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Everything posted by NVNVGirl

  1. Wow, how cool is that? Jerry would love it! I'm looking forward to these bottles. Just had a bottle of CDB 2000 Zin last nite and it was pretty good. Unfortunately, I've found that it's a little inconsistent from bottle to bottle
  2. NVNVGirl

    Mise en Place

    Soapbox alert-you have touched on one of my pet peeves! I personally think that mise en place is way over-rated for the typical weekday meal. I understand that it essential to prep before service in a restaurant, but to me, it makes no sense at home unless you are preparing a large and elaborate dinner party. You can get dinner on the table much, much faster if you multi-task and prep as you go. When you stop and think about it, very few things require your complete and undivided attention (the exception being stir-frying, even I do mise en place for that.) For instance, here's how I would make risotto for a weeknight meal: Chop onions/ garlic & start sauting them (that takes 5 minutes or so.) In that 5 minutes, open wine and get Arborio out of pantry. Partially thaw stock in microwave, then put in saucepan to come to simmer. Saute rice, add wine. Start adding stock. IMO, risotto needs to be stirred often, not constantly, so while I was occasionally stirring it, I'd prep any other ingredients that were going into the risotto. Most things get added during the last 10 minutes, so they can be prepped while you are stirring. The table can be set during this time as well. Start to finish, risotto done my way takes under 25 minutes. Preparing it using the mise en place would take most people an additional 15 minutes or so. Now, I have a small kitchen, so I'm never more than a couple of steps away from the stove, and I WAS an ER nurse for 15 years so I'm probably a little better at multi-tasking than some, but I think anyone can speed up their start-to-finish time. You don't live with my husband. I do entertain quite a bit, but I find it MUCH easier to complete a meal with less interference when I have most of the ingredients prepped ahead of time, even for weekday meals . My husband thinks as soon as he sees the white of an onion's eye, food is immediately forthcoming and if it's not, he's a total nuisance in the kitchen till the meal is on the table. Much less stress doing it this way for me. In addition, we often go out for cocktails in the early evening so the meal is expedited once we finally arrive back home. Incidentally; now see how our worklives creep over into our home lives, LOL? I was an ICU nurse for 25 yrs....ER=being ready at the last second for whatever happens vs. ICU=having everything in place b/c you KNOW what's going to happen. I LOVE It!
  3. The bartender who kept wiping his nose while he was making drinks. We loved the restaurant, but my husband refused to go there after that experience.
  4. NVNVGirl

