Fall Festivities In the South Bay/Peninsula

Gamble Garden's live Zoom class will show you how to decorate a pumpkin as beautiful as these. (Photo courtesy of Gamble Garden)
Gamble Garden’s live Zoom class will show you how to decorate a pumpkin as beautiful as these. (Photo courtesy of Gamble Garden)

Take Pumpkin Decorating To New Heights

If you’ve already done spooky and campy with your jack-o’-lantern in Halloweens past, now’s the time to give chic a try.

Palo Alto’s Gamble Garden will host a “Pumpkin Decorating With Henna” online class, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Oct. 24.

Artist Priti Aggarwal will lead this live Zoom class in the Indian art of mehndi, explaining its history and cultural applications, and guiding you to decorate your own pumpkin with custom-made henna paste free of chemicals or dyes.

All supplies, including the pumpkin and the henna, will be provided and must be picked up beforehand at the Gamble Garden.

The class is recommended for those ages 8 on up. Price is $40 per person. For more info or to register, click here.

“Dine Downtown San Jose”

This year’s “Dine Downtown San Jose” is extended through Nov. 15, and includes dine-in, dine-out, and to-go specials, making it easier than ever to help support local restaurants during this challenging time.

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Where I’ve Been Getting Takeout of Late, Part 10

Say hello to my little friend: Blue Jasmine Tea ice cream from Tin Pot Creamery.
Say hello to my little friend: Blue Jasmine Tea ice cream from Tin Pot Creamery.

Tin Pot Creamery, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Campbell, and San Mateo

Does ice cream qualify as takeout?

Oh, heck yes!

Especially when it’s from Tin Pot Creamery.

Founder Becky Sunseri has been obsessed with ice cream since she was a kid, when she’d even hunker down with a bowl of it in winter while sitting atop the heater in her family’s home in Illinois. At 15, she playfully wrote her first ice cream menu, too.

A former pastry cook at Facebook, Sunseri makes a point to use the best local ingredients in her ice creams and sorbets in creative yet highly accessible flavors.

Now stashed in my freezer at home.
Now stashed in my freezer at home.

Walk up to the window to order a cone or cup or pint to take home. Or order online ahead of time, then go to the “pick-up” window for speedier service.

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Pumpkin, Mustard, Cream — And Fall

A beauty of a red kabocha squash.
A beauty of a red kabocha squash.

As award-winning food writer Nigel Slater so astutely states in his newest cookbook, autumn and winter call for far different types of meals. With brisk weather and darker nights, they fairly demand more substantial and weightier fare to nourish and warm us through and through.

As his new “Greenfeast: Autumn, Winter” (Ten Speed Press) shows, though, that doesn’t necessarily dictate huge slabs of meat. In fact, in this cookbook, of which I received a review copy, he shows with 110 vegetarian recipes that even in the throes of deepest winter, you can feel mighty satiated with plant-based fare.

As always, his joyously descriptive writing is evident throughout, including in the introduction, where he unabashedly states, “There will be carbs. They protect and energize us. They bring balm to our jagged nerves.”

My kind of carbs -- fall-apart tender squash in a mustardy cream sauce.
My kind of carbs — fall-apart tender squash in a mustardy cream sauce.

Ah, a man after my own stomach.

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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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Alice Medrich’s Walnut-Crusted Oat Flour Genoise

A simple, soft, satisfying cake when times are anything but.
A simple, soft, satisfying cake when times are anything but.

Could this year get any more surreal?

At a time when life seems more chaotic than ever and more inconceivable by the second, that’s when we need to pause, take a deep breath, close our eyes — and have a piece of cake.

Yes, times like this call for equal measures of comfort, sweetness, and escape.

Cake does all of that.

Not one dressed to the nines in layers, swirls, swooshes, and a flourish of doodads.

But a simple one that’s honest and straightforward — characteristics we sadly seem to be in short supply of these days.

“Walnut-Crusted Oat Flour Genoise” embodies all of that. It’s just one layer. It’s baked in one pan. It doesn’t even require frosting. It’s also gluten-free — but doesn’t taste like it, if you get my drift.

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