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 years....baby 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

and our By-The-Glass Selections Pairings

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

This Months Recipe

Double Click on the recipe title for a PDF copy. Enjoy
This is a bacon lovers dream. I am sure that you have heard of this, or seen it before, but if you love bacon, you need to add this to your files. It can be served for breakfast, brunch, or as an appetizer with a nice chilled white wine or even a Sangiovese or Barbera. Enjoy.