What’s Cookin’

Weekly Intro and Updates (Coming in hot...)
March 28, 2017
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One of the best abalone dishes I have ever had at Atelier Crenn at a lunch last week with the Basque Culinary Center. The Monterey Bay abalone was thinly sliced and topped with toasted seaweed, aioli, and a sauce made with abalone, served with egg yolk jam and smoked crème fraîche with oyster. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Buongiorno! You feeling some spring fever? I was so happy to be in Wine Country over the weekend—the fields are blankets of green velvet and everything is blooming, it’s all so lush. Saturday I drove to Petaluma for a class on California cheese at the Artisan Cheese Festival—great to get a history refresher on all our cheese pioneers!

I then scooted on over to Napa to check in to the Napa Marriott, a sponsor for Flavor! Napa Valley. But instead of hitting the grand tasting that night, I met up with friends to check out Miminashi in downtown Napa—what a styling space. Really enjoyed our meal, from all the robatayaki from their hearth to a fantastic okonomiyaki. And cocktails. And buckwheat soft-serve with sesame honeycomb and miso caramel, oh yeahhhhhh.

Sunday morning I emceed the final event for Flavor!, Bubbles and Brunch at Domaine Chandon. Chefs Brian Whitmer of VINeleven, Rick Moonen (RM Seafood), and Richard Blais (Juniper and Ivy) took no prisoners, what a spread! Thanks to Domaine Chandon for the beautiful venue and morning full of bubbles!

Don’t put those bubbles away just yet. Congrats are in order for chef Dominique Crenn, who placed 83 on this year’s list of World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 51-100 winners. Check it out—Benu also placed well, along with The French Laundry, The Restaurant at Meadowood, and Manresa. The top 50 will be revealed at the awards event on Wednesday April 5th in Melbourne.

Speaking of faraway lands…I am so thrilled to share I’m going to Thailand for my first time (finally!) in May! I’m honored to be included on the Thai mission with the organization Pencils for Kids, celebrating their 10th year of providing backpacks, school supplies, and uniform vouchers for children so they can go to school in developing areas in countries like Thailand, Bali, and Myanmar. You’re going to be hearing a lot more from me about this amazing organization in the coming months, which has provided 13,755 backpacks to children so far! I’m going to be involved in a San Francisco fundraiser event later this fall and look forward to telling you more.

So, before the mission starts, I’m going early to have a week on my own somewhere beachy and beautiful (it’s going to be hot as hell!) and am then spending a week eating and adventuring my way through Bangkok. I’d love any recommendations for any beachy paradise you know of (but nothing fancy—this needs to be on the cheap!), and Bangkok favorites, of course! The final week, I’ll be heading to the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort in Chiang Rai, our incredible hosts during the PFK mission. I know, what an amazing and once-in-a-lifetime experience. Thanks in advance—as always—for your excellent tips! You guys rock.

See you next week!
Marcia Gagliardi

March 21, 2017
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An amuse of an asparagus soup sphere topped with fried beltfish at the Pinoy Heritage pop-up, the subject of today’s review. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Hey, you enjoying this quick break in between the storms? I’m hoping to get a quick jog in as soon as I hit send on this thing before the next storm rolls in! SF is looking so fresh and so clean clean today.

I want to get something on your radar for this Thursday March 23rd: did you know No Kid Hungry is hosting the 10th annual Taste of the Nation event at City View at the Metreon? Top SF chefs will be there, including chef chair Melissa Perello (Frances, Octavia), plus fantastic wine, cocktails, and more. Check out the socialite for more!

You have any weekend plans yet? Maybe you’ll want to take a page from my busy book. This Saturday, I’m going to swing by the Artisan Cheese Festival in Petaluma on my way to Napa—there will be all kinds of tastings, events, demos, and more, all weekend long. Cheese lover heaven, just sayin’.

On Sunday morning, I’m leading a bubbles and brunch at Flavor! Napa Valley at 11am at Domaine Chandon, would love to see you! Host chef Brian Whitmer (VINeleven) will be joined by Richard Blais and Rick Moonen in preparing this fab brunch.

As soon as that wraps up, I am going to be scooting back to San Francisco, but sadly will only be able to make the tail end of the Omnivore Books’ and Bar Agricole’s Tipple & Snack vintage cocktail book fair and party. It’s going to be a fun one (there will be drinks!) happening on the patio at Bar Agricole (Sunday, 3pm-5pm), and some tablehopper vintage cocktail/bar T-shirts will be available! Check out today’s column for more.

One last thing: big congrats to all the final nominees for the James Beard Foundation Awards! SF has some great representation. The big awards gala will be in Chicago on Monday May 1st.

Okay, let’s dive in here. Have a fantastic week!
Marcia Gagliardi

March 14, 2017
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The Laughing Gas cocktail at our China Live event, with Kavalan whisky, viognier, fresh lime and pineapple, smoked honey, and bitters. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Has this glorious weather over the past weekend been making you pinch yourself or what? (Suddenly having my pale skin exposed to the sun has also made me pinch my “hi Helens,” but that’s another matter—time to double down on my daily plank time.) It was the perfect balmy weather on Friday to swing by the brand-new Media Noche in the Mission, check it out in today’s chatterbox.

Saturday was the tablehopper late-afternoon preview party at China Live with Kavalan single-malt whisky from Taiwan. What a great group—we had quite the feast, and director of beverage Duggan McDonnell mixed up some perfect daytime cocktails. China Live opens today for lunch, and I have a menu for you to peek at. (And Chinatown restaurant buffs should not miss the last month of the Eat Chinatown exhibit at 41 Ross!)

Sunday evening was the last night of La Cocina’s inaugural Restaurant Week, and I was so lucky to attend the communal Cambodian dinner at Nyum Bai in Public Market Emeryville with chef Nite Yun partnering with Mestiza Taqueria consulting chef Sophina Uong. What a fantastic meal—the ladies took turns with each course, a celebration of rice told through homey and flavor-packed Cambodian dishes. Thank you for all the work that you put into it, chefs! Be sure to visit Nite at Nyum Bai, and we should be able to visit Sophina at Mestiza very, very soon!

Chefs around the U.S. are holding their breath until tomorrow, March 15th, when the James Beard Foundation will announce the final nominees for all award categories for the 2017 awards at 9am Cali time. Follow along live via the foundation’s Facebook Live video feed and in real time on Twitter. Good luck and congrats to all!

Have a fun St. Patrick’s Day this Friday—I say skip the green beer and enjoy some St. Pat cheese from Cowgirl Creamery. 🍀

Sláinte!
Marcia Gagliardi

March 7, 2017
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And so it begins… The initial table setting at Single Thread. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Did you have a nice weekend? Mine started with a preview of the new vendors and offerings at Off the Grid, check out my recap in the chatterbox. I was invited to attend CAAM (Center for Asian American Media) Feast on Saturday, honoring The People’s Kitchen Collective, Roy Choi, and the Asian Chefs Association for their important contributions to the community. It was also a kickoff to CAAMFest, running March 9th-19th—be sure to check out all the films and documentaries that are a part of it.

Also in media land: did you see the trailer for the Jeremiah Tower documentary, The Last Magnificent? Can’t wait for that one!

When your friend who is in town asks if you’re free to join her on Sunday at Single Thread, the only reply is “What time?” What delight to be able to experience that magical place again, I couldn’t believe it. Have you made your reservation yet? I’ll be posting more in a Healdsburg recap for you!

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day, a day I always look forward to spending at A16 for Festa della Donna. This year, the celebration is part of La Cocina’s (first) Restaurant Week, cooking in concert with El Pípila and female winemakers (Joy Sterling with her Iron Horse Rainbow Cuvee and Michela Montanari of Villa Crespia Franciacorta). See you there?

Tomorrow, many women and their allies will be taking the day off to act together for equity, justice, and the human rights of women and all gender-oppressed people, through a one-day demonstration of economic solidarity, A Day Without a Woman. Expect to see many wearing red, and if possible, avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women-, and minority-owned businesses). #daywithoutawoman

In solidarity,
Marcia Gagliardi

February 28, 2017
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The first step in feeling Fesstive is a vintage silver ice bucket full of Fess Parker Winery’s 2014 Fesstivity blanc de blancs! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Lawdy, this weekend almost did me in. And no, I wasn’t celebrating Mardi Gras early. I came down with some crazy food poisoning Friday evening, oof, and was worried I wasn’t going to be able to rally by Sunday evening for the Academy of Friends fundraiser event and Oscars party. But fortunately things turned a corner and it all worked out! Wow, it was quite an event. What a great crowd! People were DRESSED. Way to go, SF—so snazzy and fun.

I had a busy time with my sis and dear friend Danny pouring three cases of Fess Parker Winery’s 2014 Fesstivity blanc de blancs sparkling wine for all the guests—what a perfect party wine to pair with all the food being served. And thanks to everyone who subscribed to tablehopper that evening, welcome aboard! We also were giving away a $150 gift certificate to China Live. I’m hoping the lucky winner gets back to me soon or I’ll have to choose another winner! Nudge nudge.

It was my first year curating the restaurants for the event, and all I kept hearing all night was how amazing the food was, the best ever—so you rocked it, gang! Tremendous thanks and gratitude to all the restaurants who participated: it was a big ask, with a lot of pieces (I heard Pabu/The Ramen Bar rolled 1,500 temaki hand rolls!), and on a Sunday no less, which is a rare night off for most restaurant industry folks. We all appreciate your contribution so much—proceeds from the event will be donated to six HIV/AIDS service organizations. I also want to thank everyone who donated gift certificates to the silent auction, so generous. I’ll let you all know the final tally once I hear how much the event earned.

You can see pics on Instagram of some of the dishes. I was so busy pouring bubbles at my table that I wasn’t able to snap pics of everything. (And sadly I wasn’t quite up to trying everything either but it all looked so good. My body was like, “Can I just have some toast and water, please and thanks?”) Anyway, your support and participation meant so much to everyone there and involved with the event, mille grazie.

