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Thursday, March 21st, 2013
We had a full weekend of food, wine and no kid. He went skiing with a friend in Tahoe for the weekend. I don’t think there was a time, aside from when I first woke up, that I wasn’t full and/or a teeny bit tipsy. We didn’t need to drive anywhere, we just needed to eat and drink. Friday night we had dinner at Central Kitchen. Saturday morning we slept in then walked down to the Ferry Building and had brunch at Marketbar. We wandered around Chinatown, walked back to our hotel, had a couple of gin and tonics in the bar, took a nap, then headed out for the next round!
I have a tremendous admiration for Chris Cosentino. He makes edible things which most people would go nowhere near. He’s getting people excited about nose to tail cooking. He’s elevating to gourmet levels things that most people cast away or at best use for stock. I just have one problem…I don’t like offal or pieces-parts. At least none I’ve ever tried. Still, I wanted to eat Chris’s cooking, I would just order everything from the middle edges of the pig rather than either end or the center ;-)
We had no trouble finding non-pieces-parts dishes. The arugula-feathercress salad was lovely. Our waitress was fun and knowledgable and just made the evening fun. She recommended wines that we may not have picked but went with each dish wonderfully.
One problem I kept having, I’d forget to take pictures! So, most of my shots are after I’d eaten some and messed up the presentation. *SIGH* But when the food is so good, you don’t want to grab a camera, you want to grab a fork!
The PORK BELLY (Spicy pork belly, asparagus, scallions, pistachios, mint)! Oh good lord. Sooooo creamy and delicious. It looked like it would be fatty and greasy but it was pure pork heaven. Spicy from the pepper topping and … just damn good!
Handkerchief pasta and rustic pork ragu was comfort food. I wanted to take the plate to a fireplace with a blankie and my glass of Brunello. It was baby-it’s-cold-outside kind of food. Comfort food like this is where the law of diminishing return goes out the window. More more more!
The cod was perfectly cooked with artichokes, potato and lemon. I had to talk my husband into this one since wine and artichokes don’t mix but the Brachetto was nice with the dish actually.
The table next to us got the In-CAN-to dish which was tripe and trotters served tableside in a soup can. Really fun presentation and the woman said it was great. At one point I saw Chris expediting but also with his phone out. I slipped my phone out of my purse and checked and, yup, he was tweeting pics of the dishes as they went out. Our’s didn’t make the photo shoot!
Dessert was the first lemon meringue pie that rivals my mom’s. She set the bar high. Her lemon pie is amazing. They called this one a lemon curd torta but it was a lemon meringue pie with a shortbread crust. It’s my perfect dessert. I love it. I didn’t leave a crumb on that plate.
After we were done I asked our server if Chris was still around and available for me to play fangirl. Luckily he was. He came out, said hi and we chatted for probably longer than we should have kept him out of the kitchen but he was a gracious host. I felt like I was talking to an old friend and he seemed pretty convinced that I’d be eating offal sometime in the future. I’m not ruling anything out.
Tuesday, January 17th, 2012
We arrived a day early and spent my birthday in the amazing waters of Grand Cayman. We snorkled and swam and snorkeled some more. The water is warm and clear and full of some of the cast of Finding Nemo. It was incredible. I snorkeled in Hawaii many years ago but it was not like this. The water here was warmer and clearer.
We were going to be booked solid with demonstrations, lunches, dinners and events so I wanted my birthday completely schedule free. Because of that however, we didn’t make dinner reservations. Once we got in from snorkeling, I realized I really wanted to be able to eat at Blue by Eric Ripert for my birthday. We called. They had a 9:30 table. We have a 7 year old. That wasn’t going to work. My husband had booked it though before we got back to the room and decided that was a bad idea. So we walked down to Blue to tell them we wouldn’t be using the 9:30 table assuming we’d be heading to one of the other hotel restaurants for dinner. We were in shorts, not dressed for an Eric Ripert dining room. They said they could seat us then if we wanted. OK!! We sat and were presented with the many choices for dinner and, surprisingly, a kid’s menu! I never expected that. Le Bernardin sure doesn’t offer a kid’s menu. ;-)
They brought out the amuse bouche which was a tortellini with…honestly I have no idea but it was so wonderful, and a scallop ceviche bite. They gave my son what looked like two tater tots but they called “potato croquettes”. He was not interested. I told them he’d really rather have the scallop and they brought him the “grown up” dish instead. He loved it, they thought he was awesome.
He got tomato soup with croutons and local snapper with rice and vegetables from the kids menu. We ordered the 3 course a la carte menu since we knew that he wouldn’t have the stamina for a full many-course, multi-hour tasting menu. I started with hamachi 3 ways, then the lobster and for my main the tuna. My husband got the conch ceviche, the tuna with foie gras (a signature Ripert dish) and the snapper.
While we were eating, we got to ogle the table full of celebrity chefs and they’re beautiful wives having dinner on the patio outside our window: Eric Ripert, Anthony Bourdain, Jose Andres, Richard Blais, Francois Payard, April Bloomfield and others. It was hard not to stare. The weekend had just started so we hadn’t had our brush with culinary fame yet. This event is so small (compared to most food events) that you are constantly running into a culinary hero as you’re walking the beach, traversing the hallways of the Ritz or at the events.
Dinner was spectacular. The service at Blue is on par with Le Bernardin. The sommelier noticed our son was getting antsy and came over an made him a mouse out of a napkin! They were so incredibly accomodating even though they were also having to serve their boss and some of the best chefs in the world on the patio just outside.
This is one of those meals ….one of those weekends…that it seems silly to “review” the food. It was excellent of course. That’s what we flew many hours on a red eye with a bonkers kid playing 12 hours of video games for. The hamachi was clean and refreshing, acidic and salty, rich and cool and the same time. The conch had no chewiness like I expected, but it also had bell peppers so I only snuck a tiny bite from my husband to see what it was like. The lobster was, well, lobster at Blue! Imagine it and you’ll probably be correct!
I ordered the chocolate death for dessert and it arrived with “Happy Birthday” written in chocolate on the plate. I am not one to hide the fact it’s my birthday. I don’t worry about getting older. I tell everyone I meet it’s my birthday. I revel in my day. It’s all about me. I got a candle and a chocolate wish. And I was in the Caymans with my favorite chef in the world. My birthday was the most amazing one I could imagine. Well, except for the woman who told me her husband flew Eric Ripert to her house to cook dinner for her and 6 friends. That is unbelievable but nevermind that. I would never dream of anything better than the Cayman Cookout for my special day.
And it would only get better.
Read about Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4!
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!