What’s Cookin’

Weekly Intro and Updates (Coming in hot...)
November 10, 2020
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The ridonkulously good Western Addition oysters at The Anchovy Bar. Hear all about them (and many other incredible dishes) in the upcoming On the Fly podcast episode with chef Stuart Brioza! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Whooooohoooooo. What a rollercoaster of emotions we’re on. Breaking the waves. Waking up on Saturday to the news of a Biden and Harris presidency brought such joy and deep relief—the best feeling I’ve had the past eight months, that’s for damned sure. You also don’t realize how much you’ve been holding your breath until you can let it go. (I felt like a human Champagne bottle with a cork flying off!)

Over the weekend, a friend asked how I’ve been doing, and I said I had such a strange feeling of exhilarated exhaustion. I feel like I could sleep for fifteen hours every night, no problem, and the time change only supports me in this desire. I know we’re all sorting through a mix of deep and profound feelings that have been kicked up, and looking at the hard work of healing this nation that lies ahead and reversing so much damage. Here’s to blue skies, instead of toxic orange ones.

And then we have this afternoon’s news that San Francisco is rolling back indoor dining, which is ending Friday night. It’s distressing to read in this press release from the city that since October 2nd, San Francisco has experienced a 250 percent increase in COVID-19 cases, and the number of new cases per day per 100,000 people has more than doubled over the last three weeks. We have to do our part to flatten this surge of cases, batten down the hatches, and ensure the safety of our essential workers and citizens.

This is devastating news for so many restaurants that have expanded operations for indoor dining, so please support your local favorites with takeout, outdoor dining, and any other ways you can, from promotion to your friends to big tips to buying gift certificates. The SFOEWD has thankfully announced some additional assistance to small businesses is coming, take a look for upcoming grants and more.

One big adjustment happening this year is around Thanksgiving. Many folks won’t be returning home to celebrate (wise move), and our gatherings need to be much smaller and safer. Thanksgiving is a big culinary undertaking, and one way you can support local restaurants and businesses is to buy Thanksgiving meals, sides, and pies from them. I’m seeing a bunch of incredible meals and offers, and am posting updates to my Instagram Highlights and Stories daily (look for the trio of turkeys). Gobble gobble.

Thanksgiving this year will also be without Dungeness crabs—the commercial crab fishing season has been delayed until December 1st. And for a good reason—it’s to allow space for humpback whales to migrate south safely without getting entangled in fishing gear. We’ll just have something to look forward to next month (if you don’t have any recreational/sport fisher friends).

Now, some exciting news! I’m so fired up about today’s sponsored event announcement with SipSend and JuNi! Next Thursday November 19th, it’s time to treat yourself! We’re going to be hosting a special virtual tasting event, featuring an over-the-top, omakase-at-home sushi box from JuNi, with five beverage pairings (wine and sake). I’ll be moderating the event with SipSend founder Martin Sheehan-Stross and JuNi wine director Justin Chin. I know this one is a bit of a splurge, but let me be the first to tell you that you deserve it, sweetie! There’s an extremely limited number of boxes and pairing kits, so act quickly. More details below. (And if you want to order more than one beverage pairing kit for yourself, go for it!) Look forward to seeing you—virtually—next week!

More treats for you: this week’s upcoming episode of the On the Fly podcast by tablehopper is with chef-owner Stuart Brioza of State Bird Provisions, The Progress, and the newly opened The Anchovy Bar. You’ll hear some backstory of what it’s like to open a restaurant during a pandemic (yeah, it’s intense), but it’s also going to be such a hunger-inducing episode—I loved taking a deep dive with Stuart about many of the incredible dishes on the menu. You’re going to love it. Subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts and don’t miss it.

Many thanks to Edible San Francisco for including a mention of On the Fly in their recent newsletter, Eat. Drink. Think., and you really should subscribe to this quality newsletter! Editor Bruce Cole curates some excellent tidbits, articles, and more every week. Tasty stuff.

I also want to thank the Financial Times for speaking with me while preparing their article on outdoor dining in SF. See you on the patio!

Stand by for a bunch of posts on Instagram (@tablehopper) from me in the coming days…between following the election and being out of town in LA for my birthday (thanks to all of you for the kind wishes), I have some serious catch-up to do. I’m working slowly, and feeling so utterly distracted. I’m just trying to take it all day by day, like you. It’s all we can do.

Best wishes.
Marcia Gagliardi

October 27, 2020
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Don’t miss the chance to experience the SkyStar Wheel, America’s largest traveling observation wheel! 2020 marks the 150th birthday of Golden Gate Park—celebrate by going 150 feet up! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Inhale, exhale. Ahhhhhh! And argh! I know most of us are really feeling the pressure this week, with Election Day in a week (VOTE! My gawdess, please vote!) and so much hanging in the balance (I can’t EVEN). Do whatever you need to do for self-care and sanity this week, whether it’s a walk on the beach or a nosedive into a wheel of cheese (and/or bottle of wine) or if you’re me, a nightly cannabis aperitif or weed rosé. I try to go to bed laughing every night, and watching an episode of Schitt’s Creek or Broad City and cackling through the nightly stream o’ memes in Mario Diaz’s Instagram Stories usually does the trick. Take good care.

A couple weekends ago, I headed up to Tomales with my sis and a friend for a two-night getaway—thanks to everyone for sending in tips! We had such a great time at the William Tell House drive-in movie (the last showing is a double-feature this Thursday!), feasting on barbecue and burgers on our blanket, and walking home to our cute suite in the inn was too easy! We managed to get two great beach days in (soooo lucky), and snagged a table at Tony’s Seafood, right on the water, the perfect setting for a couple dozen oysters and rock crab claws and fish tacos for brunch. Our dinner on the patio at William Tell House was fantastic, with more oysters (when in Rome…), insanely delicious chowder, and the burger (with Stemple Creek beef) is a thing of beeftastic beauty. I’ll be posting more pics on Instagram soon—I’m playing a wicked game of catch-up right now. Get outta town!

Speaking of, I’m heading out of town again, this time driving to LA with sis for my birthday this weekend. It’s going to be a quick trip—I’ll be staying with a bestie in Silverlake, and definitely tracking down some tacos while I’m there.

SAVE THE DATE: on Thursday November 19th, I will be presenting a unique pairing event, featuring sushi, wines, and sake from Ju-ni, delivered by SipSend! There will be a limited number of spaces, stand by for details in the next tablehopper!

I hope you had a chance to listen to the most recent episode (our twentieth!) of the On the Fly by tablehopper podcast, with community organizer Vinny Eng! Vinny shares about his recent work with the groundbreaking SF New Deal, and please read their impact report that just came out! It offers an important perspective on the current state of our city, the needs of the community, and how we need to show support.

Thanks to all of you who continue to support tablehopper through your generous tips in my virtual tip jar. It means so much, especially during these weeks when I don’t have any sponsorship to help cover my time and expenses.

Lastly, Eat Drink SF is currently running through November 1st, offering extra-affordable SF Restaurant Week-style menus for lunch and dinner at restaurants all over the city. Enjoy a three-course menu at August (1) Five on their new patio for $40; or China Live (also $40); or a $15 lunch at the new Hummus Bodega; or a $40 dinner on the patio at Ristobar (feasting on their fettuccine with lamb ragù); or lunch or dinner on Town Hall’s new plaza seating; or there are a variety of menus from Z&Y Restaurant. Be sure to check out the virtual culinary programming as well.

Okay, it’s time for my daily walk before it gets too dark out, one of the only things keeping me semi-sane these days. Hang in there, everyone. VOTE.

Marcia Gagliardi

October 13, 2020
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A bountiful banquet from Chili House. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Howdy and hello. I barely got this newsletter finished in time for you today—there is just an incredible amount of news to churn through right now, lawdy. I want to start this missive by thanking so many of you who contributed to my tip jar after the last issue, wow. Everything helps! It meant so much to receive your support since advertising income is very touch and go these days, and let’s just say my ability to host events is non-existent at the moment. Really appreciate the gas in the tank! You guys are the best! I am so grateful.

So, are you drooling over that spread from Chili House? It’s one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in the city (a sister to Z&Y in Chinatown) and they’re offering a special deal of 15 percent off pickup or delivery orders that are $45 and more (use code IN15)! Some of my recommended dishes include their Beijing potstickers (be sure to warm them back up), dumplings with pork and napa cabbage, Szechuan chili lamb, tender fresh fish fillet boiled in Szechuan pickled mustard broth with tofu (this dish is phenomenal, don’t miss it—I like it even more than their fillet in flaming chile oil, which used to be my fave), and their sour bean fried rice with ham is a can’t-miss. Love this spot, enjoy a banquet at home!

I just spent the weekend visiting a friend in Sea Ranch, what a stunning place. So fun to drive up and back, love those winding roads. And now my coastal California adventures continue: I’m heading to Tomales this Thursday for the drive-in movie with William Tell House (I couldn’t miss seeing Jaws!) and am staying in their inn for a couple nights! (You can see upcoming drive-in movies here.) If you have any recommendations in the area (besides obvious winning locales like Hog Island Oyster Co., The Marshall Store, and Rocker Oysterfeller’s), I’m all ears! Favorite farms, beaches, bakeries, activities, trails, all is welcome, thanks!

Get ready for the twentieth episode of the On the Fly by tablehopper podcast, featuring a heartfelt conversation with our beloved Vinny Eng, who has been doing tremendous work with SF New Deal. It will be posted this week! I also want to thank Eater for including On the Fly in this recent article about pandemic podcasts: Your Favorite New Podcasters Are Already Bay Area Food Stars. I’m so grateful for the coverage.

Wanted to be sure you mark your calendar for Eat Drink SF Presents: 10 Days of Dining, Culture and Community, running October 23rd-November 1st from the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. There’s an amazing lineup of chefs for the opening dinner at The Vault Garden, Restaurant Week-style prix-fixe menus, exclusive to-go offerings, virtual demos, ticketed outdoor seated dinners, and more.

One last thing: please take a moment and sign this petition for SF to extend the emergency 15 percent commission cap that delivery companies can charge for at least two years while restaurants continue their full recovery (and more). Our restaurants will thank you!

Oh, and I am hearing that the SF-Marin Food Bank really needs volunteers, especially folks with Spanish and Cantonese language skills! You can sign up here, thanks for looking into it and spreading the word.

Enjoy the sun, and take good care.

Marcia Gagliardi