Category Archives: Great Finds

All Roads Lead to A16 Rockridge

An especially meaty, sweet, tender tasting prosciutto at A16 Rockridge.
An especially meaty, sweet, tender tasting prosciutto at A16 Rockridge.

I have been a fan of A16 ever since it opened its doors in 2004 in San Francisco’s Marina district. But I may have become an even bigger fan now of its younger sister location, A16 Rockridge in Oakland, which opened in 2013.

That’s because parking is a breeze, especially on an early Sunday evening, as when I visited recently. In contrast, visiting the original location will always involve circling the blocks over and over to hunt for a parking space.

In Oakland, I save time in the car to spend more of it comfortably at my seat in the restaurant, done up in rustic-industrial style with exposed brick walls and duct work on the ceilings.

The restaurant, which takes its name from the highway that spans across Italy from Napoli to Bari, specializes in the food of Campania.

The comfortable dining room with high ceilings and large windows overlooking the sidewalk.
The comfortable dining room with high ceilings and large windows overlooking the sidewalk.

Its wine list is also killer. In fact, Wine Director and Co-Founder Shelley Lindgren won a James Beard Award for it. So when our server recommended a half carafe ($26) of the 2018 Terredora di Paolo “Rosaenovae” Montefusco, Avellino, Campania rose, on the warm summer evening, we knew it would hit the spot. And it did with its pale salmon color, and light, dry, minerally-forward character.

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No-Cook Tomato Sauce Pasta For The Scorching Days of Summer

Beat the heat with this fresh, no-cook tomato sauce with basil and mozzarella over pasta.
Beat the heat with this fresh, no-cook tomato sauce with basil and mozzarella over pasta.

When it’s way too hot to contemplate cooking most anything, and your gardening-goddess friend Annie gifts you a bushel of home-grown tomatoes, what do you do?

You make “No-Cook Tomato Sauce Pasta.” And thank the stars that you did.

This recipe comes from Bon Appetit magazine. But I tweaked it a little by making enough sauce to coat not 12 ounces of spaghetti, but 1 pound, so it can serve four easily. I also added in a generous handful of diced whole-milk mozzarella to go with all the fresh, torn basil leaves.

Thanks to my friend Annie with the super green thumb.
Thanks to my friend Annie with the super green thumb.

The result is a fresh, bright tasting pasta that comes together in a cinch and tastes every bit like a Caprese salad with noodles.

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The Alluring Nari

Cornish game hen curry with the best roti you’ll ever have — at the new Nari in San Francisco.

The newest restaurant sensation in San Francisco to open its doors just last week is named for the Thai word for “woman.”

It’s an apt moniker because it was opened by a woman as formidable as they get.

The captivating Nari, which opened in the Hotel Kabuki in Japantown, is the latest endeavor by Pim Techamuanvivit, who holds two Michelin stars, one each at Kin Khao in San Francisco’s Parc 55 hotel, and Nahm in Bangkok. Additionally, she operates Kamin, a fast-casual cafe in the International Terminal at San Francisco International Airport.

Born and raised in Bangkok, Techamuanvivit worked in tech in the Bay Area, before becoming one of the earliest breakout blogging stars with her site Chez Pim. Along the way, she wrote a cookbook, then became an artisan jam maker before reinventing herself again as a chef-restaurateur.

In every case, she’s done so with aplomb.

Restaurateur Pim Techamuanvivit in the dining room of her newest restaurant, Nari.
Restaurateur Pim Techamuanvivit in the dining room of her newest restaurant, Nari.

So it comes as no surprise that a day before the official opening at a “friends and family” preview dinner, to which I was invited as a guest, her newest restaurant was already hitting it out of the park.

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A Prodigal Son Returns — To Boonville

Grass-fed beef tartare with tomatoes and fiddlehead ferns at the Boonville Hotel restaurant.

Grass-fed beef tartare with tomatoes and fiddlehead ferns at the Boonville Hotel restaurant.

 

BOONVILLE, CA — If there ever was Wine Country royalty, Chef Perry Hoffman and his family are it.

His grandparents, Don and Sally Schmitt bought an old stone building in Yountville in 1978, and transformed it into a charming destination restaurant, before weighing several offers to sell it in 1993. They famously chose Thomas Keller, who went on to turn the French Laundry into a Michelin three-star establishment revered the world over.

Hoffman’s mother founded a Napa Valley florist company that has supplied blooms to the French Laundry for decades. His grandparents went on to restore the Philo Apple Farm that’s now run by Hoffman’s aunt, who also manages the lovely Farmhouse Mercantile store in Boonville.

Across from that store on sleepy main street, Hoffman’s Uncle Johnny has operated the Boonville Hotel for 31 years. It’s where Hoffman got one of his first jobs in the kitchen after high school. It’s where he fondly remembers tasting for the first time both Caesar salad and aioli.

Chef Perry Hoffman's return to the place it all started for him.

Chef Perry Hoffman’s return to the place it all started for him.

So in January, when Hoffman — once the youngest chef in the country to win a Michelin star when he headed √Čtoile at Domain Chandon in Yountville in 2009 — returned to become chef-partner at the quaint roadhouse built in 1860, it marked more than just a new job. It poetically signified a life coming full circle.

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Mark Your Calendars For My Upcoming “East Bay Cooks” Cookbook Events

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Drum roll please: In just about a month, my new cookbook, “East Bay Cooks: Signature Recipes from the Best Restaurants, Bars, and Bakeries” (Figure 1), will debut.

The book is a salute to 41 top establishments in the East Bay, with a spotlight on their intriguing stories and delectable recipes. I hope you’ll join me in the celebration of this cool new cookbook at one of the many fun events planned, including signings, lunches, dinners, and a whole lot more.

You may have noticed a new link at the top of my Food Gal site, “Personal Appearances.”

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