Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Beekman 1802.

With Christmas right around the corner, my days have been spent enjoying simple pleasures around our home- from baking, to birdwatching, hibernating with my books and cooking shows galore.  It's hard to keep up during the holiday season, and our schedules become easily jam-packed, so it's nice to have personal downtime to really do the things that get lost in the seasonal chaos.

Not too long ago, as I was putting together some festive champagne cork garlands for our windows, I was scanning through Netflix in search of a new chef obsession and came across season one of the hilarious, heartwarming and intriguing TV show, "The Fabulous Beekman Boys".

The Beekman Boys are indeed, not Beekman's at all.  "The Fabulous Beekman Boys" follows the story of Josh Kilmer-Purcell (a former drag-queen/ New York Times bestselling author/advertising executive) and Dr. Brent Ridge (a former geriatric physician/Martha Stewart Omnimedia consultant) on their journey to becoming full-fledged farmer's after purchasing the 'Beekman Farm' in Sharon Springs, New York in 2007.  It also catalogs how they develop their lifestyle brand, Beekman 1802, a company made famous by their outstanding all-natural goat's milk soap in recent years.

Little did I know, I was already familiar with the Beekman Boys, thanks to a certain previous employer and my own good taste in bath products.  I had fallen in love with their soaps years ago, and still use them to this day.  I was elated to learn that they had TV program for me to ogle, and even more excited to find out that they had grown the brand extensively to include artisan foods, thanks to their ever-expanding family of goats (all lovingly cared for by the shy, sweet Farmer John Hall.)  Between the hilarity of goat farming, a very sassy llama (Polkspot!) and the personality of both boys and their fellow townfolk, even the hubbs was cracking up laughing at the antics on Beekman Farm.

This article isn't focused on their TV show, even though we enjoy it immensely.  I wanted to highlight some of their actual product, because I do truly support and believe in the quality of their goods.  I contacted Beekman 1802 to discover where exactly I could get my hands on their provisions these days-- as it turns out, pretty tough luck here for us west coasters...  Our options are very limited.  Not surprisingly, thanks to the boys business saavy practices, their soaps, home items, cheeses, gardening gear and fun accessories are primarily only found on the Beekman 1802 website.  Josh's novels, "I Am Not Myself These days: A Memoir" and my current read, "The Bucolic Plague", are both available in bookstores everywhere and online.

This book has brought great joy to this holiday season for me.

Now on to the goodies...
The hubbs and I both love ice cream.  We also love spice, so when I saw this, I about fainted... I'm pretty sure I'd be comfortable using this rich, delicious caramel sauce on just about everything- if we could keep it stocked in our pantry long enough!  Beekman Cajeta.

"Most caramel sauces you'll find at your local store are primarily composed of high fructose corn syrup. Some dulche de leches are made the old-fashioned way---cooking down high quality cow's milk until all that is left is the sugars. But cajeta--a tradition in many Latin countries--is made with pure goat milk.  Traditionally, cajeta is somewhere between a sauce and a caramel chew. You eat it out of a small wooden box with a spoon.  All Beekman 1802 caramel sauces are made with goat milk, pure cane sugar and vanilla beans. Excellent over cakes, in chocolates, or cinnamon buns.  But like everything we make at Beekman 1802, we put our own twist on things. Some like it hot. So for those people we steeped habanero peppers from our own garden as the caramel was cooking down. The combination of sweet and heat is unlike anything you've ever tasted. It brings an entirely new complexity to any ice cream or fruit dipping sauce."

For every something sweet, you need something savory.  I've sampled other onion jams before, but nothing compares to the Beekman "Blaak" Onion Jam.  It's perfect paired with hard cheeses, topped on crostini, used in addition to cooking sauces or, you know, just eaten with a spoon.  Remember, all the Beekman goodies are made with ingredients straight from the farm.  Josh's green thumb shines in this fabulously classy condiment.  I'm pretty sure this is a seasonal item, so if you can't locate it online just now, sit tight and look for it during the spring.

Me and my honey.  No, not the hubbs.  Beekman Rosemary Creamed Honey.  Somewhere between liquid gold and pure, smooth butter.  I use it on toast and in my cappuccino.  The herbaceous flavor cuts the sweetness just enough.  "Moses Quimby kept 1,200 colonies of bees in the Mohawk Valley in the mid-1800s and invented the smoking can that beekeepers still use to this day when harvesting from the hives. His honey would have stocked the shelves of William Beekman's original Mercantile.  One of our first "discoveries" at Beekman farm was an old apple tree on the border of the property into which a colony of bees had set up home. We sat for hours wondering about the hidden queen ruling the kingdom from somewhere deep within the hollow trunk.  Now there are 40 bee hives at Beekman Farm, producing about 15,000lbs of honey a year.  It takes 648 bees working a full season to produce each 9 oz jar of sweet goodness."

