Food & Wine

When the days all look the same, try something new


Megan Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos’ Farmers Market, reopened for the year as of last week, offers an opportunity to put your children to work. Bring home ears of corn and shelling peas, set out big bowls in the yard, and introduce them to the meditative practice of preparing dinner for themselves.

The world of social eating has been knocked off its path: shifting laws and health regulations, grocery logistics that could feel like a game when they aren’t a nightmare. The Town Crier has been reporting on local efforts to address food insecurity for the growing number of families whose income and food access points have been undercut. For resources and ways to help, follow our continuing coronavirus impact coverage which includes profiles of a range of local organizations mustering food and volunteers.

Tracking the (mostly online) food conversations happening locally and nationally, there are still moments of pleasure amid the anxiety. I can’t offer you solace for the lost company of the larger world, but I do have a pandemic-specific roundup of new eating experiences to consider, at home and in support of the eateries you hope to enjoy again in person one day.

Familiar restaurants are showing a new side in their takeout menus. I’m a beer drinker at restaurants, but an unexpectedly thrilling Cabernet Sauvignon tucked into the “family bundle” on offer from Eureka in Mountain View has been my greatest surprise thus far – the food all Eureka classics, but the $60 compilation of eats and drinks absolutely lavish when taken in total. Sumika in Los Altos has off-menu items including a cook-at-home noodle kit and ramen from sister restaurant Orenchi and steeply discounted sake. For our list of open restaurants to discover, visit losaltosonline.com.

Crafty cocktails

Take-away cocktails have never been legal in California in our lifestime – until now. If you want to outsource your quarantini, Asa in Los Altos offers one of the fanciest to-go drinks menus in town, including its famous purple-hued gin and tonic. You’ll find to-go cocktails, beer and wine on menus across the area. And this week's food edition of the Town Crier includes a neighborhood ode to the "quarantini," with recipes sourced along the Los Altos/Mountain View border you can make at home with classic ingredients.

If affirming your well-being includes drinking less alcohol right now, consider visiting the world of aperitifs, as wine columnist Christine Moore discusses in her recommendation to "Shelter in Haus." Served over ice with sparkling water, bittersweet liqueurs such as amaros make lower-proof adult beverages swimmingly rich with flavor. The Napa-made Lo-Fi Gentian Amaro is inexpensive, widely available locally and a vividly hued pink place to start.

For parents on the brink

Because your cocktail hours now include young people whether you consent to their company or not, consider preparing a junior edition of the ritual end-of-day drink using a fancy cup and some variation on fruit syrup, vanilla extract, nonalcoholic bitters, crushed ice and milk or sparkling water.

If you want to craft your own theme quarantini as a tribute to the current state of parenthood, consider my own Mother’s Day selection: the citrus peel cocktail featured in New York Times reporter Gray Chapman’s ode to cooking with garbage, “How to Embrace Your Inner Trash Animal.” It sounds delicious as well as appropriately pathetic.

Perhaps you are already regrowing green onions from the roots and mastering your supply of sourdough starters from Little Sky Bakery and The Midwife and the Baker, both of which sell bread at the Mountain View Farmers’ Market, and now offer starters via online order. If so, share your new tricks in the comments of this column’s online version – I’ll be adding a recipe there, too.

And if you are laughing morbidly at the suggestion of baking while beset by children, you can hit up the now-open Los Altos Farmers’ Market – 4-8 p.m. Thursdays through September – to pick up shucking corn and shelling peas. Given a few big mixing bowls and space to make a mess in the backyard, preparing dinner can become the job of the younger generation.

Eliza Ridgeway is the Town Crier’s food editor. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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