Dim sum from a preview of Hakkasan’s Chinese New Year menu. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Ahhh, weekend, how good to see you at our doorstep. What’s that? You want to bring us 72-degree weather tomorrow? Okay, if you insist. (Although you are really beginning to freak us out, weather. A lot.)
Tomorrow morning, a bunch of folks will be descending on the Ferry Building Marketplace to taste and buy the winners of last night’s Good Food Awards at the special Marketplace (there’s also a beer garden at 18 Reasons); more info here and get tickets here.
The weekend o’ food just continues, because Sunday is the first day of the Fancy Food Show, where I’ll be briskly cruising the aisles all day—it’s my only day to attend, so I have my work cut out for me. I have a feeling the rest of you will be eating chicken wings and drinking beer and yelling/cheering at the TV, have fun.
Meanwhile, I’ll be on KRON4 with my tablehopper hot list on Saturday morning at 9:15am. Tune in while you have your morning coffee! And in case you’re looking for some brunch options this weekend (which is always more fun when it’s sunny), here’s my post this week on 7x7.com with six new brunch options for you.
Today I had the best intentions to run another jetsetter piece for you, but this week completely gobbled up all my time. Next week! Meanwhile, we have a shorty today, with some 707 news, a lush, and a wino piece from a new contributor to our wino lineup, Collin-Peter Casey. His series, Sommelier Says, will be featuring everyone from fellow sommeliers to wine store owners to winemakers he admires and respects. Stand by for more pieces from Collin in the future.
And with that, I have my own piece to finish writing here. Enjoy your weekend! Marcia Gagliardi
Whet your appetite. Some serious sampling will be going on January 19th-21st in San Francisco. With more than 12,000 registrants already signed up, the 2014 Winter Fancy Food Show is clearly slated for a huge turnout.
The 2013 Winter Fancy Food Show had the largest presence of both attendees and exhibits in its 38-year history. It had 18,900 buyers from top names in retailing and food service and sold out exhibition booth space with 1,300 exhibitors that offered more than 80,000 of the latest in specialty foods and beverages from the U.S. and 35 countries from around the world. You won’t want to miss it in 2014.
Register now! (Show is open to the trade only.)
Just a quick note for my fellow fans of the jerk-spiced duck hearts and bone marrow and other tasty vittles at THE ALEMBIC in the Upper Haight: it ends up the kitchen’s last day of full lunch and dinner service is this coming Sunday January 19th, since they are starting construction on the restaurant’s expansion into the space next door. To recap, The Alembic is expanding into the former Red Vic Movie House space, sharing some of the real estate with the soon-to-open Second Act Marketplace (more on that soon!).
They’ll still have a full cocktail, spirits, and beer list on offer, and will serve bar snacks (i.e., items that don’t require cooking) from chef Ted Fleury during all operating hours throughout kitchen construction. The bar will open at 4pm on weekdays and 12pm on Saturdays and Sundays, closing at 2am nightly. I’ll keep you posted on construction progress and when it looks like the restaurant will be up and running again.
The Alembic - 1725 Haight St. - 415-666-0822
If you haven’t gotten your tickets for Charlie Palmer’s annual PIGS & PINOT, time is running short. The event takes place Friday March 21st and Saturday March 22nd. A sellout each year, this year’s luxe event features chef Palmer and Dry Creek Kitchen’s Dustin Valette, Amanda Freitag (New York’s Empire Diner, multiple TV chef competitions), Bryan Voltaggio (Washington DC’s Volt, and Frederick, Maryland’s Range), Frank Crispo (New York’s Crispo), and Philippe Rispoli (of PB Boulangerie and Bistro on Cape Cod). Featured winemakers include CIRQ, Domaine Pierre Gelin, Roth, Rochioli, and Pyramid Valley Vineyards.
Events include: - Taste of Pigs & Pinot, Friday March 21st, 6:30pm-9pm, $175 - Tournament of the Pig, Saturday March 22nd, 10:30am-12:30pm, $125 - Ultimate Pinot Smackdown, Saturday March 22nd, 1pm-3pm, $125
Of course, this isn’t just a ridiculous eat and drink fest; it’s a fundraiser for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign, scholarships to the CIA and Sonoma State’s Wine Program, The Healdsburg Education Foundation, Children of Sonoma Vineyard Workers Scholarships, and a whole lot more (including sending a local cheerleading team to the national championships…aww).
DK Wings Shutter: There was buzz earlier this week that former Cyrus chef Douglas Keane’s DK WINGS at the Graton Resort & Casino had been boarded up. Keane confirmed to BiteClub that he had in fact closed the chicken wing concept in the casino’s marketplace just three months after opening. He’s not saying much about the details, but Yelpers were pretty vicious about the eatery, despite mostly positive reviews from foodies. Both Keane and partner Nick Peyton (who still have the successful HBG Bar in Healdsburg) were working the lines and hawking wings almost daily, leading BiteClub to wonder if the strain of churn-and-burn at such a high-traffic spot was ultimately too much.
So long, Cappy: Rockstar barman Daniel “Cappy” Sorentino has left Healdsburg’s SPOONBAR for LA. The popular mixmaster followed in the footsteps of the groundbreaking Cyrus mixologist, Scott Beattie, serving up handcrafted cocktails with true artisan flair. Replacing Cappy is Tara Heffernon, who’s been part of the Spoonbar cocktail program since the start. She plans to continue the farm-to-bar concept using an assortment of herbs, fruits, vegetables, and flowers from her home garden. 219 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg.
Congrats to Wine Country’s GOOD FOOD AWARD WINNERS. During last night’s ceremony in San Francisco, which honored 130 of the country’s best food and drink producers from 32 states, a number of locals got nods for their hard work. Culinary luminaries Alice Waters, Ruth Reichl, and Nell Newman honored the 2014 winners onstage. The Wine Country contingent included:
- Bear Republic Brewing Company, Café Racer 15
- Bellwether Farms, Whole Milk Ricotta & Carmody
- Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, Toma
- Flying Goat Coffee, Ethiopia Wote Konga
- Wine Forest, Pickled Sea Beans
Collin-Peter Casey has worked in the wine business for 16 years. The last 10 years, he has worked as a sommelier. He has worked for many of the Bay Area’s best restaurants and currently resides at Namu Gaji in the Mission. Full disclosure: Collin helps sell the Valley View import/wholesale book, part time. In any instance that the subjects of this column are clients of Collin’s, he will specify it.
This column is CPC’s opportunity to say nice things about winemakers, sommeliers, wine directors, and importers who get the admiration of the (jaded) professional wine community.
Who: Jonathan Waters
What he does: Wine Director of Chez Panisse, where he has worked since 1984.
Where he learned his craft: Waters, who is no relation to Alice Waters, spent his youth as most of us hospitality pros do: working in various restaurants and bars. Eventually, he earned a spot serving (in full tuxedo) at the prestigious Savoy Hotel, in London, which he characterizes as having “Silver/Russian service, deboning full fish at the table, layers of underplates, solid silver spoons, and soup made from powder.” He eventually found his way to Chez Panisse, and the rest is history.
Why I like him: Being the wine director of what is arguably the most famous restaurant in the country could be a remarkably easy job. With a constant string of out-of-town diners and everlasting demand for tables, Waters could quite easily “phone in” a list of the most user-friendly, well-known bottles on the market, and still regularly win accolades for it. Instead, he combs the wine world for new and exciting bottles that suit his menu.
While offering numerous wines for the less initiated, his wine list also has scads of the sort of bottles that challenge and excite the adventurous diner and please the professional palate. And even at the more conventional end of his list, the wines still belong there. He’s not simply buying plonk for those who want big, juicy, low-acid zinfandel, for example. He’s buying real wines. The highest praise that I could offer any list is that there is balance, and this is one of the most perfectly balanced lists in the country. I would actually say it’s my favorite wine list, largely on account of this. Of course, it also helps that the list exists at my favorite restaurant. For my dollar, the Café at Chez Panisse is the most soulful, easy, and satisfying restaurant in the country at which to waste an afternoon.
Also, it should be mentioned that Waters is one of the best sommeliers in the country. If you are at Chez when he’s there, he will find you right bottle, send you off with all the information that you wish to know, and more or less charm the pants off you, if you choose to engage him. Not all wine directors are good sommeliers. Waters is.
What to order: Even though I’ve been at this awhile, I always talk to the sommeliers in restaurants. They know the food, they know their inventory, and often have off-menu suggestions. It is a good way to occasionally learn about new wines, and moreover, it’s a good gauge of the house. A bad sommelier means that other corners are almost certainly being cut elsewhere. So my first recommendation is that you ask Waters for a suggestion. He has not once steered me wrong.
If he is not around, however, look for gems like the impossible-to-find Clos Roche Blanche rosé of pineau d’aunis ($42), Arnot-Roberts Watson Ranch chardonnay ($64), Dashe Heart Arrow Ranch zinfandel ($44), Pierre Gonon chasselas ($62), and Domaine Rollin’s Pernand-Vergelesses rouge ($68). Or you could close your eyes and point to something—you’re more or less bound to hit something good.