Tuck into this novel version of grits.
Let it soak, let it soak, let it soak.
Yes, that’s me taking liberties with the refrain from a certain Christmas song that we’ll all be hearing on repeat soon enough.
But it’s also the mantra that Chef Josef Centeno adheres to when it comes to making grits.
San Antonio-raised Centeno is chef-owner of six Los Angeles-area establishments: Baco Mercat, Bar Ama, Orsa & Winston, Ledlow, P.Y.T, and Penny-Ante Provisions catering. Before opening those, he worked at Daniel in New York, and was chef de cuisine at Manresa in Los Gatos.
I zeroed in on his “Creamy Grits with Blistered Tomatoes, Pickled Serrano Chiles, and Sunflower-Miso Tahini” recipe when I received a review copy of his new cookbook.
“Baco: Vivid Recipes From the Heart of Los Angeles” (Chronicle Books) is by Centeno and Betty Hallock, former deputy food editor of the Los Angeles Times.
The cookbook showcases his imaginative dishes that reflect Los Angeles’ dynamic, exciting food scene today. His dishes are inventive — not in the molecular, shake-your-head kind of way — but in the clash of ingredients and flavors that somehow make potent magic together.
The folks that put the fun in tacos — Tacolicious — will join yours truly for a cooking demo at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara, 1 p.m. Nov. 11.
Chef Quinten Frye will show you how to make tortillas from scratch, then turn them into inventive, delicious tacos. You’ll get a chance to take a taste, plus bring the recipes home.
Frye previously cooked in Hawaii, Mexico, and in Washington D.C. for superstar chef Jose Andres. As culinary director now for Tacolicious, he oversees its five locations, including the one in downtown Palo Alto and the one in Santana Row in San Jose.
Ginger cookie, Nutella brioche, and kouign-amann from Jane bakery.
On bustling Geary Street in San Francisco, a former KFC/Taco Bell hybrid has been transformed into something far sweeter.
Jane bakery opened its doors in December, producing glorious long, slow fermented loaves and fabulous flaky pastries in this former fast-food franchise spot.
This is the third outpost in the city for Jane, which is named for founder Amanda Michael’s now 18-year-old daughter.
A couple weeks ago, my friend Deborah and I were invited in as guests to sample some goodies on the menu.
You’ll find it hard to narrow down your choices here.
Michael, who grew up in San Francisco, once wrote reviews of computer hardware for a tech industry magazine. She hated it, and found solace in cooking. So much so that she went on to take classes at Tante Marie Cooking School in San Francisco. It wasn’t long before she turned her back on the tech writing to pursue pastry gigs working at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco, and PlumpJack in Squaw Valley and San Francisco.
Mediterane (pistachio and almond) at Coletta Gelato.
It’s a familiar Bay Area story: Two guys in business school meet, hatch an idea, then launch the next big thing.
Only this time, it’s not the latest whiz-bang tech invention.
It’s dreamy gelato.
Antonio Massimini, 31, and Henri Waltenspühl, 28, met in business school in Milan, and soon realized they shared a passion for gelato. The next thing you know, both enrolled at Gelato University in Bologna. (Now, that’s where I’d like to get a PhD.)
After doing their research, they decided to open in San Francisco because they figured the city’s discriminating, gourmet palates would appreciate it. It also helped that Antonio had family in the Bay Area, and was familiar with the area.
Founders Antonio Massimini and Henri Waltenspühl beside a mural of Henri’s grandmother, for whom the shop is named.
The sweet mural on the garage.
In January, they opened their Coletta Gelato, a production plant and a retail shop on Harrison Street, where Ciao Bella used to make its gelato.
A goblet of ahi poke at Fleming’s Santa Clara.
With Whole Foods, Il Fornaio, Sur La Table, Books Inc., and other businesses, Santa Clara Square has been hopping.
Even more so now with the opening of the newest Fleming’s Steakhouse nearly two months ago.
Be prepared to scour the parking lot for a space if you dine here, though. That’s because the lot is surprisingly compact, given the number of businesses. And there’s no street parking nearby. One can only wonder how much more congested the place will get once Puesto restaurant opens, too.
As it is, prepare to circle around quite a bit to snag a space. We did on a weeknight, when we were invited in as a guest of the restaurant. We ended up giving in to valet parking in front of Fleming’s. It will set you back $7. You pay with your credit card, then text when you are done with dinner to have your car ready and waiting when you leave.
The dining room.
A partition of wine bottles.
It’s a handsome restaurant with a glassed-in open kitchen at the back. The dining room has large booths, and a dramatic light fixture that may make you think of a UFO. Floating shelves of wine bottles act as a partition between the bar and dining room.