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Lights, Camera, Action — and Chef Bradley Ogden

Friday, 24. February 2012 5:25

Chef Bradley Ogden's sliders.

The chef who co-founded Lark Creek Restaurant Group in the Bay Area and made farm-to-table cooking his mantra long before it was fashionable, has returned to the Bay Area after being gone for eight years.

Bradley Ogden, who most recently opened Root 246 restaurant in Solvang, moved to San Jose’s Evergreen district in January to start a new phase in his culinary career. It includes a new multimedia company with partner Chris Kelly, Facebook’s first general consul.

Ogden and his son, Bryan, greet guests on Super Bowl Sunday.

A film crew was on hand to capture the cooking.

In the works is a new cooking show, “Real Food with Chef Bradley Ogden,” which will be shopped around to various TV networks. I got a sneak peek on Super Bowl Sunday, when Ogden invited me and a host of friends to his home for a cooking extravaganza, which was filmed in part for his show.

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Category:Chefs, Enticing Events, Food TV, General, More Food Gal -- In Other Publications | Comments (13) | Author:

San Francisco’s Ritz-Carlton Goes From Staid to Hip with Parallel 37

Thursday, 23. February 2012 5:25

Kampachi sashimi at Parallel 37. One of the prettiest dishes you'll ever eat at a bar.

It used to be a place you’d never venture on a whim.

No, the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton, high atop San Francisco’s blue-blood Nob Hill, was reserved for special times, when you got dressed to the nines to celebrate a planned, lofty occasion.

Those times have changed — dramatically.

The prim-and-proper Dining Room, the last of those concept restaurants at any Ritz-Carlton, finally was bid adieu late last year. In its place, the swank Parallel 37 opened, named appropriately enough for the geographic latitude running near the Bay Area.

With cocoa banquettes, bare tables and a focal point wall aglow with the image of a backlit oak forest, the new restaurant has gotten a fresh, contemporary makeover. It has a much larger bar, too, complete with two flat-screens, something unthinkable before. And parking for the restaurant has been dropped to a reasonable flat-rate of $10 to lure more folks to drop in on a regular basis.

Chef Ron Siegel at the bar of Parallel 37, the restaurant formerly known as the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton.

Amid this whirlwind of change, one constant has remained, thankfully. Executive Chef Ron Siegel, who has been at the helm since 2004, is still in charge.

“I like the new look,” he says of the transformation of his restaurant. “The other was a little stuffy. People in San Francisco love to eat out and to them, this has the right feel now. I like the energy it has.”

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Category:Chefs, Food TV, General, More Food Gal -- In Other Publications, Restaurants, Spirits/Cocktails/Beer | Comments (11) | Author:

“Ultimate Guide to Bay Area Dining” — Food Gal’s First App — Plus A Give-Away

Monday, 20. February 2012 5:26

Yes, your favorite Food Gal has joined the app world.

I’m proud to be part of the new venture, “Know What,” an app that takes the guess-work out of figuring out the food and cultural hot spots most worth visiting in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Los Angeles region. The recommendations come already vetted by experts in those areas, including yours truly.

Here’s how it works: Purchase the “Know What Essentials” app for $2.99 to get 250 top picks for food, hikes, museums and bars in both Northern and Southern California. Then, you can add on more specific modules for an additional nominal fee, including my “Ultimate Guide to Bay Area Dining” ($3.99), which includes my spotlights on 72 delicious places around the Bay Area not to be missed. My guide will be updated regularly, too, at no future charge to you.

Since it’s map-based, it couldn’t be easier to use. Just click on the map to see the places near you worth checking out. So, for folks who regularly email me questions such as, “Where should I go eat after the game today at AT&T Park in San Francisco?” or “What’s a new place to try in downtown Palo Alto?” — and you know who you are — having my guide at your fingertips is the next best thing to me being right there with you to lead the way.

Other Bay Area guides available by local writers include: “The City’s Best Cocktail Spots” by Camper English; “Things in San Jose that Don’t Suck” by Gary Singh; and “San Francisco’s Top 30 Taquerias” by Burritoeater.

“Know What” and my “Ultimate Guide to Bay Area Dining” are available for iPhones via the iTunes store. Look for an Android version possibly toward the end of the year.

Contest: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a free copy of the “Know What Essentials” app, along with my “Ultimate Guide to Bay Area Dining.” Entries, limited to those in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight PST Feb. 25. Winner will be announced Feb. 27.

How to win?

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Category:Enticing Events, General, Great Finds, More Food Gal -- In Other Publications, New Products, Restaurants | Comments (13) | Author:

Braving the Line at Flour + Water, Plus a Sneak Peek of What’s to Come

Friday, 3. February 2012 5:25

A parfait of quince, crema and crunchy walnut crumbles at Flour + Water.

Practically from the first day it opened nearly three years ago, San Francisco’s Flour + Water restaurant has had droves of people lining up nightly to get inside.

Who can resist blistered Margherita pizzas and hand-made pork raviolini with chanterelles and thyme?

Not me, as I joined the throngs in line on this Mission District corner on a recent blustery evening to snag a seat at the bar on my own dime.

After all, it sure beat trying to drive home to the South Bay at the height of the rush-hour commute on a Friday night.

Instead of fighting highway traffic, I parked myself on a bar stool right next to the kitchen. It afforded a bird’s eye view of the cooks stretching pizza dough and assembling pasta dishes all under the scrutiny of a very judicious expediter, who took tweezers to plates to arrange microgreens just so before they were delivered to the dining room with his approval.

The view of the kitchen from my bar stool.

As I perused the menu, I knew I was going to order pasta. After all, I can’t pass up supple noodles of any sort, but especially ones made every day by hand in the restaurant’s famous upstairs “dough room,” which I got to see on an earlier visit.

In the "dough room'' with Chef Thomas McNaughton (right).

Just-made filled pasta dumplings.

Bow ties with bursts of bright color.

I started with a salad of cured steelhead trout ($12) that was a definite spot of brightness on that chilly, dark night. Roasted beets added sweetness, fresh horseradish a hit of fire and paper-thin slices of Persian lime bursts of citrusy refreshment.

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Category:Chefs, General, More Food Gal -- In Other Publications, Restaurants | Comments (22) | Author:

The Incomparable Cecilia Chiang

Wednesday, 18. January 2012 5:25

The lovely, pioneering Cecilia Chiang at home in San Francisco.

She has been called the Chinese Julia Child.

As Child is credited with introducing authentic French cuisine to Americans, Cecilia Chiang has done the same for Chinese food in this country.

At a time when Chinese restaurants were all run by men and serving gloppy chop suey, egg foo young and other so-called Cantonese specialties, Chiang — who had never owned a business before — dared to open the elegant Mandarin restaurant in San Francisco in 1961 to cook up the real flavors of her native Shanghai. Ethereal dumplings, spicy Sichuan shrimp, kung pao chicken, tea-smoked duck and minced squab in lettuce cups were novelties in the Bay Area then, but soon after became staples at Chinese restaurants trying to capitalize on Chiang’s runaway success.

The Mandarin closed in 2006, but not before becoming a culinary legend beloved by locals and such glitterati as Child, Alice Waters, Jeremiah Tower, John Lennon and Jackie Onassis.

At 92, Chiang still cuts an elegant figure with remarkable energy. She still travels to China annually with friends like Waters; remains a mentor to young Asian-American chefs such as Corey Lee at San Francisco’s Benu; dines at Betelnut in San Francisco regularly, wheres she was the opening consulting chef; cooks dinner parties at her penthouse abode in San Francisco; and only stopped driving a year and a half ago, when she got a speeding ticket and her license was taken away.

Recently, I had a chance to meet this amazing woman for the first time for a profile story for Food Arts magazine.

When I marveled at her stamina, she replied with a smile, “I never get tired. And I am interested in so many things. I love to cook, garden, and see movies. Just keep yourself busy — that’s the secret. I never take naps. I eat three meals a day, and I always eat well.”

If food is truly the fountain of youth, then you could hardly do better than to whip up a couple dishes from her classic, “The Seventh Daughter” (Ten Speed Press), a cookbook memoir she wrote in 2007. There’s no better time, too, what with Sunday marking the first day of the Lunar New Year.

Tender eggplant spears tossed with an easy chili-garlic-ginger-soy sauce.

The slightly spicy “Eggplant in Garlic Sauce” is perfect for what promises to be a fiery “Year of the Dragon.”

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Category:Asian Recipes, Chefs, General, More Food Gal -- In Other Publications, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (14) | Author: