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Forget March Madness; It’s Meat Madness at Fogo de Chao

Wednesday, 5. March 2014 5:26

Meat, meat and more meat delivered right to your table at Fogo de Chao.

Meat, meat and more meat delivered right to your table at Fogo de Chao.

 

Get ready for a parade of meat.

Fire-roasted cuts of beef, chicken, lamb and pork — 16 types in all — brought to your table one by one on massive skewers to be carved off onto your heaping plate.

That’s the carnivore carnival you’ll enjoy at Fogo de Chao, the newest restaurant to open in San Jose’s Santana Row.

All vestiges of the former Chili’s have vanished in this totally redone, 9,000-square-foot, 250-seat restaurant with white tablecloths and contemporary light fixtures.

Founded in Brazil in 1979, Fogo de Chao serves up churrasco-style cuisine based on the centuries-old gaucho tradition of roasting meats over an open fire for festive family gatherings. There are now 22 Fogo de Chao locations worldwide, with the next one set to open in Portland, Ore.

Pork ribs -- yup, as many as you want.

Pork ribs — yup, as many as you want.

I had a chance to check it out the night before it opened officially to the public at a special invitation-only dinner last week.

The concept is simple: It’s all you can eat. That includes all that meat, plus trips to the salad bar — all for $51.50 per person for dinner or $29.50 for lunch. If you want to enjoy only the salad bar, that will be $26.50 at dinner and $22.50 at lunch.

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Category:General, Meat, Restaurants | Comments (10) | Author:

Delicious Happenings in the Peninsula and South Bay Region

Monday, 3. March 2014 5:26

Prime bone-in rib chop with blue cheese butter at Birk's. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

Prime bone-in rib chop with blue cheese butter at Birk’s. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

Birk’s Celebrates 25 Years

Birk’s of Santa Clara marks its 25th anniversary this month with a slew of specials.

Through the end of March, the restaurant, which has long hosted the movers and shakers of Silicon Valley, will offer a $25 three-course “Classic Americana” menu that includes choices such as prime rib, beef tenderloin fettuccine or stuffed petrale sole. To go with it, the restaurant also is pricing five select wines at $25 per bottle.

During “Happy Hour” during the month, look for 25-cent wings or a plate of a half dozen for $1.50. Pair that with an “89er” anniversary cocktail ($8.90) made with apple wood-smoked bacon infused Maker’s Mark Bourbon and garnished with maple foam.

What’s more, anyone born in 1989 who dines at Birk’s in March will receive a $25 gift card to use on a return visit.

With its custom split grill, back-iron broiler and a 250-pound capacity smoker, Birk’s is known for its chops and seafood. Executive Chef Maurice Dissels has headed the kitchen since 2001 at the Pat Kuleto-designed restaurant.

Doppio Zero Opens in Mountain View

A new Neapolitan-style pizza joint has opened in downtown Mountain View.

Its name is Doppio Zero for the highly regarded, finely milled flour used to make pastas and pizza crusts in Italy.

Zucchini, pepper and mozzarella pizza at Doppio Zero. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

Zucchini, pepper and mozzarella pizza at Doppio Zero. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

The daily star-shaped pizza. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

The daily star-shaped pizza. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

Pasta selections include house-made garganelli with sausage, broccoli rabe and pecorino; and house-made spinach fettuccine with morels, asparagus and shaved Parmegiano Reggiano.

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Category:Chefs, General, Pizza, Restaurants | Comments (4) | Author:

The Lexington House Makes A Splash in Downtown Los Gatos

Friday, 28. February 2014 5:26

The dramatic bar is the focal point of The Lexington House.

The dramatic bar is the focal point of The Lexington House.

With its speakeasy vibe, complete with exposed brick wall, stone arches and impressive back-lit shelves stacked high with small-batch spirits, The Lexington House would be perfectly at home in San Francisco’s eclectic and electric Mission District.

But the surprise is that it’s actually in downtown Los Gatos.

No disrespect to that South Bay city intended. It’s just that this lively spot has a hipster personality that’s rare in this region.

That’s probably due in large part to its owners, Stephen Shelton and Jimmy Marino, who took the former Domus lifestyle store back to its roots, playing up its architectural features to the hilt. You can tell Shelton and Marino harbor a sense of fun just from the descriptions on the restaurant’s Web site, which state that, “Unattended children will be given espresso and a free puppy,” and that there is no dress code for diners, ” But please have all your most private areas covered at all times. Yes, that means you.”

