Category Archives: General

A Prodigal Son Returns — To Boonville

Grass-fed beef tartare with tomatoes and fiddlehead ferns at the Boonville Hotel restaurant.

Grass-fed beef tartare with tomatoes and fiddlehead ferns at the Boonville Hotel restaurant.


BOONVILLE, CA — If there ever was Wine Country royalty, Chef Perry Hoffman and his family are it.

His grandparents, Don and Sally Schmitt bought an old stone building in Yountville in 1978, and transformed it into a charming destination restaurant, before weighing several offers to sell it in 1993. They famously chose Thomas Keller, who went on to turn the French Laundry into a Michelin three-star establishment revered the world over.

Hoffman’s mother founded a Napa Valley florist company that has supplied blooms to the French Laundry for decades. His grandparents went on to restore the Philo Apple Farm that’s now run by Hoffman’s aunt, who also manages the lovely Farmhouse Mercantile store in Boonville.

Across from that store on sleepy main street, Hoffman’s Uncle Johnny has operated the Boonville Hotel for 31 years. It’s where Hoffman got one of his first jobs in the kitchen after high school. It’s where he fondly remembers tasting for the first time both Caesar salad and aioli.

Chef Perry Hoffman's return to the place it all started for him.

Chef Perry Hoffman’s return to the place it all started for him.

So in January, when Hoffman — once the youngest chef in the country to win a Michelin star when he headed √Čtoile at Domain Chandon in Yountville in 2009 — returned to become chef-partner at the quaint roadhouse built in 1860, it marked more than just a new job. It poetically signified a life coming full circle.

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Mark Your Calendars For My Upcoming “East Bay Cooks” Cookbook Events


Drum roll please: In just about a month, my new cookbook, “East Bay Cooks: Signature Recipes from the Best Restaurants, Bars, and Bakeries” (Figure 1), will debut.

The book is a salute to 41 top establishments in the East Bay, with a spotlight on their intriguing stories and delectable recipes. I hope you’ll join me in the celebration of this cool new cookbook at one of the many fun events planned, including signings, lunches, dinners, and a whole lot more.

You may have noticed a new link at the top of my Food Gal site, “Personal Appearances.”

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Turmeric Grilled Sea Bass For The Win This Summer

Take a taste of Cassia restaurant's turmeric grilled sea bass -- in the comfort of your own home.

Take a taste of Cassia restaurant’s turmeric grilled sea bass — in the comfort of your own home.


There was a time when folks poked fun of the dining scene in Los Angeles.

Not anymore. Now, it’s not only the darling of food fanatics looking for authentic ethnic cuisines and exciting push-the-envelope places, but it’s also the location of choice for chefs around the country looking to open new ventures. That includes: San Francisco’s Tartine Manufactory, San Francisco-Mexico City Chef Gabriela C√°mara, New York’s David Chang, New York’s Christina Tosi, and New York-Mexico City’s Enrique Olvera.

“EAT. COOK. L.A.: Recipes from the City of Angels: A Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy, captures Los Angeles’ dynamic dining scene with stories and 100 recipes from some of the area’s biggest names. Find everything from the “Egg Slut” by, yes, Eggslut; “Tomato Salad with Crispy Potatoes and Whipped Feta” from Sqirl; “Chanterelle Lasagna with English Peas and Parmesan Pudding” from Lucques; “Chinois Lamb Chops with Cilantro Mint Vinaigrette” from Spago; “Adobo Fried Rice” from Republique; and “Chocolate Sesame Cake” from Kismet.


The book is by Aleksandra Crapanzano, a screenwriter and food writer based in New York, who is a regular food columnist for the Wall Street Journal.

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AL’s Deli Is A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

Chef-Owner Aaron London at his new AL's Deli during opening week.

Chef-Owner Aaron London at his new AL’s Deli during opening week.

Chef-Owner Aaron London describes his new AL’s Deli in San Francisco as East Coast Jewish deli meets Israeli street food.

It is a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a whole lot of what London likes to eat on his downtime, well, when he has any, that is.

After all, when you also run a Michelin-starred restaurant, AL’s Place, just a few blocks away, which was named Bon Appetit magazine’s top new restaurant in American in 2015, there are few moments to spare.

So it’s lucky for the rest of us that his new fast-casual concept fits the bill when time is short, cash is precious, and you’re craving big flavors in a carefree spot done up in Miami Art Deco hues.

Just follow the pink sign.

Just follow the pink sign.

The bright, sunny interior.

The bright, sunny interior.

If last week’s opening was any indication, he has another hit on his hands. When I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant in only its fifth day of operation, the place was mobbed on a Saturday night, with a few folks lined up to get in the door.

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Martha Stewart’s New England Fish Sandwiches

Pile on the creamy, tasty slaw on this New England fish sandwich.

Pile on the creamy, tasty slaw on this New England fish sandwich.


When I was a pre-teen, one of my favorite things to eat was a McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish.

Hey, don’t judge. I was very young.

(And why the heck the French term for “fillet” is used for this fast-food item is anyone’s guess.)

There was just something so comforting about that squishy bun that held a golden square of fried fish smothered in tangy tartar sauce.

I even remember how my best friend and I, chilled to the bone as we hoofed it to the mall one blustery, foggy, Saturday afternoon, decided to make a pit-stop at Mickey D’s to get a a fish sandwich to-go. As we continued our trudge in wind and cold (OK, no knee-deep snow), we alternated bites of the sandwich between the two of us. And darned if its warmth didn’t fill us with the fortitude necessary to brave the sales racks at the stores.

Older, wiser, and hopefully making more healthful food choices now, I don’t even remember the last time I ate one of those sandwiches.

But thanks to Martha Stewart, I can now partake of a much better version of it.

Yes, consider this a home-made version a Fillet-O-Fish with a bona fide Martha seal of approval.

Martha Stewart Grilling

“New England Fish Sandwiches” is from her new cookbook, “Martha Stewart’s Grilling: 125+ Recipes for Gatherings Large and Small” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy.

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