    Mise en Place

    I am also an avid home cook and I find it so much simpler to get my dishes made when I've prepped ahead. I have many times, done the garlic, onions, parsley and things like that and put them in glass custard dishes with plastic wrap over them the nite or afternoon before I"ll be using them. That has worked very well for me. I don't think I'd do them too much in advance (perhaps the onions could be chopped 2 days ahead), especially things like herbs because they seem to get limp and lose a lot of that "freshness". Personally, I wouldn't freeze things like this b/c I'd probably forget to defrost them until it was "showtime".
  5. Randall, let me preface this by saying that I truly appreciate your wines and have been a fan for many years. I love red wines especially BIG reds, but have noticed in the past several years that a lot of the California reds seem to be getting hotter and hotter. Is this a intentional shift or what? I don't mind high alcohol, but it seems that many of the Zins and even Cabs are not as well-balanced as they used to be. Perhaps I'm just drinking them too soon, but we dine out a lot and it just seems that it's getting more and more difficult to find a well-balanced red below the $100 range. Thank you also, for sharing your time and expertise with us here! Seana Nightingale
  6. Venticello for Italian food is supposed to be very good too. My mom and stepdad just had dinner there a couple of weeks ago and said everything was absolutely fabulous including the wine selection. They also said the service was phenomenal and insisted that my husband and I go the next time we are in The City. My husband refuses to eat at a place that isnt' well recommended or well known (it's just so scary when it's an adventure ), so it must have been pretty darned good. Check them out at venticello.com on the web.
  7. River's End is one of my favorite places to eat...what a great chef!
  8. Is Scala's still owned by Donna and Giovanni? I was there shortly after it first opened and it was pretty good, altho I didn't order any octopus. In the Sonoma (sort of)area or at least in the bay area, there's a place in Inverness (which is near Tomales Bay) called Mankas Lodge. Absolutely wonderful, romantic place with superb food and service. It's sort of hard to find if it's dark, but it's so worth it!
  9. Personally I love North Beach...anywhere....lots of inexpensive places for incredible Italian food. One of my very favorites is Capps Corner...very casual and great food. LOTS of SF atmosphere! Plus everything else is very close. Moose's, Venticello, Little City, and there's always The Stinking Rose which is pretty touristy, but the food is great and fun atmosphere. And check out Rose Pistolas...at least the bar...such a great place; named after such a wonderful woman.
  10. Oodles of Noodles IS good...it's next to the Safeway on Henry Rd between Palani and Kuikini I think.
  11. Nope... We've been in the hundreds for several days now and won't be cooling down anytime soon! Oh good, LOL! I won't be there till the end of next month anyway...it WILL be cooled off by then ~ but then I'll probably be freezing No matter...the food will be great
  12. I think they are definitely different types of atmosphere. Don Gio's is certainly more casual but the food is outstanding and it's always fresh and consistently good. I eat there a lot even tho I don't live there anymore. I guess I would sum up the meals at the CIA and Tra Vigne as relatively "mediocre" compared to a lot of other places in the same area. But the real thing is that you are with people you love and it's a celebration and usually everything tastes better then anyway. Sometimes it's just the company you keep! And if I hadn't lived in the Napa Valley all my life, I"d probably be more excited about the CIA and Tra Vigne; it's just that I've been to both several times and just like the food better elsewhere. I will be interested to hear where you go and what you think. Maybe Don Gio's isn't "formal" enough for your parents and that's a big deal to some people, and you want it to be special for your mom especially. I think you'll have a fabulous time wherever you end up! Oh, and no, no jackets required, requested or even thought of much at Don Gio's.
  13. The building at Tra Vigne is beautiful, but like Carolyn says, the food is inconsistent at best. And the CIA is a fun place to check out but the food is nothing special really. I'd go to either Bistro Jeanty (ask for Roger and tell him Seana (Shawna) sent you. Roger's dad used to own La Bourgogne in SF. Very nice guy. Or go to Bistro Don Giovanni...great atmosphere and the food is ALWAYS good. If you want to go to "THE" place other than the FL, go to La Toque if you can get reservations. It's sort of expensive tho. Wish I were going ....I could use a Napa fix right now! It's gotta be cooler there than it is here
  14. Yvonne, or anyone else who's interested in The Good Cook series ~ I wanted that series ever since it came out and I did get the first volume, which was Pasta...but at the time I couldn't afford the books every month or however often they came. A few months ago, I thought to look on Ebay....I've acquired almost the entire set for less than $100 which includes all the shipping. Occasionally you can find a complete set of them (there are 28 volumes), but they generally go for quite a bit...I think I saw a lot of 24 volumes that ended up going for $190. They are really nice books to have and the pictures (and the double silk bookmarkers) are wonderful! My favorite bbq book so far is Weber's The Art of the Grill
  15. I'll be over there for the Ironman Oct. 14-23! Check out Pancho and Lefty's on Alii Drive (the main drag in Kailua-Kona) for Mexican food, Sam Choy's in the Industrial Park off the Queen K Hwy (BYOB if you drink), Cassandra's for Greek food on Alii Drive. Jamison's and Huggo's on the beach on Alii Drive too. For really nice, the Orchid at the Mauna Lani is wonderful. So is the main dining room at the Four Seasons ( I forget the name of it tho, sorry). And for coffee, Lava Java is the place to be on Alii. The first place I hit tho, as soon as the plane has landed is the Kona Inn on Alii Drive for a mai tai and pupus...right on the beach....so nice. Dinner there is underwhelming tho. Just a great place to hang out and people watch and great mai tais. Have a great time!
  16. Just made a Bacardi Pina Colada cake last week...it's sooooo good and soooooo easy!
  17. I saw cheesesteaks sold in LA's Farmers Market that came with sprouts and avocado. In LA? Did you see anyone buy one? I didnt' think anyone there eats meat. Maybe they get it and toss out the steak tho...oh, and the roll.
  18. I had no idea there were different kinds of furikake! I discovered it when I was in Hawaii, and brought a couple of jars home with me. I love it, even tho I'm sure it's got a lot of salt in it, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE poke! Cannot wait to get back to Hawaii next month! Well, I guess this time I"m going to have to look for other types of furikake to bring home again! Most people bring back shells and leis....I bring back condiments
  19. Stone, you might want to check out a place called Fume. With the accent mark over the "e". It's on the same side of the highway as Bistro Don Gio's but not as far North. It's on the frontage road; I think if you turn right onto Trower Ave, then make a left at the John Muir Inn, and an immediate left again, you'll be on the frontage rd and it will be just beyond there. It's very good, has a great wine list and is very reasonably priced. A very local's hangout.
  20. I think the CIA is a fun and interesting place to visit, but eating there isnt' all that great. So many other wonderful places to eat in the Napa Valley. If you are in Calistoga, check out Wappo Bar and Grill. Their chile rellenos are incredible and so different! In St. Helena The Martini House is a wonderful place with great food and excellent service. Coming down to Napa itself, there's Bistro Don Giovanni which has execellent outside seating and excellent food, Fume which has excellent food and wine list, plus in the newly redeveloped downtown area on the River, there's several fun places to go...Zuzu for Tapas, Celadon and Angele ....Of course, there's a lot of other places also, but these are some of my favorites...oh..and In Yountville, Bistro Jeanty and Bouchon or Pacific Blues if you want something really casual but fun..great outside deck seating. Auberge has good food, but it's very expensive. They've got a great view of the valley tho. Have a great time!
  21. Most likely the most embarrassing thing is that I'm not sophisticated enough to be embarrassed by anything in my kitchen. I mean, every condiment and foodstuff has it's purpose doesn't it? Well, that's what I tell my husband when he looks in the fridge and can only find condiments
  22. Char ~ I've been to all those Sonoma restaurants....I like Cafe La Haye and Girl and the Fig the best...also check out Della Santina's. Have a great trip....Oct. is a great time to go there!
  23. Your brother's "logic" makes about as much sense as "If someone's breathe smells refreshing, then their ass must smell the same." OMG, you're killin' me! Truer words were never spoken,
  24. NVNVGirl

    Really Fast Dinners

    Angel hair with chopped tomatoes, garlic , basil and EVOO. Like Katie Loeb I make tons of pesto and freeze it along with grapefruit juice that I use for vinaigrettes. Use the pesto for lots of stuff....pesto butter, put on boboli, on pasta, frozen ravs I make and can chutneys, sauces and relishes....they come in handy when you just dont' want to do anything Mrs. T's Pierogies....with sauteed onions and garlic And when I'm REALLY desparate.....tuna and noodle casserole (well, not even casserole...just boiled noodles, albacore tuna and a can of mushroom soup mixed up together....yeah, I know most people destest it, but I love it
  25. NVNVGirl

    Roasting a Chicken

    I have read all these posts with great interest. I have a question. I've read so much about brining chicken ...I mean, SO MUCH...and it made it sound so incredible...so I tried it. Mind you, I literally grew up cooking chicken...we had it EVERY Sunday for dinner when I from the time I was born till ...I don't know when. And chicken is probably my favorite thing to cook. But I never cooked chicken and have it turn out dry, so I'm sort of wondering exactly WHAT it is about brining the chicken. When I did it, it seemed like it was just wayyyyyy too salty for me. Maybe I did something wrong. I've cooked chicken practically every way imaginable (except for that beer can thing) and I'm just wondering about what it is that makes the brining so alluring. And I've never trussed a chicken....only when I use that "set it and forget it" thingy where you use the elastic bands to hold the legs up so they don't drag on the bottom.
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