My next purchase, which I'm saving my pennies for, will be the Beekman 1802 Blaak cheese.  It "is the world-famous artisanal cheese produced from the goats at Beekman Farm. Blaak is an Italian-style semi-hard cheese made from a 60:40 mix of raw goat and cow milk giving the cheese a mild but distinctive flavor. In keeping with traditional cheesemaking practices, this rare cheese is aged for 3 months in our caves and is coated with ash at each turning to promote the ripening of the wheel. The resulting edible black rind gives the cheese its name and makes it a true conversation piece on your table."

I also picked up the Beekman Heirloom Cookbook, which I highly recommend to any and all food lovers and home chefs.  All of their recipes are based on heirloom style cookery- hearty foods, all seasonally appropriate according to what will be available in your home garden or farmer's markets.  The photography and recipes are gorgeous, along with the anecdotes and special edition stationary that accompanies the book.  "Together, Josh and Brent have created a gorgeous cookbook that is “heirloom” in every sense of the word: they showcase heirloom fruits and vegetables; offer delicious heirloom recipes from farm, family, and friends; and include a section in the back of each chapter so you can personalize the book with your own treasured recipes--and create a unique keepsake to hand down to your family."

I could go on and on about Beekman 1802 and the Beekman Farm.  But I'll leave a little for you all to discover on your own.  Check out www.beekman1802.com for info on the fellas and their bucolic lifestyle.  I'm sure you'll enjoy discovering the many splendors of the boys, their gaggle of goats and a whole lot of llama drama.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Dining in San Francisco.

My friends at the Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco have several Christmas holiday dining options for guests this season. In addition to their Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners ($75 per person and $45 with wine pairings) at Brasserie S&P, they will also host a Christmas Day Brunch Buffet...

Christmas Day Brunch Buffet 
Tuesday, December 25, 2012 10am to 3pm 
$65 adults $35 children 
Fresh Juice Selection - Assorted Jing Premium Teas and Peets Coffee included 
Bottomless Champagne Cocktail Bar – add $15 
Gin-inspired traditional drinks available at the bar 
--Traditional Breakfast--
Eggnog French Toast 
Sustainable Smoked Salmon 
Assorted Fresh Breakfast Pastries & Bagels 
Sliced Seasonal Fruit, Melons & Berries 
House Made Granola & Low Fat Yogurt with Brown Sugar and Bananas 
Local Artisan Bacon and Sausage 
--Chef’s Specialty Salads-- 
--Assorted Dim Sum Station-- 
--Children’s Buffet--
Fruit skewers 
Mini Pancakes with Nutella 
Make your own Pasta station 
Local Dungeness Crab Lo Mein 
Roast Turkey with Stuffing and Gravy 
Croque Monsieur 
Roasted Yam Puree 
Seasonal Selection

Christmas DAY Dinner 
--First course 
Choice of --
Fennel Salad, Blood Orange, Point Reyes Blue Cheese 
Steven Kent “Lola” Sauvignon Blanc, Livermore Valley 2011 
Roasted Celery Root Soup, Apple, Smoked Paprika Oil 
Swanson Pinot Grigio, Napa Valley 2010 
--Second Course 
Choice of-- 
Roasted Cornish Game Hen, Pomegranate Gastrique, Polenta 
Hirsch Vineyards “Prelation”, Sonoma Coast 2010 
Sauerbraten, Braised Red Cabbage, Caramelized Turnips 
Duende Tempranillo, Clements Hills 2009 
California White Bass, Bouillabaisse Sauce, Roasted Trumpet Mushrooms 
Highflyer Grenache Blanc, Napa Valley 2010 
Roasted Whole Dungeness Crab, Herbed Purple Potatoes, Rosemary Garlic Butter 
Antica by Antinori Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2008 
Choice of-- 
Plum Pudding, Brandied Hard Sauce 
Joseph Phelps Eisrebe, Napa Valley 2009 
Buche de Noel 
Justin Obtuse Port, Paso Robles 2008 

Menu Created by Executive Chef Adam Mali • Sommelier Selected Wine Pairings by Jon Allen

To make a reservation, visit Opentable.com  
or call + 1 (415) 986-2020
Brasserie S&P is located at 
Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco 
222 Sansome Street 
San Francisco, CA 94104 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Le Cigare Volant.

While most folks were trying to hide from the massive incoming storm this past weekend, the hubbs and I decided to jump in the car and head towards the seashore.  We were looking to celebrate his birthday by tucking away in a little beach town somewhere along the coast and found ourselves in beautiful Santa Cruz.  Our drive down was easy and quick, only taking a little over an hour or so from South San Francisco- we snuck over to Half Moon Bay and literally coasted our way down PCH, avoiding all evening traffic and terrible inland weather.  The horizon was brightly lit, the ocean was raging and the hills were shrouded in heavy rain clouds.  Nonetheless, it was a spectacular drive down the California coast towards our destination...

We arrived a bit past five, along with a heavy sprinkle and sigh of relief that we had won the race against the monsoon about to slam into the Monterey Bay.  After checking into the Seaway Inn (a place I highly recommend for it's friendly service, affordable rates and clean, comfortable rooms), we walked down to the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf to grab a pre-dinner drink and relax before dinner.  I dragged the hubbs through the torrent and down the plank to the Firefish Grill- I'd visited a few weeks earlier and knew they had oysters, so I was on a mission.  The vibe at Firefish is a great mix of surfers, eccentric locals, curious tourists and people just looking for a decent plate of seafood served oceanside.  Half a dozen Blue Point bivalves and a bottle of Cava later, we were ready to move on to our reservations at Bonny Doon Vineyard's newly re-named (after the iconic wine)... Le Cigare Volant.

First off, here's a quick overview of Le Cigare Volant:
"Formerly known as the Cellar Door, the Santa Cruz venue adopted the brand’s iconic wine name as 
its moniker. The winery is slated to celebrate the release of the 25th vintage of its heralded Le Cigare Volant this year. Winemaker and President-for-Life, Randall Grahm produced his first vintage in 1984 as an homage to Châteauneuf-du-Pape."

"Commenting on the restaurant name change, Grahm explained, it represents a commitment to a more refined, if not empyrean level of cuisine and service, as well as a proclamation of a deeper association between the restaurant and the winery itself.”

"Chef Ryan Shelton will lead the culinary team at Le Cigare Volant. Joining Bonny Doon from two star, Michelin-rated Baumé Restaurant in Palo Alto, Shelton also held posts at the award-winning Chez TJ in Mountain View, and at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel. “We’re thrilled to have Ryan’s extensive knowledge and unique skill set in the kitchen as we take the restaurant to the next level of excellence,” explained Bonny Doon Vineyard General Manager, Jim Connell. Nathaniel Muñoz, with extensive restaurant experience in the Central Coast of California, has assumed the role of restaurant manager."

"Bonny Doon is committed to producing elegant, soulful, food-friendly wines in a largely hands-off, “acoustic” style, working with Biodynamic and organic growers wherever and whenever possible. The restaurant shares a common philosophy sourcing the finest local ingredients to create fresh, seasonal and honest flavors for the table."

Walking into Le Cigare Volant, you are immediately taken aback by the large wooden casks (with built in booth seating) and the large, wooden steampunk-esque cigar shaped spaceship hanging from the ceiling.  The bistro style seating is simple, elegant and lends itself well to an intimate meal.  The centerpiece of the entire facility is the large oak barrel tasting bar- Boony Doon Vineyard clearly pulls in a large crowd for their tastings, but a night, the counter sits silent, shiny and quiet.  There's a minimalistic approach to the dining area that only complements their vibrant, seasonal farm-to-table menu.  The combination of the two elements has you feeling as though you've discovered someone's secret kitchen, hidden away in a warehouse, surrounded by wine.

As we took our seats, we were greeted by our server, fully prepared with a smile and an amuse-bouche in hand.  A plate of Chef Ryan Shelton's handmade granola- a fun and unusual way to clean to palate, being a blend of steel-cut oats, sun-dried grapes and earthy puffed grains.  

Next, I was eager to sample a few of Le Cigare Volant's much talked about small plates.  Having read about  several of the starter bites from fellow foodies, I chose two very different but incredibly tasty dishes...

Emperor Norton Canning Co. Pub Pickles.  There weren't any pickled cucumbers (as most would expect) but this adorable jar was packed with pickled carrots, pearl onions and cauliflower.  The vegetables were fresh and crunchy with just enough bite to make your lips pucker.  Big bonus: Emperor Norton Canning Co. is straight out of Santa Cruz- again, Bonny Doon supports local farms and producers by bringing their goods straight to your table.

Smoked Fingerling Potato – “Potted” with Chives.  Good gracious, both the hubbs and I nearly melted when we dug into this little pot of savory yum.  The potatoes were cooked perfectly, with a slightly smoky flavor and the creme in the bottom of the pot was pure bliss- I believe it was an airy Hollandaise style sauce. The "dirt" on the top of the potato "flowers" was an ingenius balsamic vinaigrette crouton crumble.  Simply delicious.

Next, we continued our way through the menu by sharing one of their "delicacies"...

The Straus Family Creamery Pan-Fried Ricotta – with Apple Agrodolce & Butternut Gnocchi.  I will start by saying I'm particularly obsessed with all Straus Family Creamery ingredients.  I consume their milk, cream, butter, sour cream and ice cream on a daily basis, so you bet I'll order a dish that highlights their product.  More interestingly, I loved the pairing of the sweet & sour agrodolce and the plump, smooth fried cheese.  This dish epitomizes the seasonal, farm-fresh dishes that make Le Cigare Volant special.

