Escape to esc for this incredible dessert.
Normally when we think of the esc button on our computers, it’s not with fondness or pleasure. It’s usually characterized by banging on the button out of frustration because our screen has frozen.
But there’s another esc in town now, one that’s sure to leave you mellow and chill.
It’s the name of the new lobby lounge wine bar/cafe at the Four Seasons Silicon Valley in East Palo Alto.
If you’re used to hotel lobbies being places you only hang out in to kill time before check-in or check-out, esc will surprise you with its comfortable mix of plush couches, upholstered easy chairs, and bar stools.
I had a chance to check it out last week, when I was invited in as a guest of the hotel to see the newly completed space.
Illuminated on the wall.
Take a load off in the newly revamped lobby lounge.
On a laid-back weeknight, people were working on laptops, and relaxing with glasses of wine, a few of which conveniently come in your choice of 2-, 4- or 6-ounce pours. You can even try Blend 122, the hotel’s new signature red wine by Byington Vineyards of Santa Cruz, a rich, robust sip that opens up as it sits in the glass.
Fluffy, oat-fortified pancakes to greet the day.
When I was growing up, my oldest brother and I would often wake up early on Sundays to stir up a big bowl of batter for waffles for the entire family.
Nowadays, with my husband’s predilection, it’s pancakes all the way.
Are you Team Waffle? Or Team Pancake?
It’s funny how most households seem to favor one or the other.
“Toasted Oatmeal Pancakes” might just satisfy both camps. That’s because of the toasted steel-cut oats that not only fortify the batter, but get sprinkled on as each pancake cooks, lending bits of crunch here and there like the edges of a waffle might.
The recipe is from “Big Bad Breakfast: The Most Important Book of the Day” (Ten Speed Press, 2016) by John Currence, the James Beard Award-winning chef who owns Big Bad Breakfast in Alabama. You might also know him from his appearances on “No Reservations,” “Mind of A Chef,” and “Top Chef Masters.”
Of course in this case, the operative word “bad” really means “good.” This is breakfast done boldly, with plenty of excess. Among Currence’s “Ten Commandments of Breakfast” is “Thou shalt slather with butter,” and “Though shalt hold no meal higher than breakfast.”
Loacker’s Classic Chocolate.
It’s not often that I eat mass-produced, grocery-store cookies, preferring instead to visit an honest-go-goodness neighborhood bakery for just-baked treats. But I do make exceptions for Australian Tim Tams, and French La Mere Poulard butter cookies.
I don’t know what it is about foreign packaged cookies, but they are pretty irresistible.
Now comes Loacker wafer cookies.
First created by the Loacker family in the Italian Alps, and now manufactured in Austria, these multi-layered cookies are now more readily available in the United States. They have been made for more than 90 years, and are already sold in more than 80 countries.
It’s like two treats in one.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, TCHO, Berkeley’s bean-to-bar chocolate maker, has injected a little boozy fun and deliciousness into its artisan bars.
It has teamed with Jose Cuervo to add that renowned spirits maker’s reserve tequila, Reserva de la Familia, into TCHO’s distinctive tile chocolates.
Four-star chocolate from a four-star chef.
When Thomas Keller of the French Laundry makes a chocolate bar, you just know it’s not going to be your run-of-the-mill candy.
Not by a long-shot.
What makes this chocolate bar so different and special is that it contains extra virgin olive oil. And naturally, it’s olive oil by one of Italy’s most exclusive producers, Armando Manni. The Tuscan producer makes some of the most cherished and expensive olive oils around, beloved by illustrious chefs such as Keller and New York’s Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Their collaboration is K+M Extravirgin Chocolate. The premium cocoa beans are processed in a way that maintains their antioxidants that are normally destroyed in the chocolate-making process. A small amount of Manni extra-virgin olive oil is added to boost the level of antioxidants even more.