Join the Food Gal and Chef Ryan Ellison For A Macy’s Demo

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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.

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One Owner, Two Restaurants: Handline and Peter Lowell’s

Enjoy soft serve and a whole lot more at Handline.

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 small parking lot fills up fast, so go early, if you can.

The fun interior.

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.

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Grilled Chicken Puttanesca For National Olive Day (Sponsored Post)

Who says puttanesca has to be relegated to just pasta?

Who says puttanesca has to be relegated to just pasta?

 

Loaded with olives, garlic, capers, tomatoes and anchovies, puttanesca is one of my favorite sauces.

It’s not weigh-you-down rich like carbonera. Nor retiring like delicate fresh tomato-basil. Instead, it’s decidedly in your face — with a forceful punch.

So why relegate it to just tossing with pasta? With summer barbecuing season upon us, why not dress up mundane grilled chicken with something more exciting? Yes, puttanesca!

For those following a paleo, gluten-free or no-carb diet, it’s a way to have your puttanesca — and eat it, too.

There’s no time like now to dig into this dish, too, what with June 1 marking National Olive Day.

Lindsay's Naturals Italian Medley variety of olives.

Lindsay’s Naturals Italian Medley variety of olives.

Did you know that 99 percent of all olives grown in the United States come from California? California’s family-owned Lindsay knows all about olives, producing 36 billion olives annually or enough olives to go around the Earth 22.8 times.

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The Joys of Boston Coffee Cake

Moist, buttery and full of cinnamon, it's hard to beat an old-fashioned coffee cake.

Moist, buttery and full of cinnamon, it’s hard to beat an old-fashioned coffee cake.

 

It’s a good day when cake arrives in the mail unexpectedly.

I have friend and loyal Food Gal reader Abby to thank for the sugary surprise that arrived on my doorstep last week.

Having spent a summer in Boston interning at The Globe many years ago, I was quite familiar with Boston cream pie, which of course, is not pie at all, but custard-filled cake smothered in chocolate glaze.

But Boston Coffee Cake was new to me. And it is indeed cake.

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Contrada Delivers On Pasta, Pizza and A Good Time

Chef Jason Tuley with his wood-fired pizza oven in the background at Contrada.

Chef Jason Tuley with his wood-fired pizza oven in the background at Contrada.

 

On an early Saturday evening in San Francisco’s Cow Hollow neighborhood, people were still making their way to bars and restaurants.

But one place was already bustling and nearly full — Contrada.

It’s easy to see why. The Italian restaurant, which opened in January, is the kind of place that’s easy to go to and easy to like. On that Saturday, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant, there were groups of hipster guys, families with toddlers, gal groups, and everything in between. It’s the kind of place you head to when you’re meeting friends for a casual night out or want an old-standby, where you know you’ll leave satisfied.

The long, slender restaurant boasts a walnut bar, antique mirrors and reclaimed wood panels on the walls that sort of look like a Jenga game gone wild. There’s a patio in the back, too, where you can dine al fresco on a nice summer night.

The bar area at the entrance.

The bar area at the entrance.

Artful reclaimed wood on the walls.

Artful reclaimed wood on the walls.

Chef Jason Tuley, late of TBD in San Francisco, and Picco Restaurant and Pizzeria in Larkspur, oversees the kitchen. The pastas are made in-house in the production room downstairs. And the pizzas cooked in the wood-fired Italian oven.

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