For our main courses, neither of us could decide so we went with the "you get one, I'll get the other" option, like we often do when dining out together.  It really is the best way to order if you are willing to share- at one point I was no longer willing to part with my dish and the hubbs protested.  I tried to barder my way into keeping at all for myself, but I lost out when he waved a forkfull of his meal under my nose.  As much as I wanted to be selfish, it seemed unfair to hoard, so I politely gave in and let him try mine.  He'll tell the same story, except I'm sure he'll claim that I stole his dish and wouldn't give it back (which might be true.)

Seared Breast of 38 North Chicken, Carrot Top Ravioli- Live Earth Carrot Variants, Brown Butter.  This fantastic chicken is air-chilled and locally raised, giving it an unbelievably juicy flavor.  The ravioli was distinctly unique, with a firm texture and rich, hearty filling.  Both were lightly drizzled in a brown butter sauce but the dish tasted extremely light and refreshing overall.

Pan-Seared Skuna Bay Craft-Fed Salmon – Sunchoke Risotto, Red Wine Reduction.  The hubbs had to pry this dish out of my hands once I had sampled a bite.  The salmon was cooked to perfection and the risotto was some of the best I've tasted this year (and you know I love risotto!).  The only way I can manage to describe the mixture of flavors here is by calling it decadent.  The crispy skin, the delicate bite of the salmon sashimi as a comparison, the red wine reduction... Bravo Le Cigare Volant, bravo.

And for dessert- we were gifted a Petite Cabernet Gelee bite.  Sweet, dusted with sugar and quickly enjoyed.  A lovely end to our meal.

Le Cigare Volant is open for dinner Weds–Sunday, and for lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Wednesday
evenings are devoted to Community Table, a special prix fixe, family-style meal celebrating the experience of
food and wine shared communally.  Reservations are available by calling 831-425-6771 or at
www.bonnydoonvineyard/reserve.com  The menu changes daily.  Please visit www.lecigarevolant.com to view.

If you are in the Santa Cruz area, please take the time to visit Le Cigare Volant.  You will be pleasantly smitten by the food, the friendly service and the intriguing world of Bonny Doon Vineyard and their many delightful wines.  Gracious thanks to the staff at Le Cigare Volant for making it a memorable birthday evening for the hubbs as well.


Le Cigare Volant 
Hours of Operation
LUNCH.....Daily 12-6
TASTING...Daily 12-5
DINNER....Wed-Sun 5:30-9


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Donations, Sweet Treats & One Warm Coat.

Attention friends!  This is a great way to give back during the upcoming holiday season, and what an amazing opportunity to help someone in need this winter- the hubbs and are I definitely going to do our part to get the word out and participate.  Check it out: 
Top San Francisco Pastry Chefs to Partner with “One Warm Coat” to Host Coat Drive at Eighteen Restaurants in the City...

From November 26 – December 10, 2012, Diners are Encouraged to Donate a Coat to Participating Restaurants and Receive a Sweet Holiday Treat in Return.

WHAT: A group of top San Francisco pastry chefs, including Brasserie S&P’s Executive Chef Adam Mali, have come together to partner with the charity, One Warm Coat, a national non-profit that assists in the donation of coats, to host a coat drive for two weeks following the Thanksgiving holiday.

HOW: Those interested in participating in the coat drive can drop off coats at any of the participating restaurants or bakeries, and in return, the pastry chef will provide guests with a special sweet treat.

Participating restaurants and bakeries include:

· Brasserie S&P Mandarin Oriental: 222 Sansome, Donations from 7am-11pm

· One Market: 1 Market Street, Donations from noon-9pm

· Tartine Bakery: 600 Guerrero, Donations from 8am-6pm

· La Folie Restaurant and Lounge: 2316 Polk Street, Donations from 10am-10pm

· Farallon Restaurant: 450 Post Street, Donations from 5pm-10pm

· Waterbar: 399 Embarcadero, Donations from 11am-10pm

· Goody Goodie Cream & Sugar: 1830 Harrison, Donations from 8am-3pm

· Tout Sweet Kitchen: 1750D Cesar Chavez, Donations from 9am-3pm

· Range: 842 Valencia, Donations from 6pm-10pm

· Town Hall: 342 Howard, Donations from 11:30pm-6pm M-F

· Bourbon Steak: 335 Powell, 13th Floor, Donations from 9am-5pm M-F

· Zare at Fly Trap: 606 Folsom, Donations from 9am-5pm M-Sa

· COCO500: 500 Brannan, Donations from 11:30am-10pm

· Prospect: 300 Spear St, Donations from 4pm-10pm

· Absinthe Pastry: 201 Ivy, Donations from 9am-5pm

· Noe Valley Bakery: 4073 24th St, Donations from 7am-6pm

· 1300 Fillmore: 1300 Fillmore, Donations from 4:30pm-9pm

WHEN: Coat Drive: Monday, November 26 – Monday, December 10
One Warm Coat is a national non-profit organization that assists in the donation of coats. The organization helps individuals, groups, companies and organizations across the country collect coats and deliver them to local agencies that distribute them free, to people in need. Providing this simple yet vital need helps people live productive lives year round. Over 3 million coats have been collected and distributed through One Warm Coat activities since 1992.
Be Kind,

Monday, November 26, 2012

Winter Risotto.

