Last updateWed, 27 Jul 2016 10am

Citrus-y beers celebrate summer

Derek Wolfgram/Special to the Town Crier
Session beers offer an alcohol content low enough to sustain sipping through a long, lazy picnic. Local breweries are celebrating the citrus hop style now in vogue with other fruit-forward influences.

With the hot days of summer upon us, crisp, clean, sessionable beers are the perfect accompaniment to picnics, sporting events or simply sitting in the shade enjoying the outdoors.

Red, white & sparkling: Drinks to share and pair a picnic or barbecue

Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Now that the Fourth of July has launched peak picnic season, try a variety of wines to accompany food served at family cookouts and neighborhood gatherings. A local wine expert matches summer drinks with any meal.

The Fourth of July can be the ideal opportunity to celebrate summer weather, friends, family and food. A month of lazy afternoons at Shoup Park, neighborhood block gatherings, days in the Davenport Beach sand and patio barbecues follow a holiday that is entirely about reveling in our commonalities.

Manresa Bread rising: Tribute to grist & groat

Above Photo by Rhonda Mak/Town Crier; Below Photo by Joyce Oudkerk Pool/Special to the Town Crier; Right Photo courtesy of Manresa Bread
Nabeela Aijaz, above left, retail manager at Manresa Bread’s Los Altos location, teams up with baker Avery Ruzicka to man the counter on opening day. The bakery carries almond croissants, below, and kale and parmesan scones, right.


At the 6 a.m. start of head baker Avery Ruzicka’s day, 1-kilo slabs of French butter stack the length of a massive table in the Manresa Bread commissary. As they soften, she stacks and shapes the blocks of fat on a sheeting machine, preparing the arms-width-sized butter rectangles to interweave with dough détrempes, laminating pastry for croissants, pain au chocolat and kouign-amanns.

Vintner keeps winemaking a family affair

Courtesy of John Benedetti
Winemaker John Benedetti’s wife and son provide the inspiration – and vineyard company – for Sante Arcangeli wines.

The wine business is often a family business, with multigenerational hands wielding blades when it comes time to harvest, and in-laws and nieces enjoying first samples of a given year’s yield. Labels and vines are passed from mothers to sons and fathers to daughters.

The all-in-the-family focus is a great thing for wine drinkers, because the love these families share is evident in the wines they produce.

Balanced brews and brilliant BBQ highlight Dan Gordon's latest

Courtesy of Derek Wolfgram
Ribs are the star of the show at Dan Gordon’s new beer-centric venture in Palo Alto.

The original Gordon Biersch brewpub opened at 640 Emerson St. in Palo Alto in 1998 and closed in 2015. After a complete redesign of the physical space and menu, the new Dan Gordon’s Beer BBQ & Whiskey debuted in March.

The food menu features traditional barbecued meats such as 18-hour brisket, Coleman Ranch smoked pork shoulder and St. Louis ribs, as well as numerous fresh and inventive share plates and starters like grilled Happy Boy Farms baby gems and kale, smoked brisket poutine and smoked salmon rillettes.

Versatile mayo drizzle accents spring veggies

Rita Held/Special to the Town Crier
Whether it is griddled, grilled, roasted or fried, spring’s asparagus shines with a zesty sauce.

The lure of springtime asparagus got my creative juices flowing for this recipe.

Asparagus has a unique flavor, very different from most everyday veggies like broccoli and green beans. I wanted to do something different yet easy to suit my kitchen mantra: simplicity with flavor.

IPAs from LA? Yes way!

Courtesy of Derek Wolfgram
Golden Road Brewing’s Wolf Among Weeds Double IPA highlights the dank, resiny hop flavors prized by hopheads.

While the Bay Area and San Diego are known internationally for their craft beer scenes in general and IPAs in particular, Los Angeles has received far less attention for its breweries.

In recent years, dozens of breweries have launched in Los Angeles, and, unsurprisingly, most of them have included hoppy beers as staples in their lineups. Over the past couple of years, some hoppy brews from Los Angeles breweries have found their way to the Bay Area in kegs, cans and bottles.

Remembering mom with a new generation of comfort foods

Yvonne Cornell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and blogger Yvonne Cornell compensated for the loss of her mother’s recipes by collecting others from friends and their mothers, including the recipe for Shrimp Tom Yum Soup.

Comfort food provides safe haven in times of despair and vulnerability, synonymous with the nurture of a mother.

With the birth of my firstborn, I mourned the loss of my mother’s recipes, misplaced by her fading memory and many moves around the globe. Nonetheless, a most unexpected solace filled this void in the form of recipes from friends and their mothers. These have become my heritage recipes, carefully recorded and saved for my own children.

Top questions answered for developing wine smarts

Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Decanting a wine – pouring it from the bottle into a decanter – removes sediment and enables it to breathe.

Much like a great friendship that perpetually evolves, wine continues to charm and surprise me. I hope never to feel that I know all there is to know about wine. The vastness of the subject keeps us wine devotees on our toes.

Los Altos bakery chef uses only finest ingredients

Yvonne Cornell/Special to the Town Crier
Chef Nobu Hoyo of Voyageur du Temps in downtown Los Altos prepares pastries. Hoyo uses only the finest ingredients in his creations.

Los Altos has its own resident artisan baker crafting handmade Japanese and French breads and pastries at Voyageur du Temps, the Craftsman-style former railroad station on First Street.

'Malfouf': Make a St. Patrick's Day twist on cabbage

Courtesy of Blanch Shaheen
Blanche Shaheen, left, and her mother, Vera, make malfouf for St. Patrick’s Day.


The word “malfouf” in Arabic means both “cabbage” and “rolled.” So in Lebanese and Palestinian culture, cooks must have felt that it was only natural to roll up the cabbage around rice, and the popular dish malfouf was born.

