Apr 9, 2009

Hello All You Luna/tics!!! It's April!!


I keep forgetting each and every year what it is like to experience SPRING!!! The passions of getting the gardens all started, the idea that I must finish it all this year!!! And then going to a nursery or a friends house and realizing that even though all my ground is covered, there HAS to be room for one more plant!!!

I........am........ a.......... plant.........whore..........

There is no other explanation for it.....
I want everything I see to plant in my tiny back yard,...forget the size, give me the volume!!!
(There must be a 12-Step Program for people like myself, a place where our crazed tendencies are examined and then crushed whenever we see something we don't have room for, or the ability to grow in our area.....I am sure of one thing: tropical plants need special care and attention....and even though we do get occasional frosts, that doesn't mean we cannot grow it....)
This incredible author, chocolate maker, Chocolate Truffle pioneer, imported chocolate pioneer and former Bay Area shop owner Alice Medrich, answered an e-mail I sent to her. She has authored one of my favorite books about chocolates/desserts/sweets around named "Bittersweet". In this book, she lays bare the facts and mysteries about using bittersweet, dark, white and all the other chocolates with their various levels of cocoa fat, butterfat, et cetera....Her recipes are the kind people give up their children for (well, maybe just the bad children) once they have tasted these incredible morsels....the reason I am talking about her, besides her expertise in this field, is that she did an act of kindness so unexpected and thoughtful, I had to pass it along:
The story:
I am a cookbook collector, and have been collecting for about 35 years now. I have each of this authors books, having somewhat of a history with her in the Bay Area, where we lived before P-ville over 36 years ago. The name of her shop was "Cocolat", and was in San Francisco, across the street from Gary and my favorite restaurant named "Little Italy". We would stop in her shop, look in her windows, and then get something to eat. We are talking about 1973. Alice closed her shop down in the late 70's (I think) to concentrate on cook-book writing. One of the elusive books she wrote was named "Alice Medrich's Cookies and Brownies" published in 1999. Simple enough, right? Well, trying to locate this book came up with a big fat zero, because it has not had alot of copies made. So I have been trying on Amazon-dot-com and e-bay to locate this book only to have it run around $150 + for a single copy. I contacted her asking if she knew of any places that this book might be for sale, and alas, she said no, but her new book was coming out next year. I thanked her and let her know about her fame in my heart, and that I looked forward to her new book. and then I secretly pouted........

Then one day, about two weeks later, I got a delivery in the mail from her. It was THE BOOK. With a note stating she had found a copy, and wanted me to have it. And she signed my copy!!! This is so incredible! And the kind of Karma thing I know will be played forward....

Google Ms. Alice Medrich if you are a chocolate lover, or a fan of imported chocolates. She is our very own California Chocolate Princess. And a classy lady. Thank you. (Just had to share this with you, good news doesn't travel fast enough if you ask me.....)
Hey:::::On Sunday, April 26, The Future Chefs will be holding their annual cook-off and judging for the winner of this years title. This is an incredible event for young high-school kids interested in becoming professional chefs that is sponsored by locals and volunteers interested in helping young kids with their creative skills in the kitchen. Help them out by attending this event. The tickets are $15.00 for the food tasting and $25.00 with wine and food, per person of course. The food they cook will be shared with all, and it will be fun!!!

This is a web link to the informational site. Check it out (double click on this link): Future Chefs Event
You know with all the weird and strange and unexplainable things going on in this world, I need to share something else. I have this guy named Ryan Montgomery who works here at Cafe Luna, running my kitchen, learning and absorbing and growing each day in his skill levels. Ryan is doing such an incredible job, and during these times of slower nights due to the economy and such, he has taken it upon himself to go the extra mile that all employers dream about, and love to see. He fixes things! He cleans better than myself! He stays busy, making him invaluable to our little establishment. Ryan is like a sponge: I can go over recipes and details of the menu with him, he figures them all out, and RUNS THE KITCHEN!! I try to thank him for his extra efforts, but wanted you to know that there are some great workers out there doing an exceptional job....we are lucky to have him in our employ.
'Nuff said.
This months menu:
Paella: yep, we got it back on the menu. Clams, linguisa sausages, prawns, cod, ham and saffron rice. What could be better???

