Hittin’ the Ha-Ra, sometime circa the mid-’90s. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
So, have you already peeled out for the long holiday weekend? Good for you. On most three-day weekends, we don’t really enjoy them so much over here because we’re working in preparation for our Tuesday deadline and post time. But this weekend, we’re doing things differently: we’re taking Monday off (that’s right, uh-huh!), and we’ll be showing up in your inboxes on Wednesday instead. Just FYI on the do-si-do.
Another reason I’m keen to take Monday off is I am going to be celebrating my 20th anniversary of living in San Francisco, holy cow. I’m going to be meeting up with some friends in various spots throughout the evening for some cheersing. It’s fun to brainstorm where to go: I’m thinking of the places I used to practically live in back in the ’90s, like Club Deluxe, the Orbit Room, the 500 Club, Tosca, Maxfield’s, and Dalva. Good times. I might need to hit up a place where I used to throw a happy hour (Knees Up) with some friends (Vertigo, I’m coming for ya!). Alas, Ginger’s Trois, the Red Room, the Redwood Room (the original!), Bruno’s (again, the original), the 7-11 Club, the Detour (so fun), the Cypress Club, and C. Bobby’s Owl Tree are long gone. My liver says hi, thanks for the memories.
Last night, I was enjoying a nightcap at ABV with some friends, and we ended up having a total trip down (fuzzy) memory lane—all of us were old-timers—cackling over clubbing shenanigans at places like the Top, 550 Barneveld, 177 Townsend, DV8 (Dr. Winkie!), and 26 Mix. The Caribbean Zone, what a trip. The Stud will always have my heart, while the EndUp, well, it has a good portion of my shame, ha-ha! Anyway. 20 years, man. San Francisco, I do love your golden handcuffs.
Since we’re all thinking about drinking now, here are a couple of clips for you: first, I wrote this piece for 7x7.com this week on four restaurants that give low-proof cocktails the high-end treatment, and I covered a bunch of pop-up restaurants to check out in my Tablehopping column for the Bay Guardian.
Today’s just a shorty column, the place I was going to review took a left at Albuquerque, and someone has a lot of work to do before heading out of town on Sunday. Have a great weekend, and if you drink anything this weekend, #drinknapa.
XOXO! Marcia Gagliardi
Fellow fans of RAMEN SHOP in Rockridge will be thrilled to know business partners (and evil culinary masterminds) Jerry Jaksich, Rayneil De Guzman, and Sam White have secured the luggage shop space next door (Rockridge Luggage & Leather Goods at 5816 College Avenue), and will be expanding their footprint. But it’s not going to be a case of knocking down the wall in between the businesses and making it a big restaurant; partner Sam White says they want to keep the intimate feeling of Ramen Shop.
The new space will become an intimate cocktail bar—no food will be served, except maybe a couple of bar snacks—and will double as a waiting area. The current front bar area will become a place for diners to eat, adding 15 precious seats. White says it should help with lessening the overall wait times.
Another big component to all this is they’ll be moving their office over, adding another kitchen, and therefore gaining more storage space for their ingredients (and broth!), which means they’ll be able to move to being open seven days a week (Ramen Shop is currently closed on Tuesdays). Since the gents will be gaining storage space for the kitchen, they expect to be able to expand to being open nightly in November or December, and lunch on the weekends is also being looked at. They get the keys October 1st, and expect the entire addition will be done in late winter or early spring of 2015. For now, they’re gearing up for another trip to Japan in October, so expect them to come back with even more inspiration and ideas.
Ramen Shop - 5812 College Ave, Oakland - 510-788-6370
First off, we’ve got to state the obvious: there was a whole lotta shaking going on last Sunday. But Napa wants everyone to know it’s still very much open for business. Despite some damage and a few red- and yellow-tagged restaurants in downtown Napa, nearly everyone has reopened.
The good news is that many newer restaurants are in historic brick buildings that have already been retrofitted and thus survived the earthquake with relatively little damage. The vast majority of wineries are also open, despite some of the scary images of wine barrels that toppled like Lincoln Logs.
Sonoma County escaped relatively unscathed other than a broken dish or two, so its restaurants are also open for business.
Show your love and support for Wine Country and head on up north to eat and drink! There are plenty of harvest happenings that are swinging into full gear this weekend!
WINE COUNTRY WEEKEND is the top dog of wine events in Sonoma County and one of the most fun. More than 200 top-notch wineries and restaurants bring out their “A” game for the weekend. It is a see-and-be-seen hoopla that no one wants to miss.
The three-day event starts with winemaker dinners and barbecues throughout the county and a gala dinner at Francis Ford Coppola Winery tonight from 6:30-10pm. Locals know that the poolside stage and million-dollar vineyard views make this Geyserville destination worth the drive. The kickoff to the weekend of indulgence features chef John Toulze of the GIRL & THE FIG in the kitchen and more than 25 wineries pouring.
Saturday’s Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch is gastro overload with 65 restaurants sampling gourmet bites and more than 150 wineries pouring Sonoma’s best wines. Let’s just say you’ll have to work very, very hard to get to even half of the goodies on hand. Other Saturday events include wine and food pairings with Kendall-Jackson, wine tours with the “Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Sommelier Stars,” a self-guided tour of the MacMurray Estate, a Steel Chef competition, and plenty of bubbly in the Bubble Lounge.
So ramen is finally becoming a “thing” in Wine Country, and I almost don’t want to tell anyone about the ramen pop-up RAMEN GAIJIN, happening on selected Mondays at Woodfour Brewing. Almost. But word of mouth is traveling fast and seats are selling out even faster.
In July, chefs Moishe Hahn-Schuman and Matthew Williams quietly started a every-other-week slurp-and-burp shindig featuring incredible bowls of ramen with homemade rye noodles, pork belly, bonito flakes, mushrooms, and pickled veggies.
This week, I got access to the kitchen, where the chefs were prepping for that evening’s dinner—it’s a whirlwind leading up to the first seating at 5:30pm. We absolutely loved the donburi ($11), with a chicken thigh with a six-minute egg, burnt kale, and salmon roe; heirloom tomato salad with creamy tofu and shiso ($9); and both the miso and shoyu ramens ($13 each).
I won’t claim to be a ramen expert, but nearby slurpers seemed totally sold. The shoyu ramen is a heartier and meatier broth that’s topped with a host of ingredients like toasted rye noodles, pork belly, leeks, wood ear mushrooms, and wakame. The vegetarian miso ramen has a lighter, brighter, tangier flavor. Leave room for dessert, though. We swooned over a blackberry sorbet with yuzu curd, coconut and sesame granola, and blackberries. The Woodfour Ramen Gaijin dinners run from 5:30pm-10pm. Come early, because seating is first come, first served, with the waiting list opening at 4:30pm. The next pop-up is Monday September 8th at Woodfour Brewing (6780 Depot St. at the Barlow, Sebastopol, 707-823-3144), with others planned for Sebastopol’s Forchetta and SHED in Healdsburg. Lots of pix online that’ll have you salivating.
Get ready for a super-spirited dinner Thursday September 4th at ZAZU with Sonoma County craft distillery SPIRIT WORKS and Ziggy the Wine Gal. Spirit Works’ founders Timo and Ashby Marshall start the evening with a guided tour and tasting at their brand-new distillery (at Sebastopol’s Barlow), which is followed by a three-course meal at Zazu. Expect plenty of delightful and seasonal surprises on the menu. $89 per person; not including tax and gratuity. Call 707-523-4814 to secure your spot at the table.
Get up close and personal with the harvest at GARY FARRELL WINERY as they launch the Harvest Tour, Tasting, and Lunch high above the Russian River Valley. Guests get a behind-the-scenes winery tour and a chance to view all the crushpad action before a seated wine tasting and catered lunch on the winery’s woodland terrace. Six of Gary Farrell Winery’s acclaimed single-vineyard wines are featured, and guests can choose from a menu that includes artisan sandwiches and salads or a selection of local foods in a shared picnic basket. The cost is $75 per person and it’s offered at 12:30pm daily by reservation only. Details online or by calling 707-473-2909. 10701 Westside Road, Healdsburg.