The Basin has long been Saratoga’s most enduringly popular dinner spot.
(Published by South Bay Accent in November, 2013.)
The high turnover rate among new restaurants could easily be avoided if more restaurateurs were like Andrew Welch. You’ll find no slapdash service, sketchy cuisine concept or edgy vibe at his popular dinner spot, The Basin, in downtown Saratoga. For 14 years, this popular eatery has had a singular focus: delivering what pleases guests rather than trying to cram some restaurateur’s personal vision down their throats. Continue reading
The Hahn winery in Santa Lucia Highlands is offering view-full tours of its steep vineyards followed by a tasting.
(Published by the San Jose Mercury and its affiliates on September 19, 2013)
We’re blitzing between rows of grapevines on an ATV, fat tires spewing up dust. Our driver-guide is saying something about all the vines we’re passing but the motor’s roar drowns her out. Now hotfooting up a steep trail, we come to a quick stop at the upper edge of this mountain vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands. The green Salinas Valley with its checkerboard of crops spreads out below and in the sudden quiet of the silenced engine, we hear starlings chatter as they dive-bomb the vineyard. Continue reading
This gorgeous, remote wine region deserves to be discovered not only for the views for the terrific wines.
(Published by the San Jose Mercury-News and its affiliates on September 19, 2013.)
While tourists are elbowing each other for a view of the sea otters at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, “gridlock” in the nearby Santa Lucia Highlands wine region means seeing another car on the road.
Best known as a designation on some prestigious labels, this undiscovered region “is not a wine Disneyland like up north,” says Dave Muret, executive director of the local vintners association. “Many of the wineries aren’t open to the public but those that are have incredible views and genuine hospitality.”
Picnicking under the trees with the views below at Hahn Winery.
Where there are great wines and killer vistas, there must be picnics. The whole-hog approach would be lodging at ritzy L’Auberge Carmel and ordering a lavish custom lunch basket assembled by Food & Wine “Best New Chef” Justin Cogley with cuisine that’s tailored to the wines to be tasted that day. Continue reading
An irresistible fritto misto is just one example of the fine Italian food at renamed Campo 185.
(Between writing time and publication time, this less-than-a-year-old restaurant closed and will be replaced with a Sam’s Chowder House location.)
Names matter. Would you pay to be entertained by Georgios Panayiotou, Joyce Frankenberg or Terry Jean Bollette? Probably not, but you’ve likely heard of George Michael, Jane Seymour and Hulk Hogan, their stage names. In similar fashion, when Campo Pizzeria opened in downtown Palo Alto last December in the former Lavanda location, there were at least nine other pizza sources within a few blocks so the name didn’t resonate. Continue reading
San Jose’s Santana Row has consistently been a hot people and restaurant destination in the South Bay. A semi-new arrival is Lark Creek Blue.
(Published by South Bay Accent in August, 2013.)
Too many restaurants these days call themselves “farm to table” — which should mean focused on super-fresh local ingredients — but the dozen-plus spots in the upscale Lark Creek Group come by it honestly. The chain was co-founded in 1988 by notable chef Bradley Ogden before this term was invented to celebrate “seasonal, farm-fresh American fare.” Years — and many restaurants — later, nothing has changed. That’s why one of the newest spots, Lark Creek Blue in Santana Row, makes sure its seafood complies with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s sustainability requirements while getting many of its ingredients from small family farms. Continue reading
Fabulous peaches and other stonefruit do exist if you know where to find them.
(Published by the Bay Area News Group on August 1.2013. See “when is fruit ready to eat” sidebar to learn how to assess ripe peaches and nectarines.)
A great peach tastes like a perfect summer. Satiny flesh flaunts bursts of sweetness balanced by tartness with enveloping, lush aromas. Thick juice explodes with the first bite and then runs down chins, hands and arms. Moans of pleasure are involuntary.
But finding such fruit today can be difficult. Continue reading