A Summery Taste of Jardesca

Friday, 22. August 2014 5:25 | Author:

A fun new summer sip.

A fun new summer sip.


In summer, nothing satisfies like something chilled, quenching and palate-awakening.

That’s what Jardesca delivers. The fortified wine is made in Sonoma by Roger Morrison and Marshall Dawson, who wanted to create a simple apertif suitable to begin any meal.

Recently, I had a chance to try a sample. The beautiful bottle looks right at home in a garden. Not surprising since Jardesca is made with an eau de vie infused with 10 botanicals, as well as a blend of sweet and dry white wines.

It’s designed to be served not only chilled but on the rocks, which is how I tried it. It’s dry and refreshing, with notes of orange peel, peppermint, grapefruit, mint and a whiff of warm baking spices. Even at 18 percent alcohol, it’s quite smooth with none of that fire at the back of the throat of other aperitifs.

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Join the Food Gal and Chef Philippe Breneman of the Lexington House at Macy’s Valley Fair

Wednesday, 20. August 2014 5:26 | Author:


It’s a little bit of San Francisco in downtown Los Gatos.

The Lexington House, which opened in September 2013, boasts a modern speakeasy vibe with plenty of craft cocktails and inspired farm-to-table cooking. Get a taste when Chef Philippe Breneman joins me to create a signature dish at a cooking demo at 6 p.m. Aug. 28 at Macy’s Valley Fair in Santa Clara.

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A Celebration of Wild Salmon Plus a Food Gal Giveaway

Monday, 18. August 2014 5:25 | Author:

Grilled salmon with an Asian-style glaze.

Grilled salmon with an Asian-style glaze.


Every summer, I look forward to heirloom tomatoes, peaches, plums, and one other very special item:

Wild local King salmon.

Like fruits and vegetables, seafood also has a season. For California wild salmon, it’s summer. And it ends all too soon for my liking.

Indeed, get your fill now because the season will soon come to a close toward the end of September.

There’s nothing like eating salmon in summer with its bright reddish orange flesh that tastes downright luxurious. To be sure, it’s not an inexpensive ingredient at $25 or more per pound. But it tastes far more expensive than that with its unbelievably lush texture and resonating flavor that just fills your mouth like a dream.

I like to enjoy it simply. Sashimi-style, when you can really taste the fat and freshness. Or grilled, with a kiss of smoke to heighten its robust richness.

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Category:Asian Recipes, Enticing Events, General, Recipes (Savory), Seafood | Comments (20)

California Pizza Kitchen Attempts to “De-Chain the Chain”

Friday, 15. August 2014 5:26 | Author:

Roasted garlic chicken -- a new item at California Pizza Kitchen at Valley Fair shopping center.

Roasted garlic chicken — a new item at California Pizza Kitchen at Valley Fair shopping center.


Back in the day, California Pizza Kitchen was the place to go for an inventive yet accessible take on pizza with a decidedly breezy California influence.

Barbecue chicken pizza, anyone?

But over the years, as pizza turned artisan, the choices for truly hand-crafted pies proliferated and greatly overshadowed California Pizza Kitchen’s offerings.

As such, I admit it has been quite some time since I last ate at a California Pizza Kitchen. But when I was invited in as a guest recently at the outpost in the Westfield Valley Fair shopping center in Santa Clara, what nudged me in was the opportunity to try some new menu items aimed at “de-chaining the chain.” Indeed, the new menu additions, which rolled out in June, are available only at the locales in Santa Clara, Sacramento, Beverly Hills and Solana Beach so far.

Among the new beverage items is the Blueberry Ginger Smash ($10.89), a highball glass of Jack Daniel’s, agave nectar, Domaine de Canton Ginger liqueur, fresh blueberries, lime and cranberry juice. Garnished prettily with a skewer of blueberries and a sliver of candied ginger, it’s quite fruity and refreshing with the warmth of the booze hitting you on the finish.

The Blueberry Ginger Smash.

The Blueberry Ginger Smash.

A half-size of Harvest Kale Salad ($10.99) was made with curly, rather than the more popular lacinato, kale. Toasted farro, cabbage, red grapes, cranberries, Marcona almonds, goat cheese and the surprise of shaved rainbow carrots gave the salad a big splash of color and texture. A quite sharp citrus vinaigrette added punch along with an unexpected touch of spiciness.

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The Allure of Shiso

Wednesday, 13. August 2014 5:26 | Author:

Fresh tomatoes, soy sauce, olive oil and shiso flavor this wonderful cold noodle dish.

Fresh tomatoes, soy sauce, olive oil and shiso flavor this wonderful cold noodle dish.


Long ago, my husband jokingly gave me the rather apt but embarrassing nickname of “Black Thumb Jung.”

I admit I’m no Martha Stewart when it comes to nurturing my backyard. In fact, I’m sure Martha would give me one of her telling looks if she only knew that I’ve actually killed ivy and cactus. Things that people say are impossible to kill. I’ve done it, though, with my lethal gardening skills.

But there is an exception to that predictable massacre. I can grow shiso like nobody’s business.

OK, I admit it doesn’t take much for that to happen. Years ago, I planted one seedling in a pot and ever since then, I watch it die over the winter, only to regenerate on its own in summer, when it grows with abandon.

Every summer, I get big green leaves with saw-toothed edges that have the unmistakable and unusual taste of basil crossed with citrus crossed with mint. An Asian herb in the mint family, it’s most commonly found as a garnish on sashimi plates in Japanese restaurants. When I am dining out, I always save it for last. Its bright, refreshing jolt is like a natural after-dinner mint candy.

Yup, I grew that shiso.

Yup, I grew that shiso.

Though I most often add it to summer salads, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to use my home-grown shiso. That’s why this recipe for “Cold Udon with Fresh Tomatoes” caught my eye. It’s in the newest cookbook by New York City Chef Tadashi Ono, of which I received a review copy. “Japanese Soul Cooking” (Ten Speed Press) is full of recipes for ramen, gyoza, donburi, curry and other comfort dishes typically found in mom-and-pop restaurants or made by home-cooks.

This cold noodle dish could not be more effortless. Seriously, it would take you longer to take a shower than to make this.

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Category:Asian Recipes, Chefs, General | Comments (12)