I want to do a shout-out to all the restaurants and partners who served Sunday evening because they so deserve your business and support: Liholiho Yacht Club, Dabba, Mister Jiu’s, Chubby Noodle, Nomica, Motze, Tartine, Dosa, The Saratoga, Mestiza Taqueria, Onsen, Parallel 37, Okane, Salt & Straw, E&O, Perle, Pabu/The Ramen Bar, Jane, Bluestem Brasserie, The Caviar Co., Cypress Grove Cheese, Hot Cookie, and Slanted Door. BOOM.

If you didn’t get a chance to attend and you missed your chance to snag tickets for my preview event at China Live next Saturday (sorry, that wait list is longer than the number of guests we have attending!), I’m happy to announce I’ll be emceeing the Bubbles and Brunch event at Flavor! Napa Valley on Sunday March 26th, see you there? Let’s drink some bubbles, yo.

In case you’re looking for some Mardi Gras options tonight, here’s my post from last week. Another option this week is the reopening of Off the Grid: Fort Mason Center on Friday evening—I’ll have a post about the new lineup, vendors, and dishes for you next week.

All this talk about sparkling wine has made me thirsty. Ciao!
Marcia Gagliardi

February 21, 2017
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Here’s one way to end a perfect meal at Alfred’s: spumoni! Photo: © tablehopper.com.

I love it when a birthday coincides with my column’s Tuesday publishing date—because guess who is turning eleven today?! It’s crazy but true, this tablehopper has been here eleven years for you! (Yes, that rhymed. I have nothing but surprises for you.) Thanks for all the support over the years, I really have the best community of readers, this I know!

So shall we celebrate? Let’s enjoy a special tablehopper preview party at China Live (on Saturday March 11th). There will be cocktails from Duggan McDonnell and Anchor Distilling Co. and delicious dishes and more. I only have 20 seats available, so hop to it! China Live, the hotly anticipated Chinatown culinary destination, is opening their first floor this Thursday—I’m going to be checking it all out and reporting back on the project next week for you.

This past weekend was the perfect time for Netflix to release the latest season of Chef’s Table, don’t miss it. The episode with Korean Buddhist monk and chef Jeong Kwan is one of my favorites ever.

Also, big congrats to all the chef and restaurant 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards semifinalists—we’ll hear who the final nominees are on Wednesday March 15th. The awards gala will be in Chicago on Monday May 1st. (The 2017 James Beard Media Awards will be announced on Tuesday April 25th at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York City.)

Have a great week, and if you are attending the Academy of Friends this coming Sunday, please be sure to come visit me at the tablehopper table! You know I’ll be having some bubbles. I had a great time curating the restaurant lineup this year, we have some remarkable participants joining us, so I hope you enjoy it.

Cheers!
Marcia Gagliardi

February 14, 2017
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Now that’s what I call some bacon! House-cured and thick-cut bacon lurve from the Early to Rise Brunch with Feastly. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

Every day the past five days, I’m like, “SUN?! Is that you?!” Weekends like the one we just had make me miss my Alfa Romeo something fierce. I actually saw a lady driving a Veloce with the top up this weekend and was ready to yell, “You’re doing it wrong!” People. I hope you all get to hop outside at some point and enjoy the last rays until our ramen weather returns.

Sunday was my dear grandmother’s 88th birthday, and I’ll be damned if she doesn’t look better than most 75-year-olds (and Judy has the open-mindedness of most young’uns, I swear). She’s a force. It was a great time to bust out some Gagliardi classics: pasta al forno and a St. Honoré cake from Dianda’s. (Pretty much what I’d request for my last supper.) And lots of bubbles, oh you know it. Who do you think I got my love of Champagne from?

A couple of other parties to have in mind: tomorrow, Wednesday February 15th, is A Library of Libations: Winter Cocktails of the Farmers Market, with literary-inspired winter farmers market cocktails and bites from 20-plus Bay Area bartenders and chefs. I’ll be sure to wear my glasses. See you there?

And I’m getting excited for the upcoming Academy of Friends gala on Oscars Sunday! I have been busy curating the restaurant lineup for the event this year, my first time for this event, and let me tell you, the food is gonna be so great! The theme is Shanghai Nights, and some of our fantastic and generous partners include Liholiho Yacht Club, Mister Jiu’s, Nomica, The Saratoga, Junju, Chubby Noodle, Onsen, Tartine Manufactory, Pabu, The Caviar Co., Motze, DOSA, chef Rob Lam, Salt & Straw, Jane, Parallel 37, E&O, and Cypress Grove Cheese—and a few more to be confirmed! I really hope to see you there—be sure to come by my table and say hello (and find some surprises). Use code AOFtablehopper2017 for a discount on tickets!

Well, the news completely blew up this week, so let’s get to it. Happy Valentine’s Day, lovebugs.

XO!
Marcia Gagliardi