Pretty in white.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA — After five years of drought, the snow was back and the waterfalls gushing like crazy this winter in this spectacular national park (click on the Instagram video below).
The Ahwahnee may now be known as the Majestic Yosemite (because its former concessionaire Delaware North claims it owns the park’s historic names after trademarking them); and the former “Chefs’ Holidays” event is now referred to as “Taste of Yosemite.” But no matter what you call it, a bevy of stellar chefs were more than happy to be back for this 32nd year, and yours truly was once again the moderator for the two closing sessions of this annual gourmet event.
Every year, I get a chance to meet newcomers who are not only attending their first gala dinner event here, but visiting the park for the very first time, too. That’s coupled with regulars, some of whom have been attending this glorious event for more than seven years.
Each sessions features three chefs or gourmet purveyors who each do a cooking demo. There’s a wine reception where you can mingle with the chefs. And every session ends with a gala five-course dinner prepared by one of the visiting chefs.
When the newest Il Fornaio opened in November in Santa Clara, it made history in the company when it became the first of its 23 restaurants to debut with a female head chef at the helm.
Chef Leslie Pineda not only made the record books for this 30-year-old restaurant chain, but she sure can cook. You can see — and taste — for yourself when she joins me for a cooking demo at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara, 6 p.m. Feb. 7.
Are you already dreading your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier?
Learn how to keep to your promise without giving up flavor or satisfaction when I host a heart-healthy cooking demo with Chef Pamela Keith in partnership with the American Heart Association’s Silicon Valley Chapter, 2 p.m. Jan. 14 at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara.
Keith is a classically trained chef who was culinary director of Draeger’s and helped Williams-Sonoma develop its cooking classes. She is now the owner of Burlingame’s CuisineStyle by Pamela Keith, a culinary event company that offers catering, as well as cooking parties and team-building classes. She is also the owner of the inviting Taylor’s Bay Cafe in Burlingame, named for her daughter.
Dave’s Gourmet Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce — with my addition of crisp pancetta bits.
I typically favor made-from-scratch, but I am not above taking the easy way out at times.
Especially when it comes to jarred pasta sauces.
After all, they are so very handy to stock in your pantry, and they take well to doctoring with fresh herbs, sausage, veggies, and more.
San Francisco Dave’s Gourmet, which makes some especially good ones, was founded by Dave Hirschkop. After starting a successful taqueria in Maryland known as Burrito Madness, he created Insanity Hot Sauce as a way to subdue inebriated patrons. But it ended up being so popular that even perfectly sober diners became fans. How hot is the sauce? Apparently so explosive that his sauce was banned from the National Fiery Food Show.
His award-winning pasta sauces are tamer, but no less delicious. They come in seven varieties, including Creamy Parmesan Romano, and Organic Roasted Garlic & Sweet Basil. They are gluten-free and almost all of them are organic. A 25.5 ounce jar is $8.99. Find them at retailers such as Whole Foods, Sprouts and Costco.
The two Dave’s Gourmet sauces you can win.
I had a chance to try samples of two of them recently: Wild Mushroom, and All Natural Butternut Squash.
Not your standard chicken.
You may know heritage turkeys as a gourmet splurge for Thanksgiving.
Now, get to know heritage chicken.
Yes, all the delicious attributes and admirable farm practices associated with a heritage turkey now can be found in chicken, too.
San Francisco-based Emmer & Co. is one company on a mission to make those specialty chickens more widely available.
Most chickens raised in the United States have been genetically modified for faster growth. Not so with Emmer & Co.’s. Their New Hampshire and Delaware chickens are certified standard bred by the American Poultry Association, the oldest agricultural organization in the country. They mate naturally, they live outside, and they grow to full market weight in 112 days compared to 42 days for industrialized supermarket chickens.