The justifiably famous cauliflower at Bar Bolonat, paired with the 2014 viognier and rosé from Israel’s Galil Mountain Winery. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
Happy International Women’s Day, or Festa della Donna, as I affectionately remember it from when I lived in Italy. (If you’re looking to celebrate tonight, see if there’s room at A16 or Piccino—give ‘em a call for any openings, they are both hosting fun events).
Meanwhile, I got to attend a very fascinating dinner last week, with the innovative and sustainably minded chief winemaker of Israel’s Galil Mountain Winery, Micha Vaadia, who has quite the interesting background (he was a paratrooper, for starters). Galil’s portfolio has 15 wines—we tasted the 2014 viognier (whose floral notes Micha described as “Turkish delight,” love it!) and rosé, plus two red blends that he blind tastes when making them: their 2011 Alon and 2012 Yiron (which I preferred, with cab, merlot, petite verdot, and syrah). The rosé is definitely going to be in my fridge this summer, an easy drinker (glou glou!) with a nice touch of acidity, made with 74 percent sangiovese, pinot noir, and grenache, and just $12, yes please and thanks.
The backdrop for all these wines was the fantastic New Israeli/Mediterranean-inspired food at Bar Bolonat in the West Village (the chef-owner is Einat Admony, known for Taïm and Balaboosta, and her book by the same name). So many unique touches and bright flavors: favorites included the “everyday cauliflower” (which was everything but—and read about the surprise ingredient here!), tender shrimp in Yemenite curry, Hudson Street kibbeh with bright yellow yogurt from preserved lemon. The menu is killer, it’s the kind that makes you want to order everything. Oh yeah, and halva crème brûlée? Halva crème brûlée!
So, speaking of awesome wine dinners, guess what? I’m coming home for a visit to SF next month to host a special Vietnamese feast with the wines of Vinho Verde on Feastly! Consider this your save the date: Friday April 15th. Stand by for tickets and details in next week’s tablehopper! I’d love to see you!
In the meantime, my quest to eat everything in New York (ha) is going to get quite a boost at this Friday’s Village Voice Ninth Annual Choice Eats tasting event! With 65 restaurants there, covering 5 boroughs and cuisines from 35 nations, including Socarrat Paella Bar, Loi Estiatorio, The Meatball Shop, Raclette, Genuine Superette, Veselka, Spicy Bampa, and more, I will definitely be making a dent on discovering lots of delicious things to share with you. Unfortunately tickets just sold out, but if any of you tablehopping types in NYC will be there, let me know!
Lastly, yay to this: Chef’s Table is back on Netflix on May 27th, and check out the lineup of the next three seasons! Happy to see Dominique Crenn and Nancy Silverton in the mix.
And on that note, Happy Women’s Day! Marcia Gagliardi
After the unfortunate closure of Chino (there was a lot I liked there), the Tacolicious team is back at it again with the latest concept for the Mission space: BAR SAN PANCHO. Partner Joe Hargrave tells me it’s going to be a Cal-Mexican cantina, with “simple food, game always on, great service, always early to late, a dozen or so beers on tap and 8-10 really simple house cocktails focused on fresh and seasonal juices, a really nice mix of preparadas and wines. A supereasy place that I’ve been thinking about for a long time that I finally pulled the trigger on.” It’s due to open in early April.
A look at a preliminary menu (subject to change!) includes a range of botanas, like cóctel de camarón, MF hot wings (and MF hotter wings, for those of you who want to go there), plus a few tacos, like chile relleno tacos and tacos al charro, with crunchy achiote-rubbed chicken, habanero salsa, chopped lettuce, and cumin crema.
Tortas will be glorious gut bombs—some potential picks include a “HamburQueso,” a chile con queso-stuffed burger, plus a torta with pierna enchilada (always so good), and milanesa de San Pancho (crispy chicken, avocado, poblanos, pepper jack, pickled onions), or you can go vegetarian with fried eggplant, salsa enchilada, goat cheese, and sweet onions. And they will all come with ancho fries.
What are these preparadas Hargrave speaks of? How about cervezas preparadas! You’ll be able to get a Tacolicious brew—a Mexican pilsner made with SF Brewing Co.—as a chelada (lime, chile salt), or michelada picante (arbol chile vinegar, lime, Maggi), and a couple of other options too. Look for seven or so cocktails (simple, fresh juices), a couple of slushie cocktails, and some really cool beers on draft, like one from Cerveceria Insurgente in Tijuana, Mexico (again, possible but not final). Look for a friendly and familiar face behind the bar, Manny Ramirez from Tacolicious.
