Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Wednesday in Tuscany

There's just something about "hump" day...I mean what is it with Wednesday?  I always seem to feel tired, and kind of unmotivated, yesterday was no exception.  So I decided we needed a night out...that's right, a midweek night out.  There's no hard and fast rule against it...and if there is, 
well too late, because I already broke it.  

We have a great wine store in our valley, called Vino 100 there's a number of them across the country, check here
to see if you have one in your local area.  
Ours is phenomenally run and super friendly.
No wine snobs here!

Beyond having a great selection of wines, you can sit and have a glass or a flight and a light appetizer.  
So that's exactly what we did.  We choose a flight and the Mangiare Tutto appetizer, which translated, means to eat it all, and we did that...that's why there's no picture of our food, because by the time I remembered to take one, our plate was empty.  
Bad blogger...take picture first, eat second.  Lesson learned.

It was modest fare; crackers, olives, bruschetta, cheese, salami...a drizzle of good olive oil.  It's funny how something so simple can be so good.  Then the wines came, the first and second were pleasing choices.  One from Italy and one from California, but it was the third one, that got me. 
One sniff, a swirl of my glass, a little sip and suddenly....I was back in Tuscany...
It wasn't Wednesday anymore!  Funny how that happens, a smell, a taste
 and you get instantly transported.  It was very relaxing, we just sat and talked and enjoyed the food, 
wine and calm ambience.

There was live music, which added wonderfully to the atmosphere.  We really enjoyed his music, so here's a little shout out Mr. Johnson...nice meeting you.  You can find him online at

We walked away feeling refreshed and revived...and considering we bought a bottle of Tuscany to take home with us...all I've got to say is...
Wednesday...bring it on!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunset Wine Club Dinner

We were fortunate to receive the Sunset Wine Club as a gift.  Thank you, thank you!!  You know who you are.  Wink, wink!  We've been getting it for a couple months already and are really enjoying the wines.  One of the things that I like most about each shipment is that it comes with 
recipes that are "pre-paired" to match the wines.  
I'm not a sommelier or even very good at describing wine, drinking it is the part that I'm best at!
So far the matches have been good, and the recipes quite enjoyable.

Here is one of the September wines that came in our shipment...

2007 C. G. Di Arie Primitivo, Block #4 Shenandoah Valley

We collect antique corkscrews and I jumped at the chance to open a nice bottle with one of our favorites.  It looks all lovely and fine in the photo, that is until I actually went to open the bottle and noticed it was a screw top!  Oh well, it looks good in the photo, but only because I cropped off the top of the neck!

Beautiful ruby color in a VERY spotty glass!

So I was trying to capture a photo of the beautiful ruby color that the wine had in the glass, only to discover that someone hasn't refilled the Jet Dry in the dishwasher in a long time! Oooops!

This is not your everyday 2 buck chuck, it retails for $25, which is not an amount we spend on a bottle very often.  So when the accompanying recipe was for Sweet-Hot Grilled Tenderloin we figured we'd go to Whole Foods and get a really good steak.  No sense drinking an expensive bottle of wine with a cheap cut of meat.  So steak in hand we also decided to go for the recommended side dishes. 
The Potato and Leek side dish is so worth the effort, it was delicious and we had leftovers for the next day...yummo!  I think it's also the first time I've used my mandoline and boy was I glad I had one.  (It's a cheapo under $10 one from Walmart) but it made short work of slicing up the potatoes.  
This is a make again side dish for sure!  

Now for Pea Trio recipe...I have to say, I had really good intentions here, I wasn't planning on cutting corners, that was until I got to the market and they didn't have pearl onions or peas in the produce department.  Hmmmm....what to do?  Well a quick wander through the store turned up these...

Looks good, right?  Hey, all I needed to do was toss them with a little butter and some fresh that's what I did.  Well, to be honest they weren't horrible, but there's just something about frozen veggies that aren't great.  
Let's just say next time, I'm not going frozen.

There was a luscious sounding dessert Peach Caramel Tart that we never got around to making but check out the sounds divine!

Here's the sauce that accompanied the steak...

So how was the finished meal?

Hot Sweet Grilled Tenderloin with Potato Leek Gratin, Peas & Pearl Onions

It was very good!  The steaks turned out fabulous and the sauce, though a little on the thick side, had wonderful flavors with a zesty kick.  The gratin was superb and the peas...well nevermind those.

So how about the wine?  Here's what the wine club says about it... 
"An upfront rush of sweet fruit delivers boysenberry and raspberry in an aromatic tsunami. Rustic elements of spicy pepper and subtle mocha follow, then a bright, tart finish. While this wine is bold, its alcohol level is in check, keeping it in better balance than many other Zins and Primitivos. Drink now through 2012."
I'm not always good at following directions so we didn't wait till 2012, we drank it Saturday night.  I'm not sure about the tsunami part...and frankly if my wine comes rushing at me out of the glass with that much intensity, I think I'd better step out of the way.  I thought it smelled like smoky grilled meat, or actually maybe the back door was open and I just smelled the steak on the grill...just was full of raspberry and smoke on the nose, and the spicy pepper on the tongue mellowed out quickly to a subtle finish with mocha and cherry.  It has good bones and it paired well with the spicy steak sauce.  

The wine club is a lot of fun and it's a great gift, both to give and receive.  You can check them out here:

Look for more wine club recipes to come!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Burgers For Dessert

I have been a bad parent today...I let my son skip class under the pretense of going to the dentist and then I let him eat dessert before lunch...what kind of mother am I?  Let me take you back a couple months ago to the start of The Great Food Truck Race on Food Network.  This was like morning coffee or church on Sunday at our house.  We watched and we willed and we won!  
Well, actually the Grill em All guys won, but you get the idea.  

When we found out that they were going to be within reasonable driving distance from where we live, we had to go, this was not an option.  The covert operation began when we picked our son up early from class.  He was bewildered walking into the office, as he couldn't remember having a dental appointment.  The look of joy on a 14 year olds face when he realizes he's about to miss math class and gets to eat burgers in it's place.  Priceless.

So we headed to the lunch spot only to find that the Grill em All truck had some mechanical issues and was running late.  So of course since the ice cream truck was already there we had to have dessert first. 

I saw donut flavored ice cream on the menu and that was the end of looking at the other sounded delicious.  And it was!  It has beautiful texture, little cake donut pieces fill your mouth with flavor, surrounded by the creamiest of ice cream that coated your mouth.  Not too sweet, just right. Yum!  They have an eco-edge which I like.  They serve all scoops in a waffle bowl and use bamboo spoons.  
You get to eat your bowl, I mean who can say no to that?

Donut Flavored Ice Cream
Thank you, thank you, thank you for the offer to try more of your flavors...I would have loved to sample if I wasn't so full.  But don't worry I'll be back!

So go find their super friendly staffed truck and get yourself a scoop or two!

Now that we ate lunch it was time for dessert.  Burgers of course!  

Grill 'em All had arrived with cheers from the crowd.  The smell wafting from the truck made you go weak in the knees.  We couldn't wait to eat!  It's very hot in Los Angeles today, near 100 degrees but a ton of people braved the line to wait for burgers. 
And of course as the hungry mob grew restless, people had to be reminded of their manners!

There were 3 of us and we all ordered something different to get a good sampling of their menu.  First was the Witt-E-patty, sriracha, beer onions, cream cheese and bacon. Delicious and spicy!  
A wonderful blend of flavors.
We may have to try and mimic this one at our next BBQ.

WittE Burger with fries and chipotle ketchup

Now meet Molly Hatchet-patty, sausage fennel gravy, bacon and a drizzle of maple syrup.  Also a winner in my books.  Subtle fennel taste in the sausage gravy, and I loved the sweet hint you got from the maple syrup.  It's kind of like a burger with a hint of breakfast.  Savory & sweet!
Molly Hatchet Burger with fries and chipotle ketchup
Now for the monster of a burger that they said he couldn't eat...they were wrong!  Don't ever tell a 14 year old he can't finish something...he'll prove you wrong.  A Double Waste Em All-2 patties, marinated green chiles, pepper jack cheese and beer soaked onions.  
This burger was HUGE!
Double Waste em All burger with fries and malt vinegar aioli
In his words: delicious, awesome, messy...the best burger I've ever eaten and well worth the wait!
I couldn't have said it better myself.

So spatulas up to you Grill 'em guys cook a mean burger and serve 'em up with style!

So back to the bad parent thing, yes, he did miss math class today but come on...
1 Double Waste em All + donut ice cream + a new t-shirt = 
One very happy teenager and a memory he won't soon forget.

In my books that's way more useful than x + y = z or something like that.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Hairy Peach

Picture this...a cozy restaurant with brick walls, soft lighting, comfy chairs, friendly staff, maybe a fireplace, a considerable selection of beers on tap, a wonderful wine list, music that makes you feel right at home, and above all great food. The kind of place you plan your Friday nights around.  It's called The Hairy Peach. Well for the moment it's existence is entirely in my imagination, but maybe one day that will change.  I know you're asking what kind of name is The Hairy Peach for a restaurant, but it got your attention right?  One night over a glass of wine or two...or maybe it was three and our frequent discussions of opening a restaurant and planning the menu, the name just kind of arrived and it stuck.  It's been a running joke for a long while and it only seemed appropriate that the blog carry the name in it's place, till opening night of course.

My name is Meeling and I'm a foodie.  Not officially I guess, but self appointed.  I have no food credentials behind my name, and the only person that's ever called me Chef was my kids, but thats gotta count for something.

I enjoy food.  I love to cook.  I love to eat.  I'm pretty good at both.

I'm no Anthony Bourdain for sure, though I'd like to think I'm slightly better looking than he is.  I have pretty much every spice known to man and have actually used most of them.  I count kochujang and harissa as pantry staples and cumin in our house comes in an industrial sized vat.  Of course there's probably also some Mrs. Dash and Frito's Bean Dip in there, so I'm not really sure what that says about me.

We host our own Chopped food competitions in our kitchen at fairly regular intervals.  Our boys think these are normal family evenings and are getting pretty good at stumping us with the ingredients.  The last four they picked out: lamb chops, chocolate, bacon bits and Rice Krispies.  I love that they are involved in the process and hopefully they'll grow up and have a love of cooking and no fear of putting on an apron.  That's my man in the apron below, and he can kick my butt in the kitchen...well sometimes he can...when I let him win. Wink, wink! (I'll make sure he doesn't read this post)

And so here is my blog.  I like to write and I like to eat and somehow there's a little life that's bound to make it onto the page as well.  I hope you'll follow along with me and see where we can go and what we can eat.


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