Cibo e Il Vino

After much anticipation, Memorial Day weekend has come and gone. There were a few glitches along the way: a shit-load of work I had to finish before I left for SF on Thursday, rain forcing me to cancel my original plans on Thursday and a weird allergic reaction to something during our stay in Napa. However, the delicious food and near perfect weather we had over the weekend more than made up for these slight inconveniences.

Henry and I didn’t leave for SF until about 12:30 or so because I had to take care of something at work. Even though Thursday was supposed to be my day off, it sure didn’t feel like it. I kept having to check my work blackberry during the day. Yes, I have two: work and personal blackberries. It’s sick, I know.

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Rain was in the forecast for Thursday (which made me cancel my original plans to hike the Land’s End trail) and sure enough, dark rain clouds spotted the sky as we approached our destination. I guess we chased away the rain because we didn’t experience a drop of rain during our entire stay.

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We arrived in SF just in time to change and get ready for dinner. We decided to revisit one of our favorite restaurants, Gary Danko. The first time we ate there was during our first trip to San Francisco together back in 2008. We fell hard and fast for Gary Danko and even though two years have gone by, it still remains as one of our most memorable dining experiences.

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The next day, we ate brunch at Honey Honey Cafe and Crepery before heading up to Napa. Honey Honey Cafe is located on the corner of Taylor and Post and if you’re planning to drive here, expect to pay $3.50 AN HOUR for street parking (parking in SF is RIDICULOUS!!!!). The restaurant is pretty big by SF standards and fast-food-esque in the sense that you order and pay for your food at the counter and then pick a table to sit and wait while your food is brought to you. They have an extensive menu including the usual breakfast and lunch items as well as their signature sweet and savory crepes.

If Henry hadn’t knocked some sense into me, I would have ordered the Post Street omelette, which is basically a traditional Denver omelette with a San Francisco derived name. Henry made me realize that since we were at restaurant that specializes in crepes, perhaps I should order one of its namesake. Thus, I ordered the Half Moon Bay crepe (cheddar, tomato, mushroom and crab cake) and Henry ordered the Cancun burger (jack cheese, crispy bacon, tomato, avocado and salsa). Delicious!!

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After brunch, we made our way to Buehler Vineyards for our 2PM appointment. Buehler is located in the mountains east of St. Helena, approximately a 6 mile windy drive from highway 29. The overall experience was unlike all the touristy wineries located along the 29 or on the Silverado trail.

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Page Buehler, the son of John Page Buehler, Jr., gave us a tour of the property while explaining their general wine making process. It was just us and Page (and his cute dogs :)) so we felt really special to have all his attention. We made our way back to the office for a tasting and Henry ended up buying two bottles: 2008 Zinfandel, 2008 Reserve Chardonnay. He probably would have bought some of the Cabs, but he already has two bottles at home. Buehler is one of Henry’s favorites.

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After Buehler, we went to one of the most touristy wineries EVER: V. Sattui. And well, it’s touristy for good reason: the grounds are beautiful (many weddings are held there), they have a great deli and cheese selection that you can enjoy outside on the picnic tables and oh yea, the wines themselves aren’t too shabby either.

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After Henry had a tasting and purchased a 2008 Zinfandel, we bought a black forest ham panini, some prawns in mustard sauce and a salt cod cake and had a wonderful picnic outside.

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SF/Napa Food & Wine (+our verdict):
Gary Danko, 5/5
Honey Honey Cafe & Crepery, 4/5
Buehler Vineyards, 5/5
V. Sattui, 4/5
——–

To be continued…

Predictions

As sad as I am that my Kings were knocked out in the first round, I’m still watching the rest of the playoffs! And let’s face it folks, whoever thought the Kings would win the Cup this year is seriously delusional; I just expected them to advance into the second round. But fear not, the way the Kings have played this year signifies a long, long period of playoff runs in the future, perhaps even a Cup. We shall see 🙂

I should have posted my predictions for round 2, but they were wrong anyway, so let’s see how far off I am for round 3 and the finals…

Conference Finals:
Sharks will win game 4 by 1 goal in regulation play. Blackhawks will win the series on the road in game 5.

Habs vs. Flyers: Flyers advance in 7 games

Stanley Cup Finals:
Blackhawks vs Flyers: Blackhawks win cup in 6 games.

I eat: Lazy Ox Canteen

I ♥ having foodie friends 🙂

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Our original plan was to go to Bottega Louie, but we weren’t down to wait a long time for a table so we opted for Lazy Ox Canteen instead. Definitely wasn’t an issue for me since Lazy Ox has been on my list of restaurants to try for a few months now. We called before we left to get the scoop on the place and the hostess promised us a table outside in the patio area, but when we arrived, she couldn’t come through and even though I should have been pissed at the situation, I was actually glad we didn’t get that table since it was freezing COLD outside! The four of us took up the offer to sit at the communal table, which we basically had all to ourselves for almost the entire dinner.

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In addition to the items on the printed menu, there were also dishes listed on a blackboard that you could order. I have bad eyesight to begin with and I’ve worn my two week disposable contacts for about a month now so it was a little difficult to read the board. For our first round, we decided to order three dishes: yellowtail, ravioli and mussels.

