Stumping for Stumpy’s

Tots and bacon-wrapped dog at Stumpy's.

Tots and bacon-wrapped dog at Stumpy’s.

 

Over the years, Chef Jim Stump has run many restaurants in the South Bay.

Stumpy’s is his tiniest.

The veteran chef and restaurateur, who helped founded the Los Gatos Brewing Company, now draws in the crowds at The Table in San Jose’s Willow Glen neighborhood and his just-opened Campbell bar, The Vesper. Coming soon will be his seafood restaurant, Forthright in Campbell.

In 2014, he opened Stumpy’s hot dog and burger joint on Willow Glen’s well-trafficked Lincoln Avenue. It’s a slip of a place, with just enough room to order your food at the counter and load up on a few condiments at the back station.

Order the food inside; pick it up outside at the window.

Order the food inside; pick it up outside at the window.

When your order is ready, you pick it up at the window outside. There’s really no place to eat inside Stumpy’s. But the old movie theater next door has a few patio tables set up so you can enjoy your food there. Or you can opt to get it to-go and take it home, as I did when I paid my own tab there recently.

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It’s Easy Being — (And Making) — Green Risotto

A bright-green risotto -- that you barely have to stir.

A bright-green risotto — that you barely have to stir.

 

I admit I was dubious. I was skeptical. I was bordering on being a non-believer.

Could one really make perfect risotto on the stove-top by pouring a load of stock into a pan with the rice, turning the heat down to the lowest possible setting, then leaving it pretty much alone except to stir it twice? Yes, twice.

Pshaw.

But I should have never doubted J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.

After all, he’s the man. He’s so meticulous and precise that he’s like a one-man Cook’s Illustrated test kitchen (where he used to work, by the way). The San Francisco-based managing culinary director of Serious Eats, Lopez-Alt is a restaurant-trained chef and the author of the “Food Lab” column, as well as a regular columnist for Cooking Light magazine.

TheFoodLabBook

His new book, “The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science” (W.W. Norton & Company), of which I received a review copy, is a must-have on your shelf. In fact, this past Sunday, it was named “Cookbook of the Year” by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

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A Chocolate Bar With An Unusual Ingredient

A new chocolate bar that uses Coffee Flour. And yes, that's a mound of Coffee Flour on the plate.

A new chocolate bar that uses Coffee Flour. And yes, that’s a mound of Coffee Flour on the plate.

 

Jcoco’s newest chocolate bar tastes of cherries.

Yet there are no actual cherries in it.

Instead, its fruity taste comes from discarded coffee waste, otherwise known as the pulp leftover when a coffee bean is extracted from its fruit.

Canadian company Coffee Flour, which has offices in Redwood City, started working with coffee farmers five years ago to turn coffee waste into a type of gluten-free flour. Now, food manufacturers are starting to use coffee waste in new products like this chocolate bar.

Coffee flour has more iron per gram than spinach, more fiber than whole wheat flour, more protein than kale, and more potassium than a banana.

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Giddy Over Cassia In Santa Monica

The Asian charcuterie platter at Cassia.

The Asian charcuterie platter at Cassia.

 

SANTA MONICA — When my friend and talented cookbook author Andrea Nguyen raves about a place, I know I have to try it.

When Pulitzer Prize-winning food writer Jonathan Gold deems the food “brilliant,” I know I’m in for something extraordinary.

Indeed, that’s how superlative Cassia in Santa Monica is.

This expansive restaurant is run by Chef Bryant Ng, who has cooked with Daniel Boulud and Roland Passot, and counts Nancy Silverton as a mentor.

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Fill’er Up in Los Angeles

How pretty is this lemon cake from Sycamore Kitchen?

How pretty is this lemon cake from Sycamore Kitchen?

Sycamore Kitchen

Sure, they serve lunch, but I was there for the baked goods. But of course.

Husband and wife owners Quinn and Karen Hatfield cooked for a spell in San Francisco, before departing for Los Angeles to open Hatfield’s. In 2012, they also opened the Sycamore Kitchen, an urban cafe and bakery with a large outdoor patio.

Karen is a long-time pastry chef, so it’s no surprise that the pastries excel here.

How good are they?

Let’s start with the buttercup ($3.50), the renamed version of a kougin-amann. It’s buttery alright. It’s also the closest kouign-amann I’ve found to that of Belinda Leong’s of B. Patisserie in San Francisco and John Shelsta’s of Howie’s Artisan Pizzeria in Redwood City (he trained with Leong). It’s golden and crisp, with airy layers that are just a smidge heavier in texture than Leong’s and Shelsta’s versions. It’s a dream to nibble on.

The buttercup (kouign-amann).

The buttercup (kouign-amann).

Yes, this is a babka.

Yup, this is a babka.

Then there are the cookies. At first glance, they look incredibly flat and thin — almost as if they were a mistake. But take a bite of the rice crispy cookie ($2.50) and the oatmeal toffee cookie ($2.25) and you know they were baked with purpose. The thinness means they are somehow crisp and chewy through and through. Brilliant.

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