Deirdre Bourdet: July 2009 Archives

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.

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.

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.

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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