Nov 7, 2009

Cafe Luna Rants & Raves
November 2009

Hi All You Luna/tics!!


I am sitting here in my home office with the last of the Anglo-tan peeling off my cheeks (face cheeks my dears. face cheeks....) the result of our just getting off the ship from our seven day cruise to Mexico. The weather was beautiful, warm/hot, and clear. Incredible sun-sets and smooth sailing.

And then there were the cocktails.....
the many, many, many cocktails......

It is so great to be able to be served double-shot margarita's while sitting in a chair, not having to spend any money and just have another and another. And to have your friends keeping up with you....or surpassing you....doesn't matter.

Whoa...just like home....

We went to Puerto Vallarta first, one of our most favorite cities in Mexico. Why? The diversity of the city. The architecture, the people. The color of the city. The ocean. The influence of the ocean on the city. And the food. It is one of the things we Californians have available to us, and something we all seem to rely on often: Mexican foods. The comfort of taco's, "chips and salsa", guacamole...Mexican beers on a hot day, especially if they are served in the frosty ice cold glasses with the lime wedge. Mexico.

Gary and I seem to go there as often as we can: far enough away to relieve any stress in life at the moment, and close enough to make it affordable regularly (should have had kids.....then I would have known where all my money would be all my future money.....and my will would be totally different.....Gary and I have a belief: if we have any money left when it's all over, we didn't have a good enough time.....and we expect to have a great time in life...).

Did I mention the music of Mexico? Have you ever listened to the beautiful Mariachi music that is so full of life, guitars, and yes - sometimes accordion playing - that is so infectious with its rhythms and its ability to sweep you away in the moment.....and not to mention it can be so very, very romantic. There is something so sensual just listening to the beautiful Mexican ballads played. (For those of you unfamiliar with these ballads, try listening to good old Linda Ronstadt's incredible CD's of Mexican ballads from 1983, "Canciones di Me Padre" along with her other CD "Mas Canciones" from 1990. Pure infectious melody and angst and romance.....listen to these on a moonlit night with someone you love....and take a shower...just in case....).

Keeping in the spirit of all things Mexico on our cruise, we brought along our domino set, and played "Mexican Train" dominos. Endlessly. Marathons of them....Karen, Mike and Sally kept us lubricated (bless you...) - I hope they weren't trying to get us drunk enough for us to lose our edge....oh well, it didn't matter....we all won equally....except maybe Mike (The Cheater) making funny noises and imitations that totally distracted us (oh my gawd: I just realized: he kept us laughing so hard, we forgot whose turn it was, and he always said it was his....that guy! there is no end to his devious behavior plying us with liquor and such...who am I kidding? we were easy marks.....).

One thing we did notice: all of these people of -- let us say "a certain age" group (think Blue Hair and very heavy perfume and cigar smoking men) kept coming up to our game table and asking us what we were doing and how smart we were to bring our domino set with us and listening to us laugh and giggle and get really loud while playing. (NOTE FOR NEXT TIME: bring several extra sets and sell them at a huge mark-up!!! Pay for our cruise in no time...). All of us were so surprised by this, mainly because all of us had our natural hair color (whoa: thunder and lightening? in the middle of the day??? ok, ok. I am sorry...) and kept thinking what a sophisticated and mind-broadening game to play on board....(who am I kidding? it travels well...and it is easy.....unless you refer to the rules....and you know we just made them up as we went along....angel/devil on our shoulders.....we use what advantage we could.....forgive me Karen/Mike/Sally/Gary....I really did know what I was doing......oh gawd....I might be going to hell.....).

But FUN? Yep. It is a fun game and we had a blast. And the Margarita's, the Pina Colada's and beers weren't to shabby either. And then there was the "Cookie Lady" (who was a dead ringer for Scarlett Johansen) from Romania who kept bringing fresh-baked-hot-out-of-the-oven cookies around on a rolling cart.....did I mention how much like home it was????

There is such joy in laughing. The utter release of all your anxieties, the sheer silliness that over-comes you when you can't stand it any longer and just give in to your body letting you laugh out loud, shake with laughter, blow wine/milk/margarita's out-of-your-nose laughter. It may be the healthiest thing I do for myself. I love to laugh. Out loud. And love to hear that laughter in my friends. (Try not to laugh when you hear someone laughing well. It just takes over...).

And we laughed.

And now I have a cold I am getting over (I will never drink again and leave my mouth open....). We had a wonderful time. Relaxed. Slept. Napped. Ate.

and ate....
(walking around now even here at home, every time I hear something any close to the sound of a bell, I am hungry.....Pavlov was right....conditional reflexes and all.....{I will be taller, I will be taller.....}).

Gary and I are so fortunate to have laughter in our lives. We love to laugh, to laugh with others, and to get giddy from laughter. Having fun, and a sense of humor - no matter hot twisted - is one of the main ingredients to a successful relationship. To be able to laugh at ourselves and to laugh out loud, and to laugh together..... hmmmm...........I am blessed.

And to know others in this Secret Society: even better.


Enough about us......
well not just yet.

You know what isn't fair? That Gary can go outside, fall asleep in the hot sun - yes the same sun that cooked me in 20 minutes - and get tan. And stay tan. Me? I look at the sun, I burn, I peel.

Damn European Latins and their olive complexions.....(skin envy...). His mom was Portuguese, his dad born-and-raised in Spain. And the only wrinkles? around his eyes when he laughs.....
the happy wrinkles of fun.

Ok, now that is enough about us.....

All in all....a wonderful, relaxing and fun time had by all of us....

Take care.

David at Cafe Luna
Here is our promotional plan for this month (oh you Wino's will be happy!!)

#1. On Wino Wednesday, all full bottle wines are 30% off the list price. The change here is it used to be wines under $35.00 and over 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!!!!!
(Does not work with by -the-glass offerings)

#2. BYOB Thursdays! On Thursday nights, we will be having diners wishing to bring in their own bottles of wine getting one free bottle corkage per table. That alone will be a $15.00 savings. Please don't bring in wines on our list gauche. Call us first if you have a question......

#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 September, 2009.
This Months Dinner Menu
(Double Click avove to get a complete copy of this months Dinner menu)

New This Menu:

Well my friends, the menu change has been a hit! The two page format with one page of appetizers and light entree's along with several salads has been very much of a tasting menu for a lot of you. Thank you!!!

Main Entrees

Mediterranean Seafood Stew - Did you know Gary is half Portuguese? His Mom's family was from the beautiful Azores - an incredible tropical island that we will someday visit. His mom was also the kind of cook that could make mud-pies taste good. She taught me the benefit of Linguisa sausage and the role it plays in Portuguese cooking. Kind of like our bacon. The Linguisa renders its fat, and that is used to saute and other parts of the dish, gathering layer after layer of flavors. We are taking large prawns, cod fish and clams, sauteing them with Linguisa, tomatoes and white onions, finishing them with a great saffron stock and fresh fennel sauce, and serving with a mound of Basmati rice. Wonderful. So good sometimes it hurts.

Tortellini Ala Pana - Cheese filled tortellinis simmered in a Marsala wine sauce with sliced olives, bell peppers, Sopprasatta salami, and a bit of parmesan cheese, finished with a bit of cream to even it out. A very satisfying pasta dish from the old school, and one of Gary's favorite dishes.

Chicken Don-Don - Our Hot-Head Special this Month. Basically a peanut sauce gone wild. Barbara Tropp, author of a great book "China Moon Cafe" used to make this "table sauce" and add the extra chiles, ginger and garlic. We upped it one more. This is a "9" out of "10" for our Hot-Heads. Pan-sauteed chicken in a peanut-garlic-ginger sauce over rice with crispy rice noodles on top.

Thai Tuna Curry - Mike likes to fish. He likes to fish off the coast of San Diego. He likes to catch tuna. His wife doesn't like Mike to bring home the tuna. Mile brought the beautiful tuna into us. We are making this dish with a green Thai curry with chunks of potatoes, coconut and serving it with Basmati rice. A nice, even tempered curry, on a "5" scale.

Salmon Wellington - Fresh Pacific salmon filets topped with caramelized leeks and carrots, rubbed with French mustard and tarragon, wrapped in puff pastry and baked until golden. Served topped with a light Meyer lemon beurre blanc. Dee-lish!!!!

Short Ribs of Beef - Finally!!! Slow simmered meaty beef ribs served in their reduced juices over (Best!) polenta. This is a house pleasing dish, perfect for these colder days and nights. We love this part of the year.

Beef Stroganoff - Filet Mignon strips of beef, pan-seared with wild and domestic mushrooms in a rich sour cream and paprika sauce. Served with egg noodles. We should name this after Stephanie at the Shafsky House B & B, she asks us about this dish almost you go, Lady.

Appetizers, Small Plates and Light Entrees

Whoo-hoo! Our best girl-friend Sally steered me into this new region of smaller plates and things to try. She is my food conscious, the one in the white robe sitting on my right shoulder while I sit on my left shoulder - usually with red on and horns.....

Torta Rustica - This months version has a slight Latin bend to it: roasted butternut squash, roasted Pasilla chiles, black beans, corn, zucchini, and potatoes with Jack cheese, baked in individual puff pastry pies, and served topped with a rustic charred tomato, roasted red bell pepper and garlic "salsa". This is one we are all eating in the back room for dinner each night.

Market Pasta: Angel hair pasta, tossed with a bit of butter, fresh chopped Roma tomatoes, topped with our house-made pesto sauce. Simple, flavorful and to the point.
Ahi Tuna: Rare Ahi tuna, on a bed of baby greens, topped with an Italian infused Meyer lemon olive oil, served with a red chile aioli with toasts.

Salmon Cakes - Poached salmon mixed with roasted vegetables, herbs and bound together to form little cakes we saute until golden and crisp and top with top with a spicy aioli made with Chipotle chiles, oranges and garlic.

Salade Nicoise - Lightly Dijon dressed greens topped with steamed potatoes, hard cooked eggs, steamed French green beans, artichoke hearts, Roma tomatoes, caper and Nicoise olives then slices of charred rare Ahi Tuna......see picture above.....its delicious.....