Category Archives: Great Finds

As Kneaded Is What You Need

Bread pudding (foreground) and bostock (back) from As Kneaded Bakery.
Bread pudding (foreground) and bostock (back) from As Kneaded Bakery.

After graduating with an anthropology degree during a recession when jobs were scarce especially for liberal arts majors, Iliana Berkowitz was lucky enough to unearth her true passion in life — baking.

She took a job at a bakery, followed by a stint at a French bistro, all the while honing her bread and pastry skills.

In 2016, she started a bakery pop-up and bread club in the East Bay. Both did so well that in late-2018, she opened an actual brick-and-mortar, her As Kneaded Bakery in San Leandro.

Pain d'epi and honey rye porridge loaf.
Pain d’epi and honey rye porridge loaf.

It now supplies bread to such restaurants as Flea St. Cafe in Menlo Park and The Alembic in San Francisco. And its loaves sell at a host of stores around the Bay Area, including Bianchini’s Market in San Carlos and Portola Valley; Berkeley Bowl in Berkeley; and Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco; as well as through Good Eggs delivery.

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Coffee, Tea & You

Dripdash — Kyoto-Style Coffee

Dripdash takes coffee to another level.
Dripdash takes coffee to another level.

Japanese aesthetics are all about precision and perfection — even when it comes to a simple cup of coffee.

Palo Alto-based Dripdash brought that sentiment to the United States this year with its Kyoto-style, cold-brewed, slow-dripped coffee.

How slow? Apparently, only one drop of water per second gets poured over the grounds in a process that takes 16 hours.

The glacial-pace process makes for a highly caffeinated brew. And the taste?

I had a chance to experience it for myself when I was sent samples.

This is one incredibly smooth coffee. The pronounced acidity I’ve often found with other cold brews is decidedly missing here. Instead, what you get is coffee that tastes more balanced, with tempered bitterness, a silkiness on the palate, and a long, soft finish. If coffee can be somehow relaxing and invigorating at the same time, Dripdash nails it.

One smooth operator.
One smooth operator.

The 6-ounce bottles are available on GoodEggs for $3.99 each. Or in a six-pack on the Dripdash site for $37.

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Wonderfully Confounding Roasted Mushrooms with Parmesan and Pine Nuts

Intense tasting roasted mushrooms -- thanks to a technique that goes against all common wisdom.
Intense tasting roasted mushrooms — thanks to a technique that goes against all common wisdom.

When is a no-no a triumphant yes-yes?

When it is this recipe and technique for “Roasted Mushrooms with Parmesan and Pine Nuts.”

You know that old adage that one should never wash or rinse mushrooms with water but simply brush them clean? (Not that I ever actually followed that, mind you.)

Well, leave it to America’s Test Kitchen to turn that line of thinking completely topsy-turvy on its head.

In this super simple side dish recipe, you not only introduce water to uncooked, fresh mushrooms big-time, but you actually soak and submerge them in salted water for a whole 10 minutes.

How crazy is that?

Crazy brilliant, actually. Much like brining your holiday turkey, this same technique imparts moisture and flavors the mushrooms from the outside in.

This recipe is from the new “The Side Dish Bible: 1001 Perfect Recipes for Every Vegetable, Rice, Grain, and Bean Dish You Will Ever Need” by America’s Test Kitchen, of which I received a review copy.

This huge tome is a collection of 1,001 side dish recipes that is sure to complete any weeknight meal or festive holiday repast. At this time of year, it’s a must-have for dishes such as “Caesar Brussels Sprouts,” “Freekeh Salad with Butternut Squash, Walnuts, and Raisins,” “Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle and Lime,” and “Slow-Cooker Creamy Braised Leeks.”

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Pastelaria Adega Opens Its Sweet Doors in Downtown San Jose

Expect a line for these Portuguese custard tarts at the new Pastelaria Adega.
Expect a line for these Portuguese custard tarts at the new Pastelaria Adega

If heaven is a warm, eggy custard tart, you’re sure to be in total bliss then when the new Pastelaria Adega opens in downtown San Jose today.

From the team behind the award-winning, fine-dining Portuguese restaurant Adega in the city’s Little Portugal in the Alum Rock district comes a artisanal Portuguese bakery. It is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Last night at a preview party, I had a chance to check out the new spot at at 30 E. Santa Clara St., Suite 130.

Bakery case.
Bakery case.

As Chef-Owner David Costa, a native of Portugal, says: It’s the type of place you would go to in Lisbon every day for coffee, pastry and bread.

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Tay Ho Oakland For The Win

Incredible turmeric fried catfish at Tay Ho Oakland.
Incredible turmeric fried catfish at Tay Ho Oakland.

I love the over-the-top luxuriousness of a fancy, hours-long, upscale tasting menu as much as the next person.

But truth be told, it’s not really the food I crave on a regular basis.

While there’s a place and time for such sumptuousness, what I truly adore is food that’s punchy, distinctive, and suffused with down-home heart and soul.

No tweezers required.

That’s what Tay Ho Oakland is all about.

I was fortunate enough to come across this family-owned Vietnamese restaurant while writing my cookbook, “East Bay Cooks: Signature Recipes from the Best Restaurants, Bars, and Bakeries” (Figure 1). Indeed, it was the last restaurant to be included in the book, the 41st one to be spotlighted with stories and recipes. And I couldn’t be more thrilled that it was.

Yours truly with Owner Denise Huynh, whose restaurant is featured in my new cookbook, "East Bay Cooks.''
Yours truly with Owner Denise Huynh, whose restaurant is featured in my new cookbook, “East Bay Cooks.”

If you already have a copy of my cookbook, you know what Owner Denise Huynh poured her life savings into what was then a struggling restaurant nine years ago that she took over from her aunt. For the first few years, sheer will-power propelled her onward, as she worked to attract diners to what was then a still very gritty, crime-laden part of the city.

Now the neighborhood, with gleaming new condos and apartments going up, has grown with her. And Tay Ho Oakland has become known for its authentic cuisine served in a relaxed, inviting and cheerful spot.

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