Archive for December, 2009

Drago – Santa Monica

Drago in Santa Monica is one of my favorite restaurants, particularly for lunch. The food is always well executed, the service couldn’t be better and the ambiance is soothing and calm.

BYO Wine

No photo – Arancini amuse

Beef Carpaccio, Arugula, Parmesan Cheese, Truffles – we tend to order this alot – excellent beginning

Polenta, Mushrooms, Fontina Cheese, Summer Truffles – very rich and very delicious

Grilled Marinated Quail, Gorgonzola, Walnut Salad – we haven’t ordered this before and we should have this on our most haves.

BYO Red Wine

Small Rigatoni, Kobe beef meatballs, Tomato and Romano cheese – another first for us – excellent at Drago and excellent as leftovers at home.


Flannery Standing Rib Roast

Why oh why would someone buy a 7 1/2 pound rib roast for 3 people? Well, Flannery beef was a definite must and why not have too much of a good thing?

Flannery roast packaged

Flannery beef ready for roasting

Flannery beef roasted – used the high temp method –

Recipe here:

Flannery beef, creamed spinach, potato gratin, yorkshire pudding popovers

Leftover beef

Saturday night – a rerun of the Xmas meal

Sunday – Football and Beef sandwiches with leftover popovers, leftover gratin and epoisse cheese from Bryan with old Madeira

Monday Night: Flannery Roast Beef Hash with freshly made Popovers

Cheated on the eggs and used an egg poacher

Tuesday Morning – a rerun of the hash – my photos in the morning are lousy

Bottom line – 7 1/2 pounds of Flannery beef gone.

Bouchon- Beverly Hills

Even though we had just returned from Yountville, we decided to try Bouchon Beverly Hills again. Yes, the ambiance is different, but the food is spot on.

White wine – bought

Bagaduce Oysters from Maine, Fanny Sweet Carraquette Oysters from New Brunswick, Canada and Golden Mantle and Fanny Bay Oysters from British Columbia – great slurping oysters

Tuna Tartar – cubes of tuna not diced, with pickled fennel, orange segments, arugula, mango sauce – I have never had this preparation at Bouchon in Yountville. I really liked the citrus component.

BYO Red Wine

Country pate – chicken, veal and turkey wrapped in bacon, cornichons, thinly sliced radish and Dijon mustard – excellent

Boudin Noir – blood sausage with potato puree and caramelized apples – as good as in Yountville

Perfect Christmas Eve lunch.

Redd – Yountville

After a very extravagant lunch at Etoile, we decided on a “lighter” 3 course dinner at Redd.

BYO White Wine

Sashimi of hamachi, sticky rice, edamame, lime ginger sauce – this is one of my favorite appetizers and seems to be always on the menu

Fried Tomales Bay oysters, fingerling potato salad, frissee, hard boiled egg dressing – the oysters were cornmeal encrusted and were in a word fantastic – I felt as if I was in New Orleans.

Tasting of  foie gras preparations – seared foie gras, Fuyu persimmon, house-made English muffin, cold foie gras mousse with pear compote  and puff pastry, cold foie gras torchon encrusted with huckleberries and pistachio served with brioche, foie gras terrine, frisee salad – another favorite. This was served with a glass of Coassart Gordon 15 year old Bual Madeira – perfect.

Palate cleanser of pearl tapioca, pomegranate, yuzu granite – a present from Karen, our excellent server.

A perfect day of food – 3 courses at Etoile and 3 courses at Redd – what more can one ask for?

French Laundry – Yountville

In an earlier post I explained the transition from Corey to Tim. Basically I am going to let the photos tell the story.

No photo, but champagne to start.


Salmon Cornets —  a special comment to Michael Bauer, SF Chronicle restaurant critic – this has never been nor will it ever be ahi – his latest review of a similar type of meal did in fact state ahi cornets.

Warm Stinging Nettle Soup with Hen-of-the-Woods Mushrooms and Frog’s Legs

California White Sturgeon Caviar, Raw Island Creek Oysters, Applewood smoked bacon, fried sunchokes, finely diced, Romaine lettuce

First wine

Penobscot Sea Urchin. The sea urchin is from the famous lobster supplier Ingrid of Maine. The sea urchins are sent live!

Uni, crème fraiche panna cotta, grapefruit, leeks, hazelnuts, garden mezuna, black truffle puree

Atlantic Cod “Shirako”, nicoise olive crumb, San Marzano tomato compote, crispy Shirako (cod semen sack coated with panko), gratin of cardoons

Japanese BigFin Squid, Piquillo peppers, garlic sitting on a fried cylindar of panisse, arugula

Chawan Mushi with Dungeness Crab, Monterey Bay Abalone, Brioche crumb

Sauce Grenobloise

Blurry picture of the Sauce Grenobloise added to the dish



Animal Farm – last cow is now named Keller

Garden heirloom beets, celery branch, petite lettuce, Fuyu persimmon, crème fraiche, tarragon

White wine

Black Truffle Lasagna, Mendocino uni, wilted spinach, hazelnut foam

Lasagna plated and uni plated

Nantucket bay scallops “poelees”, cauliflower, pomegranate, pumpkin seed, butternut squash puree

Red Wine

Risotto dish presented

Alba white truffles presented

Carnaroli risotto, Castelmagno cheese from Italy, brown butter

Thomas Farms Squab presented

Thomas Farm Squab “en cocotte”, stuffed with Moulard Duck foie gras wrapped in Savoy cabbage, pear-roasted chestnuts, black truffle, watercress and sauce Perigourdine – for me this was THE dish of the night.

Bouchon- Yountville

Bouchon in Yountville has basically the same menu as Bouchon in Beverly Hills, but the atmosphere is very different.

Beverly Hills is much much larger and more formal.

The Yountville Bouchon is much smaller with tables close to each other, much like a bouchon in Lyon. The atmosphere is bustling and informal.

Going to Bouchon before a French Laundry meal is always a challenge – I keep saying to myself don’t eat too much and share everything.

Sancerre for our wine

My photo guy was way too slow – ate 2 of my oysters before he remembered to snap the picture.

Kusshi oysters from Washington State, Wellfleet Oysters from Mass, Shiny Sea Oysters from Prince Edward Island

Incredible uni from Ingrid of Maine. Not only does she now supply Bouchon, but she also supplies French Laundry with their lobsters and now some of their uni – live in the shells- perfect. I had to restrain myself and not order some more.

Boudin Noir – blood sausage with potato puree and caramelized apples – we shared this

Half eaten boudin noir

Black Truffle Fries – I couldn’t resist, but ended up giving most to the nice foursome from Dallas next to us.

Bouchon is a bouchon. It is NOT the French Laundry and doesn’t pretend to be. People understand that in Yountville, but so far some of the Beverly Hills Bouchon diners seems to have a hard time accepting the concept.

Etoile- Yountville

Someone whose opinion we trust suggested that we try Etoile, Domaine Chandon’s fine dining restaurant. We had been there years ago when Phillipe Jeanty was the chef de cuisine, but after he left the restaurant, it just wasn’t very good – think overwrought “continental” cuisine. Well, we decided to give it another try as the new chef, Perry Hoffman was suppose to be very good.

The chef- Perry Hoffman

From their website:

“Born and raised in the Napa Valley, Perry Hoffman literally grew up in fine-dining kitchens. His grandparents, Sally and Don Schmitt, were the original owners of The French Laundry, the Yountville restaurant made famous by its present owner Thomas Keller. In the 1980s, Perry would help his grandmother in the kitchen making croutons, roasting bell peppers and chopping parsley. This early experience sparked Perry’s passion for cooking, which ultimately shaped his chosen career.”

“Perry started working as a pantry chef at a local neighborhood restaurant at age 15. And after stops at the Boonville Hotel in the Anderson Valley, the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, the Mauna Lani in Hawaii and two years as sous chef under Robert Curry at Auberge du Soleil, Perry came to étoile in July, 2007. He leads the multidimensional team that involves winemakers, sommeliers and chefs working together to bring the food and wine experience to a world-class level. Perry enjoys creating wine-inspired food, drawing on étoile’s extensive gardens, located just steps from the kitchen door, and his daily interaction with the winemakers. This unique position helps him create fresh, seasonal dishes with the wines in mind. And he’s located less than a mile from where he first started “working” in another Yountville kitchen over 20 years ago.”

The room

Another view of the room

Ryan, our excellent server, helping another patron

The orchid on the table

The wine, especially made for Donna Karan – we liked it so much we bought a case

Miyagi Oysters with bitter orange and shallot mignonette, chive garnish

We decided to be VERY extravagant and order the caviar tasting – serving dish for the caviar

chopped egg whites, capers, chopped egg yolks, diced shallots, chopped chives, creme fraiche with chives – You add the accompaniments to your particular tastes.

Toast for the caviar


We ate every single drop

Beef Tartar- Prime New York steak,  young ginger, allspice, Dijon, shallots, gribiche and the yolk was cooked sous vide

Since we were on extravagant “roll”, we had Alba white truffles shaved tableside

Yes, it was a very expensive lunch and I wouldn’t do the caviar tasting again, given the cost. But there was plenty on the menu to choose from and I would definitely have the beef tartar again.