Showing posts with label Coronado. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Coronado. Show all posts

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Day of Blogging Rest



Enjoy your Sunday,

Denise & Trapper

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Saturday Ramblings about Friday: Trapper, Beer, Local Celebrities, Wood-Fired Pizzas and S'mores Cheesecake

It's only Day 2 of NaBloPoMo and I woke up in a slight panic. What am I going to post today? I didn't cook yesterday. I had leftover Caramel Apple Custard Tart with my coffee for breakfast, some yogurt and fruit around lunchtime, and a media dinner at ENO Artisan Pizza & Wine Bar. I will be cooking something today - not sure what yet, but we're having a girls' night and I need to figure out what to bring. Hopefully, whatever I make today will be blog-worthy tomorrow ;-)

Yesterday was an enjoyable day. I took my handsome but dirty boy to coffee, home for his breakfast, and then back to the village for a bath at Wags'N Tails. They have two tubs, an assortment of shampoos, brushes and combs, big fluffy towels, a powerful blow dryer, and treats, all for $12. I always feel a tinge of guilt leaving the walls sprayed in water and the tub lined with black fur, but it's so much easier than pulling out all the bath paraphernalia at home. Trapper doesn't love baths, but he tolerates them and is so full of himself afterward. Even though I haven't decided whether to show him, I would still like to take him to one of the Newfoundland handlers who also specializes in show grooming/trimming to see how he looks all decked out. One of these days...

A clean and cuddly Trapper

Later in the day, I learned the November/December issue of Coronado Lifestyle magazine was hot off the press. My first article for the magazine is about Coronado Brewing Company, our local brewpub, and how it has gone from local to global in the exploding craft beer industry. The article includes several photos taking during my visit to the new off-island brewhouse and tasting room, and a few food photos from a past photo shoot I did for the web site. If you're interested in reading Coronado Lifestyle magazine online, you can do so here.

Brewer Pete checking the mash

Food Network Star, cookbook author, and Coronado mom, Melissa D'Arabian, is featured on the magazine cover and I was privileged to visit Melissa at her home during Samantha's interview and take some photos for Sam's article.

Melissa D'Arabian, at home in Coronado

Last evening's media dinner at ENO was for another article I'll be writing, scheduled to be published in the next issue, about ENO'S new wood fired pizza oven and expanded menu.

As a side note, I participated in the Coronado Walk for Scott Kelby's Annual Worldwide Photo Walk last month and just so happened to walk by ENO on my way to the beach for the end of walk sunset photos. The sunset wasn't looking too dramatic, so we lingered at The Del to take photos of the pizza oven and pizzas instead. I ended up submitting this photo and it was surprisingly chosen as the winner for Coronado! I just thought the winning photo would be something more representative of Coronado (I guess it is in a way, since it's the pizza oven at the historic Hotel Del). I'm not holding my breath to be chosen as one of the finalists, but the annual walk is something I will look forward to joining again, maybe even in a different city next year.

ENO's custom wood-fired pizza oven

Getting back to last night's dinner at ENO...

I won't elaborate too much, because I still need to sit down and write the article, but our evening was extraordinary. I started off with the Pizza Partners wine flight featuring an Italian red varietal from Santa Barbara and two reds from Tuscany. Ashley Luna, 1500 Ocean and ENO Sommelier, sent out marinated olives, toasted almonds and seasonal pickled vegetables to nibble on with our wine. He chatted about the artisan Neapolitan-style pizzas on the menu and the custom pizza oven built by Wood Stone. Ashley said ENO's oven is the only outdoor pizza oven in Southern California. Obtaining the permit was no easy feat, especially since it sits in such close proximity to the 125-year-old hotel.

We met Max, the 19-year-old pizza chef, who recently graduated from culinary school. He is passionate about his job and his face lit up when he talked about being able to rotate through and gain experience with the various kitchens at The Del. As each pizza came out of the blazing 600 degree oven, Max meticulously brushed the rim of the crust with olive oil and sprinkled it with salt.

Max preparing our pizzas of the evening

Max prepared two pizzas for our dining pleasure - the Margherita and Funghi. Both are fabulous, but I think I'm partial to the Salsiccia, with fennel sausage, charred broccolini and garlic oil, and the Housemade Veal, with San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella. Yes, I've been to ENO a few times!

