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LV Mar — A Latin Party in Downtown Redwood City

Friday, 17. October 2014 5:26

A party on the plate -- and in the dining room -- at LV Mar.

A party on the plate — and in the dining room — at LV Mar.

 

Most nights, LV Mar in downtown Redwood City, offers up a taste of modern pan-Latin cuisine in small and large plates.

But once a month, Chef Manuel Martinez throws a veritable party — offering a prix fixe dinner themed to a different Latin cuisine, complete with a band, dancers and singers.

A couple weeks ago, I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant to experience October’s showcase on the Caribbean.

Martinez, who has cooked at Left Bank and One Market restaurants, also owns the more casual La Viga in Redwood City. LV Mar is his newer restaurant, which opened in November 2013. He’s been throwing these themed-dinners almost from the get-go.

Chef Manuel Martinez adorned for the occasion.

Chef Manuel Martinez adorned for the occasion.

When you check in at the hostess stand, you’re welcomed with Mardi Gras-like beaded necklaces to wear. All the tables are strewn with colorful star confetti to put you even more in the mood.

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Category:Cheese, General, Restaurants | Comments (1) | Author:

A Different Kind of California Start-Up: Ewetopia

Wednesday, 9. July 2014 5:26

Sirene (front) and Philosopher (back) feta-style cheese from Ewetopia.

Sirene (front) and Philosopher (back) feta-style cheese from Ewetopia.

 

Ewetopia is a start-up. Not in computers or chips. But cheese.

Made with sheep’s milk, of course.

Hence the cute name.

Andrea Mongini and husband Craig Meadows own a veterinary practice. If that didn’t keep them plenty busy already, they also own a sheep dairy farm in Denair, CA.

They just embarked on creating their first cheeses in partnership with one of my favorite producers, Fiscalini Cheese Company of Modesto, maker of the award-winning bandage wrapped cheddar.

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Category:Cheese, General, New Products | Comments (6) | Author:

Cowgirl Creamery’s Famed Red Hawk Potato Gratin

Friday, 20. December 2013 5:26

A luxurious potato gratin made with an award-winning cheese.

A luxurious potato gratin made with an award-winning cheese.

To know California cheese is to know Cowgirl Creamery.

Pioneer cheesemakers, Sue Conley and Peggy Smith, started Cowgirl Creamery in the early 1990s in a dilapidated barn in Point Reyes.

Conley, an alum of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, and Smith, who helped found the iconic Bette’s Diner in Berkeley, got the notion to make cheese after working on their days off at Straus Family Dairy, where they fell in love with the lush organic milk and its distinct nuances from season to season.

Wanting to help local dairy farms that were going broke, the two set about to create a way to showcase that wonderful milk in value-added products.

Today, Cowgirl Creamery crafts some of the state’s most extraordinary cheeses. It boasts a cheese shop and restaurant, Sidekick Cafe & Milk Bar, both in the San Francisco Ferry Plaza. It sells at five farmers markets in the Bay Area.  And its original creamery and cheese shop, Tomales Bay Foods at Point Reyes Station, still remains a must-stop for any visitor to West Marin County.

CowgirlCreameryCooksBook

Now comes their first cookbook, “Cowgirl Creamery Cooks” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy.

There are recipes galore for everything from their beloved grilled cheese sandwich to making your own fromage blanc at home. Moreover, the book is imbued with delightful stories about how their business came to be. Additionally, there are  tips on creating a balanced cheese course, how to properly store cheese at home, and answers to whether you are supposed to eat the rind on cheeses (the French don’t for the most part, but Conley and Smith do).

With holiday entertaining on the minds of all of us, I couldn’t resist trying the recipe for Red Hawk Potato Gratin.

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

Enchanting Endive

Friday, 22. March 2013 5:26

Endive salad with creamy Maytag blue cheese.

Endive salad with creamy Maytag blue cheese.

When it comes to bitter, its best buddy is something equally aggressive.

Oh, don’t worry. This isn’t a case of butting heads.

In fact, it’s a recipe for perfect harmony, as one assertive taste needs another, lest one overtake the other completely.

That’s why when it comes to endive, its pleasant bitterness practically begs for something sharp like mustard or vinegar or a piquant cheese.

“Tangle of Radicchio and Endive with Chives and Maytag Blue” proves just that.

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Category:Cheese, General, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (9) | Author:

Chris Cosentino’s Acorn Squash, Stracciatella & Sage

Tuesday, 4. December 2012 5:26

Roasted acorn squash wedges topped with rich, creamy burrata.

Chef Chris Cosentino of Incanto restaurant in San Francisco may be known for his offal-good cooking, but there’s little organ meat to be found in his new cookbook, “Chris Cosentino’s Beginnings: My Way to Start a Meal.”

Sure, you’ll find a little bit of tripe, bone marrow and chicken liver, but there’s much more in this book (Olive Press) by Cosentino, of which I received a review copy.

Some of the recipes may have you hunting down specialty purveyors such as for the boar shoulder in “Pickled Boar, Herb Pesto, Grilled Onions & Pine Nuts” or bumming some leaves off your vintner neighbor for “Pan-Roasted Grapes, Turnips & Grape Leaves.”

But most will have you marveling at how just a few key ingredients can elevate a dish to new heights.

You’ve probably roasted acorn squash before. But have you ever served it with stracciatella, dreamy strands of fresh mozzarella soaked in heavy cream?

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Category:Cheese, Chefs, General, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (15) | Author: