A very casual, noisy environment is paired with sublime, creative small plates in chef Jeffrey Stout’s new eatery.
(Published by South Bay Accent in June, 2015.)
Second acts can sometimes outshine their predecessor. Steve Jobs, Jimmy Carter, Michael Milken — these are just a few people who had remarkable comebacks after failures (or felonies). Deeply talented local chef Jeffrey Stout has also had a worthy rebound, with the result pleasing the tummies of South Bay food lovers.
The founding chef of Alexander’s Steakhouse, Stout helmed the pricey, white-tablecloth restaurant through growth (a sister location in San Francisco) for eight years until being dismissed in 2012. He was vindicated when the restaurant then lost its Michelin star, with further sweet revenge coming in the form of Stout’s new place, Orchard City Kitchen — nicknamed OCK — in Campbell’s Pruneyard, which has been an unqualified hit since it opened in late 2014. Continue reading
The most hyper-local grower at a Bay Area farmers market must surely be Kevin Lynch, “the mulberry guy,” who travels all of two miles from his suburban micro-farm (otherwise known as his backyard) to the downtown Palo Alto farmers market. Now local chefs are using his delectable fruit and he has expanded into mint-and-mulberry-leaf tea, jam and lip balm, among other creations utilizing this ancient plant. The only problem with his candy-like fruit is that he doesn’t have enough of it to satisfy his many rabid fans. Read all about it on KQED’s food blog here.
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