Hanger Steak: this wonderful piece of meat we dry-marinate in our "Montreal Spice" rub for 48 hours, grill on a hot char-broiler, and serve with our Port-Shallot butter.
There is only one hanger steak per animal, and the entire cut typically weighs about 1 to 1.5 lbs. It is prized for its flavor, and was sometimes known as "butcher's steak" because butchers would often keep it for themselves rather than offer it for sale. But we are sharing it with you!!!

Miss Shirley's Chicken Artichoke Pasta: Many of you knew Shirley West, and we loved her here at Cafe Luna. Shirley loved this dish comprised of diced chicken breast, artichoke hearts, pancetta bacon, mushrooms, capers, caramelized leeks, lemon and and a dash of cream. Served over wide-noodled Papperadelle pasta, what else could you ask for? So this is named for her, because we made it at her request. Enjoy this dish.

Asparagus Mushroom Pasta: Yahoo!! It's Asparagus season!! So why not make use of it by having a great quick saute of fresh asparagus, Crimini mushrooms, grape tomatoes, fresh thyme and white wine, simmered and tossed with Farfalle (bow-tie) pasta, a bit of Parmesan cheese of course...and topped with a Spanish "gremolata" called "Picada" made with lemon zest, garlic, Italian parsley, and chopped toasted hazelnuts.
NOTE: why we use Gremolata's and Picada's: Hot pasta, hot braised meats and hot grilled items sometimes need nothing more than a light topping of very fragrant herbs to make them a winner. These Italian and Spanish condiments are perfect: when the cool herbs, etc. hit the hot food, their fragrance is intoxicating, and the instantaneous cooking from the heat of the food is just enough to bring out all the flavors. Try experimenting with these items.)
The entire menu is part of a download on this e-mail, and also posted on our site, http://www.cafelunatics.blogspot.com/.
New Wines!!!
Again with spring coming, so do new wines here at Cafe Luna. So we did a major tasting of some of El Do County and then Amador County wines, so very close to us here.
And do we have some winners!!! Some might be new to you, and remember, I try to pick wines that we feel will go best with the foods served here. Some of the new wineries covered are as follows (each of the web-sites are linked by double clicking on their names).

Ill Gioiello Winery We first got to taste this wine last December at the 8th Annual Wino Hop we were lucky to have attended. Located just on the other side of Amador County, and pronounced "eel-joy-ello", it means The Jewel in Italian. And it is!! We are carrying their wonderful Mourvedre, the Barbara and the Block 1 Zinfandel. These wines are so very fruit forward and delicious we can't wait until you try them!! We have paired their Mourvedre with our Hanger Steak and their Barbara with our Pasta Raphael (who knew? Red wine with salmon??? why yes, it does work beautifully.....) Either way, we are offering both by the glass, so try it!! And visit their winery!

Wilderotter Vineyards: located in Amador County again, we are carrying their Sauvignon Blanc, a crisp, citrus scented and crisp tasting Sauvignon Blanc grapes, perfect with food. A lovely winery with some very interesting and affordable wines.

DK Cellars Winery : here in El Dorado County, this winery is doing some incredible wines that are clean tastes and incredible values. We are carrying their Reserve Merlot, and their Meritage (rhymes with Heritage). The Merlot, is a California style, not "dirt-linty tasting" like older ones used to be, but full of fruit and aroma. And again, so very great with foods. We are offering the Merlot by the glass and paired it with our Pineapple Glazed Pork Tenderloin.

