Spicy tantanmen ramen at Ramen Shop in Oakland. You want this. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
I haven’t been this excited to see the end of a week in awhile—Friday, so glad you showed up! Damn, you look great! I felt like this past week had a chain saw and was out to get me, but I was like, back OFF, Halloween was last week! Way too much running around, meetings, deadlines, and annoying things like my faithful G11 camera finally dying on me (baby, no!!!).
But my week isn’t quite wrapped up yet, because I’ll be back on KRON4 tomorrow (Saturday) morning with my tablehopper hot list! We’re going to be talking truffles and Thanksgiving, uh-huh! Tune in to KRON4 (that would be channel four, people) at 9:15am! And if you are a smart person and still sleeping, I love you—I’ll have a link for you next week.
Today’s issue has a wino, bookworm, and 707 scout news for you. And here are a few more goodies: a recent piece I wrote for 7x7.com on the four latest cafés to open around town, and in case you missed last week’s piece on new brunches, here ya go. Oh yeah, and here are some reminders of some tasty happenings this weekend, FYI!
Over on the Bay Guardian, did you catch last week’s column which included the amazing pollo asado at Don Pisto’s? Trust me, you want to get that chicken. This week’s Tablehopping column is all about the char siu spring rolls at Betelnut, so dang good, check it.
OK, it’s time to deal with these piles o’ paperwork on my desk (and the mountain of email in my inbox). Have a grand weekend!
The top question Giada hears from fans? “How do you stay so trim?” The star of the Food Network’s sensational Giada at Home seeks to answer that question with her new book, Giada’s Feel Good Food. She shares 120 recipes ranging from breakfast to dessert—each with a nutritional breakdown.
Laurentiis is a three-time winner of the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lifestyle Host and was inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame in 2012.
Hosted jointly by Dominican University of California and Book Passage, Laurentiis will speak about her healthy recipes and cooking secrets. $40 includes the price of admission and a signed copy of her book. To purchase tickets or find more information, please visit bookpassage.com/dominican or call 415-927-0960 ext. 1.
Event Details: Giada de Laurentiis—Giada’s Feel Good Food: My Healthy Recipes and Secrets Saturday November 16th at 7pm Dominican University of California, Angelico Hall 50 Acacia Avenue, San Rafael, CA 94901
For more information on the lecture, please visit www.dominican.edu/lectures.
Each December, luxe resort MEADOWOOD NAPA VALLEY and its Michelin-three-star chef, Christopher Kostow, put together a lineup of international chefs and winemakers that have culinary sorts clapping their hands with the kind of glee reserved for five-year-olds on Christmas morning. We call it the 12 days of Chefmas. They simply call it the 12 Days of Christmas at Meadowood Napa Valley. Pricing for the dinners isn’t for penny-pinchers, but if you can swing the $1,315 (and up) price tag, they’ll reserve you a seat at the table (plus lodging) with Pok Pok’s Andy Ricker and Mike Grgich of Grgich Hills (Dec. 6), David Chang of Momofuku with Turley Wine Cellars (Dec. 13), Matthew Accarrino of SPQR with Tuck Beckstoffer and his namesake wines (Dec. 14), David Kinch of Manresa with Notre Vin, Malbec, and Malbec Cellars (Dec. 20), or the host, Christopher Kostow with…wait for it…Harlan Estate. There are only 60 seats available per dinner, so you’ll be in exclusive company. Or, you know, you can stand outside with your nose pressed against the windowpanes, drooling, like us. Details online.
Fancy yourself a budding charcuterist? Napa’s LONG MEADOW RANCH invites meat lovers of all abilities to hone their skills on making pâté, terrines, rillettes, and ballotines—all charcuterie that can be made at home. The Sunday November 24th class is $195 per person and includes the class and a full meal. A workshop on Monday November 25th is $95 for the class only. Both classes will take place in the Logan-Ives House at Long Meadow Ranch Winery & Farmstead, located at 738 Main Street in St. Helena. For tickets and menus, go online or call 707-963-4555.
Like the rare and intensively trained Master Sommeliers of Wine, there are only a handful of Kikisake-Shi (or Master Sommelier for sake) in the world, and Sonoma County happens to have one of the best. Stuart Morris of HANA JAPANESE in Rohnert Park will be presenting a premier selection of his favorite sakes at the Mandarin Oriental in San Francisco on Thursday November 14th with executive chef Adam Mali (also from Sonoma). The dinner will include a discussion on the history of sake, nuances of styles and breweries, and a five-course dinner. $85 per person, 6:30pm, 222 Sansome Street, San Francisco. Details online or by calling 415-276-9724.
