This week's tablehopper: a patch of blue.
The stunning sky on Lummi Island. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Have you already left the office yet? Good for you. If you’re still stuck, well, here’s a little afternoon reading for you, chock-full of just-breaking news, info on the upcoming tablehopper singles event (and how to get tickets!), 707 scout news, and another wino installment about Argentina from Eugenio Jardim! Yup, plenty to keep you entertained.
Are you hanging around this weekend, enjoying the extra parking, shorter lines, and easy reservations? (And probably Karl the Fog too.) Here’s a piece I wrote for 7x7.com with five fun things for you to consider doing on Labor Day in case you don’t have plans yet or are looking for extra shenanigans. Since we’re at it, here’s a link to this week’s Tablehopping column in the Bay Guardian as well!
I am actually hitting the road again (who, me?) and heading up to Healdsburg for an overnight at Jordan, and then the next night at Roshambo Farms. Can’t wait to hang out with my friends, feed some goats, drink good wine, and be in the sun.
No matter where your Labor Day weekend takes you, I hope you find some blue skies, and maybe even some blue water. See you!
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
It's Time for the Second Tablehopper Singles Event! Calling All Gay Gents Age 35-55!
Hello, my fellow singles who love food and wine. It’s time for round two of the tablehopper singles events! This time it’s for the gents, specifically gay men who are in the age range of 35-55 (whether you choose to color a little outside those age parameters is up to you). The event is going to be on Thursday September 12th at 7pm at the recently remodeled MKT RESTAURANT—BAR at the Four Seasons (oooh, swanky!) in their clubby Private Den (and since we’re on the fifth floor, it has some great views—and I’m not just talking about the hot crowd).
We have room for 40 (fabulous, hello!) gay men, and you will have an opportunity to meet everyone at this sit-down event, which is a bit like a mash-up of speed dating and a wine tasting and a partay. You’ll have fun tablehopping—the last one we held was a blast.
Thanks to Graton, CA-based Purple Wine Company, we are going to be enjoying five wines from their portfolio (and learning about each of them from Executive Vice President Lisa Ehrlich). There will also be a beguiling welcome cocktail, courtesy of Charbay, plus one of their dessert elixirs at the end, and it wouldn’t be a tablehopper event without some bubbly in there too. Pop!
Executive chef Mark Richardson and restaurant chef Chris Aguirre are going to be preparing a variety of delicious bites, so you will have plenty to taste throughout the evening. Here’s the evening’s menu (warning, you are about to get hungry): during the welcome reception, there will be a Charbay cocktail with hand-passed appetizers like seasonal soup shots, gougères, and a Margherita pizza. During the tablehop event, you will have sparkling wine with MKT’s fantastic uni and soft-scrambled egg; 2011 Four Vines Naked Chardonnay and heirloom tomatoes with burrata; the 2011 BEX Nahe Riesling with fried green tomatoes; the newly released 2011 Alto Cinco Old-Vines Spanish garnacha with MKT’s superlative steak tartare (it’s really really good); the 2010 Maverick Amador County zinfandel with the MKT duck fat burger (uh-huh); the 2010 Avalon Napa Valley merlot with the BBQ prime beef short rib and Brentwood corn; oh yes, and Charbay’s lush Pomegranate Dessert Wine with the rhubarb, raspberry, and cardamom cheesecake. Hubba! (If you have some dietary restrictions, please let us know in advance.)
You can get your tickets here (tickets are $95). PLEASE NOTE: There are no ticket refunds if you can’t make it to the event (unless we can fill your place, but there are no guarantees about being able to do so). This event is 21 and over only, please. The event will run from 7pm-9:45pm or so.
Once you buy your ticket, we are going to request that you email us a headshot/snapshot of you—we’ll need them post-event when we do our matchmaking, so please start thinking about which image you want to send us.
We really look forward to seeing you there!
This is the second in a series of tablehopper singles events. Look for more in the coming months, for different age groups and sexual orientations, so if you don’t fit the parameters of this one, please sit tight!
Thursday Sep 12, 2013 7pm–9:45pm $95 more info
1760 Opening Monday September 9th
Great news to share today: 1760 will be opening its doors on Monday September 9th! tablehopper had a recap about the project a few weeks ago, highlighting the menu and a sneak peek at the interior, but here are a few more details for you.
The team (co-owners Giancarlo Paterlini and Suzette Gresham, with wine director Gianpaolo Paterlini and executive chef Adam Tortosa) have brought on bar manager Christopher Longoria (previously Aziza), so look for some of his brilliant cocktails using fruit, spices, vegetables, and more. For example, his Mango and Spice Cocktail was inspired by a trip to Central Mexico where his favorite snack was fresh mango with spices sold from a cart; some of the ingredients (mango, lime, cayenne, long pepper, and rum) will be prepared sous vide for the drink. There’s also the Pear Ginger Cocktail, with pear juice, verdicchio, ginger, and gin served over a special Campari ice cube. As for Gianpaolo’s wine list, look for around 250 European and domestic selections (nope, not just Italy).
As mentioned before, Tortosa was previously at INK and Kiwami in Los Angeles, and his menu of plates (both small and large) built to be shared will show influences from his travels throughout Asia and Italy. You can look over his menu again here, along with the dessert selections from pastry chef Riccardo Menicucci (who has been at Acquerello since 2011).
The furniture hasn’t arrived just yet, so stand by for pictures of the interior by designer John Wheatman. There are 75 seats, with a communal seating area, a long bar, and an open kitchen. The building dates back to 1935, and during construction, Wheatman exposed the original glass brick windows. The exterior is charcoal gray, and look for more light coming in from the new, tall windows. Inside are tones of dark brown and charcoal, and there’s a mirrored wall behind the bar. There are also elements of walnut, polished concrete floors, and black tiles. Yeah, it sounds handsome doesn’t it? The restaurant will be open for dinner nightly 5pm-11pm. To make a reservation, visit 1760sf.com or call 415-359-1212.
1760 - 1760 Polk St. San Francisco - 415-359-1212
Details on 4505 Meats' Project in the Brother-in-Laws Space
We broke the news on Wednesday that Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats is going to be opening a barbecue spot in the former Brother-in-Laws/Da ‘Pitt on Divisadero. Here are some follow-up details for you: the original wood-fired barbecue pit will be kept intact (damn straight), but otherwise the building—which dates back to the 1930s—is going to be completely refurbished (but still keeping things casual). One bonus: they are going to create an open-air patio on the lot that flanks the space.
On the menu, you’ll find 4505 classics like The Best Damn Cheeseburger, meaty barbecue selections (naturally), their artisanal sausages, and other meats. Of course, some of the demented concoctions from the 4505 farmers’ market stands will also be in the mix. Bonus: there will be food for both takeout and delivery, and local beers and wines will be poured.
I’m happy that a local crew who uses quality and sustainable meats (like Magruder Ranch) is taking over the spot, and 4505 definitely knows what tastes good. That location has deserved some TLC for a long time, and Ryan and Cesalee Farr are gonna fix it up real nice while keeping it real. The buildout begins in a few weeks; look for an opening later this year. 705 Divisadero St. at Grove.
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
(Sponsored): Planet DOOF Brings Fun for Kids of All Ages September 8th
Join us on Sunday September 8th, from 3pm-6pm in San Francisco, for Terrestrial Gastronomy, an awesome family event featuring great food from Chez Panisse alum Alan Tangren, the launch of our unique food-based computer game called Planet DOOF, and a kid-moderated school lunch discussion among food experts Shakirah Simley (Bi-Rite), Jessica Skylar (Revolution Foods), and Esperanza Pallana (Oakland Food Policy Council).
The event will be held at the Planet DOOF Earth Embassy, 440 Brannan St., San Francisco. Tickets are available at $25 for adults (discount code ZORP), $10 for teens (discount code CARL), and free for kids under 12 at planetdoof.eventbrite.com.
Planet DOOF has been designed for kids and this event will be 100 percent kid-friendly. For more information, visit foodbackwards.com.
Wine Country Buzz (it’s what happens there)
Taste of Sonoma, New Life for Zazu Space, Carpe Diem's Boozy Sister, Guerrillas in the Midst
By 707 correspondent Heather Irwin. Sign up for the BiteClub Newsletter.
It’s a star-studded—or maybe fork-studded—weekend of wine and top chefs during the annual Sonoma Wine Country Weekend. Festivities start Friday with the sold-out Sonoma Starlight Dinner, hosted by girl & the fig’s Sondra Bernstein and John Toulze. Saturday is the main (eating) event at TASTE OF SONOMA AT MACMURRAY RANCH. More than 100 wineries and restaurants gather under circus-size tents with haute bites and top-flight sips. The roster is a who’s who of Sonoma dining: Kendall-Jackson’s Justin Wangler with cabernet-spiced lamb sliders, Chalkboard chef Shane McAnelly serving hamachi tartare, Taverna Sofia’s rotisserie lamb and beef, crispy duck tacos from the Green Grocer (a BiteClub fave), Viola Pastry Boutique’s corn panna cotta with crispy pork belly, Viva Cocolat’s chocolate mousse, and the griddled pimento cheese and heirloom tomato sandwich from Rocker Oysterfeller’s to name just a few standouts. The annual Steel Chef competition pits four local chefs in a grudge match royale, while the Bubble Lounge serves up, well, bubbles. Sunday’s wine auction has a Brazilian theme, with top local chefs serving dishes including olive oil-guacamole tacones (Mateo’s Cocina Latina), fried potato cakes (coxinha) from KJ’s Justin Wangler, and a three-course dinner prepared by Barndiva’s Ryan Fancher, Dry Creek Kitchen’s Dustin Valette, and John Toulze of girl & the fig. Details and tickets for the weekend’s events online.
The quirky Santa Rosa roadhouse recently vacated by ZAZU’S Duskie Estes and John Stewart is already under serious rehab by nearby Walter Hansel Winery, which has plans for a full-service bistro. Slated to open in October, the Walter Hansel Wine Bistro will be a casual eatery that mixes “fine dining and fun,” according to winery owner Stephen Hansel. Hansel is in the midst of interviewing kitchen staff, so no word on a chef yet, but food won’t play second fiddle to the wines. “The French have it right. They understand that food and wine really need to go together,” said Hansel. “Food is the main course, and wine the accessory,” he said. The restaurant will feature Hansel’s Russian River wines along with those of nearby wineries, in addition to more California bottles and even a few French Bordeaux. So why would a car dealer-turned-winery owner want to open a restaurant? The lack of a tasting room at the winery, his desire to work directly with customers, and, well, the restaurant is practically within throwing distance. “It’s a mile away from us,” he said. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been nearly so interested.”
More West County news: seems there are Guerrillas in the midst. Zinfandel enthusiast and winemaker Bruce Patch has opened the WINE GUERRILLA tasting room in Forestville, showcasing estate-grown wines from around the region. The winery (6671 Front St., Forestville) will feature box lunches from nearby Twist (6536 Front St., Forestville), a popular weekday lunch counter and weekend dinner café.
There is also a new owner at the former Henweigh Cafe (4550 Gravenstein Hwy N, Sebastopol) in the heart of the Russian River Valley. Butcher Berry Salinas is taking over the location with plans for a “classic roadhouse” beer and wine bar. Salinas, with partner Sheldon Rosenberg III, had planned a Santa Rosa chicken shack, but plans fell through after several months of work. Don’t worry, though. We’ll bet the farm that her famous fried chicken will show up on the menu. Look for a November opening for RED’S APPLE ROADHOUSE.
Nearby, Corks (5700 Gravenstein Hwy N, Forestville) has had another chef shuffle with the departure of Dominique Rooney. She’s moved into an exec chef position at Bodega Bay’s SANDPIPER (1400 Highway 1 N, Bodega Bay). Rooney is also appearing on September 8 on the Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen, putting her in good company with the other local chefs who’ve gained national TV attention for their kitchen skills.
Napa’s bustin’ out all over: with the departure of exec chef Stephen Rogers, PRESS (587 St. Helena Hwy) in St. Helena has turned over the stoves to former sous chef Jason Toji. Rogers and his wife (who was the GM at Press) are returning to Dallas to open a new restaurant called Gemma.
Opening in late September is 2nd & Brown, the “boozy sister restaurant/bar” to CARPE DIEM WINE BAR in downtown Napa. The cocktail spot will feature an abbreviated Carpe Diem menu with dishes like the ostrich burger and “Quack and Cheese,” macaroni and cheese with duck confit. The location, surprise, surprise, will be at Second and Brown St. in Napa.
Guest Wine & Spirits Writers (in vino veritas)
Eugenio Jardim on Wine Tasting in Argentina (Part Two)
Brazil native Eugenio Jardim is a Bay Area wine consultant and educator. Sunset Magazine named him Sommelier of the Year in 2010. He ran the wine program at Jardinière for 11 years and conducts very high-profile wine tasting groups in the U.S. and Brazil.
His approach to wine is fun but professional, educational and nonthreatening, creating an enjoyable experience rather than an intimidating one. Jardim’s philosophy is driven by his passion, and he has built a reputation for seeking out the new and exciting wines of the world.
Eugenio is currently visiting Argentina on an intensive educational trip nicknamed “Malbec Camp” and is sharing with us a few of his notes (and pictures) from the road! Last time we heard about his time in Buenos Aires, and this week brings his tales of time in Mendoza.
Malbec Camp: Days Two and Three!
Our second day brought one of the most unexpected events in these parts: rain. With an average of only eight inches of rain per year, the Mendoza region has a desert-like environment. Mendoza is located at 33 degrees south latitude on the western frontier of Argentina, and it is best described as a high-altitude desert oasis. All the moisture brought inland from the Pacific Ocean is obstructed by the massive Cordillera de los Andes, which at this latitude has some of the highest peaks on Earth.
So how in the world is it possible that Mendoza became such a fertile region and home to the world’s best Malbec grapes when it is basically just a glorified desert? It all happened thanks to an ancient and complex system of dams, channels, and ditches designed to harvest the melted snow, which formed the many rivers flowing down year-round from the Andes.
