Category Archives: New Products

What I’ve Been Drinking of Late, Part 4

Nothing spooky at all about this wonderful Seghesio Venom.
Nothing spooky at all about this wonderful Seghesio Venom.

Seghesio 2016 Venom

This wine makes me think of Tom Hardy. OK, so many things make me think of Tom Hardy.

Seghesio 2016 Venom Alexander Valley ($50) indeed carries the same name of the Marvel movie that got such pitiful reviews that even I haven’t deigned to watch it — Tom Hardy or no Tom Hardy.

I’d much rather take this Venom over that one. This inky wine, of which I received a sample, is made from 100 percent Sangiovese grapes. It gets its name from that fact that the grapes grow atop Rattlesnake Hill on the Seghesio ranch in the Alexander Valley.

Its an apt name for this steep slope of impenetrable volcanic shale. The vines have to fight their way through it, and in so doing, produce tiny yet intensely flavored grapes.

The wine is fragrant with of rose water and lavender. Dried cherries and vanilla meld with earthy, graphite notes for an exceptionally silky mouthfeel with a long finish.

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Okazu Miso Chili Oil Will Have You Smacking Your Lips

Chili oil condiments made with miso.
Chili oil condiments made with miso.

If you’re a fan of Chinese-style chili oil, then you will love Abokichi’s Okazu line, which puts a Japanese spin on that fermented condiment by adding miso to it.

Jess Mantell and Fumi Tsukamoto co-founded their Toronto company, Abokichi, to make gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO, preservative-free sauces. They first started selling them at a farmers markets. They proved such a hit that they expanded to online and retail sales.

I had a chance to try samples of the three different varieties: Chili Miso, Spicy Chili Miso, and Curry Miso.

Okazu Chili Miso carries a good amount of heat with a big backbone of umami.
Okazu Chili Miso carries a good amount of heat with a big backbone of umami.

Miso paste, sesame oil, sunflower oil, tamari soy sauce, sugar, sesame seeds and a little chickpea flour form the basis of each of these umami-rich condiments.

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Three New Reads To Sink Your Teeth Into

“Eat A Peach” By David Chang

It’s taken four years of procrastination, endless missed deadlines, and the overcoming of persistent personal demons for celebrated Chef David Chang to write “Eat a Peach” (Clarkson Potter). But it was well worth the wait.

The chef who grew a bare-bones New York ramen joint into the global juggernaut now known as Momofuku has written an honest, earnest, and raw memoir. Whether you’re a fan of the man or of his restaurants, you won’t be able to put this down.

His meteoric rise in the industry might seem like calculated genius. But in reality, he writes, much of it happened by accident and in spite of being undiagnosed for years as bipolar, which manifested itself in blazing rage, alarming tantrums, and the punching of several walls, and not to mention suicidal thoughts.

You’ll learn how the PBS series “The Mind of A Chef” came about after its first iteration failed; how and why Chang started — and closed — his Lucky Peach magazine; how his hiring of Christina Tosi as both pastry chef and protocol specialist saved his butt; and how getting married and becoming a father have grounded him like never before.

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Do Yourself A Favor: Get A Taste of Shuk Shuka

Shuk Shuka's amazing Nutella babka (front) and challah (back).
Shuk Shuka’s amazing Nutella babka (front) and challah (back).

Yeasty, buttery, tightly coiled with generous ripples of Nutella throughout, this babka might very well have stolen my heart, not to mention my stomach.

It’s the handiwork of Shuk Shuka, a San Francisco online marketplace and kitchen specializing in Middle Eastern foodstuffs.

“Shuk” means “market” in both Hebrew and Arabic. Founder Inon Tzadok, who grew up in Israel and Yemen wanted to evoke the traditional flavors of Middle Eastern market stalls in his products. His sister, baker Yael Tzadok is responsible for the wonderful baked goods.

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Oakland’s Horn Barbecue — The Wait Is Almost Over

Horn Barbecue's incredible brisket and ribs.
Horn Barbecue’s incredible brisket and ribs.

Let me preface this by saying that I am not the biggest beef eater by any means.

But when pitmaster extraordinaire Matt Horn carved off a tiny morsel of fatty, warm brisket and handed it to me last week, it may have just turned me for good.

Supple, near spoonable, and downright custardy, this brisket is beyond.

What he turns out at his Horn Barbecue in West Oakland is near life-changing stuff.

Brisket, smoked low and slow with utmost intention for up to 16 hours, that he gets going at the ungodly hour of 2 a.m. Pork ribs that are tender yet still have a nice little give, plus impressive smoke ring penetration. Pulled pork sandwiches piled high with shards of meat plus a crisp, celery seed-flecked slaw. Shell mac ‘n’ cheese with gobs of cheese. And his wife Nina’s potato salad — hefty, creamy, substantial, and like tater salad crossed with egg salad.

The building is painted in a hue called "Black panther.''
The building is painted in a hue called “Black panther.”
Matt and Nina Horn have opened their first restaurant.
Matt and Nina Horn have opened their first restaurant.

I had a chance to try all of that last week at a media preview for Horn Barbecue, which is expected to open to the public sometime this week for outdoor dining and takeout at Tanya Holland’s former Brown Sugar Kitchen location. Check its Instagram or Facebook page for the latest news on its opening date, which was derailed at least once before because of city approval delays.

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