Category Archives: General

Noodle Bowls Are A Breeze with Oakland’s Nona Lim

Miso Ramen in a flash -- with the help of Nona Lim.

Miso Ramen in a flash — with the help of Nona Lim.

 

Bowls of brothy noodles are the ultimate comfort dish. But you can work yourself into a tizzy in the time and care it takes to create one from scratch.

Oakland’s Nona Lim makes it easy to enjoy your favorite Asian noodle bowl in a flash. Lim grew up in Singapore, and worked as a consultant in the tech industry, all the while training competitively in fencing. After moving to the food-centric Bay Area, she knew she wanted to start a business built around healthful and tasty food.

Her broths, soups and noodles are made in small batches. Find them in the refrigerated section at such stores as Draeger’s, Sigona’s, and Whole Foods for about $4.40 per package.

I had a chance to taste a couple of samples recently. The broths are super convenient — all you have to do is warm them up in a saucepan. The noodles — wide Pad See Ew, flat Laksa ones, and thinner Pad Thai ones — are all made from rice, so they’re gluten-free. Just boil them in water for a minute, drain, then add to your bowl of broth.

Then, get as creative as you like by adding tofu, chicken, mushrooms, cabbage, Sriracha, green onions — or pretty much anything you like.

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Presenting Carrot Tarte Tatin

A pretty -- and savory -- tart tatin to dig into.

A pretty — and savory — tart tatin to dig into.

 

It looks like a sweet. But eats like a savory.

That’s exactly what this lovely “Carrot Tarte Tatin” is.

It’s from the new cookbook, “My Little French Kitchen” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy, by Rachel Khoo. The cookbook author, who also has starred on cooking shows on BBC2 and The Cooking Channel, chronicles her travels through France through these rustic recipes that capture the ease with which Europeans cook and entertain at home. They always make it look easy, don’t they? Enjoy everything from “Piquillo Peppers Stuffed with Cod” to “Red Wine Roast Chicken” to “Chocolate and Creme Fraiche Tart.”

MyLittleFrenchKitchen

Unlike a classic apple tart tatin, this carrot one is not drenched in sweet caramel syrup. Instead, it lets the purity of the carrots shine through with just a touch of honey, red wine vinegar and fresh thyme to awaken their flavors even more.

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Oakland-Made Santipapas Salsas Tickle the Palate

Santipapas salsas made right here in Oakland.

Santipapas salsas made right here in Oakland.

 

As a registered nurse, Mark Sorenson definitely knows how to soothe the ailing.

Now as a salsa entrepreneur, he’s proving he knows how to perk up the taste buds, too.

What started as a hobby has now turned into a full-fledged business. His Oakland-made Santipapas salsas are now available at the Pasta Shop in Oakland and Berkeley, the Alameda Natural Grocery store in Alameda, Bi-Rite Markets in San Francisco, Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, and others.

The salsas will soon be in Northern California Whole Foods stores. Sorenson will start direct online sales in June, too.

The company’s name was inspired by Santiago Papasquiaro in the state of Durango. Nicknamed “Santipapas,” it is the town where his mother hails from.

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The Progress Report

Who would have ever imagined kiwi and ricotta would make such a magical dish?

Who would have ever imagined kiwi and ricotta would make such a magical dish?

 

How do you follow-up a smash-hit restaurant that proved a game-changer in the dining world?

If you’re Chef-Owners Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski of the red-hot, James Beard Award-winning State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, you do it with The Progress, which opened next door in December.

The Progress was originally going to be the couple’s first restaurant. But when they realized the extensive renovations the former movie house and century-old building would require, they wisely decided to open the smaller State Bird Provisions first in 2012.

That restaurant brought to bear the age-old concept of dim sum-style service to an eclectic array of global small plates — a concept now copied by others on the heels of State Bird’s success.

An overhead view from the mezzanine.

An overhead view from the mezzanine.

The open kitchen at the back of The Progress.

The open kitchen at the back of The Progress.

Whereas State Bird grabs hold of your attention by parading the majority of its dishes out into the dining room on carts or trays for you to see before you choose what to eat, The Progress is wrapped in a little more mystery and requires a peaceful consensus among your table mates.

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Scenes From GourmetFest 2015 in Carmel

Lobster with Champagne sabayon, pickled seaweed and beach rose hips puree by Francis Wolf of Le Hatley Restaurant at Manor Hovey, as presented at GourmetFest.

Lobster with Champagne sabayon, pickled seaweed and beach rose hips puree by Francis Wolf of Le Hatley Restaurant at Manor Hovey, as presented at GourmetFest.

 

Tranquil Carmel-by-the-Sea was abuzz over the weekend, as some of the most extraordinary chefs in the world descended upon this little hamlet for the second annual CarmelFest.

They included Oliver Roellinger of Breton, who unceremoniously gave back his three Michelin stars at his Maisons de Bricort, because he said he could not physically cook at that demanding level any more; and the legendary Michel Bras, whose Restaurant Bras in Laguiole has famously held three Michelin stars since 1999.

The intimate affair spanned three days and included cooking demos, exclusive wine tastings and gala dinners at LaPlaya Carmel, L’Auberge Carmel and a new private events space downtown.

The incomparable Chef Michel Bras (left) is assisted in plating a dish for the "Taste of France'' lunch.

The incomparable Chef Michel Bras (left) is assisted in plating a dish for the “Taste of France” lunch.

Bras with Chef Olivier Roellinger (right).

Bras with Chef Olivier Roellinger (right).

I was fortunate to be invited as a guest. You can tell how special this event was if even Chef David Kinch of Manresa in Los Gatos and Chef Guillaume Bienaimie of Zola in Palo Alto were lured away from their restaurants just to be guests at the “Taste of France” lunch that Bras cooked with Roellinger.

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