About Marcia Gagliardi
Marcia Gagliardi is a freelance food writer in San Francisco. She writes a weekly column, Foodie 411 for the SFCVB on their “Taste” site; a monthly gossip column, “The Tablehopper” for The Northside; and regular features for Edible San Francisco. Her first book came out in March 2010: The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco: Find the Right Spot for Every Occasion.
Latest Posts by Marcia Gagliardi
The third annual Food & Farm Film Fest is taking over the Roxie Theater in the Mission in San Francisco from Friday April 17th through Sunday April 19th, where you catch films about food, farms, and the unique people in both worlds.
The festival opens on Friday with a selection of short films, followed by an opening party at Four Barrel on Valencia. The full schedule can be found here, with highlights like East Side Sushi, about a Latina sushi chef, and The Search for General Tso.
Each of the films is paired with food from a local chef, which is included in the ticket price. Most tickets are $15; the opening night program is $30. 3117 16th St. at Valencia.
The Napa Valley Festival del Sole is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the region’s cultural vitality and their Annual Festival Gala at Meadowood is going to be a big one this year. It’s happening on Sunday July 19th at Meadowood Napa Valley, and the theme is Hollywood + Vine.
It’s all about the nightclub scene of Hollywood’s golden age, with none other than the fabulous Kevin Spacey in attendance, performing standards from the Great American Songbook. (I know, we just need Christopher Walken to do a dance number for us.)
In addition to the megawatt entertainment, Meadowood chef Alejandro Ayala will be serving dinner along with wines from the cellar of Diageo Chateau & Estate Wines. It’s all happening on Meadowood’s newly designed croquet glen and fairways, and should be a glamorous alfresco evening.
Tickets to the gala are $1,000 per person ($700 tax deductible) and table sponsorships are also available.
The eighth annual ~PEBBLE BEACH FOOD & WINE~ is coming up fast, April 9th-12th, an international culinary extravaganza of eating, drinking, and general madness.
Be sure to scoop up tickets to the events you don’t want to miss, from the opening evening reception to the weekend of Lexus tasting tent action (which always sells out).
There will be many megawatt chefs in attendance, including Hugh Acheson, Dominique Crenn, Daniel Boulud, Anita Lo, Timothy Hollingsworth, Stephanie Izard, and Zak Pelaccio, to name only a few. Don’t miss the many seminars, cooking demonstrations, special dinners and lunches, and of course, the fabulous wine tastings.
This year, look for lunches featuring beer pairings and cocktail pairings, along with multiple sparkling wine and Champagne tastings (like Billecart-Salmon, “The Epitome of Effervescent Excellence“—thanks Champagne!); some special dinners and lunches highlighting meat, like the Beauties & Their Beasts dinner with female chefs known for their butchery skills, and Josh Ozersky’s Meatopia; plus intimate meals with chefs, like the Pardon My French lunch around the chef’s table with Boulud and Crenn. Oui!
There will even be the chance to attend a demo and dinners (Friday and Saturday) prepared by Team USA, who won the silver at the Bocuse d’Or competition this year. Team USA’s chef Philip Tessier (Thomas Keller Restaurant Group) and his commis Skylar Stover (The French Laundry) will design a menu inspired by the “Culinary Olympics” at The Imperial Dinner. Such a unique opportunity!
Photo by Patrick Tregenza Photography via Facebook.
It was an honor to be invited back to GourmetFest 2015, a weekend-long event in Carmel by the Sea, with some heavy-hitting Relais & Chateaux chefs from around the world, along with top winemakers and sommeliers from France, Italy, and more.
I drove down early Saturday morning, in time for the outdoor cooking demo with chef Olivier Roellinger (Les Maisons de Bricourt), who gave an interesting talk about the history of spices and how his use of spices was a challenge to traditional Breton cuisine back in 1982.
For the Taste of France lunch that followed, he served a riff on one of his first dishes (John Dory, cabbage, and 14 spices).
Another chef contributing to a lot of buzz at the luncheon was the presence of Michel Bras, who rarely leaves France for events. It was certainly enough for chef David Kinch to drive over for the day from Manresa, carting his first-edition cookbooks by Roellinger and Bras to have them signed. The ultimate fanboy!
Bras’s dish at the luncheon gave almost everyone pause: a beautiful head of endive (cooked so nearly all traces of bitterness were gone), filled with a mix of bread, olive oil, and black truffle, and then napped in an ethereal cloud of a cream sauce and a flurry of more truffle. So deceivingly simple but actually so complex.
The 2008 Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape paired with the dish was also a smooth talker. The entire lunch was rather special; hop on over here for more pics. And it’s worth nothing the new event venue, Seventh & Dolores, was a nice change and step up from last year’s tent.
After lunch, it was time for a fantastic wine tasting with Ernst Loosen of the Dr. Loosen estate in the Mosel. The man is so vibrant and energetic, the world needs more people like him (I thought he’s like the German Gary Pisoni).
