.com invite you to enter the fabulous sixth annual Chocolate Adventure Contest. So go ahead: invent, create, explore the boundaries of your own culinary imagination.
This year the contest is accepting entries in one category—Sandwich Cookies—for the chance to win a $25,000 grand prize. To be eligible, combine any Scharffen Berger chocolate with one or more of 12 select “adventure ingredients” (yerba maté, coconut cream, tapioca flour, cornmeal, pine nuts, sweet potato, and other ingredients native to cacao-belt countries) in an original recipe. Whether whoopie pie, macaron, s’mores, ice cream sandwich, alfajores, or any other sandwich cookie—you can enter up to 10 recipes total.
The recipe contest ends on January 2nd, 2013, so get cookin’! More information at www.chocolateadventurecontest.com.
San Francisco really does the holidays up well—especially many of our bars around town, offering all kinds of hot, spiked, minty, spicy, egg noggy drinks to get you feeling warm and festive. Last Wednesday night, I decided to take my dear friend Michele Mandell out for a tablehopping night around town, the first (and totally unofficial) tablehopper holiday spirits tour, hitting up some local spots to get us in the holiday mood. Let me tell you, if you feel like duplicating even part of this tour, it’ll have you feeling elf-like in no time. The rules: one drink per place, and plenty of food in between stops. Oh, and I completely failed in taking pictures of the drinks. I just drank them. It happens. (But I do have a few more pics of our night out over on the tablehopper Facebook page.)
We started our tour at MARLENA’S in Hayes Valley, famous for its annual display of more than 1,400 Santas that take a week to set up (here’s a good backgrounder on the bar’s 22-year-old tradition). It’s pretty staggering. This bar also has such a welcoming vibe. Within 30 seconds of walking in, we were already making friends and getting recommendations on how to order our hot toddy. Bonus: doggy tricks by Max, whose owner let us feed him treats so he’d show us his “handsome” trick (he’d get on his back legs and wave his paws in the air). Too. Much.
Next, we hit up ELIXIR in the Mission, on a mission for one of their Tom and Jerrys. Alas, they were fresh out, but we did get to try their Kentucky Pilgrim, which was not a bad substitution. At all. Think Wild Turkey 101 infused with cardamom, cranberries, and cinnamon, mixed with hot water, lemon juice, Luxardo maraschino, and demerara syrup to make one hell of a toddy. Perfect if you have a cold.
Next, a quick pit stop at ARINELL for a slice of pizza.
Since we were less then a block away, an impromptu visit was paid to the HIDEOUT in the back of Dalva—one of my favorite bars in the city—where barman David Curiel totally rocked one of the best holiday cocktails I’ve had: the Egg Noggy Nog. This creamy combo of bourbon, Campari, maple, egg, allspice, cream, and coffee bitters is a can’t-miss for the holidays. Seriously, whoa. It was hard to just have one.
It was time for a visit to the famous Tom and Jerry 65-foot Christmas tree on 21st Street (off of Church). It’s an annual tradition for me to come by and check out the tree every holiday—usually more than once—to get in touch with my inner kid. Santa is usually out front in the evenings handing out candy canes—and trust, the adults have as much fun as the tykes. It’s one of the most generous displays of holiday spirit, each and every year. Thank you Tom and Jerry!
The ladies caught a chill and were still a little peckish, so we headed back to Hayes Valley for a late-night bite of French onion soup at ABSINTHE. Yeah, it totally hit the spot. Cocktail options here are numerous, but this was more of a food stop.
All aboard for the final destination: the BALBOA CAFE. I haven’t been there in years, so it was a treat to see the place all outfitted by designer Ken Fulk to resemble Martini’s Bar from It’s a Wonderful Life, with plaid walls and snowy windows. We finished with a Peppermint Patty, a total boozy and sweet and chocolaty dessert in a glass (yeah, with Rumpleminze in it). After that, it was time to bid all a good night!
Have fun out there, and remember, there are more than ever-elusive taxis to get around safely at night, from Uber to Lyft to Sidecar to Homobiles!
San Francisco suds tradition SAN FRANCISCO BEER WEEK is fast approaching, and tickets to the opening celebration are now available. The celebration is on Friday February 8th from 6pm-10pm at the Concourse Exhibition Center. Tickets include a glass to do your sampling, plus unlimited tastes of brews from more than 65 California breweries. There will be food available for purchase at the event too. Early bird tickets are $65 until January 15th. The opening kicks off a 10-day beer spree, with lots of opportunities to taste, discuss, and enjoy local beers. As more details about the events emerge, we’ll keep you updated. 620 7th St. at Brannan.
