Manresa Bread is a must-stop any day of the week. But come holidays, it shines even more.
That’s what I discovered when I dropped by last week to pick up Valentine’s Day treats. It pays to heed the window for early pre-ordering, too, as popular items will sell out fast.
Pastry Chef-Founder Avery Ruzicka built a reputation for her outstanding breads, made with organic flour milled on site. Those are a must-purchase, especially the profoundly crusty baguette, which quite frankly is a steal for $4, and the oblong levain ($9) with such depth of flavor from a combination of organic whole wheat, organic white, and organic rye flours in concert with a sourdough starter.
Admittedly, I was there for two holiday items in particular: the 6-inch chocolate silk pie ($22), and the Basque cheesecake ($35).
This is one of those no-fail, largely hands-off, wintery main courses, in which the oven does all the work.
In fact, the only real heavy-lifting you’ll have to do is procuring the pork cheeks, which is not an easy find at most supermarkets. Nor is it a necessarily inexpensive one, either.
I lucked out in buying mine from California’s only commercial Iberian pig operation, Encina Farms. What makes Iberian pork so sought after is the fact that the pigs are finished on acorns, giving their meat incredible richness. In fact, in Spain, this is the pork that’s cured into luxurious jamon Iberico.
Encina Farms does sell out of pork cheeks fast, especially since there are only two cheeks per pig, of course. But if you are serious about buying some, fill out its contact form online, and the farm owners will either alert you when the cheeks are available or save some for you.
If you’ve already done spooky and campy with your jack-o’-lantern in Halloweens past, now’s the time to give chic a try.
Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden will host a “Pumpkin Decorating With Henna” online class, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Oct. 24.
Artist Priti Aggarwal will lead this live Zoom class in the Indian art of mehndi, explaining its history and cultural applications, and guiding you to decorate your own pumpkin with custom-made henna paste free of chemicals or dyes.
All supplies, including the pumpkin and the henna, will be provided and must be picked up beforehand at the Gamble Garden.
The class is recommended for those ages 8 on up. Price is $40 per person. For more info or to register, click here.
“Dine Downtown San Jose”
This year’s “Dine Downtown San Jose” is extended through Nov. 15, and includes dine-in, dine-out, and to-go specials, making it easier than ever to help support local restaurants during this challenging time.
See those deep dark, fudgy brownies above that are just calling your name?
Not only are they gluten-free and vegan, but they have a couple of very unexpected and intriguing ingredients in them:
Namely, spent vanilla beans leftover from making vanilla extract, and spent non-GMO, organic okara, the byproduct of soymilk production from premier tofu-maker Hodo Foods of Oakland, no less.
Renewal Mill, based in Oakland and helmed by an all-woman team, is on the noble mission to take food waste from large food manufacturers and convert it into new, delicious, and nutritious uses. Recently, I had a chance to try samples of a few of its products.