Gastronomist Pop-Up: Chef Joe Rueter, who’s been a BiteClub favorite since his long-ago days as the Green Grocer in Windsor, is launching a temporary restaurant-within-a-restaurant Thursdays through Saturdays at FORCHETTA BASTONI in Sebastopol. You may know him from local farmers’ markets, where he serves up mind-blowing seasonal dishes using ingredients from his farm on little more than a couple of griddles, like the best-ever BLT, steamed pork buns, and duck tacos. Lunch and dinner will be served from 10am-10pm, with a variety of dishes such as fish tacos, applewood-grilled quail, lamb burgers, their famous BLT, and several vegan options. Wine and beer will also be offered. 6948 Sebastopol Ave., Sebastopol. Check for more details online at BiteClubEats.com.
RED’S APPLE ROADHOUSE opens in West County Wine Country: Takeout fried chicken and doughnuts are on the opening menu for the reopened Sebastopol roadhouse along Highway 116. You’ll know you’re in the right spot by the cheerful boar’s head sign (eating an apple, of course) and the fact that it’s located right next to Mom’s Apple Pie. Co-owner Berry Salinas has come up with a bevy of creative fried goodies that start the day right: Apple cider doughnuts, the “Pudnut” (doughnut bread pudding), apple fritters, and Bella Rosa coffee to perk you up. Order up your fried chicken dinners for pick up Tuesday through Saturday from 4-6:30pm, complete with mashed potatoes and coleslaw on the side. The Roadhouse will be adding items to the menu over the next few weeks, with sit-down dining planned for December. 4550 Gravenstein Hwy. North, Sebastopol, 707-861-9338.
So you’ve probably heard all about the traffic jams and hubbub surrounding the spanking-new GRATON RESORT & CASINO opening. Seems we weren’t the only ones eager to get a nosh at the 13 restaurants that opened on November 5th (OK, that and the 5,000 slot machines). But if you’re on the fence about venturing to a, well, casino to eat, let us allay those fears. We got a two-hour, all-you-could-possibly-stuff-in-your-mouth sneak peek just before opening, and here’s the lowdown on some favorites so far.
DK Wings: Chef Doug Keane (formerly of Cyrus) doesn’t do anything halfway. He’s got an incredible set of pressure fryers for moist, crispy chicken wings and fried chicken along with homemade pickled carrots, beets, kimchi, and other Japanese-inspired fermented goodies. Most plates are well under $10.
Roadside BBQ: Follow the scent trail of the wood-fired smoker to great smoked chicken, ribs, and stuffed potatoes. Sides aren’t an afterthought, with creamy mac and cheese, and tart, flavorful coleslaw.
Slice House: One of two Tony Gemignani restaurants in the casino, this casual walk-up has true New York slices, stromboli, and calzones that put other pizzerias to shame.
Tony’s of North Beach: A mural of Gemignani’s SF restaurant (complete with a line out the door) is the focal point, proclaiming for those not in the know that this this young chef is truly a pie-master (he is the eight-time World Pizza Champion after all). Don’t ask for pepperoni here though. Gemignani’s pizzas—from a simple margherita to thin-crusted Roman pizzas—have just the right amount of crisp and gentle char to make you swear off Friday night pizza delivery forever. Plus, homemade pastas, meatballs the size of your fist, and a Kobe beef burger we’re dying to try.
What you won’t see, however, is the staff cafeteria deep within the casino, where up to 2,200 employees get free meals daily. It’s an impressive buffet with everything from burritos and French macaroons to sweet and sour chicken, a salad bar, and even morning coffee and cereal. Not a bad deal for hungry staffers. I mean, after they get their fill of wings. Stay tuned for more details on M.Y. China, 630 Park Steakhouse, Daily Grill, and all the rest.
For a taste of all things Napa, including lots of wine and food, check out the FLAVOR! NAPA VALLEY festival. From Wednesday November 20th through Sunday November 24th, catch a lineup of chefs and winemakers in classes, workshops, demonstrations, tastings, and meals. You’ll find a wide array of events, from a culinary tour of downtown Napa to an intensive Wine Lovers’ Boot Camp tasting that lasts two days at the CIA (that’d be the Culinary Institute of America). There are opportunities to meet with winemakers, check out cellars, and learn about farms with the people who run them. Don’t miss culinary demonstrations and tours from the likes of Masaharu Morimoto and Cindy Pawlcyn, either.
Arts & Eats: A Collaboration Between Mission District Restaurants and Creativity Explored Artists Compiled by Susan Kay and Teri Hauswirth
Earlier this year, I was asked to write the introduction for this awesome new book, Arts & Eats. It was conceived and assembled by Susan Kay and Teri Hauswirth, and includes recipes from some of the best of the Mission’s many restaurants, including Bar Tartine, Foreign Cinema, Trick Dog, Bi-Rite Creamery, Mission Chinese Food, and St. Vincent (more than 25 in all!). There’s also the famed hot sauce recipe from La Taqueria (arriba), the house margarita from El Rio (arriba again), and more classics, like the clams from Range! The book has a cute square format (and stands up by itself), all the better to admire the fantastic art inside from Creativity Explored artists.
Here’s the best part: all proceeds from the book will benefit Creative Rescue, an organization devoted to rescue animals, and Creativity Explored, the amazing Mission-based artists’ organization for developmentally disabled adults. If this isn’t one of the better holiday or “just because” gifts, I don’t know what is.
