This week's tablehopper: sorry not sorry.
The cheese platter of my dreams at Les Clos (and yes, there was Époisses on there). Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Oh, hello Friday, so good to see you. This week has been giving my liver a workout; sorry (not sorry), liver! It has also been all about impromptu gatherings, which I love. Tuesday night I went to Doc’s Lab to listen to Duggan McDonnell and Jordan Mackay talk about McDonnell’s new book, Drinking the Devil’s Acre, followed by a late-night dinner at Trestle across the street with friends I didn’t know I was going to see that night, let alone dine with, yay.
Wednesday’s evening hangout at Les Clos turned into a fun gathering. I loved how people just kept arriving at our table—it felt like a night in Europe at my old neighborhood bar. And let me tell you, the new duck confit with hibiscus gastrique and duck fat potatoes is the business. (I also appreciated how the staff sent me home with some much-needed espresso for the morning, too cute. XOXO!)
Last night was the tablehopper supper at 1601 Bar & Kitchen, which you can read all about in today’s issue (you’re going to want to dine there soon, trust), and this evening I’m getting ready to head to the Presidio for the sold-out Perfect Portuguese Pairings in the Presidio event. And then there’s CUESA’s Sunday Supper coming up (also sold out). And lots and lots of exercise the next few days—and some dancing too.
In case you’re looking for some pizza this weekend, there are two new places opening: Caputo is now open for dinner on the Embarcadero, and Delarosa in Yerba Buena. We’ll have details in Tuesday’s tablehopper!
Ciao ciao! Marcia Gagliardi
Gossip & News (the word on the street)
One for the Books: a tablehopper Sri Lankan Feast at 1601 Bar & Kitchen
Last night was the latest tablehopper supper, a Sri Lankan feast at 1601 BAR & KITCHEN. I have been a fan of this underrated and soulful restaurant since it first opened, but was so captivated by chef Brian Fernando’s newly launched tasting menu a couple of months ago that I was inspired to host a tablehopper dinner, featuring some of my favorite dishes (you can and should experience the full tasting menu, for $85).
Maisons Marques & Domaines provided our wines for the evening, and we kicked off the reception with two sparkling wines from Scharffenberger Cellars, their Non Vintage Brut Excellence and Brut Rosé Excellence from Mendocino County (which I am going to be moving into heavy rotation for upcoming holiday parties). The kitchen sent out their village salad consommé (an elixir if there ever was one), their silky Hokkaido scallop ceviche (the coconut and lime pickle in this make it a phenomenal bite), mulligatawny soup, soft-shell crab, and what they call the fish cutlet, similar to a small fried ball of brandade. Quite the opening salvo!
We then made our way into the private dining room for our family-style feast. Of course we had to have the egg hopper (with Jidori egg and the flavorful sambols), plus chef Fernando’s trademark kale salad (the black garlic-citrus vinaigrette, toasted coconut, and Parmesan make it an umami blast), and his house-smoked salmon with turmeric gel is the best it has ever been. The Domaines Schlumberger 2013 pinot blanc, Les Princes Abbés (Alsace) was an agile pairing for the three courses—I especially liked the faintest hint of smoke, which tied in with the black garlic, the darker edges of the hopper, and the burnt onion with the salmon.
The next wave of dishes included my current obsession: the open-faced cold chicken curry sandwich on Pinkie’s baguette, plus the local halal goat stew with beets, chèvre mousse, and red basmati, and a dish I hadn’t had before, their fried Yukon gold potatoes with chile-fenugreek vinegar (we were all scooping them up with gusto). The kitchen spoiled us further and sent out the lamb and pork meatballs with Sri Lankan cinnamon, cilantro-almond relish, and Straus yogurt. It was quite an abundant table.
We left the wine pairing up to the diner’s preference: Carpe Diem 2012 pinot noir, Anderson Valley, or the 2012 cabernet sauvignon, Napa Valley. I opted for the pinot, which had enough earthiness and dark cherry to pair well with the goat stew, and the acidity helped keep this course from ever feeling heavy.
The finale was the bittersweet Valrhona chocolate custard with toasted curry and coconut lace cookie, paired with Ramos Pinto Cellars Non Vintage Quinta de Ervamoira 10-Year Tawny Porto—I was so pleased we could introduce the room to this historic house, founded in 1880, which has four estates (quintas) in the Douro. We had a lively Q&A with chef Fernando, who came out to tell us more about his background, technique, and intricate dishes.
On a personal note, I was so touched with the warmth and kindness of this particular group, what a special gathering. Thank you to everyone who attended, and especially to chef Brian Fernando and GM Yuliya Thompson and the entire 1601 team! Big round of applause and gratitude to Maisons Marques & Domaines, whose portfolio made this event extra-memorable and elegant. Thanks everyone! See you at 1601 again soon.
(Here’s a little Facebook photo album with pics I took throughout the evening—it was difficult to host while getting pictures of everything we ate and drank, but here are some highlights!)
