Maison Alyzee — The Newest Hot-Spot Patisserie on the Peninsula

Presenting the Passiano (and the chocolate tart in the back) at the new Maison Alyzee.

Presenting the Passiano (and the chocolate tart in the back) at the new Maison Alyzee.

 

Owner Laurent Pellet makes no bones about what sets his Maison Alyzee in downtown Mountain View apart from other Bay Area bakeries.

Its heritage is unequivocally French — from the Lyon-born Pellet to the three French pastry chefs who moved to the United States just for this endeavor.

Oui, oui.

Since opening two weeks ago, the place has been inundated. So much so, that it had to up its baking to double the number of croissants, kouign-amanns and other viennoierie after just the second day.

And that’s saying something because it’s directly across the street from competitor, Alexander’s Patisserie.

Head Pastry Chef Jean-Victor Bellaye who had never been to California before taking this job.

Head Pastry Chef Jean-Victor Bellaye who had never been to California before taking this job.

Pellet, who was a chief financial officer for Sony for many years, longed for an authentic French patisserie when he moved to the Bay Area. So, he decided to start one, himself, and named it after his youngest daughter.

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Chef Jose Andres At the Commonwealth Club & More

Chef Jose Andres. (photo courtesy of the Think Food Group)

Chef Jose Andres. (photo courtesy of the ThinkFood Group)

The Commonwealth Club Hosts Chef Jose Andres

Jose Andres is so much more than one of the world’s most talented chefs. He’s also a committed humanitarian, as evidenced by his Herculean efforts to feed people in Puerto Rico last year, following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria.

Andres, who was named “Humanitarian of the Year” by the James Beard Foundation, led a force of volunteers and chefs, who cooked nearly 3 million hot meals for the island’s residents.

You can learn more about his experiences, 6:30 p.m. Sept. 17, at “Feeding Puerto Rico with Chef Jose Andres,” a Commonwealth Club program that will be held at the Marines’ Memorial Theatre in San Francisco.

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The Glories of Berkeley Bowl — And Smoky Snake Beans

Long beans in a saucy dish of tomatoes, smoked paprika, garlic and shallots.

Long beans in a saucy dish of tomatoes, smoked paprika, garlic and shallots.

 

You know how some women can spend hours at Nordstrom or Bloomingdale’s?

I could totally lose track of time inside Berkeley Bowl.

With two locations now in Berkeley, this incredible grocery store has one of the most far-ranging produce departments imaginable. It’s the only place I found a few years ago that carried ramps, that East Coast darling of ingredients beloved by chefs.

This family-owned store was established in 1977 by Glenn and Diane Yasuda. He hailed from a family of Southern California farmers; she came from a long line of grocers. At a time when supermarkets mostly bought from large distributors, the Yasudas championed small farmers from the start, sourcing from them directly to fill their store’s produce bins. The more unusual or exotic, the better, too.

In fact, in 1987, David “Mas” Masumoto was on the verge of giving up his Suncrest peach farm because there was no market for the intensely flavored fruit because they bruised easily, and thus, could not be shipped easily nor stored for long periods. But Glenn Yasuda saw their value, and started buying them, helping to save the Masumoto farm.

BerkeleyBowlCookbook

You’ll learn all of that history in the new “The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook” (Parallax Press) by Laura McLively, a registered dietitian and food writer in Oakland, with photos by Berkeley’s Erin Scott.

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Belcampo Makes A Big Splash in Jack London Square

Feast your eyes on an entire beef short rib -- Korean-style -- at Belcampo in Oakland.

Feast your eyes on an entire beef short rib — Korean-style — at Belcampo in Oakland.

 

Belcampo’s flagship restaurant in Oakland’s Jack London Square may have only opened last month, but the soaring, 7,000-square-foot spot is already packing in the crowds, hankering for its menu focused on the company’s own sustainable meats.

Other restaurants may source sustainable products. But Belcampo takes that much further. It owns its own 25,000-acre ranch at the foot of Mt. Shasta, where it raises all its own organic, grass-fed beef, lamb, pigs, chickens, turkeys and other animals. It also owns its own USDA-certified slaughterhouse, as well as its own restaurants and butcher shops. That means there is never any middle man involved nor breaks in the supply chain. It’s as farm to table as you can get.

The Jack London Square locale is an ideal one with lovely waterfront views, and mere steps from Belcampo’s corporate offices.

On a recent Sunday evening, I dined as a guest of the restaurant.

Right on Jack London Square.

Right on Jack London Square.

The soaring, light-filled space.

The soaring, light-filled space.

The large, comfortable bar.

The large, comfortable bar.

It’s a lively venue with a large bar with plentiful seats and a lounge area. The main dining room is framed by huge windows that let in a lot of light on a summer day.

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