YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA — It may have been a challenging few months for this glorious national park, what with an outbreak of norovirus and the Ahwahnee Hotel’s loss of one star, dropping it to a AAA three-diamond rating instead. But I’m happy to report that all seemed well when I was there last week as moderator for the last two sessions of the 2020 Chefs’ Holidays event.
This popular winter-time extravaganza, which consists of fun chef demos and grand gala dinners, celebrated its 36th year this January.
There might not have been any snow on the valley floor this time around, but there was plenty of sunshine, as well as more than enough action on the demo stage to keep everyone entertained.
Husband-and-wife chefs John Stewart and Duskie Estes got things rolling first, recounting the devastating loss of their Zazu restaurant in Sebastopol after last winter’s deluge flooded their place, and how local high school students kayaked in with a generator to help them pump out the water.
Stewart and Estes may not have a restaurant at the moment. But they continue to do catering, as well as sell products from their farm, including their magnificent Black Pig Meat Co. bacon.
I doubt if anyone ever needs an excuse to indulge in Recchiuti chocolates. But with Valentine’s Day coming up, you indeed have the perfect reason to treat yourself or someone you love to some of the finest artisan chocolate confections around.
For more than two decades, Michael Recchiuti has been making exquisite chocolates by hand with flavoring ingredients sourced seasonally from Bay Area farmers markets.
You can find the confections at the Recchiuti storefront at the Ferry Building in San Francisco and the retail shop, Recchiuti at the Lab, in San Francisco’s Dogpatch neighborhood. Or you can shop on its own web store.
In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, I was lucky enough to receive samples to try of two holiday offerings.
The Love Birds Truffle Box ($48) is a collection of 16 pieces, an assortment of the most popular flavors, including Tarragon Grapefruit, Pearl Mint Tea, and Piedmont Hazelnut.
It doesn’t get nearly the respect it deserves. It seems too plain, too basic, too cheap to be worthy of much attention.
But just consider how integral it is to slaws, salads, soups, corned beef, and so many Russian and Polish staples.
If that doesn’t convince you, surely “Roasted Savoy Cabbage Wedges, Caesar-Style” will.
This incredibly easy dish features all the arresting flavors of Caesar salad — but with roasted cabbage instead.
The recipe is from All About Dinner: Simple Meals, Expert Advice” (W.W. Norton & Company), of which I received a review copy. It’s the fabulous new book by James Beard Award-winning Molly Stevens, a gifted cooking instructor, recipe developer and food writer who lives in Vermont.