It's getting to that time of year when a bit of the holiday panic starts to dig its heals in the back of our heads....did I do this, did I do that, will I ever be able to do that again?
gawd....the holidays are coming......
Here it is 72 degrees outside as I begin to write this bit of monthly running of the mind/mouth. It can't be. It's November. Today is my Mom's 79 birthday. She looks fantastic. I hope it is in our genes, and not just ending at hers.......
We have this little dog, Max. He is the quietest dog we have ever loved. We never hear him enter the room, we never hear him bark.
But his presence is felt all the time. It is that we ANTICIPATE him coming into the room, or look for him at his favorite spots to nap, or wonder where he is when we don't see him. So we call him, or go look for him, just to make sure that he is OK, and within our eyesight.
In our presence.
Max stares at us. He has the kind of eyes that look deep inside of us, and hold our gaze, and we find we can't look away. He is hypno>tic that way, and it is usually him that breaks the stare-hold first. He is cat-like in that he comes for affection when he needs it, not when we do. He is loving but strangely aloof. He is a rescue dog that was abused in his past life. And he is so cute, that it breaks my heart that someone could ever abuse a little guy like him. (Bastards!)
But here is my point: Max and his (our) needs represent so much of how I look at what I love in foods.
Look, let me explain: on the Thanksgiving table::: of course the turkey, the stuffing the gravy, the mashed potatoes. But it isn't Thanksgiving WITHOUT the cranberry sauce, the tiny little sweet pickles my mom always included, and the sweet potatoes that were always there, but seldom eaten. But they completed the meal.
We all have these kinds of things that make our lives and our food needs complete. It's this calm I need to get through my day.
It's funny how we do a quick sweep of our environment and see when the picture is complete and not complete, and how we can either be okay with it, or stress away the day waiting for it to be "OK". The older I get the more these things are important to me, probably because I realize that I can take care of these little seemingly crazy quirks in my personality.
I am happy to have my lucid moments when I can REMEMBER that my mom used to always put little sweet pickles on our holiday table. Or that when we were kids it was the only time we were allowed to stick the canned black pitted olives on all five of our fingertips and eat them one by one and giggle our heads off at the luck of the day of "manners-out-the-window". Thus the holidays were not only fun, but uproariously loose.
As loose as little kids with black olives stuck on the end of their fingers with their siblings and peers doing the same thing and all of us laughing and choking on our laughter.
So when I look at Max, I can give this little dog of ours the affection that I want/need to give him, but the completed picture is when he comes to me and wants the petting and the belly-rubbing. Ahhh.....this is the glories of the day for me.....
And make sure that the cranberry sauce is on the table: and I do like both kinds: the jelly and the chunky......
what's wrong with me?
Our new menu: This is a fun menu for me. We get to incorporate several of our favorite dishes from the past and present and give things a new spin.
As many of you know, we used to have another restaurant in the area called "The Vineyard House" over in Coloma. One of our menu items that was so popular was our "Tortellini ala Panna": a dish that incorporated mushroom, minced ham, Calamata olives, basil, Marsala wine, tomatoes and stuffed tortellini pastas finished with Parmesan cheese. We are re-introducing this dish and believe me it is timeless. We are using Tortelloni pastas filled with minced Proscuitto ham and chicken. This is a comfort food item that you will love.
Pear and Gorgonzola Tart: One of our small plates, this is a puff pastry tart filled with caramelized onions, Dijon mustard, chutney and fresh poached pear slices baked until golden and crispy. Served with our house-pickled onions and some other condiments, it is a perfect "little" dish.
Butternut Squash, Corn and Bacon Risotto:
Risotto is another of those dishes that is a comfort food to us. This one celebrates the last days of our fresh Delta grown corn, with locally grown Butternut Squash and the wonderful apple-wood smoked bacon that my butcher provides us. Finished with Mascarpone cheese and Parmesan cheese, it is a wonderful risotto that kind of throws in some corn in an Italian dish that some people think is sinful: most Italian cooks don't used a lot of corn, considering it "pig food", or what they feed their livestock. But they do not have the wonderful varieties we have here in California. (Ex-step Mother Gloria would be turning in her grave, until she tasted it that is....)
Pork tenderloin covered with a minced mixed mushroom duxelle, covered in puff pastry, and baked until golden. The wonder of this dish? The sauce topping it: a simple knock-out sauce of fresh ginger simmered in wine and real maple syrup that is too incredible for my own good. This is a beauty of a dish that you will love.
Maple Leaf Farms raises some incredible ducks for us. This version of using their duck breasts is pan-sauteing the breast until the skin is crispy, and then taking dry cherries from Italy, with Port wine and some stock, and making a great pan-jus' sauce that we finish with Aunt Sandi and Uncle Paul's home-grown pomegranate seeds. Duck lovers are complete.
Our Skirt Steak:
Skirt Steak is such a flavorful piece of meat. We are marinating this in a lime, garlic, soy and beer base, char-broiling it to your specification, and then slicing and topping with a pile of charred and roasted peppers and caramelized onions in a vinegar oil that is great. This dish is a meat lovers paradise.
Our Wine List Additions
Estate Grand Chardonnay
CAbernet Sauvignon Blanc
Primitivo "Shady Lady"
Here is another wine new to us I am so excited about: Tait "The Ballbuster". This wine knocked me out when I tasted it. A blend from the Barossa Valley in Southern Australia, it is a blending of Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot. This wine is so big and full in the mouth, and so great with food, that we will be offering this at an incredible purchase price for case purchasing only. This wine also got such high scores with the powers that be in the wine industry, I am amazed. Hard to find locally, but we are carrying it.
Tait 'The Ballbuster' 2008
Deep, dark purple in color, this wine has intense aromas of black currant, stewed plums, cherry, and chocolate. On the palate, it is full-bodied with berry flavors and a sweet long lasting finish."
We are starting to book several Holiday parties. If you and your organization are looking for a venue our size (50 +/-), contact us for information. We will gladly open on a Sunday or Monday evening if your group is 30+ guaranteed, for a private event. We have our back room which holds 24 comfortably, for smaller groups on evenings we are open, but they are booking fast.
And finally, thank all of you who have suffered though our "reviewed" daze. The Sacramento Bee Restaurant Review from Blair Anthony Robertson has been an incredible boost to our business, and almost overwhelming. We thank all of our regular customers for coming in, and all of our new customers for giving us a try. We have been having a wad of fun talking and meeting all of you again.
Enjoy our weather, go to the wineries, get involved in what is the rest of our mild weather. Come to Cafe Luna, see Gary and Richelle and Maria, and Courtney and Drew and say hello. We love to see you, and I love to hear back from you. We love being your guilty pleasure.