Monday, November 26, 2007

Yoshi's Opens This Week

The Fillmore District is buzzing about this week's opening of Yoshi's just eight blocks south of Vivande. Yoshi's is the renowned jazz club in Oakland and the super-popular venue is opening a second club in the Fillmore Heritage Center, within walking distance of Vivande Porta Via.

Yoshi's San Francisco grand opening is Wednesday night and features 82-year-old drummer Roy Haynes who has played with all kinds of different musicians ever since he first worked in the Big Band era.

The legendary Taj Mahal is playing an extended Thursday through Sunday session...and in late December the Count Basie Orchestra will be on Fillmore Street for almost an entire week! We are expecting the dinner crowds to get a bit busier, so if you're planning to dine with us don't forget to give us a call to reserve your favourite table...415.346.4430.

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Post Thanksgiving Blues

Following a wonderful turkey prepared by Carlo and the wonderful staff at Vivande, the second half of the holiday weekend was uneventful. The day after Thanksgiving was sunny and warm, but Saturday and Sunday remained cool. The nights were chilly and clear with spectacular views throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Here at Vivande, the week started with muses and talk about the Christmas rush, holiday decorations, special orders, wine, and yet another round of turkey and stuffing we'll be preparing for our loyal customers. Carlo and Lisa have already started to plan the menu.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanks to Kirk

A restaurant does not run on food preparation and service alone, it must have its accounting done. There I was slaving over a hot spreadsheet when an ecstatic Kirk comes by. Kirk is our guru of procurement, he knows all, does all and finds all. He shoves a jar of open capers in my face with a plastic spoon and sez “taste these”. I told him no way. I love to cook with capers but eating them out of a jar by the spoonful, not for me. He went on to rave about these ‘jewels’ and insisted I try them.
Fortunately I did. The taste was astonishing, a whole new flavor experience. I had another spoonful and made Kirk take the jar away from me before I ate them all. Villa Reale Farmer Style Capers have a delicate taste and yes they are addictive right out of the jar.

Giacomo at Vivande

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Peach Happening

When all of the stars and planets are aligned, the weather is just right, the stock market is up, and Carlo goes to the market and finds just the right sweetness and size The Peach happens. Although it has happened to me since the first time I encountered The Peach it was grand. Carlo takes the perfect peach, poaches it, fills it with his own marzipan and covers it with zabaglione cream and sprinkles of pistachio slivers. Then it is oohs and aahs as the flavors engulf one’s senses. I always check in with Vivande during peach season and you should too. I know this is not the season, but keep it in mind for next year. This is the desert served on Olympus.

Ci vediamo
Giocomo at Vivande

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Richard Rodriguez Encounter

The summer before last, Joy and I were having a scrumptious Vivande lunch on one of those bright days in the Fillmore, where as no place else in the world, the rays of the sun are greeted with ceremony and adulation. Eating at Vivande is always an indulgence for all of the senses but this day was going to be more.
Looking up from our table I spotted Richard Rodriguez seated at a table near the front of the place. For those who don’t know Richard Rodriguez is an award winning essayist, author and television commentator. No one had to tell Joy this; Richard Rodriguez is her favorite author. Too shy to walk up to him, Joy dashed out of Vivande and a few doors down ran into Browser Books and purchased a copy of “Brown” one of Richard Rodriguez’s books.
Still reticent about approaching Mr. Rodriguez I told Carlo Middione, the proprietor of Vivande, Joy’s dilemma. Nothing shy about Carlo. With his winning smile and Joy’s book in hand he approached the author and asked if he would sign the tome.
Mr. Rodriguez did more than that. He came to our table and, not only signed the book for Joy, but we had a nice conversation about the charm of Vivande. Like us he loved the casualness and quality of the surroundings and food. A wonderful retreat back to Italy right on Fillmore Street!

Ci vediamo
Giocomo at Vivande

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mopping up a Mess on a Cold & Foggy SF Weekend

The weekend is starting cold and foggy here in San Francisco's Fillmore District. Carlo and Lisa and our entire Vivande staff are operating at full throttle preparing for the crush of Thanksgiving turkey orders that have started coming in.

Soon I will be in my flat overlooking San Francisco Bay. I have just a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge. But out on the water, fishing boats will be busy at work trying to mop up the oil that spilled from a container ship last week. What a mess...what a disaster! But there's still a lot to be thankful for.

After a hard week, I'm taking a few large Pantelleria capers straight from the Mediterranean. (They're really in jar, but I think I can smell the Mediterranean sea air when I remove the lid.) After a couple rinses to remove the salt, these bulbous capers are heading straight for my martini glass which will already be filled with cold gin.

...A not so traditional martini for a very traditional American holiday.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Vivande Featured in Chronicle's Holiday Issue

Vivande was featured in Cindy Lee's and Elizabeth Gruse's column in The San Francisco Chronicle's Thanksgiving issue this week. The Wednesday food pages were loaded with great tips on wine pairings, cranberry recipes, a turkey bake-off and a wide assortment of side dish ideas. If you missed it, there is a link on SF Gate.

As featured in The Chronicle, Carlo is preparing ready-to-serve feasts. Start with a free-range turkey for either 12 or 20 guests. Choose from three different kinds of amazing stuffings, plus cranberry chutney and baked squash. Time is growing short to reserve one of Carlo's Thanksgiving feasts. Call by by Saturday. 415.346.4430.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Renaissance of Upper Fillmore

Fillmore Street is loaded with San Francisco history and Vivande is and was a big part of it. In 1906 with the City of San Francisco devastated by the great earthquake and fire; much of the city government and commerce located to the still intact Fillmore Street. It was hustle and bustle through two world wars and the music scene of the 1940’s when the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Billie Holliday played its clubs. The music continued through the 1970's with the Fillmore hosting such artists as Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead. The years following were hard on Fillmore Street and the place fell into disrepair.
In the 1980’s the renaissance of upper Fillmore Street started fueled by such establishments as Vivande bringing the tastes of Southern Italy to the district. Fillmore Street soon became a hub of stylish commerce with Vivande a big part of the resurgence. Today Vivande carries on this tradition still drawing visitors to The Fillmore.

Ci vediamo
Giocomo at Vivande

Sunday, November 11, 2007

nome di penna

I love this place so much I decided to contribute my feelings for Vivande on Carlo’s blog. I have been contracting to Vivande for some very interesting years. I write under the nome di penna, Giacomo; it's so Italian, just like Vivande. But my writing is not about Vivande but about me. Isn’t that why we do anything? It’s about what I feel when I am in San Francisco, on Fillmore avenue, and in Vivande. Maybe you have the same feelings for special places.

Ci vediamo
Giocomo at Vivande