Discover Kinako Ice Cream

Ice cream flavored with a toasty tasting Japanese product.

Ice cream flavored with a toasty tasting Japanese product.

 

When my husband heads to the store to buy ice cream, I just roll my eyes.

Because he always gets the same flavor, no matter what.

In a world of Chunky Monkey, Tin Roof, strawberry cheesecake, Vietnamese coffee and more, he reaches for vanilla. Every single time.

Oh, he’ll tell me that he might get something different this time.

But of course, he never does.

So I am left to my own devices — to make my own. And in my mind, the more distinctive, the better.

ThePerfectScoop

That’s why when “The Perfect Scoop” (Ten Speed Press) was revised and updated recently, I couldn’t wait to pore through my review copy. The original frozen desserts bible by food writer and popular blogger David Lebovitz, who worked at Chez Panisse for a dozen years, was published a decade ago — when I didn’t yet own an ice cream machine. This time around, I was ready. Boy, was I, to make something creamy smooth and unique.

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Parcel 104 Celebrates Its 17th Year

Not to big, not to small, but just right citrus tart by Pastry Chef Carlos Sanchez.

Not to big, not to small, but just right citrus tart by Pastry Chef Carlos Sanchez.

 

To help celebrate Parcel 104’s 17th anniversary this year, the restaurant in the Santa Clara Marriott near Levi’s Stadium last week reunited founder Chef Bradley Ogden with the team there for a special Cakebread Cellars wine dinner last week, which I was invited to as a guest.

The festivities will continue, as the restaurant is offering a $35 three-course lunch through July 31 with appetizers by Ogden, entrees by Executive Chef Sergio Morales, and desserts by Pastry Chef Carlos Sanchez.

Ogden, who practiced farm-to-table long before it became part and parcel of the Bay Area lexicon, is now working and living in Lodi’s wine country, as culinary director at the Wine & Roses resort.

Chefs Bradley Ogden (left) and Sergio Morales, (right).

Chefs Bradley Ogden (left) and Sergio Morales, (right).

Sanchez has been with Parcel 104 since day one. Born in Columbia, he has staged and worked with Juan-Mari and daughter Elena Arzak at Arzak in San Sebastian, Spain, as well as Pastry Chef Jordi Roca of El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, two of the greatest restaurants in the world. Over the years, Sanchez has become known for his dainty-sized desserts, often served in trios, that are perfection personified.

Cakebread Cellars' wines matched to each course.

Cakebread Cellars’ wines matched to each course.

Morales was supposed to be a lawyer like his father. In fact, he attended Santa Clara University’s law school for a year and a half before leaving to follow his passion of cooking. He graduated from the Professional Culinary Institute in Campbell, now known as the International Culinary Center. His Dad first feared that he’d end up being a short-order cook, flipping burgers for the rest of his life. But now, his father couldn’t be prouder of his son working his way up from a cook to head chef here.

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A Taste of the Seasons at Danville Harvest

Lamb with carrot puree at Danville Harvest.

Lamb with carrot puree at Danville Harvest.

 

For those who have never been to downtown Danville — and I count myself in that group until a couple weeks ago — it’s high-time to explore this sunny town in the San Ramon Valley. Picture a larger downtown Los Gatos, and you get the idea of how cute and inviting this area is.

Danville Harvest is a perfect place to stop in for a bite to eat, too. With its interior barn doors, library ladders, pewter light fixtures, walls of white subway tiles, displays of old farm tools and antique bottles, and gray tufted leather booths set off by billowy, printed drapes, it’s a Chip-and-Joanna-Gaines rustic-chic interior come to life. Yes, I watch too much “Fixer Upper” on HGTV. But this space is definitely done up in that comfortable-chic style we all can’t get enough of.

Chef Tim Humphrey.

Chef Tim Humphrey.

The servers dress in cute gingham shirts. Old glass pane windows front the kitchen to give a glimpse into all the action. And there’s plenty of outdoor seating with a fire pit and strings of lights overhead.

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Not One, Not Two, But Three Cheese and Tomato Muffins

Cheesy muffins to fall for.

Cheesy muffins to fall for.

 

Is there anything better than ooey-gooey cheese, all melty and molten with bits that have caramelized and hardened to a lacy crisp?

These savory muffins have all that and more going on.

“Three Cheese and Tomato Muffins” are loaded with cheese, pesto and sun-dried tomatoes.

The recipe is from the new “The Modern Dairy” (Kyle Books) by chef and food writer Annie Bell.

TheModernDairy

It’s definitely not a book for those who are lactose intolerant, as its 100 recipes celebrate milk, cream, yogurt, cheese and butter. Learn how to make everything from yogurt from scratch to “Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi” to “Butternut Squash Fries with Date and Mint Quark” to “Milk Chocolate Mousse.”

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A Different Kind of Energy Snack

Sesame seeds, maple syrup and seaweed make up this energy snack.

Sesame seeds, maple syrup and seaweed make up this energy snack.

 

So many energy bars these days are glorified candy bars.

As much as I love chocolate and sweets, I do try to look for actual nutrition in the bars that I always stash in my purse or carry-on for when I need a boost of peppiness.

That’s why I was glad to have discovered Maple Chewnami Nibbles on the shelves of the adorable Elk Store in the teeny town of Elk, during a stopover on the coast.

Yes, these snack bars have a crazy name. And even crazier ingredients: kelp and sesame seeds — all held together with maple syrup and brown rice syrup. That’s all there is to them. They are gluten-free, too.

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