The space is being renovated and will feature a long bar with 20 seats, and there will be communal, chunky blond wood tables. Some counter-height stools will create a convivial atmosphere too. While this isn’t a sports bar per se, the team wants to have some flat-screen TVs to play the game, and bonus, you’ll be able to have some tasty food and drinks without all that cliché sports bar atmosphere.
They’re also going to paint the brick wall white, and look for a graphic mural of San Pancho. Speaking of, the name San Pancho is a fun play on San Francisco, in case you didn’t catch it: Pancho is a nickname for Francisco (aka Francis). Which gives you an idea of the fun they want to have here.
Early April is the targeted opening, and the team is busy with their other projects as well, including Taco Lab San Miguel de Allende, due in late April; the move of Tacolicious Chestnut a couple of blocks away, which will also become a 2.0 version in late May/early June; and then Tacolicious Santana Row opening in June/July. 3198 16th St. at Guererro.
We wrote an in-depth piece in September about INDIAN PARADOX from first-time restaurant owner Kavitha Raghavan, and you’ve got to hand it to her, she got the place open pretty quickly! Hoodline reports the tiny wine bar and casual restaurant is open as of last Friday, and her chef is Brenden Darby, a private chef who had a spot on the TV show Chopped, plus four months at Noma.
Now’s your chance to try Raghavan’s unique menu that is structured around Indian street food from many different regions (even though she grew up in Chennai) paired with wines. How about churmur (crispy semolina puffs blended in with tamarind sauce, garbanzo beans, and mint chutney with a dash of chaat masala, sprinkled with cilantro) paired with Aphros Ten Vinho Verde 2014. Or dabeli (potato patty topped with crunchy peanuts, pomegranate seeds, and fried chickpea flour) paired with Sanglier Touché Grenache 2012? It all sounds delicious.
It’s a tiny and colorful spot (the former King Foot Subs space), and you’ll find a bar, plus some counter seats, a couple of tables, and high tables. Hours to start are Tue-Sat 5pm-midnight and Sun 4pm-10pm. Closed Mon. 258 Divisadero St. at Haight.
Food and wine festival season is here, and here are a couple you may have seen already on tablehopper as sponsors, plus there’s the famed Pebble Beach Food & Wine, which I am sorry to miss this year, though I’d say New York is a pretty good substitute. Let’s review, and be sure to check out the website for each event.
First, this weekend is the second annual 2016 Lexus Culinary Classic, hosted by Cavallo Point Lodge (March 11th-13th). It’s conveniently just across the Golden Gate Bridge at the stunning Cavallo Point grounds in Sausalito. There’s an Opening Night Reception and Dinner, a sommelier-guided international sparkling wine and Champagne tasting, a Lexus Grand Tasting event, and more. Prices vary.
Up next: Flavor! Napa Valley returns for its fifth year, from March 16th-20th. This year, the five-day festival will feature 40 events, including a Downtown StrEAT Market, Brunch Party, wine classes, and Young Guns Pop-Up Dinner featuring several of the Bay Area’s rising stars. Industry panels and cooking demos with chefs such as Richard Blais and Meadowood’s Christopher Kostow will also be happening. And you know there will be plenty of wine! (Click here for how to snag a tablehopper discount on the Legendary Napa Valley, The Grand Tasting).
Last but certainly not least is the epic Pebble Beach Food & Wine, running for its ninth year, from March 31st-April 3rd. First of all, the location is downright gorgeous, and the lineup of international talent is notable (you know, like Daniel Boulud, Dominique Crenn, Thomas Keller, Eric Ripert, Nancy Silverton, and Grant Achatz). There will be 100 chefs, 300 wines (THERE WILL BE CHAMPAGNE), seminars, and cooking demonstrations, plus plenty of parties, grand tastings, after-parties, and more. Prices range from $100 to $4,750 for a VIP all-inclusive four-day pass.
I was already so excited to have some pints of HUMPHRY SLOCOMBE ice cream sent to my New York apartment via Goldbely a couple weeks ago (the wonders of nationwide shipping and dry ice!), but now things just got dangerous for NorCal residents.
Over the next couple of weeks, you’re going to be finding pints of HS ice cream on the shelves of 38 of the 43 Whole Foods Markets in Northern California (oh, and Reno!). Some stores have already started stocking their shelves with the ice cream, but things should be more officially launched by the end of the month.
Now for the most important news: the flavors! You can get Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee, Honey Graham, Tahitian V*n!ll@, and Peanut Butter Fudge Ripple…and that’s to start!
