Jun 4, 2009

June 2009

Hi All you Luna/tics:

I am sitting here in my home office and looking at the lightning and listening to the thunder. I am reminded when as a kid, you first experience the excitement of it all....the flashes of light, remembering to count slowly until you hear the noise of the thunder and realize how far in miles it is from you.....

and that little kid comes back...

You can't help but smile at the safety of our homes while this is happening, the light show in the sky and the gloriousness of nature in its ticked off moods.

It is amazing what we can see and yet take for granted. The sky, black and full of clouds straight out of "First Encounters of the Third Kind". Just waiting for something to emerge out of the clouds that will play that huge piano and those five notes that some of us can remember so well from the movie....

...and hoping upon hope that maybe, just maybe we will see what we have wondered about all these years.....a friendly face from the sky....

These are the things I think about when I am home during a thunder and lightning storm

while drinking a glass of good wine.....

How very odd it is to be having a major rain storm in June, but how delightful at the same time. Our world is not the same predictable place it has been in the past. We have different aspects of our lives to think about, to adjust to and to contemplate about on a daily basis.

And, so back to what I was thinking.....

Its June!! The Farmers Markets are back on track here in Placerville, each Saturday morning, and in El Dorado Hills each Sunday morning. Seeing the fresh produce, and knowing that the Heirloom tomatoes will be here in abundance any day now just gets me giddy with joy. (My mom, the non-cook, used to take sun-warmed tomatoes (you know the kind that just smell so fresh and "tomato-y", I swear she would just wipe them off with her shirt, because the old gardeners were probably the ultimate organic gardeners and you never had to worry about anything on them except a bit of dust....) from my Grandpa's garden, slice them thickly, and put them between two pieces of bread with just a bit of mayonnaise on the bread, and light salt and pepper the tomatoes....maybe a basil leaf or two, and make these great sandwich's that I still think is the ultimate in simple tastes that warms my soul.....).

And now look what we get to have: if you have not tasted a "Pineapple" tomato, or a "Cherokee Purple", or a Brandywine....especially warm from the yard or the vine, well, for you tomato lovers: nirvana.....

And so that leads me to tell you that Gary and I have two large pots of tomatoes that we are growing and even though they have only been in the dirt for 4 weeks now, we have over 28 on one plant, and about 15 on the other......I won't say it is because of our expert tomato growing skills.....but it just might be from the combined spirits of our Aunt Tiny, my Grandpa and our friend Farley. They knew how to grow tomatoes. And so each time we plant them, or water them, or just look at them growing, we can't help but think about the people who got us to realize how essential having a little garden growing can be for our psyche....It is humbling to say the least.....

My garden at the house is coming along very nicely, thank you very much. One side of the house now harbors a four shelf unit of just cuttings and snips that I keep propagating, and potting up and hoping that the right person will come along and appreciate them like I do.....and so I give them away, when they are grown enough to maintain on their own, in someone else's garden....that is the fun part about being a "closet" gardener....the fact that when a branch breaks, or a succulent leaf falls off, you have the opportunity to start a new plant for someone else. I love this part. It is funny how my patience is endless when it comes to this, and yet I have no patience for other things....we pick and we choose don't we....

And June is also a time for us to lighten up on our menu and to lighten up on our eating, and to enjoy some of the things that are quickly cooked, barbecued or just quickly sauteed. Our new menu reflects this part of the year.

This Month's Promotions:::
Here is our promotional plan for this month (oh you Wino's will be happy!!)

#1. On Wino Wednesday, all wines are 30% off the list price. The change here is it used to be wines under $35.00 and over $50.00......now you get to have any one on the menu, bottles only. So now, a $40.00 bottle will run you $28.00 on Wino Wednesdays......Yahoo!!!!!

#2. BYOB Thursdays! On Thursday nights, we will be having diners wishing to bring in their own bottles of wine getting two free corkage per table. That alone will be a $30.00 savings. Please don't bring in wines on our list though.....how gauche. Call us first if you have a question......or better yet, how about if I download a copy of our current listings with this mailing?

#3. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights 1/2 off dinner coupons.

Buy first dinner at regular price, second dinner is half off the menu price. Bring the attached coupon in and be honored for the month of June.


Portuguese Prawns: In my March 2008 letter, I let you know about stock making that included Paella stock, rich with seafood, vegetables and saffron seasonings, long simmered and used for several different recipes (oh the virtue of house-made stocks....). Well, here we have another use for good stock as a base for a wonderful meal: large pan sauteed prawns, Linguisa sausages, with Kalamata olives, red bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic and white wine quickly sauteed and served simmered with Penne pasta, topped with Feta cheese and toasted bread crumbs (for a bit of "crunch"). This is delicious for you seafood lovers.

Fresh Halibut: Halibut is one of those wonderful fresh fish that many people do not know about: sweet, flaky, and moist all at the same time. We are doing a version of flash pan grilling (?), that we brush with a bit of butter, saute very quickly on one side, turn over and add some roasted garlic cloves, wine, minced onions, tomatoes, and shrimp, roast under the broiler, and turn it out on a bed of Basmati rice topped with a bit of fresh lemon zest. Fresh, simple, and so very good.

Lasagna Rolls: Crimini and Portabello mushrooms, roasted fennel bulb, butternut squash and three kinds of cheeses on pasta, rolled up and baked with our house made Marinara sauce, topped with grated Mozzarella cheese. A vegetarians heaven.

Honey-Ginger Chicken: You know one of the things we restaurant people do is brining. It is the secret between dried out chicken and moist chicken. We do a brine with honey, ginger, and allspice that starts this dish out on the right foot: brine overnight, and then marinate in a fresh ginger, garlic and honey base, grill over and open flame, slice and served topped with a mince of fresh mangoes and red bell peppers. Again, outside eating inside. Light and flavorful.

Hot-Head Special: Chicken Vindaloo: One of the spiciest of our "Hot-Head" dishes, this one is from Goa a region of Southwestern India, made with a base of chilies, tomatoes and of course our own "curry" blend, with the twist of vinegar, the only well-know curry using vinegar. It is so subtle and yet so essential in the recipe. But it is also one of the spiciest, rating a # 9 on the heat levels. HOT-HEADS REJOICE!!! Boneless chicken breast meat pan seared, and then simmered in the Vindaloo curry sauce, served with Basmati rice and topped with a cooling Cilantro Cream. This dish is very soul satisfying for my Hot-Heads. (Mr. David Z: The nice thing about this dish: it is a vegetarian base, so we can make it a vegetable-only dish also.)

Tequila Glazed Pork Tenderloin: Pork tenderloin brined in maple and brown sugar blend, grilled on our char-broiler, sliced and topped with a fresh salsa made with grilled pineapple and limes and a bit of kick from Serrano chilies. Delicious.

Fresh Grilled Atlantic Salmon: Grilled with a toasted almond, curry and Panko crust, this dish is drizzled with a Coriander and Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette. This is one of those concoctions that leaves me just patting myself on my own back I love it so much. Coriander is the seed from the plant in the parsley family, but does not have any flavor of parsley at all. Rather, it is more like a mix of lemon and sage but with a perfume so intoxicating, you have to smell it to believe it. And does it make a great seafood topping!! (Why yes, it does to answer my own question...).


It seems this time of the year, we are always playing catch-up on the list of wines we have tasted over the last several months, that we try to make room for when we can, due to vintage changes, eliminations or unavailable wines. So......we get to try new wines....


Usually every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoon, you will see me sitting at the round table in the dining room, with my "Tasting Note-Book", my calculator and my pencil, with at least 6-10 glasses in front of me, in various forms of use. We, as I have stated so many times, live in a wonderful area for wine drinkers. El Dorado County and Amador County is so full of excellent wineries that I do not know where to start: so looking for something to knock my socks off, we taste. And socks are knocked off, believe me....

(If you want more information about each of these wines, just double click on their high-lighted names, and you will magically be transported to their respective web-sites...)

Please Note:
Like a parent with many, many children: I am just noting some of our new wines on the list. The list of incredible wineries we represent is large. I am not choosing one over the other, just the new wines listed. (The only way I would choose one child of mine over the other is if they looked like me, only more handsome, or taller, or thinner, or maybe if they didn't look like me at all....it is all so confusing.....I should have had kids....)

Il Gioiello Wines: this winery just is producing some of the most fruit-forward wines I have tasted in along time. Full bodied, rich and so food friendly, I can't say enough about them as one of our new wineries on our list. We carry their Mourvedre, their Estate Block 1 Zinfandel, and their Barbara.

T-Vine Cellars: My Cult Wine!! Our good friends Phil and Julie turned us on to this wine about 4 years ago. We have been lucky enough to feature their wines (when we can get them) and are the only restaurant in the area to have them. The wine maker Mr. Greg Brown, is a creature of the same cloth as myself (I am sure he knows all the words to "White Rabbit" like I do) that just happens to make incredible wines, all of them!! We are carrying his Napa Valley Petite Sirah, Napa Valley Zinfandel and Frediani Vineyards Syrah. We also carry his "Psychedelic Rooster" Rose. See if I am right in thinking this may be one of California's finest wineries. We run out of this wine makers wines each year, and look forward to when the new shipment arrives. IT'S HERE NOW!!

Ladera Vineyards : Ladera Vineyards is a venerable winery in the Napa region that produces beautiful wines that people in their local area consider excellent. We got to taste them and we are now followers of this winery. Their Lone Canyon Cabernet Sauvignon received a 91 Point score from Wine Spectator Magazine this year! We are also carrying their "Howell Mountain" Sauvignon Blanc, and if you know of the area, this is like the magic kingdom of grape growing. Big, crisp, grapefruit nose, and excellent.

Jeff Runquist: We started carrying Mr. R's wines last month. We are huge fans of this style of wine: big fruit, big full mouth flavors, and big finish. His wines are just LUSCIOUS!! Everyone we have introduced this wine to have become partners in crime with our love of his wines. Barbara, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc are the varietals we are carrying and you need to try them if you have not. The tasting room is a blast, with his Mom and Dad showing all the pride a parent can have, pouring for guests at the winery. And the greatest dog! Right there at the winery. GO THERE. Tell them you heard about them from Cafe Luna.

Shadow Ranch: Here is a smaller winery in El Dorado County that is making people take notice. Their Sauvignon Blanc is excellent: dry, crisp, big citrus nose and so easy with these coming summer months. And if you know anything about us, we really recommend Sauvignon Blanc as the white wine for food, since it is not so perfumed and tastes so clean. A style I prefer. Their Zinfandel is big on taste, and better yet, it is so drinkable right now, so why not? Enjoy it like we do.

Boeger Winery: Gary and I have been associated with Boeger winery since the early 1970's from our old restaurant "Vineyard House" in Coloma. We started carrying their wines in 1973. we have always carried their wines, and always will. We love them. The winery, the people who work there (Happy Birthday Miss Sara!!!), and their products. We carry many of their wines, and several by the glass offerings. New this month? Their Primitivo which we are offering by the glass. Excellent with foods, barbecues, and just enjoying all by itself, a Zinfandel lovers dream. Rich, big berry taste, with just enough of a dry factor to savor with cheeses, and chocolate desserts both. And it not bad with meats either!!

C.G. Di Arie: Close to our heart, C.G. Di Arie is, year after year after year, producing some of the very finest wines we have to offer. We carry many of their wines, but new this menu is the "Block 4" Primitivo and their Sauvignon Blanc. These wines sell out quickly so enjoy them while we have them available.

Dillian : We are new to this winery: we are carrying their Primitivo and Barbara...I am almost reluctant to tell you we are carrying them. Because it is a small production lot of wines, and if we sell too much of them, what will I have left to drink when it is "MY TIME" to enjoy? Get it while you can!!! That is all I can tell you. An Amador County winery that is superb. Just great wines!

DK Cellars: Our local El Dorado county winery that is making some very impressive wines, notably the "Pratt Vineyards" Meritage and their Reserve Merlot. These wines, once again, such excellent food wines, and if you are a Meritage (rhymes with "Heritage") lover, you will be blown away. Their Merlot, is coming along as one of the new - what I like to call - California-style Merlots: less "dirt" taste, and more of the big fruit this grape has to offer. If you were not a Merlot lover before, TRY THIS WINE!!

When you check out these wineries, make sure you check their Events pages if they have them. These are the upcoming days when you will be able to enjoy some of the special offerings that the counties have to showcase their wares. Those days are fun, and you get to do something out of the normal range. These summer days ahead are going to be a blast for us wine drinkers, and the wineries are trying to keep us amazed at what they can do. And you can buy incredible wines on top of it all. I love my job.


A note to you wine makers: I am just a little guy. I am a restaurant owner who is so very dependent upon my representatives to visit and entice me with your wines, you have no idea. I have my own criteria of great wine representatives: Some of you on the other hand, seem to have another.

Winery Owners, during these economically depressed times, ask yourself a question about your representation:

1. When was the last time you got a new account from your representatives? An account that they themselves visited and presented your wines personally?

2. When was the last time you asked your representatives how many places they have had a personal tasting of your wines recently?

3. How many orders do they personally fill as opposed to a business calling in the orders themselves?

4. When was the last time your representatives called on clients carrying your wines, updating materials, bringing new information about your winery and your wines, and generally updating your on-going accounts about changes within your business?

and finally:

5. How much of the culture of your wines and your winery is conveyed through your representatives?

I ask this because, as a small business man who has a pretty extensive wine book, I have eight, count 'em eight, good reps (you know who you are and bless you from the bottom of my heart). I carry over 150 + wines. These are reps that I personally see not less than once a month, representatives who hand deliver new information about your wines, who deliver new catalogs, and who bring good representation about your business TO ME. These wine people take a shelf inventory count of your products, let me know what I am running low on, and let me know about the remaining availability from you, BEFORE WE RUN OUT!! If you know me, you know I love to talk and to learn about what your wines represent. It ticks me off to see the good guys pounding the streets selling their products, week after week, and then the others who do nothing except get their commissions from products they do nothing to enhance.
'Nuff said.


Thank you for your business, we can only hope that things are getting better for all of us.

We love seeing your faces, and miss seeing those we do not.
Drop me a line with an idea, or a suggestion and I will try to respond.

Take care.


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