Author Archives: foodgal

A Leisurely Lunch at Barndiva

Yellowfin tuna at Barndiva.

Yellowfin tuna at Barndiva.

 

On a recent rainy Friday afternoon, my husband and I ducked into the pretty trellised courtyard and right through the inviting doors of Barndiva in Healdsburg.

Apparently, we weren’t the only ones lured inside by the laid-back, rustic warmth of its barn-like setting, as the cozy dining room soon filled up with locals greeting each other with hugs and kicking back with glasses of wine.

It’s easy to see why this is a spot that attracts folks again and again.

It has a free spiritedness about it with eclectic artwork on the walls, including a wall of vintage wooden shoe forms at the entrance. In fact, the secondary dining room is an actual art gallery by day, and an event space by night.

The bar area.

The bar area.

I hadn’t dined at Barndiva since shortly after it opened in 2004, so I was happy to go again in December after being invited in as a guest of the restaurant.

About six years ago, Chef Ryan Fancher came on board after cooking alongside Richard Reddington at Auberge du Soleil, and Thomas Keller at both the French Laundry in Yountville and Per Se in New York.

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A Visit to Healdsburg Shed

You can find house-milled flour at the Healdsburg Shed -- and a whole lot more.

You can find house-milled flour at the Healdsburg Shed — and a whole lot more.

 

Imagine the San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace — only miniaturized, condensed, moved to Wine Country, and all owned and operated under one umbrella by one couple.

That’s what Healdsburg Shed is like.

It’s also the winner of the 2014 James Beard Award for “Best Restaurant Design.” So, you know it’s a beautiful place to behold.

It’s also so much more than just a restaurant. The soaring, 10,000-square foot space is also a retail cookware store, a fresh produce stand, a gourmet foods purveyor, a mill (yes, they grind their own fresh flour there), a kombucha bar, and a community gathering space for concerts, movies, visiting chef dinners, and cooking demonstrations.

As owner Cindy Daniel describes her nearly three-year-old endeavor, “It’s all to celebrate good farming, good cooking, and good eating.”

The award-winning design.

The award-winning design.

Everything under one roof.

Everything under one roof.

Daniel, who has an air of Alice Waters about her, and her husband, Doug Lipton, an environmental scientist, left San Francisco 20 years ago to start a 15-acre farm in Healdsburg, about five miles from the Shed.

Daniel had a yoga studio and a retail store in San Francisco; Lipton once ran a food co-op in Boulder, CO in the 1970s. But this is their first restaurant.

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New Goings-On At Arcadia San Jose

Bone marrow from the wood-fired oven at Arcadia.

Bone marrow from the wood-fired oven at Arcadia.

 

San Jose’s tallest hotel, the downtown Marriott, is starting the new year with a real bang.

The 13-year-old hotel that boasts 26 floors just completed a massive $10 million-plus renovation, remodeling guest rooms and conference areas, installing routers in every room for high speed Internet access (yes, you can even stream Netflix now), adding food and beverage service in the lobby, and mobile check-in.

What’s more, it’s rolling out a new chef in Justin Yu, who was chef de partie at Momofuku Ssam Bar in New York, chef de partie at Commis in Oakland and chef de cuisine at Haven in Oakland.

OK, Yu might not be brand new (he started 10 months ago), but with the completion of all the construction, the hotel’s Arcadia restaurant is finally ready to really show off its chef de cuisine.

Chef Justin Yu.

Chef Justin Yu.

Arcadia, a Michael Mina restaurant, has always floated a little under the radar. But with Yu, it has someone who really has the energy and skills to take the reins full throttle.

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Sammy Hagar’s Osso Buco

Osso bucco fit for a rock legend.

Osso bucco fit for — and by — a rock legend.

 

Sammy Hagar knows there are those who will roll their eyes in skepticism at his new cookbook, “Are We Having Fun Yet? The Cooking & Partying Handbook” (Harper Collins).

After all, the Grammy-award-winner, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and charismatic front man for Montrose and Van Halen, has made a formidable mark as a singer and song writer in an industry so often characterized — rightly or wrongly — by booze, drugs and munchies of the lowest common denominator.

But Hagar has been cooking since he was a kid. Back then, it was for survival, having grown up dirt poor.

Over the years, it turned into a true passion — and a huge business. He now owns 10 restaurants, including El Paseo in Mill Valley with business partner Tyler Florence. He founded Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum in Hawaii. And he built his Cabo Wabo Tequila into a much-lauded brand before selling it for more than $90 million.

Yours truly and the Red Rocker in the kitchen of his Mill Valley home.

Yours truly and the Red Rocker in the kitchen of his Mill Valley home.

Nowadays, he counts chefs like Emeril Lagasse, Julian Serrano, and Mario Batali as close friends, whom he’s cooked for or with regularly.

So why a cookbook? And why now?

The 68-year-old rock legend answered those questions for me recently when I had the pleasure of interviewing him at his Mill Valley home, where he can be found when he’s not in Maui or Mexico.

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Wake Up and Smell The Coffee, Tea, Yerba Mate, Etc.

It's coffee. But more. Kind of. Sort of.

It’s coffee. But more. Kind of. Sort of.

 

San Franciscan Kelly Peterson was on the hunt for a coffee alternative — one that had the flavor of her favorite brew, but not the jarring acidity.

She ended up creating her own: Levity Brew.

It’s a blend of organic, single-origin Columbian coffee; organic yerba mate (naturally caffeinated leaves from the rainforest tree); organic chicory; organic imperial green tea; and wild-harvested guarana seed (naturally caffeinated seeds from the South American tree).

You brew it just like a cup of tea using the nifty bag it comes in.

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