Monday, February 28, 2011

February's Four Delectable Dishes

It's been a busy few weeks! Between my inaugural 707 scout columns for tablehopper, a flurry of new release writing for one of my winery clients, and many fun events that drew me out of Napa into the far reaches of Sonoma and San Francisco, I haven't exactly been tending to my blog this month the way I ought. 

But I have been eating some tasty things.
So, as my jump back into the saddle, I give you four delectable dishes I encountered on my culinary romps around the Bay Area this February.

Exhibit A: Spicy Duck Hotwings with Chili-dusted Jicama

Oh, decadent bliss.  Imagine duck confit on a handle, wrapped in a crunchy, chewy, hot saucy crust.  Despite the objective fattiness of deep fried breaded duck wings, the subjective sensation of these is remarkably clean, with fantastic textural variations and compulsively tasty inside and out.  Just do it.

Exhibit B: Wild Mushroom, Chevre, and Truffle Oil Pizza

I've eaten this pizza at EDK a couple of times, but fall in love anew each time I order it.  The mushrooms have great wild forest funk and a delicate tenderness, which the fresh parsley and tarragon play up in a most delicious fashion.  The flavorful crust is thin but sturdy, and the ideal vehicle for transporting the truffly target to your lips.  Thanks to the new El Dorado Corner Cafe in Sonoma, this irresistible little item can now be had all day long (the EDK and its bar close down to a very small, pizza-less lounge menu for mid-afternoon), starting at 11:00 am. 

Exhibit C: Nonna's Tomato-Braised Chicken
from Scopa

I trekked up to Healdsburg for the Golden Barspoon competition this year, and finally got to experience Scopa for dinner. This little place has been recommended to me time and again as the Italian restaurant experience you always wish you had in your neighborhood.  The menu changes frequently, but this signature dish never disappears.  So what is Nonna's secret?  Succulent chicken, thick, richly seasoned tomato sauce, and dreamy soft polenta infused with fresh rosemary hiding just below in the adorable little cast iron brazier.  Brilliant textures, fabulous flavors, and perfect in every way.

Exhibit D: Seared Scallops w/ Pastis Pan Sauce, Beet Greens, and Roasted Beet-White Truffle Puree
Valentine's Day dinner at my house

Who knew that beets and their vegetal trappings would be so delicious with Pastis, scallops, and white truffle? Another example of the whole being far greater than the sum of its parts.  I share this one not to congratulate my cooking ability (this is not a techically demanding creation) but rather to share this revelation with the world.  This dish was so good, we were mourning its being gone before we even finished eating it.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rabid for Rabbit

I can't wait for the Year of the Rabbit to start this Thursday. My reptilian brain thrills at the thought of seeing rabbit on every menu--and not just in "safe" charcuterie form.  Show me some leg, people!

I admit, rabbit on every menu is probably a delusion hope, given that the meat isn't exactly available on the same scale as, say, chicken.  But gustatory appreciation of cute little bunnies does seem to be gaining some traction with the larger food-eating public, and I'm hoping this Chinese Zodiac Year takes the movement to a new level.

Kindred rabbit eaters in the Napa vicinity should join me at Food Truck Friday the evening of February 4, 2011, for a special Year of the Rabbit party.  My full article on this carnival of delights is on, here

Since the publication date of that piece, I heard that Mark's the Spot truck will be doing a polenta bowl with braised rabbit and mustard cream... and Dim Sum Charlie's will have rotisserie rabbit, rabbit "Kind Bowls," and rabbit dumplings, because co-owner Andrew Siegal is as much of a rabbit fiend as I am.  Fork Catering from Sonoma will have the Rabbit Bolognese, and a new-to-Food Truck Fridays wood-fired pizza truck (not Crossroad Chicken, who apparently won't be there this time) will be cranking out rabbit-topped pies for the public.

Bring on the bunny! And happy new year.