Laura Hagar-Rush has launched a handmade aperitif business in a former winery in Penngrove, producing luscious, fragrant beverages made from exotic local fruit and herbs.
New-world aperitifs are definitely having a moment. It’s another example of how the farm-to-table movement featuring organic produce is reinventing classic products from earlier generations. Some of the most delicious, unique examples in the region are coming from Sonoma Aperitif, where proprietor Laura Hagar-Rush is using spectacularly aromatic heirloom fruit to concoct lovely, intense wine-based elixirs. Hagar-Rush offers an ever-changing selection that evolves with the seasons and includes oroblanco, Chinese quince, bergamot, Buddha’s hand and luscious blends such as fig-pear and cherimoya-jasmine. Read all about it on KQED’s food blog here.
Zola is the new hot table in downtown Palo Alto.
(Published by South Bay Accent magazine in April, 2015.)
One of the many delights of living in Paris is the sprinkling of little local bistros where folks from the ‘hood gather for spirited talk, plentiful sips of wine and affordable, sustaining food, nothing precious. Downtown Palo Alto once had such a spot, L’Amie Donia, that was beloved and always packed. A decade after this restaurant’s perfect pommes frites and pan-roasted cod made their last appearance, a new French bistro has captured the fancy of Palo Altans seeking that comforting Gallic experience, opening last September on the very same block. Zola, named after the 19th century French writer, quickly attracted a happy crowd and zoomed to the top on social media rankings. Continue reading
Friendly proprietor Ken Kurose of Nak’s Oriental Market freely and frequently offers samples, deals and smiles to customers of his tiny Menlo Park store.
Sure, many people shop at indifferent, overlit discount grocery stores to save a few bucks but you can still find special items and exceptional, personalized service if you know where to look. My favorite is eclectic, beloved, miniscule Nak’s Oriental Market, which has been offering everything from pristine hamachi belly and the best nuoc mam to Dutch cookies for 46 years. Read all about it on KQED’s Bay Area Bites blog here.
Head baker extraordinaire Avery Ruzicka has transformed the Manresa Bread Project into ManresaBread, occupying a large new production plant in Los Gatos and soon a retail bakery near Manresa restaurant.
The first spinoff of Michelin two-star Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos — ManresaBread — will open any day now. This ingredient-focused bakery will be offering the scrumptious artisan breads and unique pastries that have, until now, only been available in the restaurant and at a couple of farmers markets. The love child of talented young baker Avery Ruzicka, the operation is much like the restaurant, producing unique, hand-crafted, unusual items not usually found elsewhere. Read all about it on KQED’s Bay Area Bites blog here.
A crop of hot chefs is turning coastal Santa Cruz into a worthy foodie destination.
(Published in February 2015 by South Bay Accent Magazine.)
Santa Cruz. This classic California beach town, famously progressive and proudly quirky — “Keep Santa Cruz weird” is its unofficial motto — has recently added a bustling food scene to attractions like the Boardwalk, surfing and redwoods-filled state parks.
Given the city’s longtime standing as a center of organic agriculture, the spate of exciting new eateries appearing in the last few years might be overdue. “We recognized that Santa Cruz was ripe for businesses like ours,” said the founder of one popular new restaurant, with this realization attracting other food entrepreneurs to Surf City of late. For locals and visitors, the eating choices have never been better. Continue reading
With light-bedecked trees and lots of visitors, downtown Palo Alto’s restaurant row is the “it” place to dine on the Peninsula and in the South Bay these days.
New eateries opening constantly, multiple farmers markets, mushrooming specialty shops dishing up things like artisan ice cream, chocolates and exotic baked goods, out-of-town eaters flocking in to munch — this must be San Francisco, right? Well, yes, but it also describes Palo Alto circa 2015.
Happily for those living in what was once considered the vast culinary desert south of the city, good grub can be found without a drive into San Francisco. And today’s most prosperous foodie town in this area is decidedly posh Palo Alto. Read all about it on KQED’s Bay Area Bites blog here.
It’s hard to beat the beauty and solitude of Yosemite National Park during the winter, where sights and activities await.
(Published on January 25, 2015, by the San Jose Mercury-News and its affiliates.)
Opaque mist freezes instantly, forming massive snowcones below Yosemite Falls. A trick of the setting sun turns Horsetail Falls into a glowing ribbon of fire, illuminating the granite walls. And clumps of frazil ice flow across creeks, transforming them into giant moving slurpees.
Some four million people visit majestic Yosemite National Park every year, but only a few hundred thousand will ever see such scenes, behold the pristine magic and the cushioned silence of the season. The vast majority visit in the summer, when the valley floor resembles freeway rush hour. But the winter season is Yosemite’s best-kept secret, a season of serenity, grandeur and utter peace. Continue reading