View all posts filed under 'Restaurants'

Cozy Up to Zola in Palo Alto

Friday, 21. November 2014 5:26

Chocolate mousse made extra special with coffee gelee at Zola in Palo Alto.

Chocolate mousse made extra special with coffee gelee at Zola in Palo Alto.


If French writer Emile Zola was all about literary realism, then Palo Alto’s new Zola restaurant pays fitting tribute with its seasonal French cooking that keeps it real and all together soulful.

Chef-Proprietor Guillaume Bienaime opened his intimate downtown restaurant in late-September. The former fine-dining chef at Marche in Menlo Park has consulted on restaurants over the past couple of years. But Zola is his own venture and you can tell he’s poured his heart into it.

Recently, I met up with a friend for dinner there, with us paying the tab at the end of the meal. It’s a cozy space done up in denim-colored walls beside exposed brick, bare wood tables and classic cafe chairs.

The dining room is compact, but it is inviting.

The dining room is compact, but it is inviting.

It’s the kind of place where you can come in jeans, and settle in with a glass of French Rhone wine and a plate of short ribs done Bourguignon-style, and emerge feeling restored.

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Category:Chefs, General, Restaurants | Comments (5) | Author:

Brown Sugar Kitchen’s Spiced Sweet Potato Bundt Cake

Wednesday, 19. November 2014 5:26

Sweet potatoes make this cake really moist.

Sweet potatoes make this cake really moist.


Imagine a holiday cake that’s rich in fiber, complex carbohydrates and beta-carotene.

OK, so it does have chocolate chips, too. Plus a wicked chocolate-coffee glaze.

“Spiced Sweet Potato Bundt Cake” has all that going for it and more. After all, it’s the creation of Chef Tanya Holland, who’s famed for her soulful comfort food at her Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland.

This cake is from her new cookbook, “Brown Sugar Kitchen: New-Style, Down-Home Recipes From Sweet West Oakland” (Chronicle Books), of which I received a review copy. It was written with former San Francisco Magazine editor Jan Newberry.


You’ll find all your Brown Sugar Kitchen favorites here, including Holland’s legendary Cornmeal Waffles with Apple Cider Syrup and Buttermilk Fried Chicken. All in all, you’ll find more than 80 recipes from everything from Creole Gazpacho to Smoked Buttered Rum. What’s really special about this book, though, is its sense of place. Holland’s restaurant is an intrinsic part of this West Oakland neighborhood. The book celebrates the people that make this area what it is by including profiles of its entrepreneurs, musicians and community leaders.

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Category:Chefs, General, Recipes (Sweet), Restaurants | Comments (10) | Author:

A Tacolicious Time at Home

Friday, 7. November 2014 5:26

Lamb shanks -- Tacolicious-style.

Lamb shanks — Tacolicious-style.


Few of us are lucky enough to score a dinner invitation to San Francisco Magazine writer Sara Deseran’s house.

Because if we did, we apparently would find ourselves chowing down deliriously on “Lamb Adobo Taco with Spices and Oranges.”

For Deseran, co-owner of the Bay Area’s Tacolicious restaurants with her husband, Joe Hargrave, this is one of her go-to dishes when entertaining.

Fortunately for us, she’s sharing that recipe in her newest cookbook, “Tacolicious: Festive Recipes for Tacos, Snacks, Cocktails, and More” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. The cookbook features the seasonal, bright flavors of Tacolicious at its best in such recipes as “Shrimp Cakes with Corn-Basil Salsa,” “Albondigas in Tomato-Chipotle Sauce,” “Lone Star Breakfast Taco” and “Pineapple-Coconut Aqua Fresca.”


After one taste, I can see why this dish is such a favorite of hers. Lamb shanks braise in a rich, dark sauce that resembles mole but is far easier to make. It’s one of those sauces that announces itself immediately with boldness and deep complexity, as well as a kick of heat that starts off slow and gentle, then builds the more you eat of it. The taste is very earthy, with a touch of fruitiness from the chiles, and just the merest hint of tanginess.

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Category:Chefs, General, Recipes (Savory), Restaurants | Comments (5) | Author:

Oak & Rye and Oh, Those Pies!

Friday, 24. October 2014 5:25

The "California 2.0'' at Oak & Rye.

The “California 2.0” at Oak & Rye.


It’s taken me nearly a year to finally make it to Oak & Rye, the much lauded pizza joint in downtown Los Gatos. But it was well worth the wait.

You see, the restaurant does not take reservations unless you come with an army of 10 people. That means you have to play the waiting game. And given how popular the place is, the wait can be extensive.

But finally, I cleared my schedule, and arrived with my husband around 5:30 p.m. on a recent Saturday. Good thing we got there when we did, too, because while we were seated immediately, a mere half hour later the place was packed.

It’s easy to see why. It’s a loud, lively place with creative cocktails and a menu sure to please most any palate. It’s got an idiosyncratic vibe, what with its framed vintage album covers from the Blues Brothers and Culture Club on the wall, not to mention a gleaming bronze boar head mounted as if it’s keeping an eye on the kitchen.

The mascot, perhaps?

The mascot, perhaps?

Old album covers grace the walls.

Old album covers grace the walls.

Our table was right next to the open kitchen, whose centerpiece is the copper mosaic wood-fired oven.

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Category:Chefs, General, Pizza, Restaurants | Comments (6) | Author:

Join the Food Gal and the Chef of Plaza Garibaldi for a Macy’s Cooking Demo

Wednesday, 22. October 2014 5:26


On the heels of Hispanic Heritage Month, Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara is proud to present a cooking demo with Plaza Garibaldi in San Jose.

Join me at 6 p.m. Oct. 30, when I’ll be hosting Kenneth Payne, executive chef of this popular, family-owned Mexican restaurant known for its home-made tortillas, mole poblano, fish tacos and other specialties.

Payne, who previously cooked at the Hayes Mansion in San Jose and Hyde Street Bistro in San Francisco, will show you how to make one of his signature dishes.

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Category:Chefs, Enticing Events, General, More Food Gal -- In Person, Restaurants | Comments (1) | Author: