Oct 1, 2007

Hello Luna/tics:

It has been awhile, and for that, I apologize to all of you longing to see the menu. But here is this months for you.

Josh, as of tonight, October 2, is coming back from his long ordeal with his back surgery. He will be on three nights a week for a month or so, and then I plan on working him harder! (not really.....well-maybe a little truth to that.....). We have missed his face and abilities at the ol' Cafe. (yahoo! for me! I can finally get my desk to the point I can see its surface!).

One thing I can say I have been able to do in his absence is experiment. That has been fun (and expensive - my staff loves my experiments, or the ones they get to eat and/or take home.)

For all you HOT-HEADS: listen up: I have a dish that is a 9 on the heat scale. I can honestly say that it has been the best received of all the hot and spicy dishes we do in this category. It is a dish with chicken, rock shrimp, Spanish Chorizo (a firm sausage unlike Mexican chorizo) and ham. It is full of chipotle chilies and Serrano chilies, and is smoky and rich and when I say the staff is eating it every night, I mean it. Every night! Even Gary, not the I-Can-Eat-Hot-Food kind of guy is loving it. It is so funny to see everyone sweat, shake their heads after each bite, and then dive in for more! So IF YOU DARE, try it. You will love it if you are a hot food lover. It is a penne pasta dish and very, very satisfying.

Gary and I are in the process of completing several projects around this new house (how long I wonder is new, new? We have been here six months now....so hard to believe, but true.) We are both outside guys, and he has done this incredible tile job on the enclosed patio we have here that is going to be our outside dining room. It is just great. He is a very talented guy when it comes to home projects.

The back yard issue: we have now met with several landscapers, and nothing hit the mark totally. We fluctuated between a pool and just a back yard. It is very small (I can throw a rock from end to end.....and I throw with the enthusiasm and strength of a first grader..who has a cast on his good arm........). We have to submit professionally drawn plans to this board here, and need the expertise of a good architect. In talking to one of the designers, I mentioned I wanted to have a "David Yakish" type back-yard: what this means if you do not know of his work: a fantasy dream that is real. Saffron yellows, turquoise blues, candy reds, oranges.....imagine all the colors that were so hypnotic in that incredible movie "Monsoon Wedding" and you will get an idea of my color palette. So this guys tells me "he's back you know. Back here in the Sacramento area. I'll get you his number." He did, I called, we met and magic!! We are on our way to submission of the drawn plans. We think the same way when it comes to outrageous gardens and art and plants in the gardens. (My poor mom: she has in the past when looking at some of the things I love in art or plants or colors asked if this is what an "acid" trip is like.....still don't know how to take that.....). But I guess it is when it comes to all of the best things you can think of hitting your eyes in a flash of color, textures, and smells......Go Mom!

Which reminds me:: she is going to be 76 next month. And she is healthy, happy and still likes to go dancing with her boy-friend Harry several times a month (her old 11Th and 12Th grade sweet-heart from Grant Union High School. Class of 1944 I think). But I keep thinking how lucky we are to have a healthy and still active mom.

In the last several months, some our best friends have lost their parents. I think that the quietness of loss is one of the hardest things to grasp. When you come home to the house and realize that the noise of that particular person is not going to be part of your daily and hourly sounds. And the emptiness that you feel that cannot ever be explained to others that haven't lost someone close to them. Gary's mom died in 1980. She was the first person that died that I was close to. I was 28. And my heart was ripped out of me for his loss and his brothers loss and his dad's loss. I remember going from the service to the cemetery in the limo and looking out at all the cars that were still traveling and wondering why life was still going on because Gloria had died. Shouldn't they all be stopped along the highway or stop driving for awhile? At least until tomorrow? That's when I realized that grief is so personal with is own set of feelings and emotions. We cannot explain away any of this....Time does have a tendency to make it easier, but never lessens the loss.

So anyway: here is to all of us that have lost someone and made it through. And hope for those of you that have not.

But I digress:
Food: And Comfort Food in general.

I have to tell you that I must have had over 200 responses to the last e-mailing sent about what was everyone's favorite comfort foods and why. It took me weeks to read all of them, and I saved each one. The big winners: meat-loaf, pot-roast, mac and cheese. The one most touching: liver. Because this person grew up in a very poor house-hold, and although she hated liver, it reminded her of the bad times that she and her family got through together. As a family. It was a great letter. What is so amazing to me is how many of our comfort foods we basically have eliminated from our diets except to "cheat" every so often. And yet to still think of them as a warm memory of very wonderful and comforting times in our lives. Keep them coming to me if you are of mind.

So this menu: We are having some of the foods I love and some of you have told me about.
#1 - A great roast chicken dish served on a bed of button mushrooms, Fingerling potatoes and gnocchi with all of the pan juices reduced to a rich sauce. Sunday dinner every day....

#2 - And then there is one of my favorite: short-ribs of beef long simmered on a bed of onions, and the gravy made with the onions and the de-fatted juices of the meat. Served on a bed of polenta. Awwwww......

#3 - Crab-Stuffed Prawns: jumbo prawns stuffed with Blue Crab meat, minced herbs and vegetables pan-roasted until golden and served with a reduced saffron and ginger butter sauce.

#4 - Double cut maple-and-molasses brined Pork chops. If you have had pork that is tough and dried out, try brining. It is nothing more than soaking the meat in a liquid made with salt, dry herbs, various seasonings, and salt. You let them "brine" for 24-36 hours. Then you take them out of the brine, pat dry, and roast, broil or saute. This make all the difference really. If you want me brine recipe, let me know. Our has maple syrup and molasses in it. It is great for pork.

#5 - Filet Mignon Diane: if you remember in the 60's, Steak Diane was a flambeed dish that was the height of restaurant drama! flamed at your table, big fire and the chance the wait person might ignite the entire place on fire! As a kid, I loved this spectacle. (still do....) But what I did was to make this great old venerable sauce: brandy, wine, mushrooms, garlic and stock.. wonderful served over our filet's. And with the mashed potatoes.....Good Food.

#6 - Halibut is back again: I love this fish. This fish is one of the very best for flakiness and pure white flesh when cooked. I love its sweet taste and clean flavors. And I love Italian parsley. People have a tendency to eliminate parsley as a flavor, but it is intense. We are making an Italian parsley aioli to serve with this wonderful fish. Try it.
#7 - Although not on the menu, I will also be serving our filet mignon and wild mushroom stroganoff this month. This will be a special we will be running several times a week. It takes along time to make and simmer so that it is tender, and I have a tendency to run out, so we will be doing it as a verbal special. If this is something you must have, call us for its availability for the evening.

#8 - Soup time. Anyone who knows me knows I love to make soups. Cafe Luna was going to be originally a soup only restaurant. Where you could come in and just buy soups to have as dine-in or take out. We were going to make fresh breads daily to go along with these soups, and life would be my cabaret. But then I realized how much my rent was.....and I needed to buck up the menu.....But they are back for the colder months. A bowl of our soup can be a meal in itself. Ask nightly what we are serving. I love to make soup....did I say that already?

New wines: have added about 20 new wines to the menu recently.

We are now carrying Young's from Amador County, Jeff Runquist wines also from Amador County and Lavender Ridge also from Amador. We have tasted many of the new vintages from our other locals and love them....Have added several of Madrona's reserves, Boeger's reserves, C.G. DiArie, and are just happy that Narrow Gate still has their Chardonnay and Zinfandel for us. We are all very fortunate to live in this wonderful wine country.
Navarro Vineyards: if you have not tried this wineries wines, you will love them..We are carrying their Premier Chardonnay, their Pinot Noir, and their Gewurztraminer. All of these wines are major award winners through-out the state and country. We are lucky enough to be one of the few in Northern California to have them......

We are having a Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday night special of some 50% off wines, at whim. Come in to see which ones on which days......

And do not forget: WINO WEDNESDAYS. (It just sounds like a party doesn't it? Or a meeting at a rehab center....on Wednesdays I would suppose...)

For those of you who do not know about this, it is all wines on the menu under $35 are 30% off. This is a great opportunity to try some wines or maybe several.

(Disclaimer: Don't drink and drive: God bless Lightning Taxi Service....and your children. Who would just love to have to come pick up Mom or Dad from a public restaurant because they were having just too much fun who could hold it over your heads until they needed something.......Parents are NOT supposed to have fun! Isn't this a rule somewhere? Am I digressing again?)

Anyway kids, we hope to see you all soon. The winter is approaching fast. The colder days (maybe) will be upon us, and you must get out of the house (to eat at your favorite restaurants which make the foods that take to long to make at home.....what a plug for eating out often!!!). There are 83 days left until Christmas (you are welcome for that bit of information) so all of you who are much to busy to stay home (another shameless plug to promote downtown Placerville) come and see us. Gary is starting to wear long pants now: he is like our very own Punxsutawney Phil groundhog for predicting weather. Winter is coming.....hide the Tommy Bahama shirts!!!

As always, the menu attachment is in PDF format. If any of you want to be removed from this list let me know. If you know anyone who would like to be on it, let me know that also.

P.S. before I end: I really love getting letters and notes back from you. It is the customer who takes time out from your busy lives to share something with me, a stranger who types alot and I do appreciate it beyond belief.....thank you all for sharing memories, recipes and banter.

David at Cafe Luna