Author Archives: foodgal

Dining Outside at Edge Restaurant

A stunning halibut crudo with aguachile at Edge in Sonoma.
A stunning halibut crudo with aguachile at Edge in Sonoma.

Sometimes the best things hide in plain sight.

And if you’re very lucky, you stumble upon them before the rest of the world finds out.

Such is the case with Edge Restaurant in downtown Sonoma.

Steps from Sonoma Plaza square, this fine-dining restaurant operates inside a renovated Victorian home that you might easily pass by if you weren’t paying attention.

Fortunately, its management team reached out to invite me in as a guest of this sensational restaurant that’s operated by Stone Edge Farm Estate Vineyards and Winery in Sonoma.

The restaurant is owned by Stone Edge Farm Estate Vineyards and Winery, just a few miles away.
The restaurant is owned by Stone Edge Farm Estate Vineyards and Winery, just a few miles away.
The front of the restaurant.
The front of the restaurant.

The winery is owned by Leslie McQuown and her husband Mac McQuown, a serial entrepreneur who also co-founded the Chalone Wine Group and Carmenet Winery.

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Matt Horn’s Oxtails with Sweet Barbecue Sauce

Oxtails with sweet barbecue sauce from the new "Horn Barbecue'' cookbook.
Oxtails with sweet barbecue sauce from the new “Horn Barbecue” cookbook.

If like me, you greatly admire people who persevere against punishing odds, then Matt Horn surely deserves your utmost esteem.

Read the first few pages of his new cookbook, “Horn Barbecue” (Harvard Common Press), of which I received a review copy, and it will just about break your heart.

In it, Horn recounts his earliest pop-up in 2016 in the broiling summer heat in Tracy. He had been up all night, readying his spareribs, pulled pork, and brisket that he set up in a cramped black tent outside Ralph’s Bar. Horn, who intended to stay there until all the food was sold, was joined by his wife, who was then eight months pregnant.

As the hours ticked by, the sweltering temperatures rose only higher. In that time, only one customer made a purchase. Just one.

Horn couldn’t have felt more dejected or more like giving up.

The last thing he wanted to do was to have to cart all that food back home — along with his wounded pride. So, he loaded it all up and drove to an impoverished part of town, where many were unhoused. He started doling out the food for free to eager and hungry folks. It was at that moment that he felt the true power of his cooking — the ability to connect and bring joy to people.

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Presenting Cold-Oven Pound Cake

The quintessential pound cake made with an unusual technique.
The quintessential pound cake made with an unusual technique.

This recipe is for those who can be forgetful.

The ones who sometimes neglect to add that vanilla extract to a batch of cookies, the ones who somehow didn’t grease a pan before adding the batter, or have hurriedly mixed in an ingredient at the very last second when it should have been stirred in at the start.

Yes, folks maybe like you and surely like me, as I’ve been guilty at least once of all of those things.

Ever forgotten to preheat the oven before sticking a cake in to bake?

No fretting about that with this recipe. That’s because “Cold-Oven Pound Cake” indeed gets slid into the oven before it is turned on. And boy, does this technique lead to one sensational cake.

It’s from “Cheryl Day’s Treasury of Southern Baking” (Artisan Books, 2021), of which I received a review copy.

With her husband Griffith Day, they co-own the Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah, GA. Se is also a co-founder of the Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice that works to preserve the legacy of Black-owned restaurants in the United States.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late: Portuguese Tasty Desserts

Traditional biscoitos, both plain and chocolate-glazed, from Portuguese Tasty Desserts.
Traditional biscoitos, both plain and chocolate-glazed, from Portuguese Tasty Desserts.

Portuguese Tasty Desserts takes up a small footprint on El Camino Real in Santa Clara. But it welcomes you with huge warmth.

The minute you walk through the doors, you’ll be offered a sample of Portuguese sweet bread, and asked if you’d like a cup of coffee on the house to go with it.

This is a family-owned operation that first started when the original owners had a bakery in what is now the Santa Clara Town Center. As they neared retirement, they sold it. Those subsequent owners ran it for a good stretch, before eventually closing it. When they did, Teresa Defreitas, the daughter of the original owners, decided seven months ago that the time was finally right to open up her own Portuguese bakery at this site.

Cinnamon Portuguese sweet bread.
Cinnamon Portuguese sweet bread.

If you love sweet, fluffy, squishy, buttery-tasting bread, you need to pick up a loaf immediately. You can get a round, a square, a mini or my choice, a cinnamon version ($9.50). The cinnamon here is subtle, owing to the fact that it’s a mere single ribbon of cinnamon-sugar in the loaf, not a big spiral like you expect. It’s also a little haphazard, as mine was located at the very top of the loaf. Even so, it was delightful, with a taste reminiscent of Hawaiian sweet bread, but with a subtle hint of cinnamon.

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Coq Au Vin — In Meatball Form

Moist chicken meatballs and meaty shiitakes, all in a creamy-dreamy sauce.
Moist chicken meatballs and meaty shiitakes, all in a creamy-dreamy sauce.

Classic French coq au vin in winter is total comfort. But when the weather warms, you might not crave something quite so hearty, heavy, and long-simmered.

Enter “Coq Au Vin Blanc Meatballs,” which lightens up the traditional chicken parts braised in red wine until fork-tender for flavorful little meatballs simmered in white wine instead. This version also shaves off a good amount of cooking time.

This fun recipe is from “Half Baked Harvest Every Day” (Clarkson Potter) by New York Times best-selling cookbook author Tieghan Gerard of Colorado, whose Half Baked Harvest blog has grown into a true phenomenon.

In her newest cookbook, she offers up more than 120 recipes sure to get you salivating morning, noon and night. Try your hand at everything from “Giant Spinach and Artichoke Soft Pretzel” and “Pizza Pasta” to “Blackened Salmon Skewers with Feta Caprese,” “Malted Milk Cookie Dough Cups,” and “Spiced Blackberry Whisky Sour.”

Just like classic coq au vin, there’s bacon involved. Chopped pieces get rendered in a pan, then set aside. Meatballs, formed from ground chicken mixed with an egg, panko, and salt and pepper, then get seared in the residual bacon fat.

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