Category Archives: Restaurants

A Taste of The World’s Best At In Situ

A unique chocolate dessert from Spain recreated and served at In Situ.

A unique chocolate dessert from Spain recreated and served at In Situ.

 

A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of dining on signature dishes from Japan, Germany, Denmark, France, Spain and Italy — all from the comfort of my chair at In Situ in downtown San Francisco.

Opened last May as part of SFMoMA’s $610 million expansion, In Situ has to be one of the most original restaurants ever created. Leave it to French Laundry alum, Chef Corey Lee of San Francisco’s Michelin three-starred Benu and Monsieur Benjamin, to fashion a restaurant that’s much like a museum, itself, in curating and showcasing iconic artworks that in this case just happen to be edible.

Latin for “on site,” In Situ, is where Lee has collaborated with chefs from around the world, as well as right here in the Bay Area, to recreate their most iconic dishes. At times, he has traveled across the globe to watch a chef cook a dish; other times a chef has merely sent a video with instructions.

Art on the wall behind a communal table.

Art on the wall behind a communal table.

The bright dining room that's lively, but still intimate enough for conversation.

The bright dining room that’s lively, but still intimate enough for conversation.

How many times have you longed to try some fantastic dish at some far-off restaurant, only to realize the odds are you would never make it to that destination? At In Situ, that wish is very much possible.

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Asian-American Food & Film, A Bake-Sale Not To Miss, & More

CAAMFeast17-Save-the-Date

Center for Asian American Media Feast and Fest 2017

Celebrating Asian-American achievements in food, film and music, the Center for Asian American Media presents its 35th annual CAAMFEST, March 9-19.

The film presentations, live music, and food events, which shines a light on new Asian-American talents, takes place in various venues around San Francisco and Oakland, including the Asian Art Museum and the Castro Theatre.

Among the films sure to whet your appetite are: “Sunday Dinner,” directed by Casey Beck, which follows one man’s journey through San Francisco’s Chinatown to pick the most exacting ingredients to cook for a family feast; and “Good Luck Soup,” directed by Matthew Hashiguchi, about what it’s like to grow up mixed-race in a predominantly white neighborhood in Cleveland. Tickets for regular screenings are $12 to $14 each.

CAAMFEST is preceded by CAAMFEAST, March 4 at 6 p.m., in the Green Room at the War Memorial & Performing Arts Center in San Francisco. The evening features tastings from top restaurants, and a multi-media tribute to culinary awards honorees, who this year include Los Angeles Chef Roy Choi of Kogi BBQ and Locol; and the People’s Kitchen Collective of Oakland, which hosts Diaspora Dinners, sliding-scale community meals, and workshops. Tickets are $200 each.

Wine Dinner and Bake-Sale at Zola in Palo Alto

Pastry chef extraordinaire John Shelsta, also known by his Twitter handle of @loveforbutter, will be hosting one of his not-to-be-missed bake sales at Zola in downtown Palo Alto, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 25.

Pineapple-filled kouign-amanns. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

Pineapple-filled kouign-amanns. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

Shelsta has trained with some of the best around, including William Werner of Craftsman and Wolves in San Francisco, and Belinda Leong of B. Patisserie in San Francisco. It’s from the latter that he learned to make his gossamer, crackling sugary kouign-amanns. The traditional Brittany pastry is like a croissant folded upon itself with layers of sugar in between.

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“Taste of Yosemite” 2017

Pretty in white.

Pretty in white.

 

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA — After five years of drought, the snow was back and the waterfalls gushing like crazy this winter in this spectacular national park (click on the Instagram video below).

The Ahwahnee may now be known as the Majestic Yosemite (because its former concessionaire Delaware North claims it owns the park’s historic names after trademarking them); and the former “Chefs’ Holidays” event is now referred to as “Taste of Yosemite.” But no matter what you call it, a bevy of stellar chefs were more than happy to be back for this 32nd year, and yours truly was once again the moderator for the two closing sessions of this annual gourmet event.

Every year, I get a chance to meet newcomers who are not only attending their first gala dinner event here, but visiting the park for the very first time, too. That’s coupled with regulars, some of whom have been attending this glorious event for more than seven years.

Rhythm in motion @yosemitenps @yosemite

A video posted by Carolyn Jung (@food_gal_carolyn) on

Each sessions features three chefs or gourmet purveyors who each do a cooking demo. There’s a wine reception where you can mingle with the chefs. And every session ends with a gala five-course dinner prepared by one of the visiting chefs.

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Pausing For A Delicious While At Pausa

A sampler of charcuterie (almost all house-made) on a one-of-a-kind plate at Pausa.

A sampler of charcuterie (almost all house-made) on a one-of-a-kind plate at Pausa.

 

San Mateo’s new Pausa asks you to take time out of your busy life to hit pause.

For a bevy of Italian wines.

For house-made charcuterie.

For house-made pastas, pizza dough and breads — all made in a glassed-in dough room on prominent display.

Pausa, which is Italian for “pause,” entices with all of that sit for a spell and just enjoy. The restaurant, which just opened the first week of January, is a collaboration between Italian-born Chef Andrea Giuliani and Co-Owner Steven Ugur. The two first met a dozen years ago at the old Spiedo restaurant, which was owned by Ugur’s father, and sat on this same spot.

Crowds are already checking out the place, as I found out when I was invited in on a recent weeknight as a guest of the restaurant. Every table was taken in the modern dining room, with a focal wall sporting butcher twine woven into an art piece, tinged white and deep red, that is meant to mimic the topography of the Dolomites in Italy.

Chef-Owner Andrea Giuliani who hails from Veneto, Italy.

Chef-Owner Andrea Giuliani who hails from Veneto, Italy.

To imbibe on the lighter side, there are spritz cocktails ($10) that are meant to awaken the palate as you peruse the menu. I tried one of the more unconventional ones, the Bastardo, a blend of Amaro Ciociaro, pineapple gum, apricot liqueur, lime and Lambrusco, that was like a spicy, fruity sangria.

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Delicious Tacos At — Yes — Tacolicious

A trio of Tacos at Tacolicious Santana Row.

A trio of Tacos at Tacolicious Santana Row.

 

The newest Tacolicious took the longest to build.

Two years of lease negotiations and permit approvals to be exact.

Owner Joe Hargrave said at times he wasn’t sure it would ever open. But thankfully, it did, joining four others in the Tacolicious mini empire when it debuted last year at San Jose’ Santana Row.

It’s a sliver of a restaurant, once housing an Italian coffee shop. A bar with seats and a narrow kitchen take up most of the space with a few compact tables inside. It’s already proving a popular spot, as I found out when I was invited in as a guest a few weeks ago. Even on a weeknight, every seat was taken, and about half a dozen folks outside were waiting to get in.

Chips and salsa are set down for you to nibble as you look over the compact menu. Of course, a beer or cocktail is just the ticket to go with that. If you’re a horchata fan like I am, try the house-made one stirred up with Siete Leguas Anejo tequila, chocolate bitters and a dash of nutmeg in the “Papa Noel” ($12). There’s a hint of citrus from the nutmeg and an almost coffee-note thanks to the chocolate bitters. It’s creamy with a kick — just what you want on a winter night.

Chips and salsa to start.

Chips and salsa to start.

Along with a cocktail blended with house-made horchata.

Along with a cocktail blended with house-made horchata.

Of course, one must have tacos at Tacolicious.  My husband and I shared four ($17.95): chicken en mole Colorado, Baja-style Pacific cod, Guajillo-braised beef brisket, and the “Taco of the Week” — crispy fried chicken.

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