Author Archives: foodgal

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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Rewarding Yourself in the New Year — The Fika Way

Isn't it time you took a little break?

Isn’t it time you took a little break?

 

Go, go, go!

That’s how our lives are these days.

But I’m here to say it’s time to stop, stop, stoppppppppp.

At least once in awhile.

The Swedish way.

As in fika.

It’s the art and practice of taking a break to enjoy a coffee with a little treat.

And in Sweden, it’s a custom adhered to at least once a day.

Doesn’t that seem positively wonderful and civilized?

A few minutes to unplug, to stop typing, to put down the phone, and to just take a breath and be present with your surroundings and companions.

It’s what we should all do more of in this new year. It’s what we all deserve, too.

Fikabook

“Fika: The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break” (Ten Speed Press) will put you in the mood to do just that.

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Mexican Food Like You’ve Never Experienced — At Californios

The fanciful Yerba Buena Fruit Cup at Californios.

The fanciful Yerba Buena Fruit Cup at Californios.

 

If your idea of Mexican food is nothing but bulging burritos and bargain-basement tacos at a sombrero-saturated cantina, prepare to have your mind blown by Californios.

At this nearly year-old Mission District restaurant in San Francisco, Chef-Owner Val M. Cantu and his wife, maitre d’ Carolyn Cantu, serve up a contemporary single prix fixe each evening of, yes, Mexican cuisine. Oh, there are beans. There is menudo. And agua fresca. But reinvented with startling finesse like you’ve never seen.

Together with the new much-lauded Cala in San Francisco, which I’ve not yet visited, Californios is changing perceptions by broadening our definition of Mexican food in a most exciting way.

The open kitchen provides a dramatic centerpiece for this dark, enveloping little restaurant.

The open kitchen provides a dramatic centerpiece for this dark, enveloping little restaurant.

Art, wine, and culinary books fill a nearby bookcase.

Art, wine, and culinary books fill a nearby bookcase.

A few weeks ago, I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant. It’s a very intimate space of only about 22 seats that was designed by Carolyn Cantu. You step inside and it’s as if the restaurant envelopes you immediately in a cloak of secrecy. The street windows are tinted deep gray, the walls are paneled darkly, and the lighting inside is very dim — like that of a movie theater. Your eyes are drawn to the brightest spot — the open kitchen fronted by a chef’s counter, where three chefs, including Val Cantu, work the line. The effect is very romantic even with the classic rock music in the background. The look calls to mind a moody Edward Hopper painting, though it’s not a diner that’s glorified here, but a unique restaurant for the ages.

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