Girls on Food

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants

Powerhouse Chefs Demonstrate Their Best Bites at Taste of Yountville

It might have rained a bit in Yountville last weekend, but that didn’t put a damper on the 25th annual Taste of Yountville festivities! Our weekend of food and wine kicked off with a demo by Chef Stephanie Izard (Girl and the Goat, Chicago), who shared her recipes for shrimp toast (paired with a beer cocktail) and chocolate peanut butter Cheez-It® s’mores.

Chef Stephanie Izard
Cheez-It S’more

Fun fact – did you know she actually had a Cheez-It® wedding cake? Yes, she’s THAT into them… and after tasting those s’mores, I think I am too! Chef Izard melts together butter, chocolate and peanut butter and pours that over Cheez-Its® before adding a mix of cocoa powder and powdered sugar, tossing to ensure each cracker is evenly coated. All that’s left to do is toast your marshmallow and get to sandwiching! The salty-sweet combo is to die for, and tastes almost like a Butterfinger bar. Chef Izard’s shrimp toast, topped with pickled Fresno chiles, was delicious – especially paired with a cocktail that incorporated the chile pickling liquid.

Shrimp Toast with Pickled Fresno Chiles, Pickled Red Onion, Preserved Lemon Aioli

We braved a quick run in the rain to make our way over to the V Marketplace Pavilion, where dozens of restaurants and wineries were showcasing their wares. After sampling some small bites, including ahi tuna poke from Celadon and black cod with pickled kumquat and meyer lemon aioli from Robert Mondavi Winery, we headed over to the Lynx-sponsored stage to watch Frank Bonanno teach us how to make ricotta.

Ahi Tuna Poke – Celadon
Black Cod with Meyer Lemon Kosho Aioli, Pickled Kumquat, Radish & Cress Salad – Robert Mondavi Winery
Frank Bonanno making ricotta

He started by combining a half-gallon of whole milk, 1 cup cream, and 1 cup buttermilk in a saucepan. After bringing it up to about 180 degrees, he added cider vinegar. As soon as he added the acid the mixture began to curdle, and after a few minutes of sitting in a fine-mesh strainer, the ricotta was ready! Spread on crostini, the ricotta was perfectly creamy with a delightful tang from the buttermilk. It might be a simple hors d’oeuvre, but it’s a showstopper!

Next up was the last event of the day: Michelin-starred Chef Ken Frank on how to make the perfect steak. You better believe I was taking notes! His tips started with buying the thickest cut of steak you can, emphasizing one big steak for sharing rather than a few smaller, thinner steaks. The benefit to a thicker steak is that there’s more room to nail the internal temperature, more time to get a great sear on the outside before the inside overcooks, and more room to get that delicious crust on every side of the steak. He got his pan ripping hot and seared the steak all over before letting it rest for a few minutes. As a general rule, he lets meat rest half as long as he cooked it. Then, the steak went into the oven to finish cooking. When it hit the perfect medium-rare he was looking for, he rested it again and, right before serving, tossed it in the pan one more time to get the outside super crisp. But the most important trick of all? Rest your meat on its side, not on the top or bottom, to get the most even distribution of juices.

The perfect steak – and no, that’s not hyperbole.

One bite of this steak, which was served alongside cheesy tapioca pearls, and I was in heaven. The steak was paired with a delicious Cabernet Sauvignon from Eleven Eleven wines. Chef Frank noted that he drinks cab every day – and we should too! That’s some advice I can definitely get behind.

Day two started off beautiful, without a single cloud in the sky. We started off the day learning the secrets behind Lisa Dahl’s incredible “Hipster Burger” (spoiler alert: lentils and quinoa provide heft, toasted walnuts add texture, and serrano chili oil is the ticket to great flavor). She also shared her tips for making the perfect kale salad: thinly shredding kale, then tossing it with a Greek-influenced vinaigrette before adding Caesar dressing. Thanks to the acid in the vinaigrette, the fibers in the kale soften and break down – the days of massaging kale are over!

Lisa Dahl’s gorgeous “Hipster Burger”

One of the most interesting presentations was an unlikely pairing – raw seafood and Pinot Noir. Featuring a flight of Twomey Pinot Noir, the dishes included Hamachi crudo with kumquat and avocado, tuna sashimi with cherry and red wine-steeped hibiscus, and a raw oyster topped with smoked soy sauce and toasted hazelnut. The takeaways from this presentation? Step outside of the box when it comes to pairings. Note how different ingredients change your perception of wine. Save money on garnishes by buying better main ingredients. Most importantly, take the time to learn about what you’re drinking and eating. Much like wine, food is heavily influenced by where it comes from.

From left to right: Chris Nishiwaki, contributor, Wine & Spirits Magazine; David Varley, Michael Mina Restaurant Group; Brady Lowe, founder, Cochon 555; Ian Leggat, director of marketing and public relations, Silver Oak Cellars and Twomey Cellars
Clockwise from top left: tuna sashimi, hamachi crudo, oyster

After a long weekend of food and wine – tough life, I know – it was time to head home. I’m already counting down the days until next year, but until then you can find me perfecting steak, drinking red wine with sashimi, and coming up with more Cheez It®-inspired desserts. Cheers!


