Sep 13, 2011

Hello All you Luna/tics:

September is here and the transitional period of our season is creeping up on us, even though our summer kind of came and went and came and went.....

Not complaining mind you, just wondering if our global warming is actually global cooling down here in El Doe County at least....

Have been having some slow nights here at the Cafe - talking to people who are feeling the long term effects of what is going on in the country with their finances, their worries, and their joys. It is intriguing to say the least...baffling, exciting, and depressing all at once.....who knows where our minds go....

My yard has now officially grown past its is a jungle that has just gotten to the tropical stage with me waiting for Tarzan to come bounding out of the trees screaming his yell (I can't think of him with his yell without thinking of Carol Burnett's yodeling .....) just looking for Jane.....


Winter comes and I am left with a whole bunch of leaves, and branches, and spent flowers that are mere reminders of Tarzan's leafy home.....not to bad....

Many changes here in the old P-ville Burg.....Lost our Mayor, shops closing, shops opening, people coming and going....changes....I guess with our economy and climate, we know things will happen as such. It really is the same, just with different lipstick colors. We all get over one hump to encounter another hump, or joy as the case may be. I am ready for the joy humping I dream about...(joy-humping ??? what the Holy "H" is that?)

Food: why do we love it? What makes food the main priority of our daily cravings and what is it that we crave? It's funny how food can guide you through your hours, just thinking about how good a certain something will taste in your mouth, and how that taste will sustain all your hungers.....but think about it:::::WHAT IS IT WE CRAVE???

Is it salty tastes like potato chips or pretzels? Creamy tastes like Fettuccini Alfredo or Cream Brulee'? Spicy like Chipotle Chicken or a fire-hot salsa? Or just the comfortable taste of pot roast that someone else made for you (which always taste better to me....) When I look into a menu planning session, I wonder out loud usually::::What do I want to eat???

I am always one to lean towards slow simmered or braised meats or stews, even in the summer. I am also a lover of anything over an open fire (prawns in their shells is a perfect example of what fire does to food.....I'm hungry...) - you know:::that perfect Rib Eye Steak over the barbecue, or Chicken on a spit slow cooking over off-set flames to give that beautiful glaze on the skin that is crispy and succulent at the same time....or pork chops, rubbed with your favorite spices, put on the barbecue and then brushed with a marinade or glaze that when it hits the flame, just sends memories flooding into your mind.

What is it I crave???

Maybe it is the friends or family that come with those associations of the smells and the tastes that I crave. The fun we have with the right bunch of people sharing food, drink, jokes - stupid, funny, off-color, and the "I forgot the punch-line-but-it-doesn't-matter" because you are still laughing gawd knows why.... -who knows. Maybe it is the preparation of what we eat. Here at our house, Gary does most of the cooking. Me, I do mine at Cafe Luna. But I also know that menus for me are planned out, with precise ingredients, with my recipes, my herbs, produce, meats, seafoods, grains, etc. Gary can look in the vast condiment-laden refrigerator at home and find dinner. Me? I see 1/3 full containers of mustard, capers, chutney, orange juice, mayonnaise, ketchup, Balsamic, and pickled green beans, and martini olives.....Him? Dinner fixings.

The ying and yang of the everyday joys of dinner.....



We have been able to offer our stuffed fresh figs, filled with Gorgonzola Dolce and wrapped in Prosciutto ham, and finished with a raspberry/Balsamic reduction sauce ( you know the whole recipe....good going Sherlock...). Figs are always this kind of erotic food for me: as a kid I remember seeing an old movie named "Tom Jones" with the actor Albert Finney. There is this one scene: the food scene that I will never, ever forget. It maybe the most erotic image that shaped my culinary adventures throughout my adult life: it is a scene where A Tom Jones (Albert Finney) and Mrs. Waters (Joyce Redman) sit across a table from each other and start to eat: meats, vegetables, breads, and then the fruits......well I am getting flustered just thinking about it. But let me say figs remind me about those first flushing's as an 11 year old young boy who experienced something he really did not understand, and has taken almost 50 years to ponder.

Over and Over and over....


I love them. And now I need a drink....

(Below is a link to the famous wordless 3-1/2 minute food scene....kind of risque, so watch it if you will.....from the 1963 movie "Tom Jones")

Fine dining
"Tom Jones" Food Scene

But I digress.....

We are running a wonderful fresh Pacific Snapper dusted in one of my favorite spices: Pimentón from Spain. A paprika with such deep flavors and hints of memories that I love to cook with it. Pan sauteed and finished with a fresh roasted corn and cherry tomato relish. It is soothing and exciting at the same time (is that redundant?).....Try it...

We are also keeping a new dish for us: Filet Mignon with Mushrooms, Gorgonzola and Rosemary on a bed of Pasta. The fresh rosemary is really something to flavor: it pairs perfectly with the cheese and mushrooms...

Veal Milanese - pounded veal in breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese, pan sauteed until golden topped with shaved Parmesan and a dollop of 'Salsa Rojo' - roasted peppers pureed with herbs and vinegar. Delicious.

Curried Seafood Stew - Yellow Thai style made with lemongrass, coconut milk and ginger, this has prawns, scallops, white fish and calamari simmered and served with Basmati rice. Mild, but can be made spicer for our heat lovers.

Jerk Pork - One of my personal favorites. If you haven't had "Jerk" before, it is a Jamacian dish made with hot chile peppers, many herbs and spices, a bit of vinegar and my secret: fresh pineapple. You have to understand it is a 'curry' in so many ways: herb and spice blends to make this incredible flavor that just permeates the dishes it is cooked in. Ours? Boneless pork pan-sauteed and then simmered in the 'jerk' sauce. One of the Hottest Hot-Head Dishes we prepare, and guess what? Gluten free!

We are featuring our Flank Steak this month, also our Prawns Ala Casa de la Sirena - large-in-shell-prawns, grilled over open flame that have been marinated in fresh lime and orange juices, garlic and mild chiles. Wonderful.

Desserts: Have you tried our Coconut Flan? Topped with caramel glazed banana's? Incredible. Also our Brulee's remain most popular, as is our Berry Cobblers. We are also running fresh Strawberry Shortcakes made with our orange zested shortcakes.

Come in. Take a load off your feet. Order a nice bottle of wine, an appetizer and dinner if you are so inclined. We would love to see all of you. Now that school is back in sessions, it will be nice to have you back in town on a regular basis.

Take care.

David and Gary at Cafe Luna

The Real Rants and Raves of this Month

State of Mind September 2011

I am not one to discuss politics but I started this month out on a ticked off level, kept writing about how ticked off I was, and decided to just put this four page rant here, for those of you who like to read things that get you mad.

So if you want to see how things work in my head, double click this link to hear my workings of my politics at this stage of my mind.

menu motif

and our By-The-Glass Selections Pairings

Just Double-click on the under-line above to preview or download

Skirt Stead

This is a keeper. Skirt steak or Flank steak, marinated overnight, barbecued, sliced and served with this wonderful salsa shouts "SUMMER" all year long. What to drink with this? Beer! or a nice local Barbera would be heaven.

Aug 5, 2011

menu motif

and our By-The-Glass Selections Pairings

Just Double-click on the under-line above to preview or download


Jul 15, 2011

July 2011

Hello To All of You!

I am getting this out a bit late (who am I kidding: two weeks late!), and am full of news and information and all that stuff.

But......will cut it short to get this out to you in time.


This is Gary's birthday month....I can't tell you his age to be, but will give you a hint: first number: add 3 + 3. Second number: add one more....

Listen....all I know is this: as I approach getting older (it will happen in 15 years or so.....) I can only hope I look half as good as Gary does. Attitude, tops. Fun-factor: the best. Being able to fall asleep at the drop of a hat: magical!!

Happy birthday to the greatest guy I know.....

We have been working on our back yard rigorously, just trying to get it ready so that we can just relax (Ha!!) and enjoy the rest of summer (which we are sure is going to eventually hit). We planted about 20 new pots, re-potted about 30 more, and am ready to let nature (and fertilizer) takes its natural course. Lots of major new growth this year. It is very hard for me to comprehend that this yard is only 2 years old.....whoa.....

The Meyer Lemon tree right now has about 50 or more ripe lemons on it, with about 100 more ripening. My Lime tree has been pollinated and has its very first blossoms on it....Okay....that's it now on the farm.....everything else is ornamental. and have to tell you I love my plants. We rearranged the side patio, added a couple of really comfortable "10 minute" chairs (you know the kind: when certain people sit in them, it is only 10 minutes before they fall asleep)......

Well anyway, the idea is to get out there and just read the paper, drink our coffee, and possibly just drink a bottle or two of some of our great wines.....(this can definitely least the wine part...)

I have copied at the bottom of the page, an article-link from the El Dorado Wine Association for you to look at. Only goes to show you how lucky we are to live up here where there are so many incredible wineries and tastes for us to enjoy. When was the last time you just went out and did a wine tasting afternoon? You learn so much, have a great time, and get to see other like-minded wine-heads out for a great day. You can see why it is such a social day of fun: by the end of the day, wine-tasting with people, you are all the best of friends.....

This months new menu items:

It's summer, so why not lots of seafood, meat, grilled items and surprises?

Appetizers? A couple of additions: Seared Jumbo Scallops finished in a sweet Thai chile glaze. And our Salmon Cakes made with fresh Atlantic Salmon, roasted corn, and a mixture of aromatics, dredged in Panko crumbs, pan sauteed until golden, and topped with an orange and mango aioli.

Thai Chicken - if you know me, you know I love curries. This one is a Thai inspired green curry made with with lemon grass, ginger, chiles and cilantro, pan-sauteing the chicken meat in this mild curry with chunks of potatoes and carrots to round this out.

We have our Prawns ala' Casa de la Sirena, which is a long name for grilled prawns in the shell marinated in a fresh citrus and garlic slather, skewered in the shells and grilled on our open-fire char-broiler until they are just right. Serving them with a melted lime butter just for dipping...

Thick Veal Chops, open-fire grilled and then topped with a bit of baby Arugula micro-greens, cherry tomato and crispy bacon salad tossed in a Spanish Sherry Vinaigrette.

Our 14 oz. Double Cut Pork Chop, in our maple syrup brine to keep utmost juiciness, topped with an apple-ginger and fresh sage "jam".

