Friday, January 14, 2011

This girl's figs

I spend my time waxing poetic about lots of things, which I’m sure comes as zero surprise to any of you.  I’m the kind of person who holds on to memories with both hands, and will rehash, debrief and narrate them to you ad finitum or until you beg me for mercy.  Sorry, Charlies…I’m a keeper of memories* and I hope that never, ever changes**. 
Anyway, there’s a little place I love in Sonoma…the kind of place that you just know you’re going to always think of wistfully right after you first step foot in it.  I’d read about it a few years ago and when one of my BFFs and I planned a girls weekend wine drinking adventure a couple of months later, I made sure to put it on our to-do list.  We were lucky enough that it was a short block away from our hotel because we had dinner there the first night, and then went back the next two.  (Culinary stalkers!)  The weekend we were there it was cold and rainy, and Lew and I spent hours and hours at the bar eating delicious food we both still fantasize about (beet lasagna!  We had it twice! And the pork chop!  And their burger!), availing their poor bartender into food-pairing and plying us with the pretty, pretty wine, while having long, important discussions about life, love and purpose.   We added lots of good memories to our 20+ year friendship trove that trip (I’ll save the “memory” about how I was almost MURDERED on the streets of beautiful Sonoma because someone [Cathy.  It was Cathy, you guys.] had some sort of Carneros-induced road rage episode causing my life to flash before me against the glorious vines of the California wine country, for another time.  It’s a sweet story.  Of sheer terror.)  But honestly, I can't think of this place without automatically thinking about Lew.  (Well, and the martinis at the El Dorado Hotel, to be fair.)  I’ve since been back several times with different groups of pals and have never, ever been disappointed.  This place and a gorgeous spring night’s dinner with my adorable wine angels Chris and Vicki Lynn is the reason I think all beef tartar should be accompanied by caper berries, rosé and a perfect Sonoma sunset.  I LOVE CAPER BERRIES! AND YIPPITY YAPPITY DINNERS WITH TWO OF MY FAVORITE GALS!

Pucker up, Buttercup!

So I feel nostalgic and excited (exstalgic!) to be involved in recipe testing for their newest cookbook.  Fun, right?!  They send me recipes that are pending inclusion (I think?) in to their newest tome--which is sure to be fancy to look at--and I have to prepare them, review them and make a bunch of suckers  eat them.  It’s like my dream come true!   The one thing I’ve learned so far is that I?  Am a horrifying food photographer.  I think food looks its best in natural light, but that’s hard to come by at 8pm in my kitchen, so the majority of the snaps look like I’m serving it all up in some penitentiary.  Bon appetit, Cell Block C!  I need to figure something out.
The recipe I did this week (I’m not sure how much I can divulge…so top secret, you guys!) involved red snapper, fennel, butter, butter, butter, butter, shallots and Meyer lemons.  I chopped! I julienned! I crushed!  I blanched, seared, whisked, marinated and festooned.  Ta da! 
Flashlight dance off with ya pants off!
And, really…it was delicious.  Well—honestly--for the people over 5 years old, it was delicious…two of my miniature guinea pigs opted for quesadillas, cookies and a flashlight dance party.  In their underwear.  I like it.  
Here’s hoping I get to test that dang beet lasagna, you guys.  For real!

*Mine and other people’s…possibly yours.  It’s kind of creepy the things I remember.
**That’s why I play Scrabble and do word puzzles…to keep my brain sharp, internet!  Or at least only slightly dulled.  But don’t try to get me to do that damn Sudoku nonsense again.   Blech!


  1. You crack me up Sue! Will you come to my house and cook for me?

  2. I feel it's important that you know that I, too, love caper berries. Woebetide us if we are ever in the position of dining together with caper berries on either of our plates. *Housewives reenactment*

    Book! Book! Book!

  3. I would hope that ordering extra caper berries would curtail any potential woebetiding. Maybe?!