He walked us through the terroir, techniques, and a fabulous tasting of Wehlener Sonnenuhr riesling auslese vintages, including 1967, 1976, 1983, 1988 (loved the mushroom notes of this one), 1990, 1998, 2004, and 2011. What’s amazing is these “Erste Lage/grand cru” vines are more than 100 years old, with their original rootstock—they were never hit by phylloxera (the steep slopes and soil saved them).
It was a fascinating talk, and if you ever have a chance to hear Ernie speak, you’re in for a treat.
I managed to get a quick and slightly tipsy power walk in along the beach at sunset (what a dreamy location, really) and then it was time to strap the feed bag back on for the Grand Chef Dinner.
Highlights included the warm ceviche by Diego Muñoz (Astrid & Gastón Casa Moreyra in Lima), the “risoni all carbonara” by Annie Féolde of Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence), and the 2007 Calera Reed Vineyard pinot noir kept me in my happy place (and it was an honor to have the ever-stylin’ Josh Jensen at our table).
You can guess who slept like a rock in her room at La Playa Carmel—I kept my window cracked to listen to the nearby waves and let in some cool night air (the air in Carmel by the Sea is so bracing and fresh).
Sunday morning, time to rise and shine, time change be damned (of all nights I could have used that hour of sleep). I had a quick cappuccino and egg on toast at Carmel Belle—I needed to lay a little bedrock before walking into the 10:30am Dom Pérignon tasting, led by chef de cave Richard Geoffroy.
It quickly turned into one of the most extraordinary Champagne tastings of my life (I count last year’s Krug tasting and the private tasting I had in September at Louis Roederer as the other two, thus far!).
We tasted vintages spanning from 1990 to 2004, and the stars of the morning, three vintages poured en magnum: the complex 1966, the precise 1973, and the extraordinary 1975. It’s so rare to be able to taste these wines, and the fact they were transported directly from the Dom Pérignon library makes it even more special because you know they were stored perfectly.
Tasting the difference between the vintages was so illuminating. It was actually quite moving, I’ll admit I got a little misty. And I wasn’t alone—the energy in the room was palpable. I walked out of there feeling like the lucky lady I am.
I managed to snag a few quick bites at the Seafood Grill before heading back home—of course I needed to finish my 24-hour-luxury fandango with freshly shucked oysters from Taylor Shellfish topped with Siberian caviar from Black River Caviar, mmmhmmmm. Champagne wishes and caviar dreams, for real.
Share on Facebook
Fileja Calabresi from Bella Italia.
Savory yogurts from Blue Hill.
Grady’s cold brew.
Last week, I hit up the Winter Fancy Food Show, which is always a staggering undertaking, with more than 80,000 international food and beverage products displayed in both the north and south halls of Moscone. I only had one afternoon, so I surfed the aisles and cut through the crowds like a fast shark, looking for obvious prey. A few products I enjoyed sinking my teeth into were:
- The new/about-to-be-released sriracha potato chips (using sriracha “rooster sauce” from Huy Fong Foods), and they’re also releasing a sriracha seasoning (deviled eggs and popcorn will never be the same). And you know about their sriracha popcorn they made with Pop! Popcorn, right?
- This was kind of mind-blowing: there’s a new buffalo mozzarella made in the U.S., but using milk from water buffalo in Campania. I. KNOW. Angelo + Franco will also be selling the milk soon in small frozen 500-ml blocks (or more)—your mozzarella-making at home, or ice cream, or whatever, is gonna have a whole new level of game.
- The salumi from New York’s Charlito’s Cocina were new to me—especially enjoyed the dry beer salami and chorizo.
- Always good to taste the cured meat products from Daniele, Inc.—they do an excellent domestic prosciutto.
- Holy crap, I saw the biggest chub of ‘nduja at the ItalFoods booth. It’s from ‘Nduja Artisans in Chicago, and this very authentic spicy spreadable pork from the heavens is actually available at The Pasta Shop, and hallelujah, this product isn’t sold in a jar. Bonus: the pork is hormone-free.
- Also on the Calabria tip: I discovered this line of pasta called Bella Italia, which offers a regional line of pasta shapes, including fileja Calabresi. I couldn’t believe it. They also had cicatelli Molisani, busiate Trapanesi, and more. Not sure who carries this line locally, but it was cool to see!
- Oh man, someone needs to pick up this line of mustards by Domaine des Terres Rouges imported by HPS Epicurean—their absinthe mustard was beautiful, and I would totally find many uses for their tandoori mustard (it made me want to make an Indian mustard chicken with it). While I typically like a hotter mustard, these had an appealing delicacy and balance. And fortunately they sell them on Amazon (until someone local picks them up).
- While visiting the HPS Epicurean booth, it was great to see Victoria D’Amato-Moran and preview her new (and complex) line of Cent’Anni Spirit Syrups, coming soon to BevMo and Dean & DeLuca.
