Category Archives: Enticing Events

New Pizza Joint in the South Bay, Dungeness Crab Galore & More

Caprese salad at Blue Line Pizza. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

San Francisco’s Little Star Pizza Opens a Locale in Campbell

Pizza lovers will rejoice that San Francisco’s Little Star Pizza — famed for its deep-dish, cornmeal-crust pizzas — opened an offshoot last week in downtown Campbell.

Blue Line Pizza, named for the train that runs between O’Hare International Airport and Chicago, features organic salads, paninis, and both deep-dish and thin-crust pizzas.

The original Little Star has been a sensation ever since it opened its original Divisadero Street location in San Francisco in 2004 in San Francisco. There’s now a second branch in San Francisco, as well as one in Albany.

Sidle up to the bar at Blue Line Pizza. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

One taste of its deep-dish pie will tell you why it’s so popular.

I’m partial to the Blue Line (Little Star) with spinach, ricotta, feta, mushrooms, onions and garlic, as well as the Mediterranean Chicken with roasted chicken, red bell peppers, olives, onions, feta and plenty of marinated artichoke hearts. It’s a mouthful; it’s a meal.

Blue Line Pizza is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.

A Crabby Time at Lark Creek Restaurants

Through the end of February, the Lark Creek Restaurant Group celebrates the bounty of fresh, seasonal Dungeness crab.

Its 23rd annual “Crab Festival” will feature a range of crab dishes at its various restaurants.

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Chef Richard Reddington’s New Glam Pizza Joint, Celebrating Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup & More

Not your typical pizza parlor. Redd Wood is glam and whimsical. (Photo by Nick Vasilopoulos)

Redd Wood Opens in Yountville

Acclaimed Chef Richard Reddington of Redd in Yountville has opened his latest venture — Redd Wood, a casual Wine Country pizzeria, located just up the block from his other restaurant.

The chic looking space was created by St. Helena interior designer, Erin Martin of Erin Martin Design. In her first restaurant project ever, she’s created a look that’s rustic yet chic with unfinished stone, steel, glass, wood, mismatched chairs and intriguing salvaged objects.

“So much of the Yountville area is about serious food and wine experiences,” Reddington said in a statement. “With Redd Wood, I want to create an entirely different ambiance.”

A wood-fired pizza from Redd Wood. (Photo by Nick Vasilopoulos)

Take a seat inside or out to enjoy wood-fired pizzas such as prosciutto cotto, Brussels sprouts, tellagio and red onion ($14), and pastas such as lamb bolognese, arancini and tapenade ($18). A dedicated charcuterie room turns out house-cured prosciutto and salumi.

Enjoy Prize-Winning Taipei Beef Noodle Soup

How popular is beef noodle soup in Taiwan?

Consider that more than 168 contestants battled over burners last year in the Taipei International Beef Noodle Festival cook-off.

But you don’t have to get on a plane to try this street food favorite.Chef Hou Chung-sheng with his prize-winning beef noodle soup. (Photo courtesy of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office)

Chef Hou Chun-sheng, the 2011 winner of the spicy beef noodle soup category, will be serving up samples of his specialty at two upcoming events in San Francisco.

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The Cellar Door in Santa Cruz Ushers in the Lunar New Year

Chef Alex Ong plates a dish of fresh bamboo shoots at the Cellar Door.

This past Sunday, the Cellar Door restaurant at Bonny Doon Vineyard in Santa Cruz welcomed the “Year of the Dragon” with a bang, thanks to Chef Alexander Ong of San Francisco’s Belenut, who prepared a masterful banquet fit for celebrating.

Indeed, my Santa Cruz cohorts half-joked that it was the first — and most likely only — time they could indulge in stellar Chinese food in their city, which unfortunately lacks some of the cultural and epicurean diversity of its larger neighboring cities to the north.

I was lucky to be invited as a guest at the 134-person dinner, which sold out in only a few days. It was the first guest chef dinner held there. But Proprietor Randall Grahm hopes to make it a monthly event at this quirky tasting room-restaurant that completely reflects his irreverent personality.

The "host'' (or shall I say "toast'') at the door.

