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Archive for 2010
Monday, August 16th, 2010
Main Street Garden & Cafe
3101 N. Main St.
Soquel, Ca. 95073
We were looking for a place for our anniversary dinner. We tried Cellar Door first and they were booked (yes, we were calling at 5:15pm for a 6-ish reso!). I started poking around some blogs trying to decide where to go. I found on Christina Waters’ blog that Brad Briske had moved from Gabriella to Main Street (the restaurant formerly known as Theo’s). We called, got a table and drove straight there!
We started the sunny summer evening by peeking into the garden. When an old friend worked at Theo’s, he took some of hubby’s hops and planted them in the Theo’s garden. They are still there and are happy and flourishing. Then we returned to our table to peruse the menu of, seemingly, all local fare. We started with the Happy Boy Farm Watermelon Gazpacho with Monterey Bay Squid, Garden Pancetta and Calabrian Chili Oil. No, they aren’t growing pancetta in the garden, the italicized “gardens” on the menu all refer to things they cure or grow themselves. The gazpacho was wonderful. I could not decipher the ingredients. It wasn’t too sweet so there was something in there with the watermelon, but whatever it was, it was mild and just added some slight savoriness. The pancetta was crispy, the squid was tender, the chili oil was perfectly proportioned. It was a wonderful balance of salty, spicy, sweet and creamy.
You can’t go wrong with slices of raw, fresh, yummy fish. I don’t like halibut cooked. I never order it. It’s too easy to dry out and I’m just not interested. However, it was on the menu here as a California Halibut Crudo with Garden Sun Gold Tomato Conserva and Garden Radishes. It tasted like summer. Fresh, crunchy, not fishy at all. It was good. But even better was the California Albacore Crudo with Armenian Cucumber and Cucumber Water Aioli. And this wasn’t better because of the fish but because of the ailoi. It was so flavorful, it really made the dish.
We ordered the 2 salads on the menu: Lindencroft Farm Lettuces with Fennel, Almonds, Everett Farm Raspberry Vinaigrette. This was lovely. Nothing new and earth-shattering about it but it wasn’t over dressed, the dressing was well balanced and it was crisp and nice. The 2nd salad is one of my favorite summer flavor combinations: Arugula Panzanella with Albacore Conserva, Garden Tomato & Cucumber with Golden Balsamic Vinaigrette. You cannot go wrong with bread and tomatoes…and basil, and vinegar and really, very mild arugula. I have said this before but, I LOVE SUMMER!!
The only main course we got (we got 5 of the 6 appetizers) was a lovely plate of Squid Ink Ravioli with House Cured Salt Cod, Potato, Cured Tuna and Garden Chive Blossoms. I know squid ink doesn’t really do anything for the flavor of pasta but it looks damn cool to get a plate of black food! It’s creepy and halloweeny and they still taste awesome. The chive blossoms looked so cool on top and I thought they’d be a bit of an innocuous flavor but they were sharp addition that I wanted in each bite.
For dessert we had chocolate overload. A Caramel-Chocolate Pot-de-Creme and a Flourless Chocolate Torte. Both were rich and lovely and creamy and rich…oh, and rich. Did I mention they were rich? There was no chocolate missing there…I think maybe we should have shared one dessert, neither of us could finish either chocolate death dish.
We will return. Our only criticism at this point is the wine list. It’s very, very slim. It’s all local which is great but there are many, many amazing wineries around here. I hope they get the capital to expand the list. Until then we did enjoy a wonderful Windy Oaks Pinot Noir. No complaints about that one.
See you soon Main Street!
Friday, July 16th, 2010
In the Stillwater, MN area? Find out when Paul and Lorraine are playing at Charlie’s. Before the show, go to Domacin Wine Bar.
Honestly, I got this into my drafts last summer and forgot to write the review. My memory of the meal has faded except the fact that it was fantastic!
That is all…you’ll thank me.
Friday, July 16th, 2010
Rub snapper fillets with grated ginger and garlic. I grate them on my microplane grater right over the fish…works pretty well. Pour juice of 2 limes over the fish. I let it sit for about 30 minutes. Not long enough to cure the fish but long enough to get a good flavor. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and grill.
For the pesto:
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup almonds
1 – 1 1/2 cups or so cilantro leaves
Juice of 1 lime
Blend all that in the food processor then add enough olive oil, with blade going, to reach the consistency you like. I like drier pesto so I stop when it’s a paste.
For the slaw, well, it wasn’t my recipe…*gasp!* I got it from Epicurious and it was really good. Highly recommend that one.
Friday, July 16th, 2010
I always very much look forward to Recchiuti events. Michael Recchiuti never ceases to surprise me with the combinations he can come up with. This time was no exception.
