Author Archives: foodgal

Banh Mi Fried Rice (Yes, You Read That Right)

No bread needed -- banh mi fried rice.
No bread needed — banh mi fried rice.

If fried rice is an edible blank canvas, then get ready to channel your inner Jackson Pollock.

Fast, easy, and a perennial favorite, this homespun dish veers decidedly outside the box in the new “Fried Rice: 50 Ways to Stir Up the World’s Favorite Grain” (Sasquatch Books), of which I received a review copy.

James Beard Award-winning food writer Danielle Centoni, a former food colleague of mine she was at the Oakland Tribune and I was at sister newspaper the San Jose Mercury News, greatly expands on the notion of what fried rice can be.

The book includes globally-inspired 50 recipes. Of course, there are standards such as “Classic Chinese Fried Rice with BBQ Pork” and “Spicy Fried Rice with Chinese Broccoli, Ground Pork, and Szechuan Chili Oil.” But there is plenty more that you’d be hard-pressed to have considered before, including “Fried Rice with Halloumi, Pickled Onions, and Zhug,” “Carbonara Fried Rice,” and “New Mexican Chili Fried Rice with Queso and Pork.”

She also includes tips for making fried rice (always start with day-old cooked rice), proper water ratios when cooking rice, and ways to avoid pests growing in your stored rice (freeze it for three days first).

Her “Vietnamese Pork Meatball Banh Mi Fried Rice” has all the vibrant flavors of your favorite inexpensive Vietnamese sandwich, but its foundation is rice rather than a French baguette. That means this dish is gluten-free, especially if you swap out the soy sauce for tamari instead.

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Summer Is Even Tastier With Basil and Clementine Olive Oils

Toasted baguette topped with goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, basil, and a drizzle of Enzo Organic Basil Crush.
Toasted baguette topped with goat cheese, cherry tomatoes, basil, and a drizzle of Enzo Organic Basil Crush.

Summer’s tomatoes, green beans, squash, cucumbers and other bounty are so dazzlingly delicious at this time of year, they need little else to enjoy.

But one thing that will complement without overwhelming is a fine olive oil. Look no further than Enzo’s Organic Basil Crush and Organic Clemenine Crush.

The limited release olive oils are made by the Ricchiuti family, who have worked the land in California’s San Joaquin Valley for more than a century. Their olive oils, made with olives grown near Madera, have been a favorite of chefs such as Tyler Florence of San Francisco’s Wayfare Tavern, and Chef de Cuisine Ivan Marquez and Pastry Chef Jason Mattick of Los Angeles’ Broken Spanish. The olive oil line takes its name from the family’s great-grandfather.

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Churn a Batch of Salt & Straw’s Imperial Stout Milk Sorbet with Blackberry-Fig Jam

This sorbet is made with stout, as well as jam loaded with dried Mission figs and fresh blackberries.
This sorbet is made with stout, as well as jam loaded with dried Mission figs and fresh blackberries.

It’s not that I set out to confound my husband.

But when it comes to ice cream, I often can’t help it.

You see, I am married to someone who wants to eat vanilla ice cream — and only vanilla ice cream.

But who wants to live in a world of only vanilla?

Not I, for one.

So when a review copy of the new “Salt & Straw Ice Cream Cookbook” (Clarkson Potter) arrived in the mail, I couldn’t wait to tear into to make something especially fun and inventive.

After all, the ice cream company founded in 2011 in Portland, OR by cousins Tyler and Malek with locations in the Bay Area now, is famed for its zany flavors. Salt & Straw unabashedly does its best to “Keep Portland Weird.”

But that’s not to say that this ice cream maker gives precedence to wacky over excellence. Not at all. Its innovative flavors may have you scratching your head at first, but once you try them, you will marvel at their execution. Don’t just take my word for it. All it takes is to stop by a Salt & Straw ice cream shop to see the lines at all hours of legions of fans who can’t get enough of ice cream flavors you won’t find anywhere else. Best of all, Salt & Straw often incorporates specialty ingredients local to each of its stores.

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The Alluring Nari

Cornish game hen curry with the best roti you’ll ever have — at the new Nari in San Francisco.

The newest restaurant sensation in San Francisco to open its doors just last week is named for the Thai word for “woman.”

It’s an apt moniker because it was opened by a woman as formidable as they get.

The captivating Nari, which opened in the Hotel Kabuki in Japantown, is the latest endeavor by Pim Techamuanvivit, who holds two Michelin stars, one each at Kin Khao in San Francisco’s Parc 55 hotel, and Nahm in Bangkok. Additionally, she operates Kamin, a fast-casual cafe in the International Terminal at San Francisco International Airport.

Born and raised in Bangkok, Techamuanvivit worked in tech in the Bay Area, before becoming one of the earliest breakout blogging stars with her site Chez Pim. Along the way, she wrote a cookbook, then became an artisan jam maker before reinventing herself again as a chef-restaurateur.

In every case, she’s done so with aplomb.

Restaurateur Pim Techamuanvivit in the dining room of her newest restaurant, Nari.
Restaurateur Pim Techamuanvivit in the dining room of her newest restaurant, Nari.

So it comes as no surprise that a day before the official opening at a “friends and family” preview dinner, to which I was invited as a guest, her newest restaurant was already hitting it out of the park.

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A Prodigal Son Returns — To Boonville

Grass-fed beef tartare with tomatoes and fiddlehead ferns at the Boonville Hotel restaurant.

Grass-fed beef tartare with tomatoes and fiddlehead ferns at the Boonville Hotel restaurant.

 

BOONVILLE, CA — If there ever was Wine Country royalty, Chef Perry Hoffman and his family are it.

His grandparents, Don and Sally Schmitt bought an old stone building in Yountville in 1978, and transformed it into a charming destination restaurant, before weighing several offers to sell it in 1993. They famously chose Thomas Keller, who went on to turn the French Laundry into a Michelin three-star establishment revered the world over.

Hoffman’s mother founded a Napa Valley florist company that has supplied blooms to the French Laundry for decades. His grandparents went on to restore the Philo Apple Farm that’s now run by Hoffman’s aunt, who also manages the lovely Farmhouse Mercantile store in Boonville.

Across from that store on sleepy main street, Hoffman’s Uncle Johnny has operated the Boonville Hotel for 31 years. It’s where Hoffman got one of his first jobs in the kitchen after high school. It’s where he fondly remembers tasting for the first time both Caesar salad and aioli.

Chef Perry Hoffman's return to the place it all started for him.

Chef Perry Hoffman’s return to the place it all started for him.

So in January, when Hoffman — once the youngest chef in the country to win a Michelin star when he headed √Čtoile at Domain Chandon in Yountville in 2009 — returned to become chef-partner at the quaint roadhouse built in 1860, it marked more than just a new job. It poetically signified a life coming full circle.

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