Category Archives: More Food Gal — In Other Publications

San Francisco’s Coqueta — A Tantalizing Triumph

Michael Chiarello welcoming guests at his new Coqueta.

Michael Chiarello welcoming guests at his new Coqueta.



If I knew the Spanish word for that enraptured feeling, I’d be saying it.

Because that’s exactly how the new Coqueta restaurant on Pier 5 makes you feel with its Spanish flair. It’s not only the first restaurant in San Francisco by celeb Chef Michael Chiarello, but it’s also his first foray into something other than his Italian heritage.

Chiarello is no stranger to Spain, though. He’s traveled to that country for years. His eldest daughter also lives there, having married a Catalan man.

Like his smash-hit Bottega in Yountville, Coqueta (“flirt” in Spanish) is all about bold flavors with modern takes on traditional dishes done with whimsy. The former Lafitte restaurant is still recognizable. But it’s been given a major face-lift. The once temporary patio now has permanent walls, as well as a bar, where you can enjoy noshes sans reservations. Inside, the soaring, rustic-chic space is warm with lots of reclaimed wood, oak table tops made from barrel staves, and branded hides on the floors (from casualties from actual bull fights in Spain).

Take a seat at the bar to watch the kitchen in action.

Take a seat at the bar to watch the kitchen in action.

The restaurant imports the melt-in-your-mouth Iberico ham, as well as cures its own ham. In fact, you’ll find the Iberico even infused in gin that’s served in the “Tariff” ($12) cocktail with housemade acorn & apricot tonic, orange and cava. It’s one of the many creative libations by Joe Cleveland, a former mixologist for Jose Andres’ restaurants.

You know a restaurant has got it going, if it’s strong right out of the gate. Coqueta has set exactly that pace, as evidenced by my visit a mere three days after it had opened in April, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.

With Chiarello’s track-record of opening hit restaurants, it’s no surprise just how wonderful the food is at Coqueta.

Quail egg “Diablo” ($2.50 each) puts mere deviled eggs to shame. These tiny hard-boiled eggs are spreared with lovely, sweet Serrano ham and a dollop of sharp pickled mustard seeds. The compact little morsel sure rocks the palate.

A pintxos of quail egg and jamon Serrano. Bet you can't eat just one.

A pintxos of quail egg and jamon Serrano. Bet you can’t eat just one.

More jamon draped on crisp tomato bread.

More jamon draped on crisp tomato bread.

Pan con tomate ($5) is the traditional grilled bread smeared with fresh tomato, but made with extra care, by using light airy Cristal, the famous bread of Barcelona, as its base. It gets super crisp on the grill, giving way to the smooth, sweet, jammy tomato sofrito.

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Big News from the Food Gal

Cookbooks spotlighting iconic foodie cities. Soon, there will be a San Francisco one, written by yours truly.

Cookbooks spotlighting iconic foodie cities. Soon, there will be a San Francisco one, written by yours truly.


See those cookbooks up there?

Soon, there will be a San Francisco-centered one, too.

And I’m thrilled to announce that I’ll be writing it.

Yes, my first cookbook ever.

“San Francisco Chef’s Table” (Globe Pequot) is expected to publish toward the end of this year.

Like the other books in this series, it will spotlight about 50 restaurants — most in San Francisco with a smattering from other parts of the Bay Area — and include recipes from each one.

The photos will be gorgeous, too, as they’ll be shot by award-winning photojournalist Craig Lee, who for many years was the main food photographer for the San Francisco Chronicle’s Food section.

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Belcampo Ushers in A New Age of Sustainable Food

A butcher making porchetta at Belcampo Meat Co. in Larkspur.

A butcher making porchetta at Belcampo Meat Co. in Larkspur.


Belcampo Meat Co. in Larkspur may look like the latest trendy, farm-to-table butcher shop stocked with pedigreed meat for sale at sky-high prices.

But it’s so much more than that.

It’s part of a corporation that aims to start a new food revolution — by producing sustainable food on an unheard of scale. And at a profit, to boot.

It is the brainchild of Todd Robinson, a Wall Street veteran with deep pockets; and Anya Fernald, a California-native and long-time locavore entrepreneur. She may look familiar from her previous appearances as a judge on “Iron Chef America” and as the founder of the Eat Real Festival in Oakland.

The two founded Belcampo, Inc. in 2011, which consists of several operations spread across three countries. They include: a 10,000-acre certified organic, sustainable ranch at the base of Mt. Shasta in California, where cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, rabbits, goats, turkeys, geese and squabs are raised sustainably, organically and on pasture; another cattle ranch in Uruguay; and an eco-lodge and farm in Belize that produces coffee, chocolate and rum.

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The New Edible Silicon Valley

Don't miss my profile of Jesse Cool in the new Edible Silicon Valley magazine.

Haven’t you scratched your head over the fact that there was an Edible San Francisco, Edible Marin, Edible Monterey Bay and so many others — yet no Edible Silicon Valley magazine?

Wonder no more.

Now, there is one.

Edible Silicon Valley debuted its first issue this month.

Yours truly is proud to be a regular writer for the new publication. Enjoy my first story for the magazine, a profile of Jesse Cool, the Peninsula chef-restaurateur who’s been a long-time champion of sustainable, organic and local foods.

An experimental crop of organic wheat that Cool grew in her backyard.

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Hear the Food Gal on KQED’s Forum

If you missed yesterday’s “Restaurant Roundup” on the airwaves of KQED’s “Forum” program, you missed out.

But not to despair.

You can catch the nearly hour-long podcast to hear what yours truly, along with Restaurant Reviewer Michael Bauer of the San Francisco Chronicle and Jonathan Kauffmann, San Francisco editor of Tasting Table, dished about Bay Area restaurants, chefs and dining trends.

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