Pedigreed Pasta

A simple pasta dish becomes extra special with Community Grains organic whole grain pastas.

A simple pasta dish becomes extra special with Community Grains organic whole grain pastas.

 

There are a lot of things to like about the new varieties of Community Grains pastas.

First, they’re all made from organic whole grain that’s grown and milled in Northern California.

Second, they boast transparency in the process — labeling each box with a code that you can plug into its Web site to find information about the farm that grew the particular wheat, the seed source, type of wheat, soil it was grown in, and not only when it was milled but by what type of mill.

Third, at a time when commodity wheat is grown for high yield and uniformity, the varieties of wheat that make up these pastas are grown for their distinctiveness and flavor. The pastas are made in small batches using Italian bronze dies, then slowly air-dried to enhance the wheat flavor.

And fourth, what flavor it is. While so many supermarket pastas just offer something to put sauce on, these artisan pastas can handle the simplest of toppings because they have enough flavor and character to stand out all on their own.

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Bird Dog Soars

Irresistible curry-dusted fried chicken at Bird Dog.

Irresistible curry-dusted fried chicken at Bird Dog.

 

The tech world has been blamed for a lot of things of late — worsening traffic, skyrocketing housing prices, widespread impatience, and a growing lack of civility.

But one thing we can be thankful for is that it brought us Chef Robbie Wilson and his wife Emily Wilson.

Chamath Palihapitiya, venture capitalist, part owner of the Warriors, and former Facebook executive, and his wife, Brigette Lau, also a venture capitalist and former Navio Systems engineer, met the Wilsons and were so captivated by them, they agreed to partner and invest in their restaurant — as long as it opened in Palo Alto, the city where the influential tech couple lives with their kids.

Bird Dog opened last winter in downtown Palo Alto. The name refers to pursuing something with unwavering, laser-focus and determination, which is appropriate for a restaurant that’s been a hit since the doors opened. I had a chance to visit a few weeks ago when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.

Chef Robbie Wilson brings impressive credentials to Palo Alto.

Chef Robbie Wilson brings impressive credentials to Palo Alto.

Robbie Wilson trained under some of the best: Michael Troisgros at Maison Troisgras; Tom Colicchio at Craft in New York, Thomas Keller at the French Laundry, and Nobu Matsuhisa at Matsuhisa in Aspen. Emily Wilson, who worked in luxury real estate development sales, is a gracious presence at the restaurant, darting from table to table, to welcome and chat with guests.

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On the Eve of (Steak) Taco Tuesday

A one-pan meal made in a cast-iron skillet.

A one-pan meal made in a cast-iron skillet.

 

There are cast-iron skillets that are handed down from generation to generation like the family jewels.

That’s how coveted they are, especially if they are beautifully seasoned from regular use and care, rendering them the ultimate nonstick pan.

Mine doesn’t have quite that lineage. It came about when I married my husband, who brought the heavy, black pan into my life.

Naturally, what led him to buy it was his fondness for cooking steaks. He is Meat Boy, after all.

But a cast-iron skillet can do so much more. In the new book, “Home Skillet” (Rockridge Press), of which I received a review copy, Bay Area food writer Robin Donovan shows just how versatile that pan is.

homeskillet

You can use it to bake treats such as “Maple-Pecan and Apple Oatmeal Breakfast Bake.” You can steam in it such dishes as “Mussels Steamed in Lemongrass-Coconut Broth.” You can use it on the barbie in entrees such as “Seafood Paella on the Grill.” You can make bread in it, such as “Onion Naan.” And you can whip up desserts in it such as “Sugar Cream Pie.”

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48 Hours of Eating in Richmond, BC

Fried fish stick with spicy mayo, spicy chipotle, and garlic sea salt seasonings -- at the Richmond Night Market.

Fried fish stick with spicy mayo, spicy chipotle, and garlic sea salt seasonings — at the Richmond Night Market.

 

RICHMOND, BC — When I told friends that I was going to Canada for the weekend, I couldn’t blame them for looking at me dubiously.

But then again, Richmond, British Columbia is just a two-hour flight away from the Bay Area, so it’s not as crazy a proposition as it seems. Add to that the fact that the U.S. dollar will buy you 30 percent more in Canada right now, and it’s a no-brainer, right?

Indeed, when the Richmond Tourism Bureau invited me as their guest on a weekend eating adventure, I was game to see just how much ground we could cover in two days. The answer: a lot.

Richmond is an island with a population of 210,000. Of that, 65 percent are Asian. As a tourism official explained: the Chinese were drawn to this area because the name of the city sounded like “rich man,” and made them think they could become wealthy here.

Of the 800 restaurants here, half are Asian. As such, it’s no wonder that you’ll find some of the finest Chinese food around in this city, plus a whole lot more.

Fisherman’s Wharf

My complimentary accommodations at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel were more than fine, but, ah, my kingdom for a kitchen, especially when I saw the incredible seafood for sale off the boats on the wharf. Fresh uni at three for $10! As well as King salmon, and head-on wild shrimp.

The bustling wharf.

The bustling wharf.

The fresh catch for sale.

The fresh catch for sale.

Fresh uni!

Fresh uni!

Steveston

This charming historic fishing village, just steps from Fisherman’s Wharf, may look familiar to fans of ABC’s hit show, “Once Upon A Time,” as much of it is filmed here.

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Not Your Average Melon

This cantaloupe hides a center of molten mozzarella. Swooning yet?

This cantaloupe hides a center of molten mozzarella. Swooning yet?

 

Melon and prosciutto.

Ho-hum. Been there, ate that.

But not like this.

Not when the cantaloupe cavity is filled with molten mozzarella before being draped with thin slices of salty-sweet prosciutto, and seasoned liberally with salt, pepper, and lush olive oil.

“Broiled Cantaloupe with Hand-Stretched Mozzarella Curds and Prosciutto” takes a familiar taste and turns it on its head.

The genius recipe is from the new cookbook, “Around the Fire: Recipes For Inspired Grilling and Seasonal Feasting From Ox Restaurant” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy.

AroundtheFire

It’s by husband-and-wife chefs Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quinonez Denton, with assistance from food writer Stacy Adimando. They are the chefs of the critically acclaimed Ox in Portland, OR.

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