How about a Turkey, Wild Mushroom, Chipotle and Potato Empanada, this time we have wrapped it in puff pastry and baking it until golden and flaky, serving it on a pool of Black Bean Sauce, topping with an avocado 'crema', fresh Salsa Lulu, and a dab of sour-cream.

Meats? We have Pork Osso Bucco, Marinated Flank Steaks, Rib Eye Steaks with a Roasted Garlic butter.

Mushroom Risotto: Crimini, Portabella, Whites, and Shitake mushrooms pan sauteed and simmered with Arborio rice, finished with Mascarpone and Parmesan cheese, topped with tiny cherry tomatoes. This is wonderful soul food.

We have you covered.

Gluten Free in Placerville::: Don't forget all of you and your friends who need gluten free foods: more than half of our menu is gluten free, and most can be adjusted for you if needed (switch pasta for rice, etc.). Just let us know.

Enjoy our summer, enjoy our wines and enjoy each other. Going out to dinner with your date is always a hoot and you know the benefits of doing something right.

Take care.

David at Café Luna

May 6, 2011

This Months Recipe

Double Click on the recipe title below for a PDF copy. Enjoy
We love asparagus, and we love puff pastry. It makes Chefs out of everyone! This is an easy, show-stopper recipe for an appetizer, a first course, or something to enjoy a good white wine or Proscesso with. Enjoy.

Apr 13, 2011

April 2011

Hi All you Lunatics;

This is our anniversary month: 16 years open for business here at Cafe Luna. Whoa....through the recessions, the floods, the heat stroke, the political climates, the food trends - good and bad, the people, and the memories: thank you for 16 wonderful, exciting, fun, thought provoking, entertaining, and learning bouts of our lives.

We're still here.....
It is April, and once again (it would be appropriate to be singing "The Hills Are Alive" from the Sound of Music) my spirits are starting to soar towards the outside, and all of the benefits Spring brings us (wait!! the weeds, the snails, the bugs that seem to land on our planet just to make us crazy!!! And I'm sorry: who has the time to go flashlight snail hunting in the deep of dark nights???)
Gary is so excited, he dusted off his summer shirts and shorts, and can't wait for that first night at the Cafe where he will be able to bust out his summer ware.
Two weeks ago, snow. Snow, snow, snow. Fox 40 News called us and asked to send them some pictures of the snow falling on the highway, and our decks here. We are now famous for an anonymous picture of snow falling somewhere on Highway #50, eastbound.
Listen: I wanted to tell you about the power of letters and reading: Nancy, co-owner of The Bookery at 326 Main Street here in Placerville, read my last missive where I was saying I wanted a bread bakery to open up here. She went to a new bakery, "Beyond Baked", bought me one of his incredible pastry creations, and brought it to us to let us know they are in full swing. The little bit of chocolate mousse heaven she presented us was incredible: moist, chocolaty, and beautifully presented. Go there: here is their information.
Beyond Baked 1349 Broadway
Placerville, CA 95667
(530) 626-3600
I love that this woman took the time to let me know about this. Here is a lady that Gary and I first met when we started at Vineyard House in 1974. She was one of the very first people we met from Coloma, and to this day I still think of her as "Little Nancy Dunk". This is what we love about a small town environment: we spread the good word and the good works of business. This is the best advertising I can ever think of. Nancy has told me the bakery is only open Wednesdays through Saturdays, offering fresh pastries, breads, cakes and pies. What else could we want for our cravings??? Support our new business's in Placerville. It keeps our economy going...
Sunday, Gary, Sally, Jim, Dan, Tammy, Michael and Linda took off for our Passport Weekend adventure. It started with everyone meeting at our house for a beautiful brunch Gary prepared for us; you know: we needed a full stomach to start our wine drinking on. So we took off caravan style to Windwalker Vineyards (double click for their website) where we picked up our tickets and started our first tastings of the day. Have we mentioned about their Mourvedre? Their Grand Chardonnay and Viognier? Their Zinfandel? I cannot say enough about these wines, except try them all: Alanna and Jim go out of their way to make you feel welcome, and to share these good wines with you. And on top of that? They are fun people to hang out with ....We loved it...Thanks for a great start!...
From there, we went to Cedarville Vineyards (double click for their website). Susan and Johnathan, the owners, are and "open by appointment" basis, but as Jonathan mentioned to us, just call. So we did. And we tasted his incredible minerally Viognier, the Grenache, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc, Petite Sirah and their Syrah. These people are doing such an incredible job of making wines, that their pedigree and flavors are overwhelming in their simplicity and straight-forwardness of the varietals they grow. This truly is one of the El Dorado County wine treasures. And our friends were all re-introduced to the perfect cheese for wines: Spanish Manchego, a dry sheep's milk cheese that knocked our socks off. So simple for a great pairing of cheese and wines.
Off to Mount Aukum Winery (double click to go to their website), where we were greeted with a great rock-and-roll band playing music that Gary, Tammy and Sally started shaking their behinds in that "come dance with me' shake that makes me smile. Just fun. I even noticed ol' Daniel shaking his booty. Now that is a miracle of wine tasting. I haven't tasted their wines in awhile, but was very impressed with their blends: 2007 En Fuego, 2007 Vertigo, and their Malbec and Zinfandel were equally great. If you have not been up to this winery, go. It has one of the most beautiful views in the county.
And finally, our last stop of the day was at our friends Chaim and Elisheva, C.G. DiArie Vineyard (again, double click for their website). Another incredible view spot in the county, located in El Dorado, but looking over Amador County, it is so beautiful there. And then, Chaim took us for a private tasting and barrel tasting of his newest offerings of reds in the barrel room, and we all learn from him. He is a gifted teacher, and loves talking shop. Elisheva took us back up front and we tasted their new Di Arie Rose and their Verdelho - this white wine with Portuguese ancestry, that is so very excellent with cheeses and foods. We loved it. Rose has become so complex with its dry factors, its flintiness, and the full bodied tastes that it should never be compared to White Zinfandel. No. Not ever. Their Rose is made with a blend of Grenache, Estate grown Syrah, Primitivo and Petite Sirah, and its heritage of fine wines literally shines. C.G. DiArie has a tasting room in Amador County, open most days, and their winery is only open to wine club members. But if you have the chance, make this one of your required stops for what makes El Dorado County famous for its wines.
This months new menu items:
Crab Cakes. Simply pan-sauteed with a mild chipotle chile aioli. Crab cakes are one of those items that cause such debate: my mothers mothers recipe was the best: Aunt Mary's sisters next-door neighbors was the greatest: I just love crab cakes: crab meat, scallions, celery bound together, lightly breaded in Panko crumbs, and pan-seared golden. Enough already!!
Miss Shirley's Chicken: Shirley West was a wonderful crazy funny woman known to many around here. She came in one day and described her favorite chicken pasta dish to me and asked it I would make it for her. So this was the result. Chicken breast meat, pancetta bacon, artichoke hearts, roasted leeks and capers in a white wine and lemon sauce served tossed with Pappardelle pasta, topped with Parmesan cheese.
Mushroom Risotto: Crimini, Portabella, Whites, and Shitake mushrooms pan sauteed and simmered with Arborio rice, finished with Mascarpone and Parmesan cheese, topped with tiny cherry tomatoes. This is wonderful soul food.
Short Ribs of Beef: My personal favorite meat dish. Boneless short-rib meat that gets braised for at least six hours on a bed of caramelized onions and vegetables with lots of wine and fresh thyme. We then reduce the pan sauce until it is coating the meat, and serve it on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes. Topped with a Meyer Lemon gremolata, it comes to your table smelling like perfection.
GLUTEN FREE IN PLACERVILLE??? Don't forget all of you and your friends who need gluten free foods: more than half of our menu is gluten free, and most can be adjusted for you if needed (switch pasta for rice, etc.). Just let us know.
And one more thing: I have been doing this monthly letter for several years now, and love it. The notes and letters we get back from you are funny, insightful and full of information that I save. Thank you for your business all of you. Thank you for your interest in our news letters, and thank you for your feed back. It is a fun way to get things going....
Take care.
David at Cafe Luna
Risotto with Pancetta & Peas
This Months Recipe

