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Braised Boudin

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We’re having a heat wave in the Bay Area. It got up to 90 degrees in San Francisco yesterday (which is CRAY for SF) and 103 degrees in Napa. Fortunately for me, I was inside my chilled office for the majority of the day. It gets so cold in there that I find myself layering my summer dress with a Pine Ridge fleece that I keep on the back of my chair. Yesterday I even had to step outside for a minute to warm up! I quickly went back inside when I realized my error.

But the heat won’t keep me out of the kitchen! I purchased some rabbit boudin from Fatted Calf about a month ago when I had some friends in town. We were going to grill them with a bunch of other goodies but I decided the rabbit was unnecessary, so in the freezer it went. Then last night when I opened the freezer to put my head inside it, I felt beckoned by the tell-tale Fatted Calf sticker. I pulled together some random ingredients that I thought would go well with the flavor of the rabbit, and came up with a delicious braise that I will surely recreate.

Braised Rabbit Boudin with Fennel and Kale (serves 2)

  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 fennel bulb, fonds removed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 purple carrot, halved lengthwise then chopped
  • 2 rabbit boudin, or rabbit sausages
  • 1 TB Dry Sherry
  • 1/2 cup of chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp Herbs de Provence
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup chopped Tuscan kale
  • 1 cup cooked white quinoa

Heat the olive oil over a medium flame in a large pan. Add shallots and sauté for 1 minute, then add fennel and carrots and continue to sauté for 5 minutes then push to the side of the pan. Add the sausage to the other side of the pan and brown for a few minutes on each side. Add the sherry to the vegetables and sauté to combine.



Move the sausage to the center of the pan, nestling them into the vegetables. Add chicken broth, Herbs de Provence, salt and pepper. Cover the pan and decrease the heat to medium-low. Cook for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and add the kale. Saute so that the kale is tucked into the rest of the vegetables. Cover and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, or until all vegetables are cooked and the chicken broth has reduced to less than 1/4 cup. Serve over quinoa and enjoy!



Pair this dish with a Central Coast Pinot Noir such as Chamisal Vineyards Stainless Pinot Noir, one of my favorites for the price and a light enough to pair with poultry. Or if it’s too hot to drink red wine – such is my case – you could try a Russian River Valley Chardonnay, Chablis or White Rhone blend. I can’t wait to go back to Fatted Calf and figure out more ways to prepare this delicious rabbit boudin! Any suggestions?

A Meal Fit for Foodie Friends

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I spent this past weekend with some friends at a beautiful property in Calistoga, drinking (too much) wine, playing Boys vs. Girls celebrity, and eating delicious homemade food. We split up the meals over the weekend, and I was in charge of dinner on Saturday night. With one vegetarian, two marathoners, a culinary school grad, and three slightly drunk men – all of whom are foodies – I had quite the meal to prepare. Fortunately, I was able to come up with something that pleased everyone!

Luckily, the sun came out for us all weekend.

Luckily, the sun came out for us all weekend.

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms 

  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 TB dried oregano
  • 1 TB Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 portobello mushrooms

Combine first 6 ingredients and whisk together until combined. Pour over mushrooms in a sealed container or ziploc bag and refrigerate for 2 hours. Grill over medium-high heat for 4 minutes on each side. 

Grilled Dijon Peppercorn Flank Steak (serves 8)

  • 2/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarsely crushed black peppercorns
  • 3-4 lbs flank steak

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Coat the steaks with the marinade, then transfer to a sealed ziploc bag and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature one hour before grilling. Grill over high heat for 5 minutes on each side. Let sit for 15 minutes, then slice against the grain and transfer to a serving platter.


Rosemary Potatoes (serves 8)

  • 6 medium yellow potatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 TB chopped rosemary
  • 1 TB chopped thyme
  • kosher salt and ground pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Toss potatoes with olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper. Spread in a single, even layer on a baking sheet (you will need two sheets) and bake for 25 minutes, tossing half way through.