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The white soy marinated yellowtail was my favorite dish of the night. I usually don’t like avocado, but paired with the yellowtail, it added a creamy element to the texture of the fish. The brown wedges in the picture were delicious, crispy hash browns. Since all of us at the table love mussels, we just had to order some. We chose the ever-so-popular brick roasted mussels and they certainly did not disappoint. The sauce was fantastic, the mussels were plump and best of all, there was bread to soak up the excess sauce. BTW, I think it should be MANDATORY to serve mussels with pieces of bread since drinking the sauce straight up can seem kind of ridiculous and desperate, but I understand, desperate times call for desperate measures. As for the ravioli, I’m ashamed for not being able to remember what was in it, but trust, it was good!

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Unfortunately, we didn’t have the same luck with our second round order: roasted cauliflower, soft shell crab with okra, grilled squid and abalone. According to the waitress, the roasted cauliflower was a popular choice, but I felt like it was something I could have made at home, easily. The soft shell crab had a nice batter, but other than that, it was plain and ordinary. And don’t even get me started on the grilled squid – yuck. The abalone was ok, the capers were a nice touch.

We were anticipating on ordering tapioca brulee for dessert since we saw a picture of it on Yelp, but we were denied! 😦 It wasn’t available. Our waitress suggested the chilled rice pudding in place of it. Good call, lady!

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Nom nom nom!!!

Verdict: 3/5
Lazy Ox Canteen
241 South San Pedro
Los Angeles, CA 90012

I’m on a Kayak!

I went down to Long Beach on Sunday expecting some fun in the sun out on the water… except there was no sun, which was totally bizarre since it was blazing hot on Saturday! You’d think that California weather would be more predictable, but lately it hasn’t been. Despite the lack of sun, I still had a blast.

We rented our single kayaks from Kayaks on the Water for $8/hr (pro-rated after the first hour). I’m sure the kayaks usually run out quickly, but since it was overcast that day, there were still some kayaks available for rent when we arrived. After we signed up, we were given some laminated maps and a brief description of the area. Then we were handed our life jackets and we picked out our paddles and kayaks. Simple as that, and we were off.

Of course I came prepared with my swimsuit bottom and boardshorts on, but unfortunately I did forget other necessities: a towel to dry off after a quick rinse and a change of clothes would have made me more comfortable during lunch. Sitting on wet bottoms = no bueno.

After our workout, we stuffed ourselves at Open Sesame, only a 5 minute drive away. Open Sesame is a Mediterranean restaurant that offers classics such as hummus/baba ghannouj, tabouleh, schwarma and kabobs. Seating is limited due to the small size of the restaurant and for those who want to know, there is only one bathroom. We waited about 20 minutes for a table – not bad for a Sunday afternoon. The prices are a bit steep for lunch (our entrees averaged about $15), but you definitely get more than enough food. All of the meats had great flavor and were cooked properly. I especially loved the spicy hummus. Yum!

I make: Chicken with Lemon-Chive Vinaigrette

Yes, another chicken recipe. It’s necessary when you live with someone who is a lean, mean chicken eating machine.

Chicken can be so boring, especially when it’s all chicken breast, all the time. I actually prefer chicken breast over dark meat; I view eating thighs as a hassle because of the bones and extra fat. However, I don’t disagree with the general observation that chicken breast is more dry and less flavorful than dark meat. To prevent the chicken breast from becoming dry, I usually incorporate one of the following methods:

1. A marinade with some acidity helps tenderize the chicken breast (or any meat for that matter)
2. Coating the chicken breast in flour helps retain moisture

Works every time 🙂

(yields 2 servings)
Ingredients:
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 and 1/2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (5 oz each)
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

Directions:
1. A LOT of whisking: Whisk together lemon juice, Dijon mustard and honey until honey dissolves and sauce is smooth. Pour in olive oil slowly while whisking to create an emulsion. Add chives, whisk to incorporate into sauce.
2. Heat oil in skillet on medium/medium-high.
3. Sprinkle chicken breast with salt and pepper and coat in flour.
4. Cook chicken about 4 minutes per side, should be nice golden brown in color.
5. Drizzle sauce over chicken and serve.

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Bon appetit!

Totally EPIC

The Epic season pass has just become more.. EPIC???!!!!

The pass, on sale now for $599, offers unlimited/unrestricted access to six mountains: Vail (CO), Breckenridge, (CO), Keystone (CO), Arapahoe Basin (CO), Beaver Creek (CO) and Heavenly (CA/NV). Depending on the weather, Henry and I gleefully break out our gear from the hostage of cob-webs as we attempt to ride fresh tracks in December. Then we die a little bit inside as we are forced to pack up/store our gear in April and anxiously wait all summer/fall for the next season to begin. We aren’t sponsored pro-snowboarders and we’re surely not loaded with cash, so we don’t have the luxury of being able to travel south and essentially board year-round.
Transportation + Lodging + Lift tickets = $$$$.

Well, the Epic pass has now provided us with the “endless” solution: it can be now used at Las Leñas resort in ARGENTINA!

Yes, that’s totally EPIC!

Keystone, CO

Breckenridge, CO

Heavenly, CA