Lift a glass of Irish stout on St. Patrick's Day

Derek Wolfgram/Special to the Town Crier
Anderson Valley Brewing Co.’s Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout boasts a rich cocoa flavor.


On St. Patrick’s Day, many pints of Guinness are raised in celebration of Irish culture. California craft brewers have created not only worthy Dry Irish-style Stouts to rival the experience of drinking Guinness, but also numerous variations of stout that highlight flavors of cocoa, coffee, dark fruit and even s’mores.

'Machos': Middle Eastern nachos ideal for Super Bowl

Photos Courtesy of Blanche Shaheen
Blanche Shaheen, above with her brother Issa, shares her Middle Eastern take on nachos – ideal for a Super Bowl party. Shaheen’s “Machos,” right, feature feta, tahini sauce, Persian cucumber and Kalamata olives.


The nacho obsession in my family began when my siblings and I were in grade school at a sports spirit rally. Like most children, we didn’t really have high culinary standards, so salty, crunchy chips drowning in a fake cheesy sauce hooked us immediately.

Chipotle chili adds spice to game-day feast

Courtesy of Rita Held
Chipotle Black Bean Chili boasts Angostura bitters and adobo sauce for a smoky-bitter flavor.

Nothing sounds better than a steaming hot bowl of chili on a cold winter day while watching the Super Bowl.

A walk on the Wildcide: Local man makes good (cider)

Courtesy of Aurum Cider Co.
Cidermaster Dan Gordon of Aurum Cider Co. poses with his new Wildcide cider.

Three things are readily apparent when talking about brewing with former Los Altos resident Dan Gordon: his palpable passion for brewing, his encyclopedic knowledge of every technical aspect of the brewing process and his obsession with the purity of the ingredients that go into his products.

Try this: Bakerita's Nutella-stuffed hazelnut chocolate chip cookies


We explore kitchen cooking projects in this month's food issue – read the full story here: 5 reasons to bake with your kids

Ready to get cooking as a family? Writer and food blogger Rachel Conners – also known as “Bakerita” – dreamed up a Nutella-stuffed cookie recipe that makes a decadent and flashy treat yet sticks to the basic skills of baking.

Loaded with dark chocolate and crunchy, toasted hazelnuts, then sprinkled with sea salt, these cookies combine chewy oatmeal texture with oozing chocolate. You can find more pictures at bakerita.com.

5 reasons to bake with your kids

Above Photo by Megan V. Winslow/ Town Crier; Right Photo Courtesy of Bakerita.com
Baking projects – like the one at Los Altos’ Camp Shoup in November, above – lead to more than just bounty such as the chocolate hazelnut cookie recipe featured here.

In our hectic lives, it often seems a lot easier to grab a box of ginger snaps at the store than to bake cookies the old-fashioned way. Is it really worth the time to stand in a kitchen, making a mess, stirring and slaving over something you could just buy?

Yes, yes it is.

Drink warms winter with a sweet twist

Blanche Shaheen/Special to the Town Crier
A cup of sahlab gives coffee serious competition. The warm beverage, a Middle Eastern staple, can feature sweet, spicy, crunchy and fragrant elements.

For many, drinking coffee is a ritual that comforts all of the senses, especially on a cold, wintry day. The sound of the percolating espresso machine triggers excitement for the energizing drink to come. The warmth of the coffee cup defrosts brisk fingertips. The flavor is tailored to each person’s preference – rich cream, a sweetener of choice, perhaps a touch of cocoa or spicy cinnamon. The elements of sound, smell, touch and taste work in tandem to transform a simple drink into an all-encompassing experience that many require to start the morning.

While Arabic coffee is popular in the Middle East, there is a hot, sensuous beverage that gives coffee serious competition – sahlab (also known as salep). A cup of sahlab is sweet, warm, spicy, creamy, crunchy, chewy and fragrant all at once.

Brewer on a mission: Mission Creek's Guy Cameron

Derek Wolfgram/Special to the Town Crier
Guy Cameron.

Mission Creek Brewing Co. opened in December 2014 as the second brewery inside a Whole Foods Market in the U.S., with brewmaster Guy Cameron at the helm.

After serving as assistant brewer at Campbell’s Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, followed by several years at Russian River Brewing Co., Cameron has appreciated the new experience as brewmaster.

Classic cookies transform into an uncommon cake

Photos courtesy of Blanche Shaheen
Ma’amoul Cake, above, draws inspiration from the not-too-sweet celebration cookies cherished by Christian and Muslim families in the Middle East.

Once a year I get to indulge in Middle Eastern buttery cookies, so time-consuming to make that my family must form an assembly line to work on them for four hours. Arab Christians eat the cookie – ma’amoul, a semolina shortbread pastry filled with either dates or walnuts – during Easter and Epiphany, and Muslims eat them at night during Ramadan and on the Eid al-Fitr holidays. You can also think of them as a cosmopolitan spin on the Christmas cookie, given this combination of delicate short bread and dried fruit.

The cookies, popular in Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and the Gulf States, are shaped like domes or doughnuts. They can be decorated by hand or formed into patterned wooden molds. Some say the wooden molds symbolize Jesus’s cross, the sugarless crust refers to the sadness of Christ’s death and the filling is sweet to symbolize the Resurrection.

Tasting parties bring joy to the world and wine to your friends

courtesy of Christine Moore
Conceal the labels on bottles and invite guests to rank their observations at a wine-tasting party that combines food, drink and a dash of viticultural education.

Familiar faces and places and jolly evenings spent in good cheer – it truly is a wonderful time of year. With plenty of reason to gather with cherished friends and family, how about introducing a new way to celebrate?

A wine-tasting party is fun and interactive. To set up a wine tasting, you’ll want to provide the following items.

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