Kale and Brussels Sprout Salad (serves 8)

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TB Dijon mustard
  • 1 TB chopped shallots
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus 1/2 tsp
  • 2 large bunches of kale, chopped
  • 8 oz shaved Brussels sprouts
  • 1/2 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated pecorino
  • 2 avocados, diced

Whisk together lemon juice, mustard, shallots, garlic, pepper and salt. Let sit for about an hour to let the flavors meld together. Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp olive oil in a nonstick pan over a medium-low flame. Add almonds and sauté until toasted, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and wrap in tin foil to keep warm. Add the remaining oil to the lemon-Dijon mixture and whisk until combined into a smooth dressing. In a large salad bowl, combine kale, Brussels sprouts, almonds, Pecorino and avocados. Toss with dressing and serve.


These dishes went great together, and the overall meal had a very clean, warm feel to it. After a toast with sparkling Rosé (naturally), we served a 2006 Napa Cab and a 2008 Super Tuscan blend. Both were big, powerful wines that paired well with the herbaceous flavors. And best of all, I made all my hungry friends very happy!

My San Franfavorites

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This Wednesday, I’ll be packing up my apartment in San Francisco (including 150+ bottles of wine) and moving to the town of Napa. I could not be more excited! I’m going to be doing marketing for Crimson Wine Group, a company that owns and operates six luxury wine brands, including Pine Ridge, Seghesio, Archery Summit and Chamisal. It’s a great company with lots of opportunities for growth, and I am so happy to be a part of it.

Although it’s a little bittersweet leaving behind my beloved San Francisco, I know this is the right move for me. Everyone keeps asking me, “are you going to miss living in SF?” I’m not really going to miss the city as a whole, but there are certainly several things that I am sad to leave behind:

The farm stand on Geary and 4th. It has the cheapest, cleanest, freshest vegetables in the whole city and you can get a weeks worth of produce there for under $10.

B Star Bar. This is my favorite neighborhood restaurant. I could literally eat there four times a week and not get sick of it because the menu is so diverse. Some highlights are tea leaf salad, ochazuke, b sprouts, and miso cod.

The Kabuki. The best place to see a movie in San Francisco. Not only can you bring wine into the theatre with you (purchased from the bar, though I have been known to sneak in a bottle and some plastic glasses), but they also have a great selection of food and gourmet treats. They also play home to the SF International Film Festival every year.

Dim Sum. My favorite hangover cure… crispy shrimp balls, shanghai dumplings, pork buns, garlic noodles! I recently tried Golden River in the Richmond District and was in awe of how cheap it was, coupled with how friendly the service was. I also love Yank Sing, but it’s a bit expensive and always crowded.

The beach. My favorite beach in the city is Baker Beach, and there is a not-so-secret spot in Seacliff at the end of 25th Ave where you can park and walk down the hill to the ocean. Though, there are hardly enough days in the year with weather warm enough to enjoy the SF beaches!

The Ferry BuildingNot only is this one of the most beautiful buildings in Downtown San Francisco, but it has some great little eateries and specialty shops that are perfect for a lunch hour. I particularly love the spring rolls at Out The Door, and the cheese samples at Cowgirl Creamery. On Saturdays they have a great farmers market, and on Wednesdays there is a bevy of food stands outside serving up tasty lunches. My favorite is the ramen bowl from Hapa Ramen!

My amazing friends. I have made the most incredible group of friends in this city over the last seven years. College friends that have transplanted here, people from my old softball team, a group of wine lovers, several different groups of ex-coworkers, the Tuesday Haight Club alumni, and many other people that I am lucky to call my friends. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with everyone, and set time aside to see each person, but I know that they will always be my friends no matter how much time or space we spend apart from each other. And I’ll only be an hour away, so I’m sure I’ll have a lot of visitors 🙂

A Night to Remember at Zuni Cafe

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Everyone is always asking me, “What is your favorite restaurant in San Francisco?” You’d think that with the abundance of fine dining options in this city, this would be a hard question to answer. But for me it’s easy. Hands down, Zuni Café is my favorite SF restaurant and always will be. It was the location of my first dining experience in San Francisco when I came to interview for my first job nearly seven years ago. Zuni was also the location of my last meal on the eve of my knee surgery in 2010. And one time, I even powered through an entire meal at Zuni with my parents, while I was fighting a 24 hour stomach bug, which I claimed was from drinking bad wine.

