May 2009 Archives

Cheap Burger no More?

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By Robert Farmer

Can somebody tell me what happened to Babe's Burgers? Actually, I think the official name was Babe's Burgers and Franks but everybody just called it Babe's. It's the little ramshackle shop along the highway (Hwy. 121, to be exact) that neatly ties together Napa and Sonoma valleys. You know the place. Or maybe you don't. That was the beauty of Babe's, it was beloved by some, completely off the radar for others. It was the kind of place that maintained an "insider" vibe no matter what restaurant was currently the talk of the valley - either valley. It was easily blown by when cruising along the Highway in the Carneros District, bouncing from one winery to the next.

Taking It to the Streets

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letruck.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Here's a dare: Sidle into a bar in San Francisco's Mission District and ask a patron to name her favorite food purveyor in town.  Given recent trends, she's just as likely to respond, "The Bacon Dog Cart ", "The Tamale Lady" or "The Crème Brulee Guy" as to finger a member of the city's restaurant royalty such as Zuni Café or Boulevard. Why? Because, you see, street is the new chic when it comes to dining out in SF, a trend that - so long as the economy continues its lackluster performance - will only gain still more strength.
sherpas.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

According to reputable sources, Twitter - that fashionable new medium for micro-blogging that my parents keep asking me about and that I keep - ahem - trying to get the hang of - has now officially become a "major source in breaking news" , so I thought it only fitting that I begin scouring the Twittersphere for hot new tips on food to report here. And so - with no further ado! - fasten your seatbelts for forthcoming features on top food Tweeters and their fare.

Napa and the Bean Stalk

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These beauties are a different fruit of the vine

By Laurel Miller

As Seen in Napa Sonoma Magazine

Tell the guests you've invited to your next dinner party that you'll be serving eye of the goat, and you may get some last-minute cancellations. However, when you explain that you've cooked a round, tan-and-brown-speckled heirloom bean with a rich, full flavor and a meaty pot liquor (the residual cooking liquid), they may think you're a little odd, but will probably still come.

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CLICK HERE - To order your personal copy of the Napa Sonoma Magazine
hilton_chef.jpgRene Jakushak, a Northern California resident since 1995, has permanently joined the team at Nectar Restaurant as Executive Chef.  As a young boy Rene often helped his mother create authentic German dishes with a California twist in their family kitchen, and has followed that tradition by creating a fresh and delicious menu with a focus on local and sustainable foods at Nectar Restaurant. 

Rene grew up in Santa Barbara, California, and at 16 years old was working in the kitchens at the local university, cooking for faculty and students there.  He enrolled in the Hotel Management program at the local City College, famous for its classroom views of the Pacific, and in his spare time continued cooking professionally.  By 18 he was in charge of the kitchen at a popular local eatery, and cooking quickly became more important than academics.  He left both to complete his Culinary Arts training at the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, OR., graduating in 1993.  He brought with him to Oregon his high school sweetheart, and they married in 1999.   

Gallo Spaghetti and Meatballs

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spaghetti.JPGSubmitted by Gallo Winery

The Gallo family believes that one of the reasons they have stayed strong as a family business for over 75 years is their love of sitting down together to share good food, wine and conversation.  Many meals have been enjoyed, some from old Italian family recipes and some more contemporary Californian in style. This recipe was created by one of the first employees at the Winery and has been a favorite of the Gallo family for years.

  • Spaghetti, 1 lb.
  • Tomato Paste, 4 cans (6oz. ea.)
  • Plump Tomatoes, 2 cans (14.5oz. ea.)
  • Ground Round Steak, 2 lbs.
  • Ground Pork, ½ lb.
  • 2 Eggs
  • Gallo Family Vineyards Frei Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 1 cup
  • Garlic Cloves, Sliced, 4 each
  • Parsley, Chopped, 4 Tbs.
  • Cheese, Parmesan
  • Basil
  • Water, 1 can (14.5 oz)
  • Salt, 1 ½ tsp
  • Garlic Salt, 1 ½ tsp
  • Black Pepper, ½ tsp

Outstanding In the Field, Indeed

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By Courtney Cochran

With all things locavore taking off faster than you can say "farm fresh," it comes as no surprise that today's diners are itching to get closer to their food sources.  And though most restaurateurs are hard pressed to literally bring the farm to the table (though this phrase gets tossed around far more often than it should), it turns out we CAN in fact take the table to the farm.

100-Mile Diet Headaches

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locovore.jpegBy Courtney Cochran

There's a reason they call it the 100-Mile Diet "Challenge": It's not easy eating local. Ever since "locavore" became the Word of the Year for the Oxford American Dictionary in 2007, the movement that champions consuming only locally produced foods has skyrocketed to the fore of our national consciousness, even scoring a much-replayed send-up by Robin Williams on Law & Order: SVU . ; But as the hype wanes and reality sets in, a backlash is brewing as would-be adherents struggle to stick to a diet that's long on effort and - more often than many proponents would care to admit - often short on gustatory reward .

Dungeness Crab

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chandonRecipe.jpgSubmitted by: Perry Hoffman, Chef de Cuisine
                          étoile at Domaine Chandon

Dungeness Crab has everything a chef loves - sweet, salty, rich, but also light - all at the same time. An incredibly versatile ingredient, crab has the enviable ability to work well with many other components. Chef Hoffman prefers to pair this dish with étoile Brut.

Eat, Drink, and Meet Leslie

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Popular television host Leslie Sbrocco invites wine and food lovers to share a toast

By Bonnie Wach

As Seen in Napa Sonoma Magazine

Over the last decade, wine guru Leslie Sbrocco, host of the popular KQED television food show Check, Please! Bay Area, has promoted cheap champagne, championed screw caps, and proudly paired fine wines with everything from Rice Krispies Treats and Twinkies to Chinese takeout.

"Wine should be comfort, not stress," says the Petaluma resident, who is also the author of Wine for Women and The Simple & Savvy Wine Guide. "It's simply fermented grape juice. People shouldn't get uptight about it. I try to teach people that there's never any wrong answer with wine."

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CLICK HERE - To order your personal copy of the Napa Sonoma Magazine

recipeDryCreekKitchen.jpgSubmitted by: Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen
Chef: Les Goodman

Wine Pairing Suggestion:
Papapietro Perry Winery 2005 "Peter's Vineyard" Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen, located in Hotel Healdsburg, serves an ever-changing menu celebrating Sonoma County's fresh seasonal ingredients and wines. Each March, Chef Palmer hosts Pigs and Pinot, a two day festival of spectacular food and wine.  This dish is a tribute to Pigs and Pinot and is paired with this year's winning Pinot Noir.

Hotel Healdsburg
25 Matheson Street
Healdsburg, CA 95448

Dry Creek Kitchen
Hotel Healdsburg
317 Healdsburg Avenue
Healdsburg, CA 95448

Gourmet novelist

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Author Nadia Gordon stages her series of mystery tales in a fictionalized Napa Valley

By Peter Crooks

As Seen in Napa Sonoma Magazine

In the new novel Lethal Vintage, chef Sunny McCoskey is tossed into a murder mystery involving a billionaire, his mistress, and a cast of winemakers and foodies. Plus, McCoskey's restaurant just received an overabundant shipment of salmon that needs to sell that day. What's a chef (and amateur detective) to do?

Getting to the clever whodunit twist at the end of Lethal Vintage is just part of the fun in the delicious potboiler. Along the way, readers are treated to a virtual tour of Wine Country, with a flurry of references to real and fictional restaurants and wineries dropped into the quickly turning pages.

To Read More, Click Here.

Chef Heaven

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Learn to cook amid the bounty of Wine Country

By Mandy Behbehani

As Seen in Napa Sonoma Magazine

"I was 32 when I started cooking," Julia Child famously said. "Up until then, I just ate."

For those of you who want to go from consumer to chef, the secret may be cooking classes. And where better to learn than in Wine Country, a confluence of fresh produce, innovative cooking, and stunning scenery.

Classes run the gamut from a four-hour hands-on Mediterranean dinner with noted San Francisco chef and TV personality Joanne Weir, to a one-day getaway culinary tour with three of your best girlfriends. And don't worry: Typical students are not pros but range from home chefs who know their way around an herb-encrusted pork loin to rookies who can barely skin a potato. And there are classes for kids, too.

To Read More, Click Here.