Category Archives: Food TV

A Toot to Tout Sweet

Tout Sweet's Nutella brioche.

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.

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Four Places To Nosh in Los Angeles

Addictive Short Order spuds.

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:

Short Order

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.

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“Top Chef” Alum Edward Lee’s Miso-Smothered Chicken

Miso-smothered chicken with tangy, crunchy jicama pickles.

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 Hunky Halibut

A halibut dish guaranteed to make an impression.

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:

“Wow! Fancy!”

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.

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San Francisco’s Coqueta — A Tantalizing Triumph

Michael Chiarello welcoming guests at his new Coqueta.

Michael Chiarello welcoming guests at his new Coqueta.



If I knew the Spanish word for that enraptured feeling, I’d be saying it.

Because that’s exactly how the new Coqueta restaurant on Pier 5 makes you feel with its Spanish flair. It’s not only the first restaurant in San Francisco by celeb Chef Michael Chiarello, but it’s also his first foray into something other than his Italian heritage.

Chiarello is no stranger to Spain, though. He’s traveled to that country for years. His eldest daughter also lives there, having married a Catalan man.

Like his smash-hit Bottega in Yountville, Coqueta (“flirt” in Spanish) is all about bold flavors with modern takes on traditional dishes done with whimsy. The former Lafitte restaurant is still recognizable. But it’s been given a major face-lift. The once temporary patio now has permanent walls, as well as a bar, where you can enjoy noshes sans reservations. Inside, the soaring, rustic-chic space is warm with lots of reclaimed wood, oak table tops made from barrel staves, and branded hides on the floors (from casualties from actual bull fights in Spain).

Take a seat at the bar to watch the kitchen in action.

Take a seat at the bar to watch the kitchen in action.

The restaurant imports the melt-in-your-mouth Iberico ham, as well as cures its own ham. In fact, you’ll find the Iberico even infused in gin that’s served in the “Tariff” ($12) cocktail with housemade acorn & apricot tonic, orange and cava. It’s one of the many creative libations by Joe Cleveland, a former mixologist for Jose Andres’ restaurants.

You know a restaurant has got it going, if it’s strong right out of the gate. Coqueta has set exactly that pace, as evidenced by my visit a mere three days after it had opened in April, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.

With Chiarello’s track-record of opening hit restaurants, it’s no surprise just how wonderful the food is at Coqueta.

Quail egg “Diablo” ($2.50 each) puts mere deviled eggs to shame. These tiny hard-boiled eggs are spreared with lovely, sweet Serrano ham and a dollop of sharp pickled mustard seeds. The compact little morsel sure rocks the palate.

A pintxos of quail egg and jamon Serrano. Bet you can't eat just one.

A pintxos of quail egg and jamon Serrano. Bet you can’t eat just one.

More jamon draped on crisp tomato bread.

More jamon draped on crisp tomato bread.

Pan con tomate ($5) is the traditional grilled bread smeared with fresh tomato, but made with extra care, by using light airy Cristal, the famous bread of Barcelona, as its base. It gets super crisp on the grill, giving way to the smooth, sweet, jammy tomato sofrito.

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