Enoteca La Storia Invigorates San Jose’s Little Italy

The Beginner's Luck cocktail.

The Beginner’s Luck cocktail.

 

If you’re already a fan of the original Enoteca La Storia in Los Gatos, you’re sure to embrace its big brother that’s more than three times the size that opened last year in San Jose’s Little Italy neighborhood.

Owners Joe Cannistraci, 52 of Sicilian heritage, and Mike Guerra, 53 of Calabrese heritage, are proud Italian-Americans who pay homage to Italian forebearers at each location. Cannistraci’s father owned a grocery in New York; while Guerra’s paternal grandfather and paternal great-grandfather both owned grocery stores in San Jose, and his maternal grandparents ran Hollister’s Villa Pace Italian restaurant.

The inside of this historic building has been fully refurbished. It is old Italy meets contemporary industrial with exposed brick and duct work, along with old black and white photos enlarged to pay respect to Italian families who helped shaped this valley. In fact, an assistant manager singled out one particular photo of the Italian family who used to run a bakery on this spot long ago. One of the babies in that photo, now all grown-up, recently came in and pointed out herself to the owners.

The main dining room.

The main dining room.

A mock-up receipt from the old bakery that used to operate on the site.

A mock-up receipt from the old bakery that used to operate on the site.

An old photo of the Murillo family that operated the bakery.

An old photo of the Murillo family that operated the bakery.

Old wood bread paddles from the bakery also are on display, as is a rendering of a receipt from the bakery, blown up to poster size.

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Joanne Chang’s Addictive Soy Sauce Deviled Eggs with Five-Spice

Make no argument, these are the best deviled eggs around.

Make no argument, these are the best deviled eggs around.

 

These are by no means traditional eats for Chinese New Year, which begins Feb. 16.

Nor are they typical picnic fare.

What these deviled eggs are is simply the best rendition you’ll ever sink your teeth into.

Boston-based Pastry Chef Joanne Chang of Flour bakery already makes some of my most favorite baked goods. Now she and Executive Chef Karen Akunowicz of Myers + Chang restaurant in Boston have done it on the savory side, creating an Asian-inflected version of deviled eggs that will spoil you for all others.

“Soy Sauce Deviled Eggs with Five-Spice” is from her latest cookbook, “Myers + Chang At Home” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017) by Chang and Akunowicz, of which I received a review copy.

myerschangathome

The more than 80 recipes represent favorite dishes served at Meyers + Chang over the past decade — everything from “Sichuan Shrimp Lettuce Wraps” to “Korean Braised Short Rib Tacos with Kimchi-Sesame Salsa” to “Surf and Turf Black pepper Shanghai Noodles” to “Chocolate Tofu Mousse with Black and White Sesame Brittle.”

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Baking A Childhood Favorite: Blum’s Coffee Crunch Cake

Blum's coffee crunch cake -- it's not nearly as hard to make as you might think.

Blum’s coffee crunch cake — it’s not nearly as hard to make as you might think.

 

If you grew up way back when in San Francisco like me, no doubt you grew up obsessed with Blum’s coffee crunch cake.

This neighborhood bakery was famed for this airy two-layer cake slathered inside and out with swirls of coffee whipped cream. The piece de resistance? The shellacking of crunchy toffee pieces all over it.

It was the cake families bought for birthdays, and all manner of other celebrations. Mine certainly did. That cake was always front and center for my birthday, as well as my two brothers’.

The secret was that you had to eat as much of it as you could that very first day. Because once refrigerated overnight, the toffee pieces turned soft and soggy, and not nearly as appealing. So I cop to always cutting myself a rather gargantuan piece as a child. It’s a wonder my parents let me get away with that, let alone eating a coffee-laced product at that age, when they’d never let a brewed cup itself pass my lips.

Thank goodness they did, too, because that cake remains an iconic part of my childhood. Just the thought of it is enough to make me smile big-time.

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Teni East Kitchen — A Gem in Oakland

Chef Tiyo Shibabaw at her Teni East Kitchen.

Chef Tiyo Shibabaw at her Teni East Kitchen.

 

What’s an Ethiopia-born chef doing cooking Burmese food?

Living out a delectable dream, that’s what.

Tiyo Shibabaw, born and raised in Ethiopia where her parents run a hotel and restaurant, always knew she wanted to be in the hospitality industry.

But it wasn’t until she moved to the Bay Area that she found her calling in Southeast Asian cuisines, most notably after going to work at Burma Superstar. Although she started there as a general manager, it wasn’t long before she began apprenticing in the kitchen. She was soon tapped to open the Burma Superstar in Alameda, followed by one in Oakland.

After 10 years, she left the fold to step out on her own, opening her Teni East Kitchen in 2016 that’s named for her mother.

Textbook roti.

Textbook roti.

As she explained when I was invited in last week as a guest of her restaurant, she fell in love with the deep, complex flavors of Burmese cuisine that are multi-layered thanks to its judicious use of spices much like in Ethiopian cooking.

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