Tam Tam Restaurant — The Little Sister to Tamarine in Palo Alto

Fried chicken wings covered in caramelized fish sauce and butter -- at the new Tam Tam Restaurant.
Fried chicken wings covered in caramelized fish sauce and butter — at the new Tam Tam Restaurant.

Chef Tammy Huynh has had a long, storied legacy in the restaurant industry. Her parents opened Vung Tau in downtown San Jose in 1985, one of the pioneering authentic Vietnamese restaurants in the region. In 2002, Huynh followed in her family’s footsteps to open the contemporary Tamarine in downtown Palo Alto.

Now, at the other end of Palo Alto’s University Avenue, she’s opened up Tam Tam Restaurant, a more casual, more regionally focused establishment.

It’s still a family affair with Huynh opening up her latest restaurant with her sister Tanya Huynh Hartley. Huynh’s son Kevin Phan is the general manager.

I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant, which opened in mid-September not far from the CalTrain station.

The dining room.
The dining room.
The bar serves only beer and wine, but makes a fine place for solo diners to plant themselves.
The bar serves only beer and wine, but makes a fine place for solo diners to plant themselves.

A large bar makes up the back of the dining room, making a popular spot for solo diners and couples to plop down for a quick bite after work. The dining room is decorated with paintings by Vietnamese artists to add a splash of color.

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Smashed Cucumbers with Sizzled Turmeric and Garlic

Get smashing -- with cucumbers, that is.
Get smashing — with cucumbers, that is.

Every couple of years, Instagram blows up with the latest-greatest food blogger whose recipes and photos are so captivating that they are irresistible to anyone who happens to stumble upon them.

Meet the new “It” girl — if you haven’t already: Alison Roman.

The native of Los Angeles who now calls Brooklyn home is a regular columnist for the New York Times food section and Bon Appetit magazine.

Blonde and bubbly, she’s like the girl next door — who can not only cook, but will always invite you over to sit down at her table.

Because when it comes to entertaining, she believes in nothing fancy.

Indeed, that’s the title of her new cookbook, which encourages you to take a deep breath, and stop stressing about cooking for others.

“Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy, is all about making entertaining easy with fuss-free, crowd-pleasing dishes that make people feel at home from the get go.

Take a go at dishes such as “Mustardy Green Beans with Anchovyed Walnuts,” “One-Pot Chicken with Dates and Caramelized Lemons,” “Kimchi-Braised Pork with Sesame and Egg Yolk” and “Salted Honey Panna Cotta with Crushed Raspberries.”

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Caffeine Convenience: Verve Nitro Flash Brew

Verve's Nitro Flash Brew comes with a creamy head.
Verve’s Nitro Flash Brew comes with a creamy head.

Are you like me — desperately in need of that cup of joe in the morning to get going? Then, you’ll love the convenience of Verve Coffee Roaster’s Nitro Flash Brew.

Conveniently packaged in 9.5-ounce cans, it’s ideal for time-pressed days when you just can’t spare making your own.

I had a chance to try a sample of the product, made by the Santa Cruz coffee company that roasts its beans in vintage roasters, and is committed to preserving heirloom varieties of coffee and to paying farmers prices above Fair Trade minimums.

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Honey-Mustard Sheet-Pan Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

Honey-mustard chicken, charred Brussels sprouts, and sweet red onions -- all roasted in one pan for ease.
Honey-mustard chicken, charred Brussels sprouts, and sweet red onions — all roasted in one pan for ease.

This dish is a total no-brainer.

And I mean that in the best of sense.

Because “Honey-Mustard Sheet-Pan Chicken with Brussels Sprouts” is so easy to make. It’s one of those recipes that requires little exertion mentally or physically. It’s effortless enough to make on a weeknight. And it uses many ingredients that you probably routinely have on hand.

It’s from the new cookbook, “Two Peas & Their Pod Cookbook: Favorite Everyday Recipes from Our Family Kitchen” (Grand Central), of which I received a review copy.

It’s the debut cookbook from Salt Lake City’ Maria Lichty, who created the namesake Two Peas & Their Pod blog.

The book showcases 115 recipes that especially speak to young families like hers who are time-pressed to get food on the table for kids and spouses. These are dishes that are simple enough to make day in and day out, such as “Cinnamon Streusel French Toast,” “Sweet Potato Fries with Magic Green Tahini Sauce, ” “Asian Pork Lettuce Wraps,” and “Chocolate-Mint Whoopie Pies.” There’s even a chapter on easy entertaining with recipes to feed a crowd, including “Loaded Nachos Bar” and “Weekend Waffle Bar.”

Sheet-pan entrees are all the rage now in this time-pressed era because everything cooks in one baking pan, making prep and clean-up a breeze. I took that one step further: The recipe says to spray nonstick baking spray on a large baking sheet. Instead, I lined my baking tray with aluminum foil, then sprayed the foil with nonstick spray. That way, only the foil gets dirty, not the pan.

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Telefèric Barcelona Opens With A Sizzle in Palo Alto

The Catalon G&T at the new Telefèric Barcelona in Palo Alto.
The Catalon G&T at the new Telefèric Barcelona in Palo Alto.

There’s no doubt that Palo Alto’s Town & Country Village is a happening place. Just try to park there most any time of day or night, and you’ll be hunting for a parking spot because that’s how busy it gets.

Now, it’s bound to get even crazier than the long lines there for Boba Guys. That’s because the new Telefèric Barcelona just opened its doors last week, with plenty of Spanish flair, pulsating music, and flaming cocktails lighting up the dining room.

It’s the second Bay Area locale for the Telefèric Barcelona Restaurant Group of Barcelona, joining the original Telefèric Barcelona that opened in Walnut Creek in 2016.

Brother and sister, Xavi and Maria Padrosa took over the original restaurant in Barcelona, which their mother had started. They were lured to bring their concept stateside by a Walnut Creek developer.

Xavi Padrosa had long wanted to open a restaurant in Palo Alto, a city close to his heart since he lived there for seven years while attending Foothill College in Los Altos Hills and Golden Gate University in San Francisco.

Just inside the entry way.
Just inside the entry way.
The bar.
The bar.
Seats right in front of the open kitchen.
Seats right in front of the open kitchen.

The contemporary Palo Alto restaurant is all clean lines with a long bar, sleek open kitchen, colorful Spanish tiles, and basket-like light fixtures. When it’s full, as it was for a friends-and-family and media dinner that I attended the night before it opened to the public, it can be very loud. You will have to lean over the table to converse with your dining companion.

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