Pizza Margherita with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella and basil

We were completely satisfied after wine, nibbles and pizza, but Ashley insisted we sample the desserts. In addition to a chocolate "flight", ENO now offers Butterscotch Pudding, with caramel, sea salt and a shortbread cookie, and Cheesecake S'more. The Cheesecake S'more, inspired by one of the hotel's summertime activities, Family S'mores Night, has quickly become ENO'S signature dessert. Picture a generous hunk of New York-style cheesecake, topped with a thick layer of Hershey's chocolate ganache and even thicker layer of house made marshmallow, slipped into the pizza oven just long enough to melt and toast the marshmallow layer so it drapes over the sides of the cheesecake. Something like this...

Cheesecake S'more

We couldn't stop going back and forth between bites of cheesecake and butterscotch pudding. Yes, please, I'll have s'more.

Okey dokey, that's what I'll leave you with for Day #2 of NaBloPoMo. I need to figure out a dish for tonight and get my butt to the store so I have something to share tomorrow.

Enjoy your day!

Denise & Trapper

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Around Town: Il Fornaio Festa Regionale Menu - Toscana

Now through October 14, Il Fornaio explores the Tuscan region of Italy with a flavorful Festa Regionale menu featuring the dishes of this most famous region recognized for its wine as well as its cuisine. Chef-Partner Vicente Mendoza, who pursues his passion for authentic Italian cooking at Il Forniao's Manhattan Beach restaurant, created this special menu based on his tour of Toscana with Executive Chef Maurizio Mazzon.

“I truly enjoyed working closely with Maurizio on this menu – particularly the seafood and pasta dishes which were inspired by meals we enjoyed while traveling together across Toscana. The Insalata di Farro e Fave is a tribute to his favorite place in Toscana, the city of Florence...the salad has a little of everything in it and represents what cuisine in Firenze is all about.”

I always look forward to the beginning of each month, when the new Festa Regionale menu is unveiled. This week, we dined on the patio during sunset and enjoyed a leisurely wine pairing dinner prepared by Chef Giorgio and his culinary team.

Our first course, a rustic Italian bread and tomato salad called Panzanella, showcases the last hurrah of the season's heirloom tomatoes, with cubes of bread, cucumber, red onion, celery and fresh basil, tossed with red wine vinegar and Tuscan extra-virgin olive oil. The Panzanella was paired with Vermentino, Poggio al Tesoro Solosole 2011a vibrant, medium-bodied dry white with zesty acidity and enticing aromas and flavors of peach, apricot and ripe melon.

Two additional first course options are Pancotto alla Contadina, Tuscan kale soup with cannellini beans and toasted ciabatta bread, or Insalata di Farro e Fave, a fava bean and farro salad with asparagus, baby arugula, Belgian endive, yellow pear tomatoes and lemon-olive oil vinaigrette, topped with boschetto tartufato cheese.


It is most definitely worth straying from your diet to try the Mezzelune Cacio e Pere, half-moon ravioli filled with grilled pears, mozzarella and Parmigiano, topped with asparagus-crescenza cream sauce and sprinkled with toasted walnuts. We loved this dish with the Vernaccia di San Gimignano, La Lastra, 2011 - Among the first DOCG white wines, this benchmark Vernaccia from the hillside town of San Gimignano is crisp and delicate with a floral fragrance and flavor of almonds. 

Also tempting is the Pappardelle di Castagne, fresh chestnut pasta with Italian sausage, porcini mushrooms, tomatoes, crushed red pepper and Trebbiano wine, or the Crespelle alla Fiorentina, homemade crepes filled with organic spinach and ricotta cheese, and baked in the oven with bechamel sauce, porcini mushrooms and pecorino cheese.

Mezzelune Cacio e Pere

We surely could have stopped after salad and pasta, but the night was young and the wine was flowing. The Pollo al Mattone alla Diavola is a partially deboned half chicken marinated with herbs and peperoncino, grilled under a brick, and served with Tuscan salad and roasted Yukon Gold potatoes. Also appealing is Cacciucco Seafood Soup with clams, mussels, whitefish, cod, wild shrimp and calamari, served with Tuscan fettunta bread. The chicken pairs well with Rosso di Montalcino, Col d’Orcia, 2010. This full-bodied, supple and rich red is another great example of the versatility of Sangiovese. It is brimming with earthy aromas and cherry, violet and vanilla flavors. It is complex and harmonious with smooth supple tannins and a soft, velvety finish. 

