Category Archives: Restaurants

Grilled Sesame Shrimp For The Win

Tahini helps marinade the shrimp and creates the foundation for the dipping sauce.

Tahini helps marinade the shrimp and creates the foundation for the dipping sauce.

 

Tahini is having a moment.

And it’s about time.

If you love peanut butter, almond butter or any other nut butter, you will easily fall for its cousin, tahini, which is essentially a form of sesame butter. Raw or toasted sesame seeds are ground, releasing their oil, and creating a creamy, thick, velvety, and spoonable sauce redolent of pure sweet nuttiness.

It’s what gives hummus its unmistakable lushness. It’s what fortifies so many great Middle Eastern dressings and spreads. And it’s what perks up palates with interest anew after tiredness sets in from same ol’, same ol’ peanut butter.

Levant Book

Restaurateur Rawia Bishara calls it one of her favorite pantry items. She says she could devote an entire book to it. She hasn’t gone that far, but she does include quite a few recipes using the sesame paste in her new cookbook, “Levant: New Middle Eastern Cooking From Tanoreen” (Kyle), of which I received a review copy.

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Seasonal Indian Fare at Ritu

Yes, kale has made its way into chaat -- and deliciously so -- at Ritu.

Yes, kale has made its way into chaat — and deliciously so — at Ritu.

 

With Ritu the word for “seasons” in Hindi, it’s no surprise that this hip Indian restaurant in San Francisco’s Mission District changes up its menu, accordingly. In fact, it adheres to the six seasons recognized in India: spring, summer, monsoon, autumn, pre-winter and winter.

Since it was full-on summer when I was invited in as a guest recently, the menu was redolent of tomatoes, zucchini, corn and green beans. And of course, kale, because this “it” green still takes center stage in popularity.

Chef-Owner Rupam Bhagat graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and worked his way up to sous chef at various Ritz-Carlton Hotel properties, including the one in Half Moon Bay. In 2014, he started his Dum food truck, which is still going strong. In 2016, he opened his restaurant, first naming it Dum, then rebranding it this year as Ritu to distinguish it from his other venture.

Chef-Owner Rapam Bhagat.

Chef-Owner Rapam Bhagat.

It’s a long narrow space full of vibrant color that has an open kitchen, where you can watch Bhagat cooking your meal.

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Recchiuti Confections New Collection For A Cause, An Afternoon with El Cajon & More

Recchiuti Confections' new Musical Jamboree collection. (photo courtesy of Recchiuti)

Recchiuti Confections’ new Musical Jamboree collection. (photo courtesy of Recchiuti)

Recchiuti Truffles Get Extra Artsy

If there wasn’t ample reason already to love Recchiuti Confections’ burnt caramel truffles, its new limited edition collection offers up yet another one: They are decorated with dazzling art by Creativity Explored, a San Francisco non-profit that gives those with developmental disabilities the opportunity to create and share their work.

This marks the 14th year that the San Francisco chocolatier has partnered with that organization.

The special Musical Jamboree chocolate collection showcases artist Kate Thompson’s whimsical comic book-like illustrations of musicians in full color on top of each truffle. Thompson’s artwork also was featured on Google’s 2015 prototype of self-driving cars.

“I like to tell stories through my artwork and have it convey people doing things whether that is people on a bike, riding a bus, or playing an instrument,” Thompson said in a statement. “I never thought of having my artwork on chocolate, but I’m very excited!”

An 8-piece box is $23, with a portion of all proceeds donated to Creativity Explored.

Saturday, Sept. 8, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Recchiuti’s Ferry Building store will host a celebratory jamboree, where Thompson’s current work will be on display.

El Cajon’s Epicurean Tasting Event

For a quarter of a century, the Bay Area’s El Cajon Project has worked to give at-risk and disadvantaged high school students training in the culinary arts that includes hands-on experience at such notable establishments as Chez T.J. in Mountain View, Evvia in Palo Alto, Alexander’s Patisserie in Mountain View, and the Menlo Grill in the Stanford Park Hotel in Menlo Park.

Sunday, Oct. 21, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., it will host “An Afternoon with El Cajon,” a tasting event at The Sea by Alexander’s Steakhouse in Palo Alto.

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Qochon — A Hidden Gem

Even carnivores will be won over by this spectacular vegan pho at Qochon.

Even carnivores will be won over by this spectacular vegan pho at Qochon.

 

Hidden away in a business park in a commercial area of Fremont, Qochon is emblematic of this fierce new age of female empowerment that’s been long overdue.

Owners Quinn Tram and Lauren Pham took the gutsy step of opening this very personal, contemporary Vietnamese restaurant three years ago — despite neither having ever worked in a restaurant before.

Pham poured her life savings into the venture, and teamed with Tram, to follow a dream of serving Vietnamese food that had an emphasis on organics and healthfulness.

The two women met at J.P. Morgan, where they worked as commercial lenders for years. They bonded over their love of food, and soon began developing their idea for a restaurant whose name would be a playful take on the French word “cochon” for “pig.”

Owners Quinn Tram (left) and Lauren Pham (right).

Owners Quinn Tram (left) and Lauren Pham (right).

“I always believe change makes you better. So, I took a leap of faith,” says Pham, the restaurant’s head chef, who grew up cooking with her mom.

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Superiority Burger’s Blackberry Sorbet

As smooth as it gets -- home-made blackberry sorbet.

As smooth as it gets — home-made blackberry sorbet.

 

She made a blackberry sorbet.

The kind you find in a great ice cream store.

Blackberry sorbet.

And it was so good, she couldn’t brag much more.

Blackberry sorbet.

I think I love her.

With apologies to the late-great Prince, I couldn’t help but have that refrain pop into my head even though blackberry — rather than raspberry — was on my mind recently.

Dig a spoon in, and you’ll be singing the praises of this super easy “Blackberry Sorbet” recipe, too.

It’s from the new “Superiority Burger Cookbook” (W.W. Norton & Co.), of which I received a review copy. The book is by Brooks Headley, a punk rock drummer and James Beard Award-winning chef.

In 2015, he left the lauded Del Posto restaurant in New York, where he was executive pastry chef, to open a 300-square-foot basement-level vegetarian burger bar in the East Village, Superiority Burger.

SuperiorityCookbook

He hasn’t looked back since. Unlike some of the more newfangled veggie burgers try their hardest to mimic ground meat, Superiority doesn’t take that tack. It’s clearly a vegetable-based burger in texture, but wow, does it ever pack an umami punch. It’s so assertively savory tasting that you don’t miss the meat. Even my husband, aka Meat Boy, didn’t, if you can believe it, when we tried it last year.

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