Alan Goldfarb was the wine editor at the St. Helena Star, where it is said that assignment must be akin to covering Catholicism in Vatican City. He was also the senior editor for AppellationAmerica.com. His work has appeared in the San Jose Mercury News, Wine Enthusiast, and Decanter. He’s the contributor of the chapter “Chewing on Chile” in the Travelers’ Tales book Adventures in Wine. He was also the technical editor for California Wine for Dummies.
He’s a restaurant wine consultant and advises wineries on public relations projects. (For his “Checking Lists” column, he will not promote his clients.) You can listen to his latest appearance on iWine Radio. Have a question or a comment? You can email Alan. He’d love to hear from you.
There’s French all around you: It’s the language everyone seems to be speaking; it’s on the menu and wine list; it’s in the food, of course—it’s the gestalt of Bouche. But when I start to proclaim to owner Guillaume Issaverdens how it reminds me of …, he cuts me off midsentence. “Not Paris!”
Of course, Bouche—a tiny bistro atop the Stockton Tunnel in the former Bar Crudo space—doesn’t resemble anything one might expect in Paris; just the way a restaurant in New Orleans is nothing like a restaurant anywhere else in the States. Bouche, which is on Bush (a cute coincidence or an apt pun?) will fill your mouth, your stomach, your heart, and your soul, if you let it.
Meaning: Pay no mind to the cramped quarters, the backless bar stools, and the funky locale. The food will sate you, the wine will thrill you, and Issaverdens’ knowledge of all things Provence are all in attempt to make his guests feel as though they’re in the south of France. Bouche, which is inexplicably off the radar, will have you headed home with a sense of well-being.
It’s at the bar, which doubles as a galley-like kitchen, where you’re most likely to take in most of those feel-good vibes. For it’s there that Issaverdens maneuvers—both staying out of the way of his cooks and pouring the wines, some of which he’s brought from home that day. The latter is not necessarily a manifestation of his savoir faire, but a pragmatic necessity since there’s not much room in the ship-like hull to store a lot of wine.
Even so, the list is amazingly abundant and chockablock with exclusively French wines (with one Cali exception); a preponderance of which I would guess most of us are unfamiliar with. Issaverdens—who claims he “knows little about wine”—is eager to share his knowledge about each of his selections.
None of the wines are listed by variety, which might add to some confusion, but you’ve got to give it up to Issaverdens because, as he says, “I want it to be all about the appellations.” So there are small-production wines from some little known but on-the-come regions such as Luberon, Jurançon, Corsica, and, of course, Provence.
There’s an aromatic white from Trigone Le Soula ($14 glass/$49 bottle), a grenache cuvee from 2009 and 2010 from another of those curious areas, Côtes Catalanes in the Languedoc-Roussillon. There’s some licorice and the wine is full-bodied enough to stand up to appetizers from chef Jerome Albaric, such as a duck confit croquette (!) and an arugula salad with a pickled poached egg (wow). Oh, you’ve got to try the bacon bread.
Another app—cured sea trout from Alaska with salmon roe cream—was perfect with a very dry 2011 Neri Rosé Luberon made from grenache noir (70 percent) and syrah. The grapes nary had a moment with the skins, rendering it nearly white, but there was plenty of cherry flavor, complexity, and body.
A 2009 Domaine Rolet Arbois Rouge ($13 glass/$45 bottle) from the Jura was sensational with the stuffed chicken with sage sausage and a pan-seared snapper with an aromatic green peppercorn sauce. The wine was light in color with loads of berries and sweet rhubarb.
Did I mention the bacon bread?
Also on the list is a Château La Lagune, a Grand Cru from Haut-Médoc (a red Bordeaux), which is the most expensive bottle, at $210, and an 1989 Couly-Dutheil la Baronnie Madeleine chinon, the oldest selection. And that lone non-French wine? There are a couple of Les Claypool’s (of the band Primus, who befriended Issaverdens) pinots—a 2010 Claypool Cellars Pachyderm Russian River Rosé ($65) and a 2010 Hurst Vineyard ($90).
If you want to get your Francophile on, head over to Bouche and fill your mouth, your head, and your soul with Guillaume Issaverdens’ wine and food.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: 2009 Domaine Rolet Arbois Rouge Tradition Jura ($13 glass/$45 bottle)
A blend of 40 percent poulsard, 30 percent trousseau, and 30 percent pinot noir. Poulsard is indigenous to the Jura, which is between Burgundy and the Swiss line. Trousseau, or bastardo as it’s sometimes known, is a red grape that has been gaining some popularity here of late. The wine itself is very light in color, with a hint of caramel, or oxidation, as is often the case with the idiosyncratic wines of Jura. It’s a kicky wine with lots of strawberry and rhubarb flavors and a bit of bitterness in the finish.
Please feel free to email Alan with your comments and your experiences with restaurant wine. He’d love to hear from you.