- The enthusiastic guy manning the Pollen Ranch booth—which features hand-harvested pollen—got me hooked on their dill pollen. This stuff is so fragrant (my purse smelled like the small sample they gave me all day), and they have a whole line of fennel-based products, rubs, and salts.
- I love kefir, and Sierra Nevada Cheese Company has added this new release to their line of grass-fed milk products, plus there’s grass-fed Greek yogurt too.
- Also on the yogurt side, I tried savory yogurts (tomato, sweet potato, butternut squash) from Blue Hill. I dislike sugary fruity yogurts, so these were kind of rad.
- No one let me have the Red Clay containers of pimento cheese in my house, they’d barely last a day. I’d spread it on everything. DANGEROUS. Bonus: they use rBGH-/rBST-free cheeses.
- Of course had to taste some of the products in the new Nancy’s Fancy line: gelati and sorbetti from LA’s Nancy Silverton. Sadly they weren’t sampling the trademark butterscotch budino flavor, but the coconut stracciatella was mighty tasty, ditto the chunky salted peanut butter—both had great mouthfeel.
- The show was totally dominated with ice creams. Additional shout-outs to the Intelligentsia Black Cat espresso from Jeni’s, and strawberry balsamic sorbetto from the Maine-based Gelato Fiasco (their espresso chip was also notable). The inventive flavors from Brooklyn-based Phin & Phebes were awesome (ginger ice cream with ginger cookies with lemon icing filling, and banana pudding ice cream with vanilla wafers, whut?). Oh yeah, and St. Benoit (of the fantastic yogurt) is now making boxed ice milk.
- These tins from Grady’s contain tea bags of cold-brew coffee that you can just throw into a pitcher of water and have New Orleans-style cold brew 12 hours later! So ingenious. Great flavor. I’m all over it!
Your weekends are about to get dim-summier and rowdier with the arrival of the bottomless dim sum weekend brunch at ~CHUBBY NOODLE MARINA~ in San Francisco, starting Saturday January 3rd.
For $37 (plus tax and tip), you will have 90 minutes to enjoy bottomless dishes and four or five beverages, too, ranging from draft Sapporo to their cold tea to probably some mimosas.
The starting menu will be divided into five sections: dim sum (pork buns, shrimp and cilantro dumplings, shu mai), noodles (expect Hong Kong-style chow mein, rice cakes in XO sauce, wonton noodle soup), soup (hot and sour, crab and corn chowder), rice (their amazing fried rice, and jook with smoked pork and a poached egg), and sides (bok choy, pea shoots, eggplant).
Knowing chef-partner Pete Mrabe, these initial dishes will change up a bit. He plans to start with 12 the first weekend, and then ramp up with new ones each week, eventually getting the menu count to 25 (five dishes in each section).
You’ll check off on a piece of paper which dishes you want. Depending on the size of your group, you may need to order double—your server will advise you.
If you’re looking for gift ideas for someone on your list, cookbooks are a great way to go. Especially signed, beautifully photographed, locally written ones. On Saturday December 13th from 3pm-4pm, catch Nicolaus Balla and Cortney Burns of Bar Tartine at ~OMNIVORE BOOKS in San Francisco.
They’ll be discussing their new cookbook, Bar Tartine: Techniques & Recipes, and signing copies. The event is free, and books will be available for purchase. Omnivore is also hosting a number of other special book events next week, if you can’t make this one.
Celebrate the short days and cold weather with choucroute garnie at ~LE P’TIT LAURENT~ on Tuesday December 16th.
The classic wintry Alsatian dish is made with sauerkraut, cured pork (including rib, bacon, and sausage), juniper berries, onions, potatoes, and white wine, and will be served along with a selection of wines from the Alsace region, as well. The dinner is $25 per person, and includes all the choucroute you can eat (pace yourself). Beverages can be purchased separately. 699 Chenery St. at Diamond, 415-334-3235.
If anyone knows about the short days of winter, it’s Scandinavians. ~PLÄJ~ is bringing the holiday spirit with their series of Julbord Holiday Dinners every Sunday until Christmas—December 7th, 14th, and 21st from 5pm-10pm. The five-course dinners begin with a traditional glogg, or spiced wine, and also includes a caviar course, as well as cured fish and meats such as gravlax and chicken liver mousse.
The main course offers a pretty astonishing spread of hearty dishes: meatballs, prince sausage, Christmas ham, and a chanterelle and shrimp omelet, to name just a few. The dinners are $65 per person, with pairings available for an additional cost; reservations can be made by calling 415-294-8925.
From now until December 23rd, ~BIX~ will be offering lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30am-2:30pm for their Holiday Lunch Club. The à la carte menu includes offerings like the Bix burger (a hopper favorite), braised beef short rib on polenta with winter vegetable ragout and preserved tomato, and a Dungeness crab cocktail.