Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What Makes a Meal Special

I've been drawn to Chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin (see pic) in New York City for the simple fact that: (1) I've been researching other web sites, as I'm helping a client re-design their web site and (2) I think Le Bernardin has a KILLER site: fantastic photography, great navigation, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the "background sounds" on the Cuisine page. Killer, killer, killer.

I also saw Chef Ripert in a cooking show episode last night, and he said something during a meal that really hit home. He said (and I'm paraphrasing a bit, but the essential ideas are here): That people really want during a great meal "...to be surprised, and to have an experience." Yes and yes! One of the great delights I have when going to a restaurant is to see something new/different on the menu. And when I try this new "thing" and it's wonderful -- yes! (I recently had this experience at the French Garden Restaurant, in Sebastopol. I tried, for the first time, the Salmon Rillette, and WOW -- fantastic...to the point where I've sought out the perfect glass of wine to go with it, for the next time I visit.)

Best of all, this applies to almost EVERY customer-interaction. People want to be (pleasantly) suprised (at the quality of customer service) and have a (great buying) experience.

Want your restaurant -- or business -- to grow? Create surprise and a great experience for your customers, and it will.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Oktoberfest 2010!

Oktoberfest 2010 at Silverado Brewing Co. runs September 28 through October 3. Come join us for great German food, our Oktoberfest Lager, live German music, and FUN! Click here for the complete event schedule. Prost!

Friday, January 22, 2010

In the Kitchen: Part 2

Still on a high from the fantastic New Year's Eve dinner I hosted/ran this past December 31. Chef Diane and I knocked out a complete four-course dinner with wine pairings for 22 folks. Was a fantastic success... and now a jump-start for MORE restaurant/meal plans in 2010.

That's right: Am working on as I write this a 2010 restaurant plan. Will be meeting with JS soon to review/discuss/decide. Several ways this can go, including -- if we get CRAZY with this -- an authentic Italian pizza oven, for the outdoor patio.

And I even have chef 2 lined up: Domencio, who is C's husband. I had dinner with them the other night and D rocked the house! Stay tuned, I will announce which direction(s) we are going with this shortly....

Monday, November 16, 2009

In the Kitchen

FROTB (Frequent Readers of This Blog) know that I have a restaurant fantasy that occasionally rears it's creative head (see right-hand side of the blog, My Restaurant Fantasy). Well, I'm happy to report that this Friday, my itch will get scratched... at least a little bit.

Myself and chef Diane De Filipi will be creating a four-course Italian family-style meal for up to 16 people as part of the Wine Country Inn's Ode to the Olive Celebration this weekend. Diane and I have crafted the menu, found wine pairings, and come Friday, we'll be cooking, serving, and pouring. (She'll take the lead, of course, but hey -- I'll be apron clad, too!).

This is an idea/fantasy I've had for quite some time: to serve dinners to Wine Country Inn guests in the Inn's common room, family style (one long table), with a roaring fire going. Should be quaint, cool, and, we hope, fantastic food and wine. Anyway, here tis the menu:

Antipasti Course
"La Panzanella"
Tuscan bread salad with fresh tomato, garden vegetables, and fresh basil, tossed in a robust style with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a hint of aged balsamic.

Prima Piatti
"Risotto Ala Piemontese"
Imported Arborio rice blended with fresh porcini mushrooms, saffron, white wine, shallot, and Parmesan cheese. Finished with a well-rounded Extra Virgin Olive Oil drizzle.

Secondi Piatti
"Chicken Cacciatore"
Traditional "Hunter's Chicken" browned in a savory style Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and simmered in a tomato and white wine reduction sauce. Includes coarsely chopped carrots, red onion, fresh porcini mushrooms and black olives.

"Olive Oil Cake with Ricotta"
A delicate white cake, baked with a light and fruity style Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and filled with a cream of imported Ricotta Cheese, vanilla powdered sugar, and Sultana's (raisins)soaked in Vin Santo.

Come, eat, enjoy!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Don't Miss this Dinner!

All, there is a fantastic, truly once-this-year (if not longer) dinner coming up that you can be a part of.

On Saturday Sept 19 beginning at 6:00 p.m., there will be a fantastic Bale Mill Harvest Dinner put on by Michael F. of Silverado Brewing Company, his cooking crew, and with ingredients from his Beer Belly Farms. Every ingredient and every dish will be as sustainably produced/grown as possible.

Highlights include a Mulefoot (heirloom) Hog roast, fresh corn on the cob, a delicious Gravenstein apple cobbler, and much much more. And of course, there will be fresh local beer and wine from neighboring wineries.

Bale Mill is located on Highway 29, approximately halfway between Calistoga and St. Helena. Tickets are $75 per person, and can be purchased online here. For more information, send an email to Kellie at kanderson@parks.ca.gov. A portion of the proceeds will be used to help preserve and protect the Bale Mill.

I'm going. Hope to see you there, too!
Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park
3369 St. Helena Hwy, St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 942-4575

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Chickpea Heaven

Had a great breakfast at the Wine Country Inn today with new friend Christina J (who, btw, writes a cool mostly-wine-though-some-foodie-type-stuff-too blog, Wacky Wine Sense -- check it out), and as we were talking (mostly about, uh, food and, well, wine), it struck me -- great food and wine are fabulous, but what really makes these come alive, so to speak, is when you share them with someone. This is actually one of the reasons I believe I enjoy writing here -- it's my way to share, if not the actual experience, then at least some of the sights and sounds and smells.

More sharing: was fantastically lucky recently to have my good friend, Jim S, treat me to dinner at The Restaurant at Meadowood (see pic above). Meadowood, of course, is a very high-end resort tucked away in the Napa Valley, and its restaurant, run now by super-up-and-coming-no-he's-arrived chef Christopher Kostow, ranks by most of those in-the-know as the second best restaurant in the Napa Valley (behind only the one-of-a-kind French Laundry).

Wow. No, double-wow. Dinners options consist of three separate tasting menus -- small bites of delicate, impeccably prepared treats, such as Truffle Glazed Sweetbreads, Lobster roasted in Nori Salt, Squid and Egg, Pain Perdu and Cherries, and so on. My two favorites were a selection of four different types of Foie Gras (see pic above), and, the winner, Jim and I both agreed: The Shelling Bean Broth, with avocado expum, fresh chickpeas, and cilantro flowers (see pic below).

Now, Meadowood is not for the faint-of-wallet. But if you can splurge. Go. No, run. Fantastic setting, amazing food, impeccable (there's that word again) service. Oh, yes: and be sure to take someone to share it with.