Vintage Berkeley Wine

I was doing some work at Peet's and noticed a historic water building across the way with wine bottles lined up inside. Once my work was done and parking was soon up, I ventured over to Vintage Berkeley Wine. I found some information online and was happy to go peruse the many bottles. My favorite part about this store was all the little labels under each bottle. It was like a good book store with staff picks, but this time with wine. The prices were all mostly under $20 and from all over the world. I'd go back here, any day.

The Cheeseboard

Thanks to Anne I stopped into Cheeseboard not once, but twice during my trip in Berkeley. There are two stores- one that's just cheese and breads, and then two doors down the pizza place. They make one kind each day, one salad, and you go up and order how many slices you want. The first day slice is here- I should have taken better note of what all was in it but it was delicious. I went to the counter and said, "Hi I'm new I don't know how this works I just know I want a slice of your pizza" He laughed and I got pizza for $2.50. What a delicious dish.

It's a Girl!

Saturday my friends Leslie and Jeremy hosted a "Sex Party" to announce to sex of their baby. They served bbq breasts and wieners and Leslie made cupcakes that were piped with a either blue or pink frosting- (such a cute idea- and she calls me Martha?!) We all took a bite at the same time and are very excited to welcome girl baby Hui into the world this summer. Here are some pics from the party featuring some of my favorite blogging followers...

Congrats Les and Jeremy!

simple pizzaz

I hesitate to post simple recipes, but I guess whatever could possibly inspire someone, right? I got TJ's Whole Wheat dough and rolled it out to fit my round pan. I used Vodka Sauce from pasta as the base, added some chopped peppered salami, good fresh shredded parmigiano reggiano, then a few sundried tomatoes and fresh basil. Out of the oven I topped it with more fresh basil to serve.

Ripening My Flavour

Last night was the second Grape Vine event, this time we were told to be well suited and timeless as we sipped on Cab. Cab is my favorite go to of all wines so it was hard for me to dislike any of them. Another fun night with the ladies, and this time more snacks were provided which made for a quieter evening than last.


Congrats to my Dad for the work he did over the last administration and best wishes in life outside of Washington politics, sort of.

Chez Panisse

Each time I've been up to Berkeley I've known I needed to make it to Chez Panisse at some point. I was flying solo on this trip and decided to treat myself to lunch at the Cafe which is much more economically sound as opposed to their $75-$95 dinner prices. I remember seeing Alice Waters on non other than Martha awhile ago and loving her food philosophy. Since then I've drooled over her beautiful cookbooks and loved her mantra on Slow Food and cooking, especially here in Santa Barbara where it can be so easy to eat locally and seasonally with Farmers Markets about every day.

So. I confidently made reservations for one and went in to the Cafe. The bread was great, butter was rich and delicious- the way butter should taste. I made friends with the water boy and loved the older gentleman who was my waiter. I told him I was from out of town and looking for the experience, so he recommended a few dishes and I settled on the quail. When else am I going to order quail?! And if I am...I'm going to order it at a place like this. I felt much like Kate in No Reservations having an incredible experience, loving food, the atmosphere of this place, and knowing this love for all things gastronomical would not soon go away. The quail was excellent, I was full, but water boy convinced me to experience a dessert and the Blue Bottle Coffee. I ordered a pink lady apple tart- thin slices and really beautiful with Meyer Lemon ice cream. It was light and wonderful. I was wishing the Ries women were there with me and was thankful for Liz to be texting me throughout the meal. Shout out to Liz. :)

I perused the books on display and water boy whose name I obviously failed to get, told me to take these beautiful prints. Free. Ahh...loved it. Loved it all.


That night I headed over to Sacramento and met up with my favorite cousin. That's what we call each other. He showed me around downtown Sacramento, a capitol city that's interesting in California. He works in the Treasury Department and has plans of being the governor someday. He's not kidding. His brother, my other favorite cousin, has plans of having a vineyard after he finishes his viticulture program so we jokingly, yet seriously, chatted about how I'll just have a restaurant or B&B at Matt's Vineyard. I'll host events for him as the Governor. Perfect. He took me to Mikuni which was a really lively and hip sushi bar filled with young people and tastes of my life in DC with well dressed professionals all around. I don't see too many suits and ties in SB.

Pizza My Heart

Ever since I moved to California I've seen Pizza My Heart T-Shirts around, much like I would see Salty Dog Cafe shirts in the Midwest. I was up in Santa Cruz on Thursday for work and stopped in to see what the rave was all about. It was tasty, good thin crust, and lotso toppings, but I wonder if it's just another California thing like Pink Berry where people somehow justify junk food because it looks healthy?! If you think I'm making a California generalization just click on the Pink Berry link and listen to the song... "it doesn't feel like I'm cheating because it's so light and airy." So if whipped cream sweet heart. Enough said.

Madeira Cake

I had good reason to bake something Monday night and tried out Nigella Lawson's Madeira Cake. It was simple and delicious. It comes out looking so lovely- not your average loaf bread- and very sturdy. The edges were a bit tough, burned even, but it was fine and I kinda like burnt edges, like burnt peanut butter cookies...the best. Some friends and I had it straight out of the oven one night and last night it was enjoyed with a cup of tea. Doesn't Leslie look like she's having so much fun eating it?! Madeira Cake is f.u.n.


After an incredible dinner at the Hui home I headed to the Boat House. Some of you may recall it being a bust when I went for dinner but I must say not much compares to sitting outside, waves crashing and late night happy hour from 8-10 PM. Wine- $4. Such. A. Deal.

World's Best Mac and Cheese

Maggie and I bought a classy bottle of Oasis Chardonnay from Babcock months ago and finally drank it last night. We were going to make something classy to go with it, and discovered Pure Flavor provided a recipe for the "World's Best Mac and Cheese." Beechers serves this in their Pike Place store and it's sold around the country. This was my first time making cheese sauce like this from scratch and a worthwhile experience. I'm no mac and cheese connoisseur but Maggie claims it competes with Lucky's which is good enough for me. Some things you'll learn while you're making it- culinary knowledge really:

Roux is a mixture of wheat flour and fat, traditionally clarified butter. It is the thickening agent of three of the mother sauces of classical French cooking.

Béchamel sauce also known as white sauce, is a basic sauce that is used as the base for other sauces, such as Mornay sauce, which is Béchamel and cheese. This basic sauce, one of the mother sauces of French cuisine, is usually made today by whisking scalded milk gradually into a white flour-butter roux (equal part clarified butter and flour), though it can also be made by whisking a kneaded flour-butter beurre manié into scalded milk. The thickness of the final sauce depends on the proportions of milk and flour.

Onion Jerked Chicken

I'm a fan of Jerk Chicken so decided to make this recipe from another Christmas gift- The Best of Cooking Light. Thanks to my mini food processor it didn't take long to make and then it marinated in the fridge the rest of the day. The marinade should be scraped off before grilling. The results were nice but it didn't have as much kick as the other Jerk Chicken I've made though maybe I'm being too hard on myself as the friends who ate it with me said they would make it again.

In a food processor chop 1/3 c. yellow onion, 1/4 c. green onions, 2 T cider vinegar, 2 t. brown sugar, 1 t. dried thyme, 1 t. black pepper, 3/4 t. allspice, 1/2 t. nutmeg, 2 garlic cloves, 1 habanero pepper (though I used leftover pickled halapenos for the kick which maybe it where I went wrong).

Put the marinade in a bag with chicken and turn in fridge every so often if you can. When you're ready to cook- season with salt and throw on the grill.

it's time to get crafty

Over the break I decided it was time to do something with the wine corks I had saved over the years. Surprisingly it took just about all of them to make this cork board that I sent to my parents. Many of them are from SB wineries Roblar, Qupe, and Firestone.

Cry No More Ladies, Cry No More

I had high hopes for posting everyday because I get yelled at when I don't. OK not yelled at but I do know some of you check this more than others and I hate the thought of letting you down. In anticipation of a great year of cooking I thought I'd let you in on some things Santa and his elves, Ruth and Jim, got for me. I also got an immersion blender and for about the 8th year in a row had kitchen items as my main gifts. These 2 cookbooks are sure to inspire and be fun to cook through this year. 2009- it's Go Time.


"If you're going to cook three times a day for the rest of your life, you mine as well be good at it."
-Jamie Oliver with Mark Bittman from the Minimalist.

Listen Up

Carley Tanchon is a family friend from home who started out playing at local restaurants, our town fair- Blossom Time, and has since gone to Berklee School of Music and is now living in Nashville, making her dreams come true. Check out her website and take a listen to her new cd. Tune in.

No-Bake Cashew Brittle Bars

This recipe was not only easy, but delicious. I try to think it's healthy with oats, healthier sugar forms like molasses and brown sugar, and cashews. It was really easy to make them and they were a hit.

Cowboy Cookies

I've had quite the time on my side and made these the other day. I plan on freezing most of them so when people are over they can be pulled out and enjoyed. I like cookies with a lot going on- and these do; coconut, walnuts, chocolate. Giddy Up.

2009 it's about Time.

Some thoughts for the new year, not resolutions, revolutions.

2009 it's about time. 2009 it's my time. 2009 draw the line.

I'm liking how the year is shaping up just 2 days in. Wishing you and yours a Happy 09!

Lemon Caper Butter Rubbed Salmon

For my birthday Maggie got me Pure Flavor, a cookbook with Northwest Recipes by Kurt Beecher Dammeier, forward by Tom Douglas. As my friends know I love Salmon and and have loved my trips up to Seattle so this was a great gift. Last night I made a delicious Salmon Recipe. Jess was over and we ate it up before I was able to take a picture which I guess says, it was real tasty, and easy.

Lemon Caper Butter Rubbed Salmon
Whisk together 2 T melted unsalted butter, 1 t. capers, 1/2 t lemon zest, 1/4 t. garlic powder or garlic salt, (then just don't season with salt), 1/4 t. Italian herb blend, 1 1/2 t. onion (i used dried and it was fine), black pepper.

brush on one side of salmon- put in fridge for 5 min then take out and put on grill pan, butter side down and brush rest of rub on other side. cook until done. Delicious.