Pollo al Mattone alla Diavola

Always save room for sweets! The Meringata alla Fiorentina is a traditional Florentine-style meringue cake with whipped cream, amaretto and chocolate.

Meringata alla Fiorentina

A three-course Taste of Toscana tasting menu is offered for $29.99. Toscana and Sangiovese Wine Flights are also available. You can see the full Toscana menu here.

The view from Il Fornaio, Coronado

Related Links:

Barefoot Contessa's recipe and video for Panzanella
William Sonoma's recipe for Pear and Pecorino Ravioli with Walnuts
Fine Cooking's recipe for Tuscan Grilled Chicken under a Brick
Los Angeles Times recipe for Meringata alla Fiorentina

Friday, September 14, 2012

French Fridays with Dorie and Walking Away: Wine-Poached Peach, Burrata and Prosciutto Salad

This week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe is actually Spice-Poached Apples or Pears, described by Dorie as one of the "most comforting and simplest French family sweets." Dorie likes to serve the fruit and its syrup with rice pudding or French toast, but it is usually served with nothing more than crème fraîche, heavy cream or plain yogurt.

Although I would have welcomed a little sweetness and comfort in my life with open arms, someone's stubborness, pride, ego and/or fears continue to stand in the way of great make-up sex working through this together.  So, my life has been turned upside down, like a bucket of ice water dumped over my head. It's been hard to work, sleep, eat (great diet), and listen to country music.  Geez, those country music lyrics really pierce the heart and open the floodgates...

Since cooking dinner for myself hasn't been too appealing, I've been drowning my sorrows at the local bars making the rounds to a few local spots for light dinners. I do like dining at the bar rather than sitting at a table by myself, especially at the local restaurants where I know many of the chefs and people who work there. The tourists are gone, we have our island back, and the restaurants are quiet and relaxing. Last Friday I met Alex, Chez Loma's new chef, and enjoyed his Steak Frites. On Tuesday, I stopped in at Leroy's Kitchen, stuck my head in the kitchen window to say hello to Chef Gregory, and sat at the bar with a glass of wine and his poached peach, burrata and prosciutto salad. I probably wouldn't have participated in this week's FFwD recipe, but for Greg's inspiration to adapt Dorie's recipe into his wonderful salad.

Rather than poaching apples or pears in water, honey, sugar, orange and lemon juice and zest, star anise, cinnamon and vanilla, and making a dessert out of them, I poached peach halves in chardonnay, star anise, cinnamon and vanilla. Once the peaches cooled, I nestled slices of fresh mozzarella (use burrata if you can find it) up against the wine and spice poached peach slices, wrapped them in prosciutto, and placed two or three of those tasty bundles on a bed of baby arugula lightly tossed in balsamic vinaigrette. I also crisped up a little chopped prosciutto and scattered it about. 

Chez Loma Steak Frites

Take it away, Keith


French Fridays with Dorie is an online cooking group, dedicated to Dorie Greenspan‘s book Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As members of the group, we have purchased the cookbook and cook along as much as we can. There is a new recipe each week, and we post about that recipe on Friday. We are asked to refrain from posting the actual recipes on our blog. The book is filled with stunning photography, and personal stories about each recipe, which makes it that much more intriguing. I highly recommend adding it to your cookbook collection if you haven't already!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Il Fornaio's Festa Regionale: La Cucina Del Lazio

I'm continually singing praises of Il Fornaio, and here I go again.  This month's Festa Regionale Menu featuring the food and wine of Lazio, was created by Giuseppe Naccarelli, Vice President of Kitchen Operations.

We missed the Tuesday Night Tasting last month (Lombardia) due to travel, so I was delighted when our monthly invitation arrived for this tasting. Mom filled in as my date this week while John attends an annual convention in Florida.

We were seated in the private dining room at the east end of the restaurant, with gorgeous nighttime views of the city and bridge. Jennifer joined us at the family table, while Lyrra skillfully and beautifully narrated our journey through some of Lazio's most famous dishes.

The wine pairing featured a white wine from the Pietra Porzia estate, located just outside of Rome (Frascati, Pietra Porzia "Regillo" 2010) - medium-bodied with intense aromas of citrus and pear; fresh and lively on the palate with a dry nutty finish, and a red blend from two varieties native to the region (Cesanese del Piglio, Colle Ticchio, Corte dei Papi, 2010) - medium-bodied, full-flavored, brimming with intense aromas and flavors of ripe strawberry, raspberry and cherry fruit, black pepper and nutmeg spiciness.

For our Zuppe e Antipasti, we sampled lightly grilled hearts of romaine topped with shaved pecorino pepato and Il Fornaio house dressing. Lightly grilling the lettuce lends a subtle smokiness.  Two soups, and a Roman-style gnocchi are also offered.


For the pasta course, we enjoyed a whole wheat ravioli filled with Swiss chard, spinach, ricotta and pecorino cheese, topped with field mushrooms and organic cherry tomatoes.


Bucatini all' Amatriciana, probably the most well known dish from this region, is one of the four pasta courses on the menu.  I just featured this pasta in a recent blog post, here, and plan on making a double or triple batch of the all' Amatriciana sauce this weekend for our That's Amore dinner party, so I have plenty to freeze for leftovers.

Il Fornaio's sauce is prepared with the traditional pork guanciale (unsmoked Italian bacon prepared with pig's jowl or cheeks), in a lightly spiced tomato sauce with basil, onion and Calabrian peperoncino, tossed with percorino cheese, and served over bucatini.

In addition to narrating, serving, and keeping our wine glasses filled, Lyrra subbed in as my photography and styling assistant, offering to grate some Parmigiano over the top as I photographed this amazing pasta.


While John and I normally gravitate toward the pasta dishes when we frequent the bar at the Il, this slow-braised oxtail, simmered in a savory broth with root vegetables, was melt-in-my mouth amazing.  We also had a tasting of the Salmone Ostia Antica - roasted salmon with fresh asparagus, artichokes, capers and lemon, served with sauteed spinach and mashed potatoes.

Two additional Secondi courses are featured - Veal Saltimbocca and Mixed Grill (game hen, rack of lamb, beef tenderloin, and Calabrian sausage).


Definitely save room for the dolci of the evening - Kahlua and coffee mousse with pieces of sambuca-soaked sponge cake, chocolate coffee beans, and lingue di gatto ("cat's tongue") cookies. Lyrra magically appeared again, with a snifter of white sambuca to complement the styling. Of course, I couldn't let it go to waste after packing up the camera.

Giuseppe truly created an incredible menu this month, and we are fortunate to be guests of the Il Fornaio family for these Tuesday Night Tastings.  The Lazio menu is offered through February 19.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Navy Culinary Specialists Compete in Annual Iron Chef-Style Culinary Competition

Earlier this week, Navy culinary specialists competed in the Fifth Annual Navy Region Southwest Culinary Competition, in the impressive, state of the art galley at Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado. The galley reopened in December 2010, after nearly $9 million in renovations, and is one of the largest the Navy has to offer. It supports a staff of 30 Navy culinary specialists, and close to 30 civilian contractors, who prepare 2,400 to 3,000 meals a day for naval special warfare, basic underwater deterrence and special warfare combatant craft students.

The competition featured six, two-chef teams representing Naval Base Coronado, Naval Base San Diego, Naval Air Station Lemoore, Naval Base Point Loma, Naval Base Ventura County, and Naval Air Station Fallon.

The chefs were allowed two hours to prepare and present entrées using beef tenderloin, chicken, and coconut milk, the secret ingredient announced just before the competition. They were free to incorporate additional fresh produce and pantry ingredients provided.

As the clock ticked down to the final minutes, the chefs remained calm and efficient during plating and final garnishing.

Judges evaluated and graded the teams’ entrées on presentation, originality, and taste. During the preparation, judges also observed the chefs in the kitchen, in order to evaluate knife work, cooking methods, and proper safety and sanitation.

This year’s judges were Captain Yancy Lindsey, Commanding Officer of Naval Base Coronado, Executive Chef Dorance Aldridge, Executive Chef Joaquin Cueva, Chef Nydia Ekstrom, and Celebrity Guest Chef, “Sam the Cooking Guy.”

