Dining Outside at Broma

Spanish octopus in chili glaze at Broma.
Spanish octopus in chili glaze at Broma.

To the mix of amphitheater, movieplex and Google headquarters on this stretch of North Shoreline Boulevard in Mountain View came a swank new hotel last year.

In June, that property, the 200-room Shashi Hotel, positioned itself as even more of a destination when it opened its restaurant, Broma, with Chief Culinary Director Jarad Gallagher, formerly of Michelin-starred Chez TJ in Mountain View, and Executive Chef Aubree Arndt, formerly of Loma Brewing Company in Los Gatos.

This is the first restaurant by the Shashi Group, which also owns the Aloft hotels in the South Bay and The Nest boutique hotel in Palo Alto.

Last year, the Shashi Hotel opened its Emerald Hour bar and cocktail lounge. Still to come are a coffee shop called Carte Blanche, and a fine-dining restaurant, Belle Terra.

Executive Chef Aubrey Arndt.
Executive Chef Aubrey Arndt.

Last week, I had a chance to check out Broma, its Spanish-Portuguese restaurant, when I was invited in as a guest.

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Stanley Tucci’s Spaghetti con Zucchine alla Nerano

One of Stanley Tucci's favorite pasta dishes.
One of Stanley Tucci’s favorite pasta dishes.

If the lusty comments from my gal pals are any indication, I’m definitely not the only one obsessed with Stanley Tucci’s CNN travel show, “Searching for Italy.”

Or with Stanley Tucci, himself, for that matter. (Hey, I’m just keeping it real.)

So, it’s probably no surprise that the food on the show has proved equally enthralling.

Ever since seeing the episode featuring Lo Scoglio’s zucchini pasta, I’ve been so intrigued with this specialty dish of this Amalfi Coast restaurant that’s a favorite of Tucci and his wife Felicity.

I like zucchini, but I can’t say it’s ever captured my fancy enough to get all excited about when it first starts appearing at farmers markets in summer. I mean, it’s no asparagus. Not by a long shot.

So, with just Parmigiano, basil, olive oil, and fried zucchini as the main components in this pasta, how good could this really be?

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Dining Outside at Saffron in Burlingame, Né Rasa

India meets China in General Tso's cauliflower at Saffron in Burlingame.
India meets China in General Tso’s cauliflower at Saffron in Burlingame.

At this Burlingame spot, you will find a refashioned brighter interior, an added parklet, a new menu and name change, and owner Ajay Walia no longer greeting you in a sharp suit, but casual shirt and slacks.

In June, Walia closed his former Michelin-starred, fine-dining Rasa on this property, and morphed it into the second outpost of his Saffron (the original is in San Carlos). It was a difficult decision, he says, but one necessitated by the challenges of the pandemic.

Yet despite the transformation, Walia doesn’t believe anything is radically different.

“We’re still buying the same ingredients, and cooking with the same standards,” he says. “The only thing that has changed is people’s expectations.”

A feast al fresco.
A feast al fresco.

Indeed, when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant last week to dine outside, I found the food as delightful as ever.

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Miso Chicken Lickety-Split

You have to love a recipe that has only half a dozen ingredients, most of which are probably already in your kitchen.
You have to love a recipe that has only half a dozen ingredients, most of which are probably already in your kitchen.

At the start of this nearly 1,000-page tome, you are instructed not to use this book for the following three things:

For academic research. For dieting. Or for a doorstop.

You have to to love a cookbook that announces itself with such honesty and presence. And “The Essential New York Times Cookbook” (W.W. Norton & Co., 2021), of which I received a review copy, certainly does.

It was written by former Times’ food writer and food editor, Amanda Hesser, who went on to co-found Food52.

It’s actually an updated version of the original book that came out in 2010.

Hesser took on the challenge to once again wade through the Times’ immense 150-year-old archives. This time around, she also called upon the expertise of cooks of color to add more global recipes, including ones from Nigeria, Tibet, Thailand, and China.

In the process, she ended up jettisoning 65 former recipes in the book and adding instead 120 new ones that are more culturally diverse. She includes the date each recipe appeared, too, providing a fascinating look at how our tastes and techniques have changed or stayed the same.

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Gazpacho — Mexican-Style

Gaspacho -- done as a sweet, tangy, subtly spicy fruit salad instead.
Gaspacho — done as a sweet, tangy, subtly spicy fruit salad instead.

Rick Martinez says his mouth starts to water just thinking about this refreshing dish.

It’s easy to understand why, because his “Gaspacho Moreliano” is the antidote to the torrid heat of summer.

It’s quenching and cooling like Spanish gazpacho, but this Mexican version is far more substantial because it’s not a soup, but a sweet-tangy-spicy-savory fruit salad.

The recipe is from Martinez’s first cookbook, “Mi Cocina” (Penguin Random House), of which I received a review copy.

The host of the YouTube series, “Pruebalo,” and a contributor to Bon Appetit magazine and the New York Times, Martinez, he grew up in a small town outside of Austin, TX, where he was the first child of Mexican heritage to attend that then all-white elementary school.

It was his late mother who inspired his passion for cooking. Even though her own mother and aunties had passed away already, his mom decided to start anew the tradition of making tamales for the holidays, figuring out the exact recipe along the way through trial and error on her own. She hoped the practice would be passed down to her sons. For Martinez, it ignited a deep, unwavering love for his heritage, culture, and family.

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