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Dec 5, 2013 9 min read

December 6, 2013 - This week's newsletter: hot toddy.

December  6, 2013 - This week's newsletter: hot toddy.
Table of Contents

This week's tablehopper: hot toddy.                    

The justifiably famed fried chicken at Miss Ollie’s (with seriously incendiary hot sauce on the side). Photo: ©

How are my fellow chilly San Franciscans? Based on all the complaining I am seeing on Twitter, I would say not so great. Well, I say it’s perfect holiday cocktail drinking weather. Hop on over here for my latest Mosey, where I outline a fun holiday spirits tour in the Mission that will help you get your heat on. And yes, it’s tablehopper road tested.

We all know what happens after too many Tom & Jerrys and eggnog: hangovers. Which is why my post for about four brunches you can check out this month should come in handy. Have fun out there. (I certainly had my share of fun last night at the annual Arlequin Champagne tasting—I was in bubbly heaven. The 2002 Pol Roger tasted too damn delicious. And I wish more restaurants listed the Pierre Moncuit rosé—what a perfect food-friendly wine, good for the duration of an entire meal.)

There is so much happening in the East Bay that it inspired a special 510 edition of my weekly Tablehopping column for the San Francisco Bay Guardianclick over for your cheat sheet of what’s new.

And lastly, this weekend I’ll be back on KRON4 with my tablehopper hot list, although this time I’ll be on Sunday at 9:45am. Thanks for watching!

Enjoy the weekend. Marcia Gagliardi

the sponsor

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707 scout

Wine Country Buzz (it’s what happens there)

First Look at Torc, Madrona's Dickens Dinners, Duck Commander Wines


Torc restaurant in Napa recently opened in the former Ubuntu location. Photo courtesy of Heather Irwin.


Gnocchi from Torc. Photo courtesy of Heather Irwin.


Hamachi crudo at Torc in Napa. Photo courtesy of Heather Irwin.


Dickens Dinners at Madrona Manor in Healdsburg feature strolling carolers. Photo courtesy of Madrona Manor.


Appetizer sashimi at Twisted 2 in Petaluma. Photo courtesy of Twisted 2.

By 707 correspondent Heather Irwin. Sign up for the BiteClub Newsletter.

A first look at Torc: Get a sneak peek at Napa’s newest restaurant entrant, TORC. The menu looks spectacular and chef Sean O’Toole is again in his element, with free rein over the kitchen. Pictures of his hamachi crudo with kumquats, pillowy gnocchi, and one of the best desserts we’ve had in years from pastry chef Elizabeth Gentry—a confit of quince, honey shortbread, and lemon verbena ice cream—are worth a thousand nibbles. See photos online. 1140 Main St., Napa, 707-252-3292. Open 5pm-9:30pm daily.

Michelin-starred MADRONA MANOR will once again hold its beloved annual Dickens Dinners December 8th through Christmas Day. In addition to a five-course feast from chef Jesse Mallgren, strolling carolers in 19th-century garb serenade diners throughout the evening. The menu includes smoked egg sabayon with estate watercress, and prosciutto syrup and potato; beef Wellington with mashed potatoes and red wine reduction; and osetra caviar, black winter truffles, and Alba white truffles. Prices range from $90 to $170 per person (for the Christmas night dinner). Reservations are required and can be made by calling 707-433-4231. More details online. Want to extend your holiday fun? Book a room at Madrona Manor on the night of your dinner reservation and receive 25 percent off the room rate for that night.

From December 6th through February 9th, Calistoga hosts its fifth annual WINTER IN THE WINERIES PASSPORT program, a unique wine tasting guide offering visitors a relaxed way to tour, taste, and meet winemakers at 14 noteworthy wineries, as well as experience the warm and genuine vibe of the charming northern Napa Valley town. For $75, Calistoga’s Winter in the Wineries Passport program allows passport holders access to up to 14 wine tastings at any time during the two-month period—a wine tasting value of more than $250. Additionally, passport holders will receive discounts at several of Calistoga’s finest restaurants, lodgings, and downtown shops. More information online or call 707-942-6333.

Also in Calistoga, early reports are in on 1226 WASHINGTON, a gastropub that opened in the former Wappo Wine Bar last week. And so far they’re pretty positive. The restaurant serves brunch and high tea on Saturday and Sunday, and lunch and dinner Wednesday through Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesday). There’s also a lighter bar menu in the tavern. Check out some of the early menus online. 1226 Washington St., Calistoga, 707-799-5889.

In Petaluma, readers tipped me off that the former owners of Twisted Vines in Petaluma have opened TWISTED 2, an intimate prix-fixe dining experience (and happy hour) Thursday through Sundays. Owners Dick and Julie Warner each play to their own strengths, with Dick (a local wine merchant) focused on the well-curated wine selections and Julie (most recently of Glen Ellen’s Olive & Vine) in the kitchen. There’s a strong focus on line-caught Hawaiian fish along with lots of produce from their own gardens and local producers. A sample four-course menu includes ahi sashimi, escarole Caesar, grilled fish with parsnip potatoes, lamb chops, Meyer lemon pudding, and flourless walnut cake. Dinner prices range from around $60 without wine to $95 with wine. Just want a nibble and a sip? Check out the Happy Hour and a Half from 5pm-6:30pm with wines by the glass, small plates, soup, and salads. Reservations recommended, 707-789-9914, 29F Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma.

the bookworm

Book Reviews (another place for your nose)

Pete Mulvihill on Great Books for Gifting

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.

