WineCountry Staff: December 2009 Archives

Eating for Luck in the New Year

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By Deirdre Bourdet

New Year's is a time for renewed energy, and renewed hope for a brighter future...given a bit of luck. Small wonder then that most of the world sets the New Year's table with dishes designed to maximize their good fortune in the coming year. Lucky colors, lucky animals, and vegetables that look like money are all welcomed to the party. Here are some ideas to make 2010 the best year yet.

The Gift of Ganache

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By Deirdre Bourdet

Ganache is magically delicious.  Cream + chocolate = sweet perfection, in a preternaturally versatile combination.  The same basic ganache recipe (equal weight boiling cream and chopped dark chocolate) works equally well poured hot over ice cream sundaes as it does chilled in truffle form, or as a thick layer of decadent frosting on a chocolate lover's cake.  And, because hot cream is so easily infused with other flavors, making ganache taste like your favorite herb, spice, or other flavor is one of the most impressive, no-talent-necessary kitchen tricks in the world.

Being a bit of a culinary thrill-seeker, I take advantage of Christmas gifting season to experiment with new ganache infusions.  Last year my friends got jasmine tea, salted caramel, and fresh thyme-meyer lemon zest truffles.  This year it's chipotle, earl grey, and rosemary-parmesan.  It's pretty hard to go wrong with cream and chocolate, so be bold... and maybe start with a small batch. I've found 6 ounces cream and 6 ounces chocolate tends to be a good experimental size.

Mini Bistro, Mega Delicious

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mini mango kitchen shot.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Mini Mango Thai Bistro opened this month in the downtown space last occupied by Bleaux Magnolia, and judging by the packed house and fifteen minute wait last Friday night, Napa's Asian food fans have already heard about it.  The place is indeed mini, as the majority of the seating at that location is outside on the fabulous (seasonal) patio.  But in a commendable show of restraint, the new tenants have not festooned the tiny indoor space with diminutive mangoes as you might expect from the name.  The look, like the cuisine, is minimalist and contemporary, with nary a mango in sight.

VIDEO: The Classic Holiday Roast Recipe

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Learn to cook like the pros for the holidays! Chef Charlie Palmer (of Dry Creek Kitchen at Hotel Healdsburg) shows Harry Smith and Debbye Turner Bell how to cook a holiday rib roast and some unique side dishes with winter vegetables on the CBS Early Show.

 

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Delicious Deals

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From truly cheap eats to exquisitely high-value dining

By Sue Elliott

When business gets tough, restaurateurs get creative, coming up with delicious high-value offers to entice diners through the door. We've included many of the best deals here along with a handful of little-known, always-cheap eats.


Angèle Restaurant & Bar
The deal: Classics, $18-$20.
When: Sun.-Thurs. 5-9 p.m.
What you get: A hearty, traditional French one-dish meal. Current Classics include La Chaudrée fish stew on Sundays, ratatouille on Mondays, choucroute alsacienne on Tuesdays, coq au vin on Wednesdays, and chef's choice on Thursdays. The ingredients are fresh, the preparations meticulous.
Other deals: Half-off wines and beers that pair nicely with the Classics. That means Chardonnay on Sundays, "other reds" (Syrah, Petite Sirah, Côte Rôtie, Beaujolais, Crozes-Hermitage) on Mondays, beers on Tuesdays, and Pinot Noir on Wednesdays. Every bottle on the wine list is half-price on Thursdays.
Where: 540 Main St., Napa, (707) 252-8115, angelerestaurant.com.

Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin' BBQ
The deal: Pony Express Lunch, $10.
When: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
What you get: Fast and tasty. Choose any sandwich (pulled pork, beef brisket, shredded barbecued chicken, grilled veggies, or The Reubenesque), plus any side (such as fresh, crispy cole slaw), and any nonalcoholic beverage. The delicious meal is served in 10 minutes or less, along with three barbecue sauces.
Other Deals: Happy hour, weekdays 3-6 p.m. The $5 rib and cole slaw appetizer includes three Smokin' St. Louis Cut ribs. The $10 BBQ sampler is enough for a meal, with brisket, pulled pork, ribs, and slaw.
Where: 975 First St., Napa, (707) 226-3976, bountyhunterwinebar.com.

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Let's Get This Party Started

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cheesePlatter.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Holiday meals are the stuff that memories are made of.  Ritualistic dishes, predictable (and often dreaded) guest lists, a stressed out hostess, and the inevitable family drama combine for pure holiday magic. Whether you are just beginning to establish some edible traditions, or seeking desperately to add a new twist to the rote and routine, punchy autumn appetizers offer a fun and memorable way to jump start the party.

Hors d'oeuvres don't have to be elaborate or fussy. You can build any number of fabulous little taste explosions using a few key ingredients and some creative flavor combinations. 

Here are my tips for appetizer success:

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