Author Archives: foodgal

Santa Clara Square Welcomes the Newest Fleming’s Steakhouse

A goblet of ahi poke at Fleming's Santa Clara.

A goblet of ahi poke at Fleming’s Santa Clara.

 

With Whole Foods, Il Fornaio, Sur La Table, Books Inc., and other businesses, Santa Clara Square has been hopping.

Even more so now with the opening of the newest Fleming’s Steakhouse nearly two months ago.

Be prepared to scour the parking lot for a space if you dine here, though. That’s because the lot is surprisingly compact, given the number of businesses. And there’s no street parking nearby. One can only wonder how much more congested the place will get once Puesto restaurant opens, too.

As it is, prepare to circle around quite a bit to snag a space. We did on a weeknight, when we were invited in as a guest of the restaurant. We ended up giving in to valet parking in front of Fleming’s. It will set you back $7. You pay with your credit card, then text when you are done with dinner to have your car ready and waiting when you leave.

The dining room.

The dining room.

A partition of wine bottles.

A partition of wine bottles.

It’s a handsome restaurant with a glassed-in open kitchen at the back. The dining room has large booths, and a dramatic light fixture that may make you think of a UFO. Floating shelves of wine bottles act as a partition between the bar and dining room.

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Vineyard Cake

Vineyard Cake, when Napa and Sonoma are on my mind.

Vineyard Cake, when Napa and Sonoma are on my mind.

 

With the searing news footage, the loss of lives, the destruction of homes, and the terrifying speed and ferocity with which this catastrophe all happened, Wine Country weighs heavily on our minds lately.

The series of deadly conflagrations that swept through Napa and Sonoma counties in a flash in the past two weeks left an indelible mark. Lives will be forever changed. Rebuilding will be a long, slow, painful and costly process. The fires of 2017 – and all they wrought — will not soon be erased.

We donate money. We volunteer our help. Still, we feel rather helpless in the face of the enormity of the destruction.

What else to do? In the months, and years to come, simply don’t forget. When the regions are no longer front-page newspaper stories or the lead item on the 6 o’clock news, don’t let Napa and Sonoma fall off your radar. Buy the wines to enjoy this Thanksgiving. Or send a bottle to friends across the country for Christmas. Plan a trip to Wine Country in to support hotels, restaurants, boutiques, and tasting rooms. Moreover, as you get ready to do your annual income taxes, take a deduction and do good at the same time, by making a donation to the Napa Valley Community Foundation or the Community Foundation Sonoma County.

And then bake this cake.

That may sound like a crazy idea, but there is something to be said for really being present in the moment, for taking the time to focus singularly on a place or a thing, that makes us truly appreciate it.

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Eating My Way Through New York: Chef-Tastic

The whole duck confit at Cosme that takes four days to make.

The whole duck confit at Cosme that takes four days to make.

Cosme

When planning this trip to New York, one of the places highest on my list to dine was Cosme.

A couple of years ago, while attending the “Worlds of Flavor” conference at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone campus in St. Helena, I had a chance to try a little of Mexico City-chef Enrique Olvera’s innovative cuisine.

Ever since, I have been hooked. And craving more.

Herb guacamole.

Herb guacamole.

Complimentary purple tortillas and Marcona almond dip.

Complimentary purple tortillas and Marcona almond dip.

This is not your standard tacos and burritos taqueria. This sleek establishment is all about modern Mexican cuisine with star power. The prices reflect that. Yes, guacamole is $17 here. It’s a beautiful bowl of deeply rich smashed avocados strewn with micro herbs and served with huge purple tortilla chips that you break apart to scoop.

If you’re already balking at that price, then this isn’t the place for you. When you walk through the doors, you have to vanquish the notion that Mexican food has to be cheap in order to be worthwhile.

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Eating My Way Through New York: Won’t Break the Bank

The smoked chicken sandwich at Roberta's.

The smoked chicken sandwich at Roberta’s.

Roberta’s

The iconic New York pizza may be a huge, greasy, foldable slice. But Roberta’s in Brooklyn is where true pizza connoisseurs flock.

At this funky place, you enter this cement fortress of a building through scuffed wooden doors to a alpine-lodge-like dining room crammed with long, wood communal tables.

A bird-eye view of the pizza making.

A bird-eye view of the pizza making.

The dining room at lunch time.

The dining room at lunch time.

The massive wood-fired pizza oven is to your right. You get a clue as to how much attention they pay to the pizzas here when you see a pie go into the oven. It’s never left alone for long. The cook is regularly rotating it, and lifting it, leaning the edge of the crust toward the flames to kiss it with char before turning it again and again.

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Eating My Way Through New York: Sweets and Snacks

Behold the Triple Black Donut at the new SuperMoon Bakehouse.

Behold the Triple Black Donut at the new Supermoon Bakehouse.

Supermoon Bakehouse

Wacky. Weird. Wild.

At Supermoon Bakehouse, you’ll find some of the most mind-blowing baked goods you’ve ever laid eyes upon.

But then again, they are the the handiwork of baker extraordinaire Ry Stephen, the creator of the Cruffin and co-founder of Mr. Holmes Bakehouse in San Francisco.

What luck to have it open its doors in the Lower East Side the week we were in New York, too.

At this place, there's a sense of fun in everything they do.

At this place, there’s a sense of fun in everything they do.

Pastries displayed on a long counter make photo-taking easy.

Pastries displayed on a long counter make photo-taking easy.

You’ll find Cruffins here, and a whole lot of other unique pastries that sport a strong foundation of crisp, buttery, airy layers — then go wild with imaginative fillings, colors and designs.

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