Category Archives: Chefs

Innovative Vegan Fare at Millennium

Tempeh and spaetzel at Millennium that taste like beef stroganoff.

Tempeh and spaetzel at Millennium that taste like beef stroganoff.

 

Recently, I dined with a companion at a vegan restaurant.

No, it was not with my husband, aka Meat Boy.

But even he enjoyed the leftovers I brought home afterward.

That tells you just how satisfying the cuisine is at Millennium in Oakland.

In fact, the majority of diners there are not strictly vegan. But they are lured by the creativity of Chef Eric Tucker’s dishes.

Millennium first opened in 1994 in San Francisco before moving to the Rockridge neighborhood across the Bay in 2015.

Even on a Monday night, typically a slow time for most restaurants, the dining room was packed.

Fried oyster mushrooms.

Fried oyster mushrooms.

My friend Sheila (also not a vegan) and I started with a big pile of Coriander and Arborio Crusted Oyster Mushrooms ($13.95). The Italian risotto rice used in the coating gives the mushrooms a heavier and toastier tasting crust. Pick one up and dip into the sweet-spicy habanero jam. It’s perfect finger-food.

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Bread And All That At Tartine Manufactory

Almost too pretty to drink: the Speaker Box cocktail at Tartine Manufactory.

Almost too pretty to drink: the Speaker Box cocktail at Tartine Manufactory.

 

I should rename myself Carb Gal because when it comes to artisan bread, I have no will power.

So when I recently met a colleague for dinner at Tartine Manufactory in San Francisco, I was all set to indulge in some very fine bread — and to take a loaf home for later. But no such luck on the latter. More often than not, the bakery-restaurant runs out of retail to-go loaves long before dinner, and reserves the rest for the evening service.

I may have left with an empty hand, but in no way with an empty stomach.

We still managed to order some slices of oat porridge bread to enjoy at the table. The thick, substantial slices were made for spreading butter on. It really does have a cooked grain, porridge-like flavor. This is bread you could happily eat all on its own and be satisfied. But if you know Tartine, you know that already.

Loaves reserved for dinner service.

Loaves reserved for dinner service.

What you might not know is how inspired the cocktails are, and how beautiful the food is in a naturalistic, non-contrived way.

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Yotam Ottolenghi’s Roasted Eggplant with Anchovies and Oregano

High-heat roasting turns eggplant sweet and custardy.

High-heat roasting turns eggplant sweet and custardy.

 

There’s no doubt that London’s Yotam Ottolenghi is prolific.

The chef, who has reinvented Middle Eastern fare, owns a slew of restaurants, including the fine-dining Nopi and Rovi. He’s also the author of six best-selling cookbooks.

As delicious as they are, though, many of the recipes in those cookbooks require a real commitment. They tend to be recipes that a multiple pages long and require several components to assemble. They’re recipes you have to block out a good amount of time on a weekend to do.

Ottolenghi Simple

His seventh cookbook, “Ottolenghi Simple: A Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy is the antidote to that. Almost every recipe is only one page long. Some of them can be made in less than 30 minutes, and with 10 ingredients or fewer.

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The Buzzy New Bardo Lounge & Supper Club

Fondue 2.0 at Bardo Lounge & Supper Club.

Fondue 2.0 at Bardo Lounge & Supper Club.

 

If you grew up watching “The Brady Bunch” (as I did) or lived in an Eichler-designed house (as I did), you know full well the timeless appeal of mid-century modernity.

That’s the aesthetic that Bardo Lounge & Supper Club in Oakland brings to life in a 21st century way.

Opened in October, this new restaurant looks to the past for inspiration, but interprets it in a cool new way going forward with global influences.

Owner Seth Bregman modeled it after the cocktail parties his parents threw in their Southern California home. In fact, the main floor lounge even features a vintage lamp and sofa that he hijacked from his parents’ living room.

You can enjoy a casual, a la carte menu in the lounge, while planted on that sofa or other ones. I always find it a little precarious to juggle drink and food while having to reach up and over to a coffee table.

The logo sign.

The logo sign.

The main floor lounge with mid-century decor.

The main floor lounge with mid-century decor.

But you can always take the slightly more formal route upstairs, where a three-course, $59 per person prix fixe is served. It’s a quieter area, where you can still overlook the buzzy lounge area.

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Scenes From “Taste of Yosemite” November 2018

A giant sequoia in Yosemite National Park that will have you in awe.

A giant sequoia in Yosemite National Park that will have you in awe.

 

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA — If you didn’t make it to the grand “Taste of Yosemite” event last week — actually held twice this year — you definitely missed out, because the next one won’t take place until January 2020.

The popular winter-time extravaganza that draws a host of celebrated chefs to host cooking demos and cook multi-course gala dinners at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, normally takes place every January for nearly the entire month. But it will be on hiatus January 2019, as the hotel’s kitchen gets renovated.

So mark your calendar for January 2020 for its return.

Meantime, to rev your appetite and interest, I happily serve up morsels from last week’s event, in which I served as moderator for two sessions.

Thrilled to moderate this session that featured Cowgirl Creamery, Peter Armellino of the Plumed Horse, and Adam Mali of The Battery.

Thrilled to moderate this session that featured Cowgirl Creamery, Peter Armellino of the Plumed Horse, and Adam Mali of The Battery.

It was actually the second “Taste of Yosemite” of 2018, with the first one occurring in January of this year. Organizers decided to do another shortened bonus “Taste of Yosemite” this month.

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