Category Archives: Chefs

In Praise of Curtis Stone’s Spiced Barbecue Lamb Ribs with Labneh

Sink your teeth into juicy lamb ribs flavored with warm spices.
Sink your teeth into juicy lamb ribs flavored with warm spices.

If you love pork ribs or beef ribs, you really ought to give lamb ones a go.

Because they boast even more flavor and tenderness, along with an incomparable juicy, fatty richness that’s a pure guilty pleasure.

“Spiced Barbecue Lamb Ribs with Labneh” is a sure-bet introduction to them. The fool-proof recipe is by celebrity chef Curtis Stone, and comes from his acclaimed Hollywood restaurant, Gwen, which he operates with his brother, the restaurateur Luke Stone.

And despite the recipe name, you don’t even really need a barbecue grill to make these. They can be made entirely in the oven, if you like.

It’s from the book, “Eater: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes” (Abrams, 2023), of which I received a review copy, which was written by Eater’s restaurant editor, Hillary Dixler Canavan.

Read more

Psst…The New Suspiro at Santana Row Has A Secret Speakeasy

Paella de carne at the new Suspiro in San Jose.
Paella de carne at the new Suspiro in San Jose.

The new Suspiro, which opened in San Jose’s Santana Row last month, offers up delightful Spanish and Peruvian specialties, along with an intriguing attraction:

A secret, reservation-only speakeasy tucked away in the back with its own private entrances.

How surreptitious? The press materials I received never even mentioned it. If you go to the Suspiro web site, you won’t easily find anything written about it either. That is, not until you scroll to the very bottom of the page to find a red star symbol underneath the restaurant’s phone number. Click on it, and it will take you to the Instagram page with a link. Click on that, and you’ll see yet another link to make a reservation at the speakeasy via Resy. You’ll also see a link there for “members,” where you can apply to be one. Although I was told it’s unlikely a membership will ever entail a fee, it may entitle you in the future to special perks.

The stylish dining room.
The stylish dining room.

So, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant a few weeks ago, this was all news to me. As was the fact that the executive chef is Yerika Munoz Rodriguez, a woman who had Frida Mexican Cuisine and Cantina Frida in Beverly Hills, and worked with celebrated Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio at Astrid y Gaston in Mexico City. That’s because all the press materials only included the name of Oscar Santos, the chef de cuisine, a Barcelona native who spent time working at that city’s Michelin-starred Enigma by Albert Adria.

Read more

Lunching at Michelin Two-Starred Harbor House Inn

An exquisite bay nut tart with creme fraiche at the Harbor House Inn.
An exquisite bay nut tart with creme fraiche at the Harbor House Inn.

Elk, CA — I have never aspired to be one of those ladies who lunch.

Somehow, so many hours squandered in the afternoon just provokes too much guilt in me.

Yet after spending a leisurely weekday afternoon partaking of a 5-course lunch at the Michelin two-starred Harbor House Inn on the rugged Mendocino coast, I could definitely be persuaded to be one now.

That’s even on a stormy day that drenched me before I made it through the front door and prevented me from taking any outdoor photos.

Six years ago, I had the pleasure of dining for the first time at this 1916 property after Chef Matthew Kammerer came on board to transform the restaurant from a wayside stop to a must-stop. That time, it was for dinner, and before it officially opened to the public (because I helped write some of their original marketing materials).

The double-sided fireplace that definitely warms on a rainy afternoon.
The double-sided fireplace that definitely warms on a rainy afternoon.
The sitting room where you can relax before being escorted to your table.
The sitting room where you can relax before being escorted to your table.

So much has changed since Kammerer took over. Most notably, the former executive sous chef at San Francisco’s Saison when it held three Michelin stars, gained his own two Michelin stars, launching this Craftsman-style inn three hours north of San Francisco in the tiny town of Elk into the stratosphere.

Read more

Mendocino Coast, Part II: The Little River Inn

The new lobster mac on the menu at the Little River Inn should not be missed.
The new lobster mac on the menu at the Little River Inn should not be missed.

Mendocino, CA — In this day and age that values change and progress at the speed of light, it’s amazing to think that the Little River Inn has been owned by five generations of the same family who have welcomed legions of guests for the past 85 years.

The original house was built in 1857 by Silas Coombs. His descendent, Ole Coombs, turned the property into an inn in 1939, which is now run by his grand-daughter Cally Dym.

Although I’d driven past the inn over the years, it was only when I was invited to stay as a guest last month that I realized just how surprisingly sprawling it is.

The Little River Inn sits on a sweeping 225 acres overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Not only are there 65 rooms, a spa, and a bar and restaurant, but two tennis courts and a nine-hole golf course with pro shop.

The Little River Inn on the Mendocino Coast.
The Little River Inn on the Mendocino Coast.
The "pianist'' in the main building.
The “pianist” in the main building.

Moreover, there are another five cottages just a half mile down the road, which is where my husband and I stayed in the Coombs Cottage, which was larger than many apartments I’ve lived in.

Read more

Mendocino Coast, Part I: Brewery Gulch Inn & Spa

The wine hour at Brewery Gulch includes not only wine but the makings for a complete meal.
The wine hour at Brewery Gulch includes not only wine but the makings for a complete meal.

Mendocino Coast, CA — Many hotels have complimentary wine hours. But few — if any — have one on the scale of that at Brewery Gulch Inn & Spa.

Along with four local wines to sip, there is plenty of food to enjoy, too. Forget bento boxes; these are proudly nicknamed “Mendo boxes.”

They hold what’s described as “appetizers” but is in actuality enough to quality as a moderate-sized supper. That means, there’s no need to get in your car to find dinner afterward, if all you want to do is chill on the premises. At least that’s what I found when I was invited to stay as a guest recently.

The great room.
The great room.

Local woodworker John Meyers crafted heavy-weight covered trays made of the same eco-salvaged redwood used in the construction of the 10-room inn, a rustic, tranquil retreat that borders 48,000 acres of meadows and redwoods of the Jackson Demonstration State Forest.

Read more
« Older Entries