Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Dose of Holiday Spirit and Bowl of Tuscan Bean Soup

I believe this past month has finally caught up with me, after blogging daily for National Blog Posting Month, photographing a number of events for the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival last week, and indulging on Thanksgiving evening.

I spent most of my Black Friday getting my house cleaned and back in order. The rain stopped late in the afternoon, so I decided to go over to the Hotel Del to check out the holiday decorations and ice skating rink. This year's theme is Celebrating 125 Years of Holiday Magic and the historic hotel is adorned with classic Victorian decorations, tartan plaid, antique platinum accents, vintage Santas, and 100,000 white lights. It's easy to get absorbed in the holiday spirit wandering around the hotel this time of year. 

This little boy wasn't too happy after his first ice skating attempt...

This one was quite the whiz kid on ice, but then became a little shy when he realized I was taking pictures of him...

The sun was setting when I came back outside after looking at the tree in the lobby, so I walked down by the water to take a few more photos. 

I'm not sure if it was my bike ride home in the rain on Thanksgiving, standing out on the beach last night in the cold, or a combination of both, but I woke up with a sore throat this morning and wasn't up to doing much of anything today. Thankfully, I soaked some beans overnight and was able to throw on a big pot of Tuscan white bean and ham soup, using the Benton's ham hock from Carmen. I added some sautéed onions, carrots, leeks, garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. A rosemary roll and glass of red completed my late afternoon lunch/early dinner, and there's plenty of leftovers to freeze for a few more dinners.

I'm taking a swig of Nyquil and calling it a night. Enjoy the rest of your long weekend and I'll catch you at some point during the week.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Chef of the Fest Winners

Here are the winners for the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival Chef of the Fest!

The Grand Prize winner was Rich Sweeney, R-Gang Eatery, with his Duck Fat-Fried Beignets with Burnt Orange Cream and Smoked Duck “Dust” and Crispy Glazed Duck Skin

Second Place went to Carissa Giacalone, Vela Restaurant, for her Slow Braised Pig Jowls and Snouts, Crispy Bearnaise, Chicharones, and Pickled Quail Egg

Third Place: Nicholas Bour, AVANT Restaurant, for his Red Royal Shrimp “Ceviche” with Ponzu Gelee and Crispy Nori

Fourth: Derek Jaeger of The Cravory for his Ultimate Ice Cream Sandwich

Fifth: Chad White,  Plancha Baja Med, for his Chicken Hearts, Nopal, Masa, Epazote, Queso Fresco, Cebolla Salsa, Guajillo Mole

Sixth: Jorge Gutierrez of Romesco for his Plantain Tostada with Wild Salmon

Seventh: Tommy Fraioli of Sea Rocket Bistro for his Pork Belly/Watermelon/Apple/Kimchee

Eighth: Joe Bracero of Katsuya San Diego for Seasonal Poke - Sesame-seed oil marinated with roasted corn, crisp watercress, radishes, gochugung walnuts, lotus root chips

Ninth: Eric Bauer of Veladora for House-smoked lamb breast with chestnut and quinoa salad, currants, mint and pomegranate yogurt

Tenth: Todd Nash of Bub's at the Ballpark for his Asian chopped chicken salad with Romaine, Napa Cabbage, Radicchio, Carrots, Mint, Cilantro, Scallions, Grapes, Almonds, Chicken, Crispy Wontons, Lime Hoisin Dressing)

And for the category winners...

The winner in theVegetarian/Raw Category was Francesca Penoncelli, BiCE Ristorante, for her
Organic Red Beet Orzotto with a Delicate Sottocenere al Tartufo Fondue and Kale Crackers

In the Meat Category, Carissa Giacalone, of Vela Restaurant, reined again with her Slow Braised Pig Jowls and Snouts, Crispy Bearnaise, Chicharones, and Pickled Quail Egg

The Poultry Category winner was Chad White,  Plancha Baja Med, for his Chicken Hearts, Nopal, Masa, Epazote, Queso Fresco, Cebolla Salsa, Guajillo Mole

In the Seafood Category, Nicholas Bour of AVANT, with his Red Royal Shrimp “Ceviche” with Ponzu Gelee and Crispy Nori

And, in the Dessert Category, Rich Sweeney, R-Gang Eatery, with those addicting Duck Fat-Fried Beignets with Burnt Orange Cream and Smoked Duck “Dust” and Crispy Glazed Duck Skin 

The Celebrity Chef Judges

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Boozing Up My Cranberry Sauce and Tart

I'm thankful I didn't have to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner today and am looking forward to sharing the evening with friends and family. I made the Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart featured on the cover of Fine CookingCranberry Sauce with Red Wine & Figs suggested by David Lebovitz, and will be making Yorkshire Pudding (from my man, Tyler) with the drippings from the prime rib. Of course, there will also be turkey, stuffing, sides, desserts and wine!

