This summer, when timing necessitated postponing my birthday dinner at Michelin three-starred Manresa to two months later, my husband asked me where I wanted to go instead on my actual birthday weekend. I immediately knew the spot.
It was another Michelin-recognized establishment.
One where the food would be equally unforgettable and fill me with similar contentment.
And where my husband would be especially thrilled because it turned out to be the least expensive birthday dinner he’d ever bought me.
Though she had never opened a restaurant before, Pakistani-born Zareen Khan decided to do just that when she opened the original fast-casual Zareen’s in Mountain View on 2014. It proved such a hit that two years later, she opened a second, larger Zareen’s on California Avenue in Palo Alto, which is the one we frequent. In 2020, look for a third and larger location to open in downtown Redwood City.
Tech workers who get all the free food they want on their campuses gladly flock to Zareen’s to stand in line and, yes, pay their own money, for her incredible contemporary Pakistani-Indian food. Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have dined here. And Chef Anthony Secviar and Master Sommelier Dennis Kelly, the team behind Michelin-starred Protege in Palo Alto across the street from Zareen’s, have made no secret about being so addicted to Zareen’s chicken tikka masala that they eat it weekly.
Rich Pepe may have grown up in New Jersey, but his family’s southern Italian roots have lived on deliciously since his grandparents emigrated here.
His upbringing, surrounded by a large extended family who made their own wine, jams, breads and pastas, had a profound impact on him. Indeed, after arriving on the Monterey Peninsula, Pepe worked as a baker, and eventually purchased the historic Carmel Bakery in Carmel-by-the-Sea. He, his wife and two sons now oversee half a dozen Italian-inspired establishments in the area. Besides the bakery, they include Little Napoli, Bistro Italian; Vesuvio; and Peppoli at Pebble Beach.
If that weren’t enough, he also makes his own limoncello. PepeCello is hand-crafted in small batches in Sorrento, using only certified organic Sorrento lemons.
What do two Centers for Disease Control scientists know about making pies?
Apparently, a whole heck of a lot.
Married couple, Chris Taylor, an epidemiologist specializing in Alzheimer’s and aging, and Paul Arguin, retired head of the CDC’s domestic malaria unit, are avid home bakers. After meeting, they began entering amateur baking contests together — and winning them like crazy. To date, they’ve won more than 600 awards, trophies, ribbons and certificates for their glorious pies.
Now, they’re showcasing their fanciful creations in their first cookbook,
There are pies for every occasion and for every baking level, from the “Mocha Mystery” and “Guavaberry Apple” to “Strawberry Margarita with Salted Rim” and the one that garnered them “Best of Show Winner” at the National Pie Championships, the jaw-dropping “Peanut Butter Checkerboard.”
As befitting two scientists, this is a very technical book, which means the recipes are quite long because they are extremely detailed. So, don’t freak out when you scroll down at the one below.
Their “Tahitian Pineapple” pie is the one I tackled. While I’ve made my share of pineapple upside-down cakes, I’d never made a pie with fresh pineapple at its heart.
Last year, the Nob Hill hotel added an apiary to its rooftop terrace just outside its Seven Stills restaurant. Now, it’s reaping the sweet rewards of those bee hives — from honey that’s accenting fun offerings on the menu.
I had a chance to try a few recently, when I was invited as an overnight guest of the hotel.
Take a seat at the bar or one of the tables in the restaurant that’s open to the lobby to order one of the specialty cocktails ($15 each) that are all named for movies that were filmed in San Francisco.