Category Archives: Spirits/Cocktails/Beer

A Delicious Dose of Dosa

A show-stopping salad at Dosa.

A show-stopping salad at Dosa.

 

At San Francisco’s Dosa, there’s a new chef in town.

One with an impressive pedigree, who isn’t afraid to shake things up, either.

New Executive Chef Arun Gupta, who hails from New York’s legendary Gramercy Tavern, acknowledges that he had never cooked Indian food in a restaurant before this.

But that’s not to say this Manhattan native wasn’t familiar with the cuisine. With a father who is Indian and a mother who is Polish-American, he grew up frying pooris, forming perogis and helping his mom tend her community garden.

As a teen, he spent a summer abroad in France with a host family, where his love of cooking really took hold. So much so that he started cooking for friends in his parents’ apartment.

Chef Arun Gupta, new executive chef of Dosa, at the recent Taste & Tribute event in San Francisco.

Chef Arun Gupta, new executive chef of Dosa, at the recent Taste & Tribute event in San Francisco.

After graduating from Tufts University, he happened to meet Chef Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern, who was so impressed with Gupta’s enthusiasm that he hired him. Gupta started at the bottom, and worked his way through every station in that famed kitchen over five years. In 2012, he became the opening chef de cuisine of Maysville, a restaurant started by Gramercy Tavern alums.

His talent caught the attention of Anjan Mitra, co-owner of the Michelin Bib Gourmand-recognized Dosa, who convinced Gupta to move with his wife and young daughter to San Francisco to oversee Dosa’s Mission district and Fillmore district locales.

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Foodie Gifts — For Friends, Family or Yourself

Avocado oil, apple cider vinegar and apricots combine for this zesty Farmhouse Lab dressing. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

Avocado oil, apple cider vinegar and apricots combine for this zesty Farmhouse Lab dressing. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

Farmhouse Lab Salad Dressings

True, it’s easy enough to whisk together your own salad dressing at home if you have a good variety of oils, vinegars and seasonings.

But Farmhouse Lab of Marin does it one better by packaging its consciously-sourced dressings in cute little mason jars that make the perfect host or hostess gift.

The dressings use raw honey or raw coconut nectar for sweetness, as well as vinegars and oils, and mustards from artisan producers for flavor.

They come in four varieties, which I recently received samples to try: Sunny Avocado, Berry Olive, Green Pumpkin, and Red Sunflower.

The Sunny Avocado is buttery with a slight vegetative note to it, as well as the zing of apple cider vinegar. The Berry Olive is fruity sweet-tart with pomegranate vinegar and raw blackberry honey. The Green Pumpkin is nutty and rich with a dash of mustard. The Red Sunflower is also quite nutty with a subtle spiciness from red pepper chili.

They come in a handy four-pack.

They come in a handy four-pack. (photo by Carolyn Jung)

A four-pack (one of each variety) is $67.99. You can give the entire pack to someone or break it up and gift one or two to someone while keeping the rest for yourself. Best yet, through the end of this year, 10 percent of proceeds from each four-pack to SF Fights Fire, a grass-roots chefs effort to provide food and services to North Bay Fire Rescue Centers in the aftermath of the Wine Country fires. Just enter the code at check-out: Enter Code: SFFF.

“Moto: The Cookbook”

I will go on record as saying that it’s a good bet that I will likely never cook anything from the new “Moto: the Cookbook” (Little, Brown and Company, $50) by Homaro Cantu. Yet when a review copy arrived in my mail, I couldn’t stop reading it or stop staring at the photos of its phantasmagorical dishes or being in awe at the mind that came up with it all.

MotoCookbook

Cantu, a former sous chef at Charlie Trotter’s, was the visionary behind the ground-breaking Moto in Chicago, which opened in 2004. Sadly, he took his own life in 2015. The restaurant continued on without him for almost a year before his widow sold it to the Alinea Group.

But not before it made an indelible mark on the food industry.

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Take Your Taste Buds On A Ride with WildMule

The newest libation from Dan Gordon.

The newest libation from Dan Gordon.

 

What beverage tastes like an apple cake loaded with crystallized ginger?

The new WildMule by Dan Gordon of Gordon-Biersch beer fame.

A year and a half ago, the San Jose-based master brewmeister debuted his Wildcide hard apple cider, a hard cider made of just yeast, and the just-pressed juice from Oregon-grown Fuji, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious and Red Delicious apples.

Now, he’s brought out a riff on that: WildMule, which takes his Wildcide and blends it with pure cane sugar syrup, lime juice, and Peruvian ginger juice. It’s his take on a Moscow Mule.

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Paella 101 At Duende

Chef Paul Canales holding his finished squid ink paella at Duende.

Chef Paul Canales holding his finished squid ink paella at Duende.

 

Last week, I got a lesson in paella-making from the source: Chef-Owner Paul Canales of the Duende in Oakland.

And what a delicious and inspired one it was.

After all, the Uptown restaurant is all about Spanish and Basque food spotlighting the best of Northern California’s bounty. Duende features four paellas on the menu, including the very popular Arroz Negro, made with squid ink for an unmistakable bold color.

Along with a handful of other food writers, I crowded into the restaurant kitchen to watch Canales demonstrate that dish. The Moors brought rice to Spain, he explained, and paellas first gained popularity in the 1840s in and around Valencia. Canales’ father is of Basque heritage, a region that didn’t necessarily specialize in risotto. But it’s a specialty Canales has long loved, and studied, having traveled throughout Spain.

Paella can be made with various Spanish rices, as well as short or broken Spanish pasta.

Paella can be made with various Spanish rices, as well as short or broken Spanish pasta.

Saffron from northern Iran.

Saffron from northern Iran.

Like Italian risotto, it’s a dish that’s really all about the rice, with the toppings accentuating it, but not smothering it.

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A Swank Evening at The Saratoga

A taste of old and new at The Saratoga in San Francisco.

A taste of old and new at The Saratoga in San Francisco.

 

Even though it opened in November, The Saratoga feels like it’s been a part of San Francisco for years — which I think is one of the greatest compliments you can bestow upon a bar-restaurant.

The newest establishment by the Bacchus Management Group is housed in a 1907 building in the Tendernob neighborhood that was once a hotel. The original brick in the interior was exposed in the renovation, as were its striking steel beam trusses. The effect is a modish industrial look that’s also timeless — old-school San Francisco spit and polished. I had a chance to check it out on a recent packed Saturday night, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.

A wide staircase sits almost in the center of the two-story establishment, making for rather tight quarters between tables. A dramatic steel and crystal chandelier of cascading sparkling hoops dangles from the ceiling into the stairwell, doubling as a sculptural art piece. Tables are set around the stairwell, both on the main floor and the one below. A massive bar with shelves of liquor lighted from below is the focal point of the first floor. There’s also a second bar downstairs. If you need to use the restroom, you’ll have to go downstairs and thread your way gingerly past all the people standing at the bar or sitting at the nearby tables.

The incredible chandelier.

The incredible chandelier.

A touch of neon in the dining room.

A touch of neon in the dining room.

The Saratoga has that glam yet illicit feel the moment you step in the doors, owing to the quite dim lighting that’s broken up only by that showstopping chandelier and the small candle on each table. Mine was definitely not the only table pulling out a cell phone to use as a flashlight to read the menu. The darkness provides a certain edgy moodiness, but it also makes it hard to really see the food on your plate in detail. And that’s kind of a shame because the food is so playful and inviting here.

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