At Le Normandie in Pacific Grove for a quick weekend getaway. Jan made a reservation after doing some online research, and the dinner did not disappoint. I could have eaten only the amazing lobster bisque that started the meal, but luckily I saved room for wild sea bass and a bit of Jan’s filet mignon, plus the most delicious pear tart with almond paste. The daily handwritten menus are the norm, and we will most definitely be going back.
I have never participated in a cookie exchange. When I got the invite to my first one, I knew what I had to do. It was time to tackle the famous Czech Christmas cookies.
I have looked forward to these cookies every Christmas that I remember. Jan’s mom, Alena, spends the weeks leading up to Christmas baking baking baking, and it’s worth it. Continue reading →
At Biergarten in San Francisco. This was round two on a beautifully sunny Sunday afternoon, following a first course of sauerkraut, sausage, and a grilled-cheese-type sandwich on pretzel. I will now be making hot pink deviled eggs.
It’s been too long since Jan and I spent a night in the kitchen, experimenting and having fun making something we’ve never made before. We are out of practice.
Since Jan’s been back from a long summer firefighting in Utah, Montana, Idaho and Washington, he’s wanted lobster tails and caviar (too many bad fire camp meals, he says). In my mind, he wants this over-the-top fancy meal every week. In his mind, it’s been ONCE. We’ll agree it’s a number somewhere in between.
In any case, how crazy is it that we live in a place where food is so accessible that Jan can ask, “Lobster tonight?” and my response be “Ugh! I’m sick of lobster!”
This time when he asked, I said I just wanted Mexican. Simple.
But Jan was in the mood for something special (and complicated), so he decided, in an effort to satisfy both of our requests: chile rellenos! Continue reading →
I have Switzerland to thank for some amazing memories, beautiful scenery, and our latest kitchen gadget. (“Kitchen gadget” said with my fist raised, a silent “arrgh,” and scowly look to Jan. My ongoing battles with kitchen gadgets are cataloged here (dehydrator), here (pasta machine), here (ice cream maker), and here (sous vide water bath)).
It’s a Raclette machine.
Much as I wanted to hate it (and did, when it arrived from Amazon.com), I think it’s pretty cool.
To Americans, Raclette is the lesser-known cousin to Fondue, though both are dishes based on combining an assortment ingredients with melty Swiss cheeses. To make fondue, cheese like Swiss cheese and Gruyere cheese are melted together with garlic, white wine, cherry brandy, and spices in a large, heated pot. Chunks of bread and cooked vegetables are dipped in the cheese with skewers or forks once the cheese is melted and smooth. Continue reading →
Go to Switzerland and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Continue reading →
Traveling in our rental car from Switzerland into France, Jan and I spent our first night in France in the tiny village Gevrey-Chambertin in the Burgundy region outside of Beaune. Our room at Hôtel les Grands Crus overlooked a beautiful vineyard, and in the early evening, we walked into “town” to tour the cellars at winemaker Phillippe Leclerc. Sampling several wines (and buying a few to take home) and touring the extensive cellars brought us right up to our 8:30 dinner reservation at Chez Guy, a restaurant that came highly recommended by both our B&B host and Rick Steve’s guide book (and it also happened to be the only restaurant in town open for dinner).
While Jan and I didn’t understand much on the menu, we could pick out “foie gras,” and I did my best with some words I could make out from my knowledge of Spanish. We ordered wine and picked a few other items in addition to the foie gras, figuring that we would just be surprised with whatever came out (though we realize this attitude only works with an open mind—and without a pre-set list of dietary and/or meat restrictions). Continue reading →