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.