Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Belizean wahoo

Nothing beats freshly grilled fish ... except, of course, when you catch it yourself!

On our last morning in Belize, we went deep sea fishing.  With quite a struggle, I pulled in the first fish ... a four-ish foot long barracuda with some NASTY looking teeth.  The boys pulled in a couple of tuna and a nice wahoo that put up quite a fight.  The last bite was mine, and after about thirty minutes on the reel, I wound up with a big fat wahoo!  Our first estimate was thirty pounds, four and a half feet, but now that I have had some time to reflect, I am quite sure he was at least five feet long and forty plus pounds. 

Catch of the day, coming up! 

Our fishing captain cleaned the fish and cut us some steaks, which a local restaurant prepared for us for lunch.  Salt, pepper, lime, oregano, chile ... we definitely enjoyed a full plate of delicious wahoo! 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Locanda da Eva

If you haven't made the trek over to Berkeley yet to eat at Locanda da Eva, do your own self a favor and get there... before I get back and eat all the strozzapreti!

I first caught wind of this place in August a couple weeks after its opening, via a TastingTable email, which lauded its approach to Italian cuisine and its neighborhood vibe. I actually skimmed the email, took a mental note to check it out, and upon a re-read noticed that the executive chef was someone I knew from my childhood.

After that, review upon review crossed my path, all talking about the must-sample pork trotter fritters, until finally I succumbed to the 5 mile (45 min) journey across the bridge. I don't know why that was so hard, but I will definitely be going back ... regularly, I hope.

The menu changes daily based on the local ingredients they source, offering Italian interpretations with a heavy pork leaning. Don't miss the pizzas, especially the wilted kale pizza with lardo (imagine the texture of a gooey melted cheese, but the taste of extra delightful bacon). Props also to chef Huw Thornton for giving me another idea for how to use the kale in my farm deliveries!

Last week they refreshed their decor, which is the only possible complaint I could have conjured about the place.  This restaurant has landed squarely in my top 5 ... and I cannot wait to go back. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Taco stop in Aguas Calientes

Saturday, on my way up to Sonoma with Gidget and Christine, we were so ravenous after a soccer game that we had to make a pit stop for some lunch.  We pulled into a Mexican market in Aguas Calientes and enjoyed some carnitas tacos served with onion, loads of cilantro, a squeeze of lime ... and of course a Jarritos!  YUM!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Le Bernardin

This post is long overdue but I was almost daunted by how much there was to say about our epic dinner at Le Bernardin.  In New York in September for an annual soccer rivalry match between Olympic Club and New York Athletic Club, seven of my girlfriends and I decided to gear up for an all-out meal at one of New York's legendary restaurants.  For years I have dreamed of going to Le Bernardin and was luckily able to convince my friends that they, too, were eager to experience some of the city's finest seafood.

Seated in the center table, the eight of us attracted a lot of attention amidst tables of older couples or heady business dinners.  With little hesitation, we all agreed on the tasting menus with wine pairing, the only difference being one of the girls opted for the 8 course and the rest of us selected the 7 course Le Bernardin tasting menu.

The first course was a thinly pounded piece of tuna, served with olive oil and chives over a toasted sourdough crisp with a layer of foie gras.  Rich, buttery, and decadent, I could have used a little acidity but enjoyed the velvety texture of the fish.

 My favorite course on our tasting menu was the second, a charred octopus in a fermented black bean sauce with a miso vinaigrette.  This dish tasted the most balanced, with a hearty piece of seafood matched against more full bodied and earthy flavors.  

And of course, the highlight of the meal was not only that Eric Ripert and team cooked it for us, but gave us a tour of their kitchen and the opportunity to view and question the kitchen activities.  His kitchen was an amazingly efficient, sparkling clean, top quality operation with friendly and talented staff.  They showed us how they fire and deliver courses with precision, and where they seat frequent diners such as Robert deNiro.  Coming from San Francisco where the food philosophy leans largely toward sustainable, local, and seasonal, I was shocked to learn that the menu changes very infrequently and more "at the inspiration of the Chef," but Chef Ripert can command the freshest of ingredients based on his dominance in the restaurant scene and apparently once he creates a dish he seeks to perfect it. 

As we wrapped up the meal, we received well wishes for our match, and a hug and a souvenir photo with the Chef himself!  Le Bernardin was the dining experience of a lifetime!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Salmon sandos

I have been experimenting with salmon sandwiches quite a bit, but last night with a little Farm Fresh inspiration I came up with a new creation that might become a winter staple.

I received another head of cabbage in my Farm box yesterday.  For the last few deliveries I have sadly let the cabbage go to waste (as well as the massive quantities of green beans they have delivered), lacking either inspiration or a cabbage-friendly recipe.
Now, however, I have just the thing to use the cabbage this winter and satisfy my salmon cravings at the same time.

I baked a salmon fillet in a foil packet, lightly seasoned and with a little EVOO, at 400 degrees for about 20 min until the flesh was opaque and tender.  On a toasted brioche bun from la Boulange, I layered the salmon with a chilled Moldovan slaw (cabbage, dill, oil, s&p).  I steamed the green beans and enjoyed their crisp fresh flavor with a little salt and pepper.  I was quite pleased with my healthy, satisfying dinner!


Here are some photos of the owls in action. 

I thought we would be the most popular animals at the party, but I have to say our friends Jade and Jill really caused a commotion with their narwhal costumes. Anything that can get the crowd singing along to your costume is undeniably a hit!!