The bar at Zuni features artisan cocktails, and the talented mixologists will make you anything that tickles your fancy.

The Zuni bar features artisan cocktails, and the talented mixologists will work to make you anything that tickles your tastebuds.

A few weeks ago when I was telling a friend that it was my favorite restaurant in the city, another friend chimed in and said, “oh my God, the chicken is out of this world amazing.” I coyly admitted that in the six times I had been to Zuni, I had never once ordered the famed chicken. I always wanted to, but then I would see something else on the menu that would catch my appetite and I wouldn’t want to wait the full hour to eat my entree. My friend was shocked, and I vowed to her that I would go to Zuni and order the chicken this month – and I made a reservation on the spot with my handy Opentable app.

The time finally came last night. My anticipation for this chicken was making me crazy, and I began to worry that I was building it up so much that I would end up being somehow disappointed. Wrong. Zuni did not disappoint. In fact, they exceeded my already sky-high expectations and it was without a doubt the best meal I have had at Zuni since living in seven years, and one of the top five best meals of my life.

I was joined at dinner by three close girl friends. One who had been to Zuni even more times than me, but had never had the chicken; one who had been to Zuni a couple times but had never had the chicken; and one who had never even been to Zuni at all but had heard about the chicken. We agreed in advance that we would share the chicken as our entree, and order several other small dishes to enjoy before the arrival of the bird. We selected a few oysters, the Piccolo fritto, Montauk scallop ceviche, ricotta gnocchi, and Caesar salad – served in that order. It was the perfect amount of food to share, and still leave us hungry for the star of the meal. A particular standout was the gnocchi, which melted in my mouth and had an unimaginable lightness to it.

Piccolo fritto: deep-fried Monterey Bay squid, onions and lemon with aioli

Piccolo fritto: deep-fried Monterey Bay squid, onions and lemon with aioli

Montauk scallop ceviche with avocado, radishes, Padron peppers, and tortilla chips

Montauk scallop ceviche with avocado, radishes, Padron peppers, and tortilla chips

Bellwether Farms ricotta gnocchi with Hen of the Woods mushrooms, shallots and tarragon

Bellwether Farms ricotta gnocchi with Hen of the Woods mushrooms, shallots and tarragon

The chicken was outstanding. Crispy and salty on the outside, and juicy and tender on the inside – just as it should be. It’s a huge portion and although they suggest sharing for two, you can easily share with four people. I tasted every part of the bird – leg, breast, and thigh – and each one was delicious and unique. The salad was light and flavorful, with generous portions of toasted crunchy bread and perfectly seasoned greens. It was so good, that I found myself urging our neighbors to order the chicken when I overheard them trying to make a decision. I’m not usually one to boast about chicken – let alone order it at restaurants – but it’s truly the best chicken of my lifetime!

The Chicken: roasted in the brick oven, over a warm bread salad with scallions, garlic, dried currants, and pine nuts.

The Chicken: roasted in the brick oven, over a warm bread salad with scallions, garlic, dried currants, and pine nuts.

I also brought two bottles of wine in an effort to keep the bill at a reasonable amount (Zuni has an extensive and very expensive wine list, but only charges $20 per bottle for corkage): a Red Car 2012 Vivio Vineyard Roussanne and a JAQK Cellars 2006 Soldiers of Fortune Shiraz. The aged Shiraz – which is more like a Rhone-style Syrah – went perfectly with the chicken, highlighting the smokiness in the meat and the herbs in the bread salad.

A little Roussanne to start off the meal.

A little Roussanne to start off the meal.

The first vintage of JAQK Cellars Soldiers of Fortune Syrah - my favorite from the winery.

The first vintage of JAQK Cellars Soldiers of Fortune Syrah – my favorite from the winery.