Double Click on the recipe title for a PDF copy. Enjoy.

Risotto With Pancetta and Peas

Here is a wonderful recipe to keep and to grow with in your cooking. The basics are here for you to start trying and experimenting with. This dish is so great with a good bottle of red wine it hurts. Recommendations? An Albarino: white, crisp and dry. How about a fruity Pinot Noir? YOu will be the hit of table once you learn how to make this recipe and the subsequent variations you will want to try.

Mar 26, 2011

Hi All you Lunatics;


They say in all the ads "Welcome to March Madness!!!". I can see why. We have that tiny peek of sunshine, followed by that dismal bout of gray and rain, and wind and's like not being able to decide what to wear when you get up in the morning. (Gary is so ready to pull out all of his Tommy Bahama's and shorts, and yet that vocal delivery of "possible snow tonight" just pulls all the wind out of his visionary sails.....)

Baby, It's cold outside ....(Listen here...Song: Baby, It's Cold Outside by Dean Martin

I swear to gawd, I was outside in my gray-wintered yard and we saw some plants sticking their bright green little heads out of the soil, but like that wise old beaver (?) who predicts the coming spring every year, they all said "screw this" and retreated back to the warmth of the underground.

Sometimes I am like that: you get your day going, and then "BLAM", something hits you and says 'it's to cold, dismal (fill in the blanks) to do anything' and we just want to stay home and make a fire (at our house, Gary walks over to the wall, looks at me and says 'Let me build you a fire', and he flicks the switch, and 'voila!' : instant fire. And he laughs each and every time he says this.... He's so good with technology....) and maybe have some hot tea, or warm up some vodka and drink it with our orange juice (am I getting that wrong???). Anyway, you just feel like plowing under the covers and retreating from the dismality (yes, this is a word: : the quality or state of being dismal : dismalness; also : a dismal occurrence or feeling) of our weather.

But I? Let us embrace this wreck of these days. It's cold: get out your favorite socks and sweaters and parade around feeling great about your feet just rejoicing in that feel of thick cotton wrapping around your toes screaming "I feel goooood".....that sweater of yours that you don't wash that often, that still has the smell of the last favorite thing you did while wearing it (AVATAR in 3-D), and finally being able to wear that eight foot long hand knit scarf wrapped around your neck three times (they look so good on the models: why do I look like Jabba the Hut?

(See view ➔)

Jabba the Stud

Oh well, a legend in my own mind.....

And we look forward to just 2 - 3 weeks from now when it all changes......and then I remember: April showers bring May flowers....(am I the only person who remembers these things? What did my mother do to us???).

So once again, food brings comfort. Food nourishes us. How we go about getting the comfort and nourishment is up to us....

Me? I love braised meat dishes. So you will see that on the menu. Last month, we asked for some customer favorites that we could incorporate into this months menu. To those that offered items I could re-create thank you. We have several of these items on the menu, and some favorites to boot. Ms. Katy has a seafood stew that is already popular (with us to begin with...) that has crab, and shrimp and clams. I tweeked the recipe a bit, but Katy's Seafood Stew is now on the menu. Along with Judy's Hanger Steak, Mike's Jerk Pork, and Margie and Bob's Pesto Chicken, and one of my favorite people who we miss, "Miss Shirleys' Chicken Artichoke Pasta". So enjoy your fame you crazy are on the menu!!!!

Alas, to those who offered things I could not include on the menu, what were you thinking??? Cold Polish squid with pickled cabbage? Black ink pasta with chocolate, fresh lavender and prawns? Lamb pancreas with rice and honey? I am getting too old to see the value of food I would be afraid of is to short...

Give me polenta any day of the week.....just polenta....maybe with some short-ribs, or Osso Bucco, or lamb shanks. or Gorgonzola and Parmesan....(now I am being pushy...)

So another thing; Placerville NEEDS a great bakery. The kind where we can go and get a fresh out of the oven Baguette, or a Brioche, shiny with an egg wash. When we go to San Francisco, we always go to this bakery on Columbus that is an old Italian bakery that specializes in wonderful breads and pastry that you can't decide which or how many to purchase. I long for that in our area. Anthony Bourdain, the mad-man of food and travel and awkward sentences, has a must-watch program on the Travel Channel called "No Reservations". He makes no excuses for what he likes, and dislikes. He also is an opinionated S.O.B., but you find yourself mesmerized by his observations. This is a clip from his show about French bakeries that is wonderful, and makes me long for that smell in the mornings....which will also clue you in on this months recipes...

Anthony Bourdain Baguettes
Anthony Bourdain Baguettes


I was given the site to watch this lady named Clara on YouTube. She is 94 years old, and has a cooking segment she films about cooking during the depression (which one you ask???). I find her fascinating in that she is so patient while she is discussing and preparing her foods. It is a lesson in my own patience just to watch her cutting a carrot, or peeling an apple. I am sending you this link to watch this amazing lady. She has a cook book, she has a web site, and she is 94!!!! Come on, it is a couple of minutes out of your busy life to see this lady who is still doing something constructive with her days. She reminds me of all the older people in my life that I probably should not take for granted, and also the ones gone that we should have taken more time with. WRITE YOUR FAMILY COOKBOOKS!!!!

Great Depression Cooking - by Clara
Great Depression Cooking - by Clara

(Can you tell I have found a new way to interject some media to our e-mailings to you? watch out::::you will be seeded with things I like.....)

And one more thing: I have been doing this monthly letter for several years now, and love it. The notes and letters we get back from you are funny, insightful and full of information that I save. Thank you for your business all of you. Thank you for your interest in our news letters, and thank you for your feed back. It is a fun way to get things going....

Take care.

David at Cafe Luna


Just Double-click on the under-line above to preview or download

Jan 31, 2011

February 20111 Rants and Raves

Hi All you Lunatics;

Here we are in the Lovers Month of February. We are looking at what kind of recipes or foods to feed to the significant others in our lives, and we take more time for this than usual.
Because the benefits of a well planned out evening reap great rewards (what? they don't reap great rewards???? go read your manual on how to keep the spice in your love-life....and read the chapter on chocolate and white chocolate. And turkey......).

I start thinking early in the month: what will work better this year than last...a smoother chocolate dessert? no nuts? more nuts? candles all over the room OR the whole house? flowers: red, white or pink? roses or carnations? which ones will smell best after two days in my window? do I really need to get the dog groomed for the day? Romantic card or just simple? do I need to shave? Shower? Change my socks?

oh my gawd: the dilemmas we put ourselves through.....

but it should be worth it....

This will be year 38 in the Happy Valentines Day celebrations we have shared. I remember the first one: yes, the dozen red roses, the box of Godiva chocolates (the best at the time), the mushy card....and my starched and pressed shirt when presenting my gifts.....
I was a stunner....
and did I ever rack up the points that day!!!

Which makes the other years harder and harder to keep up with.

Lately, a grand holiday like this is being able to go to sleep early with just a slight good-wine or sparkling wine buzz that will not end up in my seeing the walls spinning around and around....(but that's just me....) and being able to find my socks at the end of the day. That is the accomplishment....

And I also remember that one year it was a single flower, a single truffle and a simple card: racked up allot of points that day also. (who am I kidding? we take the time, we reap the rewards!!!!)

So this months recipe for you to check out is for a Chocolate Mocha Cheesecake. This one is very simple to make, looks beautiful, and holds really well for a couple of days, covered up tightly. and the best thing? When it is sitting in your refrigerator all wrapped up, your other half remembers the time and effort and the reason it's there: always think ahead my dears: always think ahead!!!!

My mom has been collecting Valentines Day cards for about 50 years now. The paper kind that we used to give out to all the kids in our classrooms.
And remember we signed each and every one of them? and they had the great little envelopes that were sometimes the same shape as the cards themselves, or a really cool color that was not white??? And sometimes you were afraid to give to a certain person because they either (#1) might get the wrong impression, or (#2) they might find out you were secretly harboring a crush on them, but you were not ready for them to find out about....just yet......

but I digress....

so, she has been collecting these cards for over 50 years. she shows me the many boxes of these cards. I realize that she has many of them over 100 years old, and that they have their original envelopes, and some have the best sayings in them with such succinct poetry that it just makes you swoon with the romantic feelings they convey, or you get pissed off and wonder why your jerk of a spouse never gives you anything like that....after all you have done for that person: slaving over a hot stove, cooking meals, raking up bushels and bushels of leaves, shoveling snow in the dead of winter when you would rather be watching "TOP CHEF" reruns, cracking walnuts outside IN THE COLD so you won't make a mess in the house; cleaning the house, washing the car, cleaning out the gutters, making ice sculptures using a hand-saw of a unicorn floating through the clouds....cutting the grass, trimming all the hedges, pulling the weeds, and the list goes on and on and on....taking care of the kids and the friends of the kids, and making their meals and sewing their clothes, and saving for their college funds, and trudging through miles and miles of winter snow to get to school...

but wait: we don't have kids, and it doesn't snow here, and we have a great guy who does our yard-work, and I have never made an ice sculpture in my life, and we have no gutters.....
what the hell?? I'm just lucky to have someone who puts up with me and my insanity s***!!!!

and for that I count my lucky stars.....


The Menu::::

Risotto Rules: So since we have introduced a monthly Risotto preparation to our menu, this rice dish has quickly become our second biggest seller on our on the menu. Who-da-thunk???

This month we are offering a fresh Asparagus and Spinach Risotto finished with Mascarpone cheese and Parmesan. Here is this wonderful gluten-free dish that fills us up with creamy/cheesy wonderfulness and just warms up your soul.....Try this if you love risotto. We can add chicken or prawns to this dish if you are so inclined also.

Short Ribs of Beef: If there is one thing to know about Café Luna and myself, you need to know of our love of braised foods: this wonderful long and slow and low cooking the results in such flavorful and tender meats that it falls apart with just your fork. and the sauce that this type of cooking gives us is exceptional!!! So we are preparing our short-ribs using caramelized onions as the base, slow cooking until the vegetables almost melt, and then making this amazing sauce to serve them in. You will be happy. I am going to have two options for serving: garlic mashed potatoes or a creamy polenta (yummm...). You are the master here....

Duck, Mushroom and Delta Corn Pasta: I love duck. It is something that I cannot believe that so many people have not experienced, or have experienced this really terrible version of that has soured them for life. Not here: we are braising this meat (again: long, low and slow...) until it almost falls apart, pan-sauteing it with wild and domestic mushrooms, fresh corn kernels, sun-dried tomatoes and finishing it with a bit of Mascarpone cheese, white wine and tossing all of this with Gemilli pasta ("little Twins"). This is a great way to get your pasta and your duck fix!!!

Check out down below for a full copy of this months menu if you want to download the whole sheet.

And don't forget: Gluten Free in Placerville?? About 75% of our menu is GLUTEN FREE!!! And more than half of our desserts are gluten free, so you can eat the way you want to!!!

And one more thing: I have been doing this monthly letter for several years now, and love it. The notes and letters we get back from you are funny, insightful and full of information that I save. But I would love to get something more from you: I am looking to do a whole March 2011 menu based on customer favorites: ours and yours. If you have some family recipes that you think would work here at the restaurant, or would like to share some of your food memories, I would love to hear about them. Your name will be here on the menu if we can get to them all. Think about it, and pass them along if you would like to. This should be great!!!

Thank you for your business all of you. Thank you for your interest in our news letters, and thank you for your feed back. It is a fun way to get things going....

Take care.

David at Cafe Luna

February 2011 Promotions


Printable copy of this months current dining menu
and our By-The-Glass Selections Pairings

Just Double-click on the heading above to preview or download


Chocolate Mocha Cheesecake
This Months Recipe
Double Click on the recipe title for a PDF copy. Enjoy

Chocolate Mocha Cheesecake
So, this time of the year, we want and crave chocolate. We also love cheesecake. So why not make this recipe, and have enough for tomorrow? This is delicious, and very easy to make. And you will make points with anyone you serve it to. Enjoy....


Wine Facts and Trivia:

There are 24,000 names for varieties of wine grapes, corresponding to between 5,000 and 10,000 actual varieties. However, only about 150 are commercially important.

One bottle of wine contains about 25.6 ounces, or for those whose think in metric terms 0.75 liters. This is usually considered to be 4 glasses. As a rule of thumb, it takes about 2.4 pounds of grapes (usually 600 to 800 grapes) to produce a bottle of wine.

Looking at wine production another way, there are about eight bunches of grapes per bottle or three to five bottles per average grapevine.

Be careful about averages, the actual numbers vary widely. For example, Chateau d'Yquem, the most famous estate in Sauternes region of France, produces approximately one bottle of wine from eight vines. But what a bottle, this wine is generally considered the world's greatest sweet wine, and has merited a unique rating for over 150 years.

What about acres? On the average an acre of land produces 5 tons of grapes, or, in other terms, a little less than four thousand bottles of wine. In other words, if you drank a bottle of wine a day, it would take eleven years to consume the output of a one acre vineyard.

Wine grapes are the single most widely planted fruit crop. There are 20 million acres of grapes planted worldwide, just about enough to supply every adult living in the United States with a bottle a day. Not that we are suggesting...

In actual fact, the US ranks 33rd in per capita wine consumption at 2.088 gallons a year, which works out to about 10.5 bottles per person per year. In contrast, Luxembourg leads the world in per capita wine consumption, beating the US by a factor of more than 7.5 to 1. The non-Moslem country reporting the lowest per capita wine consumption is Mexico, at less than a glass of wine per person per year.

The Languedoc-Roussilion region of southern France produces more wine than does the entire United States.

One 6.4-ounce glass of typical white wine contains about 133 calories; while a glass of a typical red contains about 141 calories. In contrast, that much grape juice contains about 131 calories. So you won't lose much weight by switching from wine to grape juice.

A typical grape berry is, by weight, 75% pulp, 20 % skin, and 5% seeds. Small grapes such as Pinot Noir have a larger portion of skin to pulp.

When grapes ferment into wine, the most important chemical reaction is the transformation of sugar into alcohol. A typical wine contains 86% water, 11.2% alcohol, and 2.8% of all the other compounds that make the wine a wine, instead of colored firewater.

Chemists have identified over 250 compounds in wine, making it more complex than blood serum.

Complex or not, people don't want to wait for a wine's components to evolve. Over 90% of the world's wine is consumed within two years of its vintage date. Don't get me wrong, there is no point waiting for most wines to evolve over the years, they won't.

In spite of the great interest in wine storage, including a wide variety of cellars, racks, and refrigerators, it is estimated that 98% of all wine sold is consumed within a single week of purchase.

In 2000, California had more than half a million acres devoted to grapevines.

The California wine industry provides about 150,000 jobs. This may not be surprising when you consider that more than 160 countries import California wines.

Napa Valley recently surpassed Disneyland as California's No. 1 tourist destination with 5.5 million visitors a year.

While California is the American state producing by far the most wine, all fifty states can claim at least one commercial winery.

There are approximately 49 million bubbles in an average bottle of sparkling wine, but an estimated 250 million bubbles in a bottle of Champagne.

All these bubbles generate about 90 pounds per square inch pressure in a bottle of Champagne, approximately three times the pressure in your automobile tires.

Typical dessert wines range from 5 to 30 percent residual sugar.

The Hungarian Tokaji Esszencia, one of the world's finest dessert wines, contains up to 85% residual sugar. Only a special strain of yeast is able to ferment it, ever so slowly. One must wait decades for Tokaji Esszencia to attain 5 or 6 percent of alcohol. I am told that it is worth the wait.

A one-inch cube of cork contains about 200 million fourteen-sided cells filled with air.

A cork tree is first harvested at about age twenty-five years. Subsequent harvests occur once every nine years for a total of about fifteen harvests. Can anyone claim to taste the difference between a wine sealed with a cork from a twenty-five year old tree and the same wine sealed with a cork from a one hundred sixty year old tree?

Portugal is by far the main source of wine corks. At one time it produced thirteen billion of them per year.

A good sommelier won't grimace when extracting a cork using a waiter's corkscrew, even though the extraction requires between 50 and 100 pounds of pulling force.

Italy has about 900,000 registered vineyards, and more than a thousand grape varieties.

Grapevines don't produce good wine grapes until they are at least three or four years old. If properly maintained they may continue producing for a century. As the vine ages, the yield tends to decrease, but the quality may improve.

A glass of wine served between 44º and 59º F ( 6.6º and 15º C) warms up a degree Fahrenheit approximately every seven minutes until reaching room temperature. A wine served between 39º and 44º F (4º and 6.6º C) gains a degree approximately every four minutes.

Experts recommend storing wine at a constant temperature of 55º F / 13º C and humidity of 70 to 75 percent.

Jan 3, 2011

Hi All you Lunatics;

Happy New Year to all of you.

What a great way to start our year! We had a great New Years Eve group of people that came in and we had a wonderful time just enjoying food, wine and each other....Gary, Maria, Richelle, Drew and Courtney commented all night what a gorgeous bunch of people we had....

Thank you for thinking of us for this special night.

We had fun.
So now, we gotta get on the ball and figure out our new year's plans I guess. Not one to make resolutions (why set myself up for failure?), instead we try to just set goals for the steps....that when achieved, we just shout out loud "Good for us" and when we don't, we blame our parents.

Our hopes for the new year? Besides what they say at every convention, beauty pageant or press conference ("Mah dream is for world peace and to be able to stand upright with my tee-ara on straight"), here are some of my wishes:

1. That all of the wineries are able to bottle up and sell really incredible wines this year: balanced, flavorful, and making us realize why California and our counties make us proud wine drinkers.

2. That all the food trends that came and went last year be either put to rest, or be part of our new appetites.

3. The home cooks realize how wonderful bone-in meats really are when they braise them slowly for hours.....making their homes and kitchens smell like heaven and all their people eating these dishes thank them for taking the time to produce such good foods.

4. That we all eat something new this year, and learn to love it with the same secret gusto as we do French Fries.

5. That bacon become part of our food group. And everyone learns how to make candied bacon for breakfast.....(recipe to come...)

6. That soup-making be part of the weekly dining habits of everyone. That we all understand how easy and economical they are to make, and how great they can be as a full-on meal for your family. With a loaf of really good bread, hot out of the oven. And the right wine to go with the soup-meal. Did I mention the wine? (Side note: in my old hippy-dippy daze, a lady named Adele Davis wrote this book called "Let's Eat Right". In it, she praised the benefits of a weekly soup that she made with just the frozen left-overs from your weeks dinners: save all of the cooked vegetables in a Mason jar; save all the stocks, juices from cooked meats, the left-over butters from your cooked veggies, etc. in another Mason jar. Left-over bits of pasta, rice, meats, chicken in another jar. At the end of the week, combine them all to make a hearty soup. She mentioned that pureeing this soup with a bit of cream was also a way to make it look better. At our house, we call it "Must-go" soup.)

7. That we can budget out to purchase one great piece of kitchen equipment that we can use over and over and over again: examples: a heavy bottomed enameled cast iron dutch oven (ala Le Creuset or some of the others on the market); a food mill; Microplane graters; a Kitchen Aid mixer; canning equipment; a stock pot.

8. To find 100 new ways to use the above piece of new kitchen equipment (see #7 above).

9. To find a brand new varietal of wine that we have never tried before and learn to appreciate it and incorporate into our dining habits.

10. To find out the benefits of using a wine decanter for some of our everyday wines.

11. That we talk to a family member and start writing down all the recipes that we love from family and friends get-togethers, so they don't get lost or forgotten. Producing a family/friends cook-book is a goal for everyone who loves to cook or who loves foods. And the awful part, is most of these recipes are in that persons head and not on paper. (Example: Gary's mom made this wonderful Portugese dish she called "Garvanzas"; it was a tradional holiday or special occasion dish that every one of the six brothers loved. Where is that recipe now?????)

12. That we have more functions with friends that are casual.

13. That we have more functions with friends that are formal, and require an R.S.V.P. (It's fun to get dressed up and look snazzy....)

14. To get everyone in the household to eat at least 2 meals a week AT THE TABLE....without the T.V. on, and using cloth napkins.

15. To remember how a lit candle at dinner changes the whole mood of the dining experience. And realize that even KFC Chicken can be romantic, if you set the mood.

16. To go on at least a "once-a-month" date with the one you love.
real-planned-night or day out.
No kids, no other friends. The kind of date that ya primp up for and might hold hands across the table while looking in each others eyes. And smile. It is nice to realize and appreciate why we love our mates. And to court each other all over again. (And the rewards are great too!!!)

17. To try and see some value in that person who always just pushes your buttons. And try to "just get along....."

18. To give the remote control to the other guy for a night or two.....

19. To go dancing. (See #16 and #15). It seems like every movie that gets us kind of romantically weepy has a great dance scene in it, even if it is in your boxers and slippers in front of the T.V. We need to just dance every so often.

20. To help out more in your house with the things the other person does for you.....(the possibilities and the rewards can be endless in the romance department!!!)

21. To put the toilet seat down each time you use it. And be the first one to replenish the toilet paper roll.

22. To live my life with relish.

23. To laugh at myself more,

and to laugh: period.
This months menu:
I am keeping Stuffed Pasilla Chiles on our menu: yes, they were that good!!!! Filled with fresh zucchini, sweet potatoes, and corn, and three kinds of the great Mexican cheeses we found locally. On a bed of rice, topped with a roasted tomato sauce, and Mexican Crema. this is good eating. Vegetarian but so very flavorful.

This months Risotto is a traditional Saffron Risotto that is made with Crimini, Shitake and button mushrooms, grape tomatoes, fresh corn, and winter truffles, topped with shaved
Parmigiano Reggiano and white truffle oil.

Filet Mignon is back on the menu: our filets we hand cut at 10 oz. portions, wrap in thick cut apple-wood smoked bacon, and char-broiling them, topping with a wonderful reduction sauce made with Barbera wine, prosciutto, and wild mushrooms. Happy meat eaters unite!!!

Our slow braised Lamb Shanks are going to make my lamb lovers very, very happy. Perfect winter food, these bone in shanks look like something out of a Flintstones cartoon. Slow simmered in red wine, garlic and vegetables, we strain and reduce the sauce down and served it on a bed of our garlic mashed potatoes. Good stuff Maynard...

Mr. Don's Chicken: Don is this great guy who loves this dish, so I named it in honor of his good looks and his good taste: a large skin-on chicken breast, pan-seared until golden, finished on a bed of little potato gnocchi's, Fingerling potatoes, and quartered mushrooms with white wine and a pan-juice reduction.

Scroll down this page to get to our new menu and this months promotions and recipe. This is the fun part!

Have a great month all of you.....and thank you for your business, and just taking the time to read the bantering of a guy who is going to turn a year older this year......

Take care.
David at Cafe Luna