Category Archives: Great Finds

Hominy Grill’s Shrimp & Grits

Artisan milled corn stars in this dish of shrimp & grits.

Artisan milled corn stars in this dish of shrimp & grits.


This Christmas, Santa gifted me my first bag of Southern grits.

OK, really it was my niece Stacey, who picked up the grits on her travels through the South.

The speckled white grits came from family-owned Logan Turnpike Mill of Blairsville, GA, which contracts with local farmers to grow the corn, which is stone ground, utilizing the whole grain. The mill also grinds the corn at a low temperature to maintain nutrients and flavor. It is shipped the same day that it is ground. To keep it fresh, store in the refrigerator or freezer.

White grits from Logan Turnpike Mill.

White grits from Logan Turnpike Mill.

I’ve made polenta many times before. But never grits. Polenta and grits are both made from stone-ground cornmeal, but often from different types of corn, according to online sources. As a result, polenta cooks up typically coarser and denser in texture, while grits are softer and more thick porridge-like.

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Berkeley’s Much-Heralded Mochi Muffins

My new addiction.

My new addiction.


Ever since discovering the joys of butter mochi in Hawaii a few years ago, I’ve been on a mochi kick.

I can’t get enough of the chewy, bouncy texture that sweet rice flour gives to baked goods.

Fortunately, I didn’t have to take a plane across the Pacific — only a drive to the East Bay to get my latest fix.

After hearing the praises of the mochi muffins made by Pastry Chef Sam Butarbutar, I finally had a chance to buy a few ($3.50 each) when I dropped by Catahoula Coffee Co. on Fourth Street in Berkeley. Read more

My Top 10 Eats of 2016


Despite wrestling with a shortage of cooks, skyrocketing rents, rising business costs, and ever increasing competition, restaurants in the Bay Area and elsewhere did themselves proud this year, turning out food that was delightful, delicious, and unforgettable.

What dishes do I still dream about long after taking the last bite?

Here are my Top 10 eats of the year, in no particular order, of which I’d gladly have seconds, even thirds, if I could.

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Introducing Emmer & Co.’s Heritage Chicken — Plus A Food Gal Giveaway

Not your standard chicken.

Not your standard chicken.


You may know heritage turkeys as a gourmet splurge for Thanksgiving.

Now, get to know heritage chicken.

Yes, all the delicious attributes and admirable farm practices associated with a heritage turkey now can be found in chicken, too.

San Francisco-based Emmer & Co. is one company on a mission to make those specialty chickens more widely available.

Most chickens raised in the United States have been genetically modified for faster growth. Not so with Emmer & Co.’s. Their New Hampshire and Delaware chickens are certified standard bred by the American Poultry Association, the oldest agricultural organization in the country. They mate naturally, they live outside, and they grow to full market weight in 112 days compared to 42 days for industrialized supermarket chickens.

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Holidays at The Hotel Healdsburg

Holiday tea is served in style at the Hotel Healdsburg.

Holiday tea is served in style at the Hotel Healdsburg.


Sonoma Wine Country always sparkles, but even more so during the holidays.

With everything ablaze in festive lights, it’s a wonderland without the true toll of winter.

There’s no better place to experience it, too, than at the Hotel Healdsburg, as I found out when I was invited as an overnight guest recently.

The 56-room boutique hotel, right on the square, is co-owned by celeb Chef Charlie Palmer, who lives with his family just four miles away on a 36-acre spread. The hotel was his first venture upon moving to the area in 2001. It sports one of his restaurants, Dry Creek Kitchen, as well as a lifestyle store, Lime Stone, operated by his wife Lisa.

For the holidays, the hotel gets dressed up with strings of lights, and both tabletop and 6-foot-tall decorated trees. The contemporary fireplace in the lobby lounge is always aglow with a warm fire. Nearby is a help-yourself station where you can assemble your own cups of spiced cider or hot cocoa complete with cinnamon sticks or mini marshmallows.

Dry Creek Kitchen -- all done up for the holidays.

Dry Creek Kitchen — all done up for the holidays.

The lounge also has a full bar, with plenty of tables and chairs around the fireplace, to enjoy an afternoon glass of wine or morning breakfast, which is included in the price of the room.

Now through Dec. 23, the lounge also serves a popular Holiday Tea on weekends from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. It’s $34 per person with tea and food; $43 with wine; and $14 for kids under 12 who get a choice of tea, cider or hot chocolate.

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