Tue09302014

Food & Wine

Tips and tricks: Grilling eggplant


Blanche Shaheen/Special to the Town Crier
Grilled eggplant adds nutrient-rich heft to sandwiches, above, and salads, below.

While eggplant is revered in the Middle East, it is generally ignored by the western world. When I mention how much I love eggplant to friends and acquaintances, I tend to get negative comments or puzzled looks. Even raw-food vegan enthusiasts reject this vegetable, because, frankly, have you ever tried raw eggplant?

“Raw eggplant is delicious,” said no one, ever.

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Fruit beers offer unlikely complexity


Derek Wolfgram/Special to the Town Crier
San Jose’s Hermitage Brewing Company showcases fruits in a European mode.

Fruit beers don’t always get much respect or attention in the craft beer world, most likely because the early commercially available examples were not very exciting.

Breweries released a number of raspberry wheat beers and other one-dimensional, slightly sweet, artificial-tasting brews designed for drinkers who didn’t actually enjoy beer. However, the addition of fruit ranging from berries to stone fruits to citrus, as well as other more obscure examples (such as acai, raisins, dates, apple, coconut, or melon), can create interesting flavor profiles of great depth.

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Summer corn and leek risotto highlights weekday dinner


Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Risotto showcases the season’s sweet corn. Pair it with sliced tomatoes and a glass of Viognier.

I get a little giddy when sweet corn starts arriving at the markets. Served grilled or boiled, the veggie is a perfect expression of summer. Everyone in my house is a fan.

So when I found myself with lots of corn and a need for a quick weekday dinner, I decided to showcase the sweet kernels in a simple and satisfying risotto.

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Try Brian's for family luncheons


Photo courtesy of Clyde Noel
Brian Whitlock, right, operates Brian’s at Rancho Shopping Center with, from left, Elena Perez, Pam Berntley and Javier Carbajal.

Come Saturday lunchtime, local cyclists gather at Brian’s Restaurant in Rancho Shopping Center after a long ride. On Sundays, well-dressed people arrive after church for lunch. During the week, though, lunchtime is reserved for seniors.

“We focus on families,” said restaurant owner Brian Whitlock. “We feed people going to work and feature kid menus and crayons. We also cater to business meetings because our business is ham and eggs and waffles – and it is becoming a Wi-Fi hotspot.”

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Globetrotting – one glass at a time


Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Take a tour of the world from your own picnic table with a selection of regional wines, above. Argentina’s white wines, left, pair well with a choriza pizza (see recipe on page 35).

I’m taking a trip around the world, and I’m not going to stand in a single airport security line. You can travel this way, too. Just swing by your local wine shop and pick up wines from various regions of the world. Then as the summer days go by, visit various countries with one night of international sipping each week.

More often than not, when we find a wine we really enjoy, we buy it again and again. I understand the value of sticking with what works and having a go-to varietal, but I’m also an advocate for spreading your palate’s wings.

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Globetrotting – one glass at a time


Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Take a tour of the world from your own picnic table with a selection of regional wines, above. Argentina’s white wines, left, pair well with a choriza pizza (see recipe on page 35).

I’m taking a trip around the world, and I’m not going to stand in a single airport security line. You can travel this way, too. Just swing by your local wine shop and pick up wines from various regions of the world. Then as the summer days go by, visit various countries with one night of international sipping each week.

More often than not, when we find a wine we really enjoy, we buy it again and again. I understand the value of sticking with what works and having a go-to varietal, but I’m also an advocate for spreading your palate’s wings.

Read more...

Oren's Hummus brings Israeli food to downtown Mountain View


Courtesy of Oren’s Hummus
Chickpeas make up the heart of Oren’s Hummus’ most famous dishes, but new menu offerings put a spotlight on eggplant at its Mountain View location.

The hummus phenomenon that has staked out a bustling corner of downtown Palo Alto opened an outpost in Mountain View last week.

Oren’s Hummus set up shop at 126 Castro St. with a slimmed-down, speeded-up menu.

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Oren’s Hummus brings Israeli food to downtown Mountain View


Courtesy of Oren’s Hummus
Chickpeas make up the heart of Oren’s Hummus’ most famous dishes, but new menu offerings put a spotlight on eggplant at its Mountain View location.

The hummus phenomenon that has staked out a bustling corner of downtown Palo Alto opened an outpost in Mountain View last week.

Oren’s Hummus set up shop at 126 Castro St. with a slimmed-down, speeded-up menu.

Read more...

Amber India to move into storied Los Altos venue, site of music history


Photo courtesy of EBay
The recently shuttered Pineapple Grill is one in a series of restaurants that replaced Chuck’s Cellar. The Cellar of yore lives on in eBay ephemera like a matchbook, left.

Amber India is coming to Los Altos and picked a storied location for its new restaurant – the huge eatery at 4926 El Camino Real already has a place in local history books.

Passersby can be forgiven for not noticing the sprawling three-story structure tucked away among office buildings a few blocks south of San Antonio Road. But long before housing a series of kebab restaurants, before its stint as an Italian bistro, the building saw music legend being made.

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Outside-the-box summer drinking


Courtesy of Christine Moore
High-quality box wines have started to arrive in the U.S. They’re purpose-built for beach days, cookouts and impromptu summer sips.

In summer 2013, I visited the village of Roujan in the South of France. My small group of friends and a horde of strangers were hooting and hollering in anticipation of the Tour de France peloton’s surge through the narrow avenue like a beautifully contained tsunami. It was thrilling.

The chilled and crispy Picpoul de Pinet I was sipping made the experience all the more bucket-list worthy. Delicate and fresh, the wine boasted a wonderful lemon zing. It was cold. It was invigorating. It was exactly right for the experience. And it was from a box.

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Secret no more: Word spreads about Clandestine Brewery


Courtesy of Derek Wolfgram
The Clandestine Brewing team includes, from left, Dwight Mulcahy, Colin Kelly, Rob Conticello, Adrian Kalaveshi, Christine Kalaveshi and Clandestine’s first employee, Jeff MacDonell.

Clandestine Brewing, the newest brewery in the South Bay, opened May 30 in an industrial neighborhood just a couple of blocks north of The Plant shopping center in San Jose. As its spy-themed logo proclaims, “The secret is out.”

Founded by partners Rob Conticello, Adrian Kalaveshi, Christine Kalaveshi, Colin Kelly and Dwight Mulcahy, Clandestine Brewing represents a unique niche emerging in the craft beer industry – the nanobrewery. Loosely defined as an enterprise with a brewing system of three barrels (93 gallons) or less in capacity, a nanobrewery minimizes the capital outlay required to start a brewery while maximizing opportunities for creativity and experimentation due to the small batch size.

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Classic with a twist: Caramelized cookie completes pavlova


Photos courtesy of the Garden Court 
Chef Clive Berkman of the Garden Court Hotel reimagines the pavlova, left, a delicate dessert with a sugary meringue base. Berkman recently launched a monthly five-course “Chef’s Table,” below.

As summer fruit sweetens this month and apricots across Los Altos start reaching their furry, golden peak, consider the pavlova an antipodean showcase for your local harvest. The dessert, beloved across the British Commonwealth, has become something of a national dish in New Zealand and Australia.

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Back to basics: How old ways of farming are revolutionary


Courtesy of Christine Moore
Sustainable farming practices can result in better wines.

Without meaning to, I wrote a love letter to the farming practices of yesteryear. Here’s what happened.

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Sweets lovers and vegetarians celebrate banner year in Los Altos


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Boardwalk served its final batch of burgers and fries last week, one of many changes in the local food landscape.

The same week the hallowed hangout The Boardwalk closed in Los Altos, news spread of a new restaurant coming to Main Street – Turn, a venture in the early stages of development set to take over the corner previously occupied by Jamba Juice and A.G. Ferrari Foods.

Following is a roundup of the latest food-related comings and goings in and around Los Altos.

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Savor sessionable styles suited for summer sips

FOOD sessionbeerIn summertime, the beer drinker’s thoughts turn to refreshing, low-alcohol brews that can be enjoyed on hot days.

The session beer culture has been present in the United Kingdom for decades but has only recently caught on in the U.S., perhaps as a pendulum swing away from the bigger-is-better, 100+ IBU, over-10-percent-ABV craft beer trend of the past few years.

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Mother's Day: Breakfast in bed made easy


Celebrate Mother’s Day with an easy menu. Children can help prepare Breakfast-in-Bed Berries, and Sweet & Savory Twisties, recipes included below. Christine Moore/ Special to the Town Crier

Combining two bits of information – breakfast is the most important meal of the day and Mother’s Day is the only day of the year designated to spoiling mom from the moment she wakes – I can make a compelling argument that Mother’s Day breakfast is the most important meal of the entire year.

Is that too much pressure to put on a breakfast?

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Food as art: Local photographer recasts recipes in full color

FOOD watermelon salad fmt
Recipe, photo and illustration by Erin Gleeson for “The Forest Feast”

When creating the cookbook “The Forest Feast: Simple Vegetarian Recipes from My Cabin in the Woods” (Abrams/Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 2014), local photographer Erin Gleeson reimagined her blog as a photo book of sprawling sunlit pages, featuring local produce and watercolor annotations.

Using Bay Area ingredients and shooting exclusively in and around her cabin near Skyline Drive, Gleeson has built a tiny vegetarian empire out of her love, as a photography student, for the fruits and vegetables of the farmers’ market.

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Steins Beer Garden celebrates a year of craft brews in Mtn. View


Courtesy of Derek Wolfgram
Ted Kim of Steins Beer Garden says that business has “surpassed all expectations.”

When Steins Beer Garden opened at 895 Villa St. in downtown Mountain View in March 2013, it quickly became a destination for craft beer and elevated comfort food. With the recent celebration of its first anniversary, I spoke with owner Ted Kim about the experience so far, and what comes next for Steins.

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