But when it comes to ice cream, I often can’t help it.
You see, I am married to someone who wants to eat vanilla ice cream — and only vanilla ice cream.
But who wants to live in a world of only vanilla?
Not I, for one.
So when a review copy of the new “Salt & Straw Ice Cream Cookbook” (Clarkson Potter) arrived in the mail, I couldn’t wait to tear into to make something especially fun and inventive.
After all, the ice cream company founded in 2011 in Portland, OR by cousins Tyler and Malek with locations in the Bay Area now, is famed for its zany flavors. Salt & Straw unabashedly does its best to “Keep Portland Weird.”
But that’s not to say that this ice cream maker gives precedence to wacky over excellence. Not at all. Its innovative flavors may have you scratching your head at first, but once you try them, you will marvel at their execution. Don’t just take my word for it. All it takes is to stop by a Salt & Straw ice cream shop to see the lines at all hours of legions of fans who can’t get enough of ice cream flavors you won’t find anywhere else. Best of all, Salt & Straw often incorporates specialty ingredients local to each of its stores.
A little piece of me dies when businesses like the Milk Pail in Mountain View and C.J. Olson Cherries in Sunnyvale shutter.
I know, I know, it’s all in the name of progress in the Valley of Heart’s Delight, where tech companies have long ago supplanted farms and orchards.
Tech may (or may not) make my life easier. But quaint family-owned farm stands and gourmet open-air markets make my spirit soar.
In too short of a time, C.J. Olson Cherries went from being an expansive cherry orchard to a small fruit stand in a spanking new retail mall to merely a mail-order company now whose products are also stocked at a couple of local stores.
A heap of filling inside.
When it still existed as a fruit stand, I would buy not only fresh cherries but other stellar locally grown fruit. And at least once a year, I would splurge on one of their famous cherry pies. They were not inexpensive. But once you tasted one, you realized they were worth every penny. While other pies may be filled with a lot of sugary jam or nondescript pureed fruit, Olson’s featured nothing but whole, pitted Bing cherries — and a ton of them at that. As a result, it was a pie that celebrated cherries exuberantly.
Raspberries and matcha flavor this unique mochi butter cake from Republique.
When Campanile restaurant and its adjacent La Brea Bakery closed in Los Angeles in 2012, I admit I shed a tear.
After all, Chef Mark Peel and Pastry Chef Nancy Silverton (then a married couple) together had created two of the most landmark establishments in the city, with the Wolfgang Puck-proteges turning out stupendous California cuisine, and extraordinary artisan breads and baked goods. In fact, the bakery was always my last stop, where I loaded up on pretzel bread and ginger scones before flying or driving home to the Bay Area.
But the iconic Spanish building that Charlie Chaplin supposedly built couldn’t have gotten better new tenants than Walter and Margarita Manzke. The couple lovingly remodeled it, maintaining its spirit, to open their Republique in 2013. It even features a bakery in the exact same spot that La Brea Bakery once operated, only now it is fully connected to the restaurant.
If you’ve ever visited the bakery, you know it’s nearly impossible to take your eyes off the front-and-center glass case overflowing with cookies, tarts, cream puffs, breads and assorted pastries of about 50 varieties. And if you’ve had the pleasure of sinking your teeth into any of them, then you know just how skillfully they are made.
The cookbook, which recently won a “Cookbook of the Year” award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals, was written by Justin Wranger, executive chef of Jackson Family Wines; and Tracey Shepos Cenami, chef de cuisine of the wine company; with Tucker Taylor, director of culinary gardens at Jackson Family Wines (whom if you follow on Facebook or Instagram know posts some of the most beautifully vivid photos of fruits, vegetables and herbs that you’ll ever see).
Jackson Family Wines is one of the largest wine producers in the world, with a portfolio of 40 brands in California, Oregon and across the world.