Thursday, May 29, 2008

Did you know there is bacon chocolate? Yes! Bacon chocolate! My friend got me a bar recently. Talk about perfect PMS food -- chocolatey, salty and fatty all rolled into one package.

And did you know there are bacon cupcakes? This may be my next baking adventure.

But even more obsessive: Bacon tattoos. Yes, that's right. I can't believe how many people get bacon tattoos! Seriously! There's this one and this one. And my all-time favorite bacon love tattoo (we had a copy of this on our refrigerator for awhile). And then there's the cuts of pork. And let's not forget the guy who tattooed an entire breakfast on his head. Nuts! But I love it -- so cool that bacon is this iconic thing that deserves to be permanently inked on your body.

As for me, if I were to get a food item tattooed on myself, I think I'd have to go with the French fry. Good old pommes frites.

say it ain't so

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My favorite cupcake blogger has ended her blog! I am trying not to panic. This woman was the source of so many fabulous recipes, such as these cashew-carrot-cardamom cupcakes, which I made as a birthday treat to myself not too long ago. (Remember the excessive carrot grating?)

Her cupcakes were truly unique; they were pretty much what inspired me to try baking. I loved how she used a lot of ethnic ingredients, made absolutely everything from scratch (even the little decorative toppers) and took pictures of every step of the process. And her cupcakes always turned out so much better than a lot of the stuff I've tried from the fancy-pants cupcake bakeries that are the trend nowadays. Anyway, I am very sorry to see that she has stopped writing.

haute dog

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Short post tonight, just to catch up. Here's a photo from last Thursday's tasting in L.A. (Culver City, to be exact). They had awesome, awesome food -- chicken liver pâté from Osteria Mozza, polenta and braised short ribs from Grace Restaurant, sushi from Katana, mini red velvet cupcakes from Hotcakes, etc. Someone was also serving frites and grilled-cheese-and-black-truffle sandwiches. Amazing!

But my favorite dish of the evening was the fabulous grass-fed beef hot dog from the oh-so-cheery Let's Be Frank cart. This was a damn good dog -- juicy, flavorful and somewhat guilt-free (grass-fed beef is way better than mystery meat from who knows what part of the animal).



Friday, May 23, 2008

So remember how my last work trip was supposed to be in March? Turns out I'm not done yet. I flew down to L.A. yesterday for Wine & Spirits magazine's Hot Picks tasting. (More on that later -- I have some funny photos -- who convinced me that a beret is cool?) And I'm supposed to fly to Aspen next month for the music festival, which we sponsor every year.

But I'm back home now. And it feels good. Especially since we just had a nice dinner. I made fish cakes with a mango and pasilla pepper sauce, Israeli couscous and butter lettuce salad. And paired it with the Forman Vineyard 2003 Napa Valley Chardonnay (a no malolactic Chard made with Chablis in mind).

Um, yum.

But even more fun: The history behind the bottle. Todd gave me this Chardonnay for our first Christmas together -- way back in 2004. He bought me this Chard (along with a Cab) because it was a white wine that would age well -- and he figured we'd be together long enough for us to drink it in the future.

And that's exactly what happened. Four years later, here we are: Dinner in our house with our cats. Extra servings of fish cakes. A really dorky discussion about the parallels between the UC Davis enology program and getting your M.F.A. in fiction (did I mention really dorky?).

And a gorgeous, gorgeous wine that couldn't be more perfect for the evening. Nose still full of crisp, crunchy apples with a touch of sweet toast. Flavors of tropical fruit and pineapple with just the barest hint of caramel on the finish. Nice acidity. And the absolute perfect pairing for tonight's dinner -- it was killer with the pasilla-mango sauce.

Ah, I love home.

perfectionism or stupidity

Friday, May 16, 2008

I just spent my Friday night grating a pound of carrots by hand to make cupcakes because the recipe called for "finely grated" carrots and my Cuisinart attachment is not fine enough.

I'm melting

Thursday, May 15, 2008

It is 87 degrees in the house right now. Eighty-freaking-seven degrees. Indoors. And it's after 10 p.m.

I am sitting here with an ice pack stuffed into my shirt.

This is the ultimate rosé weather -- pink wine is the perfect refreshment. In fact, I poured at the annual SF rosé tasting Tuesday. The event is pretty interesting -- while there are some producers (like us) who show up year after year, many of the wines are ones I've never heard of or tried before.

Case in point: The Solms Wijn de Caab 2006 "Lekkerwijn" Rosé from South Africa. I've never had anything like it -- the blend was 42 percent Viognier, 39 percent Mourvèdre and 19 percent Grenache. The Viognier gave the wine such a fleshy mouthfeel -- not syrupy or sweet by any means, but definitely weightier -- kind of like what Semillon does in a dry white Bordeaux. I liked it. A lot. It made me want food.

And it left me wondering: How often is Viognier used in rosé? I feel like Mourvèdre and Grenache are pretty common, but I personally have never seen Viognier in a blend before.

Thoughts, anyone?

a good start

Sunday, May 11, 2008

If being 30 means spending long, lazy weekends on the Mendocino Coast, soaking in your very own private hot tub every night after a fabulous dinner of exquisite short ribs or pizza with pear, pesto and prosciutto after spending all day admiring rhododendrons in bloom, hiking down steep paths to beaches of glass or touring microbreweries, then I love this age.

so lady-like

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Mari's at it again -- leaving nothing to the imagination.

drinking, er, studying

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

So I signed up to take the introductory sommelier course in November.

And upon confirmation of my registration, I received a 21-page syllabus of everything I will have to know in order to pass this test. This ranges from vineyard practices (canopy management, how to pick, weather) to winemaking (malolactic fermentation, fermentation vessels, barrel regimen) to all of the major winemaking regions around the world (from France to Portugal to the U.S. to Australia and New Zealand). I also need to know beer, spirits and cigars.

I am sort of terrified.

But I am doing a lot of, shall we say, "studying." For example, I need to know all seven of the Chablis Grand Crus for this test. So tonight I drank the 2001 Grenouille from La Chablisienne cooperative, which is one of said seven. (Surprisingly, this bottle only cost me $29.99 from Garagiste. I consider this a steal for a wine of this caliber.) And I read about the wine and the Chablis region while sipping.

Some things I learned: Chablis is part of Burgundy. And Chablis wine is made with Chardonnay, although the oak regimen is different from American Chardonnay and even the typical French Burgundy -- not as much oak because the winemakers want to preserve the "integrity" of the Chardonnay. (With the Grenouille, I got only a hint of biscuit/slight cookie flavor -- probably because of just a touch of oak.) And the term "Chablis" (which you may recognize) was misused for many years -- people used it as a generic term for white wine, so as a result, some people think Chablis still means cheap, bad white wine. (I used to know someone who had a white cat named Chablis. Can't say if this cat was cheap or bad, though.) And Grand Cru Chablis can be aged for 15 years.

Which sort of made me feel guilty about opening my bottle at only seven years. But you have to drink it to learn it, right? (I'm serious -- this really is the best way to learn about wine.) And I really, really enjoyed this wine. I got white peach on the nose and just a breath of petrol (reminiscent of an older Riesling). In the mouth, there was a nice firm acidity (really perfect for a white wine made to age), what I thought was a bit of pineapple (not overwhelmingly so -- just a teeny note) and then that biscuit/cookie thing. Mouthfeel was medium-full, and the finish was very crisp and refreshing. Overall, very delicious.

And educational.

bird-watching, calorie-burning

Monday, May 05, 2008

Had the day off in exchange for working Saturday. Did some chores around the house and then went for a run at Shollenberger.

Which is a wetlands preserve. So at this time of year, there are birds, bugs and unfortunately, snakes. I actually saw one slither away from me on the path. I stopped in my tracks, literally threw my hands in the air and yelled, "Oh f@cker!"

Despite that, I had a nice two-mile run. And then I went to my car, got my camera and took some photos of a family of swans. The mom had three furry little grey babies next to her and was also sitting on a few more unhatched eggs. Really cool.
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