Category Archives: Great Finds

Stanley Tucci’s Spaghetti con Zucchine alla Nerano

One of Stanley Tucci's favorite pasta dishes.
One of Stanley Tucci’s favorite pasta dishes.

If the lusty comments from my gal pals are any indication, I’m definitely not the only one obsessed with Stanley Tucci’s CNN travel show, “Searching for Italy.”

Or with Stanley Tucci, himself, for that matter. (Hey, I’m just keeping it real.)

So, it’s probably no surprise that the food on the show has proved equally enthralling.

Ever since seeing the episode featuring Lo Scoglio’s zucchini pasta, I’ve been so intrigued with this specialty dish of this Amalfi Coast restaurant that’s a favorite of Tucci and his wife Felicity.

I like zucchini, but I can’t say it’s ever captured my fancy enough to get all excited about when it first starts appearing at farmers markets in summer. I mean, it’s no asparagus. Not by a long shot.

So, with just Parmigiano, basil, olive oil, and fried zucchini as the main components in this pasta, how good could this really be?

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Dining Outside at Saffron in Burlingame, Né Rasa

India meets China in General Tso's cauliflower at Saffron in Burlingame.
India meets China in General Tso’s cauliflower at Saffron in Burlingame.

At this Burlingame spot, you will find a refashioned brighter interior, an added parklet, a new menu and name change, and owner Ajay Walia no longer greeting you in a sharp suit, but casual shirt and slacks.

In June, Walia closed his former Michelin-starred, fine-dining Rasa on this property, and morphed it into the second outpost of his Saffron (the original is in San Carlos). It was a difficult decision, he says, but one necessitated by the challenges of the pandemic.

Yet despite the transformation, Walia doesn’t believe anything is radically different.

“We’re still buying the same ingredients, and cooking with the same standards,” he says. “The only thing that has changed is people’s expectations.”

A feast al fresco.
A feast al fresco.

Indeed, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant last week to dine outside, I found the food as delightful as ever.

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Miso Chicken Lickety-Split

You have to love a recipe that has only half a dozen ingredients, most of which are probably already in your kitchen.
You have to love a recipe that has only half a dozen ingredients, most of which are probably already in your kitchen.

At the start of this nearly 1,000-page tome, you are instructed not to use this book for the following three things:

For academic research. For dieting. Or for a doorstop.

You have to to love a cookbook that announces itself with such honesty and presence. And “The Essential New York Times Cookbook” (W.W. Norton & Co., 2021), of which I received a review copy, certainly does.

It was written by former Times’ food writer and food editor, Amanda Hesser, who went on to co-found Food52.

It’s actually an updated version of the original book that came out in 2010.

Hesser took on the challenge to once again wade through the Times’ immense 150-year-old archives. This time around, she also called upon the expertise of cooks of color to add more global recipes, including ones from Nigeria, Tibet, Thailand, and China.

In the process, she ended up jettisoning 65 former recipes in the book and adding instead 120 new ones that are more culturally diverse. She includes the date each recipe appeared, too, providing a fascinating look at how our tastes and techniques have changed or stayed the same.

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Two Scoops, Please, For Plum Crumble Ice Cream

Summer's juicy plums star in this homemade ice cream.
Summer’s juicy plums star in this homemade ice cream.

I am unabashedly a recovering freezer-space hoarder.

It didn’t take exactly a 12-step program to wean me off stuffing my freezer to the gills with meats, breads, veggies, stocks, cookies, and whatever else I could cram in.

All it took was a lessening of the ravages of the pandemic, and well, the ability to go to the grocery store regularly again (albeit masked up) without feeling as if I might run out of food any dire moment.

As a result, this is the first time in nearly three years that I’ve made my own ice cream at home.

What a triumph!

Because few things are as joyous as homemade ice cream, and in truth, sneaking that first spoonful out of the top of the ice cream canister even as it still spins. Yup, I do that. Not gonna lie.

My homemade ice cream fast was broken in grand style by “Plum Crumble Ice Cream,” a recipe from the new “Great Scoops” (Figure 1), of which I received a review copy.

It’s by Marlene Haley and Amelia Ryan of The Merry Dairy, a scoop shop and ice cream truck in Ottawa, Canada. Haley, who grew up on a farm, gave up teaching in 2012 to start the first food truck in that city to specialize in frozen custard.

Because it’s not possible to duplicate the silkiness of frozen custard without a commercial machine, this book concentrates instead on the range of ice creams she also makes.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late: Eataly

A whole ball of burrata atop Roman-style pizza at Eataly.
A whole ball of burrata atop Roman-style pizza at Eataly.

The Bay Area’s first Eataly opened last month. And it’s a doozy.

Spanning three floors and 45,000 square feet of the Westfield Valley Fair shopping center in San Jose, it is the eighth Eataly in the United States and the 41st in the world.

Having visited the ones in New York and Las Vegas, I had a sense of what this one would be like. But it definitely dwarfs those two in scope and size.

Even on a Tuesday at 4 p.m., the place was hopping with plenty of folks checking out the wares.

On the top floor, you’ll find La Pizza & La Pasta, and Terra, Eataly’s two restaurants. Having heard how impossible reservations are to come by, I bypassed them.

A mere portion of the second floor that's devoted entirely to wines, beers, and spirits from Italy.
A mere portion of the second floor that’s devoted entirely to wines, beers, and spirits from Italy.

The third floor is also where you’ll find more than 1,000 gourmet specialty food products — everything from house-baked bread, handmade pastas and fresh-pulled mozzarella to shelves of olives oils, cheeses galore, tinned seafood, cured meats, and fresh produce.

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