We were lodging at the gorgeous La Vendimia property, the Catena family country home, which reminded me of the beautiful 19th-century architecture style of Mexican haciendas, complete with horse-training areas and furry llamas grazing about. The property is located in the Rivadavia district, the place of some of the first Italian settlements in the region. These dry flatlands provided most of the juice to Argentine wines before high-altitude vineyards were planted.
As guests of the Catena family, we were treated to some wonderful and unforgettable traditional treats. A group of singers and dancers performed gaucho folk songs and dances. Jose, a local butcher, dissected, before our own eyes and in just a few minutes, a leg of a cow weighing more than 150 pounds with the precision of a plastic surgeon. We even got to taste the meat raw, which melted in our mouths, reminding us of the texture of maguro nigiri at a sushi restaurant. Chef Martín then proceeded to grill our choices of cuts alongside a selection of vegetables for a lavish Argentine-style dinner.
Their cooking techniques are so clean and simple; all the flavors of these local ingredients are highlighted in way that would make Alice Waters of Chez Panisse very happy. The meats were covered with a layer of coarse sea salt and nothing else. The vegetables, grilled alongside with the meats, were brushed with the local peppery olive oil and lightly sprinkled with salt. I noticed something really curious on the grill: the chef had sliced red and green bell peppers and cracked an egg in their hollowed halves. The eggs cooked slowly as the peppers were softening from the heat of the charcoals below. With just a dash of sea salt this proved to be a fabulous side dish that I will try to replicate at home.
It wouldn’t have been a normal day here if it didn’t involve tasting a lot of wines; we went through a fair amount of Catena chardonnays and malbecs. Another perfect day south of the equator!
In the foothills of the Andes, rain in the flatlands means snow in the mountains—a lot of snow! We had something very special planned for today, which was a visit to Adrianna Vineyard, Catena’s highest-elevation vineyard, planted at 4,856 feet in the hills of Tupungato.
Getting there was quite a trek from our beautiful La Vendimia, two hours’ drive to be exact. We were slowed even more because of one of the thickest fog banks I have ever seen. Remember, I live in San Francisco, which means I know fog, but this was an absolute wall of smoke that separated us from the Andes. Once we got through the fog it was as if the heavens had magically opened up and we were looking at some of the bluest skies I’ve ever seen, juxtaposed against the majestic peaks of the Andes. We could barely contain ourselves and sounded like whiny children wanting to get out of the car. When we finally did, we were humbled by the beauty that surrounded us. Beneath our feet, enough powdery snow to make a ski bum cry. All around us was the cleanest air we have ever breathed, and in front of us, the white and gigantic Andes!
Adrianna Vineyard was planted in 1992 as an attempt to see how well vines would fare in such extreme conditions. Everyone tried to persuade Laura and her father Nicolas not to do it, but thank God they didn’t listen! I can safely say it is one of the most beautiful vineyard sites in the world! There we received a lesson on viticulture by Frederico Gusso, Adrianna’s vineyard manager. The lesson included pruning and digging holes in the frozen ground to see all the different components of the soils. We were quite surprised to find rocks that looked just like river pebbles. We then learned that once, millions of years ago, after the mountains pushed themselves out of the ocean, huge rivers ran through the region before they all dried up.
We were then taken to a rock tower, aptly named El Mirador, where we were served the best empanadas we’ve ever had, paired with the delicious wines made from the fruit of Adrianna’s Vineyard. We were served two types of empanadas: a vegetarian one filled with spinach, onions, and garlic; and a meat one filled with deliciously spiced ground beef mixed with green onions and hard-boiled eggs. The Argentines, like the Spaniards or the Italians, love to feed you, so we were never warned that lunch was still coming. We overindulged on those amazing homemade delicacies, and when we got to lunch at La Tupina we regretted it a tad because a beautiful lunch awaited us.
La Tupina is a tiny restaurant owned by chef Lucas Bustos, who did stints at Daniel and Le Bernadin in New York City. His restaurant has just reopened since it was destroyed by the ferocious Andean winds known as La Zonda.
There we were served a multiple-course lunch that culminated with another Argentine specialty, pastel de camote, a baked mixture of white sweet potato and ground beef topped with coarse sugar. It reminded me of a homemade shepherd’s pie of sorts, just better! I never imagined that beef and sugar could coexist in a dish. It paired really well with Catena’s new and stylish chardonnay from Adrianna’s Vineyard, “White Bones,” a high-end new product sure to please the most discerning palates.
To finish we enjoyed a hearty clay bowl full of lentils and chorizo paired with the Catena Alta Malbec, harvested from selected plots of Catena’s top vineyards from throughout Mendoza.
Every day here in the Argentine winelands has been a fabulous journey of discovery. I am truly enjoying their delicious wines, decadent food, and hospitable people!
Stand by for Eugenio’s final Malbec Camp installment in an upcoming issue!