A beautiful day in Yosemite National Park.
Last week in Yosemite National Park, kids in shorts kicked around a soccer ball, seniors played a game of croquet, and the mules were let out in winter for the first time in decades.
The park may have lacked its usual blanket of snow, but it had an abundance of celeb chefs.
That’s because it was time for Chefs’ Holidays at the majestic Ahwahnee Hotel. The annual event in January and February features acclaimed chefs from all over the country. In each session, three different chefs are featured. Guests get to enjoy a meet-and-greet reception with the chefs, watch each of the chefs do a demo, then enjoy a gala five-course dinner prepared either by one of the chefs or all three of them.
The Ahwahnee — minus any snow.
Deer nibble in a meadow behind the hotel.
Rock sculptures created by visitors to Mirror Lake.
This was my second time back as a moderator for two of the sessions.
Tout Sweet’s Nutella brioche.
If you need a pick-me-up of the sweet persuasion while shopping in San Francisco’s tony Union Square area, duck into Macy’s.
That’s where you’ll find Tout Sweet — past the racks of women’s sportswear on the third floor.
It’s the cute little patisserie by Yigit Pura, the first winner of “Top Chef: Just Desserts.”
Done up in gumdrop colors, it’s a cheery place to pick up a treat or to sit for a spell while enjoying coffee, a glass of wine or even a savory sandwich.
That’s exactly what I did one day recently when I bought a few things to enjoy later at home.
Addictive Short Order Spuds.
On vacation late last year in Los Angeles, my husband and I were all about spontaneity — meaning we dined without reservations or a specific game plan in mind. And yes, that made it feel like a real vacation, indeed.
Here are some of my favorite eats from that excursion:
Often referred to in shorthand as “Nancy Silverton’s burger place,” Short Order was created by Silverton, who started an artisan bread revolution in Los Angeles before opening her now famous Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza with celeb Chef Mario Batali and restaurateur Joe Bastianich.
Silverton planned to open Short Order in 2011 with Amy Pressman, once her former assistant pastry chef when the two worked together at Spago. But tragically, Pressman died of cancer shortly before the restaurant opened.
Today, Executive Chef Christian Page carries out Pressman’s vision of a gourmet diner serving food with top-notch organic ingredients.
Located in the popular Farmers Market on W. 3rd Street, Short Order is tucked in a quieter back corner of the complex. It’s two stories with seating both inside and out around glassed-in fire-pit tables.
Miso-smothered chicken with tangy, crunchy jicama pickles.
If you’re a fan of “Top Chef’‘ like I am, then you’re sure to remember Chef Edward Lee, who is Korean, cooks with French techniques and makes his home in the South.
Those three cultural heritages come together deliciously in his new cookbook, “”Smoke & Pickles” (Artisan), of which I received a review copy.
Lee may be chef-owner of two acclaimed restaurants, 610 Magnolia and Milkwood, both in Louisville, KY. But the food he presents on these pages is the rustic, bold-flavored type he makes for friends, family and even for staff meals.
“Miso-Smothered Chicken” exemplifies that. It’s bowl-food at its best: A mound of fluffy rice with tender, braised chicken seasoned with garlic, cayenne, orange juice, chicken stock, soy sauce and miso. It’s chicken stew — Japanese-style.
What really makes the dish is the accompanying pickles. Yes, they take a little more work, and have to be made at least a day ahead of the chicken. But one crunchy bite later, you’ll be so glad you made that extra effort. Read more
A halibut dish guaranteed to make an impression.
When I placed this dish of “Halibut and Spinach with Orange-Pine Nut Vinaigrette” in front of my husband one Saturday night, he exclaimed:
It does look pretty impressive, I must admit. Like a restaurant-quality dish. But would you believe it took mere minutes to make?
The recipe is from the new Curtis Stone cookbook, “What’s For Dinner” (Ballantine Books), of which I received a review copy. Yes, those of you who pooh-pooh celeb TV chefs as nothing more than pretty faces should know that Stone, the host of “Top Chef Masters,” can actually cook. The Aussie is classically trained and learned his craft alongside greats like Michelin three-star chef and notorious bad-boy, Marco Pierre White.
The 130 recipes in this book are designed for our busy lives today. They are geared toward different days of the week, such as “One-Pot Wednesdays” when you don’t want to spend a lot of time cleaning up, and “Thrifty Thursdays” when you want something delicious that’s easy on the wallet.
The halibut dish falls under “Time-Saving Tuesdays.” Truly, you can have it on the table in about 20 minutes, too.