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Category: Cooking

October 16, 2006

Unti + Zazie = Good

d and I went up to SF last night for two tasty things: an Unti Vineyards dinner at Zazie's. Zazie's is a popular brunch spot, but for whatever reason they cooked up this wonderful pairing:

First Course

Baby arugula salad w/pomegranate seeds, toasted almonds, chevre, and raspberry champagne vinaigrette
Paired w/ Unti Vineyards 2005 Rose
Notes: This grenache rose was smoother than others I've had, less acidic, which I enjoyed. The salad was a bit too dainty to enjoy all the flavors together.

Second Course

Wild mushroom and black truffle fresh raviolis w/aged parmesan
Paired w/ Unti Vineyards 2003 Grenache (Library selection)
Notes: mmmmm, black truffles raviolis in truffle oil...

Third Course

Duck legs braised with red wine and port, dried plums, and black currants
Paired w/ Unti Vineyards 2004 Sangiovese
Notes: Some people were mixed on this tasting -- one couple thought the Sangiovese too alcohol-y -- but I thought that a strong taste was necessary to stand up to gamey duck.

Fourth Course

Slow braised Niman Ranch beef shanks w/soft mascarpone chive polenta
Paired w/ Unti Vineyards 2003 Syrah 'Benchland' Reserve
Notes: the polenta was creamy like mashed potatoes, which makes me actually like polenta. The Benchland reserve was the wine that my dad and I picked up two bottles of on our way back from Garberville.

Dessert

Guittard chocolate torte w/whipped dark chocolate ganache and creme anglaise
Paired w/ Unti Vineyards 2004 Banyuls Grenache (barrel sample)
*Notes: d notes that the torte was the Platonic Form of a Cadbury cream egg. This is in fact high praise. The Banyuls Grenache was a dry grape grenache batch rescued with water, sugar and brandy. *

I missed out on getting Unti's Barbera Port, which sold out far too quickly, so I enjoyed getting the opportunity to sample their unreleased Banyuls Grenache. Why is it that wine gone bad can taste so good? Mick Unti also poured a wine they will be bottling in December -- I had too many glasses at that point to remember they were calling it. It will be Unti's first $45 wine, but they are just that proud of it.

We were in the 'fun' corner on the patio. Mick Unti came over to eat a course with our three tables; he made a graceful exit after several conversation topics may have turned him various shades of scarlet.

October 28, 2005

Curry variations

If you're preparing Japanese curry, my aunts recommend the following variations:

  • grate an entire apple into the mix
  • toss in a bit of coffee grounds
  • mix multiple brands of curry
  • add in worchestire sauce
  • add in soy sauce

I'll have to experiment to figure out which variations I like best.

October 25, 2005

Tea preparation

According to my family, these are the important lessons in green tea preparation:

  • Use about 1 tablespoon of green tea
  • Never use boiling water or even water directly from a hot pot. My family often uses two tea pots: one to let the hot water cool down in and one for the tea.
  • When pouring tea for multiple people, never pour an entire cup at once. Keep pouring a little into each cup until they are full. Everyone will get better tea that way.
  • Good tea should be reusable multiple times. Some of the tea I got in Japan is rated for seven uses.
  • The tea should be a pleasant green color, not yellow. Yellow may mean that the tea has steeped too long or the tea is used up.
  • After the inital batch, you shouldn't have to wait for subsequent batches to steep. Pour a little into a tea cup and see how it looks. If looks too light, let it steep a little longer.
  • Tea has an expiration date but you can get past that by putting your tea in the refrigerator.

October 13, 2005

Final links before I go

August 12, 2005

Weirder links

July 6, 2005

Fun tools and resources

Gmaps Pedometer: a great Google Maps hack that lets figure just how long that bike ride to work is and even send that route as a link to friends.

NumSum: for those simpler spreadsheets that don't need Excel (i.e. all of them).

Five Ingredient Recipes: when cooking for myself I try not to exceed three steps in my cooking process, which includes unwrapping the package to stick it in the microwave. Five ingredients implies at least five steps, but I may be willing to sacrifice.

Rapid Afterimage: this optical illusion still throws me.

April 4, 2004

Dilbert Cafe

A friend organized a trip out to Stacey's Cafe in Pleaston (about a 30 minute drive from Mountain View), which is owned by Scott Adams of Dilbert fame. It's not a Dilbert restaurant -- about the only Dilberty item is a small table near the front that has signed Dilbert dolls. It has more in common with a ritz-y Palo Alto or Los Altos restaurant.

There is a bit of Scott Adams influence, which comes from the menu. Next to each of the menu items there is a joke, sometimes amusing (Baked Brie: We tried to achieve world peace by renaming the French brie to Freedom Brie but nothing happened so we changed it back), sometimes a horrid pun (Chili Glazed Jumbo Prawns: If you have any left over you can sell it to the prawn shop), but generally entertaining. I spent my first ten minutes reading all the quips instead of trying to figure out what I was going to order. You can read the menu online. Be sure to check out the Date food section.

Between the five of us, we ordered two unique dishes. Three of us, including me, ordered the Gorgonzola Filet. It was tender and I liked it a lot. My only complaint was that there was not enough yummy gorgonzola to smear into the sauce. The other dish was the Pancetta Wrapped Chicken Picatta, which got good reviews.

Stacey's Cafe has two interesting policies. The first is that they will allow any customization, now matter how picky it is. The closest I came to testing this was ordering Ice Tea with no ice. This wasn't a strong test of the policy, even if it is a bit oxymoronic. The second policy, which comes from their date-friendly portion of the menu, is

If somehow, despite our precautions, you end up with a piece of pasta stuck to your forehead, our busboys will start a fist fight as a diversion while a server swoops in and knocks the offending pasta off your face.

We were so full after the main course that we didn't even have room for the tasty looking desserts.

August 14, 2003

Utterly Outrageous Recipes

After reading this post, I decided to that I had to add Making Light to my blogroll.

BTW - More at Utterly Outrageous Recipes.

(via Neil Gaiman's Journal, in a roundabout way)

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