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The Lettuce That’s Taking the Bay Area By Storm

Friday, 22. June 2012 5:25

Little Gem salad with spring veggies and Green Goddess dressing at Redd Wood in Yountville. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

No matter where you dine in the Bay Area, you’d be hard pressed to find a menu that did not have this particular lettuce gracing it.

Whether served cold and crisp in a salad or braised or grilled in a main dish, Little Gem lettuce is the new darling ingredient that chefs and diners just can’t seem to get enough of. Whether at Frances in San Francisco, Redd Wood in Yountville, Camino in Oakland or Mamacita in San Francisco, Little Gem is sure to be there front and center.

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Category:Chefs, General, Great Finds, More Food Gal -- In Other Publications, Restaurants | Comments (12) | Author:

A Most Eggs-Cellent Farm

Friday, 30. March 2012 5:25

Deep orange yolks exemplify how special the eggs from Coastide Ranch are.

When you’re the son of rock legend Neil Young, it might be expected if you rested comfortably on your father’s laurels.

When you’re his son and born with cerebral palsy, which has left you wheelchair-bound and able to communicate only with a computer device, it would be understandable if you were at all reclusive.

But that’s not Ben Young, 33, the middle child of the famed singer-songwriter.

Ben Young, who has cerebral palsy, is the son of the legendary Neil Young.

Thirteen years ago, Young started an egg farm called Coastside Farms on three acres of his family’s La Honda property. In 2002, it was certified organic. A few weeks ago, I had a chance to visit him there.

Today, he raises about 250 Red Sex-Links, similar to Rhode Island Reds, which have the run of the place under the close watch of a herd of adorable alpacas who guard them against predators.

A ranch mascot.

He sells the eggs, with their glorious deep orange yolks, to Calafia Cafe in Palo Alto and Cafe Gibraltar in El Granada, where he makes deliveries each week with the help of his assistant.

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Category:General, Going Green and Sustainable, More Food Gal -- In Other Publications | Comments (18) | Author:

Fighting for Foie Gras

Tuesday, 20. March 2012 5:25

Foie gras and more foie gras at Lafitte. Here, with beef cheek, gigante beans and broccoli rabe.

I’m not usually met with protesters when I go out to dinner.

But such was the case last Thursday night at the “FU Foie Gras” dinner at Lafitte in San Francisco, where 10 peaceful protesters held up signs outside the restaurant, imploring people to stop eating foie gras, the luxurious fattened liver of a goose or duck.

If you’re a fan of that rich delicacy, you better enjoy it while you can. Come July 1, California will become the only state in the nation to ban the sale of foie gras.

A peaceful protester at the Lafitte dinner.

Protesters picketed for a little over an hour before leaving.

Animal welfare supporters, many of whom have been picketing restaurants that have foie on the menu, applaud the upcoming law that will stop what they believe is inhumane treatment of the birds, which are speed-fed with a tube down their throat to engorge their liver. But many chefs are rallying against the law, which they believe is unnecessary and unfair. A number of them, including Lafitte’s Chef-Proprietor Russell Jackson, have visited foie gras farms in the United States and found no such mistreatment, especially because ducks have no gag reflex, breathe through their tongue, and naturally increase their consumption when they migrate.

There are only three major producers of foie gras in the United States. Two are in New York: Hudson Valley Foie Gras and La Belle Farm. And only one is in California: Sonoma Foie Gras.

Gotta have a few skulls around when the restaurant is named for a pirate.

Since late last year, restaurants throughout the state have been hosting special foie gras dinners to educate the public and build grassroots support for the pricey ingredient that’s been produced as far back as ancient Egyptian times. Proceeds have gone to support CHEFS (Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards), a pro-foie advocacy group made up of restaurateurs and other culinary professionals.

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Category:Chefs, Enticing Events, General, More Food Gal -- In Other Publications, Restaurants | Comments (24) | Author:

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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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: