Category Archives: Great Finds

Celebrating A Rare Blue Moon

Adagio's Bella Luna Blue does indeed start out blue, but turns violet when you stir in lemon juice or other acid.
Adagio’s Bella Luna Blue does indeed start out blue, but turns violet when you stir in lemon juice or other acid.

If you’re an astronomy buff — and a tea aficionado — you’ll want to mark Aug. 22 on your calendar.

That’s when a rare Blue Moon will grace the sky.

It’s also the only day that Adagio Teas will be selling its Bella Luna Blue tea blend.

Yes, this special loose leaf tea, which commemorates this cosmic occurrence, is only available when there is a Blue Moon.

It’s a rather magical blend that brews up blue in color. But stir in a little lemon juice to increase the pH, and it will turn vivid violet-purple in a flash. How fun is that?

The herbal tea gets its blue hue from Butterfly Pea flowers. The longer the tea steeps, the deeper the color, too, as you can see from the sample I tried.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 34

The butternut squash and salsa verde Milan-style pizza from Pizzone.
The delicata squash and salsa verde Milan-style pizza from Pizzone.

Pizzone, Palo Alto

Let’s start by saying that I’ve never paid nearly $70 for one pizza before ($69.90 to be exact).

But Pizzone’s pie is unlike most.

For one thing, it’s a massive 18-inches in diameter and 1-inch thick all around.

It’s also Milan-style, meaning that it’s airy, soft, fluffy, and more like focaccia.

Milan-native Dario Presezzi, founder and CEO of Redwood City’s Biotechforce Corp., put his entrepreneurial skills to use in a different way this summer when he opened this ghost kitchen inside of Palo Alto’s Vina Enoteca.

That means it’s pick-up and delivery only. And if you pick it up yourself, just note that you do so at a side door just to the left of Vina Enoteca’s main entrance.

By the time you get the pizza home, the cheese may have congealed just a bit, so you can rewarm it in the oven or zap it in the microwave for the briefest of seconds.

The whole pie.
The whole pie.

The pizza comes either in a box of two slices ($9.90 to $11.90, depending on the toppings) or as a full pizza (12 slices that will serve 6, starting at $54.90). Because the crust is thick, two slices will definitely fill you up comfortably, too.

There are five vegetarian pizzas to choose from, and four meat ones. The beauty of the whole pizza is that you can choose up to six flavors on one pie, which is what I went with.

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Discover “The Well Seasoned Librarian”

(Image courtesy of Dean Jones)
(Image courtesy of Dean Jones)

Dean Jones is a long-time Bay Area librarian, who also has a deep passion for food and cooking, as well as exploring new restaurants.

Now, he’s cooked up something really irresistible — a new podcast.

In the wittily titled, “The Well Seasoned Librarian” podcast, Jones talks in-depth to cookbook authors, food writers, farmers, bakers, chocolate experts, and culinary historians.

It’s a fun, enlightening, and entertaining time, as I personally discovered when he invited me to be a guest on the show last week.

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Black, White and The Grey — And Green Cabbage

A book so worth getting not just for the recipes like this braised cabbage with tomatoes, but for the story of two people who persevered to build their dream restaurant.
A book so worth getting not just for the recipes like this braised cabbage with tomatoes, but for the story of two people who persevered to build their dream restaurant.

If you have time to read only one book about restaurants or chefs this summer, make it “Black, White, and The Grey: The Story of an Unexpected Friendship and a Beloved Restaurant” (Lorena Jones) by Mashama Bailey and John O. Morisano.

It’s not only a compelling memoir about a unique restaurant with a formidable sense of place, but it includes some delightful recipes, as well.

The Grey opened in December 2014 in Savannah, GA in what was once a segregated Greyhound bus depot. The restaurant is the vision of entrepreneur businessman Morisano, who had no previous restaurant experience whatsoever, and Bailey, who formerly cooked at Prune in New York, but had never opened her own restaurant before.

Morisano, who is white, and Baily, who is Black, formed a partnership to bring a new inclusivity to this once-divided symbol of the South, and in so doing, also elevated the region’s cuisine with fresh vitality. It proved a critical success, earning Executive Chef Bailey the James Beard Award for “Best Chef Southeast” in 2019.

For the two business partners, though, it was anything but a smooth road. That makes the book all the more commendable for its candid look at the sweat, tears and fortitude it took for them to understand and trust one another in this arduous project. With America’s reawakened reckoning with racism this past year, this book couldn’t be more timely. It touches on the here and the now, demonstrating how our present is vastly shaped by our past, much of it hard to forgive.

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What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 11

A Japanese craft gin that celebrates the bounty of spring.
A Japanese craft gin that celebrates the bounty of spring.

Roku Gin

The lovely aroma of soft citrus, grassy leaves, and green tea wafts gently from a bottle of Suntory’s Roku Gin.

It’s no surprise that this Japanese gin, of which I received a sample, evokes the lightness and freshness of spring. After all, “roku” means “six” in Japanese, and this gin is crafted with six Japanese botanicals that were harvested at peak season in spring. They include: sakura (cherry blossom) flowers and leaves, Sencha tea, Gyokura tea, Sansho pepper, and yuzu peel.

The result is a smooth sip with juniper and coriander much more dialed down in favor of delicate yet complex floral and lemon-mandarin orange characteristics that give way at the very end to a subtle peppery pop.

Enjoy it in a G&T or muddled with strawberries or raspberries.

A 750ml bottle is $28.99 at Total Wine & More, $26.99 at BevMo! and $31.99 at Target.

Cheers: Roku Gin comes in a weighty glass bottle etched with cherry blossoms, making it perfect for gift-giving.

Yebiga Bela Rakija

If you’ve never had or heard of Rakija, you’re in good company.

My curiosity about this Balkan fruit brandy was piqued when I received a sample of Yebiga Bela Rakija recently. It’s importer, surprisingly enough, is Bill Gould, bassist for the San Francisco rock band, Faith No More.

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