Last updateWed, 24 Aug 2016 12pm

Local experts pick wines for hot August weather

Photos Courtesy of Christine Moore
Local wine sellers highlight European favorites for light summer wine drinking, paired with food or just a sunset.

Friends are home from trips abroad. Bags of recently purchased school supplies line the entryway. A basket of just-picked tomatoes awaits slicing beside the sink. In summer, we live in our bare feet. The heat of the day is powerful, so we try to stay cool as we anxiously await the evening hours.

It’s the sunsets I most look forward to this time of year – a kaleidoscope of oranges, pinks and lavenders splashed across the horizon. The perfect viewing spot for the sky’s evening show is my back patio, a crisp, cold glass of wine by my side.

Grill portobello mushrooms with a fontina melt

Portabello mushrooms topped with fontina cheese make for savory, meat-free grilling.
Courtesy of Rita Held

The grill is a terrific, versatile outdoor oven. And similar to an indoor oven, it’s not just for the carnivores among us.

Large, sturdy portobello mushrooms are fabulous grilled, and even better with a bit of olive oil, vinegar and herbs. Topped with savory, melty cheese? Wow! It’s umami full tilt – rich and savory. No meat needed.

Peninsula brewers take center stage at SV Beer Week

Courtesy of Derek Wolfgram
Hop Dogma co-founder and brewer Ethan Martini introduced beer lovers to his Alpha-Dankopottamus IPA at the San Mateo County Brewery Festival last month.

The fourth annual Silicon Valley Beer Week, held July 22-30, included nearly 200 events throughout the South Bay and the Peninsula to celebrate the craft beer culture of the region.

While I enjoy a tap takeover by Firestone Walker or Ballast Point as much as the next beer lover, I especially appreciate Beer Week events that highlight up-and-coming local breweries that might not have the marketing muscle or distributor connections of the big craft breweries.

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.

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The Town Crier welcomes letters to the editor on current events pertinent to Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View. Write to us at 138 Main St., Los Altos 94022, Attn: Editor, or email editor Bruce Barton at bruceb@latc.com. Because editorial space is limited, please confine letters to no more than 200 words. Include a phone number for verification purposes. Anonymous letters will not be printed.

You can also have your say right here at losaltosonline.com – scroll to the bottom of any story to add a comment. 

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