Chef William Zonfa twirling portions of Rustichella 90” RAPIDA spaghetti with cream of leeks, DOP saffron from Abruzzo, and guanciale. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Buon giorno! Man, I had quite the carb-tastic time last night—I was invited to attend a special event hosted by Manicaretti and Rustichella d’Abruzzo at the San Francisco Cooking School, always a great cooking class venue.
We got to watch a cooking demo with chef William Zonfa, the Michelin-starred chef from Magione Papale restaurant in L’Aquila, Abruzzo. (If L’Aquila rings a bell, it’s where that horrific earthquake happened in 2009, where 65,000 were left homeless after the quake.) Zonfa opened the restaurant after the quake, so it’s an important part of the city’s rebuilding and economic recovery to have this one-star destination on the map. Of course, everyone appreciated Zonfa’s handsome and good-natured self, but it was the three modern (yet rooted) Italian pasta dishes he presented last night that really made the room officially swoon.
We tried Rustichella’s relatively new 90” RAPIDA spaghetti, which cooks in 90 seconds—I know, unbelievable (hey, when you gotta have your pasta, like, now!). Zonfa coated the piping hot spaghetti with a decadent sauce made from a cream of leeks, DOP saffron from Abruzzo (which he is also an ambassador of), and crispy guanciale. We also had tonnarelli al nero di seppia con scampi e limone candito (black squid ink tonnarelli with sweet prawns and candied lemon)—a delicate prawn tartare topped each nest of tonnarelli, such an elegant dish.
And finally, his spin on a historic dish, Le Virtù, traditionally made in Teramo, Abruzzo, on May 1st, when everyone empties their pantry to makes a minestrone with all the leftover pasta, beans, and the other odds and ends in their larder. Rustichella d’Abruzzo created a special “pasta mista” (mixed pasta) in honor of this tradition, with a variety of shapes that cook at the same time. So you can buy this pasta and create this whimsical dish anytime if you don’t feel like emptying your pantry on the traditional day of May 1st (but I kind of love that idea). Zonfa’s spin featured an array of vegetables (eggplant, zucchini, fried leeks, and kale) for different textures and tastes, with a base of butternut squash for the sauce. Fantastico.
I think my favorite thing I learned was watching Zonfa spin an individual portion of pasta right from the pan in a ladle with a large fork before putting it on the plate, a rather perfect way to portion and present the pasta. So, yeah, a trio of pasta and two wines from Cantina Zaccagnini, now that’s what I call a good evening.
As for another good evening, that’s going to be at the upcoming tablehopper Sri Lankan feast at 1601 Bar & Kitchen in a couple of weeks. The food and wines will rock, read all about it in today’s issue. And don’t delay on your ticket if you’re interested, space is limited!
We also have a 707 update for you, enjoy.
If any of you are going to the Bon Appétech conference this weekend, I’ll be moderating a panel on restaurant tech innovation on Saturday, do say hi!
THIS EVENT IS SOLD OUT, THANKS EVERYONE! WE LOOK FORWARD TO HOSTING YOU!
San Francisco is full of underrated restaurants, and if you have been reading tablehopper for a while, you should know what a fan I am of 1601 BAR & KITCHEN. Chef Brian Fernando is such a talented and skilled chef, weaving ingredients and flavor profiles of his native Sri Lankan cuisine into his elegant dishes. You’ll be totally inspired by the unique and refined combinations he puts together. (Beets and goat curry! Coconut and scallop and lime pickle!) And the wine pairings assembled by his wife and business partner Yuliya really elevate the experience. A meal here has a lot of heart and feels so personal. There’s really nothing like it in the city.
1601 recently launched a new tasting menu ($85), and I was so excited by the cuisine all over again—which is why I was inspired to host a special tablehopper supper on Thursday October 15th. Join us for dinner at what I consider one of the city’s hidden gems! It’s going to be an intimate affair, just 16 of us in all. We’ll be tasting some of my favorite dishes off the new menu. And we are going to have some fantastic wine pairings, courtesy of the folks at Maisons Marques & Domaines, who are generously pulling from their wine portfolio and sponsoring the wines for this special evening.
