Category Archives: Great Finds

Pedigreed Pasta

A simple pasta dish becomes extra special with Community Grains organic whole grain pastas.

A simple pasta dish becomes extra special with Community Grains organic whole grain pastas.

 

There are a lot of things to like about the new varieties of Community Grains pastas.

First, they’re all made from organic whole grain that’s grown and milled in Northern California.

Second, they boast transparency in the process — labeling each box with a code that you can plug into its Web site to find information about the farm that grew the particular wheat, the seed source, type of wheat, soil it was grown in, and not only when it was milled but by what type of mill.

Third, at a time when commodity wheat is grown for high yield and uniformity, the varieties of wheat that make up these pastas are grown for their distinctiveness and flavor. The pastas are made in small batches using Italian bronze dies, then slowly air-dried to enhance the wheat flavor.

And fourth, what flavor it is. While so many supermarket pastas just offer something to put sauce on, these artisan pastas can handle the simplest of toppings because they have enough flavor and character to stand out all on their own.

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48 Hours of Eating in Richmond, BC

Fried fish stick with spicy mayo, spicy chipotle, and garlic sea salt seasonings -- at the Richmond Night Market.

Fried fish stick with spicy mayo, spicy chipotle, and garlic sea salt seasonings — at the Richmond Night Market.

 

RICHMOND, BC — When I told friends that I was going to Canada for the weekend, I couldn’t blame them for looking at me dubiously.

But then again, Richmond, British Columbia is just a two-hour flight away from the Bay Area, so it’s not as crazy a proposition as it seems. Add to that the fact that the U.S. dollar will buy you 30 percent more in Canada right now, and it’s a no-brainer, right?

Indeed, when the Richmond Tourism Bureau invited me as their guest on a weekend eating adventure, I was game to see just how much ground we could cover in two days. The answer: a lot.

Richmond is an island with a population of 210,000. Of that, 65 percent are Asian. As a tourism official explained: the Chinese were drawn to this area because the name of the city sounded like “rich man,” and made them think they could become wealthy here.

Of the 800 restaurants here, half are Asian. As such, it’s no wonder that you’ll find some of the finest Chinese food around in this city, plus a whole lot more.

Fisherman’s Wharf

My complimentary accommodations at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel were more than fine, but, ah, my kingdom for a kitchen, especially when I saw the incredible seafood for sale off the boats on the wharf. Fresh uni at three for $10! As well as King salmon, and head-on wild shrimp.

The bustling wharf.

The bustling wharf.

The fresh catch for sale.

The fresh catch for sale.

Fresh uni!

Fresh uni!

Steveston

This charming historic fishing village, just steps from Fisherman’s Wharf, may look familiar to fans of ABC’s hit show, “Once Upon A Time,” as much of it is filmed here.

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Trumpeting the Virtues of Siren Fish Company

California King salmon delivered right to my door from Siren Fish Company that I cooked with mustard and brown sugar.

California King salmon delivered right to my door from Siren Fish Company that I cooked with mustard and brown sugar.

 

So many of us want to eat more fresh seafood.

But finding the freshest, local, sustainable seafood is can be a cumbersome task.

Siren Fish Company makes it easy to do so, though.

The community supported fishery works directly with California and Oregon fishermen so that their fresh catch arrives to you 24 to 48 hours out of the water each week.

Siren has pick-up locations throughout the Bay Area, often at retailers, where you just show up to take possession of your order on the day it is delivered. It also offers home delivery on pre-selected days of the week for an additional modest $3 charge.

You can choose to order a share for two or four (corresponding to how many people it will serve); as well as choose between ordering fillets, whole fish, or “variety” (which can include fillets or shellfish, whole little fish, crustaceans or even sea urchins).

Siren invited me to try a couple deliveries for free to test out their seafood by receiving a share for two (averaging about $23 each week).

Because there is no pick-up site in my area, I had to go with home delivery, which in my case, was scheduled for Wednesdays by 7 a.m.

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Oren’s Hummus Expands to Cupertino

Hummus with lamb at the new Oren's in Cupertino. Swoon.

Hummus with lamb at the new Oren’s in Cupertino. Swoon.

 

You know when you find the one?

The jubilation you experience when you discover the singular personification of perfection?

That’s how I felt the first time I tasted the hummus at Oren’s.

People who have never experienced Oren’s look at me funny when I rhapsodize dreamily about this chickpea spread. Really? Who gets this excited about hummus of all things? But Oren’s hummus has spoiled me for all other hummus now.

It is hands down the smoothest, creamiest, most luscious tasting hummus you’ll ever experience.

The only problem came when Oren’s had only one location in downtown Palo Alto. A narrow little space, it had a line out the door no matter what the hour. It was nearly impossible to get into. For the longest time, I had to be content with just grabbing a tub of hummus from the to-go refrigerator case because getting a seat inside was just not going to happen.

Then, Oren’s expanded with a second, larger location in downtown Mountain View, which made life so much easier. And just a few weeks ago, it opened a third Oren’s in the new Main Street Cupertino complex. Even better, more locations are planned in the Bay Area in the near future.

The sign behind the counter.

The sign behind the counter.

The burgeoning mini-empire of hummus eateries is the brainchild of Oren Dobronsky, a tech start-up specialist, who missed the hummus he used to enjoy in his native Tel Aviv. So he and his wife Nancy decided to make their own — by opening a restaurant.

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Behind the Scenes as El Celler de Can Roca’s Roca Brothers Cook in San Francisco

"The World'' being assembled at the San Francisco dinner prepared by the Roca brothers.

“The World” being assembled at the San Francisco dinner prepared by the Roca brothers.

 

It was a little like getting a backstage pass to a U2 concert.

Only way better.

That’s how I felt when I was invited to hang around in the kitchen on Wednesday night when the three Roca brothers, owners of the illustrious El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, were in San Francisco to cook a series of dinners at the Julia Morgan Ballroom.

After all, in the culinary world — Joan (chef), Josep (sommelier and maitre d’) and Jordi (pastry chef) — are rock stars of the utmost magnitude. Their restaurant not only has garnered three Michelin stars, but is rated #2 on the current list of “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants,” (they were #1 in 2013 and 2015).

Jordi, Joan and Josep Roca in the Julia Morgan Ballroom.

Jordi, Joan and Josep Roca in the Julia Morgan Ballroom.

What’s more, the multi-course, three-hour dinners were not open to the public. Instead, they were by invitation-only, with the 100 guests each night predominantly clients of Spanish bank BBVA Compass, which was sponsoring the Roca brothers’ whirlwind cooking tour. It spans three continents in five weeks with stops in London, Hong Kong, Phoenix, San Francisco (this week), and finally, Santiago de Chile.

Although Joan had come to the Bay Area in the spring on a prior scouting trip, this was the first time the other two brothers have visited San Francisco.

The 2016 tour is the third time BBVA has sponsored such an endeavor for the brothers. And what an undertaking it is. El Celler Can Roca closes for the entire month of August just for this, and almost the entire staff comes along for the ride. We’re talking the brothers plus 40 others.

The ballroom before the guests arrived.

The ballroom before the guests arrived.

Some of the featured wines for the evening.

Some of the featured wines for the evening.

Besides their personal luggage, the brothers travel only with their knives, and a few special ingredients, such as distillations that would be too difficult to make on location. One-of-a-kind serving ware is sent ahead. They go through one Iberico jamon leg per dinner. They source most everything else locally, making a point to use a few key ingredients particularly indigenous to the cities they are cooking in.

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