Saturday, January 26, 2008

Dinner at The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, CA

For Alexis' birthday, we went to The Restaurant at Meadowood, which recently acquired 2 Michelin stars. The decor was sort of white-washed farmhouse chic and the food was for the most part, delicious. The one thing that we reallyappreciated about the menu was that for the prix-fixe menus you could choose any dishes you wanted. Usually in a prix fixe you are cornered into choosing an appetizer, a main, a dessert, etc. In this menu we each ordered 5 courses and ordered all of the mains and most of the appetizers and no desserts. We felt that the chef excelled at adding that one ingredient that really pulled the whole dish together. The 5 course tasting menu was $190 pp and the wine pairing was $150 pp.

Beet and Pumpkin Seed Amuse Bouche
This was tasty, but a bit too sweet.

Gnocchi with Tomato Confit and Grilled Chantarelles
The gnocchi were good, for sure, but not stand-out.

Sunchoke Bisque with Duck Confit, Chard and Truffled Marscapone
In this dish, the duck confit really brought everything together. The soup was smooth and subtle in flavor and the confit added the right amount of salt and richness.

Crab with Sunflower Seeds, Vanilla, Pear and Jalapeno
This dish was composed of two preparations of crab, one hot and one cold. Both were insanely good.

Hawaiian Opah with Watermelon Radish, Braised Romaine and Foie Gras Emulsion
The radish added a slight bitterness that made the other ingredients pop.

Wild Striped Bass with Roasted Fennel, Sassafras, Horseradish (below) and Fennel Puree (above)
The bass was tender and flavorful and the puree was very, very smooth.

Wild Kampachi with Cocoa Nibs, Serrano Ham, Forbidden Rice and Clams
The nutty chewiness of the black rice went very well with the tenderness of the fish.

Antelope with Truffle Braised Celery and Celery Root Mouse
We had never had antelope before and were really hard pressed to tell the difference from it and beef, although it was a bit leaner. The celery was really wonderful. Somehow the chef managed to turn the most humble of ingredients into something totally transcendent.

Lamb with Cranberry Beans, Brussel Sprouts, Caramelized Milk and Baby Leeks
The lamb was tender and this was a solid dish.

Duck with Golden Beets, Turnips and Licorice Jus
The duck was succulent and the beets and licorice added a nice sweetness to the dish.

Pork with Cauliflower, Mushrooms, Cardamom and Fenugreek
This was our least favorite of all of the dishes. The pork was just a tab dry and the components were a bit disparate.

Petit Fours
I love how they always leave you with homemade sweets at nice restaurants. The sallted caramels were tasty, although the texture was a bit grainy. The madeleines were perfectly warm and tender and the candied orange peel was a nicely sharp and subtly bitter.

Food: 2
Service: 2
Decor: 2

The Restaurant at Meadowood

900 Meadowood Lane
St. Helena, California 94574

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Post-Lunch Snack from The Cheeseboard Collective, Berkeley, CA

White Pizza with Tomatoes $3
This was not our favorite of all Cheese Board pizzas, but it was tasty for a pizza outside of NYC.

Food: 1
Decor: 0
Service: 1

The Cheeseboard Collective
1512 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA

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Lovely Lunch at Chez Panisse Cafe, Berkeley, CA

Our birthdays are 3 days apart and so this year we decided not to do presents, but to treat ourselves to a weekend of eating in Napa. To start, however, we stopped at Chez Panisse for a totally wonderful start to our weekend o' eating.

Sardine, Grapefruit and Orange Salad $9
This salad was refreshing and perfectly salted. All of the ingredients shined on their own and worked well together.

Green Garlic and Semolina Soup $8
Flavorful and smooth. Very warming.

Duck Leg with Cabbage and Baby Turnips $19
Wow. This was incredible. I think that this dish really embodies the Alice Waters style. The ingredients are simple and humble, yet the dish is complex and mouth-wateringly delicious.

Pizzeta $13
The flavors were good, but, truth be told, the crust was a bit soggy.

Food: 2
Decor: 3
Service: 2

Chez Panisse
1517 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, California 94709

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Meatballs and Tomato Sauce

A classic dish that takes a little effort, but is well worth it.

-2 lbs ground beef
-1/2 cup ricotta
-1/2 cup parmasean
-2 ts salt
-1 ts pepper
-1 tb garlic powder
-2 tb Italian seasoning
-2 eggs

Mix all ingredients together with your hands and roll into 1 inch balls. Cook the meatballs in batches in a hot pan in olive oil. Shake the pan often to make sure the meatballs are browned on all sides.

Tomato Sauce
-4 cans diced tomatoes
-1/2 onion, roughly chopped
-5 cloves garlic, peeled
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 handful basil

Sautee the onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil until beginning to brown. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer, covered, for about 1/2 an hour. Then puree with an immersion blender or in a regular blender.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sachertorte: The Best Cake Ever

I don't know the recipe for this cake, but it has been Alexis' birthday cake for as long as she remembers. Every year her mom bakes the cake and FedExes it to her. It is a super dense, not too sweet chocolate cake with a layer of strained apricot preserves and chocolate ganache.


Fantastic Bacon Cheese Burger from 21st Amendment

Our friend, K, took Alexis out for lunch at 21st Amendment. It was a cold rainy day and a big greasy burger was in order.

Bacon Cheeseburger with Onion Rings $13
This was a huge and delicious burger. Part of what made it great was the very generous portion of bacon. The onion rings were almost overkill, but Alexis polished them off anyway.

Food: 1
Decor: 1
Service: 1

21st Amendment

563 2nd St
San Francisco, CA 94107

Health Code Violations

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sausages, Peppers and Onions with Cheesy Cauliflour Mash

This is one of our go to meals when we haven't thought through dinner. We always haves sausage in the freezer and they thaw quickly in a bowl of water.

-8 chicken sausages
-1 onion, thinly sliced
-1 bell pepper, thinly sliced
-1 handful basil, roughly chopped
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 recipe cheesy cauliflower puree

Caramelize the onions and peppers and then add the chopped sausage and brown. Add the basil right before serving. Serve on top of cheesy cauliflower puree.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Malcom Gladwell on Food

My boss sent me a cool video today that was a talk that Malcom Gladwell gave about spaghetti sauce. Besides being a great story, it really impresses on me the importance of having so many voices and opinions on restaurants that our food blogging community provides. For instance, it has become obvious to Alexis and me that Bauer just doesn't share our palette and tastes, and it would be a shame if he were the only source of restaurant information in the area.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Fenugreek and Mustard Crusted Pork Chop with Parsley Pesto and Roasted Brocolli with Cheese

You can't get much more classic than meat and veggies. This is an easy, tasty and quick meal to make when you don't have much time but want something hearty.

Roasted Broccoli with Cheese
-1 head of broccoli, cut in flowerettes
-1 cup shredded sharp cheddar (we like Dubliner)

Season broccoli with salt and pepper and bake, covered on 350 for about 20 minutes, until tender. Sprinkle with cheese then bake uncovered for about 5-7 minutes, until cheese is beginning to brown.

Fenugreek and Mustard Crusted Pork Chop
-1 ts ground fenugreek seed (also called methi)
-1 ts ground mustard seed
-1 ts ground pepper
-1 ts salt
-2, 1 inch-thick pork chops

Mix all of the spices together to create a dry rub. Pat the pork chop dry and season with the spice mixture. Pan fry in a mixture of butter and olive oil for about 7 minutes on each side, until rosy pink, but done in the middle.

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Serpentine: High Hopes Didn't Deliver

We'd been hearing quite a bit about Serpentine, all of it good. Serpentine is the second restaurant by the people of The Slow Club, whose food we had enjoyed. So, since we had a day off we decided to meet some friends and give it a shot. The interior decor was quite nice, very lofty and full of concrete. Warm and modern at the same time. The food and service, on the other hand, left something to be desired. We waited forever for our food to arrive, and it was lunchtime, and the menu is small. We have no idea what took so long for our food to get on the table. Once the food did arrive, and we were very hungry, we found the portions to be paltry.

Shrimp and Grits $10.50
Way too much grits and not enough shrimp. The ratio was way off. And the shrimp were really overcooked. Not in a picky way, but in a serious way.

Pork and Egg Sandwich $9
The meat was tender and the sandwich was tasty, but both it, and the portion of fries was very small.

Food: 0
Decor: 2
Service: 1

2495 Third Street
San Francisco, CA 94107

Health Code Violations

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Football Smorgasbord

We went over to our friend, J's, house for some football watching and lots of eating.

Homemade Chili and Cornbread Muffins
Made by J.

Popeye's Chicken Strips
Brought by K. We'd never had Popeye's before, and it was a bit strange. The coating was way too thick.

Health Code Violations

African Spiced Grilled Tri-Tip
This was our contribution to the day and it was really very tasty. We marinated the meat overnight in the following rub.

-1 tsp fenugreek powder
-3 tb ground chili
-2 tb paprika
-2 tb salt
-2 ts ground ginger
-1 ts ground cardamom seeds
-1 ts ground nutmeg
-1 ts ground cloves
-1 ts garlic powder
-1 ts cinnamon
-1 ts allspice
-1/3 cup olive oil
-2 ts onion seeds

Mix all of the ingredients together and rub all over the meat.

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