Breakaway Cook

Happy New Year, Breakaway Cooks!

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It’s very hard to fathom 2010 actually being gone, but it may be time to come to grips with the calendar. Daphne is our calendar counter from now on — this is her in Yosemite over the xmas break, at 13 months. Those teeth are now chomping down all her favorite foods,  things like spiced duck soup, all types of noodles, potatoes in every form imaginable, grilled mushrooms, lots of eggs, and pomegranate arils by the bushelful (her obsession with them caused some major stomach upset after an especially epic session, but it hasn’t deterred her, and she’s not going to be happy to learn that pomegranates only last one season). She’ll try almost anything, and seems to enjoy setting the bar for general excellence higher each meal!

The big exciting news going into the new year is the matcha ceramics project I’m doing with the renown ceramicist Aletha Soule. We’ve got the shapes and glazes down, after a lengthy and enjoyable design process. I’m calling the glazes blush, eggshell, and celedon. Matcha was MADE for these cups. They’ll likely be ready at the end of January, which is also when I hope to roll out the all-new breakawaycook.com. Publication of The Breakaway Vegetarian Cook is looking like mid-spring, when it will debut as an Ibook and Ipad/Iphone app.

Best wishes to everyone — here’s to 2011 being an extraordinary one for all of us!

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Ben Harper + Great Food and Wine

People sometimes ask me if anything’s changed since I started my SF Chronicle gig. The answer is: nothing at all, save one thing — somehow I got on the list of every food PR agency in the country. PR people send me at least 10 emails a day, hoping somehow that I’ll write about whatever it is they’re promoting. Most are complete Hail Mary passes, but once in a great while — well, exactly one so far — something resonates. The magic words? Ben Harper.

American Express and Constellation Wines got together with the brilliant idea of inviting one of the most soulful, brilliant musicians alive today to Napa, to “pair” his music with the lusty cuisine of Chris Cosentino, of SF’s wonderful Incanto restaurant and a pioneer in the “snout to tail” philosophy of using every part of every animal in his cooking, and the cultish wines of Janet Myers, of Franciscan Estate.  To say that it was a magical evening vastly understates it. It was held on the surreally gorgeous grounds of the Franciscan Oakville estate, with no detail not completely thought out and flawlessly presented.

How Cosentino could pull off this meal for about 80 guests is completely beyond me– it seemed effortless, as did Myers’ very personal wine selections, which included a spritzy blush that blew me away. After dessert, to the wild delight of everyone present, Ben took the stage and performed a full set. As you can see from the photo, if I got any closer to him I would have smothered him! He played some old favorites, but most of the set was from his forthcoming album, which sounded like it will be his best recording in many years.

Bravo to the organizers of this incredible event.

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Thank You Itunes! + Matcha Is Shipping

A few noteworthy items besides this comforting local hachiya persimmon tree.

Itunes just named The Breakaway Japanese Kitchen one their Top Five “Enhanced” books of the year! Very excited about it. For those of you with Ipads, Iphones, and Kindles,  please do check it out. Thank you Apple!

Also please note that all three grades of Breakaway Matcha are ready to ship — they make one impressive xmas gift!  30 cups of antioxidant-packed epicurean wakefulness. Web ordering still not quite there, but you can write me if you’re interested and I’ll give you the lowdown on the three grades. I also have the matcha toolkit (electric frother, sieve, and bamboo scoop) ready to go. If you get your order in this week,  the matcha will arrive in plenty of time for the holidays. Hand-crafted matcha ceramics are, alas, not quite ready: they’re being fired as I type, and will be available sometime in January, it looks like. The shapes and glazes are nothing short of stunning, and I can’t wait to share them with you.

I hope everyone can find the wherewithal to focus on what matters during this utterly wacky time of the year. It’s as if we all feel compelled to cram into the next two weeks everything we’ve somehow neglected to do before bell of the calendar year rings for the final time. Not a bad time to breathe, do a little yoga, maybe even take a day or two off to just sit and watch, as the world spins frantically on. Don’t get swept away by it: enjoy it!

And one final note:  a friend hand-delivered a tin of the Blend 100 Breakaway Matcha to the Obamas last night and served it at the White House. The President is a fan of matcha ice cream, so I’m really hoping he and Michelle become aficionados. Better governing through matcha!  :^)

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How To Make Matcha, Breakaway Style

The first official matcha pouring yesterday at the Remodelista event was a blast. So gratifying to see so many instant converts!

I finally got around to making a quick video on how I make matcha. Since it’s so portable, I thought it would be fun to shoot it outside, on the hiking trail. A huge thank you to Michael Maloney for making it happen.

As you might suspect from reading this site, I don’t do it the traditional way, which is with a small bamboo whisk and a big, often clunky, matcha bowl. I much prefer the horsepower of the Aerolatte frother, which makes the best matcha crema I’ve ever seen, inside a well-designed creamer to froth it; it’s then poured into small ceramic cups and enjoyed espresso-style.

Still working on the new matcha pages and the ecommerce section — building a not-ugly store is challenging on so many levels — but I must say: it looks fabulous so far. Please stay tuned.

The teas are nothing short of incredible. I’ll follow up this post with a detailed description of them.  Your feedback is, as always, hugely appreciated!

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Come Taste Some Matcha at the Remodelista Holiday Market

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I’ll be sieving and frothing up all three grades of Breakaway Matcha this coming Sunday, as part of the Remodelista holiday market in Mill Valley (just north of SF). If you’re around, come taste some!

There’s also a terrific lineup of local artisans, includingAmbatalia Textiles, Common Dog Wine, Dagmar Daley, Erica Tanov, Fearless Chocolate, Fineline Letterpress, Heritage Culinary Artifacts, La Saison Specialty Foods, Luke Bartels, Marie Veronique, Mato Creative, Rough Linen, Sefte, Tony Tutto Pizza, Studio Patro, Wendy Furman Design, and more.

And, the briefest of matcha updates: it’s all done except for the webpages, which are ALMOST done. It’s looking lovely. A sneakpeek is here — storefront is being designed and coded as I type, can’t wait to go live!

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