View all posts filed under 'General'

Cozy Up to Zola in Palo Alto

Friday, 21. November 2014 5:26

Chocolate mousse made extra special with coffee gelee at Zola in Palo Alto.

Chocolate mousse made extra special with coffee gelee at Zola in Palo Alto.

 

If French writer Emile Zola was all about literary realism, then Palo Alto’s new Zola restaurant pays fitting tribute with its seasonal French cooking that keeps it real and all together soulful.

Chef-Proprietor Guillaume Bienaime opened his intimate downtown restaurant in late-September. The former fine-dining chef at Marche in Menlo Park has consulted on restaurants over the past couple of years. But Zola is his own venture and you can tell he’s poured his heart into it.

Recently, I met up with a friend for dinner there, with us paying the tab at the end of the meal. It’s a cozy space done up in denim-colored walls beside exposed brick, bare wood tables and classic cafe chairs.

The dining room is compact, but it is inviting.

The dining room is compact, but it is inviting.

It’s the kind of place where you can come in jeans, and settle in with a glass of French Rhone wine and a plate of short ribs done Bourguignon-style, and emerge feeling restored.

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Category:Chefs, General, Restaurants | Comments (3) | Author:

Brown Sugar Kitchen’s Spiced Sweet Potato Bundt Cake

Wednesday, 19. November 2014 5:26

Sweet potatoes make this cake really moist.

Sweet potatoes make this cake really moist.

 

Imagine a holiday cake that’s rich in fiber, complex carbohydrates and beta-carotene.

OK, so it does have chocolate chips, too. Plus a wicked chocolate-coffee glaze.

“Spiced Sweet Potato Bundt Cake” has all that going for it and more. After all, it’s the creation of Chef Tanya Holland, who’s famed for her soulful comfort food at her Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland.

This cake is from her new cookbook, “Brown Sugar Kitchen: New-Style, Down-Home Recipes From Sweet West Oakland” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy. It was written with former San Francisco Magazine editor Jan Newberry.

BrownSugarKitchenBook

You’ll find all your Brown Sugar Kitchen favorites here, including Holland’s legendary Cornmeal Waffles with Apple Cider Syrup and Buttermilk Fried Chicken. All in all, you’ll find more than 80 recipes from everything from Creole Gazpacho to Smoked Buttered Rum. What’s really special about this book, though, is its sense of place. Holland’s restaurant is an intrinsic part of this West Oakland neighborhood. The book celebrates the people that make this area what it is by including profiles of its entrepreneurs, musicians and community leaders.

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Category:Chefs, General, Recipes (Sweet), Restaurants | Comments (7) | Author:

Sustainably Raised Meat Delivered To Your Door with AgLocal — Plus a Food Gal Deal

Monday, 17. November 2014 5:27

AgLocal's Moroccan lamb sausages get roasted in the oven for an easy weeknight meal.

AgLocal’s Moroccan lamb sausages get roasted in the oven for an easy weeknight meal.

 

As much as we’d like to eat local, sustainably-raised meat regularly, it often takes going the extra effort to do so.

Usually, it requires driving out of the way to a specialty store.

Now, San Francisco’s AgLocal makes it much easier to enjoy farm-fresh meat and to support local family farms by delivering a box right to your door.

All the meat comes from pasture-raised animals. The meat offerings, shipped frozen most of the time, are available in four different boxes, each of which includes a different selection: “Family Style”  (favorite cuts to appeal to all members of the family); “Grill Master” (ribs, chops and steaks); “Fit and Lean” (brisket, flank steak and the like); and “Farmer’s Pick” (more esoteric cuts such as lamb breast and smoked shanks). Each box comes in two sizes, either 7 pounds ($85) or 14 pounds ($150).

A look inside my "Fit and Lean'' box.

A look inside my “Fit and Lean” box.

AgLocal currently delivers to California, Arizona, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

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Category:General, Going Green and Sustainable, Great Finds, Meat, New Products | Comments (1) | Author:

In Praise of Pistachios

Friday, 14. November 2014 5:26

Pistachios growing in California's Central Valley.

Pistachios growing in California’s Central Valley.

 

A pistachio is a wonder.

For much of its growth cycle, its shell is empty. Only later does the tiny, sweet, green edible kernel grow inside.

It’s a phenomenon that has even surprised many a first time grower.

This summer, I was invited by the American Pistachio Growers to Fresno to watch the annual pistachio harvest.

There are more than 650 pistachio growers in Arizona, New Mexico and California. The Golden State boasts the most with more than 98 percent of the total growers and more than 300,000 acres of pistachio trees.

The pistachio crop may still pale in comparison to California’s almonds, which make up 940,000 acres. But pistachios remain an important crop, bringing in $1.3 billion in revenue. Indeed, the pistachio crop is expected to double in the next seven years.

With its hot, dry climate and rich soil, the Central Valley became a natural place to plant pistachios, which hail from the Middle East. In the 1960s, plantings began in the Fresno area. Nowadays, you’ll find family farms that have grown pistachios for generations.

Although they’re one of the more drought-tolerant trees, this year’s pistachio crop, which just finished harvesting, is about 30 percent lower than usual.

Tasting a just-picked pistachio.

Tasting a just-picked pistachio.

Once the kernel forms inside the shell, it keeps growing until it gets so big that it splits the shell, the sign that it is ripe for picking. Hence, the naturally created slit that pistachios in the shell possess, which makes it easier for us to crack them open with our fingers. A real treat is getting to taste a just-picked pistachio. Unlike salted, roasted ones from the store, a fresh one is softer and even more buttery tasting.

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Category:Enticing Events, General, Health/Nutrition | Comments (8) | Author:

Fig and Pistachio Stuffing for Thanksgiving

Wednesday, 12. November 2014 5:26

Stuffing that doesn't have to weigh you down.

Stuffing that doesn’t have to weigh you down.

 

Think of this as Thanksgiving stuffing-lite.

Oh sure, it still has half a stick of butter in it.

But there’s no sausage in it. Nor any milk, cream or eggs. It gets moistened with chicken broth instead.

It also gets crunch from a profusion of pistachio nuts. And it gets a grown-up touch with dried figs that have been macerated in sweet white wine overnight. But don’t worry, they don’t come out tasting overly boozy. The alcohol tempers the fruit’s sweetness and adds a rounded depth. If you don’t have the Mucscat or Essensia called for in the recipe, you can improvise. I actually ended up using Canadian icewine I happened to have on hand.

The recipe is from one of my favorite cookbook writers, Molly Stevens. It first appeared in the February 2007 issue of Bon Appetit.

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Category:Fruit, General, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (8) | Author: