Real-Deal Italian Food at Ca’ Momi

Ca' Momi holds three certifications for authentic Italian pizza.

Ca’ Momi holds three certifications for authentic Italian pizza.

 

Veneto-born Chef-Restaurateur Valentina Guolo-Migotto proudly says that when Italians dine at her Napa restaurant, Ca’ Momi, they tell her the food is better than what’s in Italy.

That pleases her to no end.

It’s easy to agree heartily after eating there, too, as I did earlier this spring when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant.

This is one of those places, where you want to shout to the rafters, “Where have you been all my life?”

Because it is that glorious.

It is a touch of Italy — the real Italy — in the Napa Valley.

The fun bar, well stocked with Italian amaro.

The fun bar, well stocked with Italian amaro.

It's always "movie night'' here.

It’s always “movie night” here.

The rustic downtown restaurant makes most everything in-house, even its own wines, beer, vodka and gin. They’re also experimenting with making amaro, the bitter Italian herbal spirit, of which they have a large selection to choose from.

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Asparagus in Coconut Cream Sauce

Enjoy asparagus in a velvety coconut sauce with lemongrass and garlic.

Enjoy asparagus in a velvety coconut sauce with lemongrass and garlic.

 

The countdown is upon us for the impending end of asparagus season.

Sigh.

So there’s no time like now to make this super easy asparagus dish.

“Asparagus in Coconut Cream Sauce” is from the new “Farm to Table Asian Secrets: Vegan & Vegetarian Full-Flavored Recipes for Every Season” (Tuttle), of which I received a review copy. It’s by food writer Patricia Tanumihardja, who was born in Indonesia and lived in Singapore before moving to the United States.

The book is full of inspired recipes that showcase the bounty available each season at the market. Try your hand at everything from “Vegetable Soup with Rhubarb” to “Vietnamese  Noodle Salad Bowls” to Tofu, Spinach and Fennel Wontons.” There’s also a helpful guide (with photos) about Asian herbs and pantry ingredients that will aid you in finding them at an Asian or international market.

FarmToTableAsianSecrets

Asparagus spears are simmered in a sauce of coconut milk, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, and chili paste. It’s seasoned with a dash of soy sauce, but fish sauce would also work. As the sauce cooks, it thickens to coat the asparagus spears. Velvety, citrusy and just a little spicy, it’s made for spooning over a mound of fluffy steamed rice.

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San Jose Welcomes Northern California’s First Jinya Ramen Bar

Jinya Ramen Bar is the newest ramen joint to open in the South Bay.

Jinya Ramen Bar is the newest ramen joint to open in the South Bay.

 

Broths made with Fuji water for purity of flavor, and simmered for 10 hours. Noodles aged for three days in-house. Plus a modern spin on ingredient combinations.

That’s what Jinya Ramen Bar is all about.

With more than 20 locations in the United States and Canada, the first Northern California one opened in February at Westfield Oakridge Center in San Jose. A second Bay Area outpost, this one in Pleasanton, is expected to open shortly.

Japanese restaurateur Tomonori Takahashi opened the first Jinya, which is named for a Samurai soldier, in Studio City in 2010.

Husband-and-wife team Alan Vu and Tracy Than own and operate the San Jose one. The former Silicon Valley engineers are franchise veterans, having owned Mrs. Fields cookies and Popeyes chicken ones in the past. Ramen is decidedly harder, they told me when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant recently, because of the larger, more complex menu.

The kitchen crew at dinner time.

The kitchen crew at dinner time.

Bowls to be filled.

Bowls to be filled.

The kitchen takes up much of the indoor space, with small tables centered around it. Two outdoor seating areas, one of them covered, expands the restaurant’s capabilities.

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A Big Bad Breakfast for Mother’s Day

Fluffy, oat-fortified pancakes to greet the day.

Fluffy, oat-fortified pancakes to greet the day.

 

When I was growing up, my oldest brother and I would often wake up early on Sundays to stir up a big bowl of batter for waffles for the entire family.

Nowadays, with my husband’s predilection, it’s pancakes all the way.

Are you Team Waffle? Or Team Pancake?

It’s funny how most households seem to favor one or the other.

“Toasted Oatmeal Pancakes” might just satisfy both camps. That’s because of the toasted steel-cut oats that not only fortify the batter, but get sprinkled on as each pancake cooks, lending bits of crunch here and there like the edges of a waffle might.

The recipe is from “Big Bad Breakfast: The Most Important Book of the Day” (Ten Speed Press, 2016) by John Currence, the James Beard Award-winning chef who owns Big Bad Breakfast in Alabama. You might also know him from his appearances on “No Reservations,” “Mind of A Chef,” and “Top Chef Masters.”

BigBadBreakfastBook

Of course in this case, the operative word “bad” really means “good.” This is breakfast done boldly, with plenty of excess. Among Currence’s “Ten Commandments of Breakfast” is “Thou shalt slather with butter,” and “Though shalt hold no meal higher than breakfast.”

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Dolce Delizioso — Loacker Wafer Cookies

Loacker's Classic Chocolate.

Loacker’s Classic Chocolate.

 

It’s not often that I eat mass-produced, grocery-store cookies, preferring instead to visit an honest-go-goodness neighborhood bakery for just-baked treats. But I do make exceptions for Australian Tim Tams, and French La Mere Poulard butter cookies.

I don’t know what it is about foreign packaged cookies, but they are pretty irresistible.

Now comes Loacker wafer cookies.

First created by the Loacker family in the Italian Alps, and now manufactured in Austria, these multi-layered cookies are now more readily available in the United States. They have been made for more than 90 years, and are already sold in more than 80 countries.

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