Category Archives: Seafood

The Publican’s Mussels in Sour Beer

Dinner in mere minutes: A big pot of mussels cooked in sour beer.

Dinner in mere minutes: A big pot of mussels cooked in sour beer.

 

Pucker up.

For sour beer, that is.

My husband may wince at this style of brew, much preferring a smooth Amber Ale instead.

But I can’t get enough of the specialty fermented beer that gets its characteristic tang from wild yeast strains or bacteria.

I love its bracing quality, especially paired with food, much like that of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in the wine world. Both wake up the taste buds with a brisk bite, acting like a natural-born palate cleanser.

Though I’ve cooked with various types of beer over the years, somehow it never dawned on me to try it with sour beer.

That is, until I spied the recipe for “Mussels in Sour Beer” in the new “Cheers to The Publican Repast and Present: Recipes and Ramblings from an American Beer Hall” (Lorena Jones Books), of which I received a review copy.

PublicanCookbook

The book is by Chef-Owner Paul Kahan of The Publican in Chicago, a modern-day beer hall known for its huge communal wood tables, deep beer list, and rustic dishes flavored with gusto and served charmingly on mismatched plates.

The Publican is just one of eight establishments in Chicago by Kahan and the One Off Hospitality Group. The others include Avec, Blackbird, and the wholesale Publican Quality Bread. (His bread is fantastic, too, as I found out when he brought loaves to a recent holiday dinner at Acacia House in St. Helena where he cooked with Chef Chris Cosentino.)

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Eating My Way Through New York: Chef-Tastic

The whole duck confit at Cosme that takes four days to make.

The whole duck confit at Cosme that takes four days to make.

Cosme

When planning this trip to New York, one of the places highest on my list to dine was Cosme.

A couple of years ago, while attending the “Worlds of Flavor” conference at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone campus in St. Helena, I had a chance to try a little of Mexico City-chef Enrique Olvera’s innovative cuisine.

Ever since, I have been hooked. And craving more.

Herb guacamole.

Herb guacamole.

Complimentary purple tortillas and Marcona almond dip.

Complimentary purple tortillas and Marcona almond dip.

This is not your standard tacos and burritos taqueria. This sleek establishment is all about modern Mexican cuisine with star power. The prices reflect that. Yes, guacamole is $17 here. It’s a beautiful bowl of deeply rich smashed avocados strewn with micro herbs and served with huge purple tortilla chips that you break apart to scoop.

If you’re already balking at that price, then this isn’t the place for you. When you walk through the doors, you have to vanquish the notion that Mexican food has to be cheap in order to be worthwhile.

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A Wonderfully Crabby Time in Oregon

 

Newport, OR. — Dungeness crab would surely be part of my last meal, if I was given a choice. Sweet, fluffy, and succulent, it beats lobster any day in my book.

Though I’ve enjoyed it countless times, I’ve never fished for it.

Until now.

On a recent trip to the lovely central coast of Oregon, my fellow food writers and I, who were guests of Salishan Spa & Golf Resort, were treated to our own private excursion through Yaquina Bay aboard the family-owned Marine Discovery Tours boat.

On a picturesque 70-degree morning, we boarded and set sail. Just be forewarned that the waters can get choppy the farther out you go. But none in our party — even a few who were extremely prone to motion sickness — were done in by the effects.

The dock area in Newport.

The dock area in Newport.

All aboard!

All aboard!

You may be richly rewarded for braving the waters, too. We saw whales. Well, at least their blow holes, if not their tails breaking the waves. Still, it made for an unforgettable moment.

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Patricia Wells’ Easy Steamed Cod with Rosemary and Seaweed Butter

Embrace the steam.

Embrace the steam.

 

I always think that steaming is an under-appreciated and so often under-utilized cooking technique.

I think people fear that steamed foods will turn out bland, mushy, almost hospital-like sterile in nature.

But when done right, steaming is a gentle way of cooking that preserves moisture and flavor.

Case in point: fish.

I love grilling fish or sauteeing it, especially to get the skin crisp. But being Chinese-American, I also adore steamed fish. There’s nothing like a whole steamed fish brought to the table at a banquet meal. The flesh falls apart with impossible tenderness. Its texture is rendered beyond silky. And there’s just a lovely delicacy to it, no matter how small or large the fish.

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Patricia Wells knows fully well the merits of steaming. In fact, the five-time James Beard Award-winning writer and cooking teacher devotes an entire chapter to steaming in her new cookbook, “My Master Recipes: 165 Recipes to Inspire Confidence In the Kitchen” (William Morrow), of which I received a review copy.

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Rockridge Market Hall Foods Celebrates 30 Years

Top-selling Italian ricciarelli cookies at Market Hall Bakery.

Top-selling Italian ricciarelli cookies at Market Hall Bakery.

 

More than three decades ago, this lot on College Avenue in Oakland sat empty except when it transformed into a pumpkin patch every Halloween.

But siblings Sara, Tony and Peter Wilson had a vision that it could be so much more.

The New Zealand natives set to work to turn it into the first European-style food court in the Bay Area.

This year, Rockridge Market Hall Foods celebrates its 30th anniversary, a remarkable achievement in this day and age when fewer and fewer family-owned markets seem able to survive yet alone thrive.

The bakery case.

The bakery case.

A wide assortment of cured meats for sale at Market Hall Foods.

A wide assortment of cured meats for sale at Market Hall Foods.

Just part of the cheese selection.

Just part of the cheese selection.

To celebrate, the marketplace is hosting monthly events all this year that feature fun free activities and treats. To see what’s upcoming, check out the calendar here.

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