Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

SPARGEL

imagejpegJust as Strawberries mark the spring season in Central Florida, nothing epitomizes spring in Germany quite like the revered white stalks of Spargel(Asparagus).  While the green variety is more popular here in the states, and readily available, the Germans prefer Spargels  seasonality and flavor.

The growing technique is a bit different for white asparagus.  Spargel grows entirely surrounded by earth which protects the slender stalk from sunlight exposure and thereby keeps it from turning green. This also affects the vegetable’s subtle flavor. Spargel is rich in nutrients and very low in calories, easy to prepare, and most delicious to eat!

During Spargel season, most Germans indulge in the delicate flavor of this tender spring vegetable at least once a day.  Annual consumption totals over 70,000 tons per year. With annual production averaging under 60,000 tons, Germany also imports Spargel to meet the continuously high demand for the healthy stalks. The vegetable’s popularity may in part be rooted in its long history as a luxury vegetable. Going back as far as 2000 BC, the prized vegetable was cultivated by the Ancient Egyptians, the Greeks and the Romans. During the rule of  Louis XIV, it gained in popularity and was reserved to the tables of the courts. Cultivation of Spargel in the region around the city of Stuttgart dates back to the 16th century.

While you will find that in most German restaurants Spargel is steamed and served warm and accompanied by classic hollandaise, I prefer to toss the stalks with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and lightly grill or roast until tender.  My sauce of choice is a mixture of the yolks from hard boiled eggs blended with a touch of mayo, dry mustard, smoked paprika and kosher salt. I serve this on the side or spooned over the Spargel and garnish with fried capers.

Spring seemed to be the ideal time to visit Southern Germany and Spargel confirmed that theory for me at every lunch and dinner I enjoyed.

Don’t despair if Germany is not on ur travel radar in the near future, you can often find White Asparagus at markets such as Whole Foods.  Not always as rich and delicious as the fresh crop in Germany, but still very much enjoyable.

Entertain Deliciously!!

J Vineyards &Winery Bubble Room

 J Vineyards &Winery Bubble Room
A memorable dining experience in the heart of the Russian River Valley

Passing thru Sonoma county recently, my friends and I decided to splurge on our Saturday lunch and experience the wine country cuisine of Chef Erik Johnson.

The Bubble Room located inside the the J Vineyards tasting room on the outskirts of Healdsburg, remains one of the premier tasting experiences in the Russian River Valley.  It is a beautifully appointed, full-service tasting salon, where you and your guests will enjoy an exclusive multi course lunch  including rare library and small-production wines, paired with delicious, organic and locally-sourced fare.

Judy Jordan founded J’s educational wine and food pairing program in 1999 – one of the first in Sonoma County.  I would highly recommend experiencing this very memorable meal when you find yourself in this beautiful part of the country.

Here is the menu that we enjoyed:

First Course
J Cuvée XB, NV, Russian River Valley
Smoked Trout, Terra Farms New Potatoes, Preserved Lemon, Fennel

2013 Hoot Owl, Viognier, Alexander Valley
Dry Creek Peaches, Zucchini, Lamb

Second Course
2012 J Vineyards “STRATA” Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
Chanterelle Agnolotti, Avocado, Bay Shrimp

Third Course
2011 J Vineyards Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast
Roasted Duck, Bhutanese Rice, Cherry, Ramps

Cheese Course
J Cuvée 20, Russian River Valley
Pennyroyal “Velvet Sister”, Nougat, Orange

Dessert Course
J Brut Rose, NV, Russian River Valley
Tierra Strawberry, Pistachio “Cake”, Cuvée 20, Lavender

J Vineyards, 11447 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg,  CA 95448
1-888-JWINECO.
Jwine.com

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Asador Etxebarri

photoI have fond childhood memories of vacationing with my folks and patiently sitting in the backseat of the families Oldsmobile station wagon as they searched out new restaurants in what I remember as obscure locales.     “If it’s good, people will search it out” they would remind me.  Fast forward 35 years, and I find myself and my travel companions zipping down country roads somewhere in the Basque Country of Spain,  restaurant searching for what we know to be not just good, but amazing.  “Are we sure this is the right way”?  “Who knows, the GPS is fuzzy”!

Alas, a grouping of restored farmhouses appear in the distance set against the oh so green Cantabrian mountains.  We have arrived to the village of Axpe,  but in moments will be transported far away, where live fires burn and luscious flavors flow……This is Asador Etxebarri!

Asado (Spanish: [aˈsaðo], Brazilian Portuguese: [assado]) is a term used both for a range of barbecue techniques and the social event of having or attending a barbecue.
The exact definition of what you will experience coming out of the kitchen of Victor Arguinzoniz.  Ranked one of the worlds 50 best restaurants and Michelin starred, the Chef considers this style of cooking “a subtle approach to grilling”. He grew up in this village where no one had electricity or gas, So one can only assume that he has been honing his grilling techniques since he was a very young man.

Upon being sat our group quickly decided that we would all indulge in the 12 course tasting menu. Moments later the Chef’s famous smoked goats milk butter appeared along with platters of salted anchovy’s, acorn fed pork chorizo, and crackers. We were not shy about digging in and as the Cava flowed we quickly realized that this was going to be a most memorable experience.
Goose Barnacles came next presented in a simple metal basket and perfectly prepared with flavors of smoke. None of us at the table had ever eaten barnacles, all of us cannot wait to indulge in them again!
A  simplistic oyster presentation followed, barely warm and presented on the 1/2 shell, Im certain I have never tasted a more perfectly prepared oyster, simple and luscious.
Prawns, baby octopus, St George mushrooms, baby green peas in there own juice with a splash of sherry vinegar, Red Sea Bream, and the oh so luscious famous  beef chop………it all kept coming, one amazing flavor after the next.
I had the pleasure of wine selection for our luncheon, all of which were quite memorable. We started off with bubbles, a Cava Rosae from Rimarts that had a very interesting smokey element to it, quite delicious with the barnacles.
Next we moved into a delightful Felton Road Riesling, 2012 followed by R. Barber Clos Mogador Nelin Priorat 2012, and then paired with our Beef Chop we enjoyed a classic 2007  Chateauneuf du Pape from Domaine De Marcoux.
Simply delicious desserts completed our 4.5 hour luncheon that seemed to fly by. In fact at its completion we all wanted it to begin again.
As I have mentioned in an earlier post, the Basque region of Spain opens it’s hearts and kitchen doors to visitors, Etxebarri reconfirmed this.  As we departed the Chef graciously invited us into the tiny kitchen to meet the staff and observe first hand the cooking process.  All I can say is “it’s all off the grill and amazing”!!
I hope you also get to experience Etxebarri.  I would love to hear about ur experience!!!

Etxebarri
Calle de San Juan, 1
24549 Vizcaya Spain
001 34 946 58 30 42

 

Entertain Deliciously
Jamie McFadden

San Sebastián, Spain……. A taste of Culinary Heaven!

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Let me just begin by saying there is not a speedy way to travel to San Sebastián, Spain from the United States. All flights require a layover in Europe, with Barcelona and Madrid being the closest international hubs. It is a 5-6 hour car ride to SS from either of these two sister cities, train service is another option, however for our itinerary it was not an option.

Having researched this obstacle for months my friends and I decided to forgo the connecting flights,  and  journey out on our own.  With a click of the mouse we rented a van from Budget and began our 6 hour trek to the new culinary capital of Europe.

Miles and miles of beautiful countrys

ide, tunnels, tolls, vineyards,   and more tolls. Prepare yourself before departing the airport and exchange ur currency. We estimate that we spent upwards of 50.00 American dollars in tolls. Money well spent however……arrival into the outskirts of SS down the windy Mountain pass sits a truly picturesque city.

Being that we totaled 7 guests in our group we opted out of staying in hotel rooms and decided to rent a flat. A very simple process through Feelfreerentals.com and very economical. Our four bedroom/3 bath apartment was perfectly nestled 1 block west of the Urumea ibaia and a one minute walk from the neogothic Buen Pastor Cathedral.

Unlike the famous tapas bars of Barcelona, San Sebastián refers to there miniature food delicacies as pintxos.  Think Hors d oeuvres, mostly cold, some hot and offered in every bar in the city. As with any restaurant, pinxotos bars range in food quality and atmosphere.  What was surprising however is that the overall food quality, freshness and creativity in all of San Sebastián is excellent. The Basque take eating and drinking very seriously, and there love of the land and there heritage is evident in every bite.
I’m certain we visited upwards of 25 pintxos bars, having a taste or two at each.  To list them all in this blog would be unrealistic, and may keep you from venturing out on your own tasting journey.  There was however, one bar that kept drawing me back and that was Beti-ai Berria.  The food and presentation here was superb. Outwardly friendly staff combined with delicious fresh flavors.  Beti is located in the Parte Vieja (old town) and this along with the area of Gros is where you can and will find yourself in a state of culinary bliss as you bar hop until the  wee hours of the morning. Remember the Spaniards still recognize siesta, which means shops close in the afternoon from approx 2:00 pm until 5 ish and then reopen until 8:00pm. So the earliest you can have a dining experience at lunch is 1:00 and 8:30 for dinner with the busiest dining time being 9:30 pm.

Besides just eating in SS we also did consume vino.  And in doing so journeyed to the area of Navarra about one hour outside of SS for two winery tours.  We hired a driver for the day which I highly recommend for not just the obvious , but also the navigational piece.
It was a cool misty day as we found ourselves escorted thru the vineyards of Senorio De Sarria and Larrainzar both of which gave us a much greater knowledge and appreciation of the terroir of this beautiful region.
The Navarra region produces a significant amount of Rose which pairs beautifully with pinxotos of course, so be sure to order a glass or two of “Rosato” on your crawls.  Grape varietals in Navarra include Tempranillo, Cabernet, Garnacha, Merlot, Garnacha Tinta, Graciano, Mazuelo, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Garnacha Blanca, Malvasia, Moscatel, Viura, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

There are just to many great things to say about San Sebastián so let me close with this…… I was truly Entertained Deliciously and will be also!!

Check back to my blog to read about Restaurant Etxebarri, a gastronomic experience in Basque Country.
Entertain Deliciously

Jamie McFadden

James Beard Foundation’s Taste America Challenge

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CUISINIERS CATERED CUISINE AND EVENTS has joined more than 100 other restaurants in the James Beard Foundation’s (JBF) Taste America® Local Dish Challenge. Foodies nationwide can show their local pride by participating in this social media-driven competition, which is part of the James Beard Foundation’s Taste America®: “Local Flavor from Coast to Coast,” 10-city tour exploring America’s diverse culinary diversity in Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., September 20 through October 19.

 

Chef Jamie McFadden has chosen to feature Canaveral Rock Shrimp Tacos  (with sweet chili aioli, pickled celery and roasted Zellwood sweet corn) to showcase the best of the local food scene in Orlando from September 1 through October 31, 2013.  Cuisiniers Catered Cuisine & Events will donate $1 from each dish sold as part of a menu from catered events to the JBF Taste America® Education Drive, which supports JBF’s educational programs on topics surrounding our country’s food system. These programs include the annual JBF Food Conference, JBF Leadership Awards, and new Chefs Boot Camp for Policy & Change.

 

For more information on James Beard Foundation’s Taste America®: “Local Flavor from Coast to Coast,” please visit www.jbftastamerica.org

Cayucos…….Slow down and smell the sea air!

photoTraveling over the mountain range on highway 46 east to the Pacific Coast Highway you are in awe of the natural beauty that is Central Coast California.  Buzzing along at 55 mph it is impossible not to gaze south over the horizon and witness the ocean fog that has either settled below, or that is rolling in, you literally feel as though you are driving above the clouds.

Under that layer of fog and ocean mist sits a many a beach town up and down the “1”, unasumable at first glance, however, one should take a closer look.

Cayucos  (kye-OO-cus), blink and you will be past, which would be regretful seeing that this small surfing community is a foodie find.  As you enter into town from the north The Cass House sits on the east side of the street.  A historic site wrapped with edible gardens and a coi pond fountain at the entrance.  Quaint and elegant and nothing you would expect to find in a beach village, it is an absolute must stop to lay your head and dine for the evening.  The history of Cass House dates back to 1824 and its founder Captain James Cass.   Born in Bristol England in 1824, Captain Cass crossed the Atlantic 31 times before the age of 19, and would ultimately call California his home.
While hauling lumber from San Francisco to San Simeon, Cass discovered the small coastal town of “Old Creek, California”. Upon moving his family here, he chose to rename the town “Cayucos” after the Native American word for canoe. Captain Cass was a major contributor to the growing community of Cayucos, not only serving as its banker, but also building both the town’s church and its bustling wharf.  If only he were here today to indulge in Chef Jensen Lorenzen’s Tasting menu and experience the freshness and beauty of the properties gardens, a true masterpiece.                   .
The menu changes daily but look for Local Salmon Crudo with house garden fennel kraut, radish, mustard and cucumber. Cayucos Abalone, with fennel tartar “Fish n Chips” and Lamb Sweetbreads with sunflower and Huckleberry.  Reservations recommended for a stay at the Inn and or dinner.
www.casshouseinn.com

When the morning sun begins to peak thru the windows at the Cass House I suggest you take a stroll down the beach and breath in the sultry air of the pacific.   Breathtaking views will welcome as the chill of the cool water  bids you “Good Morning”.   To enhance this excursion be sure to pop into the Brown Butter Cookie Company beforehand.  Many places claim to produce a most memorable cookie, but in my opinion these bite size delights hand rolled and baked right before your eyes leave you wanting more…….a dozen to get your day going should be suffice.
www.brownbuttercookies.com

Do as the locals do!  And in tiny beach towns that means finding the smallest food shake closest to the shore.  When the locals are lined up you know it’s going to be great.  Ruddels Smokehouse is an absolute must stop in Cayucos.   Famous for all good things smoked, albacore, oysters, pork loin, shrimp.  My friends and I enjoyed the albacore tacos and the shrimp tacos.  Both excellent and for me inspirational.  “When we get back East we are firing up the smoker” I was quoted as saying.  It won’t be the same however, at least not until we get a 65 degree day and an ocean appears in my backyard!
www.smokerjim.com

Coqueta…A Delicious Piece of Spain on the Embarcadero Waterfront in San Francisco

photoSpanish for the word “flirt”, Chef Michael Chiarello’s newest restaurant overlooking the Bay Bridge on Pier 5 not just flirts with your taste buds, but hits a home run with them!

Upon entering Coqueta and being greeted graciously, you immediately feel as though you have been transplanted into the Basque countryside. The restaurants bar, (bar 5), with it’s great waterfront views and outside seating area mixes up an interesting array of gin &tonics, specialty cocktails and sangrias along with an in depth offering of imported Spanish wines.

The “Galleon” incorporates Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, acorn and apricot tonic, berry schrub and lime into one of the most interesting and deliciously refreshing G&T’s I have ever sampled. Another favorite cocktail sampled was “The Castro” shaken not stirred with Espolon Tequilla Blanco, curaçao, fino sherry, Fresno pepper and lime.

The main dining room with its hip tapas tasting bar, wood burning grill, Spanish tile floor and goat leather banquettes creates a relaxed atmosphere that transports diners into an ongoing multi course journey of Spanish cuisine.
My guests and I began with Grilled Razor Clams garnished with wild ramps and Meyer lemon $14, followed by Chicken and English Pea Croquetas with cured cara-cara orange $9. Next was Crispy Shrimp with chickpea flour pancake and saffron aioli, $10, Grilled Albondigas which was a delicious crock of duck and pork meatballs with tart cherry and tempranillo puree garnished with crisp shallots $11. And personally always longing for Sea Urchin when visiting the Golden State we concluded our feast with Mar y montana “sea and mountain” Iberico Lardo gently melted over sea urchin with Jamon iberico de bellota, $14. Presentations and flavors all exceeded expectations, many served on specialty designed plate ware that soon will be available at Chef Chiarello’s Napastyle store.

Time may not allow a culinary trip to Spain this summer, however, if you find yourself on the west coast of this country I would highly recommend noshing at Coqueta. Pop in early for a seat at the bar or reservations at 415.704.8866.

Paso Robles…..A Very Unique Wine and Food Experience

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Located halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles,  the Central Coast of California should be on every food and wine enthusiasts travel itineraries.
And the village of Paso Robles with its incredible town square and hosts of chef driven restaurants and unique shops is the perfect spot to begin and end your days visiting this regions wine country.

Hotel Cheval

A picturesque quaint Inn with First class accommodations, service, location and a lively wine bar called the Pony Club is the perfect spot to rest and relax.
www.hotelcheval.com

The Paso Robles area is home to more than 200 wineries,  the following are a few of my favorites:

Tablas Creek
www.tablascreek.com

Halter Ranch
www.halterranch.com

Daou Vineyards
www.daouvineyards.com

Red Soles
www.redsoleswinery.com

Denner Vineyards
www.dennervineyards.com

Zocker Winery
www.zockerwinery.com

Pack a picnic lunch from Trader Joes to enjoy at a winery,  or treat yourself to a casual seafood lunch at Pier 46 seafood market
www.pier46seafood.com

Feeling adventurous???
Santa Margarita adventures offers daily Zip Lining tours of there beautiful ranch and vineyards.  Great fun for all ages!
www.margarita-adventures.com

When all day wine tasting and or adventure has you longing for a cocktail, I recommend margaritas at:

Villa Creek Restaurant and Bar
The perfect spot for great people watching, delicious Tapas and craft cocktails
www.villacreek.com

A trip to Paso would not be complete without dinner at
Artisan.  Chef Chris Kobayashi’s attention to detail utilizing the areas bounty, along with a Central Coast inspired wine list and soon to open cocktail bar always exceeds expectations.
www.artisanpasorobles.com

As your memorable trip winds down be sure to enjoy a lunch “Alfresco” at:

Thomas Hill Organics
Something special is always being prepared in there outdoor wood burning oven. However, I would highly recommend the Pork Belly Banh Mi. This sandwich alone will have you planning your next visit to Paso before your car crosses the county line heading home.
www.thomashillorganics.com

Getting there…..
Fly and drive from either LAX or SFO.
Tight on time……?

Regional airports with reduced drive times from Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo

Napa 2012

 

Nothing puts a better spring in your step than a May visit to the beautiful Napa Valley!

I am certain that every adjective in the book has been used in recent years to describe the areas amazing landscape, ever evolving food scene, magnificent wines and of course the delectable farm fresh goodness that graces home and restaurant tables across this region.  To simply say that I highly recommend a visit would be an understatement, particularly if your a proclaimed “foodie” or “locavore”.

So pick a weekend, then visit www.united.com or www.virginamerica.com both of which offer daily non stop service to San Francisco from Orlando and prepare your taste buds for a food and wine journey that will create memories that will last a lifetime!

Chef Jamie’s favorite spots:

Schramsberg Winery, Calistoga
www.schramsberg.com
A Deliciously balanced sparkling wine producer with a history dating back to 1862.  Book early for the cave tour, and raise your glass of bubbles!

Brown Estate, East St. Helena
www.brownestate.com
An exceptional Zin producer on a family run estate.  Call ahead to arrange for a private tasting and tour.  There cheese pairing is worth the visit alone!

Somerston Vineyards, East St. Helena
www.somerstonwineco.com

A picturesque setting in the mountains east of St Helena.
There estate grown Cab and Sav Blanc present amazing richness and are well rounded.  Call ahead for an educational tour of the vineyard and the chance to experience natural soda water from a spring located on the vineyard.

Gott’s Roadside, St. Helena
www.gotts.com

You think you have experienced the ultimate burger………….Not yet!  Pull up to Gott’s and order yourself one of there Niman Ranch burger presentations and prepare to say “YUM”.   A fun atmosphere, filled with picnic tables on the lawn and a totally new meaning of “Fast-food”.  My mouth is watering as I type!
Ad Hoc, Yountville
www.Adhocrestaurant.com

You’ve read the reviews and the many articles, and I am here to tell you they are spot on!  The simplistic style of the restaurant, all family style with no food choices, is as delicious and satisfying as everyone has told us.  We dined on a Sunday evening which features Braised Short Ribs and  Ice Cream Sundaes.
Reserve early, the seats fill quickly.

The French Laundry, Yountville
www.frenchlaundry.com

I admit,  I am spoiled!  This was my second visit to the French Laundry, and it was as amazing as my first.  The attention to detail and there passion to exceed guests expectations is unmatched!  This dining experience creates memories that will last a lifetime,  and an understanding of what true fine dining encompasses.

Don’t overlook Sonoma County!

Sometimes over shadowed by Napa, Sonoma offers an incredible array of wineries, restaurants, farmers markets, town squares, and a host of other must see activities.  So cross the mountain range and indulge!

Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Sonoma
www.gunbun.com

Family owned and operated since 1858 it is California’s second oldest winery.
There grounds are beautiful, the staff extremely outgoing and the wines…..complex, rich and full of unique characteristics.   You must check out this web site and make arrangements for an afternoon at
Gun.  Lock.  Bun.   Shoe.

Ram’s Gate Winery, Sonoma County
www.ramsgatewinery.com

A newcomer in Sonoma County, this gem should be your first stop after crossing the Golden Gate Bridge!  Not only one of the most comfortable winery settings that i have experienced, but they also have a culinary team that turns out regionally inspired cuisine paired with Ram’s Gates wines.  A perfect first stop on your wine country weekend that will definitely exceed your expectations.

And before you jump back on your flight home……

State Bird Provisions, San Francisco
Statebirdsf.com

Americanized Dim Sum!   That should be enough of a teaser for you to visit there web site and make reservations.  Truly a highlight of our weekend, and  I am sooo looking forward to my next visit.

Destin Charity Wine Auction

Check out some of the delicious recipes we served at the Destin Charity Wine Auction last month!  See more info on the event here:  http://www.dcwaf.com/.

 

 

Destin Dinner Party Menu

Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars

Chef Jamie McFadden

Friday April 27, 2012

Reception

2009 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc

New England Apple Empanada

Ale Gastrique

“Fish Eggs”

Soft Egg, Caviar, Blini Crumbs Onion Soubise

1st Course

2009 Karia

“Soup & Sandwich”

Smoked Duck, Roasted Beet Horseradish Cream,

Rye Crostini, Canadian Bacon Dust, Potato Chips & House Pickles

Foie Dumplings

Ramen Broth, Napa Slaw

2nd Course

2008 Fay

Asian BBQ Oxtail

Marmalade Glazed, Drunken Noodles

3rd Course

2008 S.L.V. side by side with a Library Vintage of S.L.V.

Peppercorn Crusted Venison Lollipop

Blackberry Gastrique, Braised Escarole & Cauliflower Mash

4th Course

2008 Cask 23

Cheese Course

MT TAM Fig & Golden Raisin Grilled Cheese

Dessert Course

Artemis

Venezuelan Chocolate Soufflés

with Dark Cherry Semifreddo