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.
Under glass — white seaweed salad at Khai.
With the exception of sushi, we’ve become so accustomed to cheap Asian food in heaping quantities, that we fairly balk when we come across an Asian restaurant daring to focus on premium ingredients, handled with precision, and plated with finesse and restraint.
Khai, which opened in December in San Francisco’s Design District, is a modern Vietnamese restaurant that serves only one menu — a 10-course tasting for $95. If your eyes are already rolling back in their sockets at the thought of just how much food you could get for that price at your neighborhood pho joint, you are missing the point. Because at $95, this dinner experience is a relative bargain as far as tasting menus go in the Bay Area.
For a dozen years, Chef Khai Duong oversaw Ana Mandara in San Francisco. After it closed, he traveled around Asia, reconnecting with his roots. He even won a gold medal in the International Beijing Culinary Competition, besting 200 other chefs.
At 58, he opened a very personal restaurant.
A candle illuminates each table.
He always knew he wanted to come back to San Francisco, though, to open something unique. At age 58, he did just that.
A Jell-O for adults only.
When sommeliers and Champagne producers admonish people to drink bubbly more often rather than just for the most special of occasions, they probably didn’t have this in mind.
In fact, when a publicist sent me a sample of the Taittinger Prestige Rosé, I was almost afraid of telling her how I planned to enjoy it.
Yes, in a grown-up version of Jell-O.
But when I spied the beautiful and super easy recipe in the new “Tartine All Day: Modern Recipes For The Home Cook” (Lorena Jones Books/Ten Speed Press), I couldn’t hep but want to try it.
The cookbook, of which I received a review copy, is by Elisabeth Prueitt, co-founder with her husband Chad Robertson of San Francisco’s beloved Tartine Bakery and Tartine Manufactory.
San Jose native Chef Ryan Ellison has cooked his way across the Bay Area from Oakland’s Oliveto to Santana Row’s LB Steak to Portola Kitchen in Portola Valley, as well as in Hawaii at the Canoe House on the Big Island.
Now the executive chef of the Fairmont San Jose, he’ll show off his moxie in the kitchen when he joins me for a cooking demo, 2 p.m. June 11 at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara.
Enjoy soft serve and a whole lot more at Handline.
Sebastopol, CA — On a summery day in this Wine Country town, there’s no better place to plant yourself than at a table at Handline, the sunny restaurant that opened last year in an old Foster’s Freeze.
Restaurateur Lowell Sheldon and his girlfriend Chef Natalie Goble also operate the decade-old Peter Lowell’s nearby. I was invited earlier this spring to be a guest at both of the restaurants.
You’ll almost always find a crowd at this breezy restaurant, which has plenty of outdoor seating and windows that open completely to let the outdoors in. Order at the counter, then find a table, where your food will be brought to you.
The small parking lot fills up fast, so go early, if you can.
The fun interior.
It specializes in California coastal cuisine. Much of the produce at both their restaurants is sourced from their own farm, which grows everything from tomatoes to squashes to kiwis. Goble learned the art of tortilla-making from the folks at El Molina Central in Boyes Hot Springs. Like them, she also starts with masa made from scratch, which makes all the difference in bringing out the true corn flavor.