Thu04242014

Food & Wine

All things eggs: Comfort food as science project


Above Photo by Erin Gleeson/Special to the Town Crier;
Hankering for a seasonal use for eggs? Local author Erin Gleeson’s matzo brei dresses up eggs, below, to suit the season with scallions, above.Left Photo by ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

As Passover and Easter come in quick succession over the next two weeks, eggs will see a special love in the kitchen. A consummate comfort food and champion of brunchtime as well as Easter baskets, eggs can anchor a light springtime meal any time of day sans Easter ham or Seder brisket.

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You can judge a wine by its label


They catch your eye from across the crowded store. Intrigued, you move closer to see what they’re all about. But somehow, the nearer you get to the wine section, the more confusing the process of selecting a bottle becomes.

Friends have told me that if they want a “good” wine, they will buy the most expensive bottle they can afford. But a fantastic wine doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

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Beer & cheese: Contrasting but complementary pairings work best


Derek Wolfgram/Special to the Town Crier
Beer and cheese pairings play up contrasting elements: nutty, sweet, sharp and funky.

While wine and cheese pairing parties and events are common, beer also offers tremendous potential for pairing with cheeses.

As Garrett Oliver, brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery and editor of “The Oxford Companion to Beer” (Oxford University Press, 2011), said, “Traditional and craft beers have a very wide range of flavor, far wider than that of wine. … Many ingredients may be used: grains can be caramelized or roasted, spices can be added and fruit may be infused.”

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Jewish food festival reaches beyond bagels

Who knew you could get a decent knish in Silicon Valley?

For at least one day, local foodies are gathering 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 27 at the Hazon Jewish Food Festival at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto to eat their way through stalls like King Knish, tap a pint from Shmaltz Brewing Co. and browse Judaica in a marketplace. Do-it-yourself workshops will teach household arts from the Jewish world, ranging from challah-braiding to a session on food photography with Erin Gleeson, a member of Los Altos Hills’ Congregation Beth Am and local food blogger at theforestfeast.com. The festival sports a watercolor logo she designed.

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St. Patrick's Day roundup: Inspiration from local kitchens

Baileys Irish Cream-infused Bundt cake

From leafy greens to luscious cake, St. Patrick's Day has inspired Town Crier food writers to share a multitude of recipes, stories and traditions rooted in Ireland and the Irish experience in America.

Irish soda bread has been reigning triumphant over the Town Crier's kitchens in recent years: Mountain View resident Christine Moore explains her mother's seemingly simple handmade recipe that requires a knowing knack, while staff writer Eliza Ridgeway went on a search for the immigrant bread's Irish roots.

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Irish roots season dishes with memory


Use a hot pan and a wooden spoon to bake soda bread in the family style.
Photo Courtesy of Christine Moore

My dad is from Ireland. The home in which he was born is older than the United States. I was a teenager when I first heard this extraordinary fact, and it sunk in with meaningful density. I was awestruck.

Thanks to technology, we are connected to friends and family around the globe in ways never before possible. But there is a web that existed long before the worldwide one – the genealogical link between our ancestors and us.

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Beer Week peaks with sweet treats


Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
Smitten Ice Cream paired with Los Altos’ Strike Brewing Co. to create a Salted Caramel Stout ice cream.

Los Altos is now lucky enough to enjoy two different beer week celebrations per year. More than 600 events in 200-plus venues marked the sixth annual San Francisco Beer Week Feb. 7-16. The second Silicon Valley Beer Week is scheduled July 25 to Aug. 2.

Beer weeks comprise a wide variety of beer-centric events, including, but not limited to, opportunities to meet brewmasters, “tap takeovers” featuring dozens of beers from a single brewery, festivals focused on particular beer styles and beer-pairing dinners at both upscale and casual restaurants. For beer lovers, the choices can be overwhelming.

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Forest on First: Fresh juice, baked goods


Photos by Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
Forest on First chef Tyler Morrish reimagines cakerecipes in muffin form as part of each morning’s house-made pastry offering.

For all those not entirely monopolized by the elaborate wooden play structure ringing its walls, the new downtown eatery Forest on First offers plant-heavy breakfast, lunch and snacks in the mode of upscale home-cooking. The H&H Co.’s latest offering, at 129 First St., boasts a menu of fresh-pressed juices and smoothies and offers take-home “Family Fare” dinners of locally raised roast chicken, potatoes, salad and seasonal vegetables on the side.

“We’re taking stuff we like to eat – old classics – and twisting them a little bit,” chef Tyler Morrish explained, describing an olive-oil-poached Tuna Conserva inspired by the familiar tuna melt.

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Eat chocolate, drink wine, the rest is up to you

Town Crier food writers mustered their best advice for low-effort, high-reward sips and sweets in the spirit of Valentine's Day. 

FOOD wine Match Making fmtChristine Moore treats food and wine as the star-struck protagonists of a great romance: what makes for compatibility

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Baking leaves time for love


In one of winter’s hottest pop songs, “Royals,” the artist Lorde sings, “And we’ll never be royals, it don’t run in our blood. That kind of luxe just ain’t for us, we crave a different kind of buzz.”

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Craft beer finds a home at Winter Fancy Food Show


Derek Wolfgram/Special to the Town Crier
A crowd gathers to sample Cypress Grove Chevre paired with local beers and ciders at the Winter Fancy Food Show.

At the 39th annual Winter Fancy Food Show, held at San Francisco’s Moscone Center last month, more than 1,300 companies from around the world highlighted an incredible diversity of food and beverage products from artisanal cheeses and charcuterie to microwavable prepared meals.

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Matchmaking: Food and wine pairing made simple


Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Wine and food pairings can mirror relationships.

Valentine’s Day approaches and love is in the air. Perhaps that’s why I recently found myself taking stock of the couples I’m close with. In doing so, I came to the realization that there are two main categories of love that my couple friends fall into.

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Overcome the winter blues with some tasty reds


Courtesy of Derek Wolfgram
Red Ales pair malty sweetness with a strong hop backbone. California brewers have been trending toward potent “Imperial” editions.

Red Ale, also known as Amber Ale, originated with California brewers, and many commercial versions are still brewed here. While the style highlights a balance of hops and malt, there is great variation in different breweries’ interpretations of that balance. Some beers present a predominant caramel malt sweetness with hop bitterness and flavor in the background, while others significantly focus on hops and drink more like a darker-colored West Coast IPA.

I sampled five California-brewed examples and ranked them by my personal enjoyment, ending with the finest example I found. Based on the hefty bitterness and relatively high alcohol levels for the style, most of these would be categorized as Imperial Red Ales. While I don’t always prefer beers with higher alcohol levels, in this case, my rankings fell in order by the strength of the brews.

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Enjoy a fresh Indian take on guacamole

Freshly made guacamole easily finds a place in Indian cuisine, swapping tortilla chips for crispy pappadums. The golden, crunchy rounds, often served as an appetizer here in California, are typically made of lentils, black gram or chickpea flour. At home, prepare a store-bought packet of pappadums by frying in hot oil, roasting on a gas stove or heating in the microwave oven.

My version of guacamole is reminiscent of a thick chutney that is not only delicious, but also loaded with nutritious monounsaturated fat. Avocados provide close to 20 essential health-boosting nutrients, including potassium, vitamin E, B vitamins and folic acid.

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Winter's freeze arrives in time for dessert


l Fenstermacher watch a scoop freeze at Smitten.

A frosty new feature on Los Altos’ food scene opened just before Christmas – Smitten Ice Cream whips up made-to-order treats from a storefront attached to Whole Foods Market at 4800 El Camino Real.

“It’s never too cold for ice cream,” said founder Robyn Fisher of Smitten’s December debut. “It wasn’t part of the plan – we were held up in permitting – but it’s a great outing for family and friends, and this time of year is all about that.”

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Cheesecake lightens up with lemon and spice



Base cheesecake around the tangy flavor of Middle Eastern yogurt this year. Photo Courtesy of Blanche Shaheen

When it comes to entertaining people unfamiliar with Middle Eastern food, I love combining eastern and western influences, allowing the uninitiated to try a new dish that is somewhat familiar at the same time.

Enter my Lemon Labneh Cheesecake with Almond Ginger Crust – yes, that is a mouthful, both literally and figuratively.

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Stuff your cookies with seasonal treats


Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
Stuff cookies with nuts and fruit, above, and top with a sprinkle of flaked salt to create a hearty holiday treat.

Chock-full of nuts and fruit, my go-to holiday cookies (which I cook all year round) are hard to mess up even during busy party prep and they offer a hospitable premise: a thoroughly sweet treat, with redeeming qualities.

They’re tart, rich, nutty and crunchy, with a crinkle of salt on the top. The red and white of cherries and white chocolate suit the season, but this isn’t a cheesy Christmas cookie that puts appearance over flavor – it’s a fully loaded feast. The half-oat, half-flour base provides a satisfying heft while the add-ins add up to an almost granolalike effect.

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Proper wine temperature counts when entertaining


Christine Moore/ Special to the Town Crier
Speed chill a bottle of white wine by wrapping it in a slightly damp towel and putting it in the freezer for 10 minutes.

A British friend of mine has given me many sound and useful bits of advice over the years. Some of her guidance has proved indispensable in my life, such as her tip for chilling wine quickly.

I was in the midst of a particularly stress-filled move when she advised, “As soon as you get to the new kitchen, throw a bottle of white wine in the freezer. It’ll be ready in 20 minutes, which is just enough time to find the box labeled “Glasses.” It worked.

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