What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 5

This year's Anchor Brewing Company Christmas Ale has the most alcohol by volume of any other.
This year’s Anchor Brewing Company Christmas Ale has the most alcohol by volume of any other.

Anchor Brewing Company 46th Annual Christmas Ale

Dark and spicy as an intense holiday ginger cake, the just-released 46th annual Anchor Brewing Company Christmas Ale also boasts its highest ABV ever at 7 percent.

Yes, this is a hoppy, robust beer with a pronounced bitter coffee edge. I had a chance to try a sample of this festive beer that boasts a substantial body rivaling Santa’s. Pour it into a glass to appreciate its deep espresso-like color and cappuccino-colored foamy head.

Each year, the holiday beer gets a different tree design on its label. This year’s features The Three Graces, the three majestic sequoias from the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park.

This beer, available now through January 2021 or until supplies last, will definitely get you into the holiday spirit. Or make for a welcome gift.

With an homage to Yosemite's sequoias on its label.
With an homage to Yosemite’s sequoias on its label.

It’s available in 6-packs ($10) and a gold-foiled 50.7-ounce magnum bottle ($14). Orders can be placed online for pickup at Anchor Public Taps in San Francisco.

Cheers: Anchor Brewing suggests enjoying the Christmas Ale alongside Thanksgiving turkey or rack of lamb. I think it’s pretty awesome with a slice of pumpkin bread, too.

Rickhouse Straight Bourbon

The newest spirit by San Francisco’s Gold Bar Spirits Company truly pays tribute to the Bay Area.

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Whole Roasted Cauliflower With Mustard, Citrus, and IPA

Just a few carefully selected ingredients combine for this whole roasted cauliflower dish for an incredible depth of flavor.
Just a few carefully selected ingredients combine for this whole roasted cauliflower dish for an incredible depth of flavor.

Have you ever tasted a restaurant dish, and sat back in wonder, flat-out amazed over its intense depth of flavor? Whether it’s a tomato dish that tasted more tomato-y than even the most perfect peak-grown tomato off the vine or the beef dish so boffo meaty it was like tasting beef for the first time again?

Turns out it’s not all about just using the best ingredients. It has even more to do with combining the right ingredients to magnify their shared flavor attributes.

That’s the genius of the new “Flavor for All: Everyday Recipes and Creative Pairings” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), of which I received a review copy.

It’s by James Briscione, a former culinary instructor who worked with IBM on its “Chef Watson,” which develops cognitive computing applications to create better ingredient combinations. Briscione also was the first two-time “Chopped” champion. He wrote the book with his wife, Brooke Parkhurst, a former culinary instructor. Together, the couple run Angelena’s Ristorante Italiano in Pensacola, FL.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 13

Duck leg confit with braised greens, and garlicky beans from Michelin-starred Protege.
Duck leg confit with braised greens, and garlicky beans from Michelin-starred Protege.

Protege, Palo Alto

Apologies to Chef Anthony Secviar for my plating skills — or lack thereof — on his sublime takeout food from his Protege restaurant in Palo Alto.

Because, yes, it’s possible to enjoy Michelin-starred food to-go in the comfort of your own home.

And getting takeout does offer an alluring plus: the chance to enjoy one of the restaurant’s “family meal of the week” options. I’ve had the pleasure of dining several times pre-pandemic in the lounge of the restaurant, where an a la carte menu is offered. But before, the only way to indulge in a multi-course progressive meal was to book a table in the intimate dining room for the tasting menu.

The “family meal of the week,” however, is a much less expensive variation with typically about four courses or dishes, including dessert. For instance, the one offered last week, which I got, was $75 per person.

A perfect winter salad -- all tied up with a pretty blue ribbon.
A perfect winter salad — all tied up with a pretty blue ribbon.

It began with shaved Brussels sprouts salad, the crisp julienned leaves tossed with an almost equal amount of grated cheese, as well as pomegranate seeds, walnuts, and crunchy, salty, porky bits of pancetta for a dish that hit every taste bud.

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Cranberry-Pomegranate Mousse Pie For the Holidays

The perfect ending to Thanksgiving.
The perfect ending to Thanksgiving.

Dessert Person.

That’s the name of the new cookbook by Claire Saffitz, a New York-based pastry chef and former Bon Appetit test kitchen on-air personality.

It’s also how I would very much define myself.

Yes, I am one of those people, the kind who wholeheartedly doesn’t think a meal is complete without dessert — even if 20 savory courses preceded it. So, even after a mega feast like on Thanksgiving, I always look forward most to the sweet finale.

“Cranberry-Pomegranate Mousse Pie” is worth that wait, too.

As Saffitz acknowledges in her “Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy, after a groaning holiday meal, you don’t necessarily want something especially heavy at the end. Nope, now that is not the time for bread pudding or cheesecake. What you want is something a little lighter, a little brighter, yet still pleasingly indulgent.

This pie is all that.

This recipe includes the best tip for making a graham cracker crust, too.
This recipe includes the best tip for making a graham cracker crust, too.

It’s one of the more than 100 exceptionally detailed recipes in the cookbook, which are imminently doable, and beyond tempting.

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Condiments That Make You Weak In The Knees

These hot sauces are sure to become a staple in your pantry.
These hot sauces are sure to become a staple in your pantry.

Weak Knees is the real name of a hot sauce line made by Brooklyn’s Bushwick Kitchen. And they are so good, they may very well knock you off your feet.

The company sources local ingredients from the Hudson Valley, the Catskill Mountains, and the Flushing neighborhood of Queens to make its products, which I had a chance to sample recently.

Weak Knees Gochujang Sriracha (10.5-ounce squeeze bottle for $10.99) has the sweet, fermented character of Chinese hoisin sauce combined with garlicky depth and a deep peppery kick from Korean gochujang. It’s spicy, but manageably so. Use it on scrambled eggs, Asian noodles, dumplings, or even in a grilled cheese.

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