It’s a Christmas miracle: after three weeks of seemingly interminable illness, the evil viruses finally left my body this past weekend. Praise the lard. So disgusting, that was awful. Bye, November! I’m so happy to have most of my taste and energy back, and it’s great to leave my apartment and be out in the world again. I needed to get better in time for this holiday gift box launch, whew! Thanks to all of you who checked in, sent me remedies, and made me soup! Stay healthy, everyone. You don’t want that ish.
This week, I’m back on the festive track, and looking forward to Arlequin’s annual Champagne tasting (always followed by French onion soup at Absinthe!), a Hanukkah dinner at Delfina (running December 7th–13th, hello duck fat–fried latkes!), and I’m super-excited to try a Moveable Feast from Jeremy Fox and Birdie G’s in LA (which is sold out, but they’re currently offering a caviar party and a feast from Dirt Candy in New York in January).
This weekend, me ‘n the elves are also having our annual holiday spirits tour. I’ll have a full report for you next week with even more places to visit for holiday spirits, special treats to order, and more!
But today, I’m so excited to be sharing this year’s tablehopper’s Taste of San Francisco Holiday Gift Box! Are you readdddddyyyyyyyy? Now in its fourth year, we are getting a massive upgrade with the ability to ship all over the West Coast, thanks to my partner, Feed! The lineup of this year’s amazing products is today’s main feature—and pre-orders start today on Feed!
I just spotted this wonderful news after my column went out to supporting subscribers last night: the Miers of La Canasta (who were sadly evicted earlier this year, after 32 years, ugh) are popping up at Grand Lake Kitchen in Oakland every week with homemade tamales for the holiday (and maybe longer)! You can pre-order for next Wednesday’s pickup here. Red pork tamales, Mexican wedding cookies, and more. I’m so grateful to May Seto of GLK for helping the family out like this, what a good egg. Who’s going to host them next?
I’m dedicating this week’s newsletter to the memory of Dr. Jerry Goldstein, who sadly passed last month (via Hoodline). He was the other half of the famed Tom and Jerry duo, two activists and generous philanthropists, adored for their annual and over-the-top Christmas tree on 21st Street. The couple also maintained the massive rainbow flag in the Castro, helped fund the rainbow flags on Market Street for Pride month, and supported countless charities and events. Tom Taylor and Jerry Goldstein were the spirit of SF and will never be forgotten. We were lucky to benefit from their years of kindness and generosity. Rest in Rainbows 🌈 together, dear men!
tablehopper’s Taste of San Francisco Holiday Gift Box Is Here!
I know, I know, I said last year was the last Hopper Holiday Gift Bag, something I started during the pandemic to help show support to local restaurants and food businesses. Sadly, the crazy logistics were just too much for this busy lady to keep it going. But huge thanks to my recent sponsorship and collaboration partner Feed, because together we’re bringing back SF’s best collection of tasty holiday goodies and treats for its fourth year!
This year’s bag is the tablehopper’s Taste of San Francisco Holiday Gift Box. And here’s the best part: Feed will be able to deliver the box all up and down the West Coast (click the link to see where!), from Seattle to Los Angeles and San Diego, as well as to Phoenix, Scottsdale, Santa Fe, Salt Lake City, and more! I knowwwww, you can get a tablehopper’s Taste of San Francisco Holiday Gift Box sent to your doorstep here in the City, or Sebastopol, and easily ship one to your cousin in Denver who really loves SF!
I’m so excited to share the lineup of 12 oh-so-delicious, unique, gourmet products from local restaurants and makers below (many of these are personal faves!).
Huge gratitude for all of you who continue to support the many makers and independent restaurants and pop-ups and food businesses featured in this annual gift box. Some of you order one every year, and it’s so appreciated! As you know, it’s still rough out here: pandemic-related issues keep dragging on, inflation is hitting hard, and our local businesses continue to fight to survive, so let’s do what we can to show up for and celebrate them!
But inflation be damned, this abundant gift box is packed full of some of the most delicious, local, hand-crafted, small-batch, and festive treats, all curated by yours truly! I’m talking about 12 stellar, San Francisco Bay Area–made products, the majority of them from people of color, queer, and women makers, as well as small businesses that have been hustling extra-hard to stay afloat. It’s a great way to discover some new businesses, while supporting some of our local and longtime faves, too. This year, our gluten-free folks will be happy about the cookies (and sweets!). And, look at that, the price dropped this year!
You can order it for yourself, or you can split up the gift box into stocking stuffers for your friends or as host/ess gifts, share a box with a friend, or send a gift box to someone who really loves SF and doesn’t live here.
And: there’s a donation included with each box sold to the SF-Marin Food Bank, who could really use our support right now as they continue to help folks get food on the table. The struggle of affording groceries is especially difficult during the holidays, when food is so emotionally tied to good times with loved ones.
CHECK OUT THIS YEAR’S TASTY GOODS:
Under the Mistletoe Chocolate Collection by Kokak Chocolates (4-pc.). Have you visited Carol Gancia’s queer woman–owned chocolate shop in the Castro? You need to try her hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookies! This Filipina chocolatier’s artisan chocolates are incredible, and we’re excited to feature her holiday chocolate truffles that are crafted with single-origin, heirloom chocolate. The four-piece holiday box includes peppermint, sea salt caramel, pumpkin spice, and blueberry jam (without blueberry ganache). You can read more about the special cacao Gancia uses and the offerings at her shop in my piece from this summer.
Salted Chocolate Honeycomb by Petite LaFleur (2.5 oz bag). You’re about to meet your new, favorite, salty-sweet treat. This LBGTQ-owned business is from Suzanne LaFleur, formerly a pastry chef for SF restaurants like Perbacco and Yoshi’s SF, and a production manager at Dandelion Chocolate. Her signature amber honeycomb is made with local honey from a beekeeper in Oakland and finished with dark chocolate and sea salt.
Granola by b. Patisserie (8 oz.) Pastry wizard Belinda Leong is celebrating opening b. Patisserie with Michel Suas 10 years ago (in 2013). While famously known for their kouign amann, a quiet favorite among diehard b. fans is the granola (people visiting from out of town are known to buy multiple bags to bring home). A nutty and sneakily addictive blend of purple wheat, rice crispies, sliced almonds, maple syrup, butter, brown sugar, and puffed kamut, this granola is adored for its crunchy clusters and GBD (golden brown and delicious) flavor. Good luck having it last until breakfast, it’s far too easy to snack on.
Sam Wo Restaurant Authentic Hot Mustard (4 oz.). Have you ever had Sam Wo’s chashu/BBQ pork rice noodle roll with their hot mustard? It’s one of my favorite SF bites, and we’re potentially going to be saying goodbye to Sam Wo, one of the oldest restaurants in Chinatown (since 1908) next year. BIG SIGH. So, I wanted to be sure you had a jar of their special and nose-tingling hot mustard in your fridge, which is where you’ll need to place it as soon as it arrives. I love it with dumplings (especially har gow), pork, and on special sandwiches.
Calabrian XO Chili Sauce by Pasta Supply Co. (6 oz.). I fell in love with this spicy, umami-loaded XO sauce back when chef Anthony Strong had his restaurant Prairie in the Mission, and was so happy to see it live on at his new pasta emporium in the Inner Richmond. XO sauce was invented at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong in the 1980s, and is made from dried shrimp and scallops, Jinhua ham, shallots, garlic, chiles, and oil. Strong’s version subs in Calabrese chile (peperoncino) and ’nduja (spicy and smoky spreadable pork), plus some anchovy, tomato, olive oil, sage, salt, and spices. FLAVA BOMBA. It’s fantastic with dumplings, fried eggs (uh huh), on pasta and vegetables, brushed on grilled meat, and I barbecued a head of cabbage slathered with it to incredible results. Stash some in the freezer so you can enjoy more later.
Obe Ata Din Din Sauce by Eko Kitchen (8 oz.). Nigerian chef Simileoluwa “Simi” Adebajo brings a taste of Lagos to SF with her pop-ups and catering, and her rich, roasted pepper stew is going to be a welcome new player in your kitchen. Treat the gluten-free sauce like a shakshuka base for eggs in the morning, or simmer chicken with it, use it like a dip for plantain chips, or as an accompaniment to fried or roasted potatoes. Contains canola oil, bell peppers, red onion, garlic, ginger, habanero, and a secret house spice blend. Refrigerate after opening.
Furikake Chex Mix by Sunday Bakeshop (4.4 oz.). When it’s the holidays, I always think of Chex Mix (and bowls of it at my grandma’s). Did you know the original party mix dates back to 1952?! 70 years later, we’re still grazing on it, although leave it to chef Elaine Lau of Oakland’s Sunday Bakeshop to offer a riff that makes it even more snackable: with furikake seasoning with soy, seaweed, and a little spice. Party time! (Try their Pandan Coconut Caramel Corn next!)
Amaretti Cookies by Emporio Rulli (22 oz.). Yeah, you read that right, you’re getting a big ole jar packed to the rim with these tasty, beautifully textured, bite-sized amaretti cookies, so you have plenty to share! Baker Gary Rulli is a master of traditional Italian recipes, and these gluten-free cookies are no exception: this bittersweet-flavored macaron is a specialty treat that originated in the Lombardy region of Italy, and dates back to the Renaissance! Made with Mission almonds, bitter almonds, sugar, pasteurized egg whites.
Neapolitan Espresso by Mr. Espresso (12 oz.). You need an espresso to go with your cookies! For 45 years, Mr. Espresso has been supplying local restaurants with their trademark oakwood-roasted coffee, since 1978. Founder Carlo Di Ruocco pays homage to his Neapolitan youth with this medium-dark roast and blend, with notes of dark chocolate, hazelnut, and caramel. A tablehopper favorite in my trusty Gaggia espresso machine at home, one shot transports me right to Southern Italy. Auuuuuuuuu.
Scarlet Fire® Hot Sauce (5 oz.). I’m an avid hot sauce collector, so I love it when one comes along that can occupy a unique space on my shelf with its flavor profile (and eye-catching Jim Pollock artwork—plus, Deadheads get the name reference). It sounds like it’s going to be a scorcher, but this small-batch and vinegar-based hot sauce from Marla Simon plays well with food—you can really taste the fruity and spicy flavors of the chiles (Fresno, habanero, and Thai chile) and the sweetness of the carrot. I enjoy it with eggy breakfast dishes, oysters on the half shell, anything cheesy (mac and cheese!), on broccoli soup, and try it in a Bloody Mary! I was happy to see Scarlet Fire become a Good Food Award winner this year, too.
Nam Jim Ped Spicy Cilantro Sauce from Kitiya (8 oz.). La Cocina entrepreneur Kitiya Ditpare recently launched a fantastic line of Thai sauces (maybe you remember her spiced nuts in last year’s gift bag?). Her nam jim ped is a tangy and spicy cilantro sauce with notes of garlic, green onion, and lime that is amazing as a dip with plantain or thick potato chips (you won’t stop), so tasty with fried eggs (treat it like a salsa verde!), and the perfect accompaniment to shellfish, seafood, and dumplings. It’s a great marinade for chicken (recipe here). You can also use it to zhoosh up your soup, salad dressing, yogurt sauce, tacos, and drizzle some inside a grilled cheese sandwich. If you like it funky, add two tbsp. of fish sauce to the jar. Refrigerate after opening.
Seasons Greetings from SF Letterpress Card from Coffee n Cream Press. We’re including this adorable letterpress card of an SF skyline so you can send some love from SF to someone (we’re leaving it blank for you!). Each card is drawn, designed, and printed in-house on owner Leah Jachimowicz’s Vandercook Letterpress, folded and packaged one card at a time, right here in San Francisco.
Supporting subscribers received a code for a free jar of Red Jalapeño Chile Flakes, thanks to Burlap & Barrel (this vine-ripened chile is from Fire Tongue Farms in Santa Cruz). Try it on eggs, hummus, or on soup and beans! Supporting subscribers also get a code from Feed for 15 percent off their next order! Thanks for your support! 💋
The gift box is available to pre-order now, and boxes will be shipped starting Tuesday December 19th (the arrival date depends upon where you live; it will be December 20th–22nd, the website will tell you when you have it in your cart). You can continue to order the gift box into December, as long as supplies last!
