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Napa Truffle Festival

Friday, 23. January 2015 5:27

Black Perigord truffles. The darker ones have been peeled already, hence their deeper black color.

Black Perigord truffles. The darker one has been peeled already, hence its more pronounced color.

 

Carefully tucked inside Chef Ken Frank’s walk-in at La Toque restaurant in Napa last weekend sat 20 pounds of prized black Perigord truffles. Valued at more than $13,000 — wholesale.

They were destined to be the highlight of dinners, cooking demos and special restaurant offerings during last weekend’s Napa Truffle Festival.

And they all came from Italy.

For the past five years that this festival has been held, all the truffles used have been picked in Italy and flown in three days later to Napa.

But some day soon — possibly as early as this coming winter — black Perigord truffles may be harvested right here in Wine Country.

That’s because a burgeoning industry is taking root in Napa and Sonoma counties, as vintners and other property owners are gambling on growing truffles.

The American Truffle Company, which organizes the festival, has partnered with these interested folks to sell and plant filbert and oak trees that have been inoculated with the truffle fungus.

Chef Ken Frank holding a plate of black truffle risotto with quail that was made in a demo by Chef Roberto Donna.

Chef Ken Frank holding a plate of black truffle risotto with quail that was made in a demo by Chef Roberto Donna.

Close-up of the risotto.

Close-up of the risotto.

Once the trees are planted, it takes about five years for truffles to form. This winter, the trees of vintner Robert Sinskey, the first local client that signed on with the American Truffle Company, will be reaching that mark. His may become the first Perigords to be harvested in Sonoma County. Already this year, teams of truffle-hunting dogs have shown a much greater interest in his 1 1/2-acre orchard than ever before, Sinskey says, indicating truffles may indeed be forming under his trees.

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Category:Chefs, Enticing Events, General, New Products, Restaurants | Comments (4) | Author:

Chef James Syhabout Helping Oakland Schools, Restaurant Weeks & More

Friday, 16. January 2015 5:26

Chef James Syhabout gives back to Oakland schools. (Photo courtesy of the chef)

Chef James Syhabout gives back to Oakland schools. (Photo courtesy of the chef)

Chef James Syhabout’s Dine About Oakland Public Schools Initiative

Oakland’s native son and only Michelin-starred chef, James Syhabout has launched “Dine About Oakland Public Schools.” Under the initiative, 5 percent of all sales in January at his Oakland restaurants, Hawker Fare, Box & Bells, The Dock, and Commis, will be donated to a designated Oakland school.

Through Jan. 17, proceeds will go to Claremont Middle School. From Jan. 18-24, funds will go to Chabot Elementary. And from Jan. 25-31, proceeds will benefit Oakland  Tech.

Restaurant Weeks

Chef James Syhabout’s Hawker Fare, Box & Bells, and The Dock also will be among the restaurants participating in Oakland Restaurant Week, Jan. 15-25.

For those 10 days, a slew of restaurants will be offering special prix-fixe lunch and/or dinner menus for $20, $30 and $40.

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Category:Chefs, Enticing Events, General, New Products, Restaurants | Comment (0) | Author:

The Fremont Diner — As Good As It Gets

Wednesday, 7. January 2015 5:25

Grilled cheese and tomato soup perfection at The Fremont Diner.

Grilled cheese and tomato soup perfection at The Fremont Diner.

 

Sure, I have an appreciation for pull-out-all-the-stops tasting menus in which chefs maneuver and manipulate food into high art.

But it takes a place like The Fremont Diner to remind us all how wonderful the simple, the bare bones and the pared down can be.

I’m talking the perfect crumbly buttermilk biscuit you can’t wait to tear into, and a thick, spicy tomato soup served in a heavy coffee mug with a spoon — all enjoyed on a picnic table underneath a tented patio.

Surrounded by rolling hills and vineyards on the Sonoma side of the Carneros wine region, The Fremont Diner evokes nostalgia from the get-go with its rusty pick-up truck parked outside and its wood-slatted building with its swinging front-porch door.

Like stepping into the past.

Like stepping into the past.

The exterior.

The exterior.

The tented patio.

The tented patio.

My husband and I dropped by a few weeks ago, paying our tab at the end of a most soul-satisfying meal.

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My Top 10 Eats of 2014

Wednesday, 31. December 2014 5:26

Sokol Blosser Top 10

As we near the end of one year and ready for the start of a brand new one, allow me to toast my favorite dishes of 2014.

It’s never easy to narrow the list to just 10. But these are the tastes that lingered the most; the ones I’d want to eat all over again in a heartbeat.

Here’s my Top 10, listed in no particular order. I raise a glass from a lovely sample bottle of Sokol Blosser Evolution Sparkling, a blend of nine white wines, which give this method champenoise bubbly the complex flavor of apple, pear, peach and lemon. Here’s to all the chefs and restaurants that made 2014 so delicious and delightful.

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An Amuse Bouche to the 2015 Pebble Beach Food & Wine

Monday, 29. December 2014 5:26

Southern ham done in the style of Iberico jamon -- served on a magically appears during a hiking tour of Post Ranch Inn.

Southern ham done in the style of Iberico jamon — magically appears during a hiking tour of Post Ranch Inn.

 

When you get a group of esteemed Master Sommeliers together, you know there’s going to be an abundance of fine wines uncorked.

When you get them together at Big Sur’s gorgeous Post Ranch Inn as a prelude to next spring’s Pebble Beach Food & Wine extravaganza, the drinking and dining are of the highest order and pretty much go on non-stop.

That’s what I was lucky enough to be privy to when I was invited as a guest to the soiree and to Post Ranch Inn a few weeks ago.

A room with a view at Post Ranch Inn.

A room with a view at Post Ranch Inn.

The Nest -- a sculpture that you can cocoon away in.

The Nest — a sculpture that you can cocoon away in.

Sierra Mar restaurant.

Sierra Mar restaurant.

Among the other guests at the two-night affair were: David Bernahl, founder of the Pebble Beach event; Lara Sailor Long, executive wine director for the event; Kim Beto of Southern Wine & Spirits; Shayn Bjornholm, education director for the Court of Master Sommeliers; Ian Cauble of SommSelect; Dominque DaCruz, wine director of Post Ranch Inn; Christie Dufault, former wine director at Restaurant Gary Danko; Seth Kunin of Kunin Wines; Jordan MacKay, wine and spirits writer; Carlton McCoy, wine director for The Little Nell in Aspen; and Larry Stone, estate director of Huneeus Vintners in Rutherford.

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Category:Chefs, Enticing Events, General, Great Finds, Restaurants, Travel Adventures, Wine | Comments (4) | Author: