Thursday, December 27, 2012

There's a Newf in My Soup's Reflections on 2012 - Memories and New Beginnings

For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
                                                 ~T.S. Eliot


Dooley celebrated his 13th birthday in January, but we had to say goodbye in June. Trapper came into our lives in March and celebrated his first birthday this month. I turned 50 in June. In September, after six years, John and I went our separate ways. There were many tears in 2012, but I cherish mostly happy times, friends - old and new, family, health, a beautiful place to call home, amazing food and wine, my blog, doors opening to reveal new adventures, and the Newfs in My Soup who will always share my life through its ups and downs.

Dooley and Trapper meet in March

Goodbye, sweet boy - Wynship's Seabiscuit "Dooley"
(01/17/99 - 06/11/12)

Hello sweet boy - Wynship's Guardian of Trapper Peak
"Trapper" (born 12/17/11)


Travel was limited, but we kicked off 2012 with a week at The Home Ranch in Colorado where we provided food and ranch photography while savoring gourmet ranch cuisine, cross-country skiing, horseback riding in the snow, and cozy evenings in front of a roaring fire. Blog posts with more photos of our visit can be found here and here.

The Home Ranch, Clark, Colorado

Ranch breakfast of Tuscan Eggs

Making Pasta with Chef Hunter

Cross country skiers with ranch dog Amos leading the way

Venison Chops

In June, we ventured across the border to Rancho La Puerta in Tecate for a few days of healthy spa cuisine, massages, swimming, hiking and a Peruvian cooking class with visiting chef Liz Caskey. See our photo albums on Facebook here and here.

Early Morning - Rancho La Puerta's dining courtyard

Breakfast Hike to Rancho Tres Estrellas, the organic farm, and
 La Cocina Que Canta "the kitchen that sings"

Spa Cuisine


Although I haven't figured out a way to make a full-time, second career from blogging, it has opened several doors to exciting new ventures. I joined Wine & Dine San Diego as a reporter and photographer and have contributed articles about local restaurants and food and wine events. Our Friday lunch at Bali Hai with Chef Ben Lieberman (who has unfortunately moved on to a restaurant in Arizona) was particularly delectable with his creative presentations of local seafood and farm produce.

Bali Hai Island Sashimi Salad

We had a great time sampling a dozen or so Coronado happy hours to write this feature. In the fall, we were thrilled to attend the Tyler Florence Wine Dinner at Herringbone, La Jolla where I met and chatted with one of my most admired celebrity chefs turned winemaker.

Tyler Florence talks wine

We were excited to be part of the audience for The Greatest American Chefs Tour's final San Diego filming at House of Blues. Local chefs Matt Gordon, Ryan Johnston, Isabel Cruz and William Gustwillers entertained and enticed taste buds during an evening that began with lobster and ended with chocolate.

Chef Matt Gordon - Greatest American Chefs' Tour

Saiko Roll at Coronado Saiko Sushi's Happy Hour

Dessert of the Year - Butterscotch Budino with Salted Caramel
Sip Wine Bar, at Flavor Del Mar (similar recipe here)

My next assignment in January promises to be one of the best adventures yet, combining travel, food, world renowned chefs, and stunning winter scenery at the annual Chefs' Holidays, Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite.


We provided food photography services for several Coronado restaurants, including Il Fornaio, Coronado Brewing Company, Leroy's Kitchen, Village Pizzeria, and Delux Dogs, and photographed various food and wine events, including San Diego Bay Wine and Food Festival, Gingerbread City, Celebrate the Craft, Suzie's Farm Strawberry Jam, Wine & Dine Prohibition, Navy Southwest Culinary Competition, Evolve Cuisine's Cambrian Event, and many Tuesday Night Tastings at Il Fornaio.

I spent an afternoon in the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival's Chef of the Fest judging tent. The Chef of the Fest Competition is judged by the San Diego Chapter of the American Culinary Federation, a professional organization of chefs and culinarians. In addition to ACF judges, celebrity chef guest judges rounded out the judging panel and included Food Network alum and James Beard award winner for 2001 Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year, Gale Gand, Food Network alums, The Hearty Boys, and Chef Suzette Gresham of Michelin-rated San Francisco restaurant Acquerello.

San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival Celebrity Judges for Chef of the Fest Competition

Gale Gand's Bergamot Bread Pudding
 San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival Celebrity Chef Luncheon

Chef James Caruso, La Boca, Santa Fe, New Mexico
San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival Sherry Amore Class

Suzie's Farm Strawberry Jam

Wine & Dine Prohibition Party

Village Pizzeria, Coronado

Il Fornaio, Coronado - Tuesday Night Tasting
Festa Regionale Sicily

Il Fornaio, Coronado - Tuesday Night Tasting
Festa Regionale Puglia

Coronado Brewing Company Wahoo Tacos

San Diego Polo Club Spreckels Cup Finals

Chef Bernard Guillas, The Marine Room, La Jolla
Garnishing Lobster Bisque at Gingerbread City


I continued cooking along with French Fridays with Dorie, but not as much as I would have liked. Several of us exchanged Christmas cards and it was very touching to receive so many cards from all over the world, including one from Dorie in New York. A few stand-out recipes I tried from Around My French Table included Nutella Tartine (divine), Mussels and chorizo with pasta, Cocoa sablés, Warm scallop salad with corn, nectarines and basil, Endives, apples, and grapes (unique and surprisingly one of my favorites), and Chicken tagine with sweet potatoes & prunes.

Endives, apples and grapes

Orange-Cranberry Crepes with Nutella and Hazelnuts
Inspired by Dorie's Nutella Tartine

Mexican Hot Chocolate Sables
Inspired by Dorie's Cocoa Sables


Our Coronado Concert in the Park culinary challenges continued during the summer, with a little less involvement due to so many other projects. The first concert of the season, An Evening in Corsica, was inspired by one of Saveur magazine's dinner party menus. I shared my blog post with Saveur and we were awarded Plugrá Gourmet Club of the Month in August 2012. We received $500 to throw a gourmet dinner party which has yet to be planned.

Insalata di Baccelli e Pecorino (Fava and Pecorino Salad)

Themes for the other concerts in the park included: Mushrooms, Flowers & Weeds; Diners, Drive-ins and Dives; The Pacific Northwest; Fusion; Twisted; Beach Shack Snacks, and Stripped and Dipped. We polish off so much food and wine on these Sunday afternoons making it next to impossible to choose a few favorites. Out of my contributions to the picnic table, I loved Grandma Maroni's Meatballs (Diners, Drive-ins and Dives) and Salmon, Halibut and Scallop Ceviche (The Pacific Northwest) an interesting ceviche due to the combination of fish, coconut milk and lime juice in the marinade, and presentation in chunks of fresh coconut. 

Salmon, Halibut and Scallop Ceviche

Grandma Maroni's Meatballs


I'll conclude this year-end recap with a few more notable recipes of the year, in no particular order:

The Amazing Thomas Keller's Curried Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad

Tyler Florence's Ginger Spice Cake with Warm Cranberries
for Kai and Hillari's Novemberfest Party

Shucks, Why Did We Wait So Long?
Grilled Oysters with Garlic-Chile Butter

Pasta Love: Strozzapreti all'Amatriciana

Take Me Back to New Orleans! Donald's Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

Trapper's Pumpkin Peanut Butter Holiday Treats

Now you can see why I don't have much time for the law ;-)

I look forward to many adventures in 2013, in and out of the kitchen, and wish you all a very Happy New Year filled with love, laughter, travels and, of course, good food and wine.


Denise & Trapper

Hotel Del Coronado Wine and Spirits Party

Elf on the Shelf Holiday Party

Trapper and his summer watermelon treats
Winner of Embrace Pet Insurance's Facebook Pet of the Week


HolliDe said...

And one of my favorite parts of this year was befriending you! Looking forward to joining you on many more culinary and personal adventures, my friend. Happiest of all New Years an d I love you. <3

Cher Rockwell said...

That was a beautiful roundup.

Wishing you all the best in the New Year.

Anonymous said...

Great reminder of a delicious blog! I'm looking forward to every bite in 2013! - Carmen

Sandy said...

I so look forward to your Blog and being part of your internet family. I enjoy the humanity that you display, your recipes and love of your beautiful Trapper. I cried when you lost Dooley and felt sadness with your divorce. I look forwrd to sharing another year.

Sandra Younger said...

I'm just so doggone proud to know you!!! Xxoo