Category Archives: New Products

What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 12

A California Zinfandel made for those backyard barbecues.
A California Zinfandel made for those backyard barbecues.

2018 Barra Zinfandel

Inky garnet hued, the 2018 Barra of Mendocino Zinfandel looks jewel-like in your glass.

And while it’s 14.5 percent alcohol by volume, it’s not an overly fruity, bombastically boozy Zinfandel that’s going to knock you out for the count after one glass. That makes it a welcome sip even in the throes of summer.

Pressed from estate-grown, organically farmed 100 percent Zinfandel, the wine, of which I received a sample, garnered an 89-point score by Wine Enthusiast. It’s full of blueberries on the nose, and dried cherries, dried plums, tobacco, tar, and a hint of smoke on the palate.

The late Charrie Barra planted his first vineyards in Mendocino in 1955. He is considered the godfather of Mendocino grape-growing for his leadership in pioneering more efficient and sustainable methods, and for promoting organic practices. The legacy of his 350-acre estate continues under the management of his widow Martha Barra.

The $24 wine is available at the winery.

Cheers: Enjoy this wine alongside pulled pork, grilled pork loin or ribs, especially if any kind of cherry or berry-laced barbecue sauce is involved.

2019 Siduri Chardonnay

Anyone who knows me well is aware that I have a soft spot for Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs. Now, one of my favorite Pinot producers has just released its first Chardonnay.

Siduri, critically acclaimed for its elegant, cool-climate, single-vineyard Pinots, has only crafted a handful of white wines in its 27-year history. As a result, there’s no doubt that its 2019 Willamette Valley Chardonnay will automatically pique interest far and wide.

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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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A Caviar Pop-Up, Dining Deals & More

A luxury pop-up -- Regiis Ova Caviar and Champagne Lounge. (Photo courtesy of Regiis Ova)
A luxury pop-up — Regiis Ova Caviar and Champagne Lounge. (Photo courtesy of Regiis Ova)

Thomas Keller’s Caviar and Champagne Pop-Up

Even if you can’t score a coveted table at The French Laundry, you can still enjoy some luxe tastes in Yountville from Thomas Keller.

The acclaimed chef joined with caviar expert Shaoching Bishop to start their own caviar brand, Regiis Ova (“royal egg” in Latin), in 2017. Now, the two have collaborated on the Regiis Ova Caviar & Champagne Lounge pop-up, 6480 Washington St. in Yountville. Open Thursday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., the pop-up is expected to continue at least through the fall.

Take a plush seat indoors or outdoors to enjoy a tasting of caviar, starting at $45 for 15 grams with classic garnishes, two deviled eggs topped with caviar for $35 or French onion dip topped with caviar and served with kettle fried potato chips ($65)

If that’s a little rich for your pocketbook, opt for smoked sturgeon rillettes with pickled garden vegetables ($20) or a whimsical Bouchon Bakery “Oh Oh” (a gourmet take on a Ho Ho) for $10.

Alongside, sip prestige French or California bubbly by the glass or bottle, or a variety of red, white and rose wines.

Whether for a sip and snack or a complete meal, kick back with the sounds from a jazz pianist or DJ.

Dine Downtown San Jose Restaurant Promotion Runs Through July 18

In a normal year, “Dine Downtown San Jose” would indeed last a week. But as we all know, this past year has been anything but conventional. As such, the annual promotion will run for 10 days this year, from now through July 18.

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Red Boat’s Newest Product: Kho Sauce

Red Boat's new braising sauce turns simple pork and Japanese turnips into something special.
Red Boat’s new braising sauce turns simple pork and Japanese turnips into something special.

The maker of artisan fish sauce, Red Boat, just debuted its newest product, Kho Sauce.

This flavorful bottled sauce, of which I received a sample recently, is designed to make braising a breeze.

Based on Red Boat Founder Cuong Pham’s family recipe, the sauce is a savory blend of the signature fish sauce (fermented with only anchovies and salt in the time-honored way), plus ginger, shallots, green onions, black pepper, crushed red pepper, and organic coconut sugar.

It’s briny, sweet, peppery, and a little spicy. It’s also gluten-free.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 33 (All-Sweets Edition)

The St. Honore tart by Tarts de Feybesse makes any day that much more special.
The St. Honore tart by Tarts de Feybesse makes any day that much more special.

Tarts de Feybesse, Vallejo, and Pop-Ups Around the Bay Area

When you first lay eyes upon the creations of Tarts de Feybesse, you find yourself astounded that they were made by two chefs whose forte has come on the savory side of the professional kitchen.

But when you realize that husband-and-wife founders, Paul Feybesse and Monique Feybesse met while working at Geranium, the rarefied Copenhagen restaurant that was the first in Denmark to receive three Michelin stars, you realize the talent, precision and artistry they obviously possess.

They began baking for friends and family, plying what they had learned on their own and from pastry chef colleagues along the way. Baking required an attention to detail to which they were already accustomed, so it was not that great a leap, Monique says. If their savory side does come into play, it’s in their restraint of sweetness in their desserts. Instead, she jokes, they’re always wanting to add just a touch more salt, in order to create harmony and balance.

The jaw-dropping brioche feuilletee.
The jaw-dropping brioche feuilletee.

Pre-pandemic, they started to craft a baking business out of their Vallejo home, quickly building a clientele through social media for their breads and fine pastries, done up in a strikingly singular, modern aesthetics. Then, once the pandemic hit, the business really took off. Because who can turn down strawberry tarts, opera cakes, and eclairs with such distinctive fillings as blackberry violet?

Definitely not me. So, when Tarts de Feybesse held a pop-up last Sunday at Camper restaurant in Menlo Park, I threw calories to the wind and pre-ordered.

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