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Scenes From the 23rd Annual Star Chefs & Vintners Gala

Tuesday, 18. May 2010 5:25

For foodies, it was indeed a starry time on Sunday evening at the lavish Star Chefs & Vintners Gala at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

About 1,000 folks turned out to don their finest and to support Meals on Wheels of San Francisco, the city’s oldest and largest provider of home-delivered meals to seniors.

The Bay Area’s top chefs and vintners provided an impressive spread of eats and drinks for this annual event, which raised $1.1 million last year for this worthy organization that serves 16,000 meals to home-bound seniors every week.

Yours truly was invited to be a guest at the gala, which started off with a bang with an expansive walk-around hors d’oeuvre and wine reception, where chefs and vintners manned stations to pass out tastes of their finest.

It was quite crowded in the Festival Pavillion, but well worth the effort to jockey for position for such stellar eats.

I had a chance to sneak back into the kitchen area to see the chefs scurrying about to get the first courses ready for dinner, as an army of servers lined up in formation at the ready to ferry the dishes to the dining room.

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Category:Chefs, Chocolate, Cupcakes, Enticing Events, General, More Food Gal -- In Person, Spirits/Cocktails/Beer, Wine | Comments (21) | Author:

Ad Hoc Cake Mix and Prepared Frosting

Wednesday, 28. April 2010 5:25

Leave it to uber-Chef Thomas Keller to create the world’s most expensive cake mix.

Just how pricey?

We’re talking $14 for either the Ad Hoc Red Velvet, Chocolate or Yellow cake mixes sold exclusively at Williams-Sonoma. Add another $19.95 for a jar of either the ready-to-spread Ad Hoc Milk Chocolate or Dark Chocolate frostings, also sold at Williams-Sonoma.

That’s $33.95 to make one cake right there. Not to mention the butter, plus 4 whole eggs AND 4 egg yolks that you mix into the yellow cake batter, which is the one I received a sample of recently to try.

Boy howdy, you could buy a quite decent bakery cake for that price and call it a day.

Ahh, but then, you wouldn’t have the Ad Hoc or Keller prestige attached to it.

The mixes and frostings are made from top-notch ingredients: Guittard cocoa and Nielsen Massey vanilla. I could smell the strong fragrance of the vanilla as the yellow cake batter came together in the bowl of my stand mixer. Unlike so many other cake recipes I’ve used, the directions on the back of this box call for using the whisk attachment for the mixer rather than the paddle. The result is a batter that is very fluffy and silky-creamy — almost as if there’s whipped cream folded into it.

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Category:Chefs, Chocolate, Cupcakes, General, Great Finds, New Products, Thomas Keller/French Laundry/Et Al | Comments (46) | Author:

Berkeley’s Love at First Bite Cupcakes

Tuesday, 27. April 2010 5:25

This tucked away little bakery in Berkeley definitely has the perfect name.

After friends on Facebook started up a swoon-inducing discussion about Love at First Bite’s strawberry cupcake, I knew I had to make a trip to the East Bay to try one.

If you didn’t know this bakery existed, you’d be hard pressed to just stumble upon it, as it’s located at the back of a small retail plaza on a largely residential street.

But being that I have a nose for cupcakes, I found it handily with the help of my husband.

Love at First Bite sells 12 to 15 different cupcakes each day, priced from $2.75 to $2.95 each.

Of course, my eyes zeroed in on the “Pretty in Pink” cupcakes — the famous strawberry cupcakes made with real fruit and topped with swirls of pastel pink strawberry buttercream.

It was every bit as good as I had read. This little cake packs a whopper of strawberry flavor. The frosting was super lush, though I wish the sugar had been dialed back just one tiny notch.

Since I was there, I had to try a few more, right?

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Category:Bakeries, Cupcakes, Fruit, Great Finds | Comments (27) | Author:

Ferry Building Happenings, Glam Foodie Fund-Raisers & More

Friday, 23. April 2010 5:24

In San Francisco:

The offerings at the Saturday farmers market at the San Francisco Ferry Building just got a whole lot sweeter.

