The San Francisco Diet

How the Tablehopper (a.k.a. Marcia Gagliardi) Works Through Turkey Leftovers, and Everything Else She Ate Last Week

Photo: Mathew Sumner

We return now to The San Francisco Diet, a regular feature in which we ask a local personality to detail each and every thing they put in their mouths over the course of seven days. This week’s subject is Marcia Gagliardi (that’s pronounced mar-SEE-ah, btw), The Tablehopper, a food maven about town if ever there was one who’s been entertaining readers with a weekly e-column for over half a decade and whose first book, based on her column’s recommendations, came out earlier this year. She’s now hard at work updating Fodor’s S.F. guide, and she explains to Grub Street how she spent Thanksgiving, the aftermath, and what a week in her life of dining out looks like. Take it away, Marcia.

Well, this was not the most exciting week for me as “the tablehopper” since I’ve been working against a big deadline (along with my usual weekly deadline), so I’ve been eating at home a fair amount–and I had all those Thanksgiving leftovers to take care of. Anyway, here’s what I ate last week: the good, the bad, and the caloric.

Thursday, November 25 -Thanksgiving

Started the day with my usual drink, Green Vibrance, which I am convinced is a wonder elixir, packed with everything green and healthy you could possibly think of. Super energizing, especially after a night of too much vino. Although when I first started drinking it five years ago, I called it the Green Menace for a couple months until I got used to the taste—it’s, uh, seaweed-y.

Fired up a cappuccino at home with Friendo Blendo from Four Barrel Coffee, and then went for a long walk (lots of hills). Came home and made our family’s “Calabrese farm breakfast”: two soft boiled eggs mashed up in a (warm) bowl with ripped-up pieces of toasted Acme ciabatta, and McEvoy olio nuovo dribbled on top. My favorite breakfast, ever.

Cruised down to the folks’ house in San Mateo with my sis, nibbled on a fava bean crostino my dad made, and brought him some of my spicy Szechuan cold chicken from my dinner at The Pot Sticker in Chinatown the night before. Of course I had to eat a few (bony) bites.

I made some sparkling wine cocktails for the family (grandma was also in the house) with some Prosecco, and then we popped open a bottle of 1998 J sparkling wine after that. And now, time for a plate o’ plenty, which included dark and white meat, too much stuffing (made with sausage and a touch of pepperoncino grappa—nice work, dad), sweet potato souffle, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy and regular brown gravy, two kinds of cranberry sauce (one had some horseradish in it), a sourdough roll, and pumpkin pie that my sister made with a Cinderella pumpkin from our family garden and Pim’s pie crust recipe—nope, no room for salad.

Friday, November 26

Since I stayed the night at my parents, my dad made me a double cappuccino in the morning (my parents like espresso from Calistoga Roastery) and a slice of mom’s homemade cranberry bread. Sufficiently fueled up for my boot camp workout in Alamo Square.

Lunch was toasted Alvarado Baking Company sprouted whole wheat bread with warmed-up turkey breast, mayo, cranberry, and little gem lettuce.

Afternoon espresso at home.

I was home all day updating the Fodor’s San Francisco guidebook, and it makes me really hungry to be reading and writing about so much food for hours on end. Snacked on cold spicy beef tendon leftovers from The Pot Sticker.

Dinner was a medley of more Pot Sticker leftovers: I made a fried rice dish with the spicy head-on prawns with some rice, scallion, and egg, plus nibbled on a couple baby cumin lamb chops, and sauteed some baby bok choy. Drank lots and lots of water.

Saturday, November 27

A morning with Green Menace, and then breakfast was Straus plain yogurt with pineapple, flax, and granola. And an espresso.

I was out running a couple errands, so I stopped off to get two tacos from Rico’s at Belmar La Gallinita Meat Market on 24th Street (they’re only open Friday night, and on the weekend): I got the house speciality, cecina (flank steak), and some suadero (brisket)–topped them with onion, cilantro, and their lip-numbingly-hot rojo salsa. I saw lots of folks ordering the quesadillas, which here are pre-fried tortillas with either brains or chorizo/potato that are warmed up on the plancha–I opted for the latter, which was stupidly good (just watch out for the toothpicks). It’s also smart to bring a little container of salsa to your table so you can dribble it over each bite of the quesadilla.

I went to Humphry Slocombe intending to have a single serving of ice cream (it’s almost kitty corner to Rico’s), but then Sean (one of the business partners) foisted the delicious pumpkin pie ice cream pie on me. Bastard. I brought it home and proceeded to eat a nice honking slice. It’s wicked stuff: pumpkin pie ice cream with five spice that is poured into a gingerbread crust, topped with housemade marshmallow fluff and then browned. Sick. Proceeded to gift the rest to the neighbor and my sister so I wouldn’t eat the damned thing.

Espresso break.

Dinner: headed over to Ragazza with a pal (I love being able to walk to dinner). We had a glass of Prosecco with the chicories with green goddess dressing and sunchokes; roasted Brussels sprouts with lardo; baked rigatoni with butternut squash, brown butter, sage, Fontina, and amaretti crumbs (have mercy, mamma mia); split a Moto pizza, with mushrooms, red onion, sausage, mozzarella, tomato sauce, and Calabrian chilies (vroom); too full to eat dessert, but they sent us home with a slice of the ricotta cheesecake. Do I look like I need cheesecake? Why is everyone giving me pie?

My pal and I swung by Chez Marcia for one of my Manhattans (Old Sazerac rye, Carpano Antica, Angostura bitters, brandied cherries) and then got a cab to go see Bonobo at Mezzanine, where I had a couple more drinks, and then a nightcap back at my place. A Tequila bottle came out. And… scene.

Sunday, November 28

Ow. Total hangover. (Not like I was surprised.) Had a banana, and then saddled up for the Green Menace. After my cappuccino, it was time for hangover damage control: two pieces of whole wheat toast with two poached eggs, and leftover giblet gravy poured all over. Holy crap, was that good. I was giving thanks for Thanksgiving leftovers.

Went for an ambling walk once the vice started coming off my head. Had a tangerine in the late afternoon. And a macchiato.

Dinner: I was supposed to go out to dinner but fortunately my friend bailed—I was feeling incredibly unmotivated. I defrosted some kickass homemade chili I made the weekend before (the recipe is from Frankie Frankeny’s mom—a Texan, baby!), topped with some melted pepper jack and sour cream, and had a mixed green salad on the side. I had a sweet tooth, so I munched one of the delicious Clarine’s Florentines I received in the mail. Good mail, that.

Monday, November 29

Today is a new day. And also my weekly deadline day, ugh. Started with my favorite Nature’s Path flax cereal, sliced banana, and then made a macchiato. Engine: started.

Cold day lunch: warmed up the last of the stuffing, turkey, and a drizzle of giblet gravy in my toaster oven. SO freaking good. Farewell, Thanksgiving.

Snack: a perfect Bartlett pear.

Dinner: hmmmm, what’s in the fridge? I sauteed some onion, garlic, and Swiss chard stems with a 4505 merguez sausage that I crumbled out of its casing and browned, then added chopped Swiss chard leaves, a chopped medium tomato, folded in some cooked SooFoo (a rice and grain mix, really tasty), and then put it all in a bowl. I deglazed the pan with some wine, drizzled it on top of the stir-fry, and topped it with some Aleppo pepper and Parmesan. HOLY HELL, one of the best leftover dishes I’ve ever made. Ridiculous.

Tuesday, November 30

Still home, cranking on tablehopper deadline. Started the day with the Green Menace, and then made a tasty breakfast that a Greek friend taught me: a slice of toasted whole wheat bread, topped with a thin slice of feta, and a fried egg. I drizzle it with McEvoy olio nuovo, and sprinkle oregano and Aleppo on top. Opa!


Lunch: was totally in a rush with my deadline, so I warmed up the rest of the chili. Perfect “eat at the desk while editing” food.

Dinner: yeah baby, it’s time for dinner. I went for an hour-long walk after my deadline, so I got good and hungry. Needed to visit La Folie for an update. And man, it was a tour de force–chef Roland was out to kill us. Highlights: Dungeness crab salad with coconut-carrot panna cotta; a beautiful raviolo with an egg inside and covered in white truffle shavings; the squab and quail roti wrapped in thin and crisp potato; and an Edam cheese souffle with bacon for dessert. Oy. Wonderful people there—so hospitable, and such a pretty room. I passed out at home–felt like a seal.

Wednesday, December 1

Thank god it was my weekly boot camp morning—I woke up feeling a bit punky, even after the Green Vibrance. Came home for a breakfast of sliced pineapple, banana, plain yogurt and an espresso.

Lunch: had to pick up some paper at Kelly Paper, so I did a small detour and headed to Bodega Bistro for some of my favorite beef pho in town (did the house pho bodega dac biet, with rare steak, brisket, and meatballs). That place rules.

Started the evening at Jardinière with a celebration for the ever-gracious Eugenio Jardim, who won Sommelier of the Year from Sunset magazine. Munched a couple little mushroom tarts and gougères while drinking Gosset. Purr.

Met up with a friend at the bar at Michael Mina (had a glass of Keller 2009 QBA Trocken) and then headed next door to Tadich Grill for another Fodor’s update: had dinner at the counter, with an awesome server (aren’t they all there?). Started with a martini, then tucked into an overflowing Dungeness crab cocktail (sauce on the side), and then shared some cioppino (really good) and a Hangtown fry (was overcooked, but tasty when dipped into the cioppino sauce), and for dessert, the Tadich rice custard pudding with some bourbon hard sauce. I love this town.

Earlier SF Diets: S.F. Drag Star Juanita MORE! Loves Herself Some Four Barrel, and Slanted Door [Grub Street]
How Sommelier and Budding Winemaker Rajat Parr Eats and Drinks His Way Through Harvest [Grub Street]
Publicist Andrew Freeman Eats Fries With His Steak Tartare, and Popcorn With His Peanut Butter [Grub Street]
Bar Star Brian MacGregor Likes a Good Slider, and Occasionally a Cocktail With Lunch [Grub Street]
The Cooking Channel’s Aida Mollenkamp Is a Girl Who Can Really Eat [Grub Street]
Timothy Hollingsworth Ate Some *Really* Spicy Sh*t in Sydney [Grub Street]
Chris Kronner Loves Sebo Almost as Much as Ryan Farr’s Burgers [Grub Street]
Where Didn’t Michael Bauer Eat This Week? [Grub Street]

How the Tablehopper (a.k.a. Marcia Gagliardi) Works Through Turkey Leftovers,