If you know someone who loves food, or cooking, or reading, it’s a great time of year. From straight recipe books to food porn, there are plenty of new gems from which to choose the perfect gift. To get you started, here are six great new releases, all by folks with local credentials (with one worthy SoCal exception).

If you buy any of them, I urge you to shop locally.  Whether it’s my shop, the lovely Omnivore Books, or other indie booksellers, keep your money in the local economy (we spend it all on books and food!).

One Good Dish

One Good Dish                        David Tanis

The purest recipe-driven book in the list is One Good Dish by Chez Panisse alum David Tanis (Artisan, $25.95). What I like about this handsome book is its straightforward nature—it’s just a collection of great dishes. No three-course menus, no sous vide, no torches. Think comfort food with a California slant: Mexican Corn and Squash Blossom Soup, Seaweed Salad with Sesame Dressing, or fragrant Sea Scallop Cakes. Most recipes are very easily accomplished by basic home cooks, and one good dish can really be enough for a meal or take an otherwise ordinary meal up a notch.

New California Wine: A Guide to the Producers and Wines Behind a Revolution in Taste

New California Wine: A Guide to the Producers and Wines Behind a Revolution in Taste                        Jon Bonné

The most straightforward of the bunch is New California Wine by San Francisco Chronicle wine editor Jon Bonné (Ten Speed Press, $35). This book is a three-part tour of California’s producers and wines. First up are thoughtful essays on “Searching for the new California.” Think farming techniques, the challenge of making decent table wines, and a brief history of recent wine movements. Part Two is a road trip of terroir, a very character-driven journey among various producers. And Part Three is a guide, of sorts, to what Bonné’s driving at all along, defining “new” California wine. It’s a lush and reader-friendly book.

Cowgirl Creamery Cooks

Cowgirl Creamery Cooks                        Sue Conley, Peggy Smith

Next up is Cowgirl Creamery Cooks by Sue Conley and Peggy Smith (Chronicle Books, $35). This is the obvious gift for the cheese lover in your life, with plenty of history, information on cheese, and a great smattering of recipes to doll up cheese, use milk in drinks, create cheese-driven main courses and desserts, and more. Did I mention cheese?

The A.O.C. Cookbook

The A.O.C. Cookbook                        Suzanne Goin

Moving toward more professional cooking but still in the wheelhouse for home cooks is Suzanne Goin’s second book (finally!): The A.O.C Cookbook (Knopf, $35). Ms. Goin got her start with Lucques in LA; she then opened A.O.C to build on the eat-at-the-bar culture she observed at Lucques, and the food herein reflects that small plate (not tapas) sensibility. The recipes are arranged by course (salad, fish, meat, veggies) and season.  Recipes are generally doable at home, like Dandelion and Roasted Carrot Salad with Black Olives and Ricotta Salata; Crème Fraîche Cake with Santa Rosa Plums and Pistachios in Olive Oil; and Pink Snapper with Coconut Rice, Peanuts, and Kumquat Sambal. And there’s more to the book than recipes—Goin explains her culinary decisions and explores ingredients while her partner Caroline Styne provides wine notes. Of all the books this winter, this one packs the biggest “yum” factor, for my palate, at least.

Manresa: An Edible Reflection

Manresa: An Edible Reflection                        David Kinch

Now on to the heavy hitters, the books aimed at the pros and the coffee table cookbook set. First up is Manresa: An Edible Reflection by David Kinch (Ten Speed Press, $50). Do you have three or four days to finish your own salt from seawater taken from the Pacific? Have access to fresh abalone and the patience to create milk skins to wrap over pig’s feet? Think you can handle an etrog citron confiture? Then this is the gift for you. To be fair, though, this book has a lot going for it. Some recipes are doable: my first attempt at the epic egg was pretty darn tasty. Kinch’s philosophy, clearly laid out herein, has earned him two Michelin stars for a reason. And perhaps the book can provide inspiration and guidance to aspiring professionals. As an object, it’s certainly a conversation starter—Manresa’s succulent photos make this hefty tome the opposite of an eBook.

COI: Stories and Recipes

COI: Stories and Recipes                        Daniel Patterson

Finally, local chef Daniel Patterson has offered up his own top-notch food porn/professional recipe book. It’s called, of course, Coi: Stories and Recipes (Phaidon, $49.95). This is another personal, philosophical, and gorgeous book by a Michelin-starred chef. It’s generally not much help to the casual home cook, but it’s lush, compelling, and clear. One indicator that this is not really a recipe book—each recipe is on one page with a photo facing it, but ingredients and their measurements are in the back of the book. Nonetheless, Patterson’s stories and recipe narratives should absorb any foodie for weeks. Snuggle up with a glass of tea or wine and lose yourself in Patterson’s art. And if you do try one of the recipes, drop a taste off for us at the bookstore!

Thanks for reading and shopping locally!

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