Four-star chocolate from a four-star chef.
When Thomas Keller of the French Laundry makes a chocolate bar, you just know it’s not going to be your run-of-the-mill candy.
Not by a long-shot.
What makes this chocolate bar so different and special is that it contains extra virgin olive oil. And naturally, it’s olive oil by one of Italy’s most exclusive producers, Armando Manni. The Tuscan producer makes some of the most cherished and expensive olive oils around, beloved by illustrious chefs such as Keller and New York’s Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Their collaboration is K+M Extravirgin Chocolate. The premium cocoa beans are processed in a way that maintains their antioxidants that are normally destroyed in the chocolate-making process. A small amount of Manni extra-virgin olive oil is added to boost the level of antioxidants even more.
Artisan milled corn stars in this dish of shrimp & grits.
This Christmas, Santa gifted me my first bag of Southern grits.
OK, really it was my niece Stacey, who picked up the grits on her travels through the South.
The speckled white grits came from family-owned Logan Turnpike Mill of Blairsville, GA, which contracts with local farmers to grow the corn, which is stone ground, utilizing the whole grain. The mill also grinds the corn at a low temperature to maintain nutrients and flavor. It is shipped the same day that it is ground. To keep it fresh, store in the refrigerator or freezer.
White grits from Logan Turnpike Mill.
I’ve made polenta many times before. But never grits. Polenta and grits are both made from stone-ground cornmeal, but often from different types of corn, according to online sources. As a result, polenta cooks up typically coarser and denser in texture, while grits are softer and more thick porridge-like.
My new addiction.
Ever since discovering the joys of butter mochi in Hawaii a few years ago, I’ve been on a mochi kick.
I can’t get enough of the chewy, bouncy texture that sweet rice flour gives to baked goods.
Fortunately, I didn’t have to take a plane across the Pacific — only a drive to the East Bay to get my latest fix.
After hearing the praises of the mochi muffins made by Pastry Chef Sam Butarbutar, I finally had a chance to buy a few ($3.50 each) when I dropped by Catahoula Coffee Co. on Fourth Street in Berkeley. Read more
Despite wrestling with a shortage of cooks, skyrocketing rents, rising business costs, and ever increasing competition, restaurants in the Bay Area and elsewhere did themselves proud this year, turning out food that was delightful, delicious, and unforgettable.
What dishes do I still dream about long after taking the last bite?
Here are my Top 10 eats of the year, in no particular order, of which I’d gladly have seconds, even thirds, if I could.
Not your standard chicken.
You may know heritage turkeys as a gourmet splurge for Thanksgiving.
Now, get to know heritage chicken.
Yes, all the delicious attributes and admirable farm practices associated with a heritage turkey now can be found in chicken, too.
San Francisco-based Emmer & Co. is one company on a mission to make those specialty chickens more widely available.
Most chickens raised in the United States have been genetically modified for faster growth. Not so with Emmer & Co.’s. Their New Hampshire and Delaware chickens are certified standard bred by the American Poultry Association, the oldest agricultural organization in the country. They mate naturally, they live outside, and they grow to full market weight in 112 days compared to 42 days for industrialized supermarket chickens.