Category Archives: Enticing Events

Nutty Goodness and A Food Gal Giveaway

Cashews roasted and flavored with the sweet warmth of cardamom.

The Bay Area’s Sara Tidhar took hard times and turned them nutty — in a wonderful way.

Six years ago after a divorce, she found herself a single mom trying to take care of her kids and still make a living. It was her son who proved the inspiration for her predicament. He suggested she sell the roasted nuts she had always made for her kids as a snack.

That’s just what Tidhar did, roasting the nuts in small batches with organic canola oil in what she calls a “secret” method that she learned from her grandmother.

Santé nuts are now sold online, and at retailers such as Lunardi’s, Gene’s Fine Foods in Saratoga, DeMartini’s Orchard in Los Altos, Piazza’s Fine Foods in Palo Alto and Chateau St. Jean Winery in Kenwood.

Candied pistachios.

The roasted, seasoned nuts come in nine varieties, including Garlic Almonds, Cinnamon Pecans, Chipotle Almonds, Candied Pistachios and my favorite, Cardamom Cashews, which brings to mind chai tea. They’re addicting to eat just out of hand. But also would be great in your favorite baked goods, tossed into salads or in stir-fry dishes.

The nuts come in 5-ounce bags ($4.99) and new 1-ounce pouches ($1.99). Each individual pouch is one serving with 180 to 220 calories, depending upon the type of nut.

Individual bags to tote in your purse, backpack or briefcase.

Contest: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a sampler of the nine different nut varieties — four of the resealable bags and eight of the single-serve bags. Entries, open to those only in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight March 17. The winner will be announced March 19.

How to win?

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Taste of the Nation, Love Apple Farms Tomato Seedling Sale & More

Chef Michael Tusk will lead the culinary team for "Taste of the Nation.'' (Photo courtesy of the chef)

Time for “Taste of the Nation”

James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Tusk of Quince and Cotogna, both in San Francisco, will be the lead chef overseeing the culinary gala, “Taste of the Nation,” March 29 at the Bentley Reserve in San Francisco.

The event benefits Share Our Strength, a national organization dedicated to making sure no child grows up hungry.

Guests will enjoy tastes and sips from 45 of the Bay Area’s best chefs, wineries and mixologists. Among the restaurants participating are A16, Cafe des Amis, Frances and Park Tavern. For a complete list, click here.

Tickets are $95 in advance or $120 at the door. VIP tickets (which include access to the event an hour earlier and free valet parking) are $165 in advance or $190 at the door. For big spenders there’s “executive admission” at $500 in advance or $550 at the door. That top ticket gets you complimentary car service to the event, a champagne toast, access to a private lounge with more food and drink, and admittance to the after-party.

Love Apple Farms Famous Tomato Seedling Sale

Get ready for it — the largest tomato seedling sale in California.

Love Apple Farms of Santa Cruz, which grows produce exclusively for Michelin two-star restaurant, Manresa in Los Gatos, hosts a seedling sale every year that even entices folks from as far away as Los Angeles to drive to and fro in the same day.

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Lend Support to Introducing Ethiopian Crops to the United States

Highland kale, a staple in Ethiopia, now grown by Baia Nicchia Farm of Sunol.

You may know Baia Nicchia Farm of Sunol for its glorious array of heirloom and one-of-a-kind tomatoes it sells at the Menlo Park farmers market in the summers.

Now, geneticist-turned-farmer Fred Hempel wants you to know his small farm also for its efforts to introduce Ethiopian specialty crops to this country.

As such, he’s asking for your support for his Ethiopian seeds project that he’s hoping to launch through the funding platform, KickStarter. He has until March 10 to get $22,000 pledged for the project, which aims to introduce five Ethiopian vegetable varieties nationally this year.

Hempel got interested in the project when he met Ethiopian native, Menkir Tamrat, a former Silicon Valley tech worker who started growing the peppers of his homeland that he missed after he got laid off. Hempel offered Tamrat some space at his 9.5-acre farm to grow peppers that Hempel then sold at farmers markets.

The result is a partnership set to blossom even more. Hempel hopes to release Ethiopian varieties through his new seed company, Artisan Seeds, which also will sell some of his tomato seeds.

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Lafitte’s School Fund-Raiser; Burgers, Brownies, Beer & Wine for Leap Year; and More

See what Chef Russell Jackson creates with ranch dressing. (Photo courtesy of the chef)

Lunch Break for Schools at Lafitte

How many of you are ranch dressing fans? Everyone? I thought as much.

Then, you’ll want to head to Lafitte in San Francisco at lunchtime on March 1 for the fun “Lunch Break for Schools” fund-raiser.

The event, organized by Hidden Valley Salad Dressings and the American Culinary Federation, will raise funds for Chefs Move to Schools initiative, which promotes proper nutrition and healthful eating habits among kids.

Russell Jackson, chef-proprietor of Lafitte, will be creating a slew of dishes and beverages that day, all using Hidden Valley Ranch in some way, including in ice cream and cocktails. I kid you not. Think Hidden Valley Ranch ice cream in cold carrot broth; Hidden Valley Ranch Leopold Navy Strength gin cocktail; cassoulet of duck, sausage and brioche with Hidden Valley Ranch crumbs; and Hidden Valley Ranch rubbed roast pork loin sandwich with spicy Hidden Valley Ranch “Russian dressing.”

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Lights, Camera, Action — and Chef Bradley Ogden

Chef Bradley Ogden's sliders.

The chef who co-founded Lark Creek Restaurant Group in the Bay Area and made farm-to-table cooking his mantra long before it was fashionable, has returned to the Bay Area after being gone for eight years.

Bradley Ogden, who most recently opened Root 246 restaurant in Solvang, moved to San Jose’s Evergreen district in January to start a new phase in his culinary career. It includes a new multimedia company with partner Chris Kelly, Facebook’s first general consul.

Ogden and his son, Bryan, greet guests on Super Bowl Sunday.

A film crew was on hand to capture the cooking.

In the works is a new cooking show, “Real Food with Chef Bradley Ogden,” which will be shopped around to various TV networks. I got a sneak peek on Super Bowl Sunday, when Ogden invited me and a host of friends to his home for a cooking extravaganza, which was filmed in part for his show.

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