Almost everything will be shelf stable, but thanks to Feed, we can deliver a couple cool items that will need to get into the fridge when you receive your delivery, so don’t let the box sit out for a couple days. Unfortunately, there are no substitutions or custom orders. If there’s something you can’t eat or enjoy, I’m sure you can find someone who will! Yay, regifting! All sales are final, no refunds or returns.
Items are subject to change and availability—since we’re dealing with so many items here (12!), there’s a small chance we’ll need to make a change or swap an item. Please trust it will be delicious. Thank you for understanding, we’ll keep you informed of any changes.
On behalf of all our local restaurants, makers, and food businesses, thank youuuu! We appreciate all your kind and generous support. Our Bay Area hospitality industry is so special, thanks for showing up for it. And very heartfelt thanks to Feed for helping me continue to do this! Ho ho ho!
Batches Bakehouse Opens With a Buttery Bang in the Inner Richmond
On opening day (Friday December 1st), Batches Bakehouse in the Inner Richmond was already doing brisk business at its order window. This new bakeshop is hard to miss, with it’s bright YSL pink awning and window trim, which is helpful since it’s a couple doors off Clement Street.
The bakery is from friends Ashlee Thompson and Ashley Zografos, who met through mutual friends from Boston, where Thompson previously worked in food service. Out here in the Bay Area, Thompson was a pastry cook at The Village Pub, was at Atelier Crenn for a flash just before the pandemic, and was most recently culinary manager for Deanna Sizon’s Little Skillet, Victory Hall, and Mestiza. Zografos owns nearby Kinship salon and does Thompson’s hair; the two were talking one day at the salon and came up with the idea to open a bakeshop together. The buildout took 1-1/2 years, but they are thrilled to have it open in time for the holidays.
The menu features seven kinds of handmade bagels: plain, everything, sesame, poppyseed, salt, caramelized onion, and asiago-rosemary. The bagels aren’t Montreal-style, nor are they New York, and they’re not SF sour either—they’re made with mostly high-gluten flour and a little A/P, fermented overnight, and dense but not hard, with a nice, chewy texture and exterior crunch. The bagels are $2.50, and schmears include Green Goddess (!), scallion, veggie, roasted garlic, plain, and blueberry.
Bagel sandwiches include a classic with lox, capers, tomato, red onion, and chive ($13); a BLAT with smashed avocado ($13); Bodega with bacon, egg, and cheddar ($10); Hot Batch bagel toasted in hot honey, topped with scallion cream cheese and another drizzle of hot honey ($7); Farm to Bagel with hummus, cucumber, radish, tomato, pickled beet, onion, and chive ($12); and the eye-catching Pinky’s Egg Salad, made with pink, beet-pickled eggs and plenty of dill ($7), plus a couple more.
On the weekend, you can get...
Thompson’s pastry background means there’s a lot more to the menu besides bagels: you’ll see racks of cookies (the chocolate chip cookies features hand-chopped chocolate and brown butter), cupcakes (including a chocolate and housemade salted caramel cupcake), scones (rosemary-Parmesan and dark chocolate and candied orange), muffins (including a gluten-free pumpkin muffin with pepitas), morning breads (coffee cake!), biscotti (Earl Grey lemon), and Thompson’s favorite: a wonderfully decadent walnut brownie (it’s very fudgy and packed full of walnuts). Prices are super approachable—scones, muffins, cookies, and morning breads are just $3—take a look here.
Holidays pies, gingerbread cookies, and cookie-decorating kits are coming soon. Keep track of updates at @batchesbakesf. Open Thu–Mon 7:30am–3pm. 298 4th Ave. at Clement.
In the News
Since I was super-busy trying to get this gift box finalized, I’m just going to quickly link out to any news stories that were hitting over this past week that you may have missed.
Honestly, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw someone on Instagram saying they were having their last meal at Turtle Tower, and realized later it was at their SoMa location. I broke the news in June that the Larkin Street location was going to close, and it just closed in September. But the last SoMa location also closing is a shock.
