Category Archives: Great Finds

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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You’d Be Wise To Stop In At Wise Sons

Wise Sons chocolate babka to make you weak in the knees.

Wise Sons chocolate babka to make you weak in the knees.

 

I did not grow up in New York. But I can still appreciate a good bagel, nevertheless.

A native San Franciscan, I found my standard bearer to be the home-grown House of Bagels.

While there has been a proliferation of bagel chains lately, too many disappoint. Ginormous bread bombs, bagels should not be.

Wise Sons of San Francisco, however, is an exception. Its bagel bakery opened at 1520 Fillmore St. in January. And it is the real-deal.

They make them in the wee hours of the night, the time-honored way by boiling them before baking them.

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Yossy Arefi’s Soft Chocolate and Fig Cake

You'll fall hard for this chocolate fig cake. I sure did.

You’ll fall hard for this chocolate fig cake. I sure did.

 

Imagine a deliriously, deep, rich chocolate-y cake that’s like the love child of a brownie and a molten lava cake.

It’s the stuff of dreams, isn’t it?

It surely is my fantasy come true, especially with its scattering of plump fresh figs on top. So much so that I can’t stop myself from digging a fork into it again and again in utter bliss.

That’s what “Soft Chocolate and Fig Cake” will do to you.

This incredible — and incredibly easy — cake is from the new cookbook, “Sweeter Off The Vine” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy.

SweeterOffTheVine

It’s from the super talented Yossy Arefi, a Brooklyn-based food photographer, food stylist and baker, who created the charmingly named blog, Apt. 2B Baking Co., where she chronicles her baking endeavors.

This is one of those must-have cookbooks. And I don’t say that lightly, not when my shelves are already groaning under the strain of too many cookbooks. But if you’re like me and love to bake, you will find yourself bookmarking practically every page because these are down-home treats with a personality all their own that are in no way an ordeal to make.

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