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Meet the Food Gal at Macy’s Valley Fair with the Chefs From Palo Alto Grill

Monday, 27. January 2014 5:26

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At a loss as to what special dishes to cook up to wow your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day?

Come to Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara at 2 p.m. Feb. 1 to learn from the best. I’ll be hosting a cooking demo with husband-and-wife team, Executive Chef Ryan Shelton and Pastry Chef Yoomi Shelton, both of the Palo Alto Grill in downtown Palo Alto. They’ll show you how to create the perfect savory dish and can’t-miss sweet treat for that romantic holiday.

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Category:Chefs, Enticing Events, General, More Food Gal -- In Person | Comments (2) | Author:

A Toot to Tout Sweet

Friday, 24. January 2014 5:26

Tout Sweet's Nutella brioche.

Tout Sweet’s Nutella brioche.

If you need a pick-me-up of the sweet persuasion while shopping in San Francisco’s tony Union Square area, duck into Macy’s.

That’s where you’ll find Tout Sweet – past the racks of women’s sportswear on the third floor.

It’s the cute little patisserie by Yigit Pura, the first winner of “Top Chef: Just Desserts.”

Done up in gumdrop colors, it’s a cheery place to pick up a treat or to sit for a spell while enjoying coffee, a glass of wine or even a savory sandwich.

That’s exactly what I did one day recently when I bought a few things to enjoy later at home.

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Category:Bakeries, Chefs, Chocolate, Food TV, General | Comments (3) | Author:

Exploring California Gold Country, Part II

Wednesday, 22. January 2014 5:26

Mushroom cigars at Taste Restaurant.

Mushroom cigars at Taste Restaurant.

In the Bay Area, we admittedly get spoiled by the plethora of restaurants in our midst.

But Gold Country definitely has got it going on with good eats, too.

Thanks to the tourism bureaus in Folsom, El Dorado, Amador and Sacramento for inviting me to be their guest on a three-day trip (including meals and accommodations) to explore the restaurant scene. Here are the highlights:

Taste Restaurant in Plymouth

With less than 1,000 residents and a dusty main street so compact you would almost miss it if you blinked, Plymouth in Amador County is hardly the place you’d expect to find as stylish and creative a farm-to-table restaurant as Taste.

Chef Mark Berkner and wife Tracey, who runs the front of the house, have created nothing less than a true gem here.  It’s lured tourists from afar, locals day after day, and even merited a mention in the New York Times. The couple has a real knack for opening places in what some might deem nowhere’s-ville and turning them into destination dining. Consider that before they opened Taste, they owned and operated the St. George Hotel and its restaurant in Volcano, CA — population 115. Yes, you read that right.

Dining at Taste is a warm, welcoming experience with dishes that will delight.

You can graze on small plates or order a full-on entree. The menu changes seasonally and features house-cured lamb bacon and duck prosciutto.

Sweetbreads and waffles? Yes, yes, yes!

Sweetbreads and waffles? Yes, yes, yes!

The night I was there, the restaurant featured a clever take on chicken and waffles. Only the chicken was swapped out for fried sweetbreads ($14) atop a vanilla-infused waffle all crowned with grilled nectarines, smoked maple syrup and salted peanut brittle. It was down-home yet uptown at the same time. An amazing dish.

The one dish that never leaves the menu is the Mushroom Cigars ($9.5). The crisp, phyllo logs hold a center of crimini, shiitake and oyster mushrooms fortified with creamy goat cheese.

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Category:Chefs, General, Restaurants, Travel Adventures | Comments (6) | Author:

Exploring California Gold Country, Part I

Monday, 20. January 2014 5:25

Karen Holmes of Karen's Bakery & Cafe in Folsom.

Karen Holmes of Karen’s Bakery & Cafe in Folsom.

As a native San Franciscan, I sheepishly admit I haven’t explored much of California Gold Country.

I vaguely remember playing at panning for gold once as a child somewhere in the vicinity, but beyond that, Sacramento, Amador and El Dorado counties have largely been seen from the freeway on the way to somewhere else.

Thanks to the tourism bureaus in Folsom, El Dorado, Amador and Sacramento,  I finally had a chance to see that area up-close, when I was invited as their guest over three days late last year to taste, explore and experience.

Here are highlights from that trip, which I hope will inspire you to get to know that region better, too.

Karen’s Bakery & Cafe in Folsom

Karen’s Bakery & Cafe is reason enough alone to stop in Folsom.

Karen Holmes opened this wonderful bakery in 2000, which has become so popular that you’ll almost always find a line to get outside, especially since it’s located near popular hiking and biking trails that bring famished weekend warriors right to her door for plum galettes, fig scones, and Tebirkes (a tradtiional almond paste danish).

The pastry case brimming with goodies.

The pastry case brimming with goodies.

Holmes is a former school teacher, whose mother took her family to Europe regularly, especially to its fine patisseries. As a teacher she baked banana bread for PTA events that became such a sensation that colleagues encouraged her to open a bakery.

A talent for baking and cooking obviously runs in the family as her son, Duncan Holmes is the chef de cuisine at San Francisco’s Sons & Daughters. In fact, in his teenage years, he’d ride his bike over to his mom’s bakery to help wash dishes after school before going home to hunker down to his homework. Both mother and son are self-taught.

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Category:Bakeries, Chefs, Enticing Events, Fruit, General, Great Finds, Restaurants, Travel Adventures | Comments (4) | Author:

Listen to the Food Gal on “Dining Around with Joel”

Monday, 13. January 2014 5:26

Yours truly was honored to be a guest this past Saturday on "Dining Around with Joel'' on KGO Radio 910AM.

Joel Riddell (Photo courtesy of KGO Radio)

Yours truly was honored to be a guest this past Saturday on “Dining Around with Joel” on KKSF 910AM.

It’s always a laugh-a-palooza with host extraordinaire Joel Riddell, who makes it all too easy to chit-chat, especially when the topic is food.

We talk about my debut cookbook, “San Francisco Chef’s Table” (Lyons Press), how it came about, the challenges involved in getting it done, how the restaurants featured were chosen, and what it was like to corral so many chefs into one project.

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Category:Chefs, General, Restaurants, Videos & Podcasts | Comments (4) | Author: