Photographer Eva Kolenko arranging potential images for my “East Bay Cooks” cookbook.
For most of this year, I’ve immersed myself in writing a new cookbook, “East Bay Cooks” (Figure 1 Publishing), which spotlights the diverse, progressive and talented chefs of the East Bay Area.
Writing a cookbook is a major undertaking involving a multitude of interviews, fine-tuning a heap of recipes, and conducting scores of interviews.
For so long, it’s lived mostly as text in my manuscript. But last week, it all came to vivid life when the photography on the project began.
Chef Paul Canales of Oakland’s Duende with a salmon dish ready to go before the cameras.
Chefs from all around the East Bay descended upon the incredibly equipped Rule & Level Studio in Berkeley, where they and their dishes were photographed by the incomparable Eva Kolenko.
Newport, OR. — Dungeness crab would surely be part of my last meal, if I was given a choice. Sweet, fluffy, and succulent, it beats lobster any day in my book.
Though I’ve enjoyed it countless times, I’ve never fished for it.
On a recent trip to the lovely central coast of Oregon, my fellow food writers and I, who were guests of Salishan Spa & Golf Resort, were treated to our own private excursion through Yaquina Bay aboard the family-owned Marine Discovery Tours boat.
On a picturesque 70-degree morning, we boarded and set sail. Just be forewarned that the waters can get choppy the farther out you go. But none in our party — even a few who were extremely prone to motion sickness — were done in by the effects.
The dock area in Newport.
You may be richly rewarded for braving the waters, too. We saw whales. Well, at least their blow holes, if not their tails breaking the waves. Still, it made for an unforgettable moment.
A view of the Oregon coast.
Gleneden Beach, OR. — If all you know about this state is its artsy, quirky city of Portland, take a drive to the central coast to see a whole ‘nother side.
That’s just what I did when I was invited with a few other food writers a few weeks ago to stay at Salishan Spa & Golf Resort, following its multi-million-dollar renovation and opening of its new restaurant, Samphire.
The hotel is about two hours from Portland. Its 250 acres of forested land hug the rugged coastline that gets its share of sunshine and misty days at this time of year.
The view outside my room at Salishan.
The 500-case wine cellar at Salishan.
You’ll be relaxing in no time at the spa.
The 205-room property was developed in 1965. The cozy, rustic-chic hotel is decorated with $500,000 worth of art, created by Native American, and other Oregon and Washington artists.
Chef Paul Canales holding his finished squid ink paella at Duende.
Last week, I got a lesson in paella-making from the source: Chef-Owner Paul Canales of the Duende in Oakland.
And what a delicious and inspired one it was.
After all, the Uptown restaurant is all about Spanish and Basque food spotlighting the best of Northern California’s bounty. Duende features four paellas on the menu, including the very popular Arroz Negro, made with squid ink for an unmistakable bold color.
Along with a handful of other food writers, I crowded into the restaurant kitchen to watch Canales demonstrate that dish. The Moors brought rice to Spain, he explained, and paellas first gained popularity in the 1840s in and around Valencia. Canales’ father is of Basque heritage, a region that didn’t necessarily specialize in risotto. But it’s a specialty Canales has long loved, and studied, having traveled throughout Spain.
Paella can be made with various Spanish rices, as well as short or broken Spanish pasta.
Saffron from northern Iran.
Like Italian risotto, it’s a dish that’s really all about the rice, with the toppings accentuating it, but not smothering it.
Pretty in white.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA — After five years of drought, the snow was back and the waterfalls gushing like crazy this winter in this spectacular national park (click on the Instagram video below).
The Ahwahnee may now be known as the Majestic Yosemite (because its former concessionaire Delaware North claims it owns the park’s historic names after trademarking them); and the former “Chefs’ Holidays” event is now referred to as “Taste of Yosemite.” But no matter what you call it, a bevy of stellar chefs were more than happy to be back for this 32nd year, and yours truly was once again the moderator for the two closing sessions of this annual gourmet event.
Every year, I get a chance to meet newcomers who are not only attending their first gala dinner event here, but visiting the park for the very first time, too. That’s coupled with regulars, some of whom have been attending this glorious event for more than seven years.
Each sessions features three chefs or gourmet purveyors who each do a cooking demo. There’s a wine reception where you can mingle with the chefs. And every session ends with a gala five-course dinner prepared by one of the visiting chefs.