Treat your valentine to a night in Lebanon

Blanche Shaheen/Special to the Town Crier
Layali Lubnan laces soft semolina custard with rose water and tops it off with whipped cream and pistachios.

My love affair with Layali Lubnan (Arabic for “Lebanese Nights”) began when I was 10 years old.

My mother brought me along with her to a bridal shower, and the endless conversations and gift opening of fine china bored me to tears.

'Galentine's Day' celebrates romance of truly great pals

Christine Moore/Special to the Town Crier
Champagne Moutard Rosé de Cuvaison Brut screams “Valentine’s Day,” with pink bubbles fit for an evening with chocolate and loved ones.

I didn’t plan to have the incredible female friendships I have. As with many of life’s most wonderful things, my friends are an unplanned blessing. Now that I have these relationships, however, I plan a lot – to rely on my friends’ advice and trust their support, to attend weddings and baby showers of future adult children and, in our 80s, to make one another feel young and giddy.

Monterey brewery offers reason to roam

Derek Wolfgram/Special to the Town Crier
Alvarado Street Brewing’s sour ales offer a gentle introduction to a funky style. Their cherry, plum and black currant fruit elements provide acidic tartness without too much complexity.

Alvarado Street Brewery in Monterey opened in May 2014 and quickly caught the attention of craft beer aficionados in the Bay Area and across the country.

My first experience with its brews came at the February 2015 Meet the Brewers event at Hermitage Brewing during SF Beer Week, where Alvarado Street’s Citraveza hoppy Mexican lager was my favorite beer of the day.

Molecular gastronomy gets cooking in Los Altos

Photos by Kristen Loken/Special to the Town Crier
Muffie Fulton leads a class, on the modern burger and fries.

The mysterious vapor and sizzling sounds wafting from Muffie Fulton’s garage suggest many plausible startups that would call for a blow torch and a background in the sciences.

But this Los Altos resident’s new enterprise celebrates the science of what she dubs the “obsessive foodie.” Fulton teaches classes on modernist cuisine from her kitted-out garage for those who want to bring the complex techniques of molecular gastronomy to their own kitchens.

Food Brief: Seaweed and salmon at museum

Foods to forage around California take center stage in the Los Altos History Museum’s latest exhibition, “Seaweed, Salmon and Manzanita Cider: A California Indian Feast,” which runs through April 16.

In addition to displays on the history of food gathering and preparation among tribes stretching across much of the state, the exhibition offers recipes and profiles of local ingredients, including rabbit liver, watercress, pine nuts and salmon.

An avocado walked into a mousse: 'Avochocolado'

Photos Courtesy of Blanche Shaheen
“Avochocolado” is on the menu of food blogger Blanche Shaheen, who demonstrates how to make it in a YouTube video shot in her Los Altos kitchen.

Once upon a time, I was in the 5 percent minority of Californians who do not like avocados.

Friends and family thought something was seriously wrong with me as they tried to ply me with guacamole and chips, to no avail. From birth, I always thought the texture was too mushy and the flavor too bland. Then one day I had an avocado awakening, which started with the simple concept of avocado toast.

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