Humphry Slocombe - 2790 Harrison St. San Francisco - 415-550-6971
Starting this month, BIONDIVINO will be closed on Mondays in order to offer by-appointment-only shopping experiences, as well as launch Istituto Biondivino, led by Vino Italiano author David Lynch (previously St. Vincent) and Biondivino owner Ceri Smith. These two are complete and utter Italophiles, so if you want to learn more about Italian wine, check out the lineup of classes, ranging from a deep dive on Chianti to Southern Italian wines. Classes are an hour long and $50 per person for the tasting/discussion, with discount pricing for “students” wishing to stock up on their favorites after the tasting.
Fans of cider will want to score early bird tickets for Cider Summit SF, which returns for its third year on April 23rd. You’ll be able to try more than 150 ciders (local, regional, and international) at the Civil War Parade Ground in the Presidio, and food will also be available for purchase from vendors, including Slow Hand BBQ. Early bird tickets are $35, and beginning April 1st, tickets will be $40 in advance (also available at SF area Whole Foods Markets) or $45 at the door, cash only. VIP tickets are available for $50 (for early access and two additional tasting tickets).
There are a lot of things happening in Wine Country, so let’s do a quick review. First, the name has been revealed for the restaurant Christopher Kostow and the Meadowood team (including restaurant director Nathaniel Dorn and chef de cuisine Katianna Hong) are opening in the former Tra Vigne location: THE CHARTER OAK.
A recent WSJ piece (you should read it) mentions the project is targeting June, and the cooking style will be more “elemental” (read: no sous vide). It will also be family style—and guests will pour wine for themselves. Some potential dishes mentioned are “platters of toasts topped with a conserva of summer squash and grilled sardines” and “a rotisserie pork shoulder lightly dressed with a miso of acorns.” Yes, so delicious. I’ll keep you posted as this project develops! You can check out their website for social media handles to follow in the meantime. 1050 Charter Oak Ave., St. Helena.
One more tidbit to note since we’re talking Meadowood: former sous chef John Hong is now chef de cuisine since his wife, Katianna Hong, is moving on to The Charter Oak.
In an interesting switcheroo, when Tra Vigne closed, the majority of its staff was able to move on to BRASSWOOD BAR AND KITCHEN, the replacement for The Farmer & The Fox at Cairdean Estate in St. Helena. Have a peek at the Cal-Italian and American menu from chef David Nuño here. Open Wed-Sun 12pm-9pm.
Downtown Napa is going to have a new restaurant opening at the end of March in the former Fish Story along the Napa River, BASALT. Look for a lively bar (with cocktails devised by SF’s Jason “Buffalo” LoGrasso) and a menu of “early California” cuisine, with Spanish and Mexican influences, from chef Esteban Escobar (Town Hall, Corners Tavern). GM Jonathan Wendorf (previously Torc, Quince, and Cotogna) will be managing the floor.
Some sample dishes include grilled flatbread with pumpkin seed spread; fried oysters with deviled aioli, chopped egg and shaved asparagus; and achiote-cocoa marinated local black bass, black bean ragout, and blood orange. Look for a strong focus on seasonality—the restaurant even has its own garden plot.
The space will be clean and modern, with a neutral color palette (designed by Rapt Studio); there’s a communal table, outdoor patio with a fire pit, private dining room, and central bar (moved from its last location). They intend to have a lively bar scene, and LoGrasso will be doing some craft cocktails that aren’t overly complicated. Look for many local products as well, including cocktail-friendly ingredients made by local winemakers (like vermouth, amaro, and liquor). Dinner will be served nightly, followed by lunch and weekend brunch later on. 790 Main St., Napa.
The upcoming Las Alcobas property (based in Mexico City) opening in November in St. Helena will have Chris Cosentino and Oliver Wharton (his partner in Cockscomb) running the food and beverage program (via Scoop). 1915 Main St., St. Helena.
Up in Healdsburg, the new chef duo at SPOONBAR, husband and wife Casey and Patrick Van Voorhis (previously Cotogna, Acquerello, Quince, Jane, and more), have their new menu in place, as well as at sister restaurant, PIZZANDO, where you’ll find a new pizza dough recipe and pies like the charred broccoli pizza with ricotta, green garlic, and a farm egg (meat lovers can add prosciutto or pepperoni to any pizza).
And fans of RAMEN GAIJIN in Sebastopol will be happy to know the restaurant is scheduled to reopen March 15th. Their Facebook post has plenty of details on the ramen shop, izakaya, and more. 6948 Sebastopol Ave., Sebastopol.