Thu12182014

Food & Wine

12 glassfuls for Christmas


Photo Courtesy of Erin Gleeson
From an apple galette to Colorado whiskey to an old world wine, holiday treats do double duty as feast and gift.

Partridges in pear trees and all those lords a-leaping don’t really make it onto Christmas wish lists these days. The idea behind the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is phenomenally festive, though, and served as great inspiration for a list of 12 drink-related treats to get you happily through the holiday season.

In compiling my list, I had the blissful fortune to recruit help from local cookbook author and blogger Erin Gleeson and Laurie Lindrup, director of business development and senior assistant operations manager at Beltramo’s Wines and Spirits, for wine recommendations.

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Bake barazek cookies for cultural impact


Photos by Blanche Shaheen
Barazek cookies pair pistachios on their base and sesame on their crowns. A honey glaze holds everything in place.

Some cookies have the power to take you to distant lands with one bite. When I travel to other countries, I love to visit local bakeries, where I can experience the tastes, smells and traditions of that particular culture.

Usually on the last day of my trip, I like to buy a little box of sweets to take home with me – the last taste of a country, which I can share with family once I step off the plane. Middle Eastern sweet shops are filled with sensory experiences – baklava dripping with nuts and honey, shredded filo layers filled with custard or cheese, buttery semolina shortbreads and barazek.

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Giving thanks – and wine recommendations


Courtesy of Christine Moore
Try a Robert Mondavi 2013 Napa Valley Fumé Blanc with a selection of holiday appetizers.

I’m thankful for my family and my children’s limitless curiosity that insists I experience the world anew. I’m thankful for my husband’s laughter because it fills our home with playfulness. I’m thankful for the telephone because it allows me to speak with my mom on a daily basis and for the smallest of reasons.

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Add Middle Eastern zing to Thanksgiving with za'atar


Blanche ShaHeen/SPecial to the Town Crier
Za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice mix, adds zest to Thanksgiving dressing, and makes a tasty rub for chicken or turkey.

My late Aunt Bahia, who lived to be 95 years old, used to say, “Remember, Blanche, a spoon of za’atar a day will keep the doctor away.”

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Raw, bitter, slow – delight? A counter-intuitive food week

FOOD MandarinaBavaria fmt

The Town Crier's food writers explore food origins, cooking techniques and trends in local beer this week. Did you know that some Los Altos milk-lovers get their dairy straight (yes, raw!) from the cow?

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Fasoolya: A weeknight meal fit for fall


Courtesy of Blanche Shaheen
Fasoolya can be tailored to a family’s taste, using chicken or lamb to top any variety of grains or greens. Prepared the night before, it can stew all day while the family’s away.

Autumn is a frenetic time of year for me. With days spent working, writing, bill paying, preparing school lunches, cleaning, grocery shopping, doing laundry, volunteering at school and carpooling to soccer practice, ballet rehearsals, swimming and piano lessons, cooking takes a backseat. My pots and pans seem to give me attitude, like they’re saying, “Wanna piece of me?”

How do I squeeze in easy, healthful dinners without relying on processed food or takeout? The slow cooker, one of the best inventions ever (sorry, pots and pans).

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Local service celebrates the raw and fermented


Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
Raw milk’s rareness has made it a coveted commodity in much of the U.S. – in California, licensing has allowed production to increase.

Raw milk has become a precious – and sometimes illicit – commodity among American eaters drawn to less processed, more primal foods. It’s banned in some states or permitted only to those who own their own cows. Even in California, a bastion of alternative eating, only four dairies have received licenses to sell raw milk.

But local residents have unusual access these days, due to a service that picks up milk at two raw dairies each week and delivers to Los Altos and Mountain View, in addition to other Bay Area locations.

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Terroir: Finding where you are in a glass of wine


Courtesy of Christine Moore
Many wine drinkers believe that grapes echo their land.

I’ll never forget my first glass of good red wine. It happened while I was in college, full of heady independence and curiosity. It helped that I had this glass with a dear girlfriend named Dawn. Dawn knew the chef of a small, hole-in-the-wall, jewel of a restaurant tucked away in the parking lot of a boat-launch site. He pointed us in the direction of the right wine for our dinner. I am forever grateful for that first, extraordinary introduction.

The wine was a Wild Horse Pinot Noir, and two things happened when I drank it. First, my eyes sprung wide open to the way wine amplifies the pleasure of a meal. Second, the wine was produced near where I lived at the time, and I was blown away by its ability to encapsulate that place.

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Props to crops of nonstop hops: Enjoy the variety of Bay Area IPAs


Courtesy of Hermitage Brewing Co.
Hermitage Brewing Co.’s Mandarina Bavaria joins a series of single-hop varietal releases, this one highlighting a new orange-inflected German offering.

One of the most persistent trends in craft beer is the progressive cultivation of more “hophead” beer drinkers, who enjoy the intense hop flavors of India pale ales (IPAs), one of the largest segments of craft beer sales in the U.S.

As IPAs have grown in popularity, brewers have expanded the definition of the style to include West Coast IPAs, East Coast IPAs, English IPAs, Belgian IPAs, white IPAs, red IPAs, brown IPAs, black IPAs, wheat IPAs, rye IPAs, wild-fermented Brettanomyces IPAs, double (or imperial) IPAs, triple IPAs and even quadruple IPAs.

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Food Brief

Strike Brewing Co. opens taproom

Strike Brewing Co., the craft brewery launched in a Los Altos kitchen, continues to grow, opening a warehouse taproom and stand-alone brewery in San Jose this fall.

The brewery, which began with a team of three and initially shared space in a larger brewery, opened its new location on South 10th Street in San Jose last week.

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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
Lost Abbey’s Framboise de Amorosa is an ale aged in oak barrels with raspberries.

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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