Category Archives: Great Finds

Burma Superstar Launches Its Own Tea Leaf Salad Kit

Make Burma Superstar's famous tea leaf salad -- in the comfort of your own home.
Make Burma Superstar’s famous tea leaf salad — in the comfort of your own home.

If you’re a fan of Burma Superstar’s signature Burmese tea leaf salad, you’ll be glad to know it’s never been easier to make a version at home now.

No more hunting around fruitlessly for fermented tea leaves or any of the other specialty ingredients needed. Burma Superstar’s new Burma Love Foods Company has put together a Fermented Tea Leaf Salad Kit. It’s vegan to boot.

The kit.
The kit.

The kit, which should be kept refrigerated until used, comes complete with the already made fermented tea leaf dressing made with organic tea leaves, as well as Burmese Crunchy Mix, which is a blend of crispy yellow split peas, toasted sunflower seeds, fried garlic chips, sesame seeds and roasted peanuts.

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A Visit to The Kitchen — Sacramento’s Only Michelin-Starred Restaurant

Sonoma duck breast with apples and cider jus at The Kitchen.
Sonoma duck breast with apples and cider jus at The Kitchen.

The Kitchen in Sacramento offers a Michelin-starred dining experience like no other.

It is like fine-dining in the middle of a rollicking three-ring circus with Executive Chef Kelly McCown its ring leader, bellowing warm welcomes, directions for the evening, and goofy jokes the entire time.

Banish any thoughts of a starred restaurant being staid, stuffy, stiff or oppressive. This is as far from that as it gets.

Earlier this fall, my husband, his nephew and I decided to check out the restaurant, paying our own way. Although my husband and his nephew grew up in Sacramento, this was the first time for all of us to The Kitchen, which opened in 1991, and has long been regarded as one of the Capitol’s best restaurants. We figured there was no time better than now, when the Michelin Guide expanded this year to encompass the entire state of California, and awarded Sacramento’s only star to The Kitchen.

Nothing quite prepares you for this singular experience, though. Dining at The Kitchen is like dinner and a show — all in one.

Executive Chef Kelly McCown at the center of the open kitchen.
Executive Chef Kelly McCown at the center of the open kitchen.

The dining room is taken up by the open-kitchen that has seats all round it. Around the perimeter of the room, there are more tables, all bar-height — all the better to see the kitchen that’s akin to a theater stage, only with flames and the most delicious smells.

A spread of sushi -- before the dinner even starts.
A spread of sushi — before the dinner even starts.

Immediately, you’re encouraged to walk around most anywhere — through the wine cellar, into the courtyard, into the open kitchen, and into the back production kitchen.

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As Kneaded Is What You Need

Bread pudding (foreground) and bostock (back) from As Kneaded Bakery.
Bread pudding (foreground) and bostock (back) from As Kneaded Bakery.

After graduating with an anthropology degree during a recession when jobs were scarce especially for liberal arts majors, Iliana Berkowitz was lucky enough to unearth her true passion in life — baking.

She took a job at a bakery, followed by a stint at a French bistro, all the while honing her bread and pastry skills.

In 2016, she started a bakery pop-up and bread club in the East Bay. Both did so well that in late-2018, she opened an actual brick-and-mortar, her As Kneaded Bakery in San Leandro.

Pain d'epi and honey rye porridge loaf.
Pain d’epi and honey rye porridge loaf.

It now supplies bread to such restaurants as Flea St. Cafe in Menlo Park and The Alembic in San Francisco. And its loaves sell at a host of stores around the Bay Area, including Bianchini’s Market in San Carlos and Portola Valley; Berkeley Bowl in Berkeley; and Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco; as well as through Good Eggs delivery.

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Coffee, Tea & You

Dripdash — Kyoto-Style Coffee

Dripdash takes coffee to another level.
Dripdash takes coffee to another level.

Japanese aesthetics are all about precision and perfection — even when it comes to a simple cup of coffee.

Palo Alto-based Dripdash brought that sentiment to the United States this year with its Kyoto-style, cold-brewed, slow-dripped coffee.

How slow? Apparently, only one drop of water per second gets poured over the grounds in a process that takes 16 hours.

The glacial-pace process makes for a highly caffeinated brew. And the taste?

I had a chance to experience it for myself when I was sent samples.

This is one incredibly smooth coffee. The pronounced acidity I’ve often found with other cold brews is decidedly missing here. Instead, what you get is coffee that tastes more balanced, with tempered bitterness, a silkiness on the palate, and a long, soft finish. If coffee can be somehow relaxing and invigorating at the same time, Dripdash nails it.

One smooth operator.
One smooth operator.

The 6-ounce bottles are available on GoodEggs for $3.99 each. Or in a six-pack on the Dripdash site for $37.

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Wonderfully Confounding Roasted Mushrooms with Parmesan and Pine Nuts

Intense tasting roasted mushrooms -- thanks to a technique that goes against all common wisdom.
Intense tasting roasted mushrooms — thanks to a technique that goes against all common wisdom.

When is a no-no a triumphant yes-yes?

When it is this recipe and technique for “Roasted Mushrooms with Parmesan and Pine Nuts.”

You know that old adage that one should never wash or rinse mushrooms with water but simply brush them clean? (Not that I ever actually followed that, mind you.)

Well, leave it to America’s Test Kitchen to turn that line of thinking completely topsy-turvy on its head.

In this super simple side dish recipe, you not only introduce water to uncooked, fresh mushrooms big-time, but you actually soak and submerge them in salted water for a whole 10 minutes.

How crazy is that?

Crazy brilliant, actually. Much like brining your holiday turkey, this same technique imparts moisture and flavors the mushrooms from the outside in.

This recipe is from the new “The Side Dish Bible: 1001 Perfect Recipes for Every Vegetable, Rice, Grain, and Bean Dish You Will Ever Need” by America’s Test Kitchen, of which I received a review copy.

This huge tome is a collection of 1,001 side dish recipes that is sure to complete any weeknight meal or festive holiday repast. At this time of year, it’s a must-have for dishes such as “Caesar Brussels Sprouts,” “Freekeh Salad with Butternut Squash, Walnuts, and Raisins,” “Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Chipotle and Lime,” and “Slow-Cooker Creamy Braised Leeks.”

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