Oakland-Made Santipapas Salsas Tickle the Palate

Santipapas salsas made right here in Oakland.

Santipapas salsas made right here in Oakland.

 

As a registered nurse, Mark Sorenson definitely knows how to soothe the ailing.

Now as a salsa entrepreneur, he’s proving he knows how to perk up the taste buds, too.

What started as a hobby has now turned into a full-fledged business. His Oakland-made Santipapas salsas are now available at the Pasta Shop in Oakland and Berkeley, the Alameda Natural Grocery store in Alameda, Bi-Rite Markets in San Francisco, Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco, and others.

The salsas will soon be in Northern California Whole Foods stores. Sorenson will start direct online sales in June, too.

The company’s name was inspired by Santiago Papasquiaro in the state of Durango. Nicknamed “Santipapas,” it is the town where his mother hails from.

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The Progress Report

Who would have ever imagined kiwi and ricotta would make such a magical dish?

Who would have ever imagined kiwi and ricotta would make such a magical dish?

 

How do you follow-up a smash-hit restaurant that proved a game-changer in the dining world?

If you’re Chef-Owners Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski of the red-hot, James Beard Award-winning State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, you do it with The Progress, which opened next door in December.

The Progress was originally going to be the couple’s first restaurant. But when they realized the extensive renovations the former movie house and century-old building would require, they wisely decided to open the smaller State Bird Provisions first in 2012.

That restaurant brought to bear the age-old concept of dim sum-style service to an eclectic array of global small plates — a concept now copied by others on the heels of State Bird’s success.

An overhead view from the mezzanine.

An overhead view from the mezzanine.

The open kitchen at the back of The Progress.

The open kitchen at the back of The Progress.

Whereas State Bird grabs hold of your attention by parading the majority of its dishes out into the dining room on carts or trays for you to see before you choose what to eat, The Progress is wrapped in a little more mystery and requires a peaceful consensus among your table mates.

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Scenes From GourmetFest 2015 in Carmel

Lobster with Champagne sabayon, pickled seaweed and beach rose hips puree by Francis Wolf of Le Hatley Restaurant at Manor Hovey, as presented at GourmetFest.

Lobster with Champagne sabayon, pickled seaweed and beach rose hips puree by Francis Wolf of Le Hatley Restaurant at Manor Hovey, as presented at GourmetFest.

 

Tranquil Carmel-by-the-Sea was abuzz over the weekend, as some of the most extraordinary chefs in the world descended upon this little hamlet for the second annual CarmelFest.

They included Oliver Roellinger of Breton, who unceremoniously gave back his three Michelin stars at his Maisons de Bricort, because he said he could not physically cook at that demanding level any more; and the legendary Michel Bras, whose Restaurant Bras in Laguiole has famously held three Michelin stars since 1999.

The intimate affair spanned three days and included cooking demos, exclusive wine tastings and gala dinners at LaPlaya Carmel, L’Auberge Carmel and a new private events space downtown.

The incomparable Chef Michel Bras (left) is assisted in plating a dish for the "Taste of France'' lunch.

The incomparable Chef Michel Bras (left) is assisted in plating a dish for the “Taste of France” lunch.

Bras with Chef Olivier Roellinger (right).

Bras with Chef Olivier Roellinger (right).

I was fortunate to be invited as a guest. You can tell how special this event was if even Chef David Kinch of Manresa in Los Gatos and Chef Guillaume Bienaimie of Zola in Palo Alto were lured away from their restaurants just to be guests at the “Taste of France” lunch that Bras cooked with Roellinger.

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Join the Food Gal and the Chef of Zola for a Cooking Demo at Macy’s

MacysZola

Have you dined at the wonderful new Zola restaurant in downtown Palo Alto, which has been garnering rave reviews?

If not, you can get a taste of its comforting French-California cuisine when its chef-owner, Guillaume Bienaime, joins me for a cooking demo at 2 p.m. March 14 at Macy’s Valley Fair.

Bienaime opened Zola late last summer. After years of cooking at fine-dining restaurants, including Marche in Menlo Park, he wanted to create a more personal venue with food that spoke to his heritage and used the best local ingredients.

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A Lemon Tart For When You’re Feeling Lazy

You can be a bit of a lazy bone when making this tart. Just a little.

You can be a bit of a lazy bone when making this tart. Just a little.

 

Have you ever rolled a vacuum cleaner over and over and over a dust ball on the carpet, knowing full well if you just bent over to pick it up with your fingers, it would be a whole lot quicker?

Oh yeah, been there, done that. I bet you have, too.

“Lazy Mary’s Lemon Tart” is made for times like that — when you’re feeling lazy. But only a tad.

After all, you still have to put the tart together and bake it.

But it does have an ingenious step-saver when it comes to making the filling. It’s all blitzed in a blender. That includes an entire Meyer lemon. Yup, rind, seeds and all. The whole kit and caboodle.

The recipe appeared in Food & Wine magazine’s January 2015 issue. The recipe is by Mary Constant, a Food52 member and winemaker of Napa’s Constant Diamond Mountain Winery, who adapted the crust from the “The Joy of Cooking.”

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