Category Archives: Enticing Events

Behind the Scenes as El Celler de Can Roca’s Roca Brothers Cook in San Francisco

"The World'' being assembled at the San Francisco dinner prepared by the Roca brothers.

“The World” being assembled at the San Francisco dinner prepared by the Roca brothers.

 

It was a little like getting a backstage pass to a U2 concert.

Only way better.

That’s how I felt when I was invited to hang around in the kitchen on Wednesday night when the three Roca brothers, owners of the illustrious El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, were in San Francisco to cook a series of dinners at the Julia Morgan Ballroom.

After all, in the culinary world — Joan (chef), Josep (sommelier and maitre d’) and Jordi (pastry chef) — are rock stars of the utmost magnitude. Their restaurant not only has garnered three Michelin stars, but is rated #2 on the current list of “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants,” (they were #1 in 2013 and 2015).

Jordi, Joan and Josep Roca in the Julia Morgan Ballroom.

Jordi, Joan and Josep Roca in the Julia Morgan Ballroom.

What’s more, the multi-course, three-hour dinners were not open to the public. Instead, they were by invitation-only, with the 100 guests each night predominantly clients of Spanish bank BBVA Compass, which was sponsoring the Roca brothers’ whirlwind cooking tour. It spans three continents in five weeks with stops in London, Hong Kong, Phoenix, San Francisco (this week), and finally, Santiago de Chile.

Although Joan had come to the Bay Area in the spring on a prior scouting trip, this was the first time the other two brothers have visited San Francisco.

The 2016 tour is the third time BBVA has sponsored such an endeavor for the brothers. And what an undertaking it is. El Celler Can Roca closes for the entire month of August just for this, and almost the entire staff comes along for the ride. We’re talking the brothers plus 40 others.

The ballroom before the guests arrived.

The ballroom before the guests arrived.

Some of the featured wines for the evening.

Some of the featured wines for the evening.

Besides their personal luggage, the brothers travel only with their knives, and a few special ingredients, such as distillations that would be too difficult to make on location. One-of-a-kind serving ware is sent ahead. They go through one Iberico jamon leg per dinner. They source most everything else locally, making a point to use a few key ingredients particularly indigenous to the cities they are cooking in.

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Join the Food Gal and Dan Gordon of Gordon Biersch For A Cooking Demo

MacysDanGordonYou know you’re in for a rousing good time when Dan Gordon is in the house.

Join me when I host the South Bay’s famed brewmeister and founder of San Jose’s Gordon Biersch Brewing Company for a cooking demo, 2 p.m. Aug. 21, at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara.

Gordon recently revamped his original Gordon Biersch restaurant in downtown Palo Alto, turning it into Dan Gordon’s, which specializes in barbecue and brewski.

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Join Yours Truly For the 2016 James Beard “Taste America” San Francisco Gala

A dessert from last year's Taste America San Francisco. (Photo by Marc Fiorito, Gamma Nine Photography)

A dessert from last year’s Taste America San Francisco. (Photo by Marc Fiorito, Gamma Nine Photography)

 

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be an emcee at the James Beard Foundation’s “Taste America” epicurean tour, with my fellow James Beard winner J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats, when it rolls into San Francisco for an unforgettable evening Nov. 4.

The 10-city tour, with stops that include Los Angeles, Chicago and Charleston, benefits the foundation, with a portion of proceeds to go toward culinary scholarships for local students in each region.

The San Francisco gala on Nov. 4, “A Night of Culinary Stars,” will take place at the InterContinental Hotel. The evening kicks off with a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception featuring morsels from top San Francisco chefs: Tim Archuleta of Ichi Sushi + Ni Bar, Srijith Gopinathan of Campton Place, Brandon Jew of Mister Jiu’s, Dennis Lee of Namu Gaji, Pim Techamuanvivit & Narciso Salvador of Kin Khao, and Martin Yan of M.Y. China.

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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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