Jeff Runquist Wines: This is lovely wine making. So utterly thought provoking in its flavors and the little twists that make this such special wine tasting. Their Barbara is fabulous (best word to describe it: imagine me with my hands in the air waving them frantically.....in a really masculine way of course...). This wine is one of my "fire-place wine" - able to drink it alone with someone special or by myself (oops...I do that sometimes....). We are carrying their "Z" Zinfandel, the "R" Cabernet Franc, and the "R" Barbara. This winery has the fun of having Mr. Jeff's Mom and Dad pouring wines on the week ends, and they are both a hoot! They opened up all of their wines for us to sample, and we loved the special treatment. (then we found out they do this for everyone. Oh well....We felt special anyway....) Two proud parents pouring a very easy-to-be-proud-of wine.

Cedarville Vineyard This very wonderful winery in El Dorado County is producing some of our very best wines, available. We are carrying their Cabernet Sauvignon by the glass and pairing it with our Filet Mignon. What a match made in heaven. This wine is luscious! Great nose, a ripe and fruity wine, made with 100% Cabernet. I think this is their signature wine making style and I love this very sophisticated style. And I have a tendency to hoard.....at my house......again, drinking alone....sometimes....
Johnathan and his lovely bride and partner Susan are great tour guides, and great information givers. Appointment only, but call them for a week end set up sometime. You will love it.

Landmark Vineyards: A long history of this Sonoma County wine with Gary and I, here at Cafe Luna, and again at our old restaurant in Coloma, The Vineyard House. We always carried their "Overlook" Chardonnay, and do again. And also their new release of "Steel Plow" Syrah, which just this month received 94 points in Wine Spectator Magazine (this is a big deal in the wine world...). This wine is going to go fast, so come try some of this very spectacular Syrah. We are offering the "Overlook" Chardonnay by the glass, and pairing it with our Four Cheese and Wild Mushroom Mac and Cheese.

"Haka" Tempranillo by Labrynith Cellars - Located in Santa Barbara County, we are carrying the Tempranillo that pairs so well with foods. This is another big in the mouth, but mellows out to a superb wine we love drinking. We are pairing this wine with our Chipotle Chile Pasta HotHead Dish, made with chicken, rock shrimp, Spanish Chorizo, and Spanish Ham. This Spanish varietal is a work-horse wine compatible with so many foods, and a main-stay in the wine blends. We are so happy that this wine is coming into its own as a special Varietal.
(Note: Locally, we also have Boeger making a fantastic Tempranillo, along with C.G. DiArie Winery. Both are special!...)

Speaking of wines and wineries: with the internet comes all sorts of visuals that we can look at to check out our favorite wineries, the people and stories. Here, I will try to send links to wineries with little 3-8 minute movies about the wines, and the wineries and the people behind them.
First one:

http://www.cgdiarie.com/html/video.html This is C.G. DiArie's 4-part wine video series that delves into Chaim and Elisheva's theories on wine and life. We love these two. And carry many of their elegant offerings. You will see in these videos Chaim's Submerged Cap Fermentationon Tanks that he is patenting. Works like a "French Press" almost to extract as much flavor as he can. Very interesting......
Monthly Specials: These two specials are available for the month of April and May.
Wino Wednesday:
all wines on our list are 30% off the listed price.
Thursday Nights Big One:
No corkage on up to two bottles of wine per table.
I am including a recipe for a great little appetizer/luncheon/dinner dish that is so simple, and yet complex at the same time. It is a Coconut Shrimp dish, no, not the deep fried kind at the Chain bars in the city. How about a simmered prawn dish that can be served with a side of rice to make it a spectacular main course meal. The sauce to cook it in is simple and put together in a couple of minutes, and will last in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks if kept covered tightly. Thai Fish Sauce, or Nam Plah, is available at almost all our grocerie stores now, and use it sparingly, but it makes all the difference in the world.

As always, the recipes and menus are downloaded in PDF format. Let me know if you have any difficulty with anything.

Go to our blogsite for all past recipes, Rants & Raves and other things.


Thank you for your support and your continued interest.

Take Care.

Cafe Luna 451 Main Street, #8
Creekside Place
Placerville, CA 95667

No comments: