Category Archives: Great Finds

Carbo Loading at Pasta Armellino

Pasta heaven at Pasta Armellino.

Pasta heaven at Pasta Armellino.

 

How much do I love carbs?

Let’s just say that when my husband and I went to Pasta Armellino in Saratoga for dinner recently, we ordered all six pastas on the menu, plus the garlic bread. We didn’t mess around with any soups or salads. We meant business — carb business.

But when the pasta is this dreamy, who can blame us?

After attending the media preview of the casual pasta restaurant that opened in February right across the street from its big sister, flagship Michelin-starred Plumed Horse, we were eager to go back to try more. A couple weeks ago, we were invited in as guests of Pasta Armellino to do exactly that.

The counter.

The counter.

Orecchiette with asparagus and roasted tomatoes.

Orecchiette with asparagus and roasted tomatoes.

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McEvoy Ranch’s New Lemon and Jalapeno Olive Oils

McEvoy Ranch's 2018 Jalapeno and Lemon olive oils.

McEvoy Ranch’s 2018 Jalapeno and Lemon olive oils.

 

If you’re already a fan of McEvoy Ranch’s olive oils like I am, you’re going to fall head over heels for its flavored olive oils.

The award-winning Marin County producer of certified organic olive oils just released its 2018 Lemon and Jalapeno olive oils. While some mass-produced flavored olive oils get extracts added to them after pressing, McEvoy’s actually crushes lemons and jalapenos together with its estate-grown olives.

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A Return Visit to Timber Cove Resort

Tender octopus with kimchi and squid ink-fortified black bean puree at Coast Kitchen at Timber Cove.

Tender octopus with kimchi and squid ink-fortified black bean puree at Coast Kitchen at Timber Cove.

 

JENNER, CA — What a difference six years makes.

That’s the last time I stayed at Timber Cove, a resort that sits on 23 acres of breathtaking coastline between Bodega Bay and Sea Ranch.

Perched on a bluff right over the ocean, the inn’s setting has always been jaw-droppingly beautiful. But the rooms, refreshed here and there haphazardly over the years, were stuck in a time-warp. There was too much dark wood that made everything feel a little cabin-claustrophobic, not to mention the fact there was a dark green triangular bathtub out in the open in the corner of the bedroom for some odd reason.

But fast-forward to 2014, when new owners took over, and closed the hotel in 2016 for a sizeable 6-month renovation of not only the main building, but all the rooms. Originally built in 1963 from a design by a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright, Timber Cove reopened fully at the end of 2016 still possessed of its classic architecture, but looking not only restored and refreshed, but downright fun and cool.

The entrance to Timber Cove.

The entrance to Timber Cove.

The view from the resort.

The view from the resort.

That’s what I found when I was invited back as a guest of the inn earlier this month. Renowned architectural firm Gensler worked with celeb designers, Robert and Cortney Novogratz of The Novogratz firm in Los Angeles. If you caught the Novogratz’s HGTV show, you’ll recognize their breezy California-casual style here.

They’ve injected whimsy throughout, as well as playful retro touches in a nod to the era in which the hotel was originally built.

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For A “Bargain” Tasting Menu, Head to Commonwealth

Spring asparagus with an unusual potato salad at Commonwealth.

Spring asparagus with an unusual potato salad at Commonwealth.

 

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a chef mention this restaurant as the place they most like to eat on their day off or as the establishment they’d most like theirs to emulate, I’d be doing very well indeed.

Such is the respect that Commonwealth has garnered.

The Michelin-starred restaurant opened in 2010 in an old donut shop in San Francisco. In fact, the Mission District restaurant not only sports the old donut mural on the side of the building, but possesses something truly rare in San Francisco — its own parking lot. It is a fairly small lot, though, so you still have to be lucky to snag a space.

Chef-Owner Jason Fox oversees the open kitchen in the compact dining room, which means it is worthwhile to make a reservation. My husband and I, who were invited to dine as guests of the restaurant on a recent Saturday night, saw a few walk-ins turned away because the restaurant just gets that booked.

Located in a former donut shop.

Located in a former donut shop.

Some bubbly to accompany the first couple of courses.

Some bubbly to accompany the first couple of courses.

While there is an a la carte menu, what really makes Commonwealth stand out is its tasting menu. In the Bay Area, where many tasting menus have prompted ire for their stratospheric prices that now reach well beyond $300 per person, Commonwealth’s is all of $85 per person ($140 total per person with wine pairings) for about seven courses. Even the “chef’s extended menu” is a relatively moderate $125 per person ($195 total per person with wine pairings) for about 14 courses, which is the option we went for.

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Lamb-Ricotta Meatballs You Won’t Be Able To Get Enough Of

Meatball heaven.

Meatball heaven.

 

There are people who stalk actors or politicians.

Me? I stalk chefs.

Not in the scary, restraining-order way.

But I admit to keeping my eyes peeled for them whenever I’m out and about.

So, it was with great pleasure that a few years ago while in New York, my husband and I spotted chefs Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr waiting for a table at the same restaurant we were dining in. Hey, it’s a sure sign that a place must be good if other chefs are dining there on their nights off, right?

And Hanson and Nasr do have exquisite taste. After all, the co-chefs earned untold respect at Balthazar and Minetta Tavern. This month, they opened their new Frenchette in Tribeca.

Given their pedigree, when I spotted their recipe a months ago for “Lamb-Ricotta Meatballs Braised in Tomato Sauce” in the Wall Street Journal, I knew it had to be a sure-fire winner.

It hit it out of the park in every which way.

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