July 2009 Archives

The Locals Know Where To Dine in Monterey

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Marie Galbo

Business brought me to Monterey; my stomach brought me to the Monterey Fish House.

I have only been to Monterey a couple of times so I stopped a few places and asked some locals for recommendations on where to eat with the remark "I don't need fluff & puff, just want good food".   Nearly every person mentioned Monterey Fish House.  I set out to find the location and turns out the fish house was right around the corner from where I was staying at Lone Oak Lodge.   

I Nduja Tonight

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boccalone nduja.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Hot summer nights call for sexy music and spicy company... enter nduja, everybody's favorite spreadable salame. Assertive, tender, musky, and exotic, it's everything you're looking for, and you can spread it on a cracker too.

Nduja, pronounced "en-DOO-yah"(not "NOOD-jah," as I was hoping) is a traditional cured pork salumi product that originates from Calabria, the "toe" region of Italy. The name derives from the French andouille, which is another type of spiced pork sausage bearing only a faint resemblance to nduja.

A domestic version of this Calabrian classic is now making Americans swoon, thanks to Chris Cosentino (of Incanto restaurant fame) and his Oakland-based artisanal charcuterie business, Boccalone. Cosentino's nduja features a unique, almost rillettes-like texture, hints of sour orange and smoke, plus plenty of heat from a variety of chilies that also lend the meat a fiery red hue. The salted meat and spices are fermented, lightly smoked, and dehydrated only enough to firm up the exterior casing, leaving the inside enticingly soft.

Birmingham Eggs

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BirrminghamEggs.jpgSubmitted by the Birmingham Bed & Breakfast
Nancy and Jerry Fischman, and Kathy Pappas, chefs

  • 1 cup half and half
  • 4 eggs (1 egg per serving)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/8-teaspoon garlic power
  • 1/8-teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8-teaspoon salt
  • 4 white onions, finely diced
  • ½ cup sliced black olives
  • ¾ cup diced ham, Canadian bacon or cooked chicken sausage (may be omitted)
  • 1 cup shredded Italian cheese (I used a blend that has asiago in it)
  • ½ cup diced tomato for topping

Wine Country Personality: Jon Mortimer

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jopnb.jpgEarth Meets Ocean:
Modern comfort food from the Sonoma Coast


Foreword
My life long journey with food began on the east coast. Charles Mortimer, my grandfather, was a true pioneer in the food manufacturing industry, but my food adventure has always followed a different map. At a young age I learned to love a great meal and the process by which it was attained. While enjoying the dining aspect, service and trying new flavors my thoughts would always wander to where the ingredients came from. What we were enjoying at the table never had as much an impact as picking and shelling peas with my grandmother earlier that afternoon.

    In the subsequent decades to those early food memories I found myself perpetually moving west. Across the fertile plains of the Rocky Mountains I learned of the fruitful bounties of the rich, irrigated soils. I found great respect for the majestic animals that roamed the monochromatic hills and boned many trout from the cool, clear streams. All wonderful, yet still there existed an incognizant limit to my culinary dreams and I always longed for a place where you didn't have to perpetually out-think the food as a cook. 

    In what amounted to an almost unexplainable fervor in a breathless week's time as if irresistibly pulled by a cosmic magnet my family headed west to lands end in the greatest food continent on the blue planet. It was the blue I'd been missing, teaming with life and crying out to be married with the fruits of the farmer's labors. The sense of place with which the wine epitomizes the food on the Sonoma Coast is a combination rarely experienced with such seamlessness. It is all so clear sitting on the coast at Timber Cove with the fertile, mineral rich soils behind me and ocean stirring before me...it's time to capture Earth and ocean in a pan and use all the respect of a lifetime with food and capture it on a plate.

Cheeseburger Paradise

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cheeseburger.jpegBy Courtney Cochran

The Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board works hard to get its message across (and we're pretty sure it has something to do with cheese). So hard, in fact, that it's created a delectable organization called, fittingly, the Cheese & Burger Society. A quick troll around the society's expertly designed micro site reveals its core mission: To celebrate - in vivid color and alongside expert recipes - "the greatest cheeseburgers ever made." Amen.

Egg on your face

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pizza_egg.jpegBy Deirdre Bourdet

Has anyone actually used this expression in the last thirty years? Kind of a shame it's not more commonly heard, as I am a staunch believer that we could always use more ways to say we look foolish or ridiculous, and more opportunities to eat dishes with egg on them. Toast and salads are just the beginning--in Australia I hear they top hamburgers with a fried egg, like a cooked riff on steak tartare. In France, and now increasingly here as well, you see pizzas crowned with runny-yolked eggs. If you've not yet experienced this combination, your life is empty and meaningless. Get thee to a pizzeria immediately.

Salty Dreams Are Made Of This

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Chocolate Budino with sea salt and pine nut crust.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Salty-sweet desserts are catching on like they're going out of style and I couldn't be happier. Once limited to French fleur de sel caramels, this delightful taste sensation has now exploded into salted ice creams, truffle fillings, and chocolate desserts near you.

I adore Chocolatier Blue in Berkeley because Chris Blue puts tons of Camargue sea salt into every one of his creations. From pistachio to sweet corn to deep dark chocolate truffles, the flavors pop and send your salivary glands into overdrive. Needless to say, his peanut brittle is also beyond compare--ethereally crispy, buttery, salty, nutty, and completely addicting.

Grilled Ribeye with Red Wine Porcini Sauce

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recipeMerryvale.jpgSubmitted by Chef Jim Filaroski of J. Alexander's

Wine Pairing: Merryvale Vineyards Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Summer's here and the time is right... for a barbecue!  Invite your friends over, uncork a bottle of Merryvale Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, and get the coals hot.  This great grilled rib-eye dish is sure to be a crowd pleaser and pairs impeccably with Merryvale's Cab.

Bolani Madness

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bolini.jpegBy Deirdre Bourdet

You have likely seen the Bolani and Sauce guy if you have ever visited a farmer's market in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the human whirlwind dishing out sample after sample of stuffed flatbreads and colorful sauces to every passerby within reach. He is unstoppable, insatiable, hell-bent on feeding you all his favorite combinations before he allows you to step away from the booth. Have you tried the pumpkin bolani topped with garlic-mint cheese and sun-dried tomato pesto? Or the spinach bolani with hummus and smoky eggplant pesto? Curried lentil and sweet jalapeno? He knows that it is humanly impossible not to like at least four of their ten condiments, and that once you have found those four, you can't walk away without buying them, and a package or two of the irresistible veggie-stuffed bolanis themselves.

Spicy Asian Salad

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asian_salad.JPGSubmitted by Gallo Winery

The Gallo family believes that one of the reasons they have stayed strong as a family business for over 75 years is their love of sitting down together to share good food, wine and conversation. Many meals have been enjoyed, some from old Italian family recipes and some more contemporary Californian in style.  Here is one they hope you enjoy...

Ingredients:

For the dressing:
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Thai hot chili paste, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup Thai fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Pizza and Pinot

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estate.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

A $10 dinner with wine in a wine country restaurant is like a unicorn--beautiful, magical, fun to think about, but totally a mythical beast... or at least that used to be the case.  I can now say with certainty that such an animal exists, every night, AND you can sit outside by a fireplace to enjoy it.  

Estate is Sondra Bernstein's latest restaurant project in the old General Daughter's location just a few blocks west of the Sonoma square. The restaurant offers up some seriously well-priced California-inflected Italian cuisine, and the Pizza and Pinot special is perhaps the best example of the restaurant's bicultural offerings.  Every night, and all day Saturday and Sunday, the bar menu features your choice of pizza with a glass of featured pinot grigio or pinot noir... for ten dollars. Total.  

Napastille Day at the Oxbow Market

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bastille_day.jpgLiberte, Egalite, Block Parté

by Deirdre Bourdet

'Tis the season of Independence Day celebrations, and Francophiles in the Napa area will be fête-ing le quatorze juillet (aka Bastille Day) at the Oxbow Market - this year. Live music, dancing, games, and--bien sûr--a wide variety of frenchy food specials will celebrate 220 years of Gallic freedom in appropriately hedonistic style.

Starting at noon, Toni Cordioli and his Accordion Gang will roam the market and transport you to Paris, only without the b.o. and pushy donation collection. Cooper masters from Nadalie USA will be there from 2-6 to demonstrate the fine art of barrel-making--an entirely different kind of French toast we rarely get to see.

Killer Bread

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recipe_KillerBreadSilos.jpgThis food item is the absolute best; cheesy, tasty, and makes your mouth water. The tomatoes are awesome with the sour dough bread and the cheese. Everyone orders and loves this item at Silo's Wine Bar and Jazz Club.

Recipe: Killer Bread

Wine Pairing: Pinot Grigio (favorite is by Luna Vineyards)

Chef Name: Linda Whitted

Ingredients:
butter, mayo, Parmesan cheese, garlic, mozzarella cheese, sour dough bread

Directions:
I cant tell you anything more or give details . . . its a SECRET!

Readers: Looks pretty good from the picture and easy to make.  Probably perfect as a snack or along with dinner. Would love to get some readers thoughts on how to make this since we aren't given any directions...

Silo's Wine Bar and Jazz Club
"Pairing Great Wines with Great Music"
530 Main Street
Napa, CA 94558
(707) 251.5833
www.silosjazzclub.com

Coup de Coeur à Bordeaux

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La Tupina cepes and Fronsac.jpgby Deirdre Bourdet

What, who, or where is a must-see on a trip to Bordeaux? According to a former colleague of mine, a cozy little restaurant called La Tupina. A quick perusal of their website revealed that this 30 year old + establishment prides itself on simple, classic bordelais specialties, prepared with the finest local ingredients and a hefty dose of nostalgic passion. When I read that French president Nicolas Sarkozy had also lunched there on his recent visit to the city, I figured there really was something to this place, and cut out early from Vinexpo's lunacy to see for myself.

Incredibly, on a day when 50,000 wine industry members had overtaken the city, I walked in without a reservation at the height of the lunch hour and scored a prime table on their terrace. Even more incredibly, I also scored a very amiable and helpful waiter... yes, they do exist in France.

Indulgence Within Reach

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bounty_hunter_winebar.jpegby Deirdre Bourdet

Far more could be said about the positive aspects of the recession than would fit on this blog, so I'll limit this discussion to some of the incredible discounts available these days on Napan indulgences.

One of my personal favorites is the all-day Monday happy hour at Bounty Hunter, where the entire stable of "house" brands is two-for-one by the glass... including the Waypoint Vineyards Beckstoffer/To Kalon wines, normally $20 a pop.  If you can make it in between 3 and 6 p.m.  on the other weekdays, the same deal applies.  Consider adding a "mini" barbecue sampler plate heaped with pulled pork, brisket, ribs, and coleslaw to your tab, and you've basically got dinner and two glasses of killer wine for $35.

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