1601 Bar & Kitchen - 1601 Howard St. San Francisco - 415-552-1601
This Round Is On Me... (hey, thanks!)
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Follow Carta’s farm-to-cup journey on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Cheers to good coffee!
Wine Country Buzz (it’s what happens there)
KJ Garden Dinner, Beautiful Occidental Brunch, Farmers' Market Report
By 707 correspondent Heather Irwin. Sign up for the BiteClub Newsletter.
Farm-to-Table Dinner: I’m always a sucker for a dinners in a vineyard—the kind of stuff people from Milwaukee think is a daily thing for us Wine Country people. And while it happens often enough, there are only a handful of these dinners that really surpass my expectations. Kendall-Jackson’s Farm-to-Table Dinner is a so-worth-it affair, on Saturday October 24th from 4:30pm to 7:30pm. From the view of farmer Tucker Tyler’s incredible gardens (literally at your feet) to the sun setting in the vineyards to a tablescape worthy of Martha Stewart and chef Justin Wangler’s squeal-worthy dishes. Did we mention there’s wine? Yup, lots of that too. General admission is $125; details online.
HAZEL in Occidental, which has been hitting it out of the park for dinner, has started lunch and brunch service. On the menu: pumpkin cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting, grilled sourdough from their wood-fired ovens with homemade jam, savory bread pudding with Pugs Leap chèvre, beef cheek hash, and a lamb merguez wrap sound luxe, along with pizzas and salads for lunch. You’ll likely need to work off all the decadence with a round-trip bicycle ride out to Occidental, or you know, not. Either way, grab a seat in the sunny dining room or on the small porch. Sat-Sun brunch 10am-2pm, Wed-Fri lunch 11:30am-3pm. 3782 Bohemian Hwy., Occidental, 707-874-6003.
The much loved Petaluma Italian restaurant CUCINA PARADISO is expanding north to Santa Rosa. Owner Dennis Hernandez took over Roberto’s Trattoria Lupo on Sonoma Highway this summer, with plans to reopen in early November. The menu will be similar to the Petaluma restaurant, which has been a longtime Michelin Bib Gourmand selection. Chef Angelo Cucco will take over the kitchen, an SF chef and pal of Dennis.
Farmers’ Market Report: I always love finding a dish I’ve never heard of before. This week, it was shakshuka, a Northern Africa one-dish meal that wakes up your taste buds with a one-two punch of cayenne-spiked tomato-red pepper sauce and gently coddled eggs, laffa, and yogurt. Onions, cloves, garlic, and other spices tag team in each splendid bite. You’ll find this little gem of a breakfast, along with bialys, egg creams, hummus, and even a vegan pastrami at GOODMAN’S JEWISH DELI at the WEST END FARMERS MARKET. Here’s the thing, though: They make a limited amount of food each week, so come early and be prepared to grab a Vietnamese coffee from PhinBar, a cuppa at Retrograde Coffee Roasters (hand-roasted drip coffee, more on them soon), or a loaf at Revolution Breads. Save room for my incredible Sonoma County Fair find, Nuevo Sazon, who’ve also joined the market, serving their torta ahogada, a roll dipped in tomato sauce, then stacked up with carnitas, onions, and refried beans.
Restaurateur Lowell Sheldon of Sebastopol’s PETER LOWELL’S will open HANDLINE FISH AND FOOD, a “California coastal-inspired restaurant” next May with partner Natalie Goble. There has been plenty of speculation about what’s going on at the former Foster’s Freeze on Gravenstein Highway. Sheldon plans to offer a chef-driven menu that isn’t about clam chowder and fish and chips; he says it will be inspired by Californian flavors.
“We are many things in California, but essentially we are a blend of Mexican and American. This is our history, and this is what we grew up eating,” said Sheldon. Inspirations for the restaurant, he said, include the Marshall Store, Fish, Gott’s Roadside, Swan Oyster Depot, the old Foster’s Freeze, and El Molino Central. The menu is still in development, but think ceviche, fish tacos, burgers, seafood stews, and salads.
HERITAGE PUBLIC HOUSE, a brewpub in Santa Rosa, has shuttered, effective immediately. According to proprietor Dino D’Argenzio, turning over the kitchen and management to restaurateur Josh Silvers in April 2015 “didn’t fit” and the parties have ended the relationship on a “friendly note.” Several months ago, BiteClub tasted through the menu, which was impressive, but it was recently cut back significantly. “It’s disappointing it didn’t work out,” said Silvers. “The team was really jelling. I’m hopeful in this time of employee deficits they will get snapped up fast,” he added. Silvers is the owner of Jackson’s Bar and Oven and does frequent restaurant consulting.
The on-site BLOODLINE BREWING CO. was a significant part of their tap program and will continue brewing offsite, focusing on increased distribution throughout the Bay Area. Bloodline is co-owned by several members of the D’Argenzio family. 1901 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa.