Category Archives: General

Oakland’s Horn Barbecue — The Wait Is Almost Over

Horn Barbecue's incredible brisket and ribs.
Horn Barbecue’s incredible brisket and ribs.

Let me preface this by saying that I am not the biggest beef eater by any means.

But when pitmaster extraordinaire Matt Horn carved off a tiny morsel of fatty, warm brisket and handed it to me last week, it may have just turned me for good.

Supple, near spoonable, and downright custardy, this brisket is beyond.

What he turns out at his Horn Barbecue in West Oakland is near life-changing stuff.

Brisket, smoked low and slow with utmost intention for up to 16 hours, that he gets going at the ungodly hour of 2 a.m. Pork ribs that are tender yet still have a nice little give, plus impressive smoke ring penetration. Pulled pork sandwiches piled high with shards of meat plus a crisp, celery seed-flecked slaw. Shell mac ‘n’ cheese with gobs of cheese. And his wife Nina’s potato salad — hefty, creamy, substantial, and like tater salad crossed with egg salad.

The building is painted in a hue called "Black panther.''
The building is painted in a hue called “Black panther.”
Matt and Nina Horn have opened their first restaurant.
Matt and Nina Horn have opened their first restaurant.

I had a chance to try all of that last week at a media preview for Horn Barbecue, which is expected to open to the public sometime this week for outdoor dining and takeout at Tanya Holland’s former Brown Sugar Kitchen location. Check its Instagram or Facebook page for the latest news on its opening date, which was derailed at least once before because of city approval delays.

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The Grape Tomato Kimchi You Didn’t Know You Needed

An easy-peasy tomato kimchi you will devour from the first spoonful.
An easy-peasy tomato kimchi you will devour from the first spoonful.

How incredible is this “Grape Tomato ‘Quick Kimchi’ “?

Let’s just say that it makes about 2 1/2 cups of kimchi — and my husband and I nearly polished off all of it in one night.

An umami bomb that’s a little spicy and a lot refreshing with bursts of juicy summer fruitiness, it’s just that addictive.

Best yet, it takes practically no time to make.

I spied this recipe by Eric Kim in the New York Times archives, and knew I had to try it.

It’s not your typical kimchi that takes days, weeks or even months to ferment. As Kim writes, it’s more of a muchim or seasoned salad, but it sports the flavor profile of classic kimchi.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 9

A brimming box of chicken Pulao from Ettan in Palo Alto.
A brimming box of chicken Pulao from Ettan in Palo Alto.

Ettan, Palo Alto

What a difference a few months makes. In late February, I was invited in as a guest to try the splashy new Ettan restaurant that had just debuted in downtown Palo Alto. Little did I know that would be the very last time I’d dine inside a restaurant for the foreseeable future.

So it was with a sense of warm familiarity tinged with a bit of melancholy that I returned to this modern Indian restaurant last week to pick up takeout.

The restaurant is a collaboration between Ayesha Thapar, a real estate and fashion entrepreneur, and Srijith Gopinathan, executive chef of the Michelin two-starred Campton Place in San Francisco. So it’s got style in spades, as well as serious cooking chops.

You may not be able to go inside, but the entry remains as beautifully dramatic as always.
You may not be able to go inside, but the entry remains as beautifully dramatic as always.

The striking entrance with its indigo doors, iron latticed screens, crystal chandeliers, and fanciful tiles still make a grand statement. And the food is still every bit as impressive, even if you can’t enjoy it on the restaurant’s rough-hewn ceramics and gleaming copper vessels at home.

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Red Boat’s New Nuoc Cham

Red Boat's new nuoc cham concentrate dresses up most anything, including simple fish.
Red Boat’s new nuoc cham concentrate dresses up most anything, including simple fish.

You know that sweet, briny, and tangy Vietnamese dipping sauce you can’t get enough of for salad rolls, rice noodle bowls, grilled meats, and so many other dishes?

Making nuoc cham at home is not difficult. But it just got even more effortless with Red Boat’s new Concentrated Nuoc Cham.

Yes, Fremont’s Cuong Pham, the founder of the artisan Vietnamese fish sauce that’s beloved by the most discriminating chefs, just debuted this new product, of which I recently received a sample.

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Buckwheat Chocolate Chunk Cookies That Can Be Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free or Vegan

Buckwheat, which is gluten-free, gives these cookies a dark gray-brown hue.
Buckwheat, which is gluten-free, gives these cookies a dark gray-brown hue.

Now that I’m trying to consolidate and minimize my trips to the grocery store, I have been on a quest to clean out my freezer of miscellaneous flours to create more space for other things.

You know, like tubs of ice cream. Kidding. Sort of.

So when I spied this recipe for “Buckwheat Chocolate Chunk Cookies,” I knew it would help me use up a bag of buckwheat flour languishing in the deep-freeze.

The recipe is from “Perfectly Golden: Adaptable Recipes for Sweet and Simple Treats” (The Countryman Press), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Angela Garbacz, the owner of Goldenrod Pastries in Lincoln, NE.

What makes this cookbook especially intriguing is that every recipe has suggested ingredient swaps so you can make it easily gluten-free, dairy-free or vegan, if you prefer.

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