american idol meets the french laundry

Oye. Another bout of absence. But I am not without reports.

My best friend and I drove from L.A. to San Fran and auditioned for American Idol. Yes… oh yes. It was some shenanigans. I can’t even begin….

But besides that shit storm, we had some great eats.

We highly recommend Fog City Diner.

After leaving my house at 5 a.m. Eastern time to be on a 5.5 hour flight, even at 6 p.m. Pacific time I was buzzing with excitement to see and eat and be a San Fran tourist.We googled a bit and found this trendy little joint just north of Fisherman’s Wharf. A refined, cozy, modern adaptation of a retro diner – not the greasy cheeseburger, humongous cobb salad and soggy monte cristo sandwiches diner. Lean hummus greek wraps, hefty wine list and white chef coats diner. Ooo la la! Too bad I didn’t pack any coats… San Fran was cold at night. News flash!

Highlights from Fog:

An iceberg wedge salad:

After registering for auditions, the next day we took the hour drive north (crossing over the Golden Gate! holla!) to Napa County and checked out one of the hundreds of wineries. After the ridiculously good looking drive, we arrived at Sterling Vineyards. Tram riiiiiiide! $25 for 4 tastings, self-guided tour, a tram ride, breathtaking views of the valley and a wine glass?! Thank you!

I can’t literally describe the scenery…. The only thing I can say is, if I can only be jealous of one certain persons on this earth, I am genuinely and sincerely jealous of all who work and live in that area. We had two tastings out on this terrace and soaked in the sunny, 75 degree day of perfection.

Even before going to school I wanted to visit Napa Valley. As we know, its an American culinary and viticulture mecca. Its so cliche to be a culinary student and want to go to Napa. Right? In all honesty, I didn’t think I would get to Napa anytime soon. Like anytime…soon. Like… yeah I might visit Napa after our kids are 30 and we have grandkids……
Parking. Oh yeah. So there.

I envisioned The French Laundry to be a tiny little french bistro-ish on the outside and modern almost hip dining restaurant inside. WRONG. But! We managed to pass it twice. We parked right in front of it, seriously, and then sat there on the shoulder of Washington Street, in the middle of the restaurant and Keller‘s herb garden. I finally turned to the left and yelled, “THERE IT IS!” Geez-us. It looks like a damn house…camouflaged.

Hello dream come true! My next venture before I turn 30 (6 years to go. O.M.G….) is to take my husband back to Napa and get us a rez. Hoping I’ll remember to book 3 months in advance… or is it 6?

We lurked around the property, hoping to sneak a peek at ..well, really, ANYTHING. We peered through windows and sniffed the air, savory smells wafting from the kitchen. So jealous. I don’t get jealous often but I was downright envious. Envious of those Keller worker bees in that kitchen.

Well, to a lame-o like myself this was a revelation. But onto our actual dinner in Napa Valley at Hurley’s:

Crazy tomato soup. So fresh and so clean, clean.

Shaved prosciutto…..mixed greens…..ugh:

A crazy, fresh spring vegetable risotto:

I couldn’t possibly go to California and NOT get In-N-Out Burger….3 times. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the “secret” In-N-Out menu…. its got all kinds of weird combos and add-ons and ways to make your burger.. I finally tried my burger protein style and I will never look back. It was brilliant:

I couldn’t have spent the week with a better foodie friend! She’s amazing, talented and she might like food just as much as I do, which makes eating with her a super awesome treat. Check out her musical blog, too. 🙂


mashed potatoes of my life, dreams..universe.

It’s one thing to start a blog, a whole other monster just keeping it updated. Especially when your day job requires 6 days a week of your precious time!! (is that even LEGAL?!)
Please someone hire me to write on a food blog or on their food zine. Full time. With benefits. Please. (Pretty please).

Well.. our kitchen has been quiet lately. I wish I was one of those rare super creatures who, after working in a kitchen all day, being around food all day and either slicing bread or making 100 of the same pastry all day, would enjoy prancing home with a bundle of yummys from the store and effortlessly throwing together a 3-course haute cuisine meal. I am not. Now, I will usually arrive home, kick my shoes off, plop on our bed that is now in our living room and watch Judge Judy or Tyra and eat some pita chips. I might pull some ground beef from the freezer if we’re lucky… hoping we have some taco shells.. or something…

Seems like when I wasn’t working around food and in and around a kitchen I was more inclined to cook/bake. Its a conflicting conundrum.

I once interviewed a wonderful pastry chef for an article I was writing and I asked her if she did a lot of baking at home. She told me, very stoically, she had a small kitchen and she never bakes or cooks when she leaves the confines of her restaurant pastry kitchen. In fact, her and her husband (who is also a chef) eat a lot of take out. So whenever I hear Rachael Ray say something along the lines of “I cook at 10 pm when I get home from filming my shows all day” its like… really? No you don’t.

So as sparing as they may be now, I do have my moments. I was watching this rando show on like the local PBS channel for South Florida (I think its like WXEL or something?) it was New Scandinavian Cooking with Claus Meyer… no clue who that is and I have never heard of this show.. much less know anything about Scandinavia or their cooking. His thick accent that barely croaked out audible English was so charming. I literally couldn’t turn away as he ate little shrimps minutes after being summoned from ice waters off the coast of Greenland. He was whipping up all these fresh seafood, indigenous Greenland recipes right in the midst of his natural surroundings. With some amazing frigid Greenland pasture in his background he made a meal of fresh fish and mashed potatoes. “These are not only the mashed potatoes of my life, but the mashed potatoes of my dreams,” Meyer revealed. Well said. They were, for me, not only the mashed potatoes of my life and dreams, but suffice to say these are the mashed potatoes of the universe. (and I didn’t even use freshly steamed crab meat).

My husband said very as-a-matter-of-factly, “These are like the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had.” Ditto.
Please enjoy them! I used reds, Claus used “Greenland potatoes” (whatever the hell those are) but… whatever you can get your hands on. I feel like the reds hold their own and using the skins gives this a nice dimension.

Mashed Potatoes of the Universe
1.5 lbs. red potatoes, quartered
4 oz. crab meat, shredded (lump or claw will suffice)
2 tablespoons creme fraiche
4 tablespoons irish butter
(I did not season these with any salt or pepper. They were perfection without).

In a medium sauce pan add the quartered potatoes and fill with water just to cover them. Bring to a boil and let cook until fork tender.
Drain water and set back on stove over low heat. Use a hand masher (this will give you better texture! You want smashed not whipped), add butter and creme fraiche and mash until combined.
Add crab meat and using a spoon, combine.
Serve hot!

Buttery, creamy, a hint of sweet. It will send you to a happy place. I promise!

I paired these with steamed asparagus and a simply baked tilapia – some of that irish butter and lemon juice was all it needed.

enjoy your meals…

we’re hungry

So I’ve picked up where I conveniently left off and vanished into real world land and outside of cyber space. And leaving my handful of faithfuls hanging in anticipation…………………………..
Truth is, no food. We are starving! Ok ok, not really.
But! Recently we revisited City Oyster. It is as loud and obnoxious as we all painfully endured during our first visit but the food is still phenom. Uhv course.
Our double dates ordered the mystical pan-seared scallops. And while nothing on the menu screamed to me like the middle-aged drunkards across the dining room did in each other’s faces, we ordered the night’s special – organic salmon with a potato pancake and micro-green salad. Our entrée was okay….how do you overcook salmon?!?  I think Whole Foods is rubbing off me…. “organic salmon”…….

I haven’t made anything at home worth public declaration. I fried us up some chicken fried chicken the other night. Mashed taters. Corn. It’s a Texas thing, calling it “chicken fried chicken.” I don’t really know even how to explain it to people. Why its not “country fried.” Its like why do we say “y’all” and not “you guys.” I don’t know.  Ask ‘them.’

Work is drowning me and more recently… we moved our bed into the living room. Next?
The stove goes into the bathroom.

Until then…

Enjoy your meals!