Gourmet Asian Fare Fund-Raiser

April 25, 2008

Chefs from Betelnut, Three Seasons, Junnoon, Poleng Lounge, Red Lantern, Straits Cafe, and other top Bay Area Asian-cuisine restaurants will be dishing up their specialities for a good cause at 7 p.m. May 8 at San Francisco’s historic Ferry Building.

“East West Eats: An Evening with the Bay Area’s Best Chefs” is a fund-raiser organized by the Asian American Journalists Association San Francisco Bay Area Chapter to raise funds for student journalism scholarships. Each year, the organization doles out about $15,000 in scholarships to high school and college students interested in pursuing a career in journalism.

Emcees for the event will be ABC7 anchor Alan Wang; and ABC7 “View From the Bay” host Janelle Wang. Tickets are $85 for AAJA members; $100 for non-members. After today’s early-bird discount expires, prices go up to $100 for members and $115 for non-members. Tickets can be purchased, by clicking here.

Food Gal has moved. Please visit her at www.foodgal.com.

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Dine Out To Support A Cause

April 18, 2008

April 24, dine out at lunch or dinner at a participating Bay Area restaurant, and a portion of sales will be donated to various AIDS-related charities.

To reserve or to see a list of participating restaurants, go to OpenTable.

Food Gal has moved. Please visit her at www.foodgal.com.


Audition for the Next Season of “Top Chef”

April 17, 2008

If you think you have the cooking chops to make the cut, here’s your chance to audition for season five of Bravo TV’s popular, “Top Chef” show.

An open call will be held in the Bay Area, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 21, at Postrio restaurant, 545 Post St. in San Francisco. Both self-taught and professionally trained cooks are eligible. Just download an application here.

Hope to see you in the next ”Quick Fire” challenge.

Food Gal has moved. Please visit her at www.foodgal.com.


Pig Out on Pig

April 17, 2008

It will be pig and more pig at Sent Sovi’s fifth anniversary Open House, noon to 3 p.m. April 20. Chef-proprieter Josiah Slone will be roasting a whole pig in a Caja China box. It’s a sight to see, and a treat for the taste buds with its ultra crisp skin and super moist flesh.

Slone will be pouring his special sangria, too. Best yet, it’s all free — his generous way of saying thanks to all who have supported him and his Saratoga restaurant.

Food Gal has moved. Please visit her at www.foodgal.com.


Dining That Takes A Bite Out of Global Warming

April 16, 2008

Yahoo!  , Oracle, eBay, and Cisco Systems have all left giant imprints on the tech world.

But on April 22, these monster corporations will take deliberate steps to shrink their footprints — their carbon ones, to be precise. On that day, which is appropriately enough Earth Day, chefs at these corporate cafes and others around the country that are all overseen by Bon Appetit Management Company, will serve low carbon meals to educate diners about the role food plays in climate change.

Of all the activities done by humans, studies have found that food and all the energy it takes to make it is one of the largest contributors to global warming. One third of all greenhouse gas emissions are caused by food production, processing, transportation, packaging, preparation, and waste.

All in all, 400 cafes in 28 states will take up the challenge. They include those at DreamWorks, the de Young Museum, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

That translates into reducing the use of imported foods such as rice and bananas. It also means cutting out beef, and even much of the cheese normally served. After all, cows (whether raised for dairy or for meat) emit a huge amount of — errr — methane gas, to be polite.  And that gas is said to be even more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat against the Earth.

 On “Low Carbon Diet Day,” diners will see more turkey burgers, portobello burgers, pizza with white bean sauce, salad bars stocked with veggies only from North America, and agua frescas made from regionally grown fruit (tropical ones are definite no-no’s). Every food station in each cafe will have to offer one low-carbon meal option and post a sign explaining the principles involved.

If you can’t make it to one of the public cafes that day or aren’t lucky enough to get a coveted invitation to dine at one of the private Silicon Valley tech cafeterias, there’s another way you can learn more about the carbon footprint of food. Just click here to find a calculator that will compute the total carbon emissions of your average breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You might never look at that plate of bacon and eggs quite the same way again.

Food Gal has moved. Please visit her at www.foodgal.com.


The Ultimate Cheesy Time

April 11, 2008

If you’re near any Whole Foods store in Northern California at noon April 12, you’ll want to head inside to enjoy a truly cheesy experience.

That is when the “cracking open” ceremonies will begin, as cheesemongers in each store worldwide will simultaneously demonstrate the traditional method of breaking into hefty 24-month-aged wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano using five different knives from Italy.

Yes, you read that correctly. The cheese-breaking ceremony will take place at every Whole Foods store in the world (that would be 270 of them). The process of cutting up the 85-pound wheels of cheese will take about half an hour. If you think that might be some sort of record in the making, well, Whole Foods does, too. The company will be attempting to set a Guiness World Record with the feat.

Parmigiano Reggiano has been made for centuries in one area of Northern Italy that includes Reggio Emilia, Parma, Modena and portions of Bologna and Mantua. These regions are the only ones with the ideal conditions to produce this cheese.

After one year of aging, each artisan-crafted wheel that passes the test is branded with a unique proof of authenticity — an oval certification mark — and left to finish aging. That seal guarantees that the cheese was made under the regulations of the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano and conforms to its stringent standards of quality.

Each year, Whole Foods cheese buyers visit the region to hand select wheels for the stores. Tastings will be available at the store on April 12. Customers also can take home information on wine pairings and recipes for dishes that really highlight the cheese.

For a sneak preview of the cheese carving show, click here.

Food Gal has moved. Please visit her at www.foodgal.com.


Pebble Beach Food & Wine Extravaganza

March 30, 2008

There are top toques, and there are “Top Chefs.”

And all of them, and just about everyone else in-between, were at this past weekend’s first annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine spectacle, where foodies and vino lovers forked over hundreds to thousands of dollars to sip rare wines and to mingle with today’s hottest celebrities: chefs, of course.

Thomas Keller of the French Laundry in Yountville? Check. David Kinch of Manresa in Los Gatos? Check. Ming Tsai of Blue Ginger in Wellesley, Mass.? Check. The legendary Jacques Pepin? Bien sur.

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Masaharu Morimoto (below) of “Iron Chef America” fame delighted a lunch crowd with his sophisticated rendition of a classic Asian comfort dish: grilled Kobe beef atop congee. He was so pleased with the results, he couldn’t resist scarfing down a bowl of it, himself.

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If at times it seemed like a reunion of Bravo TV’s popular “Top Chef” program, that was only natural since American Express Publishing, which oversees Food & Wine magazine (a sponsor of the TV show), was also one of the biggest sponsors of the Pebble Beach event.

“Top Chef” judge Gail Simmons, who is also in charge of special projects for Food & Wine magazine, was there to moderate a couple cooking demos. She is much prettier in person, by the way.

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Lead judge Tom Colicchio  (left) sliced slivers of hamachi crudo as he chatted up Joey Altman (right), host of KRON’s “Bay Cafe.” Colicchio, more standoffish in person, said he never expected the show to take off the way it has. With filming for the show taking only one month a year, Colicchio says it hasn’t changed his life much, except that he’s now more recognizable.

Altman was excited that his new cookbook, “Without Reservations: How to Make Bold, Creative, Flavorful Food At Home” (Wiley, $35) will be coming out April 21.

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Tre Wilcox (below), a crowd favorite from “Top Chef” Season 3, cooked seared diver scallops with black truffle potato sauce, gold chanterelles, and spinach, before walking over to help Morimoto plate his dishes. Shy and soft-spoken but with the buffest biceps around, Wilcox left Abacus restaurant in Dallas. He now teaches cooking classes, and hopes to open his own restaurant in the near future.

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One of this season’s “Top Chef” contestants, Ryan Scott, formerly of Myth Cafe in San Francisco, also made the rounds. Tall and charming as can be (yes, ladies, he’s over 6-feet, and quite dishy), Scott was mum on how well he did in the competition. He’s now scouting Bay Area locations for his own restaurant. And joked that he’d put chicken piccata on the menu as a first course. Fans of the show will remember that dish was nearly his downfall, and almost sent him packing his knives in the very first episode.

In all, more than 50 chefs and more than 200 wineries were on hand at the Pebble Beach extravaganza, which attracted about 3,000 attendees. Not bad for a first-time event. And not bad at all, considering its predecessor, the Masters of Food & Wine in Carmel, boasted a mere 20 chefs, 60 winemakers, and 1,200 attendees.

Rob Weakley, co-founder of the event at the Pebble Beach Resorts, had organized the Carmel one for the last six of its 21years until it outgrew its venue, the Highlands Inn. As a bagpiper played at sunset each night, resounding melodically with the ocean’s crashing waves, it’s hard to imagine a more picturesque adult playground for gourmets to romp in.

Food Gal has moved. Please visit her at www.foodgal.com.