Happy Belated Birthday from Your Bad Daughter!

I can’t believe I forgot to call you on your birthday!  I had been thinking about you all week—I even went out to do a little shopping for you beforehand.  However, come Halloween, I completely spaced it.

I had my day planned out.  I would go into work early at 11am, get my portion of the counting for inventory done in four hours, attend the mandatory benefits meeting (yawn), and then get home to make my birthday call and finish a few things around the house before trick or treaters arrived.  I would then make myself scarce and go grab some grub.

There was a glitch with inventory however.   The count sheets were completely screwed up, and inventory ended up taking almost twice as long.   I didn’t get to leave work until around 7:30 in the evening.  My mind was completely numb from my day.   The only thing I could think about when I got home was that I needed a good meal to nurture my soul, and I was hungry!  Dropping my things at the door, I quickly changed for dinner.  One problem though:  I forgot to turn off the lights!  Within 5 minutes some little kids were knocking on my door—“TRICK OR TREAT!”  I told them to hang on while I scoured the cabinets for something sweet I could put in their Halloween pails.  Unfortunately, I had to part with a two little jars of honey that were left over from a promotion which I was looking very forward to sitting down and tasting thoughtfully.  Oh well, easy come, easy go.

Bye, bye Raspberry!  Bye, bye Alfalfa!  (I kept the jar of lavender, poor third kid went without any honey).


Sol del Sur Bistro, a restaurant in San Juan Capistrano I had not been to had been to before, came highly recommended by a friend.  I headed over there only after checking to make certain that I wouldn’t be given the stink-eye for arriving to a restaurant after 8pm on Halloween.  Nothing could have been further from this.  Although the restaurant was pretty empty (as most restaurants are, as you know, on Halloween), Chef Dave treated me as though I was a long-time friend and VIP.  I told him that Pavers (from the missed Champagne tasting) had sent me and had instructed me that I should allow Chef to cook for me.  I told Dave that I enjoyed everything, and as an example, mentioned that the lambs’ tongue dish had caught my eye.  Reading my mind, he recommended a glass of Lustau Fino Sherry to begin.   I took a little sip…man, is that dry!!!  Remember all the dry sherry they would start us off with in the southern part of Spain as we made our way up to Sevilla?  The austerity of this Fino restored awareness to my senses.  Soon, Chef was presenting the first plate.

Beet Coffee and Salt Baked Beets, Beet Greens, Manchego Cheese and Honey on Toasts

They look delicious!  However, I withered a bit looking at my glass of wine.  I thought to myself, “This sherry is going to taste awful with the sweetness of the beets and honey”.  But I was very wrong.  The Fino was surprisingly good because of the beets were so salty from having been baked with it.  The coffee subtly added a richer and darker earthiness to the beets.  This was a satisfying way to begin, and I was surprised when I realized that my sherry had disappeared so quickly.    

Grape Fresh Burrata on roasted Grapes, Red Frill Greens, Grape Garlic Vinaigrette

The lightness of this dish was really refreshing after the salty, earthy weight of the beets and Manchego.   The first dish was a seat belt, strapping me in and letting me know I need not worry about the food even though I am in Orange County; what was to come wasn’t going to be out of a box and it wasn’t going to involve mashed potatoes.  This second dish was like a cool cloth to my forehead after my stupidly difficult inventory.  I was so surprised because all that burrata and the look of the roasted grapes seemed like they would be heavy and rich.  Also, it didn’t register with me before, but reading that the burrata is fresh implies that it is homemade—and knowing Dave a little better, it probably was.  It was much lighter in texture than what I usually get, really delicious and reviving—especially with the Schloss Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner from Austria.   Remember the copious quantities of this type of wine we drank at Puck’s for lunch when it was still at the IMA?  Well, like then, this wine went so well with all of Dave’s food, I am convinced it should be his “house” white. 

Lengua Grilled Lamb Tongue on Toasts, Green Zebra Tomato and Plum Chutney

You know that one of my favorite dishes that you prepare is your cow’s tongue with olive oil, onions, and olives.  Unfortunately, I became so absorbed in trying to find a red wine to drink with this dish, I squandered my opportunity to eat it while it was optimum temperature.   No matter, this dish, too, was delicious.  I spent some time experimenting with how much better food tastes when you pick it up whole and eat it with your hands vs. eating it with a fork and knife.  The time would have been better spent determining if the plump refreshing acidity was coming from plums or tomato.   I am assuming it was the tomato.

Watermelon Duck Confit Terrine with Whiskey Figs, Watermelon ‘Sushi’, Watermelon Rind Pickles

This dish was really cool!  The whiskey figs and the duck cracklings were some of the yummiest things I have put in my mouth this entire year.  I thought the watermelon sushi would be gross (I have had Cryovacked melon before which usually tastes absurd to me), but it wasn’t at all. The texture was actually beautiful and didn’t come across as mashed mealy bruised fruit.  I wouldn’t have thought that terrine could be so interesting and innovative!  I asked Chef if there was some pickled rind adding a nice texture and acidity to the terrine.  He swore there wasn’t, but what I was referring to can be seen in the terrine above.  I wonder what it was.

Porchetta Boneless Rabbit Porchetta wrapped in Pancetta, flageolet beans sautéed with Sage

I was asked if I had room for one more dish.  I did.  Do I like rabbit?  I DO!!!!  I adore rabbit.  Here is the dish in Chef’s own words:

“Took a boneless Rabbit, seasoned it with Garlic, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Fennel, etc… Wrapped it up like a Roman Porchetta and roasted it.  Roman style Rabbit Porchetta! (Also wrapped the whole thing in Pancetta – double yum!)”

Double yum, indeed!!!  Served with flageolet beans!!!  Food that nurtured and made me forget the rest of my day!!!

Sorry, Mom.


Happy Belated Birthday!

I love you!!!