Monday, June 27, 2011

Petunias after the Rain....

Clams on the Deck

Last night we enjoyed a lovely little dinner on the deck with our handsome friends Andrew and John of Study.  It was a relaxing and delicious meal and, while everyone got a kick out of my Thai Pineapple and rice dish, one of our favorite bites of the right were a trio of simple clams.  They packed a big punch thanks to a dose of fermented black beans. Found in Asian Markets, fermented black beans are actually soy beans that have been dried and fermented with assorted spices giving them a pungent and memorable flavor. Give them a try...
Chinese Steamed Clams with Black Bean Sauce
4 servings

12 Little Neck Clams
1T canola or grape seed oil
2t minced fresh garlic
21/2 t minced fresh ginger
2T Fermented black beans, chopped
1/4 C Soy Sauce
1/4 C Water
1 1/2T Oyster Sauce
Pea shoots (optional)

To Make the sauce, saute the garlic and ginger in the oil until fragrant, but not browned.  Add the beans, soy sauce and water.  Simmer for 3 minutes.  Stir in the oyster sauce and warm through.  Scrub the clams  and place them in a bamboo steamer of medium heat.  Steam the clams for 3-5 minutes or until they open (discard any unopened clams).  Divide the clams equally between four bowls and top each clam with some of the sauce and a pea shoot for garnish.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Paris 1906 Escoffier at the Ritz
18 June 2011
Kitchen Table Menu for Six

Cheese Puff with Mornay Sauce

Hors d'Oeuvres
Smoked Salmon Barquette, Soft Quail Egg with White Anchovy, Brioche with Foie Gras and Apricot, Rabbit Boudin Blanc, Pork "Pig Face" Rillette, Leeks with Mushroom Duxelles
Flan aux Oeufs
Egg Custard with Lemon Cream and Perigord Black Truffles
Potato Blini, Uruguayan Osetra Caviar, Lemon-Chive Creme Fraiche
Vincent Carré Brut Champagne
Potage à la Tortue Claire-907
Turtle Consommé
Jacques Puffeney 'Vin Jaune' Arbois 2002

Puree Palestine-695
Sunchoke Puree, Fresh Sun Chokes, Fried Hazelnuts and Fried Parsley
Olivier Merlin 'La Roche Vineuse', Macon 2008

Filet de Sole Daumont-1950
Sole Fillet and Crawfish Mousse in Toasted Butter Sauce
Les Heritiers du Comte Lafon Macon-Milly-Lamartine Clos du Four 2006
Suprêmes de Poussin-3130
Chicken in Blanquette de Veau Sauce with Butter Braised Cucumbers filled with Chicken Forcemeat
Domaine Leon Barral 'Jadis' Faugères 2007

Carré d'agneau-2845
Lamb Loin, Braised Tongue, Sweetbreads, Onion Rings, Potatoes Duchesse, Lamb Jus, Choron Sauce, and Fried Tarragon.
Michael&Stephanie Ogier, Côte-Rôtie Rhone 2005
Caneton Rouennais à la Presse-3476
Gratin de Pommes de Terre à la Dauphinoise-4200
Roasted and Pressed Duck prepared table side and served in a a reduction of Jus, Red Wine and Congac alongside potatoes with butter, cream and cheese.
Domaine Brusset 'Tradition Le Grand Montmirail' Gigondas 2000

Salade Irma-3839
Cauliflower, Asparagus, Radish, Nasturtium, Lemon, Chervil, and Tarragon
Sorbet Sauternes
Bombe Ceylan-4826
Rum and Coffee Ice Cream, Chocolate Dome, Brandied Cherries
Soufflé au Chocolat
Ramos Pinto 10 year Tawny Port

Mignardises and Coffee
Beet Pate de Fruit, fennel Shortbread, Salted Caramel, Pistachio Nougat, Almond Tuile

Nightcap at Aviary
Tiki: macadamia, cinnamon, Batavia
*my cocktail contained 1200 cinnamon pearl ice cubes and Leif enjoyed a memorable scotch.
Securing the kitchen table at next took more than a little determination on my part.  After sitting in front of computer for eight hours to purchase tickets and reading countless reviews of the Escoffier menu over the past several weeks, I wasn't sure it would be possible that our experience could meet our lofty expectations. Our meal on Saturday night, however, exceeded every expectation I had and more than lived up to the epic hype swirling around this time-bending shape-shifting restaurant.

We were thrilled the Pettit's and the Frigs were able to round out the party of six required for the kitchen table experience and all of us were beyond excited to enjoy the food and take in the sites and sounds of Chef Dave Beran's kitchen..  None of us had ever sat at a kitchen table before and honestly I cannot think of a more perfect group of people to share this evening with!  It was a divine privilege from start to finish.

Since reviews of the Next experience are not in short supply these days, I will simply say our Paris 1906 meal was one of the best of my life.  The caviar, sunchoke, lamb, and souffle dishes are unique to the kitchen table and were my favorites of the night.  The duck course was a complete revelation and watching Chef Beran carve and press the duck for our table was quite a culinary thrill!  The sauce accompanying the duck, and several other dishes for that matter, left me fighting the urge to lick my plate clean!   Escoffier was clearly a total badass and the chefs at Next have impressively taken his classic cuisine to the next level...a simply astonishing level.

In less than two weeks the restaurant will reinvent itself; say au revoir to Paris 1906 and sawatdee kaa to Bangkok 2032...the futuristic menu is rumored to be an ode to Thai street food. How can we possibly not want to go now that we know what's  Next?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sunday On the Pitch

Sunday on the pitch was a little bitter sweet for the Red Wedge.  He suited up in orange for the last time.  He'll be representing a new club next year and while he is looking forward to the challenge and pace his new team will offer, he is a little bummed about wearing a brand new color next season.

Vacation 2011: The Recap

Road Trip 2011: The Stats
Ten Days on the road/8 days with a car
6 National Parks: Zion, Grand Canyon, Sequoia, Kings Canyon,Yosemite, Alcatraz
2 National Forests: Kaibab and Sequoia
1 Metropolis: San Francisco
Modes of Transport: 4 Planes, 1 all-wheel drive SUV, 3 Taxis, 2 Town Cars, 1 Trolley, 5 buses, 1 boat, 4 horses, 4 bikes, and 8 legs.
Starting Car Mileage: 8546
Ending Car Mileage: 10,266
Miles Traveled: 1, 720
Average Drive: 215 miles 
Road Trip 2011:  The Favorites
Favorite Destination:
Emma:  Sequoia National Park
Finn: San Francisco 
Mel: The French Laundry
Leif: The Giant Forest

Favorite Activity: 
Leif: Lunch at the Grand Canyon and the hike at King's Canyon
Mel: Driving us home from Kings Canyon
Finn: Visiting Alcatraz
Emma:  Seeing the Giant Forest in Sequoia

Best Meal:
Mel:  The French Laundry in Yountville
Finn:  Hamburger helper in the cottage at Sequoia
Leif: #1 The Laundry (including the company) #2 Buma Superstar
Emma: Mexican at Los Domingo's during our stop in Barstow
Best Road Trip Snax:
Leif: Corn Nuts
Emma: Combos...they are entertaining!
Mel:  Beef Jerky from the road side jerky stand in Three Rivers
Finn: Corn Nuts

Favorite Road Trip Song:
Mel: Judas, Lady Gaga
Finn: The Show Goes On, Lupe Fiasco
Leif: Scheibe, Lady Gaga and Beautiful Day, U2
Emma:  Beautiful Day, U2...that song matched everything we were seeing!
 Best Lodging:
Finn:  Kaibab Lodge because it was easiest to sleep there
Emma: Sequoia Village Inn, Alta Cottage
Mel: Napa Valley Railway Inn
Leif: Kaibab Lodge and Sequoia Village Inn...TOTAL decompression!
Best Laugh:
Emma:  All four of us falling asleep before it was dark out at Kaibab Lodge!
Finn: Dad was making his bed in Yosemite and the boards fell out from under him!
Mel:  Leif panicked and shoved  the guide book for the Grand Canyon  in my face and asked me to read it while I was driving when he realized he had picked the wrong hike for his fears!
Leif: Family renditions of or GPS "Wanda Whereuare's" drunken street pronunciations.
Favorite: View:
Leif:  The opening view of the Grand Canyon from the lodge. It was a total gut check.
Finn: Eating Lunch at the Grand Canyon; you could see all the way to the bottom.
Mel: The view from Bright Angel Point at the Grand Canyon on the hike Leif picked and panicked about. Standing in front of the Grand Canyon sure makes you feel small, but  standing there and knowing that all is well in your microscopic corner of the world was pretty inspirational.
Emma:  Lunch at the Grand Canyon overlooking almost the whole thing.
Biggest Surprise:
Emma:  The General Sherman Tree because it was just so massive and took up so much space.
Finn:  Driving through Zion National Park with out planning on it.
Leif: Yosemite...beautiful place, but too much of a zoo.  Alcatraz was way cooler than I thought it would be!
Mel:  Leif's new found love of birds!  Ask him how many hawks he saw...
Favorite National Park:
Finn:  Sequoia
Mel: Sequoia
Leif: Sequoia
Emma: Sequoia
What I read:
Leif: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Mel: Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl
Finn: The Hunger Games and Cathching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Emma:  The Time Traveler's Wife by Audry Niffenegger,
Flawless, Perfect and Unbelieveable by Sara Shepard
Road Trip 2011: The Feedback

"This trip was an amazing chance to see the splendor of our country and build memories at a pivotal time for all.  Changing scenery for ten days was much needed and experiencing a road trip of this magnitude together expanded our entire family's world view." -Leif

"We've been a solid family for so long and there are many big changes on the horizon for our family. I just really felt compelled to share big beautiful moments as a unit at this time in our lives; our trip succeeded in providing those moments on every level.  Every single thing we saw on this adventure was new to me and I was constantly reminded how much I love my family and I really like being with them. I am not sure many people could say that after being cooped up in a car with their spouse and kids for ten days, but I am sure glad I can!" -Mel

"This trip was so amazing and life changing.  When I grow up and have kids, I am SO taking this trip with them." -Emma

"This trip made me feel grateful for my entire family and showed me how beautiful the world is." -Finn

Alcatraz Images

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