Author Archives: foodgal

Oren’s Hummus Expands to Cupertino

Hummus with lamb at the new Oren's in Cupertino. Swoon.

Hummus with lamb at the new Oren’s in Cupertino. Swoon.


You know when you find the one?

The jubilation you experience when you discover the singular personification of perfection?

That’s how I felt the first time I tasted the hummus at Oren’s.

People who have never experienced Oren’s look at me funny when I rhapsodize dreamily about this chickpea spread. Really? Who gets this excited about hummus of all things? But Oren’s hummus has spoiled me for all other hummus now.

It is hands down the smoothest, creamiest, most luscious tasting hummus you’ll ever experience.

The only problem came when Oren’s had only one location in downtown Palo Alto. A narrow little space, it had a line out the door no matter what the hour. It was nearly impossible to get into. For the longest time, I had to be content with just grabbing a tub of hummus from the to-go refrigerator case because getting a seat inside was just not going to happen.

Then, Oren’s expanded with a second, larger location in downtown Mountain View, which made life so much easier. And just a few weeks ago, it opened a third Oren’s in the new Main Street Cupertino complex. Even better, more locations are planned in the Bay Area in the near future.

The sign behind the counter.

The sign behind the counter.

The burgeoning mini-empire of hummus eateries is the brainchild of Oren Dobronsky, a tech start-up specialist, who missed the hummus he used to enjoy in his native Tel Aviv. So he and his wife Nancy decided to make their own — by opening a restaurant.

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Join the Food Gal and Chef Jared Montarbo of Alexander’s Steakhouse For A Cooking Demo

MacysAlexandersSteakhouseYou’re in for a meaty time when Chef Jared Montarbo of Alexander’s Steakhouse joins me for a cooking demo, 1 p.m. Sept. 18, at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara.

The upscale, Asian-inflected steakhouse recently re-opened in a new, larger location in the Main Street Cupertino development. Its centerpiece is a dry-aging room that’s visible right when you walk in the doors, where magnificently marbled Japanese Wagyu is on display.

Montarbo is a Bay Area-native, who enrolled at the California Culinary Academy at the young age of 17, before going to cook for Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

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A Farro Salad to Fall For

A lovely, lively grain salad to enjoy any time.

A lovely, lively grain salad to enjoy any time.


Grain salads and grain bowls are so very trending now.

Which is a wonderful development, given that we should all try to eat more grains because they are rich in nutrients. Plus, it doesn’t take a lot to get you full for quite awhile.

I love farro, an ancient wheat grain that cooks up delightfully chewy with a subtle toasted nutty flavor. It’s high in fiber, Vitamin B3 and zinc, too.

Normally, I cook it like risotto. But summer’s warm weather had me eyeing this recipe for “Farro Salad with Fennel, Radicchio, and Pistachios.”

It’s from the new cookbook, “One Pan, Two Plates: Vegetarian Suppers” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy. The book is by cooking school teacher and caterer, Carla Snyder.

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Picks For Your (Late) Summer Reading

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“32 Yolks” by Eric Ripert

With his ever calm, cool and collected demeanor, celebrated Chef Eric Ripert is the epitome of poise under pressure.

But it wasn’t always that way.

Ripert, chef and co-owner of Le Bernardin, the Michelin three-starred and New York Times four-starred gastronomic landmark in New York, has already written five cookbooks. But in his memoir, In “32 Yolks: From My Mother’s Table to Working the Line” (Random House), of which I received a review copy, he bravely reveals his often painful path to becoming one of the greatest chefs in the world.

Born in Andorra, a small country in France just over the Spanish border, he grew up a sullen, angry child, following his parents’ divorce. While his stylish mother expressed her love for him through cooking, his step-father routinely expressed his disdain for him by berating him and slapping him around.

His first mentor was Chef Jacques, who let the unhappy young boy find solace in the kitchen by helping with tasks and by feeding him endless bowls of chocolate mousse. It wasn’t long before Ripert realized it was in the kitchen that he felt most at home.

At 17, he was working at La Tour d’Argent, where he quickly realized his culinary school degree made him no match for the skills needed at one of Paris’ most vaunted establishments. It grew even worse when he landed a job working under the great Joel Robuchon, where the entire kitchen crew quaked in fear of the legendary chef.

Thirty-two yolks refers to the number of yolks needed to make a perfect batch of hollandaise at La Tour d’Argent, a task Ripert failed epically on his first day there. But through the pages, you witness the fortitude and passion that made him what he is today.

The book ends before he gets to Le Bernardin. But for those interested in that part of his life, just pick up his other book, “On The Line” (Artisan), a masteful, detailed behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to run a restaurant of that caliber.

“Waste Free Kitchen Handbook”

With food waste such a hot topic these days, Berkeley’s Dana Gunders, a staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, has written a handy-dandy book to teach easy ways to use up more of your provisions so less ends up in the trash.

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Ancient Wheat For Those Who Are Gluten-Sensitive — And A Food Gal Giveaway

Italian cookies made with specialty einkorn flour.

Italian cookies made with specialty einkorn flour.


It’s a flour that has 30 percent more protein than modern wheat, along with ample amounts of B vitamins and iron.

But that’s not the only reason you should get to know einkorn. It’s also reportedly the world’s most ancient wheat and the only type to never have been hybridized.

What’s more, the gluten in einkorn lacks the high molecular weight proteins that many people can’t digest. If you are sensitive to modern wheat, einkorn can provide a delicious alternative.

Carla Bartolucci and her husband started growing it in northern Italy seven years ago, after discovering that their daughter, who has gluten sensitivity, was able to eat pasta, bread, and other baked goods made with einkorn with no adverse effect. Today, the family is the largest grower of einkorn in the world.

They sell the flour, as well as products made from it under the Jovial brand. I had a chance to try samples recently, all of which are made in Italy.

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