Category Archives: General

Santana Row Welcomes Oveja Negra

The black sheep is the mascot of the new Oveja Negra.

The black sheep is the mascot of the new Oveja Negra.

 

Out with Citrus; in with Oveja Negra.

The Hotel Valencia in San Jose’s Santana Row has transformed its former restaurant into a new concept with a new name. Chef Ocean Orssten still remains at the helm, but now he’s creating a menu of “unruly tapas.” Hence the name, Oveja Negra, which in Spanish means “black sheep” or refers to the odd man out. It’s his whimsical way of saying he’s not necessarily doing typical traditional tapas here, but more globally-inspired, off-beat small plates.

I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant recently to check out its new look, which sports brass tack-hammered, dark banquettes, white curved-back chairs, and Moorish accents.

Shrimp and grits -- Indian curry-style.

Shrimp and grits — Indian curry-style.

The signature cocktail is the Mezcal Brillante ($14) that puts smoky mezcal in the spotlight with the tartness of grapefruit. A rim of freeze-dried yuzu with yuzu marmalade gives each sip an extra sweet-sour pucker.

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Hooray for Halos, Plus A Food Gal Giveaway

Say "hello'' to fun with Halos!

Fun with Halos!

 

My husband will be the first to admit he suffers from Lazy Fruit Syndrome. No matter if it’s strawberry season or peach season, he stays loyal to his penchant for bananas. Yes, because he likes them. But more so, because they require no washing and are a breeze to peel.

We’ve all been there, right? Maybe that’s why we can’t get enough of Halos, either. These cute tangerines have peels that come off just like that to reveal easily segmented, seedless flesh that bursts with sunshine-y juice. One Halo has only 50 calories and comes with a jolt of Vitamin C.

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In Tribute to My Friend Marvin

Prosciutto, rucola, tomato and mozzarella served with plenty of memories at Mozza.

Prosciutto, rucola, tomato and mozzarella served with plenty of memories at Mozza.

 

The first time I ever ate the exquisite pizza at Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles was also the first time I met Marvin.

We lived on opposite ends of the state. Me in Silicon Valley, and he in the Arts District of Los Angeles, which was appropriate given his long career as a sound editor on movies ranging from “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” to “Basic Instinct” to “Erin Brokovich.” It wasn’t movies that brought us together, though, but food, of course.

When I was the food editor of the San Jose Mercury News, I would often get emails from loyal readers far and wide, especially right after the food section published each Wednesday. None captivated me more than those from Marvin, who always had a thought or two about any story I wrote.

First off, you had to love the fact that his email address was “KitchenSynch.” That alone was enough to make me smile whenever I saw it pop up in my inbox each week. Second, he shared my love of sweets and ginger; so how could I not feel a kinship with him? He’d often send me recipes he’d come across that he tried and knew I would like — for brioche buns, loaded ginger muffins, and “Babette’s Apple Cake.” He’d even send me care packages at the newspaper of ginger candies, ginger jams and ginger sodas he knew I’d appreciate. Third, he would email me recommendations for movies. Often obscure, many times foreign, ones I’d never heard of. But all were worth seeing in their own right. And last but not least, when my parents passed away in the same year, within two months of one another, it was Marvin who wrote the most touching words of comfort to me, lifting me from the shadows of devastating despair.

After months and months of these email exchanges, I figured it was high time we met in person. My husband and I were headed to Los Angeles for a long weekend, so I emailed Marvin to see if he would like to meet up at Pizzeria Mozza. He agreed, readily.

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Atelier Crenn Welcomes the Launch of the 2017 Basque Culinary World Prize

Chef Dominique Crenn and Joxe Mari Aizega talk about the importance of the Basque Culinary World Prize.

Chef Dominique Crenn and Joxe Mari Aizega talk about the importance of the Basque Culinary World Prize.

 

Most culinary awards pay tribute to what a chef does in the kitchen. The Basque Culinary Prize, on the other hand, honors the achievements of a chef beyond the kitchen.

Now in its second year, the international award is given to someone who has helped improve society in some way through gastronomy. The winner receives $100,000 Euros to devote to a social project of his/her choice.

Last year’s winner, Venezuelan Chef Maria Fernanda di Giacobbe was chosen for building an ecosystem of education, entrepreneurship, research and development in Venezuelan chocolate, including giving opportunities to women in economically precarious situations.

Kir Breton -- a one bite marvel of Creme de Cassis on top of a white chocolate shell filled with apple cidre.

Kir Breton — a one bite marvel of Creme de Cassis on top of a white chocolate shell filled with apple cidre.

Slightly smoked caviar with koji cream.

Slightly smoked caviar with koji cream.

Less is more: ruttabaga cooked in a salt crust and finished in butter, intensifying its root veg sweetness.

Less is more: ruttabaga cooked in a salt crust and finished in butter, intensifying its root veg sweetness.

The kickoff for this year’s nominations was celebrated at a stellar media lunch last Friday at Atelier Crenn in San Francisco. The eight-course repast, complete with Spanish wines, showcased exactly why Chef-Proprietor Dominique Crenn was the first female chef in the United States to garner two Michelin stars.

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What Do You Want to Learn? Plus A Food Gal Giveaway for CourseHorse

Cooking up a storm in a CourseHorse class. (Photo courtesy of CourseHorse)

Cooking up a storm in a CourseHorse class. (Photo courtesy of CourseHorse)

 

One of my great regrets in life is not learning Cantonese as a child.

I blame my oldest brother for this.

You see, my parents sent him to Chinese school so he would learn the native tongue of my grandparents. They thought he was doing great — until my uncle let it slip that he saw my oldest brother playing basketball after school every day, which is when he should have been in Chinese school.

So much for that.

My parents, no doubt defeated by that experience, never even tried to send my other brother or me to Chinese school.

In high school, I had another chance to study Chinese. Mine was one of the few high schools at the time that offered courses in Mandarin. Not exactly my family’s mother tongue, but at least in the ballpark.

But what did I do instead? I took French, because I thought it sounded so pretty.

Yup, that one I have only myself to blame.

If only there was an easy way to learn now. Well, there just might be. CourseHorse is a start-up educational program that offers access to classes on everything from — yes — Mandarin to architecture to computer programming to pilates barre to sushi making.

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