The Lexington House opened last September. Already, it’s packing in the crowds, as evidenced by a recent Wednesday night when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.

Co-Owner Stephen Shelton carefully crafting a cocktail.

Co-Owner Stephen Shelton carefully crafting a cocktail.

The Winter Fashion cocktail (front) and Pranqster beer (back).

The Winter Fashion cocktail (front) and Pranqster beer (back).

Shelton and Marino often can be found behind the bar, crafting the restaurant’s signature cocktails, such as the Winter Fashion ($12), a blend of cognac, walnut liquor, gum syrup and bitters. The cocktail menu is arranged from lightest to heaviest options. The Winter Fashion was positioned in the last third of the menu, and it was plenty strong yet caressed the palate with its orange notes and hints of nuttiness.

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Category:Chefs, General, Restaurants | Comments (5) | Author:

A British Columbia Mussel Flexes Its Muscle in the Bay Area

Wednesday, 26. February 2014 5:25

A simple pasta dish made extra special with new Honey Mussels.

A simple pasta dish made extra special with new Honey Mussels.

 

There’s a new mussel in town.

And is it ever extraordinary.

You can’t find it in retail stores yet. But you can enjoy it at some of San Francisco’s most discriminating restaurants, including Rich Table, Bar Tartine, Parallel 37, Foreign Cinema, and Ragazza.

The Honey Mussel is so named because of its amber-hued shell. It doesn’t taste of honey per se, but there is a hint of natural sweetness about it. It’s also impressively sized — with its meat taking up almost the entire interior of the shell. Even after cooking, there’s little shrinkage, as I found when I had a chance to cook a sample at home in a simple pasta dish. Indeed, it’s probably the plumpest, most tender mussel I’ve had the pleasure of eating.

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Category:General, New Products, Recipes (Savory), Seafood | Comments (10) | Author:

Cococlectic Delivers the Chocolatey Goods Plus a Food Gal Giveaway

Monday, 24. February 2014 5:25

One of the Twenty-Four Blackbirds dark chocolate bars in February's Cococlectic delivery

One of the Twenty-Four Blackbirds dark chocolate bars in February’s Cococlectic delivery.

Imagine getting a package of four premium, handcrafted chocolate bars delivered to your door every month.

If that isn’t a chocoholic’s dream, what is?

San Francisco’s Cococlectic is a craft bean-to-bar club that does exactly that.

The new company was started by Doreen Leong, who grew up in Malaysia and moved to the Bay Area to pursue an MBA. She worked in the corporate world for many years, but never felt fulfilled. Then, she hit on an idea inspired by her relationship with her sister, to whom she’d regularly send gifts of chocolate. Why not start a company for chocolate lovers like her who are always eager to try a great new bar?

Leong looks for unique products made in small batches from bean to bar. They are all dark chocolate, the favorite of chocolate connoisseurs. Plus, she likes the fact that dark chocolate has been reported to have certain antioxidant properties. None of the bars selected contain nuts or fruits or additional ingredients that might detract from the purity of the chocolate, itself.

Membership levels start at $27 per month. Each monthly shipment includes four chocolate bars. Membership also allows you to purchase more of the same bars if you find you can’t live without them. Those who sign up for a six-month membership receive a 1-month free trial membership for a friend.

Recently, I had a chance to try a sample box. February’s featured chocolate maker is Twenty-Four Blackbirds, which was founded by Mike Orlando in Santa Barbara. Chocolate making started out as a side passion to his real job as a marine biologist. His bars are hand-made from only two ingredients: organic cacao beans and organic sugar.

My box contained four bars: 68% Dominican Republic, 75% Madagascar , and two of the 75% Bolivian Palos Blancos.

An example of Cococlectic's monthly chocolate box.

An example of Cococlectic’s monthly chocolate box.

The bars are quite smooth on the palate. The 68% Dominican Republic, sourced from a cocoa-farming cooperative, boasts a lot of berry fruitiness with a fair amount of acidity. The 75% Madagascar is full of cherry and blueberry flavors balanced by earthiness and a hint of tangy citrus. The 75% Bolivian Palos Blancos is extremely creamy, with almost a vanilla presence, and hardly any bitterness or acidity.

Additional Twenty-Four Blackbirds bars (1.41 ounces each) sell on the Cococlectic site for $8 each.

CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a sample gift box of chocolate bars from Cocoeclectic ($34 value). Entries, limited to those in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight PST March 1. The winner will be announced March 3.

How to win?

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Category:Chocolate, Enticing Events, General, New Products | Comments (17) | Author: