Author Archives: foodgal

Cool Off With Pineapple, Thyme, and Coconut Water Whip

Hot weather was made for icy, fruity drinks like this one.
Hot weather was made for icy, fruity drinks like this one.

When temperatures soar, you definitely want to “Eat Cool: Good Food for Hot Days: 100 Easy, Satisfying, and Refreshing Recipes that Won’t Heat Up Your Kitchen.”

That’s the apropos title of this cookbook (Rizzoli), of which I received a review copy, that couldn’t have debuted at a more opportune time, given that the first day of summer starts this Sunday, and we’re already in a full-blown heatwave.

The book is by Maine-based Vanessa Seder, former associate food editor for Ladies Home Journal and a culinary instructor at Stonewall Kitchen.

It includes 100 recipes to beat the heat. They’re designed to nourish and refresh without requiring hours at a hot stove. Among them are “Chilled Corn and Lobster Soup,” “Pan-Seared Pork Sandwich With Spicy Papaya Slaw and Spicy Pepper Jelly on Sourdough,” “Coconut Milk, Turmeric, Ginger, and Black Pepper-Poached Cod With Israeli Couscous,” and “Red Grapefruit-Rose Sorbet.”

I couldn’t resist trying my hand — and blender — at “Pineapple, Thyme, and Coconut Water Whip.”

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 33 (All-Sweets Edition)

The St. Honore tart by Tarts de Feybesse makes any day that much more special.
The St. Honore tart by Tarts de Feybesse makes any day that much more special.

Tarts de Feybesse, Vallejo, and Pop-Ups Around the Bay Area

When you first lay eyes upon the creations of Tarts de Feybesse, you find yourself astounded that they were made by two chefs whose forte has come on the savory side of the professional kitchen.

But when you realize that husband-and-wife founders, Paul Feybesse and Monique Feybesse met while working at Geranium, the rarefied Copenhagen restaurant that was the first in Denmark to receive three Michelin stars, you realize the talent, precision and artistry they obviously possess.

They began baking for friends and family, plying what they had learned on their own and from pastry chef colleagues along the way. Baking required an attention to detail to which they were already accustomed, so it was not that great a leap, Monique says. If their savory side does come into play, it’s in their restraint of sweetness in their desserts. Instead, she jokes, they’re always wanting to add just a touch more salt, in order to create harmony and balance.

The jaw-dropping brioche feuilletee.
The jaw-dropping brioche feuilletee.

Pre-pandemic, they started to craft a baking business out of their Vallejo home, quickly building a clientele through social media for their breads and fine pastries, done up in a strikingly singular, modern aesthetics. Then, once the pandemic hit, the business really took off. Because who can turn down strawberry tarts, opera cakes, and eclairs with such distinctive fillings as blackberry violet?

Definitely not me. So, when Tarts de Feybesse held a pop-up last Sunday at Camper restaurant in Menlo Park, I threw calories to the wind and pre-ordered.

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Mister Jiu’s Heavenly Parisian Dan Tat

Just-baked Parisian Dan Tat that's like a giant Portuguese custard tart.
Just-baked Parisian Dan Tat that’s like a giant Portuguese custard tart.

When I was a kid, my dad would often tote home a pink box tied with red string from his shopping trip to San Francisco’s Chinatown.

Inside could have been anything from pudgy dim sum dumplings to triangles of airy buttercup-yellow sponge cake to a double-crust apple pie so shiny and bronzed that it nearly looked lacquered.

More often than not, though, what was hidden inside was a custard pie.

It had a simple crust, which honestly, wasn’t anything to write home about. The real star was the smooth, eggy custard filling, almost the pale hue of eggnog, soft and just barely jiggly, and with a taste of both comfort and lavishness all at the same time.

It was my dad who gave me my first taste of this nostalgic pie, proferring an affection for it that I still possess to this day.

So, when I baked this “Parisian Dan Tart,” I couldn’t help but think of him immediately.

No doubt he would have loved this majestic version of a custard tart.

And no doubt he would have been tickled to know that its origins are also from Chinatown.

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Dining Outside In the Napa Valley at Press

Swordfish gets smoked so it's silky and reminiscent in taste of pastrami -- at Press.
Swordfish gets smoked so it’s silky and reminiscent in taste of pastrami — at Press.

Last week, I drove to the Napa Valley, which may not seem remarkable in and of itself until you realize it was my first trip there in 16 months.

Visiting Wine Country has always felt as soothing as a vacation — even when I was there for work. Now, after being cooped up for days on end during a pandemic, it seems even more exhilarating.

It was also my first time in as long dining at a fine-dining restaurant — albeit outdoors. I couldn’t have picked a better place than Press, where I had been invited in as a guest to check out the new offerings by an impressive new team now in place at this venerable dining destination owned by the influential Rudd family.

Executive Chef Philip Tessier oversaw a kitchen remodel and transitioned the restaurant away from a steakhouse to more nuanced modern American fare with lighter, brighter, seasonal flair. If his name is familiar, it’s likely from his time in the kitchens at The French Laundry in Yountville and Per Se in New York, as well as for his headline-making turn as the first American chef to reach the podium at the Bocuse d’Or international competition, garnering a silver medal.

Dine in or out at Press.
Dine in or out at Press.

Tessier has recruited two fellow Thomas Keller restaurant alums: Chef de Cuisine Darryl Bell, former executive sous chef at Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, who also has his own line of barbecue sauces and rubs at Stateline Road BBQ; and Master Sommelier Vincent Morrow, whose impressive experience stretches from The French Laundry to Gary Danko, Benu, and One65, all in San Francisco. The front of the house is manned by General Manager Cole Mathers, formerly of Gary Danko restaurant.

If you need any affirmation that people are flocking to Wine Country again, consider the fact that during the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, Press served more than 350 diners.

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Kid-Friendly Dino Bars

Dino Bar's mango, pear, and banana snack bar that's coated with edible paper for neatness.
Dino Bar’s mango, pear, and banana snack bar that’s coated with edible paper for neatness.

When Jessica and Ian Saultz realized their son Liam couldn’t tolerate refined sugar, they set out to do something about that.

The result was Dino Bars, a kid-friendly, convenient snack bar that’s made with USDA-certified organic ingredients, and free of nuts, gluten, soy, and dairy. They’re also wrapped in edible paper made of potato starch, so kiddos won’t get their hands sticky, either.

Launched last year in Charleston, SC, Dino Bars are made with pear juice, banana flakes, oats, coconut oil, hemp hearts and organic fruit powders.

They come in three flavors: Strawberry, Blueberry, and Mango. Special limited-edition flavors get released periodically, too.

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