Wine Travel Adventure

Bay Area & California travel blog

Tag: food

How well do you know Julia Child? Take this quiz and find out

An American in Paris, a woman succeeding in a man’s world, author of a paradigm-shifting cookbook, the ebullient and eccentric star of a hit television cooking program that also shifted paradigms, and a woman in love—in so many ways Julia Child embodied the food and cooking branch of the Great American Dream.

Julia, in a photo from “The French Chef,” her 1960s-era cooking show

But how well do you know her and her legacy? Take this quiz and find out. Answers are at bottom. Continue reading

Chic and tasty dining at Solbar in Calistoga

BY JENNIFER KAISER

Even before you enter the lovely dining room of Solbar, the surrounding Solage Resort has begun to work its magic. Comfortable outdoor seating and contemporary fountains—some with flames rising from the water—set the casual, upscale tone.

Michelin-starred Solbar is a hotel restaurant, but looks like a chic bistro, and the superb service and food live up to expectations.

Solbar 1

We started lunch with a beet salad ($15). The beautifully prepared beets were prepared four different ways, including in chip form, and served on watercress. An unusual green goddess dressing had a strong cinnamon note.

Solbar 2

Spicy shrimp lettuce wraps ($17) are highly recommended. Tamarind-sauced rice noodles and shredded carrots nestle on avocado slices, and a traditional nam pla sauce spikes up the simply prepared shrimp. Continue reading

Berkeley’s Spoon Bistro: Comfort Korean food with plenty of spice

By Jennifer Kaiser

Satisfying and affordable, Spoon Korean Bistro is a casual Korean café located on an unlikely corner of Berkeley. Across from MacBeath Lumber on Ashby just off the freeway, it’s a family-friendly spot.

Spoon is a sister restaurant to Bowl’d in Oakland and Albany, and the concept is accessible Korean, with a menu that is comfort-food dominated, but offers plenty of spice if you wish.

Mung bean pancakes.

Mung bean pancakes.

Start with one of their savory mung bean ($6) or seafood ($8) pancakes. Mildly flavored on their own, they are served with a bright chili dipping sauce dotted with sesame seeds. We tried the mung bean pancake which was beautifully crisp if a little bland; the sauce made the dish sing. Continue reading

A restaurant find on New York’s Upper West Side: Risotteria

By Jennifer Kaiser

A recent trip to New York for a visit and the hit show “Hamilton” led to the discovery of a wonderful Upper West Side neighborhood eatery. I am a big fan of risotto, but have stopped ordering it in restaurants, preferring the taste and texture of homemade. Timing is key to a good risotto, and the reality in most restaurant kitchens means that the risotto is either crunchy (which they will try to tell you is al dente but is actually under-done) or too dry. The joy of making risotto is the slow, steady, Zen-like stirring, and anyone who has spent time near a professional kitchen knows that slow and steady are not helpful habits when you’re trying to get 75 different plates to hungry diners at the same time.

The Italian sausage and Portobello risotto.

The Italian sausage and Portobello risotto.

Enter Risotteria, with two locations in Manhattan: one in the West Village and the other on the Upper West Side where we ate. The business is owned and operated by Chef Joseph Pace (awarded two stars by The New York Times), and is certified gluten free. Continue reading

Greatest blueberry muffin in the world

By Kevin Nelson

The world’s greatest blueberry muffin can be found in the charming wine country hamlet of Yountville, California at the Bouchon Bakery on Washington Street. Of course, you will find lots of blueberry muffins there, not just one, for they are made seasonally virtually every day at this small and busy bakery next to the café of the same name.

World's greatest blueberry, right.

World’s greatest blueberry, right.

You will know you have reached Bouchon in Yountville when you see a light green building with a yellow awning and a line out the door. Virtually the only time there isn’t a line is when it’s closed.

Now some might quibble at designating anything, especially something so ordinary as a blueberry muffin, as “the world’s greatest,” and they probably have a solid point. Nevertheless there is nothing ordinary about a Bouchon blueberry muffin, which, for $3, is the opposite of grand larceny. I’ve had meals for 25 times that price that haven’t given as much pleasure.

More than once I have eaten pastries while sitting on a wooden bench in front of Bouchon, but until the other day for some inexplicable reason I had never had a blueberry muffin. After my first bite I thought, “This is really good.” After my second and third bites I thought, “This is really really good.” My grand plan was to save it for later in the day but it was gone as soon as I hit the road heading up Highway 29 to go to Francis Coppola’s winery in the northern wilds of Sonoma County.

You never experience food in a vacuum; it is always connected to the experience of that moment, how you are feeling, who you are with, whatever it is. In my case I was at the start of a day of free play and it was a lovely warm morning, blue skies and wispy clouds, and I had a full tank of gas and nowhere I had to be for hours. So how I was feeling surely magnified the pleasure of the muffin. Naw, it really was that good. Be sure to pop one in your bag the next time you get there. If you’re like me, it won’t stay in the bag long.

 

 

Aw, shucks: 12 things to know about oysters before eating one

George Curth at Hog Island Oyster Farm, Tomales Bay.

George Curth at Hog Island Oyster Farm, Tomales Bay.

1. Oysters are, of course, legendary aphrodisiacs. So if you’re out on a date with your spouse or partner or some enchanting stranger you just met at the bar, by all means, order up.

2. Oysters go very, very well with wine, beer, champagne and other spirits. Champagne is known to have many aphrodisiacal qualities as well, so if the oysters don’t work, the champagne might.

3. That fresh oyster you are about to pop into your mouth  is…alive! Accordingly regard it with respect, for it is about to give the last full measure of devotion for your dining pleasure.

4. Some people are not into oysters or shellfish. They’re allergic to them or don’t like their consistency or whatever. Oh well, more for the rest of us. Continue reading