A Taste of Luxe at Alexander’s Patisserie

Presenting L'Orange from Alexander's Patisserie.

Presenting L’Orange from Alexander’s Patisserie.

 

From the lighted, jewelry-like display cases to the tony, studded white leather wingbacks to the French marble tabletops, Alexander’s Patisserie oozes luxury.

The patisserie, which opened last year in downtown Mountain View, is by the team behind Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino and San Francisco, and The Sea by Alexander’s Steakhouse in Palo Alto.

Executive Pastry Chef Dries Delanghe honed his skills at Pierre Herme in Paris before joining the team at Joel Robuchon Restaurant in Las Vegas.

Designed like a high-end boutique.

Designed like a high-end boutique.

Taking a load off in style.

Taking a load off in style.

His pastries are exquisite looking. Individual domes and tarts, perfectly formed and flourished, are displayed like little works of art.

Fortunately, they deliver in taste, too, as I found recently when I purchased a few goodies to take home.

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The Big, Bold Flavors of Shrimp Tamarind

Tamarind, lemongrass and fish sauce give this easy shrimp stir-fry a big boost.

Tamarind, lemongrass and fish sauce give this easy shrimp stir-fry a big boost.

 

For weeknights especially, I’m always on the hunt for recipes that promise big bang for the buck.

Not necessarily economically. Though, that’s always a plus, too.

But more so in terms of delivering bold, brash, satisfying flavors without a lot of effort.

“Shrimp Tamarind” is just such a dish.

It’s from “The Vietnamese Market Cookbook” (Running Press), of which I received a review copy last year. The book is by Van Tran and Anh Vu, Vietnamese-natives who now run a couple of popular market stalls and cafes in London. Their focus is on recipes easily made at home, such as “Asparagus and Crabmeat Soup,” “Salmon with Ginger Caramel.” and “Braised Eggplant.”

“Shrimp Tamarind” comes together in the time it takes your rice cooker to cook up some fluffy steamed rice to accompany this dish.

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Join the Food Gal and Chef Jeffrey Stout of Orchard City Kitchen for A Macy’s Cooking Demo

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Orchard City Kitchen in the Pruneyard in Campbell is one of the most exciting new restaurants to open in the South Bay in awhile.

If you haven’t yet discovered its many charms — eclectic small plates and a killer craft cocktail program — or managed to snag a table, as it’s that popular now, you enjoy a taste of what it offers when its Chef-Owner Jeffrey Stout joins me at 2 p.m. April 18 for a cooking demo at Macy’s Valley Fair.

You may remember Stout as the original chef at Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino, where he earned that restaurant a Michelin star.

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Roasted Asparagus Soup to Feed the Mind and Tummy

A rich pistachio cream gets stirred into this asparagus soup just before serving.

A rich pistachio cream gets stirred into this asparagus soup just before serving.

 

In today’s harried world, there’s a lot to be said for eating foods that nourish our body and our brain.

Wellness chef and speaker, Rebecca Katz, certainly thinks so. Her cookbook,“The Healthy Mind Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy, includes more than 120 recipes designed to optimize brain health, boost memory, improve your mood and strengthen the central nervous system. It was written with Mat Edelson, an award-winning health and science writer.

I can’t say that her “Roasted Asparagus Soup with Pistachio Cream” caught my attention solely for those reasons. Mostly, I was intrigued by the cream made of pistachios, broth, mint and lemon juice that gets blitzed in a blender until thick and luscious, before being stirred into this velvety soup, which is a puree of roasted asparagus, onions, leeks and garlic. Plus, in spring, I can’t get enough of asparagus. I buy it every week at the grocery store or farmers market, and enjoy every single spear until the season ends all too abruptly.

HealthyMindCookbook

Asparagus are loaded with vitamin B1, Katz writes, which boosts mood and energy levels, as well as vitamin B2, which reduces fatigue. Leeks are a good source of Vitamin K, which can improve memory. Pistachios also contain a lot of vitamin K and vitamin B thiamen, as well as folate, which may help prevent dementia.

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An Elegant Ambience

A pre-dessert at Ambience in Los Altos.

A pre-dessert at Ambience in Los Altos.

 

Ambience is a hushed restaurant in an even quieter downtown in sleepy Los Altos.

It’s so muted that I hadn’t even heard about the fine-dining restaurant until a few months ago, despite the fact that it’s been open for more than a year.

Chef Morgan Song runs the restaurant with his wife, who handles the front of the house. Song cooked in Sacramento and San Francisco for years, most notably at the acclaimed Kiss.

I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant on a recent Tuesday evening, when my dining companion and I were one of only six diners total in the dim dining room with its comfortable upholstered chairs and smoky glass windows that shield the view of the street outside. But that may owe to the fact that Ambience offers only one tasting menu a night ($149 per person with an additional $95 per person for wine pairings or $135 per person for premium wine pairings). After all, how many people can — or want — to devote three hours to eat in the middle of the week unless it’s for a special occasion?

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