Admittedly, I am feeling a few pounds heavier and a tad bit dehydrated after this Thanksgiving Holiday, but altogether it has been an amazing past 5 days for us.  The hubbs and I were able to divide our time between family, both in Sacramento and Napa, and were also able to savor a few quiet evenings to ourselves after the hustle and bustle of turkey day festivities.  As December first sneaks up, I'm pretty much ready to roll into hyperdrive when it comes to travelling and eating as much as humanly possible before the turn of the year.  Hey- just because you just stuffed yourself silly with mashed potatoes, cornbread, olives, yams, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie doesn't mean there's any reason to slow down.  Winter is the time for hibernation, hearty foods and warm, rich recipes.  Therefore, I bring you... Risotto.

Risotto is normally a primo (first course), served on its own before the main course. In this house, we could easily eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's a favorite- an incredibly versatile one at that. Risotto is a class of Italian rice dishes cooked in broth to a creamy consistency with the broth being meat-, fish-, or vegetable-based. Many types of risotto contain Parmesan cheese, butter, and onion. It is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy, full of flavor but relatively easy to prepare.

I tend to use Arborio rice for my risotto, but there are also the Baldo, Carnaroli, Maratelli, Padano, Roma, and Vialone Nano varieties of rice that are commonly used. Carnaroli, Maratelli and Vialone Nano are considered to be the best (and most expensive) varieties, with different users preferring one over the other. I love the taste and texture of the simple, creamy Arborio rice grain-- as an added benefit, it's fairly easy variety to find at your local grocery, sold pre-packaged or in bulk dry goods. 

Tonight I'll be serving our Risotto with pan-seared, farm-raised Norwegian Salmon Filet and crispy sauteed Haricot Jaunes.  The Arborio will indeed be complemented with white onion, chicken stock and Grana Padano Parmesan cheese, staying true to it's classic preparation.  Ok, ok, I may add a little white truffle oil and garlic as well (*winkwink*).

*Savory Winter Risotto*
5 cups chicken broth
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
1 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp chopped Italian Parsley
Shaved Parmesan cheese

Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Reduce heat to low; cover saucepan.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add onion; saute until very tender but not brown, about 15 minutes.  Increase heat to medium.  Add rice and stir 1 minute.  Add 1 1/2 cups warm broth.  Boil gently until broth is absorbed, stirring frequently.  Add another 1 cup broth; stir until broth is absorbed.  Add remaining 2 1/2 cups broth, 1/2 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is tender and mixture is creamy, about 25 minutes.  Stir in 2 tbsp butter and 1 cup grated cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to bowl and sprinkle with parsley and shaved Parmesan.

Dig in and enjoy this delicious, classic Italian staple...


Monday, November 19, 2012

Chablis and Boulevard.

Last week, as the weather took a turn towards winter, the hubbs and I were honored to attend a very intimate dinner and wine pairing at one of San Francisco's (and America's) best known restaurants- Boulevard.  It was a truly memorable evening spent with President of the Chablis Wine Board, and master of Domaine Seguinot-Bordet, Mr. Jean-Francoise Bordet.  The combination of company and culinary pleasures marked the evening as one of my favorite dining experiences to date...

In 1993 Nancy Oakes opened Boulevard in partnership with designer Pat Kuleto to highlight her hearty, flavorful and beautiful cuisine.

"Surrounded by Pat Kuleto's timeless Belle Epoque inspired design, Chef Oakes wonderful expression of American regional flavors with a French influenced style has made Boulevard a culinary landmark on San Francisco's revived Embarcadero waterfront."

Our evening was one of "Pure Chablis"- a program put together to explore, sip and savor the wines of France's Burgundy region, complemented by the hearty, flavorful cuisine of Boulevard.  We tasted through seven different Chablis Cru bottles, each paired with a separate meal course uniquely designed to bring out the best of both the food and the wines of Chablis.  Our hosts, Jean-Francoise Bordet and Francoise Roure were warm and gracious dining companions, sharing their backgrounds, stories and observations with our small but involved table.  There were plenty of smiles and a good amount of laughter shared, along with an almost infinite wealth of French wine knowledge. 

One of the most exciting parts of our evening was the anticipation of the unusual, completely original food pairings coming out of the kitchen from Chef Oakes.  Always a delightful surprise, her dishes completely outshine tasting menus from events past, both in presentation and flavors.  The food was the perfect accompaniment to the unique, elegant wines of Chablis.

As we made our introductions, got comfortable and settled into our cushy alcove smack-dab in the middle of the restaurant, the dishes began to arrive, all politely and professionally described by our savvy waiters...

Kushi Oyster, Steak Tartare, Pomme Frites
Domaine-Seguinot-Bordet Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2010 
An incredibly buttery, decadent combination of flavors with a perfect, slight crunch.  The steak was firm and seasoned well.  The pomme frite were as light as air.
Deviled Crab Bisque
Mendocino Uni Toast, Chives & Lemon
La Chablisienne Chablis Premier Cru Cote de Lechet 2009
Domaine Long- Depaquit Chablis Premier Cru Les Beugnons
The delicate toast was topped with exotic Uni, a texture new and unfamiliar to me- the bisque was heavenly, served table-side from an elegant tureen.  I sliced the toast, eating in portions soaked in the creamy, savory, dense soup... Other ate the two separately, but I couldn't resist.
Pan Seared Scallop
Fresh Shelling Beans, New Zealand Spinach, Castelvetrano Olives
Domaine Pinson Chablis Premier Cru Mont de Milieu 2009
Domaine William Fevre Chablis Premier Cru Vaulorent 2009
I loved the textures is this dish- the scallops were lightly seared, the spinach was crisp and refreshing, and the shelling beans were semi-firm, hearty orbs with a potato-like consistency.
Maine Lobster
Risotto al Nero & Shellfish Mushrooms
Domaine Christian Moreau Chablis Grand Cru Valmur 2008
This course was my favorite of the evening.  The risotto was cooked exquisitely, colored and flavored with black squid ink.  The mushrooms helped cut the strong essence of the risotto, while the steamed lobster claw added another burst of fresh seafood to the palate.
Brent Wolfe Quail
Mendocino Porcini, Soft Celery Root & Chestnuts, Roasted Quail Jus
Domaine Drouhin Vaudon Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2008
The giant, succulent mushrooms and roasted quail jus were meltaway right off the fork.  The quail itself had a crispy, crackling skin on the outside, but the flesh inside was fall-off-the-bone tender.  We were told that the bird had been "butter-poached", giving it remarkable flavor.  The birds come from a local bay area sustainable, cage-free organic farm.
Butternut Cake & Maple Sugar Creme
Sage Ice Cream, Brown Butter "Hard Sauce"
Fuyu Persimmons, Piedmontese Hazelnuts
This dessert was the equivalent of a very fancy bread pudding served with a scoop of what I can only call "winter on a spoon".  The sage ice cream was unlike anything I've tasted before- cool, herbaceous and creamy.  The bread was dense, tasted of spices and wonderful fall squash.  It tasted almost as if the Chef captured November and December in a bowl.
Many thanks go out to the lovely folks representing Chablis and the entire staff of Boulevard.  It was an incredibly educational experience that left us fat, happy and a little bit more in love with French wines (and people!)  Please don't hesitate www.chablis.fr to learn more about the beautiful wines of Chablis and/or explore www.seguinot-bordet.fr for a more in-depth look at Domaine Seguinot-Bordet.  The history is fascinating and the wines are as refined as their 500+ year old family heritage.
You can also visit Boulevard, located in the Audiffred Building (one of the very few buildings in SF to survive the 1906 earthquake) at 1 Mission Street in San Francisco.  Reservations are very highly recommended... Arrive early to have drink at their luxurious bar, or just explore the gorgeous interior of the restaurant itself. 
Bon Appetit!


Friday, November 16, 2012

MOSF Thanksgiving Event.

It's that time again- Thanksgiving!  A time for family, friends and loved ones... 
Gather with friends and family at Brasserie S&P this Thanksgiving. Indulge in a four-course traditional or vegan and gluten-free menus with all the trimmings. Perfect for the entire family, this special meal is available from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Thursday, November 22, 2012 at USD75 per person plus USD45 for wine pairings.
Check out their turkey day menu:
Chestnut Honey • Roasted Chestnuts
Medloc-Ames Chardonnay 2009 Russian River
SALAD Butter lettuce • Icicle Radishes • Fennel • Buttermilk Sage Vinaigrette
Steven Kent “Lola” Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Livermore Valley
Apple Cider Bourbon Gravy • Caramelized Brussels Sprouts • Bacon Maple Syrup • Cinnamon Spiced Cranberry Brown Sugar Glazed Yams with Sage • Stuffing with Della Fattoria Artisan Bread
Hirsch Vineyards “Prelation” Sonoma Coast 2010
Three Twins Vanilla Ice Cream
Spiced Chantilly
Joseph Phelps Eisrebe
Apple Cider Reduction • Haricot Vert • Roasted Garlic Rosemary Red Potatoes • Butternut Squash • Braised Lacinato Kale
Hirsch Vineyards “Prelation” Sonoma Coast 2010
Joseph Phelps Eisrebe

For reservations or more information, please contact +1 (415) 986-2020 or email mosfo-dining@mohg.com. Brasserie S&P is located in Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco at 222 Sansome Street. Menu created by Executive Chef Adam Mali.
Be well,

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Nude Food.

I was recently introduced to a fantastic, relatively new company called NudeFood.  Hailing from Colorado, NudeFood specializes in organic, nutrient-dense, raw & vegan nutrition bars for the purist food lover in all of us.  I was a bit skeptical at first, because most "nutrition" bars have what I can only describe as a sawdust taste and texture, but NudeFood has really hit the nail on the head with their product.  Tasty, nutrient-packed, gluten-dairy-soy-GMO free products that come in a wide array of yummy flavors.

"Our bars and blends are 100% Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Dairy-Free, Corn-free, Whey-free and Non-GMO. Our meticulously sourced ingredients are blended raw, in a process intended to feature their natural integrity and nutritional potential."

NudeFood's mission is simple: "To feed people good food — with the understanding that a well-nourished body is the foundation for a mind engaged and a spirit uplifted."

No doubt there.  You can immediately tell that NudeFood uses only the freshest ingredients when you peel open one of their bars.  They even smell fresh.  And they taste pretty darn delicious.  Like ripe fruit, dates, seeds, nuts and coconut, all mashed into one delicious bar.  Well, sort of.  I was given a selection of their NudeFood bars to sample, ranging from fruity to an almost savory cocoa blend.  Check these out...

Let's start with my favorite- The Pineapple Pomegranate Walnut bar.  The combination of almond, pineapple, cranberry, pomegranate and sunflower seed is tangy and not too sweet, with a texture like smooth almond paste.  An overall satisfying bite and unexpected flavor combo that I really enjoyed.

Next, we have the Mocha Coconut Cream bar.  This one is packed with dark chocolate, hazelnuts, Himalayan salt, dates, almonds and coffee beans.  A decadent nutrient bar loaded with vitamin E.  I'm not gonna lie, when I opened this bar, it smelled like a fresh cup of coffee... Loved it.  The nice thing about the NudeFood bars is that you can substitute a meal and feel completely satiated due to their nutrient-loaded nature, without feeling that taste is sacrificed.

On to the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk bar- what's not to like?  Just the title sounds amazing, and it truly is a mega-packed-peanutty-good alternative to that PBJ sandwich you were thinking of having for lunch.  I'd have to say this is one of NudeFood's most healthful bars, loaded with vitamin E, vitamin B6 and iron, not to mention peanuts, golden flax and Madagascar vanilla. 

Last (but certainly not least) of my sample selection was the Cherry Vanilla Macadamia bar.  When I bit into this, I felt like I was sipping some exotic, spicy-sweet cider.  The cinnamon is powerful, and the tart cherry flavor really gives it a kick.  It literally made my mouth water!  This would be a great post workout bar to have on hand, to give a little extra pick-me-up after a long day of surfing or that half-marathon you just completed.

"NudeFood Bars are packed with important minerals, including selenium, magnesium, zinc, copper, and potassium. They also contain plenty of protein, beneficial fiber, and good fats...  We pride ourselves on not needing to add any synthetic vitamins or preservatives. By using only the highest quality, all natural, and when possible, organic ingredients, we can offer some of the most delicious, nutritious foods around."

Not only does NudeFood produce great nutrition bars, you can also find a selection of Ultra Dense Breakfast Boosters:

"The Breakfast Boost is our whole-food smoothie booster/oatmeal enhancer/yogurt promoter/salad additive/soup topping/crust creator/sundae garnish and so on, as you please...  Base ingredients include California almonds, organic sunflower, flax and hemp seeds, and cinnamon, providing an abundance of naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein. These elements are blended in ratios scientifically formulated to nourish your being.  The Original Spirulina Blend features ancient super-food Spirulina. Considered one of the oldest organisms on the planet, Spirulina is good for the immune system, and helps with brain, eye, blood, and heart health, plus more! With zero sugar added, this simple blend is a powerful boost for any meal."

They also have an Unbaked Cookie available that is a great snacking alternative for folks with gluten issues and/or dietary preferences.  The cookies are made with raw honey, fruits, nuts and juices, all of which are organic.  Yum!

Kudos to NudeFood for their fabulous organic, vegan, healthy products...  If you haven't figured it out yet, the NuDe is short for, you guessed it, NUtrient-DEnse.  Shop online at:  www.nudefood.com.

Ok, so now that I have stuffed myself silly with NudeFood bars, I think it's about time for an afternoon siesta.  Actually, I'm off to marinate a pork loin, roast some potatoes and bake some blondie bars for Friday funday.  Stay tuned...




Monday, November 5, 2012

Prospect & Jacob's Creek.

Amidst the chaos and celebration of the 2012 World Series, the hubbs and I were invited to dine at San Francisco's urban-hip Prospect, located in the China Basin area just a short walk from AT&T park.  Reason being that the good people of Jacob's Creek wine were collaborating with the restaurant to share some of their most recent vintages with our fellow wine and food writers, distributors and industry professionals.  It was evening of great wine, great food and lovely company.  We were able to taste Jacob’s Creek’s latest Moscato varietals as well as their award-winning Reserve range wines, all paired with seasonal dishes created especially for the occasion by Prospect’s chef.  What made the event more special was the addition of Bernard Hickin, Jacob's Creek Chief Winemaker- a jovial, warm presence at our table throughout the night...

Prospect sits at the quiet corner of Spear Street and Folsom Street, gleaming under the heavy glass weight of a high rise apartment building.  The restaurant's slick minimalist styling is magnified by the floor-to-ceiling windows, enveloping the cozy, modern interior within. 

"Prospect is a collaboration of Chef Nancy Oakes, Pam Mazzola, and Kathy King from Boulevard Restaurant.  Located at the base of the Infinity Towers, we host a warm and modern urban environment, with high service standards and exceptional cuisine.  We’re proud to offer local, sustainable, organic ingredients, staying consistent with what you’ve come to expect from Boulevard."

The restaurant feels warm indeed, (especially our private dining area) with subdued lighting, comfy banquettes and velveteen curtains.  It's almost a mysterious feeling- with the chance of turning a corner and bumping into a beloved friend seated at the bar or chatting over appetizers in the corner.  I very much like the look of the place and would return to experience it's full-service dining atmosphere.

As we mingled amongst each other, some tasty starters were brought out for us to enjoy- starting with a persimmon, soft cheese and honey drizzle.  This was a delicious combo, light and fruity with the perfect creamy finish.  Next, we were brought grilled figs wrapped in prosciutto glazed in balsamic vinegar- a huge hits with the revelers.  Delicious, crispy on the outside, warm and sweet on the inside.  The beauty of both small bites was the simplicity of serving them on tiny bamboo skewers- practical and sophisticated all at once.  Jacob's Creek were kind enough to pour us flutes of their Classic Moscato, a "delicate frizzante Moscato" that "displays attractive tropical and subtle pear fruit flavours and aromas, with a great balance."

Once we seated, we were educated on the history of Jacob's Creek, their different wines and what makes them unique- along with several fun stories from Bernard himself on unusual life in Australia.  From vineyards, to spiders and slang terms used Down Under, it was a comprehensive (not to mention entertaining!) look at life from a grass-roots winemaking perspective.  You can find more fun Aussie facts and info on the Jacob's Creek website, along with great historical outlines, wine tasting notes and beautiful images to sift through.

Our first course was a Sashimi of Kona Kampache- with Shiro Miso, Mutsu Apple, Serrano Peppers, Shiso & Mizuna Salad in a Ginger Marinade.  This was served with a glass of the Reserve Barossa Valley Riesling 2010, a perfect complement to the fresh fish and savory miso.  The Shiso & Mizuna held a extraordinarily clean, crisp flavor which only highlighted the seasonal originality of this dish.

Next, were were served the Maine Lobster & Potato Gnocchi- with Chanterelles, Pea Tendrils and Lobster Nage.  The gnocchi melted on the tongue and the Chanterelles were cooked perfectly, giving a sweet nuttiness to the pasta.  The lobster paired well with the Reserve Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2011.  I eagerly finished this course and looked to the hubbs plate for any remnants he may have left behind... No such luck.

Following the table favorite, Liberty Valley Duck- served on a bed of Rye Berries with Confit Duck, Squash Brunoise, Squash Puree with Quince Relish and Scallion Whites.  A very deliberate dish, so many elements working together well.  The duck was tender, flavorful and rich.  The Reserve Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2010 was a perfect match for this hearty fall dish.

Dessert was a simple double serving of House-Made Sorbet- Raspberry & Grape, accompanied by a delicate Palmier cookie.  The sorbet was a huge hit, thanks to it's pure ingredients and delightful presentation awash with color.  The grape was my favorite, tasting precisely like it should.  Yum.  Paired with a cool glass of the Sparkling Moscato Rose, it was a refreshing end to Prospect's meal.

But wait!  A surprise from the kitchen!  A heaping bowl of Caramel Chocolate-Nib popcorn arrived unexpectedly, much to delight of the table.  I think this lasted about 5 minutes.  Salty-sweet, with cocoa undertones and buttery goodness, we devoured this bowl of crispy crunch in no time.

Our time spent at Prospect and with the folks of Jacob's Creek was short, but undoubtedly sweet.  We were wholy impressed with the value, quality and subtle nuances of the wine and equally impressed with taste and presentation of the food.  It was a great learning experience and good times were had by all- many thanks go out to the staff of Prospect, and to the wonderful staff of Jacob's Creek for providing us with such a exciting opportunity to get to know their wines.

Cheers to all!