Category Archives: Chefs

Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 6

A beauty of a prosciutto pizza at Vina Enoteca.
A beauty of a prosciutto pizza at Vina Enoteca.

Vina Enoteca, Palo Alto

Handmade pastas you can’t wait to twirl a fork into. Pizzas that make you lunge for a slice. An impressive Italian wine list. And creative cocktails that always put you in a peppy mood.

Vina Enoteca has long been one of my favorite Italian restaurants because it offers all of that with aplomb.

Ordering online is a breeze, as is parking when you pick up your order. These days, there’s plenty of open parking slots in the adjacent lot behind the Stanford Shopping Center. Walk up to the host stand outside to pick it all up.

A simple cacio e pepe, made more special with a Parmigiano crisp on top.
A simple cacio e pepe, made more special with a Parmigiano crisp on top.

My husband can never resist a pizza topped with prosciutto. The Pizza Emiliana ($22) is like the super-model version of that.

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Going Goaty, Part II: Angel Biscuits

Baking powder, baking soda, and yes, yeast, are incorporated into these airy biscuits that boast a deep flavor.
Baking powder, baking soda, and yes, yeast, are incorporated into these airy biscuits that boast a deep flavor.

Yeast in bread. Yeast in cinnamon rolls. Yeast in sticky buns.

But yeast in biscuits?

Yes, apparently so.

The unusual “Angel Biscuits” is from “Muffins & Biscuits: 50 Recipes to Start Your Day with a Smile” (Chronicle Books, 2017) by Heidi Gibson, owner of the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in San Francisco.

These old-fashioned biscuits, Gibson writes in the book, used to be called “Bride’s Biscuits” — OK, yes, in a rather sexist way — because it was thought that not even just-married women new to cooking could screw them up.

That’s because these biscuits have not only baking powder and baking soda in them, but active dry yeast, as well. With three leaveners, it’s nearly guaranteed these puppies will indeed rise.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 4

Can you blame me for ordering one of very pasta on the menu at Pasta Armellino? Not when they all look and taste this good!
Can you blame me for ordering one of very pasta on the menu at Pasta Armellino? Not when they all look and taste this good!

Pasta Armellino, Saratoga and Cupertino

Two years ago, the original Pasta Armellino opened to great anticipation in downtown Saratoga. After all, who wouldn’t be excited about the Michelin-starred chef of the Plumed Horse (right across the street) plying his skills on hand-made pastas at moderate prices?

That casual eatery has done so well that last month, a second Pasta Armellino appeared on the scene at Main Street Cupertino, albeit much more quietly. Then again, it’s not easy for a new business to muster blustery fanfare during a pandemic.

The new Pasta Armellino in the Main Street Cupertino complex.
The new Pasta Armellino in the Main Street Cupertino complex.

Yet if you are a pasta lover like I am, you should be rejoicing mightily. Because these are supple, toothsome pasta dishes that will surely leave you giddy from the first forkful.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 3

Poulet Grand Mere from Zola in Palo Alto.
Poulet Grand Mere from Zola in Palo Alto.

Zola, Palo Alto

On first reflection, you might not think that beef bourguignon and chicken with egg noodles in a lavish cream sauce would be what you really want to dig into on a warm summer evening.

But these French classics, done so right at Zola in downtown Palo Alto, end up not necessarily feeling heavy and rich, but downright as comforting as a hug. And in this time of upheaval, who wouldn’t want to be enveloped in that kind of contentment?

Zola only offers its to-go food on Fridays and Saturdays. The week’s menu is usually posted on Wednesday (sometimes on Tuesday), so you can start reserving your picks then. The earlier the better, too, because some items sell out fast.

The new sign in the window for these new times.
The new sign in the window for these new times.

While most other restaurants provide the food warm with instructions to reheat a few seconds in the microwave when you get home, Zola actually goes the heat-and-eat route, meaning everything is refrigerated, and you need to heat it to enjoy it.

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Tantalizing Farro and Tomato Salad with Fish-Sauce Vinaigrette

This is bound to be your new favorite summer salad.
This is bound to be your new favorite summer salad.

If like me, you can’t get enough of nuoc cham — that zesty, indispensable Vietnamese dipping sauce for spring rolls, rice noodle salads, and so much more — you will go bonkers for this summery tomato and grain salad.

“Farro and Tomato Salad with Fish-Sauce Vinaigrette” takes a dressing with a similar profile as nuoc cham — minus the lime juice — to dress a colorful, bountiful mix of chewy, nutty farro grains with fresh heirloom tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, and a lavish amount of fresh parsley and tarragon leaves.

The recipe is from Chef Joshua McFadden of Ava Gene’s in Portland, as published in Bon Appetit magazine.

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