Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wine Time O Clock!

I had the pleasure of spending the weekend up in Sonoma for my dear (and I mean fucking dearest) friend Evie's 30th bday. Living in Northern California, wine country is a quintessential weekend jaunt that spans every demographic: rich mofos, rowdy bachelorettes, prim and proper couples and even the party bus beer drinkers. It got me thinking how much wine country (Napa, Sonoma, Calistoga, Healdsburg, Santa Rosa) is really the jaguar's newsboy cap. Sorry, I hate the cats pajamas - cant we think of a better one? How about the honey badgers ascot? The cheetah's Toms ballet flats? At least we're getting some branding in there.

And here are 10 reasons why:

10. Rose Tastes Better In The Rain. You can get your buzz on even in the shittiest of conditions. Your friends are in town visiting and your Dolores Park picnic at Gay Beach got canceled due to droplets. The options are a museum or day drinking? I would hope an albino allegator at the Academy Of Science would pale in comparison to the perfect zin blend for the low low price of $5 a sip. On a nice day its even a better choice than the museum, lets be real.

9. Spelunking For The Drunk. Please name the last 3 times you've been in a cave. Go! Okay, once in middle school on a stalactite field trip (check). Okay, you were in the cast of The Descent (sorry you're dead) --- and wine tasting in Sonoma in a cave. It's damn cold but there's nothing else like it. Did you hear me? IN A FUCKING CAVE. Done.

8. The Day Drinker's Prom. No beer pong germ-ey cups, no tailgating foot long subs - just a great excuse to get your daylight buzz on from the hours of 1-4 (5pm if you're lucky!) in a sophisticated way. It's like eating breakfast for dinner or camping in your backyard - break the rules in the name of noir,

7. Convenience Is Key. If you live in San Fran there's really no reason NOT to go - it's less than an hour and a half away. What else can you accomplish in 90 minutes? You could take your sniveling kid to Mars Needs Moms? *kill me*, you could listen to 1 Phish song (next) or you can listen to the best 90s mix of your life with all your friends in a car until you arrive at St Francis and keep the party going.

6. Pennies For The Pour. I mean YES wine country gets a bad wrap for being expensive because wine isnt traditionally as cheap as beer but it takes 3 beers to get tipsy and 1 glass of wine to blush. However, if you hit the right places you can really take advantage of some cost effective afternoon plans. Some places in CA are free, the average is $10 a tasting but if you split the tastings you can get away with a whole day under $40 for 4 hours of entertainment.

5. Snobbery As A Sixth Sense. People are afraid of wine because they dont get it! What's a tannin?How do you pronounce sommelier? Jeebus, these reds all taste the same. Well, all you need to do during your wine tasting day is listen to 1 single fact and you already know more than most people! Repeat that fact at length and you win the conversation everytime. "The grapes are sweeter when they freeze overnight". The secret is: almost no one knows what they are talking about either. (right?)

4. Fortified For Your Pleasure. I cant stress this enough = always order port. always. You never order it at home - it's a vacation! It's like a dessert in the form of wine and makes you feel very Jane Austen/Downton Abbey in the modern age. Give yourself the gift of this vintage tradition and take your tastes to the next level.

3. Spit Or Swallow. It's unheard of! Never have I ever wasted one sip of this blessed beast we call alcohol! But here - if you dont dig it, spit it. You dont have to finish your tasting because there's plenty more to go around and it's considered a SIN to chug and run. You can play it your own way without feeling guilty you ordered the wrong thing at the dive bar. Just pour that sucker out! This place is wild.

2. The Rivalry Rules. Dont talk about Napa in Sonoma and dont you DARE talk about Sonoma in Santa Rosa. You just came from 5 miles away but to them you've just come from space. I sort of adore the rivalry amongst vine communities. Proud of their brethren but ultimately the dad (Napa) let's the mom do her thing (Sonoma) but it's all just as secretive as their affair and love child (Calistoga) and ugly uncle (Petaluma).

1. Gilmore Girls Town Square. Ever wonder what it was like to live in Stars Hollow? Welcome to the wine country oblligatory town square. Always a gazebo, always an old timey theatre and adorable shopping and Oprah approved salves. Walk aroud like you own the place for an hour and then remember you live somewhere else where the dinner wait isnt an hour and 45 minutes.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Soft Core Mumblecore

So............I havent been cooking because I have been working late almost every day. But also, I havent been writing as I have had some great opportunities at work to explore writing. Send positive thoughts so the good fortune continues and I am able to write all. the. time!

But I did take some time to make a healthy dinner after a long day of work and boy did it taste good after a few evenings of take out and a handful of unhealthy lunches just shoving food down my throat before another meeting. Jeesh! It makes me wonder how women really can have it all and have kids and a career someday? Not for me to find out for a bit I guess!

In other news:

I saw Jeff ,Who Lives At Home. The Duplass bros at their (medium) best! Their last film Cyrus was over the top but this was sweet and touching. I dont see how this film is Mumblecore as there are no amateur actors in it. Perhaps being mislabeled doesnt hurt if you want people to think they are seeing something that will allow them to be superior to their film friends. Oh? You dont know what Mumblecore is? Apparently, no one does anymore so dont feel bad. It's sooo 2002. Also, a miscast Ed Helms co-stars haplessly.

We booked our honeymoon, finally! We'll be taking almost a whole year later but I just think its spreading out the love. 3 Days alone in Paris (should I see where Ubi was born?), 4 days in Montpelier with our good friends Michael and Natalie, 1 day in Toulouse, 1 night in Athens, 4 days in Santorini and 4 in Mykonos and 1 night in NYC. I havent been to Europe in 10 years and it's time, my friends. It's time.

I also saw 21 Jump Street and thought it was the funniest comedy since Bridesmaids. I am officially a Tatum Channing convert. His dumb-adoreable-head-is-too-big-for-body-and-eyes-are-too-close-but-damn-that's-a-smile good looks. Jonah Hill playing Jonah Hill but this time not too annoying. Run to see this! You will be happy you did.

And lastly I saw Friends With Kids. It wasnt a perfect movie but the cast was outstanding! It made me (again) scared to have kids but I know I want them and the movies are just movies! They arent really real.......right? :( eeeeek. really funny, really cute and well written movie though - go see it if you are in your 30s and all your friends have kids but you! Adam Scott for the win.

Poblano & Green Chili Sauce over Salmon with Black Beans Mix
2 Poblano Peppers
3 Green Onions (white + a little green of the stem but not the whole stem!)
1 Can of green chilies + juice (save!)
1 lemon
1/2 serrano pepper
2 oz of 2% Greek Yogurt
2 salmon fillets (with skin)
1 can of black beans
1 can of fire roasted tomatoes
1 diced onion
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
Salt & Pepper to Taste!

Put the oven on 400 and throw 2 poblano peppers in the oven for 35 minutes, then on a broil for a few minutes on both sides to cook the peppers up.

Cook the diced onion over medium with olive oil til soft. add in the garlic, the beans and the tomatoes and turn to lowish to keep warm without overcooking as the black beans will mush! Add in the chilies but save the juices!

Once the poblanos are roasted, slice open to heat can escape - then place in the food processor with the green onions, the reserved juice from the chilis can, a squeeze of lemon, the half of the Serrano pepper and PULSE! Once combined and cooled off a little add in the greek yogurt and combine again.

I cook salmon really simply - I salt it, heat up a pan with cooking spray, brown it face down until its crispy, flip - then from the stove top to stove I broil it with a little lemon juice for 4-5 minutes.

Monday, March 5, 2012

So Many Crafts So Little Time

Every so often I get the itch. The Los Angeles itch. I moved to San Francisco over 3 1/2 years ago but I never stopped loving LA. Many people give it a bad wrap and to those people I say - dont knock it until you try it! It's not all limousines and cocaine and the part that is is super early 90s and its sort of fun in a hilarious parody sort of way. I left still adoring the sunshiney days, the relaxing power of dining outside, the hiking in the middle of the city - granted, I do think San Francisco is a far superior city than LA, I still think I'd be happy there. so I visit. Not as often as I'd like, but I visit and pretend I still live there even though every thing and everyone has changed.

FACT#1: YOU MUST EAT AT AFRAME. My bestie Pamela and her fiance Eric brought me to this amazing restaurant called AFrame where we ran into an old friend Adam B. You know how your mom knows exactly what you need when you're sick? And your partner knows exactly what you need when you PMS? Well, Pamela knows exactly to a T my culinary tastes. We had deep fried thai BBQ ribs, spicy octopus salad and fried tempura spinach fries. This may be a must stop for EVERY trip to Los Angeles.

FACT #2: EVERYTHING IS CUTER WITH YARN. Whenever I come to LA I make a craft date with another bestie Jenny. She is having a baby so we did a few decorations for her shower, which I could not attend. Check out these yarn letters we made from wooden letters and yarn. This alone makes me want a little one in the tum. Okay, maybe not - Im pretty scared to have kids these days but it may be due to living on a hill like rapunzel and only having a 1 bedroom apt.

FACT #3: DINNER WITH FRIENDS IS BETTER THAN CHOCOLATE. But, like, why choose? Every year we usually go on a ski trip to Mammoth but this year with Jenny being preggo and our other friends whose kid is an adorable ham --- we didnt go. But we did a Mock Mammoth cookery night in Highland Park with them. We made falafel and I made the lamb tagine again. It filled my heart AND innards.

Lamb & Prune Saffron Tagine
16 Pearl Onions
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 Pounds of Lamb Stew meat, cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
10 threads of saffron
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/3rd cup of honey
1 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8th tsp mace
1 cup pitted prunes
20 sprigs chopped cilantro
1/4 cup toasted almonds
Salt and pepper

Step One: Preheat oven to 375. Blanch the pearl onions, peel and set aside.

Step Two: In a dutch oven heat olive oil over medium - brown the meat in batches and set aside.

Step Three: Pour in the beef broth and grind up the saffron into the broth. Add back the meat. Stir in honey, tumeric, cinnamon, mace, prunes and cilantro. Cover the pot tightly and bake for 50 minutes. When you are done cook for 5 additional minutes with the top off to reduce the sauce down to a thick gravy.

Step Four: serve with almonds on top.