Thanks to the advent of the pandemic, I’ve learned to always keep a cooler in my car. With traveling these days pretty much limited to car trips, it pays to be prepared since you never know what wonders a spur-of-the-moment stop will yield.
Such was the case when my husband and I were in Sonoma a few weeks ago, and spied the sign for Salumeria Ovello.
This charming spot is owned by Chef Andrea Marino, who once had his own Michelin-starred restaurant in Barberesco, Italy. After moving to California and getting married, he opened this storefront about three years ago.
Yes, there is house-made salumi. But also, so much more, including panini stuffed with everything from Niman Ranch porchetta and arugula with house-made mayonnaise ($14) to slow-roasted beef tongue accented with salsa verde ($14).
True confession: I’ve never been much of a fan of beef with broccoli.
Maybe it’s because I’ve dug into too many dishes of it at Chinese lunch buffets or banquet gatherings that were just so mundane and mediocre, with gloppy, over-cornstarched sauce glueing everything together.
There’s never been a version that’s been memorable and exciting.
And of course, it would be created by food scientist, cooking savant, and James Beard Award-winning cookbook author, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.
If you are an avid stir-fry enthusiast already or a beginner picking up a wok for the very first time, you owe it to yourself to get a copy of his new The Wok: Recipes and Techniques” (W.W. Norton & Company), of which I received a review copy.
It will change how you stir-fry. It will change your life.
I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole known as Korean dramas.
Yes, I’m not too big to admit that I’ve joined the legions who are now binging these multi-season dramas that almost always include a pivotal boy-meets-girl storyline, along with copious amounts of craveable Korean food.
After getting indoctrinated with Netflix’s popular “Crash Landing on You” (which I highly recommend), with its many scenes of principle characters chowing down time and again on golden pieces of chicken at BBQ Chicken, I was overjoyed to discover that this Korean fast-casual chain’s only Northern California outpost happens to be in Cupertino, in the 99 Ranch strip mall not far from Apple headquarters . So, of course, I had to try it.
Inexplicably, the name may be BBQ Chicken, but it’s fried chicken that makes up almost its entire menu. Go figure.
You can get just wings. Or drum sticks. Or only boneless pieces. You can get chicken with no sauce or with galbi sauce or done up with honey garlic or even powdered cheese. And you can get it spicy — all the way up to the “Wings of Fire,” which have four chili pepper symbols after it to emphasize its incendiary level.
Scott has led a hard-scrabble life, in which his family eked out a living growing soybeans, corn and tobacco on their farm in Hemingway, SC (population 400). It was at the family-owned store that Scott’s father got the idea to sell barbecue. He took charge of the pig while his wife made the sauce.
As his parents’ only child, Scott grew up helping on the farm and at Scott’s Bar-B-Q from a young age. In fact, he cooked his first hog at age 11, stoking the coals every 15 minutes in the wee hours by himself.
When Scott grew older and branched out on his own in Charleston, winning widespread acclaim in the process, he butted heads with his dad. Unfortunately to this day, their relationship remains strained.
You can cherish this book simply for the inspiring story of a man who worked his way up from nothing to the very top of the barbecue pinnacle. Or you can also relish in cooking from it.