Category Archives: Appetizers/Starters

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.

(To be published by South Bay Accent magazine)

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

(Recipe) Beet-Cured Salmon; Gorgeous, Easy and Tasty

beet-cured salmon on blini

Gravlax is a beloved staple in Scandinavia and in Jewish households that wouldn’t serve anything else but lox with their bagels and cream cheese. This simple fish curing technique is based on the idea of preserving salmon with a combination of salt and sugar. It’s super easy and only requires a little foresight because curing takes a couple of days. Continue reading

Top 10 Tapas

tapasThere are a slew of restaurants in the South Bay offering Latin-style small plates these days, so which are the most popular dishes?

(Published by South Bay Accent in February, 2014.)

Spanish-influenced appetizers have become as hot as spicy chorizo.  Whether you call them tapas (Spain), picadas (Argentina), petiscos (Brazil), bocas (various Latin American countries) or just snacks, the idea of petite quantities of food served with alcoholic or other beverages has universal appeal, with more tapas spots now open in the South Bay than ever.  With so many choices out there, it’s high time we selected the region’s ten tastiest tapas.  Continue reading

(Recipe) Herb Salad – It’s Great as a Sauce!

DSC_0007Herbs make a mouthful of taste when used as a salad and work as a great counterpoint to many savory dishes.

Many sauces include herbs as a key flavor agent — hollandaise and pesto are just the beginning — so why not lighten things up and use just the herbs?  It’s less crazy than it seems once you’ve tried it.  Plus, a little pile of lightly dressed greenery is a lovely addition to a plate. Continue reading

Knock-’em-Dead Appetizer, Knocked off from French Laundry

FL salmon cornetsIf you’ve been to the French Laundry, this ubiquitous starter is one of Thomas Keller’s best-known creations. Tiny seed-flecked cones are filled with salmon tartare and minced onion with some caviar (naturally) crowning the top along with a microscopic sprig of dill. Called salmon cornets, they require a regiment of prep cooks, special holders and all the usual rigamarole of this temple of refined cuisine.

The recipe has long been available and self-flagellating home cooks can certainly make them at home with great effort.  But why would you want to when the flavor profile can be captured in a waaaaay easier-to-make version that you can throw together fast and serve to happy guests? Continue reading

(Recipe) Fast, Delicious Beet and Yogurt Starter

This divine starter “borrowed” from the Lark menu is incredibly easy to make and tastes wonderful. 

A recent jaunt to the Pacific Northwest reiterated what I already knew: Besides its beauty, that region has some killer ingredients and restaurants.  A case in point is this starter served at Lark, a casual but accomplished small-plates spot up in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, which is awash in eateries these days. What could be easier than roasted baby beets, Greek yogurt, za’atar (a Middle Eastern blend of herbs, sesame seeds and sumac), salted pistachios and mint?  But wow, is it tasty! Continue reading

Finger Limes — Citrus Caviar

Until recently, I’d only read about finger limes and definitely wanted to try this hard-to-find, exotic citrus variety.  Called “citrus caviar,” these limes diverge from their citrus brethren by containing little juice vesticles that do, indeed, look and behave like caviar, popping in your mouth and releasing a lovely, limey, tart flavor.   They’re like a natural take on molecular gastronomy and inspire lots of recipe experiments. Continue reading