The cranberry sauce tastes great, but you'll need to wait for my take on the tart. After reading the online reviews, I'm a bit skeptical about the texture of the crust and consistency of the caramel. I sprinkled a little fleur de sel on top but now regret messing up the glossy finish of the caramel.

Happy Thanksgiving to you!


Denise & Trapper

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Behind the Scenes: Haute French Cuisine & Vintage Burgundy Tasting

I've spent quite a bit of time today going through my photos from Haute French Cuisine & Vintage Burgundy Tasting, one of the most exclusive events at last week's San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival.  Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef William Bradley, of Addison at The Grand Del Mar, prepared a superb six-course dinner for 16 guests gathered around Le Grand Table. The courses were paired with vintage Burgundy tastings selected by Wine Director Elizabeth Huettinger. I was permitted to take a few photographs before the guests arrived, and was beyond thrilled when Chef Bradley graciously welcomed me into his magnificent kitchen for the remainder of the evening. Each course was truly a work of art. Here are just a few of the photos from my incredible evening (more photos here).

Le Grand Table

Wine Director Elizabeth Huettinger

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

In Love with My Brown-Eyed Boy

November 26...I'm almost there with a post a day for the month of November for the NaBloPoMo Challenge! Tonight, I'm accepting the Weekly Writing Challenge: Haiku

"We blog for a million different reasons, but in the end, we’re all storytellers. Creative Writing Challenges are here to help you push your writing boundaries and explore new ideas, subjects, and writing styles...In this week’s creative writing challenge, we’ll step toward verse to try our hand at writing haikus. Haikus are a great way to warm up to your writing projects. The short form, combined with simple line and syllable constraints, helps you to work your mind in a new way, as you embrace brevity in a bid to create vivid imagery."

A plea to come play

Soft brown eyes speak more than words

So much love to give

Monday, November 25, 2013

Southwestern Holiday Showstoppers with Tiffany Vickers Davis

Chef Tiffany Vickers Davis, Test Kitchen Manager at Cooking Light magazine, came to the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival this year to share a collection of Southwestern Holiday Showstoppers:  Grilled Stuffed Jalapeños, Chipotle Pork Tamales with Cilantro-Lime Crema, Post-Turkey Day Posole, and Blood Orange Sangria. Tiffany was joined by Clay Fritz, President of Fritz Underground Winery, who poured a few of his wines to enjoy during the class.

All of the tastings were very good, easy to prepare, on the lighter side, and great for entertaining during the busy holiday season. I plan to make the posole soon, but wanted to share the recipe with you now so you can make it with some of your leftover turkey. It was a stormy day in San Diego last Friday and  it really hit the spot!

Macy's Cooking School hosted the class

Prepping before attendees arrived

The Cooking Light camera crew

Mixing up the Sangria

Fruity Sangria with a little holiday flavor from cloves and cinnamon

Stuffed Jalapeno and Chipotle Pork Tamale

Tiffany preparing the posole

Clay Fritz enjoying his posole with the class

Post-Turkey Day Posole

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Happy Birthday, Dear Gale, Happy Birthday to You!

The week-long San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival came to end today with Gale Gand's Birthday Brunch with Friends hosted by Marina Kitchen, San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina. Executive Chef Aron Schwartz invited Gale's friends, The Hearty Boys, into his kitchen, and together they prepared a birthday brunch for the guest of honor. I was hidden back in the pastry kitchen and away from the action, but Chef Schwartz made sure I received each course to photograph. The desserts were to be served buffet-style, so one of the pastry chefs graciously offered to style a few plates for me. Although they were extremely tempting, I limited myself to a couple of the apple cider doughnut holes.

I was privileged to meet Gale last year during the Celebrity Chef Luncheon and Chef of the Fest judging, and we met again this year during the Celebrity Chef Dinner and Chef of the Fest judging. The Hearty Boys have also been active in the festival for the last few years.

For today's post, I'm sharing a few photos of the brunch menu and the Lemon Meringue Pie Gale prepared for the Celebrity Chef Dinner on Thursday.


Apple Cider Doughnut Holes with warm Julian Mulled Cider


Creamy Organic Grits with Poached Egg, Caviar and Chives


Chicken & Waffles
Lavender Fried Chicken Thigh, Cheddar Waffles, Creamed Collards


Sticky Toffee Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce

Mini Peppermint Angel Food Bundt Cake
Crushed Malted Milk Ball and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Hot Fudge

Gale's Dessert for this year's Wine Spectator Celebrity Chef Dinner

Lemon Meringue Pie
Blackberries and Blackberry Paint

Gale Gand and The Hearty Boys (last year's photo)

I still have hundreds of photos to sort through this week, write an article for Coronado Lifestyles, and get ready for Thanksgiving! Have a good evening...