World Dinner Club

World Dinner Club
World Dinner Club

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gobble, gobble

It's that time... time for the best holiday of the year! I'm off to Baltimore with S for Thanksgiving.  I'm packing some roomy corduroys for Thursday.

I'm thankful for what a great year its been blogging and eating as well as for greater things to come.

Happy Eating!

A new game to keep the kiddies busy this Thanksgiving: Turkey Matador!

Who says they need an Xbox?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sonoma Weekend

Since moving to the Bay Area from the East Coast, I've missed the scene of fall leaves brightening-up the woods.  I used to drive through DC's Rock Creek Park and along the George Washington Parkway and appreciate this every year.
Fortunately we were still able to experience some fall colors with a weekend trip to Sonoma County, north of San Francisco.
View Larger Map
The contrast and change of the vines may not have been the bright woods of Maine, but it was equally beautiful and scenic. Here are the delicious vines at Porter Creek, a biodynamic winery producing lovely pinot noir.  Nearby is the town of Healdsburg, where I ate the best Parmesan truffle fries of my life at the Healdsburg Bar and Grill. It's also know for having one of the best burgers in America, which I can confirm.  
Dinner was at Jack and Tony's Restaurant and Whiskey Bar where I had a delicious Manhattan and superb cornmeal crusted Rainbow Trout on wild mushroom-potato hash with bacon & molasses butter sauce. 

We found a superb value in the chenin blanc over at the very hospitable Dry Creek Vineyards.  This is destined to be our Thanksgiving wine.  Some of the most impressive wine was at Gary Farrell where I was wowed by the pinot noir and zin that expresses so much variation of terroir from Sonoma.
We also enjoyed a visit to Korbel, nestled among the Redwoods of the Russian River Valley.  

This structure built of Sequoias and free standing brick has stood for over a hundred years despite the series of earthquakes in that time.
One gets an appreciation of what it took to produce wine in the late 19th century seeing the oak casks that were shipped around Cape Horn from New England. The champagne, excuse me sparkling wine, was great.  The Korbel XS brandy was a fun surprise... very citrusy. 
These lovely golden hues are chardonnay grapes in front of Korbel on the edge of the Russian River.
In a miss-guided and eventually fruitless effort to find an out of the way winery called Hirsh, we saw a bit of wildlife and lots of sheep and cows.
However, on the bright side we managed to get to the Pacific Coast Highway and enjoy stunning views of the ocean.
It was a fun way to end whirlwind trip around wine country and the coast.  
It's easy to forget the abundance and agricultural productivity of California and refreshing to get out into the countryside and  feel it up close.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Prosciutto di Iowa?

"Shall I make a flat bread?" I asked last month. "What's a flat bread?" my mother responded.  I explained.  "Oh, a pizza. Well, why didn't you say that?"  Why indeed? I guess it only comes down to shape (round vs. rectangular) and perhaps the presence of yeast to tell the difference. But if there are Sicilian pizzas and Provencal flat breads like pissaladierre that have yeast in the dough, where does that leave us?

S and I used to love the different flat breads at Founding Farmers in DC.  Perhaps missing that she and I made a flat bread dish as a late lunch of sorts yesterday. While we were shopping we bought some goat brie (triple cream!), organic red pears ('tis the season) and prosciutto. However, as I knew this would be baked, the idea of using superb up-market prosciutto would be unconscionable. That's when I discover La Quercia's Prosciutto Americano at the local gourmet store. I told my sister who grew up there how interesting it was to discover prosciutto from Iowa! Some dogmatic devotees of Italian food may be wincing, but I can assure you, I regret nothing.

S rolled out some dough on the pizza peel. I brushed on some olive oil and dusted on some dried, sweet basil. After some quick and coarse slicing and assembly, the pizza/flatbread/whatever went into the oven. Soon a crispy and bubbly circle of molten goodness came forth.

I decanted a bottle of Côtes du Rhône while it cooled. It was hard not to wolf it down. This crust was chewy yet crisp and the pears suitably softened (i.e. only slightly).  The lumps of brie had oozed around the ham; the brie rind crisping-up like phylo.  The "prosciutto di Iowa" had thankfully not turned into jerky and proven the right semi-salty balance to the richness of the cheese.  This is Sunday done right.