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)
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?
Get ready for the sweetest demo ever when Pastry Chef Dries Delanghe of Alexander’s Patisserie in Mountain View joins me for a baking demo at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara, 6 p.m. June 14.
The Belgium-born, acclaimed pastry chef starting baking at the young age of 14. After graduating at the top of his class with a bachelor’s degree in pastry techniques from a program in Bruges, Delanghe moved to Paris to train with the legendary Pierre Herme.
He followed that up with a stint as pastry sous chef at Joel Robuchon’s Las Vegas restaurant, before being hired as the executive pastry chef of Alexander’s Patisserie when it opened its doors in 2014.
A slew of restaurants will be offering special three-course prix fixe dinners, June 10-19, as part of Dine Downtown San Jose.
The prix fixe offerings will be priced from $20 on up. Participating restaurants include Arcadia, Cafe Stritch, The Farmers Union, and Poor House Bistro.
For every prix fixe meal sold, Sysco will donate $1 to Martha’s Kitchen, too. The San Jose organization provides meals to those in need.
Contest: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a $50 gift certificate to Mezcal Restaurant in downtown San Jose. Use it toward the $30 three-course prix fixe the restaurant is serving up for Dine Downtown San Jose, which includes options such as tortilla soup, grilled steak with chipotle sauce, and warm Oaxacan chocolate cake. Or use it another time.
Chef Octavio Gomez of Mezcal. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)
Mezcal specializes in moles, as well as chapulines (fried grasshoppers). If you’ve never experienced the latter, this is the place to try them. Seasoned with garlic, salt and lime, they’re as crisp and addicting as potato chips. So, no need to be squeamish.
Gyro and chicken platters by the Halal Guys.
Three Northern California franchises of the wildly popular The Halal Guys are set to open.
But it’s lucky San Jose that will get the first one, beating to the opening date the ones planned for San Francisco’s Tenderloin and downtown Berkeley.
That first Halal Guys will open 11 a.m. June 3 at The Plant, 81 Curtner Ave. #20. The first 100 guests in line will receive a free entree and the first 2,500 guests in line will receive a choice of a complimentary Halal Guys t-shirt or pair of sunglasses.
Get ready for gyro sandwiches, chicken and rice platters, and their famed white sauce and hot sauce.
The Halal Guys phenomenon began in 1990 when three guys from Egypt had the smarts to realize that Muslim cab drivers in New York were hungry for quick halal food. What started as a sidewalk food cart is now a booming franchise with locations not just in New York, but also Southern California, Houston and Chicago.
Thanks to delivery service Caviar, which was ferrying orders ($11.99 for platters) from the Halal Guys for a preview taste, I had a chance to sample some of the food a few days ago.
Join yours truly when I trek to Macy’s Cellar in San Francisco’s Union Square to host cookbook author and Asian foods expert Katie Chin for a cooking demo, 6 p.m. May 26
It’s all part of the salute to Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
Los Angeles-based Chin is the author of “Katie Chin’s Everyday Chinese Cookbook” (Tuttle Publishing); and creator of the blog, The Sweet And Sour Chronicles. She’s also appeared as a judge on “Iron Chef America” and a contestant on “Cutthroat Kitchen.”