Deirdre Bourdet: January 2010 Archives

A Super Bowl of Chili

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By Deirdre Bourdet

It's that time of year to gather up your friends, stock the beer (or wine) fridge, turn on the TV, and sit around eating manly foods like salty meats, spicy meats, fatty meats, and fried stuff.  Yes indeed, the Super Bowl is upon us! The need for satisfyingly unhealthy ways to feed the ravening crowds is mounting.  But what to do if yucky weather makes barbecuing meat out of the question?  Opt for the indoor sports food of choice, one that combines fatty, salty, meaty, rich, and crunchy in endless permutations, all in a single bowl... chili con carne.

Hail Mauro, Full Of Grace

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2010-01-15 21.13.11.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

I love to be surprised.  The opening of a real Thai restaurant in downtown Napa made my month.  Further surprises in the Napa restaurant department seemed unlikely, especially given that the other two new places opening in town were both angling for local-friendly comfort food--by definition, not the stuff surprises are made of.   The endless hordes thronging Norman Rose Tavern for quality burgers and fried chicken every night shock no one.  But the discovery of another solid, interesting, and reasonably priced eatery just a block away--with no wait--totally made my weekend.

The Plight of The Cab-Drinker

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By Deirdre Bourdet

One of the biggest challenges facing a fan of cabernet sauvignon is finding foods that stand up to their bold and brawny wine. Unless you subsist entirely on red meats, you have no doubt noticed cab's tendency to overwhelm or clash with more delicate flavors and textures, particularly vegetables or white meats and fish.  Does this mean that you can never enjoy a glass of cab with these kinds of meals?  Of course not.  It just means you need to be more creative about bridging the gap between them.

Here are a few pointers on making your food more compatible with cabernet:

Cognac, Your New Best Friend

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By Deirdre Bourdet

I'm not a brown liquor kind of girl, but cognac has a special place in my heart and kitchen pantry.  Soups, vegetables, cheeses, meats, desserts--virtually anything you're cooking ascends to a higher plane when kissed with cognac.

Many people have had cognac cream sauce with steak. Many people have had cognac with lobster and crayfish, either as a bisque or in the shellfish sauce.  But few people in the states have enjoyed cognac-macerated prunes the way the Europeans do.  In France, pruneaux-Armagnac is a classic and much beloved ice cream flavor made with--yep, Armagnac and prunes.  This combo also finds its way into other desserts with regularity... not surprisingly.

Where the Kiwi Is Not a Fruit

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mussels.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Cold January weather and my nearly depleted stock of suitcase wines make my thoughts return to New Zealand, where it is currently high summer and the oh-so-drinkable "savvy" (kiwi slang for sauvignon blanc) is flowing like water.  I spent two gluttonous weeks there last September, eating and drinking my way from Auckland in the north to Napier in the east, then to the south island through Marlborough and Waipara, and down to Christchurch.  It was pure hedonistic bliss.

Neither Here Nor Gruyère

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By Deirdre Bourdet

My obsession with fresh goat cheeses often keeps me from buying any other kind.  Chèvre is so delicious on its own, so versatile in cooking, so hardy when forgotten in the refrigerator--I forget that another cheese also boasts all of these characteristics--and looks and tastes entirely, refreshingly, different.

Tavern of Burgery Delights

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burger1.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

The much-anticipated Norman Rose Tavern opened with a bang at the end of December, with crowds out the door and throngs around the bar.  No one expected any less for a new restaurant from the folks behind the deservedly and wildly popular Pizzeria Azzurro just a few blocks away.

The Tavern is the first restaurant open for business in the new Napa Square Building, in a quickly upscaling section of First Street in downtown Napa. It bills itself as offering "elevated American classics" like big chopped salads, fried chicken sandwiches, all-beef hot dogs from Fatted Calf, mashed potatoes, french fries, and of course... cheeseburgers.

Bacon, Sweet Mystery of Life

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francisnbacon.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Sweet-savory desserts are now a way of life, it seems.  But for many, the most exciting (if borderline disturbing) sweet creations are those that incorporate the incomparable flavor of pork.  Bacony sweets were once the exclusive realm of the molecular gastronomists, who put bacon ice cream in soup with a slow poached egg in preparations designed as much to shock as to delight the taste buds.  The current generation of porked out sweets, though, seem to be taking a more natural approach that I think will be better received than the chocolate-bacon truffles of yesteryear.

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