The Luscious Wines of Middle Earth Are Enchanting Bay Area Imbibers

Northern  California is now the world’s biggest importer of New Zealand wines because local wine nuts are discovering the country’s expressive, vibrant varietals — including pinot noir, syrah and cabernet blends — are not just great price performers but come from a beautiful place at the forefront of sustainable winemaking. Real about it on KQED’s Bay Area Bites here.

Fast Casual Eateries Redefining Quick Cuisine

The super-hot fast casual trend is taking the region by storm, demonstrating that counter service doesn’t mean bad food.

(To be published by South Bay Accent magazine)

While fast food undeniably has a bad rep, Americans still like the stuff, with one in four citizens consuming some sort of fast food daily. Made-ahead greasy burgers, oily pizza, salty fries — people enjoy such fare not just because the unhealthful properties resonate with guilty taste buds but largely due to the fact it’s inexpensive and, well , fast. But the supersize-me crowd is being joined by more discriminating eaters as both flock to one of the hottest dining trends in the last few years: fast casual restaurants. Continue reading

(Recipe) Try Delicious Cauliflower “Steaks”

Cauliflower is definitely having a moment, being discovered in recent years by chefs and home cooks who resonate with its mild, goes-with-anything flavor and appealing texture. I love, love this veggie and cook it frequently, including making up recipes using a relatively new offering from Trader Joe’s called “riced” cauliflower that looks a lot like the grain and can be whipped up as a non-starchy substitute. TJ’s also sells riced broccoli but I prefer the white stuff.

Thus I was primed to like a new recipe from UK-based Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi that appeared in Bon Appetit that is the best thing I’ve tried from this popular cookbook author.  The dish consists of “steaks” of thick-cut cauliflower with a puree of the veggie underneath, punched up with a “salsa” of walnuts, capers, parsley and currants that takes the delightful dish into new territories of delicious. Continue reading

(Recipe) Easy, Delicious Chicken Enchiladas

mom-enchiladas

I fondly recall an enchilada dish my mom made that was notable for the colorful inclusion of black olives (the tasteless canned, sliced kind — she was busy) and sliced scallions.  Compared to the gloppy enchiladas in Mexican restaurants swimming in mud-colored sauce, hers was a pretty change of pace even though it probably relied on canned tomatoes and other convenient ingredients popular with her generation. So I set out to do a version with better ingredients.  Given that this is completely made up, I apologize for not having succinct amounts and detailed instructions. But enchiladas aren’t very hard to make so this should be easily put together. Note my alternative approach for the usual frying of tortillas called for in making enchiladas. Continue reading

Luscious Portuguese Cuisine in San Jose

adega-1Adega brings comfortable, modern decor and its first Michelin star to San Jose

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in February 2017)

Spanish food has been having a long moment but the cuisine from its neighbor Portugal might as well be from Liberia when it comes to awareness among American diners.  However, gifted young chefs David Costa and Jessica Carreira are changing this oversight; reservations at their Portuguese restaurant Adega are now the hottest ticket in the South Bay.  Of course, it didn’t hurt when Adega was awarded a Michelin star in the fall of 2016 even though it had only opened the previous year, just the second such honor for a Portuguese dining spot in the country and, remarkably, the very first star from the tire folks for a San Jose restaurant.  Continue reading

Take a Trip Around the World at Kumino Restaurant

kumino-ramenNoodles and rice bowls were never like this!

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in December 2016)

There’s an unfortunate bifurcation when it comes to eating out in the South Bay. Given all the fine cuisine and storied chefs in the region, diners expect a restaurant meal involving superb food will come with a hefty bill and be a pricey form of entertainment. Meanwhile, grabbing a quick mouthful for a small price is largely the territory of forgettable spots whose goal is simple fuel with low culinary expectations. With Americans now spending more on away-from-home meals than grocery buying, it’s not surprising that less-costly eateries get more of our food dollars than higher-end restaurants, which many people can’t afford. Continue reading

Hawaiian Food Hot in Bay Area

hawaiian-foodThere’s more to modern-day Hawaii than beautiful beaches. The food has become almost as popular on the mainland as tropical vacations.

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in February, 2017)

It might take five hours to fly to the Hawaiian Islands from the Bay Area but for many of us, the gorgeous 50th state feel like it’s almost next door given how nui (that means “big”) Hawaii is as a popular vacation destination. But in recent years, we can get a taste of the islands without any air travel whatsoever because Hawaiian music, drinks and — particularly — food have become a sizzling trend on the mainland. Too bad the trade winds and sub-tropical sunsets aren’t as easy to transplant. Continue reading