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People Are Threatening This Bay Area Caviar Company Even Though It Has No Ties to Russia

Plus, there will be a new garlic festival coming but it won’t be using the Gilroy name and more food news

Tsar Nicoulai caviar shot 12/13/2004. Photo by Anne Cusack/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Lauren Saria is the editor of Eater SF and has been writing about food, drinks, and restaurants for more than a decade.

Bay Area caviar producer Tsar Nicoulai has been receiving threatening letters and comments on social media by people who mistakenly believe the company is Russian, according to a report from the San Francisco Chronicle. In April, letters handwritten in Russian and English arrived at the company’s Concord headquarters telling the company to “Go back to Russia! Or suffer severe consequences!” But Tsar Nicoulai, which supplies caviar to many of California’s top restaurants, was founded in the 1980s in San Francisco by a Swedish family, the Chronicle reports. The company raises sturgeon at a farm outside Sacramento and has one cafe, which opened earlier this year inside the historic Ferry Building. “There’s nothing Russian about Tsar Nicoulai,” president Ali Bolourchi told the Chron.

The company is one of a handful of Eastern European businesses around the Bay Area to be caught up in anti-Russian sentiment stemming from the ongoing war in Ukraine. In February FOX2 reported that San Francisco Ukrainian restaurant Pushkin received threats on social media — even as interest in showing solidarity for the people of Ukraine also led to an uptick in business. Now the Chronicle reports owner Sergey Shukaylo plans to change the restaurant’s name from Pushkin, named for Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, to Leleka, which Shukaylo says means stork in Ukrainian. “This is our form of protest,” Shukaylo told the paper. “We’re a Ukrainian restaurant and we want to be more representative of who we are.”

Northern California vegetable festival confusion continues

As Eater SF reported, the organizers behind two Northern California food festivals found themselves in a social media quagmire Monday; it all started when the Noceti Group, which puts on the San Joaquin Asparagus Festival took to Facebook to announce plans to carry on the Gilroy Garlic Festival, which organizers “canceled indefinitely” earlier this year. The only problem? An organizer with the garlic event said no one one has ever heard of or communicated with the asparagus festival folks.

Now ABC7 reports Tony Noceti, President and CEO of the asparagus festival, is clarifying the plan. “It’s gonna be a Garlic Festival, yes,” he told ABC7 — but the organizers won’t be using the Gilroy name. More details will be announced on Thursday, he promised. The people behind the Gilroy Garlic Festival also released a statement stating in no uncertain terms that any Stockton-based garlic events would not be “a sanctioned Gilroy Garlic Festival Association event. Stockton is not the successor of our community’s homecoming event to support our essential non-profits here in Gilroy, the Garlic Capital of the World. The board is happy to see the enthusiasm the Noceti Group has for garlic, but asks that they communicate directly with the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association with those ideas.”

Espresso Martini Fest hits San Francisco May 16-22

The San Francisco Bay Area loves a coffee cocktail — after all this city is home to one of the most famous Irish coffee bars in the world. So it’s only fitting that drinkers would want to take advantage of Espresso Martini Fest, when a handful of bars will offer $12 espresso martinis thanks to a partnership with Mr Black. You can find a full lineup of participating bars here but a short list includes the Beehive, ChezChez, the Madrigal, and Junior.

Black Restaurant Week returns to the Bay Area

Black Restaurant Week Bay Area starts soon with the 10-day promotion running from Friday, May 13 until Sunday, May 22. Event organizers ask participating restaurants to create a promotion in exchange for “PR/marketing services to build awareness about their venue,” a spokesperson wrote in an email to Eater SF. Diners can view a list of participating restaurants online.

Try these ‘indie versions’ of Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza

Shout out to 48 Hills for doing the Lord’s work — as in, rounding up a trio of San Francisco restaurants that serve Mexican pizzas. While the El Puerquito at Anton’s Pizza & Deli doesn’t actually sound like it has much in common with Taco Bell’s fan-favorite dish, which returns this month, it does still sound pretty delicious.