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[whitespace] New Breeze From Pacific Trade Winds

Downtown San Jose enjoys the public offerings of E & O Trading Company

By Joe Mangelli

THE NEXT TIME A START-UP HAS an IPO celebration, company officers might want to consider holding the festivities at the E & O Trading Company. This newcomer to downtown San Jose sits at the hot corner of South First and San Fernando in the venerable Old Security Building. Christopher Hemmeter, Micah Broude and Paul Ma have spent big bucks crafting a serious restaurant and bar. Bleached hardwood floors beset with formal dining room chairs create a comfortable environment. Traditional Asian art is creatively displayed up high, giving the place a certain airiness that feels good. In the dining room a number of culinary practitioners glide around each other in a look-see kitchen under the direction of executive chef Daniel Torres, creating what is billed as Southeast Asian grill food. Meats and seafood from Malaysia, India, Bali, et al. are transported intact across the blue Pacific and up Highway 17 to downtown San Jo. The eclectic regional menu is not fusion food, I was told, but true regional dishes presented in their purest form. The menu runs from about $6 for satay to $27 for Balinese oven-roasted whole fish. Freshly brewed ales by brewmaster Frank Commanday complement the fare.

E & O has a sister restaurant in San Francisco, and other siblings are planned for Palo Alto (soon) and Hawaii (later). This place should be a contender. It has class and is perfectly suited to the neighborhood, which runs hard against the light-rail tracks on what is developing into the vortex of downtown gastronomy. E & O's address is 96 S. First St.
(408/938-4100); it's open daily except Sundays.

Catered Affairs

While the rest of us have been watching Monday Night Football all these years, a bunch of guys have been getting together for the sole purpose of marrying the best food and the best wines in Christendom. How quaint. They call themselves the Professional Wine Society of Santa Clara County. About 40 strong, these men of the culinary cloth vie with each other to sponsor a dinner, usually by selecting a restaurant to prepare its finest cuisine and handpicking the wines for the occasion. About eight or nine of these happenings occur each year, so sponsorship doesn't come along that often. The members then score the meal, the wines and the presentation, heaping acclaim upon the sponsor of the event who garners the most points. Of course such a meal deserves an award, and coming from a wine society it is aptly named: the Purple Foot Award.

This year, esteemed member Jon Anderson of Los Gatos arranged to have La Pastaia Catering in Campbell, the catering branch of Buca La Pastaia, do the honors at the Thomas Fogarty Winery. Anderson planned the meal with executive chef Justin Perez, who was wounded in action at the time, hobbling around with a broken foot suffered the day before the event. But Perez managed to go over the top with the able assistance of Buca La Pastaia chef Merry Catanuto and owner Susan Ardizzone. The results were spectacular: mouthwatering seared abalone beurre blanc served with fried kumi oysters and lemongrass aioli, and marinated lamb chops with grilled asparagus tips and roasted garlic mashed potatoes in a portobello mushroom cap are samples from the menu. All six courses were consensually consummated with the best of the wine cellars of Thomas Fogarty, Kistler, Shafer Red Shoulder Ranch and Arrowood. To give some idea of the competition for this extravaganza, the famed Postrio in San Francisco won last year.

For those of us relegated to watching the game, the next best thing might be to sneak over to that unassuming little gem, Buca La Pastaia Restaurant in Campbell, maybe on a Tuesday night. Buca La Pastaia is at 2081 S. Winchester Blvd., Campbell (408/871-3135), and is closed Mondays. For information on catering, call 408/871-3135 .

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From the August 26-September 1, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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