Wednesday Feb 8, 2012 6pm-10pm $65 more info
Monday Dec 31, 2012
Here comes New Year’s Eve, when everyone in town starts jockeying for reservations at their favorite hot spot. We’ve compiled a list of some great places doing special dinners. In addition, almost every single restaurant will be open, so it’s just a matter of giving a call and finding out what sort of prix-fixe or special they’re doing (and how much lighter your wallet will be). You can also check OpenTable for reservations and special events on the big night.
For some old-school San Francisco style, head to COMSTOCK SALOON for a daytime celebration. Comstock is hosting a fundraiser for the families of Drakes Bay Oyster Company. Guests can purchase Drakes Bay Oysters for $10/half dozen from 12pm-4pm, with all proceeds benefitting the families. There will also be oyster chowder, Dungeness crab cocktail, and Louis Roederer Champagne, available for purchase by the glass and bottle. Then, in the evening, from 6pm-12am, they’ll be doing a three-course prix-fixe menu for $65 per person. There will be live gypsy jazz at happy hour. Please note that prices do not include tax and gratuity. Reservations can be made by calling 415-617-0071.
For a warm, cozy, and oh-so-Californian farewell to 2012, check out the four-course menu at PICCINO. The dinner is $85 per person, or $115 with wine pairings. They’ll be pulling some special bottles out for the occasion, too, and keeping the coffee bar open so you can stay fueled until midnight and beyond. Live jazz, check. Reservations are available from 5:30pm-7pm or 8pm-9:30pm and can be made by calling 415-824-4224.
For a seriously fantastic menu, SPQR’s chef, Matthew Accarrino, is doing a 10-course tasting menu for $135, with optional wine pairings for an additional $70. Reservations can be made by calling 415-771-7779.
For a classic (and classy) night, PIPERADE will be doing a three-course dinner with choices like duck civet, beef en croûte, and swordfish. Diners will receive a free glass of sparkling wine, plus party favors. Reservations are $125 and can be made from 5:30pm-10pm by calling the restaurant. 1015 Battery St. at Green, 415-391-2555.
Looking for somewhere quiet and cozy to avoid the roving hordes of revelers? Hike out to PIZZETTA 211 in the Outer Richmond (not exactly party central) for a prix-fixe tasting menu from chef-owner Jack Murphy. The menu hasn’t been finalized quite yet, but will feature about eight courses of shared plates, one of which will definitely be pizza. Reservations are available for groups of two or four at 5pm, 7pm, and 9pm, and should be made by email. The dinner will cost around $100-110 per couple (final cost will be emailed), and includes a glass of bubbly per person.
Feeling like a high roller? ACQUERELLO has got a fabulously fancy five-course tasting menu with delicious treats like lobster and veal loin. The dinner is $225 per person, with wine pairings available for an additional $95. Prices do not include tax and tip, and reservations can be made by email or by calling 415-567-5432.
QUINCE will be serving a seven-course tasting menu, in two seatings at 5:30pm and 9pm, along with Champagne and a musical performance by the Patrick Wolff Jazz Quartet ($250). COTOGNA will be hosting their first New Year’s Eve late-night party, starting at 10pm with music from DJ Kool Karlo and will continue into 2013 with lots of Champagne, caviar, and pizzas from the wood-burning oven ($150). Guests can also join in the revelry at both fetes: dinner at Quince followed by late-night partying at Cotogna ($375 per person—oof). For reservations, email or call 415-775-8500 x33.
For a vegetarian celebration with a killer view, GREENS is your spot. They’ve got a four-course menu planned, plus live music. The dinner costs $95 per person, not including beverages, tax, and tip. Reservations are available from 5:30pm-7:30pm or 7:30pm-9:30pm and can be made by calling 415-771-6222.
For a great deal that’s right in the middle of everything, the casual JASPER’S CORNER TAP has you covered, with a $49 four-course menu that isn’t casual at all. The menu includes Barron Point oysters three ways, lobster bisque, and Brandt Farms filet mignon with truffle-whipped potatoes; a glass of bubbly is included, and wine pairings will also be available (although you’ll probably want their amazing cocktails). Price does not include tax and gratuity. Reservations can be made by calling 415-775-7979.
