Stunning: royal osetra caviar and brioche with flowers and hollandaise, paired with 2008 Louis Roederer brut rosé Champagne (at Quince). Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Sometimes things have to be really hard or annoying or stressful or downright impossible before some grace can appear. Or in my case today, Grace. As many of you know, I am getting ready to head to Brazil next Friday. But if it were up to the Brazilian consulate, I wouldn’t be on that plane. You see, they are so backed up processing visas that the next available visa appointment isn’t until June 27th—a week into my trip—and it takes five business days on top of that to even get your visa. Dude.
Now, I wholeheartedly own a large part of the problem—I misunderstood when I was supposed to request my visa (I thought my flight had to be ticketed/final booked), so obviously I was getting to it far too late early this week. But let me tell you, if you have any ideas about heading to Brazil for World Cup or just for travel, give yourself at least a month to get that visa squared away. To put it all in perspective, if I were going to China—a notoriously tough visa—I’d get it same day (yup!) and only be out $30. My visa to Brazil? How about $160!? Oh, and the paperwork? Bureaucracy at its finest.
So there I am at the consulate this morning, trying to be at my calmest but most persuasive as I am pleading for a visa appointment, and I get a big, fat, “Sorry, there is nothing we can do.” No matter that I am supposed to fly out in a week. Just no. And just wow. I tried every possible angle, trust. You’d think they’d want people to visit the country, but it feels like the exact opposite. Despite my best efforts, out of sheer frustration and sadness watching my trip to Brazil crumble with this woman’s final “no,” I completely burst into tears and made a hasty exit to the ladies’ room. So embarrassing. Crying in public, that’s always so much fun.
Which is when I met Grace, aka my visa angel, who found me in the bathroom crying. She works for Bay Document Services and was there at the consulate expediting visas for her clients. With one phone call to her contact in New York, she was able to confirm she could expedite my visa through the NYC consulate (which reportedly operates much more quickly and with a lot less paperwork) and could actually get my passport back here in SF on Thursday before my Friday flight. Um, wow. Everything turned around, just like that. I was not going to Brazil, and then holy crap, I am going to Brazil! There really are angels, and the one who saved my lucky ass today is Grace.
I just met up with her again to hand off my documents and money and $200 service fee, and you can bet I brought a couple bottles of wine for her. I know, exchanging money and documents in a parking lot with people you met earlier in a bathroom can seem shady, but I think I’m a pretty good judge of character, and she is 100 percent legit. And who am I to question divine freaking intervention? Get me on that plane, damn it! So if you ever need to get some visa issues sorted, Grace at Bay Document Services has your back.
Since I have spent the past few nights with some wicked insomnia over this and from running around in bureaucracy land, I’m all tapped out for today. Beyond. But I do have a nice giveaway for you, and the fabulous Heather Irwin has some 707 scout news too.
Oh, and I actually have some non-tablehopper pieces for you to read: on 7x7.com, I share my monthly post of five new places to check out this month; on Citysearch, I posted some of my favorite places for sushi in San Francisco; and I also have my first column for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Tablehopping, all posted and ready for you.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s time for a drink. Actually, a drank. (I am going to be saving the caipirinhas until I get to Brazil.)
With infinite gratitude to the universe,
Chef Jamil Peden, who’s done stints at Campo Fina (Healdsburg) and at the former Petite Syrah (Santa Rosa), will head up the kitchen of the soon-to-open WOODFOUR BREWING COMPANY located in Sebastopol’s expanding food- and wine-centric Barlow complex. Say owners Seth Wood and Olav Vier: “At Woodfour Brewing Co. we feel that food in our kitchen deserves as much respect and attention as the beer in the brewery. With that in mind, it gives us great pleasure to introduce the newest member of our team, executive chef Jamil Peden. The guy has some serious talent and style to boot.” Watch for a (fingers crossed) July opening.
Meanwhile, TAYLOR MAID FARMS ORGANIC COFFEE will be opening the doors on its new Barlow coffee bar on Monday June 17th. Visitors can watch roasting and packaging from the bar’s mezzanine level, drink espresso and hand-brewed coffees, and check out tasty treats from Santa Rosa’s Criminal Baking Co. and Howard’s Cafe. The coffee bar is located at 6790 McKinley Ave., Suite 170, Sebastopol, and will be open Mon-Thurs 6am-7pm, Fri-Sat 6am-9pm, and Sun 7am-7pm.
Yountville’s acclaimed REDD WOOD goes mobile with Redd Wood on the Road. Their custom-made Mugnaini mobile pizza oven offers up the restaurant’s signature blistered wood-fired pizzas alfresco along with seasonal salads made from locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant has also expanded their popular breakfast offerings from 8am-10am daily. The menu includes old favorites like the RW Breakfast Sandwich (with housemade sausage) and fresh donuts and fritters along with new additions such as Meyer lemon ricotta pancakes. 6755 Washington St. at Madison, Yountville, 707-299-5030.
Holy tequila! LA CONDESA NAPA VALLEY hosts a Tequila Whipserer Master Series dinner on Wednesday June 26th. The agave-based spirit takes center stage as Master Distiller Adolfo Murillo of Tequila Alquimia and Tequilero Michael Lipman guide guests through a three-course dinner featuring Snake River Farms carnitas, elote, jalapeño poppers, camarones al mojo, and tres leches cake paired with Murillo’s award-winning organic tequilas. The dinner, from 6:30-9pm, is $55 per person. 1320 Main St. at Hunt, St. Helena. Reservation details online or by calling 707-967-8111.
If you’re a fan of COPAIN WINES, you’ll now need to call ahead to visit their hilltop tasting room in Healdsburg. The upside, however, is that visitors get a personalized tasting experience with top-notch pinot noir and syrah paired with small bites. The Farm Table Tasting for nonmembers happens at 11am and 2pm daily. 7800 Eastside Rd. at Ballard, Healdsburg, 707-836-8822.
For one night only the Ferry Building is transformed for a fabulous summer soirée: CUESA’s Summer Celebration. This year the focus is on the various “families” that have made the market a success over the years. Star chefs (like Lolinda, Central Kitchen, barbacco) and bartenders (Rye, Bourbon and Branch) will focus their palates and talents on six culinary families—berries, nightshades, grains and legumes, alliums, leaves and flowers, and of course stone fruits—creating original tastes that celebrate the height of the summer harvest.
Feast on unlimited food and drink while providing much-needed support for CUESA’s ongoing education initiatives, including free cooking demos, kitchen skill-building classes, Schoolyard to Market youth entrepreneurship program, and sustainability scholarships for farmers.
Purchase tickets from now until June 22nd to receive a special discount for tablehopper readers of $25 off each $125 ticket (so that means you only pay $100!).
Plus, we’re giving away a pair of tickets (value $250). To enter to win, all you need to do is forward today’s tablehopper newsletter to two friends (but even more would be so very fabulous), and add a note to your friends about CUESA, the Summer Celebration, why you read tablehopper, or all of the above! Be sure to Cc: or Bcc: me at email@example.com so I know you sent it—I promise I won’t use anyone’s email address. The deadline to enter is Wednesday June 19th at 11:59pm. We’ll notify the winner on Thursday and get your tickets to you! Good luck!