A citrus-and-spice flavor twist boosts desserts made with Angostura bitters

freewheel brewery

You may have noticed over time that I’m a big fan of Angostura aromatic bitters. Aside from being a mainstay in cocktails like Manhattans, bitters adds an amazing yet subtle flavor dimension to so many foods.

It was developed in Trinidad in 1824, and is used widely in foods throughout the Caribbean. Usage is similar to umami (the fifth taste – soy, mushrooms, red meats) in that it invigorates and boosts the flavor of many foods, adding another layer of flavor. The bitterness is not unlike that in bittersweet chocolate, dark-roast coffees and toasted nuts. Yum.

A tribute to the beer festivals that once showcased the region

Since 2010, the Opening Gala in San Francisco has been the traditional kickoff to SF Beer Week, featuring hundreds of beers crafted in the Bay Area. The event typically brings beer lovers from around the Bay Area, sometimes generating long lines to enter, then more lines inside for particular breweries with special releases.

At the other end of SF Beer Week is the annual Meet the Brewers festival in San Jose, which also started in 2010. Meet the Brewers is much more laid back, but it often features up-and-coming brewers before they are well known (such as Alvarado Street Brewery back in 2015).

We don’t know how long it will be until events on either scale can occur again in the Bay Area. While we’re all stuck sipping at home, here are some of the outstanding brews featured at this year’s events – and a memorial to waiting in line, tasting together and other pleasures that must be deferred for now.

How to cook Chicken Xacuti, a classic delicacy from Goa

Chicken Xacuti

If you’re bored with making the same traditional chicken curry, consider trying Chicken Xacuti (“sha-kooti”), an intense curry from Goa, a state in western India.

Goa’s long history as a Portuguese colony prior to 1961 is evident in its preserved 17th-century churches and the area’s tropical spice plantations.

Black Is Beautiful brewing experiment crafts prized – and creative – beers

Black is Beautiful beer
Derek Wolfgram/Special to the Town Crier
Brewer Marcus Baskerville inspired collaborators around the country to create Black Is Beautiful beers in support of local advocacy.

With the nationwide focus on systemic racism brought about by the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many other Black individuals in the United States, Marcus Baskerville wanted to provide an opportunity for craft breweries to participate in social justice efforts.

What’s a restaurant to do in a pandemic? Expand?!

Cafe Vitale's new kitchen
Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
Ruben Gomez and partners doubled the kitchen size at Cafe Vitale.

Cafe Vitale has been known as a tiny Italian staple of Los Altos’ Loyola Corners neighborhood for a decade, and when the coronavirus pandemic closed indoor dining, patrons swung by to show their support in orders of pizza, pasta or tiramisu.

Los Altos chef’s catering business turns personal

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Photos by Anat Vronsky/Special to the Town Crier
Chef Anat Vronsky, above center, creates dishes including bourekas, left, and dolmas, right.

Anat Vronsky caters gatherings – weddings, meetings, work lunches. In a time defined by the need to not gather, her cooking has taken a turn toward the home.

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