Globe-hopping tastes for at-home escapes

Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Columnist Christine Moore offers Summertime Gumbo, left, and Seafood Tostadas with Harissa Cream as two vacations for your palate as you linger at home this summer.

Variety is the spice of life, so the saying goes. With the rinse-and-repeat nature of our stay-at-home days, variety can be in short supply. Let’s flip the old adage a bit and use spice to bring variety. A pantry stocked with globe-hopping flavors will help your dinner table become an escape.

Pairing these far-flung seasonings with locally produced wines makes for the perfect combination of inviting in the new while celebrating the bounty and talent found in Northern California. The wines listed below are all available for online purchase. What’s more, purchasing from these small businesses means more than ever at this time.

An herb-lover’s take on summer salad + grilling

Photos Courtesy of Rita Held
Tandoori-style kebabs and Thai-inflected rice salad, below, are simple to make but complex in taste.

Sheltering in place has impacted our everyday lives in so many ways. I’m retired now, so the impact is much lighter on me than others. Although we’re ordering more takeout dinners lately to support local businesses, I’m grateful for what I have and what I can do in my kitchen these days.

As a lifelong professional recipe developer, I have lots of ingredients to play around with, especially spices and herbs in a kitchen drawer, fresh herbs growing in pots outside this time of year and our farmers’ market – with a face mask, of course.

The Cookout food truck fries up fusion as Mtn. View's rare black-owned eatery

Above Photo by Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier; Below Photo Courtesy of Rod McGee
Rod McGee and Atira Lewis launched Mountain View’s The Cookout food truck after 20 years of cooking together at home.

The Cookout food truck fries up a harmonious assortment of “Old English” fish and chips and Southern-style fried seafood, but the fusion at its heart comes from two longtime partners, Atira Lewis and her fiance Rod McGee. They crafted its signature cornmeal-and-spices savory flavor and feel-good, decadent menu in their kitchen over 20 years of cooking together.

Quarantine cocktails: Recipes for spirits to lift the spirit

Photos Courtesy of Nancy Pannikkat
Nancy Pannikkat has been treating the Mountain View/Los Altos online community to news-themed cocktail recipes as the shelter-in-place prolongs and political figures give her more and more material to work with.

Creating community and finding ways to connect with her neighbors were already on Mountain View resident Nancy Pannikkat’s mind before the shelter-in-place orders took effect nearly two months ago. Then, the forced distancing spurred her to action.

Pannikkat took to Nextdoor, the neighborhood-based social networking site, and began sharing pandemic-themed cocktail recipes, dubbed “quarantinis.” Since she started, Pannikkat has posted more than two dozen cocktails and received numerous replies from local residents.

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.

Shelter in 'Haus'

The Haus Citrus Flower aperitif

As a companion to our reporting on neighborhood quarantinis, Town Crier wine columnist Christine Moore sent a bulletin from her shelter-in-place sommelier activities in Mountain View: She’s been making a cocktail she’s calling Shelter in “Haus,” which features a California-made aperitif (learn more at Aperitifs are comparatively low in alcohol and loaded with complex botanical flavors, ready to sip alone or with bubbly water, and great in a cocktail with strong spirits.

Shelter in ‘Haus’

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