former Redwoods chef to open small plates place
After many construction delays, Domenica Macchia, former chef at Redwoods, has announced the opening date for her new venture, MJ's Martini Jazz & Tapas (445 99th Ave. N, St. Petersburg; (727) 329-6600). Opening Sept. 3, she says her aim is to offer quality foods at "reasonable and realistic prices." On the menu: fried turkey breast, rabbit sausage, Kobe franks and beans, braised short ribs, salmon with lavender honey sauce and — here's a bit of a first for the Tampa Bay area — some molecular gastronomy science. Looking forward to checking out her mad scientist creations.
John Pivar moves back to Pinellas County
After about a year at the Outdoor Kitchen Gourmet Market in Tampa, John Pivar, former executive chef of the Renaissance Vinoy Hotel in St. Petersburg, is moving his professional life back to Pinellas.
Pivar is planning to open a gourmet market on Fourth Street N near downtown this year. He envisions something similar to the popular Fancy's, a gourmet market on Fourth Street N that was open for more than 20 years before closing in 2003.
Though acknowledging that "talk is cheap," Pivar said, "I cannot tell you how many people say to me, 'If you open a (market like) Fancy's, we'll be there every day.' "
The Outdoor Kitchen Gourmet Market (3917 W Kennedy Blvd.), owned by Paul Ruel, became Paul's Meats and Seafood last month.
A sweet way to show candidate support
Burdick Chocolate in New Hampshire has just launched the Obama and McCain Assortments. They include flavors like "Kansas Corn Crunch" and "Hawaiian Pineapple" for the Democrat; "Arizona Citrus" and "Hot Pepper Tequila" for the Republican.
The chocolates are offered in quarter- and half-pound assortments ($15 and $28) and every box comes with an official campaign button. McCain's gianduja and organic peanut butter chocolate rocked (his hot pepper tequila lacked any real pepper oomph), while Obama's Kenyan coffee ganache had fabulously intense coffee flavor. To order, go to www.burdickchocolate.com or call toll-free 1-800-229-2419.
Being green in the kitchen the easy way
One of the best ways to minimize the ecological impact of your kitchen is to compost waste such as produce, coffee grounds and egg shells.
Trouble is, few people want to take the trouble to compost, which is what makes BioBag Food Waste bags so great.
These ultra-thin 3-gallon bags are made from corn and will decompose in as little as 10 days. Keep one under the sink, fill it up as you cook over a few days, then toss the whole thing on the compost pile.
Packs of 25 BioBag Food Waste bags are available for about $5 online. For availability, check www.biobagusa.com.
How to ripen those rock-hard tomatoes
Supermarket tomatoes are generally plucked more than a week before they're ripe to withstand transportation, and later partly force-ripened with ethylene gas. To ripen, leave on the counter, in a loosely closed paper bag. Or keep them on a sunny part of the kitchen counter.
Do not store them in the refrigerator. They become mushy and lose flavor. Put them in the refrigerator if they start to over-ripen. They will still be good for cooking.
Get more from your asparagus spears
A friendly shopper at the grocery store reminded us recently why some of us think asparagus is not a good buy. That's because the lower part of the stocks are woody and usually tossed out.
Though it's quick to snap off the bottoms, you'll get more out of asparagus if you gently peel the bottoms instead. This is easiest to do with a Y-shaped vegetable peeler (though any peeler works for this). Run the peeler up and down along the bottom 2 inches of each stalk, then steam, saute, roast or grill as desired.
Compiled from Times staff, wires