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.
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.
Pretty in white.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA — After five years of drought, the snow was back and the waterfalls gushing like crazy this winter in this spectacular national park (click on the Instagram video below).
The Ahwahnee may now be known as the Majestic Yosemite (because its former concessionaire Delaware North claims it owns the park’s historic names after trademarking them); and the former “Chefs’ Holidays” event is now referred to as “Taste of Yosemite.” But no matter what you call it, a bevy of stellar chefs were more than happy to be back for this 32nd year, and yours truly was once again the moderator for the two closing sessions of this annual gourmet event.
Every year, I get a chance to meet newcomers who are not only attending their first gala dinner event here, but visiting the park for the very first time, too. That’s coupled with regulars, some of whom have been attending this glorious event for more than seven years.
Each sessions features three chefs or gourmet purveyors who each do a cooking demo. There’s a wine reception where you can mingle with the chefs. And every session ends with a gala five-course dinner prepared by one of the visiting chefs.
Chef Matt Accarrino of SPQR makes gnocchi in the Google kitchen. (Photo courtesy of Google)
How did New Orleans’ Emeril Lagasse influence Chef Matt Accarrino’s career? And just what does this “Food & Wine Best New Chef 2014” winner think of restaurants that don’t make any of their own pasta?
Take a listen as Accarino of the celebrated SPQR in San Francisco answers these questions and more when he joined me in the teaching kitchen at Google headquarters in Mountain View a few weeks ago for a very special event.
Accarrino and yours truly laughing it up in the kitchen. (Photo by Craig Lee)
The occasion was a cooking demo in conjunction with my cookbook, “San Francisco Chef’s Table” (Lyons Press), to which Accarrino contributed a recipe.
Yours truly, interviewing Pastry Chef Bill Corbett, at Google headquarters. (Photo courtesy of Google)
It’s not every day you get to visit Google headquarters in Mountain View.
But a few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be asked to do an event there with Pastry Chef Bill Corbett of Absinthe Brasserie & Bar at San Francisco.
Corbett is one of the more than 50 chefs featured in my cookbook, “San Francisco Chef’s Table” (Lyons Press).
Joel Riddell (Photo courtesy of KGO Radio)
Yours truly was honored to be a guest this past Saturday on “Dining Around with Joel” on KKSF 910AM.
It’s always a laugh-a-palooza with host extraordinaire Joel Riddell, who makes it all too easy to chit-chat, especially when the topic is food.
We talk about my debut cookbook, “San Francisco Chef’s Table” (Lyons Press), how it came about, the challenges involved in getting it done, how the restaurants featured were chosen, and what it was like to corral so many chefs into one project.