Category Archives: Restaurants

Mad for Madcap

Kimberly and Ron Siegel in their wonderful restaurant, Madcap.

Kimberly and Ron Siegel in their wonderful restaurant, Madcap.

 

Over his storied career, Ron Siegel has worked for an impressive lineup of chefs, including Daniel Boulud, Michael Mina, and Thomas Keller, the latter for whom he served as the inaugural sous chef for The French Laundry.

But now Siegel is finally working for himself.

In a most splendid fashion, too.

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Madcap, his first very own restaurant, opened in San Anselmo earlier this summer. You’ll find him in the compact kitchen, which he has joked is smaller than the walk-in at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco, where he was executive chef for many years. His wife Kimberly, whom he met when she was a server at The French Laundry, runs the front of the house. And when his two teen-age daughters aren’t in school, they often can be found in the dining room, jotting down orders.

The stunning rabbit tortelloni.

The stunning rabbit tortelloni.

It’s a small venue, about 47 seats, yet it feels a bit larger, thanks to the fact that there are two dining rooms. Artist Michael Brennan conceived the warm space, punctuated by dark wood, a marble bar top (where about three people can squeeze in to dine), deep red velvet banquettes, and his own eclectic paintings, including one of Raquel Welch striking an iconic pose from “One Million Years B.C.”

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Of Gourmet Ice Cream, Nuts and Sandwiches

A tower of ice cream sandwiches at Ici Ice Cream. (photo by Tory Putnam)

A tower of ice cream sandwiches at Ici Ice Cream. (photo by Tory Putnam)

Ici Ice Cream Opens Second Berkeley Location

Bay Area fans of Ici Ice Cream — and there are legions — are rejoicing that this artisan shop has just opened a second location in Berkeley.

That means twice the opportunities to get your fix of Honey-Vanilla-Black-Tea, Chocolate-Chocolate Almond Toffee, Pink Peppermint, Honey Lavender-Pistachio, and other fabulous flavors of ice cream and sorbets.

Mary Canales, who spent nine years as the pastry chef of Chez Panisse, founded her original shop 11 years ago on College Avenue in the Elmwood neighborhood. The second shop opened last week in downtown Berkeley.

Since the beginning, Ici has churned organic and sustainable ingredients in its ice creams. They’re made in small batches to ensure freshness.

A special treat just for this time of year: Ici's Bouche de Noel. (photo by Tory Putnam)

A special treat just for this time of year: Ici’s Bouche de Noel. (photo by Tory Putnam)

Everything will continue to be made at the College Avenue location, then transported to the downtown shop. Both places sell scoops, pints, cakes and confections, including seasonal cakes, ice cream bombes, ice cream sandwiches, bon-bons and candies.

It’s a perfect place to stop after a dinner of paella at Oakland’s Duende, owned by Mary’s husband, Paul Canales. Hey, just sayin’.

New Heirloom Reserve Nuts

Just in time for your holiday baking needs, Diamond of California has released a new line of Heirloom Reserve walnuts, pecans and Marcona almonds.

I used the new Diamond Heirloom Marcona Almonds in a salad of green beans, orange segments and fennel. (photo by Carolyn Jung)

I used the new Diamond Heirloom Marcona Almonds in a salad of green beans, orange segments and fennel. (photo by Carolyn Jung)

The century-old producer of nuts is highlighting varietals that have been passed down for generations.

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A Delicious Dose of Dosa

A show-stopping salad at Dosa.

A show-stopping salad at Dosa.

 

At San Francisco’s Dosa, there’s a new chef in town.

One with an impressive pedigree, who isn’t afraid to shake things up, either.

New Executive Chef Arun Gupta, who hails from New York’s legendary Grammercy Tavern, acknowledges that he had never cooked Indian food in a restaurant before this.

But that’s not to say this Manhattan native wasn’t familiar with the cuisine. With a father who is Indian and a mother who is Polish-American, he grew up frying pooris, forming perogis and helping his mom tend her community garden.

As a teen, he spent a summer abroad in France with a host family, where his love of cooking really took hold. So much so that he started cooking for friends in his parents’ apartment.

Chef Arun Gupta, new executive chef of Dosa, at the recent Taste & Tribute event in San Francisco.

Chef Arun Gupta, new executive chef of Dosa, at the recent Taste & Tribute event in San Francisco.

After graduating from Tufts University, he happened to meet Chef Michael Anthony of Grammercy Tavern, who was so impressed with Gupta’s enthusiasm that he hired him. Gupta started at the bottom, and worked his way through every station in that famed kitchen over five years. In 2012, he became the opening chef de cuisine of Maysville, a restaurant started by Grammercy Tavern alums.

His talent caught the attention of Anjan Mitra, co-owner of the Michelin Bib Gourmand-recognized Dosa, who convinced Gupta to move with his wife and young daughter to San Francisco to oversee Dosa’s Mission district and Fillmore district locales.

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Dinner and A Show at Teleferic Barcelona

Chicken empanadas on a stick at Teleferic Barcelona.

Chicken empanadas on a stick at Teleferic Barcelona.

 

Mondays may typically be a slow night for most restaurants.

But not for Teleferic Barcelona in Walnut Creek. Not since the restaurant added a Monday night flamenco show, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., for the entertainment of diners at no extra charge.

Just how well has it gone over?

Hugely, according to Manager Albert Ribera. The restaurant went from serving about 90 people on Monday to a whopping 250.

The restaurant decided to make flamenco dancers a regular weekly attraction after the great response the dancers received on New Year’s Eve.

The dining room fills up on Monday nights now.

The dining room fills up on Monday nights now.

Because who can resist seeing flamenco dancers strut their stuff?

Because who can resist seeing flamenco dancers strut their stuff?

When San Francisco’s Caminos Flamenco performs, it definitely make for a rousing time, as I found when I was invited in as a guest to the restaurant a few weeks ago.

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Get Ready for Chicken Adobo Tacos

Stuff tortillas with chicken adobo, and get ready to do a happy dance.

Stuff tortillas with chicken adobo, and get ready to do a happy dance.

 

Wes Avila thinks of a taco as a blank canvas.

If so, his Guerrilla Tacos is the Matisse of taco trucks.

Who knew a taco could have such vivacious personality? But in his imaginative hands, it comes awash in vivid colors, flavors and textures that dance with verve on the palate.

It’s no surprise that Guerrilla Tacos of Los Angeles was named “Best Taco Truck” by LA Weekly, and singled out by the great critic Jonathan Gold as one of the best things to eat in Los Angeles.

A former forklift driver, Avila went to culinary school in Pasadena, before going to work in such esteemed kitchens L’Auberge Carmel and Le Comptoir in Los Angeles. He even did a stint in Paris under Alain Ducasse.

GuerillaTacosBook

In 2012, with his life savings of $300, he started Guerilla Tacos out of a humble push cart. It wasn’t long before word of mouth spread, and Gold’s review put him on everyone’s radar.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I chased down his truck one afternoon just in time to snag a sushi-grade hamachi tostada that was bright tasting and adorned with micro beet leaves. He makes everything from scratch, and sources locally and sustainably.

He makes no claims that his is authentic Mexican food. Instead, it’s much more personal.

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