Pumpkin bread heads cakeward

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Robyn Budelli’s pumpkin bread/cake

During the season of pumpkin, I’ve developed a ratings system for when a recipe hits peak gourd: spicy enough to wake me up, moist enough to remember its slimy orange source material.

This autumn Los Altos resident Robyn Budelli’s go-to pumpkin bread recipe earned accolades from the newsroom and posed the question: Doesn’t this really qualify as a cake? It might be shaped in a loaf and sliced like a bread, but its tender, rich crumb is unmistakably decadent, perfectly suited to a newsy tea time.

Creating a simple and sentimental Thanksgiving

Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Affordable, versatile wines such as a Zinfandel or dry Rosé mirror the varied flavors of a Thanksgiving meal.

Some years we may feel we are facing the holiday season rather than embracing it. Difficulties of all shapes and sizes can make Thanksgiving a day we look to with some trepidation. One way to navigate these feelings is to create a Thanksgiving of simplicity and sentimentality.

Asking for help, adjusting traditions and reducing the number of side dishes are three ways to simplify the day and meal. If you always host, consider letting someone else play that role. Instead of spending hours in the kitchen, think about ordering the feast pre-made. As for creating a sentimental Thanksgiving, layer the day in shared memories and tributes to what your family has to be grateful for by sprinkling host and guest-given toasts throughout.

Medal-winning California brews enliven your Thanksgiving feast

Derek Wolfgram/Special to the Town Crier
Santa Clara Valley Brewing Co.’s Dry Creek Blonde Ale netted a bronze metal at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival.

Autumn brings two wonderful events that provide a showcase for beer – Denver’s Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in September and Thanksgiving in November.

I always enjoy choosing beers to complement the rich flavors of a Thanksgiving feast, and I decided to make my selections this year from award-winning brews from the 2019 GABF. This year’s GABF competition included nearly 9,500 beers from approximately 2,300 breweries, entered into 107 categories, from which 318 medals were awarded. Of those, 68 medal-winning brews from 55 breweries hailed from California, so plenty of local choices exist for your meal pairings.

Behind the scenes: Hiroshi's 'secret' omakase dining

Photos by Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
Chef Hiroshi Kimura opened an eponymous restaurant at 328 Main St. in Los Altos devoted to truly intimate dining. He hosts one table of diners each evening, serving a multicourse menu of seasonal Japanese vegetables and seafood and the restaurant’s hallmark dish, A5 Wagyu beef, below. A charcoal-heated ceramic grill allows diners to heat each bite to taste, with ponzu, wasabi and truffle salt as optional accents.

Hiroshi, the Los Altos restaurant as known for its mystery as its A5 Wagyu beef, trades on the tailored experience of private dining.

When the “appointment-only” restaurant at 328 Main St. opened its doors to local food writers last month for a conversation with the chef, it offered glimpses of a dining experience intended for the world of loftier paychecks. The omakase menu starts at $575 per person for groups of four to eight – and diners must book the evening as a group. Omakase refers to a multi-course meal driven by chef’s customized selections. You won’t find a wine list or menu on the website. Chef Hiroshi Kimura’s sake collection headlines the pairings, though Napa Cabernet Sauvignons including Stones and Alpha Omega complement the red meat on the menu.

Breweries bring local tastes to LA Beer Stroll

Derek Wolfgram/Special to the Town Crier
Central Rail Brewing Co. founder Bob Crum serves his brewery’s Hefeweizen at Cranberry Scoop during the Beer Stroll.

The Los Altos Village Association held its third Downtown Los Altos Beer Stroll last month, an event at which Bay Area breweries and cidermakers have the opportunity to share their products in partnership with various downtown merchants.

A total of 16 breweries and cidermakers provided 24 different beers and four ciders, all served inside or in front of 22 downtown Los Altos businesses on Main, State and First streets.

Local AeroPress inventor takes coffee to 'Go'


Los Altos inventor Alan Adler’s AeroPress is a staple of high-end coffeehouses at points around the globe, and he’s releasing a travel version of the coffee-brewing apparatus this month.

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