Friday, January 30, 2009

Valentine's Menu

Romance is in the air at Sevy's with soft, amber lighting and rose-strewn tables every guest will love.

For those celebrating on Friday or Sunday evenings, we are offering specials of Beef Tenderloin Filet and Fresh Maine Lobster, as well as a Godiva chocolate dessert to share.

For those celebrating on Saturday, February 14th we are pleased to offer the following three course menu for $55.95 per person (plus tax and gratuity).
Make your reservations today at, or call (214)265-7389.

Choice of:
Grilled Spinach and Feta Cheese Cakes, Sundried Tomatoes, Pine Nuts and Red Pepper Aioli
Gulf Shrimp and Maine Lobster Cocktail, Dilled Green Beans, Tangy Cocktail Sauce and Remoulade Sauce
Atlantic Blue Point Oysters Rockefeller, Baked with Creamed Spinach, Shallots and Toasted Bread Crumbs
Crispy Calamari, Spicy Tartar Sauce and Tangy Cocktail Sauce
Caesar Salad, Crisp Romaine Lettuce, Herbed Croutons and our Award Winning Dressing
Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops, Fennel Puree, Caper & Golden Raisin Relish with Lemon Thyme Butter
Grilled Kobe Beef Skewers, Soy Ginger Glaze, Asian Greens and Tempura Scallion

Choice of:
Stuffed Free-Range Chicken Breast Proscuitto, Fontina Cheese and Fresh Sage with Creamy Mascarpone Polenta and Porcini Mushroom Sauce
Crab Crusted Sea Bass Fillet Creamy Chive Orzo, Red Pepper Butter and Lemon Pepper Aspargus
Herbed Lamb Chops Creamy Roasted Garlic Grits, Minted Zinfandel Sauce, and Roasted Fennel, Red Pepper and Kalamata Olives
Sevy's Smoke House Beef Tenderloin Filet Crispy Buttermilk Onions, Grilled Fresh Vegetables and Cabernet Sauce
Sea Bass Fillet Artichoke Whipped Potatoes, Lemon Caper Butter and Smoked Salmon Salad
Peppered NY Strip Brandy Shallot Sauce, Crispy Sweet Potato Wedges and Tiny Green Beans with Smoked Bacon
Gulf Shrimp and Sea Scallop Linguini Fresh Peas, Roma Tomatoes, Broccoli, Basil Cream and Toasted Pine Nuts
Marinated Venison Medallion Truffle Whipped Potatoes, Blackberry Thyme Sauce and Caramelized Pearl Onions

Add 5 oz. Fresh Maine Lobster Tail to any entree for an additional $19.

Choice of:
Apple Pecan Crisp with Cinnamon Ice Cream and Caramel
Three Citrus Pie Fresh Berry Puree and Whipped Cream
Chocolate Mousse Cake with Chocolate Spikes and Dark Chocolate Sauce
Fresh Berry Parfait Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream and Toasted Almonds
Godiva Chocolate Creme Brulee and Chocolate Dipped Strawberry

For your additional enjoyment, we also offer 34 delicious wines by the glass.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Public Service Announcement

First Monday Trade Days in Canton begins tomorrow, through Sunday. Supposed to be a nice weather weekend, it's a beautiful East Texas drive.

I've Been Typealized

I just analyzed my blog, here. I'm an ESFP (The Performer) - "The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don't like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

The [sic] enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions."

So that explains it. Here all this time I've thought of myself as an introverted accountant who's taken up writing a blog because it requires no direct interaction with others. My other job requires plenty of conflict - I have a 14 year old daughter I confront every day, after all I'm The Boss. I'll give them the not liking to plan ahead - I have a calendar that I never write on - it's buried here somewhere.

They also gave me a list of recommended reading: The Intimacy Factor, 16 Ways to Love Your Lover, and Why Him? Why Her?

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off To Work We Go

Snow day, schmo day, the kids staying home puts a crimp in my ability to work. But at least I can stay in my jammies, poor hubby had to scrape the ice off and head down to open the restaurant. It brought back to mind a scene from one of my favorite books, The Making of a Chef, Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America by Michael Ruhlman.

For those unfamiliar with the background of the book, Ruhlman, after writing an article about the CIA decided to take a leave of absence from his journalist job to attend "kind of" as a student of the program. I say "kind of", because it's actually a two year program, and he got to jump ahead to classes that second year students take. And his intent was not to graduate, but to write a book about the program, with the full knowledge and blessing of the school.

Anyhow, back to the scene, after a particularly nasty weather episode and facing a treacherous drive down Route 9, Ruhlman decides to call the chef instructor to let him know he'd be missing an important test that day. The chef, Chef Pardus (who is still an instructor there today) left no doubt in Ruhlman's mind that he was disappointed in the choice. So Ruhlman bundles up and heads off to certain destruction in the snowstorm. After the test, Ruhlman questioned Pardus why he had sounded so withdrawn when conditions were truly dangerous outside.

Pardus explains, "Part of what we're training students to be here is chefs-and when chefs have to be somewhere, they get there, .... Chefs are the people who are working on Thanksgiving and Christmas, when everyone else is partying. Or at home with their family."

Somebody had to be there.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Crashing Maximo

It's a rare Friday night Sevy doesn't work, so last night with the evening ahead of us we decided to spend quality time together - furniture shopping. We had intended to go see Slumdog Millionaire afterwards, but on the way home (with a large armchair tucked in the back seat) Sevy said "Hey, I think tonight is Maximo's mock dinner, want to go by and check it out?". For those unfamiliar with the term, mock dinners are practice dinners held before a restaurant opens, an invitation-only trial run for the staff and management. We had no such invitation, so we crashed the bar to say "Hi" and "Good Luck" to friends Mark Maguire and Amador Mora.

North of LBJ, catty-corner to the Galleria, several nice restaurants have opened in the area over the last few years. The previous tenant in the Maximo space, BLT Steakhouse didn't last long. I don't think BLT's failure could be put squarely on a problem location (I read their offering prospectus when they were shopping investors, hmmm). Mark agreed it's a low profile, tucked-away location, but in a beautiful building and in a neighborhood that has been enjoying a renaissance for the last several years. Many of our towns nicest restaurants (ahem!) were in former restaurant spaces (Sevy's used to be Loma Luna, The Mercury used to be a Spasso Pizza, Abacus was a closed-down-quickly billiards place), and I believe this team with their experience can make this a destination place.

I stuck to the bar, making friends with the bartendress and enjoying a house specialty drink (I would very much recommend), the Black & Blue. A cross between a mojito and a margarita with blueberries and blackberries crushed with mint leaves. Yum - I had a second one while Sevy toured the kitchen (chefs do that). The bar was immense, tall and wide it easily seats a couple dozen people on stools. The large room had rough wood ceilings, it reminded me of a hotel bar from the 1800's. There was an antique circular velvet settee in the middle of the room that softened the masculinity of the room. Of course I forgot my camera at home.

Mid-way through my second Black & Blue, I decided to poke my head through the velvet draped entry to the dining room. It was a completely opposite environment from the bar; drenched in white paint, lots of windows, very sophisticated and full of people, it was also full of energy. Things appeared to be going smoothly, the family we chatted with while valet retrieved our car said it was a wonderful dinner with no problems. Of course they could have been Mark's family for all I know, usually family sits in as the testers for the experimental meal.

Tonight they are open for a charity event, and their actual hard opening is sometime next week, I didn't catch the date. We'll definitely be returning, I told Mark I was going to hold a Maximo Mommy Monday Happy Hour with the Hillcrest moms soon.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Some Like It Hot Sandwich: Grilled Pimento Cheese With Toasted Pecans, Candied Jalapenos and Bacon on Sourdough, Side of Strawberry Jam.

I confess I've never had pimento cheese in the 25 years I've lived in the South. Yum, or not? You can buy this sandwich here at their new location at Preston and Forest. They also have some very interesting salad choices for their salad sampler - definitely 1960's influenced: Nana's Strawberry Pretzel Congealed Salad (may I recommend a name change to "Gelatin"?), a huge square of pink froth on a pretzel crust; Broccoli-Raisin Salad; and Pink Arctic Freeze, which I was told was a frozen "salad" containing cranberries.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Warm" Food Kicks Off Sevy's Grill 2009 Food and Wine Dinner Series

"Braising and Stewing for a Winter Evening", bringing comfort to our coldest month of the year. A delicious menu with specially selected wines to compliment each course. Join us on Monday, January 26th, 6:30 p.m., four courses plus reception, a great value at $59.95 per person. Reservations required, seating is limited.

Caramelized Shallot and Goat Cheese Crostini
Cristalino, Sparkling
Maine Lobster and Root Vegetable Stew with Saffron Aioli Crouton
Wishing Tree Chardonnay, 2007
Pheasant Confit, White Beans, Smoked Bacon and Porcini Mushroom Broth
Shooting Star Zinfandel, 2006
Kobe Beef Brisket, Braised Savoy Cabbage, Pearl Onions and Fingerling Potatoes
Baked Winter Pear with Golden Raisins, Almonds and Praline Mascarpone
Shooting Star Johannisberg Riesling, 2007

Not familiar with Sevy's? Located just south of Northwest Highway on Preston Road, we're close to everyone's neighborhood! If you would like to join us for this wonderful dinner, call (214)265-7389, or email . Hurry before it sells out!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Kent Rathbun Prepares For the Six-Million-Dollar Man Cookoff

He's the odds-on favorite against Steve Austin. Hubby saw him Sunday, broken femur, titanium rod installed. Will allow him to heft half a buffalo on the next Iron Chef cookoff.

Sevy's Sweet Ancho Chile Relish Available at Sigel's

By weeks end - at the stores containing food departments:

Sigel's Addison (15003 Inwood - s. of Beltline)
Sigel's Elite (3209 N. Fitzhugh - at Cole)
Vin Classic Wines (5717 Legacy Drive - in Shops at Legacy, Plano)

Part of the Star Chef Collection by Dallas' Canyon Specialty Foods, a 10 ounce jar is $8.99. For me, the non-cook, it's great as a topping on cream cheese, but I've also seen my own personal "star chef" use it in several other ways, here, and here.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Thank You and You're Welcome

I don't review restaurants on this blog, but Thank You!. Mr. President, you're welcome anytime, we're here for you!

Pancake Breakfast Fun-raiser At Sevy's Grill

At the restaurant we serve brunch twice a year (Easter and Mother's Day), but are open for the Hillcrest Panthers Pancake Breakfast only once every year, and this year it's on Sunday, January 25th. With reservation only seating, we will be serving 350 fixed-plate breakfast meals of pancakes, eggs, bacon and choice of tea, coffee, milk or juice for $10 per person. And your servers will be the athletes and cheerleaders of Hillcrest High School (with parental and Sevy oversight, of course). Cooking will be handled by professionals.

RESERVATIONS ONLY folks, didn't want you to miss it, beginning at 9am and ending at noon. If you are interested, please feel free to contact me at and we can talk.

UPDATE: Due to a conflict, the date for the pancake breakfast has been changed. Join us on Sunday, February 8th, 9:00 to 12:00, everyone is welcome.


One word. Rolling out from my lips, the end is said with a sigh. Like a modern, mystical palace from Middle Eastern lore, you are transported from the turn onto the drive to the winery. A row of fountains shoot water 30' into the air and palm trees line the drive and building to complete the opulent oasis. A regal name and place for a winery striving to create a perfect nectar for the Gods. If this sounds overly dramatic, it's not, this one winery, Darioush, was the highlight of our entire trip - two months later and it's still a topic when we get together with the others.

Darioush Khaledi, a prince of grocers on the west coast, built his winery fulfilling his dreams as a young immigrant from Iran. The Persian influence is seen in the architecture and in the exquisite selection of the retail items: textiles, art, books, clothing and jewelry. I've always said nothing sells high-quality merchandise like a glass or two of wine first, his marketing brilliance obviously extends beyond produce.

And Darioush "the man" was every bit the elegant and gracious host, obviously successful yet warm and personable, it isn't a surprise that he's built a great empire. How romantic is it that he named his (in my opinion) finest wine after his wife, Shahpar - a beautiful wine for a beautiful lady as it appeared from the oil portrait that hung in the dining room. She was not in attendance, but joining us for dinner was Dan De Polo (President) and la belle Nathalie Vache both of Darioush Winery, and Dan Ha from Vineyard 29. With wines like these we could have been happy eating straw, but our hosts had kindly catered a dinner worthy of such an experience.

Preparing our dinner for the evening was Richard Reddington, Chef/Owner of Redd in Yountville, and in between courses we went around the table sharing our histories one by one. I cannot recount the exact stories, but the emotional flavor still lingers. Our meal, with wines follows:

2006 Darioush Russian River Chardonnay
Carnaroli Risotto, Maine Lobster Meyer Lemon Confit, Truffle Olive Oil

2006 Darioush Signature Pinot Noir
Sauteed Skate, Pumpkin Chanterelles, Chestnut Sage Butter

2005 Darioush Signature Shiraz
Liberty Farms Duck Breast, Celery Root and Quince Puree, Swiss Chard Crepe, Huckleberry Jus

2005 Darioush Signature Cabernet Sauvignon

2004 Shahpar
Redd's Chocolate Cake

As I mentioned above, my favorite thing all evening was the Shahpar wine served at dessert, it's flavor exceeded memories of my last taste of Chateau d' Yquem . While the romance of the name can be credited to Darioush, the romance of the flavor was created by winemaker Steve Devitt.

After dinner, we headed back to the various guest houses at which we were staying - we would be on the road by 5 am to head down to San Francisco International Airport. After the flight, all of the chefs were cooking at the March of Dimes "Signature Chef" fundraiser down at the Fairmount Hotel, with only enough time to shower before. Our trip was over.

Last Day In Napa - Buehler and St. Helena

It was Tuesday morning, our last full day in Napa. Scheduled was a wine and cheese pairing at Buehler Vineyards, up Howell Mountain Road - way, way, way up Howell Mountain Road - wait, not that far. After missing the turn off from a narrow road to a narrower road, we finally arrived, a little queasy from the drive. Our host, John Buehler, Jr. confessed that when his (grown) children were teens, he had the body shop programmed for direct dial.

We came to Napa post-harvest, when most grapes were going through the stages of processing prior to being barrelled. John gave us a wonderful tour of the working mechanisms of a winery; the presses, the filtering, the bottling operation. Located in the Conn Valley, a remote, rolling hills area where agriculture meets the natural land, the silence and natural beauty provided a feeling of comfort and peace.

Poured for our pleasure was their 2007 Napa Valley Zinfandel, their 2005 Estate Cabernet and the 2006 Papa's Knoll Cabernet. How do I remember this? It's on the receipt - had some shipped back to the house for more enjoyment later. Winemaker David Cronin has been working with Buehler since 1993 after having developed Dolce for Far Niente. They are open by appointment only, but it's worth a call to set up a time, and it's worth the drive - just watch out for that turn off.

After the tasting, the Cattle Baron's "group of eight" headed off to the airport. We had an open invitation to visit Gundlach Bundschu, but the ladies had been patiently awaiting some shopping time. So the boys went one way, the girls headed to St. Helena, a small-town-main-street-All-American kind of place. And the shopping was great - multiple types of stores and not just high end merchandise. Don't miss Sunshine Foods, part market, mostly gourmet shop. I purchased crackers and tapenades there that were made by local producers and hauled them all the way back to Dallas. The boys must have done a little shopping as well, a week later a case of Gundlach Bundschu Chardonnay appeared at our door.

None of us are shop-a-holics, so we were done in less than 2 hours. Taylor's Automatic Refresher beckoned (not a drive in, you eat at tables and counters outside) always with a line of people waiting to order at the window. Known for their milkshakes (Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry, Espresso Bean, White Pistachio, Mint Chip, Black & White), they also have an extensive list of wines by the glass. We stayed until it was time to meet the chefs for our final dinner in Napa, at Darioush Winery.

This is post #7 of the "series" written about our trip to Napa for the Cattle Baron's dinner. If you've missed any of the others, you can link to them: THE Dinner at Markham , Luncheon at Nickel & Nickel , Cooking In Napa , One Evening In San Francisco , Destination: San Francisco's Ferry Market , and Speaking of Napa - Another Cattle Baron's Dinner . Bon appetit!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Potatoes Romanoff on Today Show

A preview on todays "The Today Show" of a potato casserole dish, "Potatoes Romanoff" had me sticking by the TV for over 30 minutes. Turns out it's a dish Sevy's mom makes, but she adds crushed potato chips on top for a little crunch - and it is truly yummy. You had to feel sorry for Chef Schenk (from the Strip House Restaurant in New Jersey), his presentation would have been fine if they hadn't asked him so many questions about potatoes - which took up too much time - which cut into the actual preparation of the casserole. You can see video and recipe, here.

UPDATE: I made these for Sunday dinner, cut the recipe in half and still had twice as much as was needed for a family of four. Of course I decided to nuke the potatoes to cook them and waited too long, so they were still warm when it was time to prepare the dish. Instead of grating, I crumbled them into small chunks - it worked very well. I did not use crushed potato chips like my mother-in-law, sticking with the recipe's cheddar topping. Not only was it delicious that evening, it made the best leftovers the next day.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Costco, Costco - How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways

I love thee for thy True Religion jeans ($99.99) and those Montecristo Habana 2000 Xanadu cigars (20 for $92.99). And let's not forget the Chateau Mouton Rothschild Bordeaux Pauillac 2005 ($599.99 - per bottle). Seriously though, the poetic comparison to Elizabeth Barrett Browning's famed sonnet kept running through my brain as I shopped - in Plano.

Mary Suhm's recent plea for people to shop in Dallas might just work if they could get us a store like the TWO located in Plano. I even have the perfect location for those who are anti-big box developments - hell it's almost an empty big box now. All you have to do Mary, is make it WET - like for beer and wine retail sales.

Everyone shops there, if you haven't you've been missing out on some great deals. From the price of gas ($1.36 per gallon) to the ginormous rotisserie chickens ($4.99), the prices can't be beat. I've been known to like La Crema Chardonnay, Costco's case price is $8.04 lower than Goody Goody's. Last week in the mail was my 2% annual rebate, a $126 coupon that's been screaming my name, persuading me to return to spend, spend, spend.

So today I deposited in Costco's hands, $39 of sales tax revenue that will go to the State of Texas and the City of Plano. While I stocked up on the usual supply of dried blueberries, V-8 Blueberry/Pomegranite and Feta Olive Tapenade, I added a few "treats" paid for by my rebate. A bottle of Montes Folly 2005 Syrah (Chile - $66.99) and a skinny little bottle of Trentadue Chocolate Amore (Napa - $19.99), which the sign claimed was a "Merlot-based, port-styled chocolate flavored dessert wine, great over ice cream or as a stand alone dessert." I'll let you know what I think of it later.

Oh and after two trips, two holidays, and a few 50th birthday celebrations, I used part of the rebate to buy a Weight Watchers scale. IJS.

How To Cook Your Dream Job

Today's Wall Street Journal has a great story about an entrepreneur who stuck with his values, and his culinary palate, through many thin years. Read about Seth Tibbott and his long road to Tofurky success, here.

THE Dinner at Markham

Many requirements affect the site choice for the chef-prepared dinner: location, facilities, availability, staffing, but the biggest, most important for a meal of this caliber is - the "Wow" factor. Markham Vineyards delivered that, and beyond, as the host location for the Cattle Baron's auction dinner. Part vineyard, part art gallery, they were featuring a photography exhibition of Baron Wolman from his years at Rolling Stone Magazine. And the host, Bryan Del Bondio, President of Markham took everyone on a very personal tour of the winery, sharing the history of Napa - he is third-generation of a Napa winemaking family.

Each of the six chefs were responsible for one course of the dinner (except Amador, who made the reception canapes and the cheese course). While this sounds like a "light" duty, the amount of attention given to their one dish: from course conception to ordering (and hand selecting) the finest ingredients to ensuring the proper equipment is available, each chef is competing to put the best-tasting dish on a plate. Then there is the coordination with the vineyard about the wines to be paired, of course all from the host winery.

The chefs and their spouses were privileged to join the purchasers of the package, it was served in the barrel room of the vineyard, a table set for perfection. As the chef's finished their courses, they too came to the table to enjoy the fine wines Markham was pouring. The menu, as follows:

Reception (by Amador Mora)
Ginger & Basil Salmon Confit (garlic aioli), Citrus Poached Shrimp (homemade chipotle remolade, Skewered Figs (kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, balsamic caramel sauce)
Domaine Carneros Sparkling

First (by Kent Rathbun)
Buttered Poached Lobster (parsnip puree, tangerine fennel "soup")
Markham Chardonnay, 2006

Second (by Jim Severson)
Jumbo Nantucket Shoals Diver Scallop (heirloom tomato salad, lemon tarragon cream)
Markham Sauvignon Blanc 2007

Third (by Kevin Garvin)
Farm-raised Pheasant "Confit-style" (braised savoy cabbage, pearl onions, roasted garlic crostini)
Markham Pinot Noir 2006

Fourth (by David Holben)
Oven-roasted Buffalo Tenderloin (squash risotto, lavender honey-glazed chestnuts, cipollini onions, foie gras butter)
Markham Cabernet Sauvignon 2004

Dessert (by Richard Chamberlain)
Warm Espresso Molten Cake
Markham Merlot 2004

Cheese Course (by Amador Mora)
Soumantrain Burgundy Walnut Timbale (brown butter), Marinated Goat's Milk Gouda (warm chimay cherry chutney, toasted crostini)
Markham Petite Sirah 2004

This was the purchasers' final evening in Napa, not only was it memorable, but the guests left with mementos - very large bottles of Markham Merlot, autographed by the host and the chefs. Maybe it was the wine, maybe it was just the great time we shared, but after dinner the chefs offered to prepare breakfast for them the next morning. Afterwards we would all be meeting up at Buehler Vineyards for a wine and cheese pairing, then our new-found friends were headed to the airport. Our group, however, had one more evening in Napa - and one more incredible meal to go.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Luncheon At Nickel & Nickel

Life on a vineyard can sound so romantic, but one Texas family's account in todays Wall Street Journal is a less than glamorous tale. And according to the same article, the average price of a Napa home in 2008 was $608,258 (down from $860813 in 2007), it's a very expensive place to live. But still there is a small-town quality to life in what is, after Disneyland, one of California's top attractions. Our host for lunch, Dirk Hampson, moved to Napa as a very young man, and recounted many stories of growing grapes and raising his family in Oakville.

Located on Route 29 in a charming house, Nickel & Nickel is the sister winery to Far Niente (famed for their dessert wine, Dolce), and features all single vineyard wines. They recently completed installation of a vintage barn, originally found on the east coast and transported, re-constructed, to compliment their Victorian themed winery. Which is where we were served a delicious lunch prepared by chef Abimael Martinez:

Smoked Tomato Bisque with a seared Day Boat Scallop ('06 Truchard Vineyard Chardonnay, '06 Searby Vineyard); Duck Leg Confit Salad with roasted Yukon Gold Potatoes ('05 Harris Vineyard Merlot, '05 Suscol Ranch Merlot); Slow Braised Osso Bucco with Polenta ('05 C.C. Ranch Cabernet, '05 Branding Iron Cabernet, '05 John C. Sullinger Cabernet, '05 Vogt Vineyard Cabernet); Green D'Anjou Pear Clafouti with Dulce de Leche sauce ('04 Dolce).

It seems like great quantities for lunch, but portions of food and wine were all moderate - it's about tasting the flavor combinations.

Cooking In Napa

A person called my husband one day and said "Heard you and some chefs were paid $XX,XXX to cook a dinner in Napa." Well, that's not exactly how it works. A group of chefs, who also happen to be great friends, several years ago began donating a chef's dinner package for the American Cancer Society's annual Cattle Baron's Ball. Always with a different twist, it's one of the premier live auction items for the guests to bid on, and helps raise a great deal of money for cancer research and support for cancer victims. Oh, and the chef's get $0 - they (or their companies) entirely underwrite (or get donated) their portion of any travel and food for the dinners.

In May, the chefs cooked for a group of 10 at a 25,000 square foot, $100 million dollar home in Aspen (the purchasers had the house for the weekend), this was sold at the 2006 event. At the 2008 Cattle Baron's auction, the package was a multi-chef Country Barbeque for 30 of your friends at your ranch (or home). But the 2007 package, Dinner In Napa was an extroardinary multi-day eating, drinking, laughing time for a group of eight, and included lodging at an exclusive resort and a private plane ride to Napa. Not for the chefs - for the purchasers - the guys flew coach and stayed at various vineyards that generously provided guest houses for them to stay at. And this year the chefs brought their wives along, we are all connected to the restaurant industry in some fashion as well.

The people who bought the package weren't exceptionally wealthy from appearances; four couples, three of whom had employment connections and one of whom was a relative from New York. But one in the group was fighting cancer, and when it hits that hard, you realize the time to enjoy truly amazing things is limited, and they all had a passion for good food and wine.

The posts that follow are a recounting, winery by winery of our few days in Napa.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Still Have a Shopping Jones?

A reminder that First Monday Trade Days over in Canton began today, and runs through Sunday. Great opportunity to stretch the legs and get some fresh air. Then dine on corny dogs and funnel cake. IJS.

One Evening in San Francisco

For pro's in the food business, it's torture to be in a food mecca - a city where the abundance of talent and availability of excellent product are fused - and only have one night to eat. On the way to Napa to cook the Cattle Baron's dinner that had been auctioned in 2007, Sevy and I, with Lisa and Richard Chamberlain had booked one extra night for the city on the bay. From the moment we sampled produce at the farmer's market earlier in the day, our taste buds were on "flavor speed".

I was working with a new camera and before I left Dallas Sister showed me how to take the multi-shot photo of SPQR, above. Unfortunately I didn't learn quite enough, almost all of the food close-ups turned out blurry. But I did take notes on things we liked - their dishes were amazingly simple yet delicious. On the list of "Things We Would Reorder" (or TWWR for short) were the brussels sprouts with garlic and capers, a charred heap of caramelized flavors; the beets with ricotta and slices of crostini to spread it on; and spinach with chantrelles, lightly sauteed and served with a lemon slice on the side. Located in the Pacific Heights, this is a tiny, tiny charming Italian restaurant.

We also grazed at Slanted Door, located in Ferry Plaza on the Embarcardero. Chic, Vietnamese cuisine and crowded with people willing to wait 1+ hours to dine. We were very lucky to catch a group leaving the bar and happy to watch the energy of the restaurant and sample their fare from there. TWWR were the Vegeterian Spring Rolls, containing a quality tofu and an excellent peanut sauce; and their Five Spice Duck was also memorable. But the waiter recommended their house specialty and he was dead on with that - Niman Ranch Shaking Beef had me practically licking the plate.

Also on the Embarcardero, on Pier 1 1/2 (tho' we didn't dine there) was the newly opened Peruvian spinoff, La Mar, which I envision as having the happiest chefs in town - they certainly had an amazing view of the bay. If we'd had one extra night we would have tried it. And I took a picture of their stuffed pepper waiting to be delivered to some lucky diner - it was the only food shot that was not blurry.