What is San Francisco without Turtle Tower? How can we ever replace their signature pho ga? How many times has that dish cured whatever ailed you, from hangovers to illness to depression? It was a signature dish of the City, something food tourists looked forward to trying, and returning to whenever they came back to SF. That broth. The noodles. The free-range chicken. It’s iconic.
The Chronicle reports owner Steven Nghia Pham may reopen in a new location if someone wants to partner with him, but he’s taking a break for now because business is just so hard. Here’s hoping this isn’t the end. 501 6th St. at Bryant.
I’m so sorry I was home sick and didn’t make it in to Piperade for a final meal before it closed last week (it was hard to see pics of friends having farewell meals!). I reported on the impending closure back in February—chef-owner Gerald Hirigoyen is retiring after 22 years of serving the City’s best Basque cuisine. He has been an award-winning chef for over 50 years, and an SF restaurateur for 30-plus years, and decided it’s finally time to retire. Merci for all the delicious meals, chef! Best wishes and enjoy your free time. (You can read Hirigoyen’s comments in these posts on SFGate and Eater.) 1015 Battery St. at Green.
A tablehopper reader (thanks Karen Z.!) let me know gluten-free, allergen-sensitive, and vegan baker Wholesome Bakery was closing its 299 Divisadero Street bakeshop (after seven years!) on November 30th. Eater reports owner Mandy Harper will still offer her baked goods through the website while she works on a new SF location (so you can still get her holiday goodies), and her Instagram post mentions a new brand identity, packaging, and offerings are coming soon!
Great news: Rosamunde Sausage Grill in the Mission is coming back after all. Mission Local reports a post on Instagram mentioned “longtime bartender” Danny Mendez and his partner Sandra Pulley “agreed to take over ownership of Rosamunde” and are reopening this Friday December 8th. Hot diggity! 2832 Mission St. at 24th St.
This morning, I noticed an Instagram post from executive chef Gaby Maeda of State Bird Provisions, announcing her departure after nine years. While at State Bird, she was part of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs lineup for 2021, and was a James Beard semifinalist for rising star chef of the year in 2020. Chef-owner Stuart Brioza says, “It’s been a pleasure to be a part of Gaby’s growth from cook to chef at State Bird. Looking forward to watching her career advance as she is a natural in the kitchen.” Stand by for what’s next from this talented chef. For now, she’s just taking some time for herself and is going to spend the holidays with her family in Hawai’i; she’ll be coming back to SF in the new year. Gaby additionally shares: “I’ve had a great tenure at State Bird and am so grateful for the people I’ve been able to work with.” Thank you for all the delicious moments!
This Saturday: Foodwise to Host Holiday Market Highlighting Black Makers
by Savannah Leone Bundy
This Saturday December 9th, Foodwise is hosting the final installment (following the Fall Kickoff festival in September) of this year’s Pop-Ups on the Plaza series with the Black Holiday Market. From 9am–2pm, the south arcade of the Ferry Building will hold the special-edition holiday marketplace, celebrating over 20 Black food and craft makers and designers from around the Bay Area. Guests can look forward to bean pies and desserts from Baby Bean Pie, smoked catfish and specialty sauces from chef Sarah Germany, a variety of California honies from Yummy Honey, take-and-bake patties and other Caribbean edible gifts from Pleasure Principle Supper Club, and much more.
Pop-Ups on the Plaza is an initiative from Foodwise’s Building Equity program dedicated to uplifting and advancing equity for BIPOC, immigrant, and limited-resource entrepreneurs. 1 Ferry Building.
The Fonz Hits the Town
Well, this is a fun one.
Charming Private Offices—Heart of the Castro—Amazing Crew!
We have the perfect spot for you to grow your creativity and business: in a charming Victorian near the corner of Market and Noe, just steps away from SF Fitness and Muni. We have two offices. They are the perfect perch for a single occupant or small crew of up to three. Best of all, the master tenant is delightful (lease is month-to-month) and you’ll be sharing the floor with a dynamic community of creatives, entrepreneurs, and LGBTQ activists. Unfortunately, this space won’t work for medical professionals or massage. In your response, tell us about your business, why the Castro would be an ideal location for you, and anything else you'd like to share. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.