We started with a classic, homemade graham cracker with a melted chocolate to dip in. Sitting in front of us were 4 glasses for 4 vermouths. Three of them are “deconstructed” versions of the final glass which is the Sutton Cellars finished vermouth. The final concoction contains 17 ingredients. Four “major” ingredients including orange, chamomile and rosemary and the rest is a big fat secret! Those three could not be secret ingredients. And each stood on it’s own as a great drink that were paired with 3 chocolates containing the same ingredients. The first, Madagascar chocolate with candied orange peel. The second, caramel with chamomile on milk chocolate. The third, 64% Valrhona (custom blended for Recchiuti) with salt and rosemary. And not surprisingly, the finished vermouth went well with all 3 chocolates.
The next adventure was lavender ice cream with a Pinot Noir. Not a pairing I’d probably do…and not necessarily even a pairing per se. The wine was very tart and the ice cream very rich and creamy so in that sense they contrasted well. The ice cream, even though the lavender was as subtle as lavender can be, was still very lavender-y. The pinot was acidic and earthy and quite lovely.
Michael announced that the next dessert out was a macaroon. I can’t say I’ve ever had a macaroon I liked…I couldn’t before now at least. Usually they are coconut or amaretto, very poofy and don’t have much flavor in the cookie part. In Michael’s macaroon, he replaced most of the almond flour normally used in the cookie with cocoa nibs. 50% sugar, 50% cocoa nibs made into a meringue, cooked at a high temp and filled with a ganache made with Sutton Cellar’s Syrah (with which the cookies were paired). Syrah is not my favorite red. This was a good one but with the cookie was harsh and tight and had a little to much leather and gaminess happening.
We took the obligatory and awesome tour of the kitchens. I love seeing where the magic happens. I also love that we get to try chocolate right off the belt. God that’s good. And with it we had a little vermouth spritzer drink with a twist of grapefruit. Perfect hot summer day refresher…with a kick!
Michael busted out something to share that I feel very privileged to have tried. It was an Ecuadorian chocolate that is made from wild-growing cocoa at about 3000′ elevation. The only way to get in is by donkey. Michael got about a pound of this stuff and generously shared it with us. Wow…how many chances do you get to try something like that? These sorts of things are why I support Recchiuti, not just because the chocolate is the best around!
My notes, as happens a lot, get a little blurry at the end of the day. We got to try the mother of Sutton’s Solera. It goes into the final bottling which right now is a blend of 1999-2006 vintages. The solera was great. Memory of it is fuzzy, but it was good!
We came home with vermouth, pinot and solera. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the vermouth as an after dinner treat. I don’t like whiskey and port is usually too sweet for me (except for on special occasions) but the vermouth is a wonderful evening sipper.
Two things were said that sum up both Sutton and Recchiuti. They are both breaking traditions and expanding horizons but most importantly, having fun with their creations. You can taste the love.
Thursday, July 15th, 2010
Original Gravity: 1.111
18 gal filtered water
32lb Weyermann Pilsner
1.5lb Briess Victory
1lb Briess Carapils
1lb Gambrinus Munich
.5lb Briess Extra Special
.5lb Briess chocolate
Tuesday, July 13th, 2010
Simple and delicious.
Grill salmon with just some salt, pepper and olive oil. In a grill basket, toss some broccoli florets and chopped summer squash. Cook all that until it’s done.
Meanwhile (on the stove not the BBQ) sauté up some chard with garlic and chili flakes. When the grilled veggies are done, mix those into the cooked chard. When the salmon is done, separate it into small pieces and mix that into the veggies. When that’s all tossed together, put it on top of some pasta…penne or something else short works best.
Chiffonade some basil–I had this gorgeous purple basil from my CSA–and top the pasta with a generous amount of it.
Tuesday, July 13th, 2010
Label/name inspired by Stingray Sam.
18 gal filtered water
2 oz gypsum
4 oz burton salts
8 tbsp diammonium phosphate
14lb Gambrinus pale ale
2lb Briess Munich
1lb Briess cara 20L
.5lb Briess cara 60L
Wednesday, July 7th, 2010
We had some friends over for the 4th and wanted to make something nice and fancy but that still had some element of the Independence Day barbecue thing going on. I started with my classic ahi tartare. It’s becoming a bit of a signature dish for me, it’s always good and everyone loves it.
Next was a simple salad using some of my CSA bounty: mixed greens (I believe it was escarole and red leaf lettuce) topped with roasted beets, pecans, shallots and balsamic.
Then came the grilling for this epitome of summer holidays. I cut my whole CSA chicken into 10 parts and marinated them in white wine, olive oil and thyme. I grilled it…well, until it was cooked (I won’t give advice on grilling, it’s very subjective!). I served the halved, boneless chicken breasts on top of rutabaga puree and kale. This time the rutabagas were much larger so for 4 servings I only used 2 rutabagas. The proportions are equal to that of potatoes. It’s like making mashed potatoes but more interesting! Just to add some color, I snipped some chives on top.