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Monday, June 30, 2008

Takara: Restaurant Review

Forget the popcorn. Nothing goes with movies like Japanese food. This year I was generously given a courtesy pass which allows me and a guest to attend as many movies as we like at the Sundance Kabuki movie theater in Japantown. As a result I end up eating meals in Japantown just about every time I go see a movie. This Saturday I had a ridiculously cheap lunch in Japantown at Takara . This little restaurant tucked away behind the Hotel Kabuki and often packed with local Japanese folks is well worth seeking out. Their special lunch combo is tempura plus a choice of breaded pork cutlet (tonkatsu) white tuna sashimi, chicken or beef teriyaki or deep fried fish of the day. In what has to be one of the best bento box deals, I got white tuna sashimi, tempura, a California roll, salad, rice and miso soup for $6.95 and it was delicious. But next time I'm ordering the tonkatsu which I noticed several other patrons had ordered, it was dark golden brown, thin and crisp. The tempura is lig...
Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Blog Updates...

I know, things are pretty quiet around here, but I've been really busy lately with work. However you can check out some other posts I've written recently, better yet, bookmark or subscribe to GlamDish and Bay Area Bites . I am fascinated by the fifth flavor, umami. The Umami Information Center is hosting what sounds like a terrific symposium in San Francisco with very famous chefs, next month. Read about umami, the symposium, dinners and get a recipe at Bay Area Bites . Cookbook Giveaway! Every month there is a giveaway at Glam Dish and today you can win one of three Tastebooks. Haven't heard of Tastebook yet? It's a great way to make your own custom cookbook. Check it out here . Other recent posts on Glam: Best of Barbecue Burger Roundup --learn about grass-fed, American Kobe-style and naturally raised Black Angus Wedding Shower Tea Party Ideas --cool ideas, gifts and favors 10 Tips for Using Honey I'm taking tomorrow off for my birthday, but I will post...
Monday, June 23, 2008

Zojirushi 1lb Loaf Mini Breadmaker: Favorite Things

You probably think you know what this is. Right now are you saying to yourself, "those are a couple of slices of bread" or if you're really in the know, "that's bread made in a bread machine because of the little indentation in the slices." And you're right, but there's more to the story. Those are slices of bread from the very first loaf of bread I made with my new Zojirushi BB-HAC10 Home Bakery 1-Pound-Loaf Programmable Mini Breadmaker . I actually have another bread machine that I've never used. It's too big to sit on my sliver of a counter and it makes a big loaf of bread, too big for a household of two. But the Zojirushi takes only a smidgen of room and makes such a nice little loaf that it gets used before it turns stale. For my first loaf I used the King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour I wrote about a while back. Next time I will try using the stoneground whole wheat bread flour I bought at the Bale Grist Mill in Napa. Only a coupl...
Thursday, June 19, 2008

Mustards Grill turns 25

Mustards Grill celebrated it's 25th anniversary this past Monday with the ultimate garden party. A favorite in the valley for it's comfort food and reasonable prices, these days the Mustards menu also features many wonderful dishes that use the bounty of the sprawling two acre kitchen garden. At the party many of the classic menu items were served in nibble-sized portions--the onion rings with homemade ketchup, pulled pork sandwiches, barbecued ribs, oysters on the half shell and even mini lemon meringue pies. To wash it all down, local wine makers poured a variety of styles and vintages. Entertaining the crowd was a hip bluegrass band who countrified everything from Guns N' Roses to Happy Birthday. Two old time photo booths enticed party goers to make their own memento of the evening. There was lots to celebrate beyond the 25 years and most of it had to do with Cindy Pawlcyn. Chef and restaurant owner Cindy Pawlcyn is a restaurateur whose successes are many. In addi...
Friday, June 13, 2008

Canteen: Restaurant Review

You've got to admire a chef like Dennis Leary who goes from working in a prestigious and elegant restaurant to taking over a diner with only four booths for four and a counter. Eating at Canteen is always a treat because even though it looks like a gussied up lunch counter the food is nothing short of outstanding. After eating at Canteen a couple times for lunch and more than a few times for breakfast and brunch, I decided it was high time to try it for dinner. It's not often you get to order everything on the menu, especially when you're a party of four, but when there are only four appetizers, entrees and desserts it's not so hard to manage. What made it all the more possible was the most genteel dining companions who went along with the plan. At Canteen the dinner menu changes every week. You can check it out online, though I notice sometimes it's behind by a week. The meal began with an amuse bouche, a shot glass was filled with a refreshing buttermilk ...
Friday, June 06, 2008

Better than Bottled

Not that long ago I wrote that we should ban bottled water , I received a lot of comments on that post! Here are some of the reasons why people said they buy bottled water: My water isn't safe or doesn't taste good. Fortunately there is a very good solution, even better than buying bottled water. Drink filtered water. There are many types and styles of water filters. I recently got a chance to try the Aquasana Water Filter . After the initial set-up cost, which is $99.99 for a counter-top unit or $143.98 for an undersink installation, filtered water costs about 9.6 cents per gallon. Replacement cartridges last for 500 gallons and cost $48.00. The taste of the filtered water is markedly better than non-filtered water, not to mention more pure. How small is it? My countertop model is perched on a ledge which is only 3 inches wide. The advantage of a countertop filter as opposed to a pitcher filter is the contaminant removal capability.  Pitcher filters are generally very s...
Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Koshi Rice: Favorite Things

I am hoarding rice. It's not what you think. I have fallen in love with the precious samples of Koshihikari rice I was sent by an Arkansas farmer. Mark Isbell grows a Japanese premium variety of short grain rice and Isbell Farms has been exporting it to Japan since 1995. He has only recently begun selling it in the United States under the name " Koshi Rice ." Last Spring I got bored with white rice and virtually stopped cooking it. It just tasted flat and mushy to me. Then in the Fall I went to Japan and knew I would be eating a lot of it. What I didn't know is that the quality of rice I would eat was far superior to what I was used to eating. It was the harvest season and the rice was "new" and didn't just have a tender texture but an almost floral, fruity scent. I was hooked. Often the rice had just a bit of a garnish on it and that was all. Once I spent $18 for plain freshly harvested rice cooked in a stone bowl. I know it sounds insane, but it was...
Monday, June 02, 2008

Pastry School Secrets Revealed

Every profession has some form of continuing education. But even for the non-professional, what could be better than sitting in on a master class for pastry chefs put on by Valrhona , one of the most highly regarded chocolate companies in the world? Started in 1922 by a chocolatier in the Rhone Valley who desired better quality chocolate, the company buys directly from farmers and forms long-term partnerships to ensure both high quality and the best compensation for the farmers. You may have heard of "fair trade chocolate" Valrhona goes beyond fair trade and pays 100% higher than market value. Their chocolate is not always certified organic, but they ensure no pesticides are used on crops. The focus of Valrhona is primarily with chefs, so you will rarely see their products at retail but they are often the chocolate used in elegant plated desserts. I've always known that baking and pastry was akin to chemistry and this class really brought that home for me. With sc...