San Francisco is
by Roberto Friedman
So it seems we're already smack-dab in the thick of the holiday season. Out There has been celebrating with a swank press lunch, attendance at a seasonal cabaret, and some exciting news about a holiday-related entertainment. This last bit up first.
"Thank you for sharing New Year's with me in the past!" exclaimed comedian Marga Gomez digitally. "This year I'm headlining in a new location, Brava Theater. Last year I tried not working on New Year's Eve and injured my knee, requiring a little surgery. It seems the safest place for me on this occasion is the stage.
"Pippi Lovestocking will be just one of my co-stars. I'm also excited because the folks at Brava are keeping the bar open and hiring a celebrity DJ all night so we can countdown New Year's and dance, just like they do in the movies!"
(Photo: David Wilson)
What in tarnation is Marga talking about? It's Brava's New Year's Eve Comedy Fiesta with Marga Gomez and Funny Lady Friends, a benefit for Brava Theater Center in SF. Gomez headlines, with featured comics Aundre the Wonderwoman, Pippi Lovestocking, Lydia Popovich and Eloisa Bravo, coming up on Mon., Dec. 31, at 9 p.m., followed by a Countdown Party with cocktails, snacks, DJ, free champagne at Midnight, and dancing until 1 a.m., at Brava Theater Center, 2781 24th St., SF. Tickets (starting at $30): www.brava.org or (415) 641-7657. Now that we have all the relevant information, let's continue with the digital schmooze.
Out There: Oh Marga, we so missed you last New Year's Eve!
Marga Gomez: Yes, the story about my last New Year's Eve is true. I was trying a Dancing with the Stars dance move at a party and tore my meniscus, and I was on crutches on and off for two months after surgery. I promised myself if my knee got better, I would never ever take off another New Year's Eve.
OK, Ms. Gomez, and we're going to hold you to it!
(Photo: Courtesy Hakkasan SF)
Laddies who lunch
Our glamorous press lunch transpired at Hakkasan San Francisco, which opened this past week on the second floor of the iconic One Kearny building in downtown San Francisco, offering modern Cantonese cuisine including dim sum, wine and sake flights, late-night dining, and the Ling Ling lounge. Hakkasan is a global enterprise, with restaurants in such hot spots as London, Mumbai and Dubai. San Francisco is their first West Coast outpost, although they're also opening soon in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
The main dining area offers a view of bustling Market and Geary Sts. through soaring arched windows punctuated by latticed "cages." The room centers on a 25-seat V-shaped bar in cool blue light; two private dining rooms; the main dining area, enclosed in those latticed "cages" filled with Chinese screens; and the 50-seat Ling Ling, a signature feature reflecting the old-school decadence of Chinoiserie. The prominent materials in the space are stone, glass, steel, dark stained oak, Calcutta marble, colored mirrors, silks and embroidered leather.
Out There was seated at the round banquet table in a private dining room with the Hakkasan team, including COO Didier Souillat and general manager Amgad Wahba . The lunch started with a Hakka steamed dim sum platter from Michelin-starred Chef Ho Chee Boon , crispy duck salad and Jasmine tea-smoked beef short rib. Then the table's lazy Susan filled up with stir-fry monkfish in spicy black bean sauce, braised cuttlefish, black truffle roasted duck, braised pork belly in aged vinegar sauce, stir-fry lobster in sweet and spicy sauce with cashew nut, lotus root, asparagus and lily bulb with black pepper, and egg and scallion fried rice. Libations included refreshing champagne and a nicely decanted Napa cabernet. Dessert was an exotic fruit platter, a yummy PB&J sundae, coconut pudding and macarons.
The interesting thing about being served on a lazy Susan is that you're always engaged in a sort of low-grade tug-of-war with the diners seated directly opposite you. As the Susan spins right and left, dishes go sailing by, and the food bloggers at positions of 3 and 9 o'clock attempt to freeze the luncheon's forward momentum for long enough time to snap away at their food pics. Our staff photographer Rick Gerharter, seated to our left, was civilized enough to take his pictures before lunch was served. Table manners are ever so important.
The holiday-time cabaret show we attended was none other than B.A.R. society columnist Donna Sachet's annual Songs of the Season showcase, benefiting the AIDS Emergency Fund, held at the downtown boite Rrazz Room ensconced in the Hotel Nikko. It was one show-bizzy set after another, with stand-out performances from singer-songwriter Matt Alber – doing a sort of Rufus Wainwright turn at the piano, except with enunciation – and the eternal showstopper Sharon McNight, who bracketed a highly amusing Christmas in Modesto number with a pithy observation about the late unlamented Ronald Reagan: "Now they want a Reagan stamp? He killed my friends!"
Donna herself was in rare form and effected many costume changes, and in fact her perennial put-on-a-show extravaganza, now in its 20th year, has already received beaucoup advances and bounteous promo publicity from many publications, glossy and otherwise. So it would be redundant to read it all again here.
OT was in fine company, surrounded by B.A.R. personnel like Queen Cougar, Michael Yamashita, Jim Provenzano , Matthew S. Bajko , Thomas E. Horn and others. During some numbers our plucky plus one Pepi was transported back to his storied boyhood in Las Vegas. We gave him the corner seat so he could stretch out his legs, plagued as he has long been with a torn meniscus (see Gomez, Marga, above).
There was an understandable error in writer Tavo Amador 's holiday book round-up "Stocking Stuffers Between Covers" in our last issue. Writing about author Claude Izner, Amador wrote, "Izner knows the period and the city, which he recreates beautifully." But, reader Paul Schmidtberger informs us, Claude Izner is actually a woman! "In fact, she's two women, sisters who write under the pseudonym Claude Izner. Here in France, Claude can be either a woman's name or a man's name. Former president Jacques Chirac's daughter is named Claude.
"I've met the sisters Liliane and Laurence, and they are truly wonderful. I'm delighted to see their work featured in the B.A.R.!"