Tuesday, February 28, 2012

K + L = Killer Lunch

I visited downtown Sebastopol for the first time today, learning about the organic business community-to-be at the old Barlow Apple Factory location. The site is still under construction -- and still in the throes of the local permit game -- but developer Barney Aldridge says the complex should be up and running by this September, with several tenants already in place and several more moving in this July. Since talking about development projects is hungry work, Barney, a prospective yoga studio tenant, and the charming Kosta Browne boys (who will be moving their production facility and opening a tasting room at The Barlow) all sat down with me at K&L Bistro on South Main Street for some sustenance.

Karen and Lucas Martin run this bustling little rockstar of a restaurant, delivering international flavor through local ingredients and a decidedly French technique. Grazing through most of the appetizers, our group managed to hit the gorgeous grilled Monterey sardines, spicy tuna tartare with sriracha and avocado, salt cod gratin, and the absolutely delectable steamed pork buns with Hoisin sauce, scallions, and Asian slaw. These porky little beauties were so nice we had them twice, accompanied by some bright and sassy Dutton Goldfield Dutton Ranch Chardonnay.

My favorite single item of the lunch, however, was the outrageously French wild mushroom omelette with green salad.  The thing was textbook: pale, tender and juicy egg exterior folded into the classic torpedo shape, barely concealing a cornucopia of earthy wild mushrooms, fines herbes, and gruyère.  Pure bliss with the DuMol pinot noir we'd broken into.  

Vive la succulence!

An omelette and a glass of wine was one of Elizabeth David's favorite dinners, but I think it's just as perfect for lunch.  Well done, K&L.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Flowers For My Valentine

Nothing says "I love you" like fresh flowers on her opakapaka. 

Chef Perry Hoffman knows what he's doing in this department. These hand picked blooms bring colorful whimsy and tenderness to a succulent opakapaka filet, served over green garlic puree with a medley of braised cardoons, sunchokes, and slivered picholine olives.  The dish is the second course of the Sweetheart Menu being served at étoile today in honor of the holiday. Don't miss the unfiltered Newton Chardonnay pairing with this... one of the most dynamic pairings I've had in a while.

Other heart-melting delights from the prix-fixe menu include an enticing Dungeness crab salad with Moro blood oranges, Miner lettuce, and curry pickled crones; a well-endowed Liberty Farms duck breast with wild mushrooms, shaved asparagus, duck sausage and pickled onions; luscious La Tur cheese served with heirloom beets and chervil; and a three-way of Valrhona chocolate mousses doused in vanilla marshmallow fondue.