If you’ve got an appetite, DELAROSA will be throwing a party with an all-you-can-drink bar, plus dancing and a midnight toast with party favors and a DJ (oh yeah, and some food). The party runs from 9:30pm-1:30am and costs $125, all inclusive. Reservations can be made by calling 415-673-7100.
JARDINIÈRE is always a celebratory spot, and will be doing a five-course prix-fixe in the dining room from 5pm-7:30pm for $150 per person, or from 8:30pm-10:30pm for $225 (the later seating includes a Champagne toast at midnight and live music). If the prix-fixe isn’t your style but you’d still like to have a festive time, there will also be appetizers, cocktails, and a bar menu in the lounge area. Reservations can be made by calling 415-861-5555.
If you’d like a delicious time but don’t need this to be the most glamorous, expensive, drunk, insane evening of your life, check out LITTLE STAR PIZZA on Divisadero. Deep-dish pizza and beer, then a pint of ice cream from the corner store. Go for it. I know, you’re thinking, wait, it’s a Monday night, they should be closed! From here on out, Little Star will now be open on Monday nights! 846 Divisadero St. at Fulton, 415-441-1118.
Tuesday Jan 1, 2013
Sooooo, look who celebrated New Year’s Eve like a rock star, and now is totally hurting. Here are some spots that will be open to help you get through the day and ring in 2013 with some sort of panache. You can also check OpenTable for more options, including FARMERBROWN, OUT THE DOOR, and MAVERICK.
This is some excellent news: WISE SONS DELI is going to be open on New Year’s Day, serving matzo ball soup, their Reuben, and other dishes to help restore your chutzpah.
FOREIGN CINEMA is bringing back its hangover brunch on New Year’s Day, with dishes like their hangover soup with a poached farm egg, their croque madame, and more. Let their famed Sunday Bloody Caesar bring you back to life. 11am-3pm.
Have some family and friends in town? Start 2013 off right, with a fantastic view and a toast to our fair city. TOP OF THE MARK will be serving brunch from 10am-2pm with a deluxe buffet menu (here’s the menu from 2011). Reservations are $99 for adults and $45 for kids, and can be made by calling 415-616-6941. 1 Nob Hill at Mason.
More buffet action: you can also get your bunch on at AMERICANO in the Hotel Vitale. They’ll be serving a buffet from 10:30am-2:30pm for $40, with unlimited beverages available for an additional $20. Children under 12 eat for $25. Reservations can be made by calling 415-278-3777.
For a full-blown night of hangover preparation, or just a brunch on New Year’s Day, head to AUREA in the renovated Marriott Stanford Court Hotel. They’ve got a serious brunch menu, including a burger that’s available stuffed with naughty foie gras; for $28, you get the burger plus a beer or Bloody Mary. They’ve also got a hangover cure hotel room package if you’d like to spend the night somewhere other than home. 905 California St. at Powell, 415-989-3500.
For order-ahead convenience at home, check out THE WHOLE BEAST. They’ll be offering a lucky cassoulet with Rancho Gordo yellow-eye beans and Llano Seco smoked hocks, hams, and double-smoked bacon, plus Whole Beast Berkshire pork belly confit and kielbasa. The topping will be fried black-eye peas, pork cracklings and pain de mie crumbs tossed with seasoned pork fat. I know, WHOA. There are some winter root vegetables in there, too (fennel, carrots, and leeks). $75, and will feed 6-10 people. You can pick up or have the goods delivered ahead of time—check their website for details and instructions (details should be posted very soon).
Across the bridge in Sausalito, check out COPITA’s hangover brunch menu. Nothing helps a hangover like fresh air and some Mexican food—just ask Dita. They’ll be serving brunch from 10am-4pm, and reservations can be made by calling the restaurant. 739 Bridgeway at Spinnaker, Sausalito, 415-331-7400.
A new restaurant in Healdsburg that doesn’t have a wood-fired oven? Yes, it’s true. Channeling Mediterranean flavors of another sort, CAFÉ LUCIA has opened in the former Affronti location on Healdsburg Avenue. Tucked well back from the street, brother-and-sister team Manuel and Lucia Azevedo have brought the “Cozinha Nova Portuguesa,” or New Portuguese cuisine, of Manuel’s highly acclaimed Sonoma restaurant, LaSalette, to their northern neighbors.
