Chef Dave Cruz cooking a whole lamb at his pop-up event.
After leaving Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville, where he was head chef for seven years, Dave Cruz has some big plans of his own.
Look for Cruz to open his own restaurant late this year or sometime next year. He’s been scouting locations in Napa to open Miles Restaurant, a casual spot serving brilliant but unpretentious food, the kind of grub chefs like to eat on their days off.
The name references his son’s middle name, he says. But it also speaks of the local “miles” from the restaurant that he will source his ingredients, as well as how diners are more than willing to travel miles and miles to the Napa Valley for a great meal.
If his recent pop-up lamb roast is any indication, his food is sure to continue to lure folks from all over.
Dinner is served.
A little over a week ago, I was invited to be a guest at his pop-up at The Trappist in Oakland. When I got there, Cruz was manning a large grill set up in the gastropub’s back courtyard. For $25 per person, you got a plate full of juicy, tender lamb that had been rubbed in aleppo, paprika and espelette, along with herb-mustard potato salad, and chili-lime corn on the cob.
Moist from buttermilk and shredded coconut, these blondies won’t even make you miss the chocolate.
When my Dad was still alive, he loved nothing more than embarking on cruises with my Mom.
He’d return from sailing around places like the Hawaiian islands with a scrapbook full of photos.
Of their room on the ship. Of the breakfast buffet on the ship. Of the fancy dinners on the ship. And of the midnight snacks on the ship.
I used to laugh, wondering if they’d ever stepped foot off the ship at all.
That’s why if he were still alive this Father’s Day, I’d bake him a batch of “Buttermilk Coconut Blondies.”
These oh-so chewy-good bars taste of the tropics, what with its generous load of shredded coconut. I couldn’t help but add a heap of macadamia nuts to the original recipe, too.
The blondies are from the new cookbook, “The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook” (Andrews McMeel), of which I received a review copy. The book has quite the pedigree, too. It’s by Diane St. Clair who started supplying the French Laundry with its ultra-rich butter when she had all of two cows. Her Animal Farm in Vermont continues to do so today — with eight cows.
For the Discriminating Chocoholic
IfOnly.com may have created the ultimate chocolate box for big-time foodies.
The e-commerce site asked 10 Bay Area Michelin-starred chefs to create a chocolate bonbon for this special box just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Take a gander at the stellar chefs and their pastry chefs who contributed to the Constellation Chocolate Collection:
Thomas Keller Gift Selections
If you have a spendy budget and a discriminating foodie friend to shop for this holiday season, look no further than Chef Thomas Keller’s new holiday offerings.
First up, the “Bochon Bistro Chocolate Tart & Wine Port Gift Set” ($250), which provides everything you need to recreate the bakery’s famous chocolate tart, including a limited edition bottle of Meyer Family Port Wine.
Next, the “French Laundry Sparkling Wine & Caviar Gift Set” ($1,000), which includes a 2-ounce serving of Sterling White Sturgeon Caviar, a 375ml bottle of Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc Chardonnay-based Brut sparkling wine, and a buckwheat blini mix prepared by The French Laundry kitchen, as well as two mother of pearl caviar spoons for serving.
Imagine a muffin that’s moist through and through, tender and fluffy rather than dense, filled with plump blueberries, and crowned with a majestic halo of crunchy, nutty streusel.
Leave it to one of the world’s best chefs, Thomas Keller, to elevate the humble blueberry muffin to a work of art.
I’ve had these many a time at his Bouchon Bakery in Yountville.
But with the publication of his “Bouchon Bakery” (Artisan) with his Executive Pastry Chef Sebastien Rouxel of the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, I can now make them happily at home. The cookbook, of which I recently received a review copy, includes 150 recipes for pastries and breads. Some like the Pear Feuilletes, made with homemade puff pastry, are geared to the more skilled baker. But there are plenty of others such as the Chocolate Chunk and Chip Cookies that novice bakers will embrace.
The “Blueberry Muffins” are quite simple, too. Keller writes in the book that the key to a great muffin is resting the batter overnight in the refrigerator. This allows the flour to absorb all the liquid, resulting in a very moist muffin. Plus if you make it the day before, it’s all set to go for baking in the morning. What a way to wake up.