A Lesson in Taro

Miso-glazed salmon, kalo soba and slaw at a taro-centric lunch at Heritage Restaurant and Bar.

Miso-glazed salmon, kalo soba and slaw at a taro-centric lunch at Heritage Restaurant and Bar.

 

When a contingent of Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau officials visit the Bay Area, they always bring a delicious taste of the islands.

Last week, they brought something extra special — a lesson in taro.

Invited media, including myself, were treated to a 6-course lunch at Heritage Restaurant and Bar in San Francisco in which almost every dish featured taro (or kalo, as the Hawaiians call it) in some way, shape or form.

As Kawika Freitas, director of public and cultural relations for Old Lahaina Lu’au and Hoaloha Farms, explains, “We want to make kalo the next Brussels sprouts.”

With an even bigger grin, he added: “Poi to the world!”

Taro illustration by Kawika Freitas.

Taro illustration by Kawika Freitas.

Indeed, if you only know taro from the pounded luau staple that often gets a bad rap by tourists, then you don’t really know taro.

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Mushroom Cookies

Yup, those are little bits of mushroom on those cookies.

Yup, those are little bits of mushroom on those cookies.

 

Yes, mushrooms in cookies.

Not those kind of mushrooms, people. But Candy Cap mushrooms.

If you’ve never had Candy Cap mushrooms, you are missing out on one of the most captivating ingredients around.

Elusive Candy Caps grow in the wilds in the Bay Area. But their growing season is so short, and the mushrooms so perishable, that you find them mostly sold in dried form.

What makes them so prized is their fragrance and flavor. Think maple syrup on steroids — with a hint of curry on the finish that lingers on and on. In fact, bake with them and your kitchen will smell enticingly of maple for days. Eat an ample enough of them in a dish or baked good, and you will have the scent of maple syrup even exuding from your pores, which, heck, is way better than garlic, right?

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Have You Tried Pine Cone Bud Syrup?

A most unusual syrup.

A most unusual syrup.

 

Imagine a syrup that’s the color of burnt amber and possessed of a beguiling taste that’s a mashup of burnt toffee, port, maple syrup, evergreen and pine needles.

That’s what Mugolio Pine Cone Bud Syrup is like.

When I had an opportunity to try a sample from Manicaretti Italian Food Importers, I jumped at the chance. After all, who even knew you could make a sweeter from pine cone trees?

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Go On, Have A Little Beer In That Cake

A beer-y delicious cake.

A beer-y delicious cake.

 

Yes, this cake is two treats in one.

It’s not just brewski with cake; it’s beer in the cake.

“Big Honey Hefeweizen Spice Cake” is from the adorable cookbook, “Cake, I Love You” (Chronicle Books, 2017) by Jill O’Connor, of which I received a review copy.

O’Connor is a veteran cookbook author, as well as a food columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune. And she obviously knows her cakes, as evidenced by the 60 recipes in this book.

CakeILoveYou

Whether you like to bake cakes that are no-nonsense or like to spend hours decorating them to the hilt, you’re sure to find a cake in here to please.

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New Desserts At Bluestem Brasserie — Worth Every Calorie

Lori Baker's peanut butter-banana dream dessert at Bluestem Brasserie.

Lori Baker’s peanut butter-banana dream dessert at Bluestem Brasserie.

 

Since opening in 2011, Bluestem Brasserie in downtown San Francisco has seen its share of chef changes. But in the times I’ve dined there over the years, I’ve never had a bad meal, no matter who was heading the kitchen. In fact, that’s why I often send folks there if they don’t know where to go eat after a day of shopping on Union Square.

It’s easy to walk to if you’re already in that area. There’s easy parking at the Fifth and Mission Garage or a BART stop steps away. And the two-story restaurant is so large that you rarely have to wait to get a table.

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