Saturday, June 20, 2009

Point Reyes - wild and wonderful

It's been too long since we last visited Point Reyes National Seashore. The wildness of the place remains unchanged (thank you, Phil Burton, in your special place in heaven), but much else has changed. Ten Inverness Way is still there, but the hot tub shack in the back has been confined to only the guests in the downstairs room. Manka's, which burned to the ground, hasn't been rebuilt, but outlying cottages have expanded, and it's great chef now prepares dinner for the guests only, and they get breakfast brought to their rooms as well. We also found a couple of interesting inns in Point Reyes Station: The Old Schoolhouse, and 40 Knob Hill.

We heard at breakfast about a wonderful dining experience that we will have to try the next time: At Drakes Bay, on Friday and Saturday nights, the little snack shop there hosts a wonderful four-course dinner for $48, prepared by Ben Angulo, a chef from SF's Farallone restaurant. The seatings are at 6 and 8 on Friday, 7:30 on Saturday and reservations are required: (415) 669-1297. Our fellow guests at the Ten said they were "simply blown away at how good the dinner was, and sitting right there at the water, watching the sun go down, was stunning." 

I'd write more, but we have to go pick up picnic supplies at Cowgirl Creamery.

P.S. I went online to see if this had been written up anywhere, and came across some funny stuff on Apparently, some people had written about what a great dinner they had there, but the info and hours on the site was for the snack bar, so a lot of other people made the trek over for lunch and were quite perturbed to have come all that way for "not even good burger and fries."

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cheery cherries

Everyone knows what those small, reddish fruits with smooth skins are. They are even the name of a color. Cherry.

But what are those yellow fruits that share the same name? The Rainier cherry is recognizable by its golden/pink blushed skin color. It's a finely textured variety with firm, clear flesh and colorless juice and a very sweet, delicate flavor.

They have a shorter growing season, a shorter shelf life, and they also bruise easier. So pick out the prettiest of the bunch, and eat them quickly. Heaven can't wait.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A ravioli to rave about

My friend Bambi Nicklin, a fine page designer I worked with in Orange County, California, years ago, likes to post her dinner menu as her status report at least several times a week. And we, her Facebook friends, are better for having such creative ideas plop onto our virtual plates.

She included this recipe (scanty, yes, but enough to get you to experiment), so I'm reposting it here.
Bambi's Butternut Squash Ravioli

Boil salted water. Fry the bacon, remove to dish, dump the grease. Put olive oil in the pan, toast the nuts, remove to same dish. Cook ravioli in the water, drain thoroughly. Heat olive oil and saute ravioli, add fresh spinach and cook just to barely wilt the spinach. Add nuts, bacon and Gorgonzola cheese. Toss and serve.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pity the poor eating establishments

If there's a restaurant you dearly love, schedule a dinner there. Restaurants, even as they try to lure customers with meal deals, will find it very hard to stay afloat as inflationary pressures increase.

But as a Dow Jones Newswire story indicates, the meal deals may be coming to an end, and the public is getting more frugal. Since vegetable garden seed sales are higher than they've been since Victory Garden days, that public may be staying home just to use up all the new vegetables that are arriving in their kitchens.

And that's not a bad thing. Although restaurant food tastes good, sometimes better than what most people can cook at home, that taste comes at a price, in terms of calories (doesn't EVERYTHING taste better with butter on it?), salt and, occasionally, food handling practices that can endanger people with allergies or compromised immune systems. And like most skills, cooking gets easier and better the more you do it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Chicks and bricks

No, this isn't about women in the building trades - I'm talking about the most tender, flavorful chicken around: chicken cooked under a brick. Really. And you don't even need a brick, just something heavy to weigh down the chicken as it cooks. I used a cast-iron pot one size smaller than the one I cooked the chicken in (if you think the bottom isn't clean enough to eat off of, put a square of foil between it and the chicken).

Lori K's easy bricked chicken

3 large chicken breasts with ribs
Olive oil to coat
Salt, pepper, spices to taste

If you want to keep the skin on and have it look golden brown at the end, don't put the seasonings on it. Season under the skin or just on the rib side.
Flatten the breasts with your hand. Remove skin if you desire. Season to taste (believe me, these taste good even with salt and pepper only). Spray with oil.
Heat a cast-iron skillet to medium (have a second, smaller skillet or a brick and aluminum foil available). Put the chicken in, skin side down. Cover with the foil and brick or skillet. Cook for 10 minutes until the skin is golden. Remove the brick, turn the breasts, replace the brick, and continue cooking for 15 minutes or until the juices run clear when pierced. Enjoy a juicy piece of chicken!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A day of rest

I was going to post a little something about bricked chicken and couscous, but it's Sunday and duty calls. And I just love the illustration of the Texas cake pan, so it should stay up for a little longer. I'll just finish up my Zinc review, below, and post on the chicken tomorrow.