An occasion for celebrating.

A New Year's dragon vies for space with a spaceship.

The tables are set for a festive time.

Festive red tablecloths covered long tables that were arranged in a serpentine in the front and rear of the space. The dinner was made up of (lucky) eight courses and served family-style.

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“The Sorcerer’s Apprentices” and a Food Gal Giveaway

My favorite read of 2011.

These hectic days, I don’t get much time to just sit down for hours with a book.

So, when I do, it better be a darn good read. Or else.

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentices” (Free Press) is just that.

It’s a riveting read — and the best non-fiction book I came across last year.

Author Lisa Abend, Time magazine’s correspondent in Spain, received unprecedented access to the fabled El Bulli restaurant in Roses, Spain before its Chef-Proprietor Ferran Adria closed it to much fanfare last year. The result is a book that immerses you in the behind-the-scenes awe, tension, strain and exhilaration experienced by the stagiares or apprentices who worked in the kitchen there.

Unlike other restaurants, where kitchen apprentices usually are culinary school students or recent graduates, the stagiares at El Bulli were the experienced cream of the crop, having already worked their way up at such stellar establishments as the French Laundry in Yountville, Per Se in New York, Alinea in Chicago and the Fat Duck in the United Kingdom.

If you thought trying to snag a reservation at El Bulli was impossible, the odds of attaining an apprenticeship there were even more astronomical. In the last years it was open, the restaurant would routinely field 3,000 applications annually for just 32 available intern positions.

And those that garnered the golden ticket that allowed them to work in what was generally regarded as the best restaurant in the world? They paid their own way to Spain to spend six months toiling 14 hours a day on their feet — for no pay.

With beautifully detailed prose, Abend really gets inside the heads of these chosen few to show exactly what it’s like to be an apprentice in this highly demanding, pioneering kitchen. Some of the revelations will definitely surprise — such as the fact that the interns, who labored day after day to create painstakingly complex components, never get to taste any of the completed dishes they work on. Or the fact that one of the first tasks these skilled and talented chefs are assigned is to clean, one by one, all the rocks that make up the pathway to the restaurant.

For anyone who has ever wanted to dine at El Bulli or wondered what it takes to work at a restaurant of that caliber, this book is a must-read that you won’t be able to put down.

Contest: The paperback version of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentices” goes on sale Feb. 7. But one Food Gal reader will get a chance to win a free copy of the book. Entries, limited to those in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight Feb. 4. Winner will be announced Feb. 6.

How to win?

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“Wine and Wishes,” “Martinis & Manicures,” and More

A host of wineries will be pouring their varietals at the "Wine and Wishes'' gala. (Photo courtesy of the Greater Bay Area Make A Wish Foundation)

“Wine and Wishes” Tasting and Gala Dinner

More than 50 restaurants and wineries will join together Feb. 4 for the 11th annual “Wine and Wishes,” a benefit for the Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The extravaganza, a fund-raiser for the organization that grants wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses, will take place at City View at the Metreon in downtown San Francisco.

The evening kicks off at 5 p.m. with a “Gourmet Food & Wine Tasting,” where attendees can sample a slew of hors d’oeuvres and wines from from 23 restaurants and 26 wineries, including the Slanted Door in San Francisco, Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco and Cakebread Cellars.

At 7:30 p.m., nine local executive chefs — including Roland Passot of La Folie in San Francisco, Gerald Hirigoyen of Piperade in San Francisco and Arnold Eric Wong of E&O Trading Company in San Francisco — will prepare a four-course dinner, pairing each course with select wines.

Gourmet nibbles at the "Wine and Wishes'' tasting event. (Photo courtesy of the Greater Bay Area Make A Wish Foundation)

Tickets for the “Gourmet Tasting” are $150 per person. Tickets for the dinner range from $350 to $1,000 per person, which includes admission to the” Gourmet Tasting.”

Time for “Martinis & Manicures”

Grab an after-work cocktail — and get your nails done. How’s that for the ultimate pampering?

Indulge in that two-fer, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Feb. 7 and March 6, at the Hotel Valencia at Santana Row in San Jose.

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