Make the most of Mother's Day with outings and cups of cheer

Photos by Christine Moore/ Special to the Town Crier
The Pink Dog Cocktail, above, imitates the grapefruit-based Salty Dog but adds Aperol for extra bitterness and color. Butterflies along the Zinfandel Trail near Picchetti Winery, below, offer a brief natural idyll before a wine-tasting picnic at the historical winery.

The U.K. celebrated its version of Mother’s Day in March. In England and Ireland, the day, called Mothering Sunday, honors not just moms, but all maternal figures. I like this idea very much. It extends the definition of a mom in beautiful ways.

The wider practice of the day encourages us to honor the moms in our lives who have passed away. They may not be with us, but we can humbly appreciate the way their love shaped us and remember that we carry them with us daily. A single dad playing the role of both parents should be celebrated for his maternal side. And the women who lean on one another for uniquely female comfort and strength can gather in gratitude for the motherly forces in their lives.

Artichokes, cherries headline at market

Photos by Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
Spade & Plow’s artichokes, above, and Gazpachos’ seasoned fruit cups, below, are new this year at Los Altos’ Farmers’ Market.

The iconic fruits of summer haven’t arrived yet in Los Altos, but a few key players ripened in time to headline opening day at the Downtown Los Altos Farmers’ Market last week. The market runs 4-8 p.m. Thursdays through Sept. 27 on State Street.

“This year it’s been cold. We were nervous we weren’t going to have cherries, but they will be there,” market manager Kayla Harden said of the last-minute forecasting that goes into market preparation days before its debut. “The stone fruit won’t be there until the second week of May. But there will be blueberries.”

How to perfectly pair spring cheeses

Courtesy of Christine Moore
Local classes teach novice cheese-makers how to turn spring dairy milks into homemade cheese and pair it with the perfect wine.

Welcome spring! We saw you creeping around the corner in March and couldn’t wait for you to arrive. Now, blossoms are bursting out along El Camino Real and in local neighborhoods.

Travel outside of town, and the evidence of spring is all the more apparent. On a recent drive through west Sonoma County, fields were dotted with lambs and kids, reminding me that one of the most exciting things about spring is the arrival of fresh milk on goat and sheep farms in Northern California. Which has me thinking – it’s time to talk wine and cheese pairings.

Two great tastes that taste great together

Courtesy of Derek Wolfgram
Modern Times Beer’s Haunted Stars combines spicy rye and chicory with its New Orleans-style coffee and a perfectly smooth porter to create a truly delicious cuppa.

While both coffee and beer are “brewed,” at least in part, by steeping roasted seeds in hot water to extract the flavor compounds locked inside, the resulting beverages have very different pleasant effects for those who consume them.

It’s only logical that brewers would think to integrate coffee into the beer-brewing process. Contrary to the psychological pick-me-up you might experience from the flavor of a coffee beer, the amount of caffeine in most coffee beers is a small fraction of that in a typical cup of joe.

Draeger's Market hosts spring fest

Draeger’s Market at 342 First St. in Los Altos is scheduled to host a Spring Fest 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, with samples, food demonstrations and treats for kids and adults.

Each department has planned a different feature, ranging from flowers for visitors to balloons for kids, grilled chicken samples, make-your-own berry parfaits and tastings throughout the store.

Classic quiche makes a flexible dish to share

Courtesy of Rita Held
Sliced thin to feed many or thicker as a main course, quiche provides a polished product after only 10 minutes of active kitchen work.

Whether for Passover, Easter or simply to welcome spring, quiche is delicious and quite easy to make.

My recipe uses two ingredients that add a big flavor difference: Swiss Gruyère cheese and Angostura aromatic bitters. Both provide a wonderful, rich depth that takes traditional quiche to another level.

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