First place was awarded to Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Sophia Palafox and Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Ruel Sulandgi, from Naval Base San Diego, for their Beef Poke with Coconut Aioli, Poached Chicken Meatloaf, and Pineapple Coconut Rice. They move on to compete in the annual Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) Culinary Competition later this year, in San Diego.

Second place was awarded to Naval Air Station Lemoore (CS2 (SW) McGee and CS2 Jackson), and third place to Naval Air Station Fallon (CS1 Stinchcomb and CS2 Theodoru). The first three winning teams were presented with engraved plaques.  Additional prizes included bicycles, gift cards, knife sets, and garnishing kits.

Special thanks to Steve at eCoronado, Chief Culinary Specialist (SW/AW) Jason Simmons, and Angelic Dolan, Naval Base Public Affairs, for the opportunity to attend and photograph this exciting competition. We tip our honorary chef hats to all Navy culinary specialists in recognition of their culinary talent and service.

As reported by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Feddersen, Navy Region Southwest Public Affairs, the Navy's more than 7,000 culinary specialists (CS), deployed around the globe, feed on average more than 92 million wholesome and nutritious meals per year, ensuring the Navy's fighting forces operate at peak performance and are ready to respond to threats worldwide. Navy commanding officers agree that nothing impacts Sailors on a day-to-day basis more than the food CSs prepare for them; they believe these top quality meals contribute directly to Sailor quality of life and morale. Today's CSs have greater culinary instruction than ever before. With even more advanced training on the way, Sailors, both afloat and ashore, can look forward to even healthier and better-tasting meals in the near future.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sunsets, Shrimp, and Slow-Cooker Grits

When I look back over my blog posts for 2010, I am reminded that many of our favorite dishes have been Southern - inspired by our trip to New Orleans, cookbooks by John Besh and Donald Link, and the abundance of fresh seafood available in San Diego. In fact, the Blogher Publishing Network just featured my Gumbo post, along with Besh's My New Orleans cookbook, in its Holiday Food Guide!

In addition to making gumbo several times this past year, Shrimp and Grits has made a few appearances on our table. And please don't get me drooling over Fried Oyster and Bacon Sandwiches or Beignets, a few more southern favorites we've ordered in restaurants and then recreated at home.

On a recent stormy evening, we tried yet another version of Shrimp and Grits, this time from Michael Ruhlman.  Although I didn't butter poach the shrimp, I followed the method of cooking the grits in a crock pot for about eight hours.  Eve Felder, a chef instructor at the Culinary Institute of America, and native of Charleston, South Carolina, recommends slow cooking the grits for hours to achieve the perfect consistency.

If I was out clamming in the cold surf like these two guys in the photos below, a bowl of hot, creamy grits and butter-poached or sauteed shrimp would be most appreciated when I came home.  John was out photographing at the beach last week, while I was still stuck behind my desk at work, and came home with these beautiful shots.

Sauteed Shrimp and Slow-Cooker Grits
Adapted from Michael Ruhlman
Serves 4

4 ounces chorizo, cut into small dice
1 medium onion, cut into small dice
1 1/4 cups high-quality stoneground grits
2 cups milk
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound large, uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
4 lemon wedges

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, saute the chorizo for about 5 minutes.  Add the onion, season with a pinch of salt, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the grits and stir. Add the milk, and 2 cups of water. Raise the heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook the grits, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. Add several grinds of black pepper to the grits. Add more milk or water as needed (about 2 cups more) to keep the mixture fluid. Transfer the grits to a slow-cooker set to low, and cover.  Monitor the moisture level, adding milk or water as needed, and stir occasionally.  Cook for about 8 hours.  Taste and add a touch more salt to taste.

Again, I didn't butter poach the shrimp this time, but you can follow Michael Ruhlman's step by step instructions and recipe here (I simply sauteed the shrimp in about 4 tablespoon of butter, just until pink and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes).

Spoon the grits into bowls, and arrange the sauteed shrimp over the top.  Garnish with parsley, freshly ground pepper, and a squeeze of lemon.

I initially plated our shrimp and grits in these little cast iron pans, but we both wanted a much larger serving!