Few things bring back memories of my childhood visits to Baja and Mexico more vividly than Chiclets. It was south of the border where I first encountered mini boxes that contained one or two squares of the brightly colored chewing gum. I was enamored. At Corte Madera Town Center’s newest restaurant, Flores, a large bowl of the multicolored treats are offered up like books of signature matches, or after-dinner mints.
This is the second location for Flores (the first is on Union Street in San Francisco) and though open less than a month, the lively space has transformed the longtime and former PF Chang’s into a convivial, bustling eatery with indoor and outdoor seating, a banquet room and a massive bar. Gray cinder-blocks and woven basket–like light fixtures ignited more memories of Mexico, and though the spacious room still needs warming up, the food and the service have hit their stride.
Consistency for restaurants is everything. By the looks of it, Flores’ favorites (including the citrus-roasted and fried pork shoulder carnitas and chile rellenos stuffed with spinach, mushrooms and cheese) are every bit as good as the flagship’s take on these dishes.
But it’s the appetizers that excited me the most on a recent visit—especially the bowl of ceviche mixto campechano, which brimmed with spicy, marinated fish, shrimp and squid. A smoke-tinged sauce of chiles and tomatoes made for an exquisite base to showcase the fresh seafood. Likewise, two generous tostadas de cangrejo featured house-made crispy tortillas piled high with a mixture of Dungeness crab, pickled onions and lettuce. The crab takes center stage in this tasty starter.
And then there’s the tequila—over 50 options to choose among and almost as many mescals. A handful of speciality cocktails on the drinks menu utilize everything from chocolate and allspice to passion fruit and mole bitters. The De Flore margarita combines mescal, curacao, lime and orange in just the right amounts.
Flores is a good fit for the retail-heavy Corte Madera Town Center. Soon-to-be-weary holiday shoppers will now have a refuge to refuel with a margarita, a taco—and a brightly colored piece of gum.
Flores, 301 Corte Madera Town Center, Corte Madera. 415.500.5145. Cortemadera.floressf.com.
There’s something in the air. A bug of sorts. A smoke-driven sickness that seems to be afflicting everyone. Help is on the way, this Sunday, when the Commonweal (480 Mesa Road, Bolinas) offers a forum and feast on the uses of food as medicine, “with an emphasis on anti-inflammatory, blood sugar stabilizing foods, and an understanding of anti-oxidative, longevity-supporting and anti-cancer foods.” A chef demonstration will be provided by Anna O’Malley, and there’s a potluck lunch in the Commonweal’s garden. The event’s being put on by the Natura Institute of Ecology & Medicine. Attendees are invited to bring gardening gloves and stick around for a bit of garden-tending after the event. Tickets are $40–$50, and the event runs from 10am to 1pm; garden-tending is scheduled from 2pm to 4pm. naturainstitute.org/ground-of-wellbeing.
There will be Dungeness crabs for Thanksgiving this year, even as the California Department of Fish and Wildlife announced last week that the commercial Dungeness season has been delayed in waters north of Bodega Bay. The reason is yet again the appearance of high levels of domoic acid in crabs caught above the Bodega line. The commercial season for Dungeness in waters from the Bodega Head State Marine Reserve to the Mexican border will open at 12:01am on Nov. 15. Crabbers will be busily setting their gear in the 18-hour window that precedes the season opener, on the 14th. Domoic acid is a neurotoxin produced by a marine algae that flourishes in warm ocean waters. The ocean waters are warming, the sky is filled with smoke, the president is a nightmare—but we’re grateful for that big ol’ crab with all the trimmings this year.—Tom Gogola