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“Here’s Your Damn Strawberry Ice Cream”

Friday, 4. July 2014 5:25

Yup, it's damn good, too!

Yup, it’s damn good, too!

That’s what Jake Godby of Humphry Slocombe refers to the one flavor he’s never sold in his irreverent, gourmet ice cream shop in San Francisco.

Oh sure, you’ll find other versions sold by the scoop there such as “Strawberry Candied Jalapeno” or even “Strawberry Olive” (with Kalamatas no less).

But plain ol’ strawberry is just not in the equation for a madcap ice cream-maker like him who’s known for creations such as “Peanut Butter Curry,” “Hibiscus Beet,” and “Secret Breakfast” (with the flavor of corn flakes soaked in bourbon boozy-milk).

In his “Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Book” (Chronicle Books), which he wrote with operations manager Sean Vahey and San Francisco Chronicle food writer Paolo Lucchesi, he states that he created “Here’s Your Damn Strawberry Ice Cream” for a special sundae smackdown with New York’s Big Gay Ice Cream Truck.

Godby decided to include the recipe in his book because everyone likes strawberry ice cream.

Indeed, what makes this one even more of a winner is its simplicity. There are no eggs nor any stovetop cooking required. You simply puree fresh strawberries in a blender, then mix with cream, condensed milk, sugar, salt and a splash of red wine vinegar before churning in an ice cream maker.

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Category:Chefs, General, Recipes (Sweet) | Comments (9) | Author:

Palo Alto Grill Grows Into Its Own

Wednesday, 2. July 2014 5:25

Mango cheesecake at the Palo Alto Grill.

Mango cheesecake at the Palo Alto Grill.

 

The Palo Alto Grill in downtown Palo Alto has undergone some tweaks.

When it first opened last year, it was decidedly much more of a steakhouse with a dedicated section of the menu devoted to various beefy cuts. That has been jettisoned, leaving just one steak on the menu.

For a time earlier this year, it also featured a separate menu of Croatian specialties in homage to co-owner Luka Dvornik’s heritage. That, too, has now been abandoned.

In its place now are dishes that lean more toward Modern American that highlight plenty of local, seasonal California products, sometimes with an Asian sensibility. The whimsy also has been turned up, as evident in the plating of several of the dishes.

Husband-and-wife team Chef Ryan Shelton and Pastry Chef Yoomi Shelton helm the kitchen with a fine eye for detail. Their previous experience includes stints at Baume in Palo Alto, and Randall Grahm’s former Le Cigar Volante in Santa Cruz.

Recently, I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant for a return visit to try out the new menu.

The bread basket you can't stop eating.

The bread basket you can’t stop eating.

A cocktail made with fresh blackberries.

A cocktail made with fresh blackberries.

You could easily fill up on the bread basket alone, as the offerings are superb. Shelton bakes them all in-house every hour, including airy brioche, fragrant walnut bread and a fantastic salted pretzel shaped like a wheat stalk. Alongside is a Dijon-parmesan sauce for slathering on.

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Category:Chefs, General, Restaurants | Comments (7) | Author:

Al’s Italian Beef Comes to San Jose Plus A Food Gal Giveaway

Monday, 30. June 2014 5:25

The Chicago Dog at Al's Beef in San Jose.

The Chicago Dog at Al’s Beef in San Jose.

 

People often think my life revolves around copious chef’s tasting menus night after night.

But not when you’re married to someone nicknamed Meat Boy, whose guilty pleasure is fast-food.

I usually steer clear, but I have been known to snatch a handful of fries or the pickle from his burger now and then.

So when Al’s Beef recently opened its first Northern California outpost right here in San Jose at The Plant, I was game to try it with my husband when I was given a $50 gift card to do so.

Meat Boy and I went on a Wednesday night. Although there was a line out the door for The Boiling Crab next-door, Al’s Beef was fairly empty.

Banners inside the eatery.

Banners inside the eatery.

The eatery started out as a family-owned food stand in Chicago in 1938. It now has 17 locations, most of them in the Chicago area.

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Category:General, Meat, Restaurants | Comments (8) | Author:

Skewer It on the Fourth

Friday, 27. June 2014 5:26

Snowy white halibut chunks get grilled with pancetta and artisan bread cubes for a taste sensation.

Snowy white halibut chunks get grilled with pancetta and artisan bread cubes for a taste sensation.

 

I like nothing better than working up a sweat by hiking or snow-shoeing through the great outdoors.

But at the end of that, when I’m spent, starved and sweaty, I long for a hot shower (with adequate water pressure) and a real bed (preferably with fine linens).

Which is probably why I confess I’ve only camped once in my life.

And I had to be sweet-talked into it.

That’s why I was happy to find that “The Great Outdoors Cookbook” (Oxmoor House) by the editors of Sunset magazine, of which I received a review copy, is made for die-hard campers, as well as folks like me who’d rather do their outdoor cooking in their own backyard.

sunset-the-great-outdoors-cookbook

The book is divided into recipes for “Campfires,” “Home Fires,” and “Inspired Fires” (when you dig pits and such). There are even tips for foraging and doing a seafood boil on the beach.

“Halibut Kebabs with Grilled Bread and Pancetta” is as easy as it gets. Chunks of halibut are quickly marinated in olive oil and fresh rosemary before being threaded on long skewers with pancetta and bread cubes.

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Category:General, Recipes (Savory), Seafood | Comments (6) | Author:

Verbena Blooms on Polk Street in San Francisco

Wednesday, 25. June 2014 5:25

Aged Mangalitsa ham flavored with house-made shoyu at Verbena in San Francisco.

Aged Mangalitsa ham flavored with house-made shoyu at Verbena in San Francisco.

 

Fans of Gather restaurant in Berkeley have even more to rejoice now with the opening of Verbena in San Francisco.

When Gather opened five years ago, it celebrated vegetables prominently by assuring that 50 percent of its menu would always be devoted to vegetarian selections.

Verbena continues that thread of giving star treatment to veggies, but goes even further. It’s Gather’s more ambitious young cousin.

A dramatic back-lit wall stacked with jars of house-made pickles attests to that. Executive Chef-Partner Sean Baker has a penchant for preserving. He makes his own kimchi. And miso. Plus shoyu and even fermented black beans.

Pickles as wall art.

Pickles as wall art.

The dining room and bar.

The dining room and bar.

Parking is at a premium in this neighborhood. So are seats at this bustling six-month-old restaurant, as I found out when I was invited to dine as a guest a few weeks ago on a busy weeknight.

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Category:Chefs, General, Restaurants | Comments (8) | Author: