Last night we attended a quasi-annual Portuguese wine tasting event sponsored by ViniPortugal. We’ve attended this event a few times prior (last at the Palace Hotel in 2008), and this was by far the worst: completely cramped quarters atop the 32nd floor of the Westin St. Francis, vendors who ran out of wine and bailed within the first 30 minutes of the event, and passed hors d’oeuvres that had more in common with Thailand or Italy than Portugal.

tablehopper's book includes a brief review of San Francisco espressoOne of the co-branded offerings of the public event was a free copy of Marcia Gagliardi’s recently published The Tablehopper’s Guide to Dining and Drinking in San Francisco — and the opportunity to get the author’s signature. We’ve written about tablehopper prior. She may not know much about food, but she’s made a career out of knowing people who know food and providing a useful service out of that. She also may not be much of a writer, but she’s great at pithy — something we honestly respect.

Setting aside the bizarre reality that makes new media specialists turn to old media distribution platforms to make a little coin, her pithy section on SF espresso quotes something like this (pp 147-148):

Espresso is the nude beach of coffee making — there is just no hiding. You can tell with one look whether that shot is tight or flabby. [Hence our mandatory photos.] These are places whose shots can proudly walk along the shore in the unforgiving light of day.

Well said, tablehopper. She then proceeds to rank Blue Bottle Coffee and Four Barrel Coffee. With a lot to choose from these days, it’s still hard to knock these two. Yes, Jeremy Tooker: I know you’ve thought we’ve had it out for you for so long, but congrats on really improving your roasting operations over the past couple of years. You guys have since earned your top-notch accolades after a rougher start.

tablehopper then makes mention of Philz Coffee (even if they have nothing to do with espresso), Ritual Roasters, and Coffee Bar. But, playing her hand, she also pulls out an editorial bubble on the Gibraltar. Which is pretty much shorthand to us for, “I don’t know coffee, but I know clique.”

Not that we are honestly surprised. Even industry gossipers can’t help themselves: it’s in their nature.