Category Archives: Enticing Events

Of Books, Stores & More

Ina Yalof has authored a new book, called "Food and the City"

Ina Yalof has authored a new book, called “Food and the City”

“Food and The City”

My favorite read of the year has to be Food and The City (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). Think of the legendary, mesmerizing oral histories done by Studs Terkel, only concentrated on the food industry.

That’s just what journalist Ina Yalof has created in this book by shining a spotlight on people in the New York culinary world who aren’t often in the limelight. The profiles are not the usual celeb chefs, though there are chefs included. But rather, they are people like Mohamed Abouelenein, founder of the wildly popular Halal Guys food truck who also happens to hold a doctorate in veterinarian medicine; Alessandro Borgognone, an Italian restaurateur, who was spurred by an argument with his wife and watching “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” to open what would become a four-star omakase in Manhattan with one of Jiro’s apprentices; and Tunisian-born Ghaya Oliveira, who was on her way to becoming a stock trader when family tragedy struck and she was forced to pivot, only to eventually find herself rising through the ranks to executive pastry chef of Restaurant Daniel.

It just goes to show that real-life can so often outshine the best fiction.

Yalof is not a food writer per se, but a reporter who most often delves into topics such as science, medicine and religion. But her keen investigative sense serves her well here as she delves deeply into these people’s lives to find out how they got where they are today. Because they are recounted in oral histories, and this is a New York-based book, one of the pleasures is the vernacular on display. If you’ve ever visited New York, especially the old-school delis and mom-and-pop stores there, you know how colorful and distinctive native New York-speak is. It leaps off the pages here, making you feel as if you’re ease-dropping on a conversation by old-timers at Katz’s.

If you’re looking for a book to get lost in, that’s full of fun yet also remarkable insight, this is the one.

Celebrate the New Williams-Sonoma in San Mateo

San Mateo’s Hillsdale Shopping Center will welcome a new Williams-Sonoma store that also includes Williams-Sonoma home furnishings.

Chef Ryan Pollnow will be showing off his Basque-style tapas at the opening of the new store. (Photo courtesy of Williams-Sonoma)

Chef Ryan Pollnow will be showing off his Basque-style tapas at the opening of the new store. (Photo courtesy of Williams-Sonoma)

To kick-off the opening, the store will host a series of events, starting at 7 p.m. Oct. 6 when Chef Ryan Pollnow of Aaxte restaurant in San Francisco serves up an array of pinxtos or Basque-style tapas with a gin & tonics. Register for this free opening party by clicking here.

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Join the Food Gal and Chef Jared Montarbo of Alexander’s Steakhouse For A Cooking Demo

MacysAlexandersSteakhouseYou’re in for a meaty time when Chef Jared Montarbo of Alexander’s Steakhouse joins me for a cooking demo, 1 p.m. Sept. 18, at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara.

The upscale, Asian-inflected steakhouse recently re-opened in a new, larger location in the Main Street Cupertino development. Its centerpiece is a dry-aging room that’s visible right when you walk in the doors, where magnificently marbled Japanese Wagyu is on display.

Montarbo is a Bay Area-native, who enrolled at the California Culinary Academy at the young age of 17, before going to cook for Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

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Ancient Wheat For Those Who Are Gluten-Sensitive — And A Food Gal Giveaway

Italian cookies made with specialty einkorn flour.

Italian cookies made with specialty einkorn flour.

 

It’s a flour that has 30 percent more protein than modern wheat, along with ample amounts of B vitamins and iron.

But that’s not the only reason you should get to know einkorn. It’s also reportedly the world’s most ancient wheat and the only type to never have been hybridized.

What’s more, the gluten in einkorn lacks the high molecular weight proteins that many people can’t digest. If you are sensitive to modern wheat, einkorn can provide a delicious alternative.

Carla Bartolucci and her husband started growing it in northern Italy seven years ago, after discovering that their daughter, who has gluten sensitivity, was able to eat pasta, bread, and other baked goods made with einkorn with no adverse effect. Today, the family is the largest grower of einkorn in the world.

They sell the flour, as well as products made from it under the Jovial brand. I had a chance to try samples recently, all of which are made in Italy.

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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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