Category Archives: Enticing Events

Pickle Nostalgia and A Food Gal Giveaway with Ball Canning

Pickling my way to savored memories.

Pickling my way to savored memories.

 

When I was a kid growing up in my parents’ San Francisco home, there were two refrigerators — the main one in the kitchen, and an auxiliary one downstairs in the garage.

It was the latter one that was filled with extra provisions — tubs of tofu, cartons of orange juice, and big glass jars of pickles.

My Mom’s pickles.

She would save big glass jars and reuse them, packing them with cauliflower florets, slices of carrots, and stems of mustard greens. She’d pour in hot white vinegar diluted with a little water and mixed with a few mustard seeds, bay leaves and peppercorns, before capping the jars, and storing them in that refrigerator.

As the days and weeks went on, we’d enjoy the pickles of her labor. Their snap and tang would jazz up simple green salads or sandwiches. But often, I’d just fish out a few pieces to eat solo for an entirely satisfying snack.

So when Jarden Home Brands, maker of the Ball brand of home-canning products, sent me its “The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving” (Oxmoor House), I leafed through the more than 350 recipes, and came to a halt at one in particular.

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San Francisco Lamb Jam and A Food Gal Giveaway

Curry-yogurt grilled lamb chops. (Photo courtesy of the American Lamb Board)

Curry-yogurt grilled lamb chops. (Photo courtesy of the American Lamb Board)

 

How do I love lamb?

Let me count the ways.

I love it so much that if it’s on a menu, I will always make a beeline for it over beef.

I love that my father would take the time on weekends to make his special curry lamb in a pressure cooker on the stovetop, complete with carrots, onions and turnips, all tinged with that golden colored sauce.

I love that my husband enjoys cooking a leg of lamb studded with garlic and rosemary in his Big Green Egg, which we can then enjoy with hummus and pita for nights on end.

And I love that Niman Ranch, when it was still owned by Bill Niman, would host an annual outdoor barbecue bash for media, friends and ranchers, where I was lucky to be introduced to the delights of grilled lamb riblets, which are tiny yet exquisitely juicy.

If you love lamb like I love lamb, then you don’t want to miss the seventh annual San Francisco Lamb Jam, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. July 17 at the Golden Gate Club.

The American Lamb Board’s multi-city, culinary cook-off competition will feature a dozen of the Bay Area’s best chefs vying for “Best in Show,” “People’s Choice,” and other best-of categories. The winner will face other Lamb Jam champions in the finale in September in New York.

The participating chefs will be:

Robert McCarthy – Thirstybear Brewing Company

Sophina Uong – Calavera

Francis Hogan – Sabio On Main

Jay Abrams – Bi-Rite Market

Alan Fullerton – Pacific Coast Brewing Co.

Brandon Rice – Rich Table

Parke Ulrich – Epic Steak

David Bazirgan – Dirty Habit

Wesley Shaw – Presido Social Club

Michael Cassady – Kuleto’s

John Griffiths – Bluestem Brasserie

Mike Espinoza – Hogs & Rocks

Attendees will get a chance to sample all the dishes, too. Tickets are $60 each. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to La Cocina, the non-profit incubator for low-income food entrepreneurs.

Bring an appetite for lamb. (Photo courtesy of the American Lamb Board)

Bring an appetite for lamb. (Photo courtesy of the American Lamb Board)

CONTEST: Two lucky Food Gal readers will each win a pair of tickets to the San Francisco Lamb Jam.

Entries, limited to those who can actually attend the July 17 event in San Francisco, will be accepted through midnight PST July 2. Winners will be announced July 4.

How to win?

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Join the Food Gal and Chef Josiah Slone of Relish Gastro Lounge For A Cooking Demo

MacysRelishJoin yours truly when I host Chef Josiah Slone for a delectable cooking demo at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara, 6 p.m. June 27.

Slone took over the iconic Sent Sovi restaurant in downtown Saratoga from Chef David Kinch, who went on to open Manresa in Los Gatos. After manning the fine-dining restaurant for nearly 13 years, Slone recently revamped the space into a more casual restaurant, Relish Gastro Lounge.

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Celebrating San Francisco with Harry & David, And A Food Gal Giveaway (Sponsored Post)

San Francisco-Inspired Gift Basket (photo courtesy of Harry & David)

San Francisco-Inspired Gift Basket (photo courtesy of Harry & David)

 

Even though I was born in San Francisco and have spent almost my entire life in the Bay Area, I admit that when I was younger I took this region for granted.

I remember spending college summers interning in Portland, OR and Boston, where the moment I told people where I was from, their faces would light up with envy. The same happened when I lived in South Florida.

It took living away to make me finally appreciate what was in my own backyard. Namely, a climate that is almost always comfortable; spoil-you-rotten pristine produce available year-round; a food scene other cities would kill for; a gorgeous setting with ocean, mountains and redwoods; and an educated, curious, multi-ethnic populace so often at the forefront of meaningful issues and trends.

Of course, these days, it’s also a breathtakingly exorbitant place to live, with nightmare traffic on the freeways, construction everywhere, and an increasingly frightening divide between the haves and the have-nots.

For all of that, though, I can’t ever imagine leaving. It is home. And always will be.

Harry & David recognizes just how special the San Francisco Bay Area is. That’s why it chose this area as one to spotlight in its new regional gift baskets. The other foodie areas celebrated with their own themed gift baskets are: Chicago, New York and Austin.

The San Francisco gift basket ($99.99) includes Cheddar Corn Chowder Soup Mix, Seafood Rub, sourdough loaf, Habanero Pineapple Seafood Glaze, Ghirardelli chocolates, a dishtowel imprinted with the San Francisco skyline, and a cute trolley-car cookie. It all comes packed in a woven basket.

For every regional gift basket purchased, 20 percent of net proceeds will be donated to food banks in those respective cities, including the SF-Marin Food Bank.

CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a Harry & David San Francisco-Inspired Gift Basket ($99.99 value). #TasteYourCity

Entries, open only to those in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight PST June 25. Winner will be announced June 27.

How to win?

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Your Chance To Win A $50 Gift Card to La Pastaia in San Jose

Cassarece pasta at La Pastaia. (Photo courtesy of La Pastaia, Hotel De Anza)

Cassarece pasta at La Pastaia. (Photo courtesy of La Pastaia, Hotel De Anza)

 

Located in the historic Hotel De Anza in downtown San Jose, La Pastaia was always one of my favorite restaurants when I worked in that city.

After all, I unabashedly love my carbs. And La Pastaia’s pastas always had a way of winning me over. Executive Chef Juan Zaragoza, who has been at the restaurant for a decade, turns out Italian favorites such as spaghetti vongole ($22) and cacio e pepe ($16), and standards such as a pork chop with warm farro salad ($27) and pan-seared salmon with toasted orzo ($25).

The hotel’s Headley Club Lounge, which features live jazz, has a sophisticated yet laid-back vibe that’s perfect for enjoying a cocktail or glass of wine. I’ve had many a reunion or good-bye party there with friends and colleagues.

Salmon at La Pastaia. (Photo courtesy of La Pastaia, Hotel De Anza)

Salmon at La Pastaia. (Photo courtesy of La Pastaia, Hotel De Anza)

CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a $50 gift card to La Pastaia.

Entries, open only to those who can actually use the gift card within a year, will be accepted through midnight PST June 18. Winner will be announced June 20.

How to win?

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