We are going to start with a reception at 6:30pm, with passed hors d’oeuvres, and not one but two sparkling wines from Scharffenberger Cellars, their Non Vintage Brut Excellence and Brut Rosé Excellence from Mendocino County. Then we will sit at 7pm in the private dining room for the remainder of the feast. Here’s the menu as it stands, please note some dishes may be added or altered:
First Course HOKKAIDO SCALLOP CEVICHE Lime pickle, serrano MULLIGATAWNY SOUP Masoor dhal, black pepper VILLAGE SALAD CONSOMME FISH CUTLET Duck fat mayonnaise, mustard Scharffenberger Cellars Non Vintage Brut Rosé Excellence, Mendocino County Scharffenberger Cellars Non Vintage Brut Excellence, Mendocino County
Second Course HOUSE-SMOKED SALMON Burnt onion, crème fraîche, turmeric gel RAW KALE SALAD Toasted coconut meat, black garlic-citrus vinaigrette, Parmesan TRADITIONAL EGG HOPPER Jidori egg, sambols Domaines Schlumberger 2013 Pinot Blanc, Les Prince Abbés Alsace
Third Course OPEN-FACE COLD CHICKEN CURRY SANDWICH LOCAL HALAL GOAT STEW Beetroot, chèvre mousse, red basmati FRIED YUKON GOLD POTATOES Chile-fenugreek vinegar Carpe Diem 2012 Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley or Carpe Diem 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
Fourth Course BITTERSWEET VALRHONA CHOCOLATE CUSTARD Toasted curry, coconut lace cookie Ramos Pinto Cellars Non Vintage Quinta de Ervamoira 10-Year Tawny Porto
We will learn about Sri Lankan ingredients and hear the stories behind the wines we’ll be enjoying too—from the family-owned Domaines Schlumberger to the historical Quintas of Ramos Pinto to the wines from our own backyard. And we will all have fun sitting around a table together, swapping food stories and more. I look forward to it!
Tickets are available on Sosh for $85, all-inclusive. We hope to see you around the table at this very cozy and special event.
Thursday Oct 15, 2015 6:30pm reception, 7pm dinner $85, inclusive more info
1601 Bar & Kitchen - 1601 Howard St. San Francisco - 415-552-1601
We hope you all celebrated National Coffee Day on Tuesday! We sure did, and used the surge of energy to launch our Kickstarter campaign! For many of us, every day is a celebration of our coffee, and we’d be hard-pressed to get our shoes on the right feet without it. But given that the official day to fête our favorite morning beverage was just this week, we’re thinking a special celebration is in order. What better way to honor the roasted bean than by getting your hands on a new, hand-harvested, farm-to-cup American coffee made in Kona, Hawaii, by a California winemaker-turned-coffee farmer? (Hint: there IS no better way).
Carta Coffee Merchants is a new start-up farm and coffee venture dedicated to producing the finest 100 percent Kona coffee expressions. Carta Coffee just launched a Kickstarter campaign to offer coffee lovers an exclusive chance to preorder its first release of artisan roasts (and to help with planting those 2,000 new coffee trees!). Foodies take note: Carta founder Scott Burr is using his winemaking background to present some really innovative techniques to his customers that no one else is doing, including side-by-side tasting samplers showcasing two different production processes.
Already excited about bringing this taste of Hawaii home with you? Well, it gets better: Carta is offering tablehopper readers a chance to double their coffee rewards. Back Carta’s Kickstarter campaign with $25 or more and email proof of your donation to tablehopper. The first 10 supporters will automatically win extra Carta Coffee, along with a Carta Coffee Merchants mug, T-shirt, French press, or other gift item. The extra coffee alone is valued at roughly $40!
Longtime Sonoma County restaurateurs Mark and Terri Stark have finally (finally) opened their sixth restaurant, BIRD AND THE BOTTLE, in Santa Rosa. It wasn’t without some labor pains, which included everything from permitting and ABC challenges to managing the $1.5 million renovation. But the pain will be soon forgotten when the restaurant turns out to be pretty darn perfect. I’ll be writing more about the menu and the whole story behind what Mark is lovingly calling his “Jew-rean” menu in the coming weeks, but here’s the 411 on what you need to know: - The menu is a mash-up of Jewish comfort food, Southern classics, and a little Korean. That means dishes like cheesy grits with maitake mushrooms, cured egg, and spicy schmaltz ($10), kimchi latkes ($10), and matzo ball ramen ($10). Somehow it all works. - The cocktail menu is equally inspired, with hard teas; drinking vinegars paired with vodka, bourbon, and tequila; and giant cocktail shakers with drinks for the table. - Schmears are a great snack or lunch item, with chicken liver mousse, smoked black cod, and barbecued bone marrow served with pumpernickel rye ($10-$14). - The restaurant’s name refers to a saucy double entendre describing late-night pleasures of pre-World War I young men about town—“hot bird and a cold bottle.” We’ll let you guess which was the saucy dish and which was the Champagne. - A $20,000 indoor wood-fired grill is the kitchen’s centerpiece, with live-fire grilling of fish, breads, veggies, and of course, heartier meats. A commercial smoker gives duck and fish perfect flavor. Tons more photos from the opening on my blog. Open daily for lunch and dinner. 1055 Fourth St., Santa Rosa, 707-568-4000.
Team Sonoma Gets a Heavy Hitter: The former chef of Napa’s Étoile at Domaine Chandon, Perry Hoffman, has taken over the kitchens of Healdsburg’s SHED as culinary director.
The Michelin-starred chef (and culinary wunderkind) will oversee the entire culinary program at the hybrid café, marketplace, and “modern grange hall,” including breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner at the café, as well as private dining and events. And while Hoffman’s wheelhouse is white-tablecloth dining at tony spots like Étoile and Napa’s Auberge du Soleil, he’ll be loosening things up to accommodate the more casual vibe of Shed.
Part of Hoffman’s new gig will include getting his hands dirty at Shed owners Cindy Daniel and Doug Lipton’s Home Farm, a working farm that provides produce for the café.
A few fun facts about Hoffman: - His grandparents Sally and Don Schmitt were the original owners of The French Laundry in Yountville and founders of The Apple Farm in Philo. - Hoffman was the youngest chef ever to win a Michelin star, at the age of 25. - He was a co-founder of Carneros Micros, a microgreen and edible flower farm. - Hoffman replaces chef Miles Thompson, who joined Shed in January.
Shed has hosted a string of talented chefs in its kitchen since opening in 2013. 25 North St., Healdsburg, 707-431-7433.
Fish On: The fishmongers of SANTA ROSA SEAFOOD RAW BAR AND GRILL have opened a new restaurant with—and I say this with all seriousness—the best fish tacos I’ve ever had. That may have a lot to do with the fact that most of the fish comes in daily and is already incredible. Rather than being batter-dipped and fried within an inch of its life, delicate whitefish (usually cod, but it changes with the fresh catch) is adorned only with pico de gallo, cabbage, and chipotle aioli. Fish and chips are also outstanding—the kind you always wish you could get at the beach, but never do. Larger entrees like blackened ahi tuna, petrale sole piccata, and cioppino are also stunners. Just keep in mind that lines are starting to form, and the space is small.Open Wed-Sun. 946 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-579-2085.
News on the Sonoma Square: LaSalette’s Manuel Azevedo has purchased Sonoma’s Epicurean Connection, with plans to open a tapas restaurant and wine bar in the space in early 2016. Dubbed TASCA TASCA TAPAS RESTAURANT AND WINE BAR, the forthcoming eatery is the third for Azevedo, who also owns Sonoma’s LaSalette and Café Lucia in Healdsburg. Both have won numerous accolades for Azevedo’s cozinha nova portuguesa, or “new Portuguese cuisine.”
Tasca Tasca’s menu will reflect Azevedo’s focus on Portuguese cooking, small plates style. Dishes will include Portuguese mac and cheese, raw oysters with lemon fennel mignonette, house-smoked California sturgeon, Azoriana sliders with pork and São Jorge cheese, goat stew with fingerling potatoes, and pork belly with Madeira glaze. There will also be many other authentic and seasonal tapas including a variety of salads, soups, and sweets. A curated wine list focuses on Portuguese wines and an extensive Port and Madeira selection. 122 W. Napa St., Sonoma.
Sheana Davis, who opened Epicurean Connection in 2010, has no plans to hang up her apron anytime soon. The cheesemaker, caterer, and educator will be expanding her cheesemaking operations with her Delice de la Vallee and Creme de Fromage cheeses (found at swank spots like The French Laundry). She also plans to continue to cater and host a variety of classes throughout the region, as well as in NYC and New Orleans.