Tippler’s Delight in Santana Row

Fancy cocktails and tasty food are a winning combo at Roots & Rye in swanky Santana Row, a popular hangout for younger patrons.

(To be published by South Bay Accent magazine.)

Historically, bars have been dimly lit places dedicated to the flow of booze while offering minimal, forgettable edibles.  Some older drinkers can recall that dubious snack mix in their favorite watering holes possibly dating from the Reagan administration.  Well, that was then.  In our modern era with its relentless reinvention of  food and drink, distilled spirits have been overhauled and up leveled, with fine whiskies having become particularly trendy.  But no self-respecting proprietor would serve stale pretzels and petrified popcorn so the bar food accompanying high-end hootch is often a draw all on its own these days. Continue reading

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Utterly Delicous Albacore Tuna Crudo Recipe

“Crudo” is essentially an Italian way to present pristine raw fish — think sashimi but more interesting and varied — and this recipe is a winner.

Albacore Crudo with Strawberries and Nuoc Cham

This is a simple, absolutely wonderful recipe if you have super-fresh fish and want a quick way to prepare it.  Besides being utterly delicious, it’s pretty and lends itself well to adaptations.  For the uninitiated, “crudo” is the same concept as sashimi except the preparation is as varied as the cook’s imagination. While nominally an Italian dish, it’s prepared in all kinds of ways by fancy chefs and home cooks. In my dish, the richness of the fish is underscored by the light, slightly citrusy sauce with its Asian flavors, which I pump up a bit with the barest drizzle of lime oil.  The sweet/tart pop of strawberries goes quite well with this. Even if using strawberries with fish sounds weird to you, try it anyway and you won’t be sorry. Or use pomegranate seeds. Continue reading

Where to Get Fresh Local Abalone

Once harvested commercially until few were left in the wild, California red abalone is so delicious that demand is ongoing.  Now the farmed abalone available at two Bay Area operations is said to taste even better than the wild kind and is a “best choice” according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. Find out where to buy it in the Bay Area and learn about its interesting history. Read all about it on KQED’s Bay Area Bites here.

Bodacious Basque Tapas in Los Gatos

One-bite wonders at Pintxos Pote in Los Gatos keep diners coming back, like this combo of egg, shrimp, olive and aoili.

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in August, 2017.)

Pintxos — those luscious bites found in Spain’s Basque region — are to tapas what porterhouse steak is to beef.  At least, that’s what any visitor to the incredible foodie capital of San Sebastián on the Atlantic near the French border would tell you. This thriving Basque city has Michelin stars like other towns have gas stations and the top activity seems to be devouring mind-blowing mouthfuls in the city’s hundred-plus pintxos bars.  But South Bay residents don’t have to go nearly that far to munch on outrageously tasty pintxos in a friendly environment. Continue reading

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.

(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in August, 2017.)

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