A portion of the proceeds from this event benefited the families of those lost in the tragic shooting at The Pathway Home earlier this month. For more information and details on contributing to the fund, click here

Renzell: The Perfect App For Fine Dining Lovers

The world of foodie apps is like the wild west right now. Developers are striving to become the next big thing, but few apps offer anything unique to stand out from just being a local restaurant directory. I thought I had seen it all with these apps, until GOF blogger Marcie told me to check out an app called Renzell and it has since become my go-to restaurant directory app.

Cocktail from Redbird in LA, a restaurant you can survey on Renzell

Why Renzell?

It’s for those with impeccable taste –  What separates Renzell out from the other apps is a restaurant directory that is specifically hand-picked by Renzell staff of fine dining establishments in major metropolitan cities. This app isn’t here to help you find a new coffee shop, it’s to help you find the perfect special occasion spot. Think Marea in NYC, Redbird in LA and Alinea in Chicago.

Be undercover –  Members can rate restaurants anonymously through their surveys, which are scored based off overall numbers, no long write-ups required. Their surveys are broken down into categories like ambiance, service, food and cocktails. What I love about this so much is that it’s not public what scores users gave, so I can quietly and candidly score spots. See full list of restaurants here.

Prove it – There is also more accountability in the scores than other review apps. Members are encouraged to show proof of dining by providing a receipt from their visit. This makes me feel better when I read the scores, cause it’s lessening the likelihood of fake reviews.

Get rewarded! – The more you survey and/or provide proof of receipt, the more goodies you can get! Recent rewards include Starbucks gift cards, SoulCycle classes, a month of free Spotify premium and so much more.

With membership benefits, secure anonymity and consistent app functionality, I will consider myself a “lifer” Renzell member.

  • Featured image – Strozzapreti from Marea in New York, a restaurant you can survey on Renzell

Macy’s Culinary Council Brings Timothy Hollingsworth to Walnut Creek

BAY AREA FOODIES!

Are you ready to spend an afternoon in foodie heaven with former French Laundry Chef de Cuisine and current owner of Otium in LA, Timothy Hollingsworth? Myself (and the rest of Girls on Food) are so excited to join one of our favorite chefs for a special cooking demonstration at Macy’s Walnut Creek, in Walnut Creek, CA, where he will be sharing a few of his favorite recipes.

When: Sunday, August 27 at 1pm

Where: Macy’s Walnut Creek, Home Department, 3rd Floor, 1301 Broadway Plaza, Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Price: FREE! RSVP here to ensure a spot and receive a $10 Macy’s gift card when you check in! 

Before the demonstration I’ll be roaming Macy’s latest in cookware and gadgets for my kitchen. I’m thinking with that $10 Macy’s gift card, I could stock up on some early Halloween kitchen goodies.

Also, with any purchase of $35 or more in the Home department, you will receive a special gift and a chance to meet Chef Timothy for a photo opp! I’m ready for my close-up!

Oh my gosh I can’t wait! Like many Bay Area locals, I’ve been dreaming of dining at French Laundry, so to have him cook for us personally will be such a treat! When Julianne attended his recent Culinary Council demo in LA, I was watching the Girls on Food Instagram stories salivating over his cooking!

Culinary Council is a collection of spectacularly talented chefs, pastry chefs, and food professionals that travel throughout the country and hold various tastings and demonstrations in Macy’s all over the U.S. Check with your local Macy’s to see if any are happening near you!

I’ll be live on my Instagram feed with stories, so be sure you’re following me!

 

 

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of Macy’s; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Why I Paid $900 to Dine at Saison

Acquiring Michelin stars has been a hobby of mine for quite some time, albeit a costly one for both my wallet and my waistline. In the midst of planning my annual trip to San Francisco, I decided it was a great time to add a few Michelin stars to my list seeing as the Bay Area now has as many three star restaurants as New York City. Poring over the Michelin Star list, note that there are 54 restaurants that received stars in 2017, I knew that I wanted a dining experience that was a departure from the typical pomp and circumstance of a three Michelin star restaurant and one whose menu pushed my gastronomic boundaries. I found both at Saison.

Saison

178 Townsend Street, San Francisco, California 94107
Website

Approaching the door of Saison, I was reeling with excitement to see what was on the menu (would it be? Black bear, antelope or perhaps a different exotic game?) and I couldn’t wait to immerse myself into this dining experience. It’s hard to imagine that seven years ago Saison was a “pop-up” restaurant operating in the back of a cafe and now they are arguably one of the best restaurants in the world.

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Madrid Musings: Street XO

As you all know by now, I am notorious for planning all of my vacations around food. Before I even made flight or hotel reservations for Madrid, I checked to see what Michelin star restaurants were in the area. Imagine my excitement when I discovered that there were 14 different restaurants with Michelin star rankings, and that doesn’t even include the World’s 50 Best list! Seeing how Diver XO and Alinea recently collaborated, it was one of the first places to research. Months in advance of my trip, I reached out to Diver XO inquiring about reservations. Imagine my disappointment when I learned that they don’t accommodate parties with less than two guests. Dammit. Rather than brooding over the fact that I would not be able to experience the culinary creations of the mohawked, Michelin star chef, David Muñoz, I decided I would check out the next best thing, Street XO. And so the journey begins.

Street XO
Calle de Serrano, 52, 28001 Madrid, Spain
Website

Planning my itinerary, I decided that Monday would be the ideal day to visit as I had read numerous articles talking about the wait. I grabbed my things from the hotel and off I went. Starting my day with a quick bite at Arzabal, I then spent a few hours wandering through the Reina Sophia and then decided to make my way to Street XO. I grabbed my phone and input the address. I was a little over a mile away and would arrive as soon as they opened. Perfect timing, right? As I made my way down Calle de Serrano, I kept looking for building 52. 60, 56, 48, where the hell was 52? Trying to avoid being the typical American tourist, I popped into a few stores asking if anyone knew where it was and all I received were blank stares until the last store where the kind gentleman told me it was located in El Corte Ingles. I had only walked past that place at least 6 times during my search.

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Chang Sensory Trails and Chef’s Table in San Francisco

Thai food is one of my go-to cuisines when I’m in the mood to eat out; in my house growing up, we would opt to get Thai takeout instead of Chinese food. When I heard about Chang Sensory Trails hosted by Chang Beer, a festival celebrating Thai food and flavors, I was super excited to check it out!

The festival took place at Fort Mason in San Francisco, after having great turnouts in Singapore, London, and Los Angeles. Locally known Thai restaurants had different stalls set up throughout the venue serving some of their signature dishes. All of the meals were inspired by Chef Bo Songvisava and Chef Dylan Jones culinary and life journey, in addition to the special tasting I had the pleasure of experiencing. Chefs Bo and Dylan are the wife and husband team behind Bo.Lan in Bangkok, considered one of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2017, so you know this is going to be legit.

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Guelaguetza Hosts Chef Rodolfo Castellanos and Chef Diego Hernandez for an LA Times Food Bowl Pop-Up

The LA Times Food Bowl in Los Angeles teamed up with Guelaguetza, a longtime running  Oaxacan restaurant, to host a pop-up dinner led by Chef Rodolfo Castellanos (of Origen) and Chef Diego Hernandez (of Verlaine). This was a one-night residency for the LA Times Food Bowl that hosted over 30 guests.

Guelaguetza, a James Beard Award winner, also famously praised by Jonathan Gold, promoted this event heavily and many of the guests were their regulars, who were excited to be introduced to Chef Rodolfo, known as one of the leaders of contemporary Oaxacan cuisine. Chef Diego of Corazón de Tierra, one of the 2016 Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants, recently opened Verlaine in West Hollywood.

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When in Peru, Try Maido: Brittaney Indulges in Their 13 Course Meal

In March of this year, I went on an incredible trip to Peru and Brazil! I had the opportunity to see fantastic sites, try all different types of food and meet my Peruvian side of the family for the first time. If you feel inspired to go to Peru, you might want to also check out these tours of peru here. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

During my trip to Lima, I was able to try out Maido Mitsuharu – Experencia Nikkei in Miraflores which is an area of Lima. Lima-born Chef Mitsuharu Tsumura is known for his modern takes on Nikkei cuisine. His goal is to create dishes that combine both Peruvian and Japanese cultures. Maido made The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 with the 13th spot. And they just announced that they moved up to 8th place in 2017!

Maido
Calle San Martin 399, Miraflores 15074, Peru
http://www.maido.pe/en/

For less than $140 without a wine pairing, you get a 13-course meal of a lifetime. I have never spent that much on myself for a meal, but I was on vacation, I was in PERU, which is dominating the culinary game and I was ready for a new experience.

The 13 course called 200 miles, takes you through a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese Cuisine while appreciating different elements, flavors, and ecosystems. What’s great about Maido is that they change their menu, and give you a brochure, so you remember everything you ate. Trust me; you will be in such awe with the presentation you might forget every detail that was made for each dish.

About 90% of the dishes included seafood of some sort. So if you’re allergic, I don’t suggest going here. They do have a vegetarian menu, but honestly, the fish is incredible, and I can’t imagine any of these dishes without it. Below is each dish I tried:

  • Snacks
    • Onion terrine, sole tartare, smoked silverside fish, masago.
    • Sushi rice cracker, avocado, trout belly, ponzu gel.
    • Black rice cracker, olive tofu, octopus, pachikay, ginger sauce.

Check out this rock! I have never had food served on a rock like that. This set the tone.

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