View all posts filed under 'Great Finds'

Hankering for Hawaii Part I: Taro and Sweet Potato Chips Fried to Order

Wednesday, 16. April 2014 5:25

Taro and sweet potato chips fried to order for you.

Taro and sweet potato chips fried to order for you.

OAHU, HAWAII — If you’ve spent any time snacking in Hawaii, you’re only too familiar with those ubiquitous bags of taro and sweet potato chips by Hawaiian Chip Company.

They’re irresistible — big, crunchy slices of speckled taro, orange sweet potato and deep purple sweet potato fried up crisp with the taste of their natural root veggie sweetness shining through.

They’re everywhere on the islands — stocked in ABC Stores, Costco, Wal-Mart and Long’s Drugs.

They’re so beloved that whenever we travel to Hawaii, my husband’s sister always pleads for us to tote back a few bags to California for her, since you can’t get them outside of the islands unless you mail-order them.

What the chips are made from.

What the chips are made from.

What’s even better, though — is getting them fried fresh to order.

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Category:General, Great Finds, Travel Adventures | Comments (6) | Author:

California’s Only Grower of Real Wasabi

Monday, 7. April 2014 5:25

This is what real wasabi looks like.

This is what real wasabi looks like.

 

If you think that pasty blob of green garnishing your sushi platter is wasabi, think again.

The real-deal rhizome is as rare as it is pricey.

That’s why what you generally find on most sushi plates is actually a cheap concoction of horseradish, mustard and green dye, not the actual Japanese rhizome that’s extremely difficult to grow.

Nowadays, though, if you know where to look, you might find more of the real wasabi around. That’s because there’s now one grower in California cultivating it: Half Moon Bay Wasabi.

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Category:General, Going Green and Sustainable, Great Finds, More Food Gal -- In Other Publications, New Products | Comments (3) | Author:

Get Smitten With Smitten Ice Cream in Los Altos

Friday, 14. March 2014 5:25

Fresh Mint Chip made in seconds at Smitten Ice Cream.

Fresh Mint Chip made in seconds at Smitten Ice Cream.

 

If you haven’t yet heard, another delicious taste of San Francisco has made its way down to the Peninsula.

That would be Smitten Ice Cream, which opened its first location outside of San Francisco in late December 2013 in the Whole Foods in Los Altos.

Four years ago founder Robyn Sue Fisher gave up a life as a biotech consultant with a Stanford MBA no less to push a Radio Flyer wagon around the streets of San Francisco, pedaling her unique ice cream.

What makes it so unusual? It’s created to order right in front of your eyes in a patented machine using liquid nitrogen. The inert gas freezes the cream mixture in a flash at a super low temperature, resulting in smaller ice crystals, and therefore a smoother ice cream.

Smitten Ice Cream became such a sensation that Fisher opened an actual storefront, crafted out of an old shipping container, in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley. Now, there are plans to expand even more with a Rockridge location in the works.

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Category:Cool Cooking Techniques, General, Great Finds, Restaurants | Comments (7) | Author:

Bay Area-Made Sosu Sriracha

Wednesday, 19. February 2014 5:26

Sosu Sriracha is aged in oak whiskey barrels for three months.

Sosu Sriracha is aged in oak whiskey barrels for three months.

 

Did you go through withdrawal last year over a feared shortage of sriracha sauce?

When Southern California’s Huy Fong Foods, maker of the ubiquitous Red Rooster brand, had to shut down temporarily after neighbors complained about the chile fumes, hot sauce lovers grew desperate.

But Red Rooster’s not the only game in town. In fact, the Bay Area has its own sriracha savant: Sosu Sauces.

Co-founder Lisa Murphy’s company started out on a whim when she decided to try her hand at making a better ketchup. From her upbringing in China and travels throughout Southeast Asia, she learned that ketchup actually has Chinese origins. So, after creating a Classic Ketchup, she concocted Srirachup (a blend of her ketchup and her sriracha), and finally a limited-edition Barrel-Aged Sriracha that’s available only through her Kickstarter campaign.

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Category:General, Great Finds, New Products | Comments (7) | Author:

Exploring California Gold Country, Part I

Monday, 20. January 2014 5:25

Karen Holmes of Karen's Bakery & Cafe in Folsom.

Karen Holmes of Karen’s Bakery & Cafe in Folsom.

As a native San Franciscan, I sheepishly admit I haven’t explored much of California Gold Country.

I vaguely remember playing at panning for gold once as a child somewhere in the vicinity, but beyond that, Sacramento, Amador and El Dorado counties have largely been seen from the freeway on the way to somewhere else.

Thanks to the tourism bureaus in Folsom, El Dorado, Amador and Sacramento,  I finally had a chance to see that area up-close, when I was invited as their guest over three days late last year to taste, explore and experience.

Here are highlights from that trip, which I hope will inspire you to get to know that region better, too.

Karen’s Bakery & Cafe in Folsom

Karen’s Bakery & Cafe is reason enough alone to stop in Folsom.

Karen Holmes opened this wonderful bakery in 2000, which has become so popular that you’ll almost always find a line to get outside, especially since it’s located near popular hiking and biking trails that bring famished weekend warriors right to her door for plum galettes, fig scones, and Tebirkes (a tradtiional almond paste danish).

The pastry case brimming with goodies.

The pastry case brimming with goodies.

Holmes is a former school teacher, whose mother took her family to Europe regularly, especially to its fine patisseries. As a teacher she baked banana bread for PTA events that became such a sensation that colleagues encouraged her to open a bakery.

A talent for baking and cooking obviously runs in the family as her son, Duncan Holmes is the chef de cuisine at San Francisco’s Sons & Daughters. In fact, in his teenage years, he’d ride his bike over to his mom’s bakery to help wash dishes after school before going home to hunker down to his homework. Both mother and son are self-taught.

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Category:Bakeries, Chefs, Enticing Events, Fruit, General, Great Finds, Restaurants, Travel Adventures | Comments (4) | Author: