Chili Night!

This morning I got up early to make Kathleen’s favorite! The chili is three parts meat (1/2 beef, 1/2 spicy italian sausage), to one part beans. After eight hours of slow-cooking, I finish it with corn for the last 20 minutes. The secret ingredients in this chili recipe are unsweetened cocoa and a dark mexican beer. Tasty even on a warm day.

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Farfalle with White Wine Sauce and Arugula – Wednesday

Wednesday we had Pasta in a white wine sauce with Grilled Chicken and Arugula.

Pulled Pork Tacos – Tuesday 1/2

Tuesday I made Slow-Cooked BBQ Pulled Pork Tacos topped with a Granny Smith Slaw and served with Zucchini Rice.

Best Burger in San Diego?

On New Year’s Eve (photos to be posted soon) we went to one of our favorite spots – Bankers Hill Bar and Restaurant. Even on a special occasion, and while everyone else chose more refined menu options, I opted for the burger…my favorite in San Diego…

Who makes your favorite burger in San Diego?

Foodventure to Santa Barbara

This week we got out of town for a few days to have some great food and wine in Santa Barbara and the Santa Ynez Valley.

Our first night (Wednesday) we had dinner at Bouchon in Downtown Santa Babara (the original Bouchon in CA by the way)…Bouchon has been doing local farm-to-table cuisine since before it was popular…and boy do they do it right. I think we would both agree that this was one of the best meals we have had in the US. It certainly did not hurt that the service was perfect, our waiter Byron helped us pair each of our courses with some great central coast wines.

Kathleen started with Pacific Mushrooms & Roots Farms Carrots – black truffle potato gnocchi frisée & truffle salad, carrot purée.

I had the Bouchon Four Onion Soup.

For our main courses, Kathleen had Maple-Glazed California Duck Breast & Confit of Thigh (Medium) succotash of sweet corn, fava beans, applewood-smoked bacon and Windrose Farms butternut squash, port-thyme demiglace.

I had Braised Kurobuta Pork Shank market bean trio, braised Domingo Farms collard greens, pancetta, apple, cider pan jus.

For dessert I had white chocolate bread pudding and kathleen had a duo of sorbets (Passionfruit and Blackberry).

Tuesday morning we had an incredible wine tour at Clos Pepe. Steve Pepe toured us threw the vineyards and then his incredible home. It was a great time.

Steve then directed us to a terrific little restaurant named Sissy’s in Lompoc for lunch. After lunch we did some wine tasting in the Lompoc wine ghetto. The wine ghetto is a series of wine tasting rooms (18) and production felicities located directly behind a home depot – and its actually an amazing place to taste some great wines!

For dinner we went to Zagat’s highest rated restaurant in Santa Barbara – Downey’s. I have to say, we were underwhelmed throughout the evening. The service was below average, the starters were just okay. The main courses were definitely very good as was the dessert. For our appetizers I had prosciutto and caramelized pears and Kathleen had curried mussels. For her main dish, Kathleen had duck two ways, while I had Downey’s Christmas Goose and exotic grains. For dessert we shared a white chocolate-raspberry cake.

Before leaving Santa Barbara we stopped for lunch at the Famous Brophy Brother’s Seafood. Yummmmmmmm. We shared clam chowder and Garlic Baked Clams to start. Then Kathleen had the Cioppino and I had Fish and Chips. What a great trip!

Christmas Dinner

Kathleen and I cooked Christmas dinner for my parents, Casey and Babe…

For appetizer we had crabcakes with a tarragon aioli. The main course included a Garlic Prime Rib with a Red Wine Jus, Roasted Garlic Smashed Yukon Gold Potatoes and Green Bean Bundles in a Sweet Onion Vinaigrette.

With dinner we had a terrific champagne and courtesy of my dad the first 100-point Parker wine we have ever tried – a 2007 Verite La Muse.

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10-Course Flavors of Christmas WIne Dinner at the Wine Vault and Bistro

On December 22nd Kathleen and I joined my parents and Carol and David Hopkins for an incredible 10-course wine dinner at the Wine Vault and Bistro. Below is the menu from the evening and some photo highlights…

FLAVORS OF CHRISTMAS MENU
1. Roast Local Beets | Blue Cheese Crumble | Marcona Almonds | Arugula Pistou
~ and ~
2. Citrus Cured Yellow Tail | Citrus Confit | Tempura Bits | Cress
– Pairing – 2009 Gerard Bertrand Cremant de Limoux Sparkling Brut (5 oz. pour)

3. Scallop Bisque #1 | Crispy Scallop Mousse | Curried Onions | Coriander
~ and ~
4. Scallop Bisque #2 | Carrot “Slaw” | Hoisin | Sesame
– Pairing – 2009 Stolpman “La Coppa Blanc” Rhône White Blend (3 oz. pour)

5. Roast Mushroom Risotto | Parmesan Crisp | Truffle Emulsion
~ and ~
6. Jidori Chicken 2-Ways: Breast Roulade + Confit Leg | Crushed Potatoes
– Pairing – 2009 Cazar “Sonoma Coast” Pinot Noir (3 oz. pour)

7. Braised Prime Short Ribs | Cauliflower | Crispy Brussels Sprouts | Pickled Ramps
~ and ~
8. Pressed Lamb Shoulder | Sunchoke | Yogurt | Caramelized Onions
– Pairing – 2006 Happy Canyon Vineyards “Barrack Brand” Bordeaux Blend (3 oz. pour)

9. Smoked Chocolate Mousse | Cardamom Crumble | Salted Cream
~ and ~
10. Nutmeg Panna Cotta | Shortbread | Fennel Pudding
– Pairing – WV&B’s Legendary Holiday Eggnog (6 oz. mug)