We finished off the meal with some butterscotch pot de creme and Challerhocker cheese with nectarine and almonds, and I couldn’t resist ordering a glass of Fonseca NV Bin 27 Port. I only tried a bite of the cheese because I was too obsessed with the pot de creme to even put my fork down. I’m not huge on desserts, but I know when the time is right to engage my sweet tooth, and this was certainly it.

Butterscotch pot de creme with bourbon whipped cream and hazelnut praline.

Butterscotch pot de creme with bourbon whipped cream and hazelnut praline.

Challerhocker cheese with nectarine slices and dry roasted almonds.

Challerhocker cheese with nectarine slices and dry roasted almonds.

As you can see, the food was outstanding and presented with the utmost attention, while still maintaining a somewhat rustic feel. Our server was watchful (and pretty easy on the eyes), but not overly attentive. Our bill came in at just over $200, which was more affordable than I expected – probably thanks to the corkage.

Zuni is a MUST for any foodie, whether an SF local or visitor to this culinary city. And if you are a visitor and you’re only able to go once, do yourself a favor and order the chicken. It’s a shame I took so long to do it myself, but it was certainly worth the wait.

Summer Soup: Green Minestrone with Arugula-Mint Pesto

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Well, last weekend I was definitely “burning the candle at both ends”, as my father likes to put it. Whether it was the countless glasses of wine and gin fizz, the lack of sleep due to early morning bacon-filled breakfasts, or the late night karaoke at my cousin’s wedding – I managed to return back to San Francisco with a nasty cold. The only thing I want to consume when I’m sick is orange juice spritzers and soup. But with the warm summer weather, it’s hard to imagine enjoying a big bowl of soup. Fortunately, this gave me the perfect opportunity to concoct a summer soup that I have been eyeing from Bon Appetit!


Green Minestrone (serves 2-4)

  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 leek, white and pale-green parts only, choppedall the onions
  • 1/2 small fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 small carrots, peeled
  • 1 cup fresh shelled fava beans (about 1 lb pods)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fregula or Israeli couscous
  • 1/4 cup arugula-mint pesto
  • 2 small pearl onions, thinly sliced
  • shaved Parmesan (for serving)

Arugula Mint Pesto (makes about 1 cup)

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 TB pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 3 cups pre-washed arugula
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, or more to taste
  • salt and pepper

Start with the fava beans because they take about 20 minutes to prepare. Begin by boiling a medium pot of water. Meanwhile, slice each pod down the seam and remove the beans. Once the water is boiling, add the beans and cook for exactly one minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Once cooled, shell the beans and dry them off with a paper towel. Place in a small bowl and set aside.


In a large pot, heat olive oil over a medium-high flame. Add leek, fennel, onion and celery and sauté until softened – about five minutes. Add the chicken broth and increase heat to bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Set another small pot of water on the oven to boil. Once boiling, add fregula and cook until al dente – about 10 minutes.

photo 2

Use a peeler to slice thin strips of the carrot into the same bowl as the fava beans. The recipe suggests using a mandoline to slice length-wise, but that seemed awkward and potentially dangerous to me so I thought the peeler would make a fine substitute.

Meanwhile, prepare the pesto. In a food processor fit with a steel blade, process garlic cloves first. Then add pine nuts and pecans and process to combine. Add arugula, mint and basil and process to combine, scraping down the sides as needed. With motor running, add olive oil in a slow, steady drip. Season with salt and pepper to taste, adjusting if needed. Transfer to a small sealed container, reserving 1/4 cup for soup. Freeze the rest to use at a later date, over pasta or on a caprese salad!

Add the fava beans and carrots to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Cook over low heat for five minutes, then add fregula to the pot. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Serve in large shallow bowls and top with a spoonful of pesto, slices of pearl onions, and a bit of shaved Parmesan. The recipe calls for a simple mix of parsley and shallots for the pesto, but I found that the combination of arugula and mint really added an extra level of flavor to the soup, elevating it to a truly green summery soup.


This hit the spot for my cold, and it didn’t feel too heavy or overly-hot. In fact, Annie P. had a small cup and said, “it tastes really healthy!” This will definitely be a go-to for me for those spring and summer months when the “party hardy cold” gets me down.


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