Three Gourmet Gifts For Friends, Family — Or Yourself

Rice crackers and cheese puffs are among the treats inside this Bokksu box.

Rice crackers and cheese puffs are among the treats inside this Bokksu box.

Elevated Snack Attack

Founder Danny Taing has elevated the snack box — big time — with his Bokksu subscription service.

Every month, he curates a selection of premium Japanese snacks, which — yes — can include such coveted treats as the newest Japanese Kit Kat flavor — that are mailed directly to you from Japan.

Recently, I had a chance to try a sample box. They come in two sizes, the $25 “Tasting” size and the larger $39 “Classic” size, which is the one I had sent to me.

Each month, there is a different theme for each box. For the November one, it was “Tea Story,” which meant everything inside — about 20 items — married well with Japanese tea. With every month’s box, there is always tea included, too.

Everything is tucked inside a custom box.

Everything is tucked inside a custom box.

Voila!

Voila!

The snacks arrived in a sturdy, custom logo box, which is a nice touch if you’re giving it as a gift. Inside, there’s a pamphlet with a primer on tea (apparently, it originated in Japan in the 9th century by Buddhist monks as a religious practice), as well as descriptions of the items inside. That’s a handy guide, too, since much of the information on the actual packages is in Japanese. It even identifies possible allergens in the various products.

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Howling For The Wolf

Get to know fried biscuits with chicken and duck liver mousse at The Wolf.

Get to know fried biscuits with chicken and duck liver mousse at The Wolf.

 

Expectations are always high whenever a newcomer takes the place of a 40-year-old stalwart beloved by the community.

Such was the case when The Wolf opened last year in the iconic Craftsman building that for so long housed the iconic Bay Wolf restaurant.

But diners needn’t have worried. After all, The Wolf was opened by Rich and Rebekah Wood, who also own Wood Tavern and Southie, both in Oakland. In fact, Wood Tavern Chef Yang Peng made the leap to helm the kitchen at The Wolf.

The chic bar.

The chic bar.

The classic bones of the restaurant remain, but the place has been brightened with an open kitchen and a sleek solid stone bar that’s illuminated underneath.

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Bread Galore In Every Which Way at the New Manresa Bread Campbell

A two-fisted chicken schnitzel at the new Manresa Bread in Campbell.

A two-fisted chicken schnitzel at the new Manresa Bread in Campbell.

 

If you already love the artisan loaves at Manresa Bread, then you are sure to go bonkers for the new downtown Campbell location that opened less than two weeks ago.

That’s because it features not only its already adored long-fermented loaves made with its freshly milled flours, but bread in so many other incarnations.

We’re talking chicken schnitzel breaded in the bakery’s own crumbs before being fried to a crisp and loaded into a fresh-baked bun with caper, mayo and house-fermented kraut.

Spaetzle made with a sourdough starter, and finished in a sauce of whey, butter and Pecorino.

And bone marrow matzo balls bobbing in bone broth, with the tender, moist dumplings actually made with levain bread crumbs.

Shelves of bread where you help yourself to loaves.

Shelves of bread where you help yourself to loaves.

Crusty baguettes.

Crusty baguettes.

At 2,100 square feet, the Campbell locale is twice the size of the Los Gatos and Los Altos locations, enabling it to also operate much more like an all-day cafe, with hours from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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You Won’t Believe This Cookie Is Nonfat

No fat -- yet with an explosion of ginger goodness.

No fat — yet with an explosion of ginger goodness.

 

I am often put off by the word, ”nonfat.”

It usually means non-flavorful, non-satisfying and non-worth-it.

That’s why I approached with trepidation the recipe for “Nonfat Gingersnaps” in the new Food52 Genius Desserts: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Bake (Food52 Works) (Ten Speed Press) by Kristen Miglore, Food52’s creative director, of which I received a review copy.

The cookbook comprises more than 100 recipes that are touted as game-changers. Indeed, they span from a “Brazilian Carrot Cake” recipe in which raw carrots are blitzed in a blender with eggs, oil and sugar for the batter” to “No-Stress Pie Dough” in which the cubes of butter are pinched into the flour before adding cold water to “Vegan Chocolate Birthday Cake with Superfluffy Frosting” that uses avocado in the batter, and almond milk and brown rice syrup in the frosting for a cloud-like Cool Whip-texture.

Food52GeniusDesserts

So many people embrace nonfat because of health concerns. But every chef will tell you that fat equals flavor. It also provides satiation. Just consider how much more full you feel — and for far longer — if you choose full-fat yogurt over nonfat, not to mention the added calcium you get.

As I read over the recipe, visions of awful Snackwells nonfat cookies popped into my head. But I knew that if the recipe was published in a Food52 book, it must be good. Moreover, if it was a recipe created by pastry chef extraordinaire David Lebovitz, well, then it had to be superb.

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Innovative Vegan Fare at Millennium

Tempeh and spaetzel at Millennium that taste like beef stroganoff.

Tempeh and spaetzel at Millennium that taste like beef stroganoff.

 

Recently, I dined with a companion at a vegan restaurant.

No, it was not with my husband, aka Meat Boy.

But even he enjoyed the leftovers I brought home afterward.

That tells you just how satisfying the cuisine is at Millennium in Oakland.

In fact, the majority of diners there are not strictly vegan. But they are lured by the creativity of Chef Eric Tucker’s dishes.

Millennium first opened in 1994 in San Francisco before moving to the Rockridge neighborhood across the Bay in 2015.

Even on a Monday night, typically a slow time for most restaurants, the dining room was packed.

Fried oyster mushrooms.

Fried oyster mushrooms.

My friend Sheila (also not a vegan) and I started with a big pile of Coriander and Arborio Crusted Oyster Mushrooms ($13.95). The Italian risotto rice used in the coating gives the mushrooms a heavier and toastier tasting crust. Pick one up and dip into the sweet-spicy habanero jam. It’s perfect finger-food.

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