Many of the dishes will be familiar to LaSalette regulars, including richly flavored, nose-to-tail “tasca,” or tasting plates, of tripe stew, blood sausage, pig’s feet terrine, and sardine pâté. The menu also includes caldo verde, steak with piri piri fries, and feijoada (with stewed beef, pork, and beans), as well as “all access” sandwiches like a crab melt, pulled pork sandwich, and BLT. Don’t skimp on the homemade rolls, made with a bit of sugar for a slightly sweet, yeasty taste.
If you’re new to Portuguese food, it’s worth some culinary exploration. Go for authentic eats like caldeirada, a fish stew with shrimp, sea bass, mussels, and lobster fumet; pan-seared scallops with Japanese sweet potatoes; and a traditional dessert trio that includes sweet rice, malassadinhas (tiny fried doughnuts), and almond ice cream with fig cake. Prices range from $10 to $25 for entrees; open for lunch and dinner daily. 235 Healdsburg Ave. at Mill St., 707-431-1113.
Over seven nights (December 18th through 24th), Healdsburg’s SPOONBAR will serve up an eclectic mix of fish and seafood dishes from the everyday to the exotic in homage to the Italian tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes. Chef Louis Maldonado’s menu includes sea urchin with smoked potato purée, citrus-marinated Dungeness crab, Japanese kanpachi, octopus and mussels in coconut curry broth, brioche-crusted branzino, and oyster panna cotta. Menus will range from $50-$55 per person, with each night featuring a different menu. For details, go to the Spoonbar Feast of the Seven Fishes website. 219 Healdsburg Ave. at Mill St., 707-433-7222.
PEAR opened Tuesday December 11th in Napa. The Southern-inspired restaurant replaces Tyler Florence’s short-lived riverfront bistro at 720 Main Street. Open daily for lunch and dinner, the restaurant stakes its claim on classics like macaroni and cheese, shrimp and grits, rotisserie chicken, collard greens, chicken and dumplings, and chicken and waffles with pear-bourbon maple syrup. Chef-owner Rodney Worth owns several restaurants in the East Bay, including The Peasant and the Pear, The Prickly Pear Cantina, and Ferrari’s Cucina Italiana.
All I want for Christmas is … well, okay, the list is pretty lengthy, but on the wish list of every wine lover are tickets to the ANNUAL PASSPORT TO DRY CREEK VALLEY. More than 50 wineries participate in this long-standing Sonoma County tradition that includes live entertainment and gourmet tastings in addition to top-flight wine tasting. The event doesn’t happen until this spring (April 27th and 28th, 2013), but mark your calendar to purchase tickets for the event ($120, two-day passport; $70, Sunday-only passport) starting February 1st.
Don’t forget: the books mentioned below are available at 20 percent off for tablehopper readers for two weeks following this mention at Green Apple Books—simply use the code “tablehopper” at checkout (either at the store or online) for your discount.
It’s a bountiful season of new releases in the food and cooking section, and here’s a roundup of gift ideas for your loved ones this holiday season, be they kitchen bumpkins or real gourmands.
If nothing here catches your fancy, there are a few thousand other options on our shelves, covering everything from drinks to Crock-Pots, vegetarian to Japanese. We hope your holiday season is full of books, good food, and joy.
Thanks for reading.
Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (of Sorts) Russell Norman
Let’s start with Venetian food by way of London: Polpo: a Venetian Cookbook (of Sorts) by Russell Norman ($50). This is surely the most beautiful book on my list this fall, with exposed spine sewing, plentiful photos of Venice and the featured dishes, and a drop-dead cover. Polpo is a small bacara in Soho (London), and the food is lovingly modeled on these humble Venetian gathering places that hum with conversation, feature simple small bites, and always start with a spritz (Aperol, white wine, soda, lemon, and an olive). The food is stripped down and shareable—Norman quotes Saint-Exupéry: “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Think Rocket and Walnut Pesto Crostini; or Cod Cheeks, Lentils, and Salsa Verde; or Zucchini, Basil, and Parmesan Salad. Sfiziosimmi!
Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America Maricel E. Presilla
As long as we’re abroad, let’s move on to Gran Cocina Latina: the Food of Latin America by Maricel Presilla ($45), a magnum opus of a cookbook, with 500-plus recipes, 100-plus illustrations, plentiful sidebars, variations, notes, drink pairing suggestions, and so on—for nearly 900 pages (if you braised this book, it would serve at least 12). Throughout, Presilla explores the many recipes, techniques, and ingredients that both unify and distinguish Latin American cooking. The most exhaustive book on the subject I’ve ever seen, Gran Cocina Latina would inspire any curious home cook.
Vegan Eats World: 300 International Recipes for Savoring the Planet Terry Hope Romero
And in the worldly vein, there’s also Vegan Eats World: 300 International Recipes for Savoring the Planet by Terry Hope Romero ($35). It’s a solid collection of 300 recipes of varying complexity from all over the world, from curries to dumplings, noodles to one-pot meals. While not graphically stimulating, it’s a no-nonsense recipe book for the vegan home cook. Think of dishes like Andean Ahi Bean Stew, Greek Eggplant Lasagna, or Watercress Coconut Lumpia Spring Rolls.
Jerusalem: A Cookbook Yotam Ottolenghi, Sami Tamimi
Now on to Jerusalem, properly subtitled a Cookbook, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi ($35). You might remember Ottolenghi from Plenty, my favorite cookbook of the last several years and my favorite vegetable cookbook of all time. Well here he’s teamed up with Arab chef Sami Tamimi to portray Jerusalem in recipes and pictures, and what splendid flavors burst from these pages—mint, yogurt, lemon, chickpeas, etc. It’s a beautiful hardcover filled with 120-plus cross-cultural recipes that make you want to cook, eat, and travel. Soups, vegetables, meats, savory pastries, condiments—they’re all here. Highly recommended for any adventuresome cook.
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook Deb Perelman
Closer to home is a general cookbook that evolved from the Smitten Kitchen blog, entitled (wait for it… .) The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Wisdom from an Obsessive Home Cook by Deb Perelman ($35). This is an almost bossy, straightforward recipe book full of variations on the standards (her grilled cheese is Emmentaler on Rye with Sweet and Sour Red Onions); innovative comfort food (Cheddar Swirl Breakfast Buns); and generally hearty fare (Tomato-Glazed Meatloaves with Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes). Throughout are Perelman’s tips, very personal intros to each recipe, and plenty of luscious photos. A fine gift for the home cook who seeks inspiration.
Canal House Cooks Every Day Melissa Hamilton, Christopher Hirsheimer
Another collection of recipes that defies easy categorization is Canal House Cooks Every Day by Hamilton and Hirsheimer ($45). This talented duo guided Saveur magazine through the 1990s, and they share a studio and kitchen overlooking a canal near the Jersey-Pennsylvania border. More important, they cook delicious and very doable recipes and photograph them well enough to put your salivary glands on red alert. There’s nothing groundbreaking here—it’s mostly workaday, but flawlessly tested and presented for any home cook who can wield a knife. It’s also beautifully bound in red fabric. There’s comfort food, like the Rolled Flank Steak with Pesto, and lighter dishes, like the Open-Faced Zucchini Omelet—mostly it’s bistro fare. Arranged seasonally but well cross-indexed, this 250-recipe collection will look good on your shelf, and the results will certainly grace your table.
Modernist Cuisine at Home Nathan Myhrvold, Maxime Bilet
Now for the groundbreaking. Last year, a six-volume collection called Modernist Cuisine was released in limited quantities, each set in its own Lucite case. Even at $625, we sold a handful, which is unusual for our humble store and a testament to how many San Franciscans take their cooking seriously. Now there’s Modernist Cuisine at Home. Weighing in at 11 pounds in two parts, Modern Cuisine at Home bridges the gap between cutting-edge cuisine and your home kitchen, as long as you’re willing to cook your sunny-side up eggs in two parts, yolk and white. Want to make your steaks in a sous vide cooler? Check. Pressure-cooked chickpea salad? In there. Onion fluid gel? Page 21!
It’s slipcased in two volumes (a perfect-bound oversized main volume of technique and illustration, plus a spiral bound “kitchen manual”). And it’s $140 ($112 for tablehopper readers!). We also have the original Modernist Cuisine if you can afford—and understand—it.
Chef Bruce Hill at Picco in Larkspur was pretty stoked to have Dwight Clark—the former 49ers wide receiver—in for dinner. And he got quite the souvenir! Like, wow, a signed diagram of “The Catch”—Christmas came early!