The Arlequin booth, manned by Luis Villavelazquez, executive pastry chef of Absinthe restaurant in San Francisco, will now be a regular fixture at that Saturday market, just steps from the Hyatt Regency San Francisco, beginning May 1.

The booth, which already had been up and running at the smaller Thursday farmers market there, will be selling the likes of malted cupcake with banana cream and Oreo frosting; strawberry and tobacco-infused scone with creme fraiche; spiced ramp and provolone biscuits; and milk chocolate macadamia nut cookies.

Find the Arlequin booth next to Blue Bottle Coffee’s exterior stand,  8 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Thursday and Saturday.

If luscious libations are more your thing, you won’t want to miss “Berries, Citrus and Rhubarb,” a fun cocktails class at the Ferry Building, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. May 7.

Master mixologist Scott Beattie will conduct a hands-on class to teach you how to make market-fresh strawberry margaritas, classic mai tais, and gimlets.

Master distiller, Lance Winters of St. George Spirits in Alameda, will talk about micro-distillation.

The Ferry Building’s Il Cane Rosso also will serve up cocktail-friendly noshes. Additionally, participants will get to take home a recipe booklet.

The class will be held under the North Arcade of the Ferry Building. Tickets are $45.

City College of San Francisco invites you to its 12th annual “Wok on the Wild Side,” a benefit for its culinary arts and hospitality studies department, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. April 26.

Participating in the star chef-studded affair are Staffan Terje of Perbacco in San Francisco, Bruce Hill of Picco in Larkspur, Laurence Jossel of Nopa, Jennifer Biesty of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco, and Mauricio Sibrian of John’s Grill in San Francisco.  They will be honoring City College alum, Tom Sweeney, the famous Beefeater doorman who has been welcoming visitors to the Sir Francis Drake Hotel for more than 30 years.

The chefs will be cooking up their specialties and being assisted by the students and faculty of the program.

Tickets are $150. For information, call (415) 239-3152.

You won’t want to miss another gala chefs gathering, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. April 29, when “Taste of the Nation San Francisco” rolls into town on the Club Level of AT&T Park in San Francisco.

The benefit for Share Our Strength, will feature tastes from more than 40 top San Francisco chefs, including Dominique Crenn of Luce, Mark Sullivan of Spruce, Hoss Zare of Zare at Fly Trap, and Matthew Accarrino of SPQR.

Live music and a silent auction will add to the festivities, which will benefit one of the nation’s largest organizations dedicated to alleviating childhood hunger.

Regular tickets are $85. VIP tickets, which get you into the event an hour earlier, are $140.

Monday, April 26, dine at a Pasta Pomodoro in San Francisco or elsewhere in the Bay Area to do a good deed.

That night, the restaurant chain will donate 25 percent of profits from every “Cena di Familia” meal to local food banks to help families in need. The three-course, family-style meal, which feeds four, comes with choice of salad, pasta and dessert for $35.

Around the Peninsula:

Take a taste of more than 100 wines from all over Italy in one spot. You can at “Enoteca 100 Primavera,” an Italian wine tasting at Donato Enoteca restaurant in Redwood City, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. May 1.

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Category:Bakeries, Chefs, Chocolate, Cupcakes, Enticing Events, General, Restaurants, Spirits/Cocktails/Beer, Wine | Comments (14) | Author:

A Temptress Named Miette

Tuesday, 20. April 2010 5:25

I can’t resist a wonderful French macaron.

Nor a fabulous cupcake, salted caramels, gingersnap cookies or imported European chocolates.

That’s why I have no will-power whenever I step inside one of San Francisco’s most delightful candy shops, Miette, a short drive from the Holiday Inn Civic Center.

The three-year-old candy shop, sister to the Miette bake shop in San Francisco’s bustling Ferry Building, is filled with all of that, plus everything else a sweet tooth could want.

Done up in girly pastel colors, the shop, whose name means “little crumb” in French, features a small assortment of signature baked goods at the counter, including chocolate vanilla cupcakes ($3.25), chocolate cakes with Italian meringue ($24), and chocolate sables topped with sea salt ($5 for a small bag).

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Category:Bakeries, Chocolate, Cupcakes, General, Great Finds | Comments (23) | Author: