Fried Chicken Debuts At Duende

Fried chicken with corn on the cobb -- Basque-Japanese-style at Duende.

Fried chicken with corn on the cobb — Basque-Japanese-style at Duende.

 

When you hear that Duende in Oakland just put fried chicken on the menu, you might scratch your head for a moment, thinking how is that a Spanish dish?

Turns out it is.

In the land of paella, gazpacho and croquettes, fried chicken definitely has its place. That’s what I learned last week, when I was invited as a guest of the restaurant with other media to try the new offering.

As Chef-Owner Paul Canales explains, his father, who is of Basque heritage, would often fry chicken in olive oil in the morning, then let it sit out to cool to room temperature before the family ate it, garnished with a squeeze of lemon, for an early dinner, hours later.

Chef-Owner Paul Canales in the kitchen.

Chef-Owner Paul Canales in the kitchen.

Canales was inspired to put his version of fried chicken on the menu when an employee brought in some take-out Japanese karaage for staff meal. Canales considers the Japanese-style fried chicken the gold standard for fried chicken because of its light yet shatteringly crisp exterior.

After experimenting, he came up with a rendition that marries Japanese and Spanish sensibilities in one superlative crunchy bite.

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All Rise For Cheesecake Souffle

Presenting the souffle cheesecake with a Wine Country garnish.

Presenting the souffle cheesecake with a Wine Country garnish.

 

Japanese pancakes and cheesecake are having a lofty moment.

Their poofy, airy stature, as if they’ve just been inflated with a pump of helium, can’t help but be attention grabbers.

I’ve fallen under their spell, too. So how could I resist trying my hand at the recipe for “Cheesecake Souffle with Roasted Grape & Vanilla Gastrique”?

It’s from the lush, coffee-table-sized cookbook by Jackson Family Wines: “Season: Wine Country Food, Farming, & Friends” (Cameron & Company, 2018), of which I received a review copy.

The cookbook, which recently won a “Cookbook of the Year” award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals, was written by Justin Wranger, executive chef of Jackson Family Wines; and Tracey Shepos Cenami, chef de cuisine of the wine company; with Tucker Taylor, director of culinary gardens at Jackson Family Wines (whom if you follow on Facebook or Instagram know posts some of the most beautifully vivid photos of fruits, vegetables and herbs that you’ll ever see).

Season Jackson Family Cookbook

Jackson Family Wines is one of the largest wine producers in the world, with a portfolio of 40 brands in California, Oregon and across the world.

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Aloha to Maui-Style Kalbi Short Ribs

A feast of grilled Maui-style Korean ribs makes summer entertaining a breeze.

A feast of grilled Maui-style Korean ribs makes summer entertaining a breeze.

 

When I bite down on these sweet, gingery, soy-infused, toothsome short ribs, I practically feel the tropical sun on my face and the warm white sand between my toes.

“Maui-Style Kalbi Short Ribs” will do that to you.

It’s a taste of Hawaii — in your own home.

The recipe is from the new cookbook, “Aloha Kitchen: Recipes from Hawai’i” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. Maui native Alana Kysar, who blogs at Fix Feast Flair, may live in Los Angeles now. But a large part of her heart — and stomach — are clearly still in Hawaii.

Aloha Kitchen

The cookbook is a loving look at some of the most iconic Hawaiian home-style dishes, the ones you queue up for at food trucks or Hawaiian plate-lunch spots, or look forward to most if you’re lucky enough to be invited to a local’s backyard family feast. Turn the pages and feast on everything from “Soy-Glazed Spam Musubi” and “Loco Moco” to “Ginger Misoyaki Butterfish” and “Double-Chocolate Haupia Pie” and prepare to get very hungry.

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Sneak Peak Taste of Midsummer At Plaj

"Wine & Flowers'' cocktail on the new midsummer menu at Plaj.

“Wine & Flowers” cocktail on the new midsummer menu at Plaj.

 

In Scandinavia, midsummer begins June 22. And it’s a very big deal.

After a long, harsh winter of darkness with a mere four hours of light per day if you’re lucky, Scandinavian residents get rather giddy when summer approaches. Can you blame them?

Swedish-born Chef-Owner Roberth Sundell offers up a taste of that exuberance from his home country by presenting a special midsummer menu at his Plaj restaurant in San Francisco.

Located inside the boutique Inn at the Opera hotel, Sundell opened the restaurant in 2012 with his wife Andrea to showcase modern Scandinavian cuisine with California influences. They followed that up in 2017 with the fast-casual Stockhome in Petaluma.

Plaj is a phonetic spelling of the word “play.” And that’s just what the couple wants you to do when you visit this intimate dining room.

The bar.

The bar.

The dining area beside it.

The dining area beside it.

Recently, I was invited along with other media to try some of the offerings on the new midsummer menu, which will be available June 19-25.

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The Wonder of Miso Brown Butter and Crispy Sage Pasta

A simple pasta with a big, bold taste. And it's vegetarian.

A simple pasta with a big, bold taste. And it’s vegetarian.

 

When I was a tot, as both my parents went off to work, my older brother would walk me a couple blocks away to the babysitter’s every weekday morning before he trotted off to school.

I didn’t always go gladly.

But what soothed me every time was lunch.

It was the same thing every single day, by my own choice — a bowl of Chinese wheat noodles, boiled until toothsome, then dumped into a bowl before being stirred up with a couple glugs of oyster sauce right out of the bottle.

Even then, a mountain of umami-packed noodles had the power to make everything seem right in the world.

One forkful of “Miso Brown Butter and Crispy Sage Pasta” was all it took to send me back to those childhood days.

Family Cookbook

It’s from the new cookbook “Family: New Vegetarian Comfort Food to Nourish Every Day” (Prestel), of which I received a review copy. Written by food writer and cook Hetty McKinnon, it’s filled with vibrant vegetarian fare that I found a lot more imaginative than many books in this genre.

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