Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs

Posts Tagged ‘California

We have been foiled in several attempts to dine at Sitka & Spruce in the past year. The first was a walk-in rejection with nearly an hour wait. The second was an abruptly terminated phone call when I requested a table for eight during the festive season. The third was a hasty retreat due to a forgotten AmazonFresh scheduled delivery. Determined to have a meal at Sitka and Spruce I suggested dinner there after the Cheese 101 at The Calf & Kid but alas, the restaurant is closed on Sundays.

I adore Melrose Market and every neighbourhood should have one! The Calf & Kid is an artisan cheese purveyor with personalised service and a genuine passion for quality cheeses.

The cheese counter at The Calf & Kid. A handwritten sign is spiked into each cheese with unique descriptions and flavour profiles.

Dry-aged beef at Rain Shadow Meats.

Cooking wood piled outside Sitka & Spruce.

Jars of herbs and spices at the Sitka & Spruce Pantry.

We peeked through the window panes into the Sitka & Spruce kitchen where cheeses were plated.

Bar Ferd’nand recommended Spätburgunder, a German Pinot Noir. A fruity bouquet, it was a light wine pairing for the cheeses.

Cheese 101 is an introduction to cheese with the founder and owner of The Calf & Kid, Sheri LaVigne.

We chose a table in the corner. Wine glasses were promptly dispensed. We sipped the red and flipped through the booklet on cheese vocabulary and types of cheese as we waited for others. An earthenware bowl of crackers and seeded bread were plenty for the cheeses.

A generous dollop of fig jam.

Sheri briefed us on the history of cheese, her background and why she opened The Calf & Kid. Her love for cheese originated from living in New York where cheese was an ‘affordable luxury’. In 2001 there were four cheesemakers in the Pacific Northwest, today there are more than seventy. The samples selected were European and local for comparison.

Like wine, cheese has terroirs. The characteristics of a cheese are impacted by the environment, the animal’s diet, the cheesemaker’s recipe and method, and the seasons. Every batch of cheese will taste different.

Sheri mentioned that the strength of the cheese has to match the beverage. She likes pairing cheese with beer. Bourbon and whisky add another dimension of flavour. Sheri recalled that goat cheese and coffee are the ‘worst combination ever’!

Sheri commented that drinking raw milk is ‘more dangerous’ than eating raw milk cheese. ‘The concern is listeria which is harmful to the immuno-compromised and can be fatal.’

Clockwise from top:
* Leonora – various producers, Spain, pasteurised goat milk
* Humboldt FogCypress Grove Chèvre, California, pasteurised goat milk
* Fougerus – Robert Rouzaire, France, pasteurised cow milk
* Moses SleeperCellars at Jasper Hill, Vermont, pasteurised cow milk
* Manchego – Pasamontes Denominazione di Origine Protetta, Spain, raw sheep milk, aged one year
* Tin Willow TommeBlack Sheep Creamery, Washington State, raw sheep milk, aged five plus months
* Gruyère de Savoie – Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, France, raw cow milk, aged two plus  years
* Snow Canyon EdamRockhill Creamery, Utah, raw cow milk, aged two plus years
* Tallegio – Guffanti Brothers Denominazione di Origine Protetta, Italy, pasteurised cow milk
* Red HawkCowgirl Creamery, California, pasteurised cow milk
* Colston Bassett StiltonNeal’s Yard Dairy, England, pasteurised cow milk
* OregonzolaRogue Creamery, Oregon, raw cow milk

Sheri explained each cheese in detail as we nibbled and I took copious notes. Earthy, buttery, nutty, caramel, mushroom, funky and grassy were all words scribbled on the page!

I was enamoured by these pastel tassels accented by gold and silver tones.

Wine and cheese are joie de vivre!

On our last day in Anaheim, we explored Downtown Disney. Boulevards are lined with palm trees, gardens are groomed and pedestrian paths are flat and clean.

Lamp posts are topped with Mickey Mouse figurines. The S shaped block was lively with Disney themed stores, a cinema and several eateries. Speakers throughout the complex played pop music. It is a transient crowd as families shop and eat before or after the parks.

Tortilla Jo’s was in the middle of Downtown Disney. Tortilla Jo is a jolly gentleman with a lime sombrero and a handlebar moustache. The exterior of the restaurant is painted in ochre and rust.

On a warm day, we sat on the patio under the shade of an umbrella. The menu was the classic Mexican trio of taco, burrito and enchilada.

A petite cobalt bowl of salsa and a large basket of corn chips were served quickly. We nibbled on the complimentary snack as we perused the menu.

We shared the guacamole and fish tacos. A mound of mashed avocado, diced onions, chopped cilantro, lime juice and pico de gallo was presented on a faux mortar. It was fresh and appetising, especially when double dipped into the spicy salsa.

Two strips of mahi mahi were coated in chipotle lime glaze and pan seared. Each taco was wrapped in two tortillas with corn and cabbage coleslaw. Black beans and Mexican red rice were the sides. The fish was well cooked but a little sweet. It was the perfect portion for a light lunch!

A couple of hours in Downtown Disney were plenty and we returned home humming tunes from Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and The Lion King.

I love Disneyland. The manicured gardens, the characters, the rides, the fireworks, the stores, the shows. But not the crowds and queues. When we were in Anaheim last month, we went to Disneyland on a Friday to avoid the crowds and the queues. A friend recommended World of Colour so we had tickets to both Disneyland and California Adventure Park.

On a perfect Southern California day, we wore t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops as we got splashed on Splash Mountain and spaced out on Space Mountain. Both parks were decorated for Halloween, the pumpkin orange floral displays contrasted with the brilliant blue sky.

We had been to the Boudin Bakery on the San Francisco waterfront and were surprised to spot a bakery tour on the map of California Adventure Park. Do we board a cart and whiz through the bakery and be powdered in flour? Do we watch the dough rise and punch down the final proof as we alight?

Alas, it was the sedated activity of a traditional walking tour.

Baguettes, pumpkins, Mickey and Minnie shaped sourdough were piled in a corner at the foyer. The brick walls were covered with framed vintage photographs of the Boudin family and their famous bakery.

The lights were dimmed as we were introduced to our guides, Rosie O’Donnell and Colin Mochrie, via a recorded video. Animated cartoons described a brief history of sourdough and Boudin. Boudin sourdough is leavened with the same dough starter as 150 years ago.

As we were ushered into the bakery, the video continued on different screens as you progressed along the steps of baking sourdough. It takes about 72 hours to make a loaf of sourdough. The ingredients are mixed, rested, cut, and funnelled through the conical rounder and rolled. The balls of dough are placed in a fermentation refrigerator for up to sixteen hours to develop flavour and texture.

Happy bakers!

Relaxed and proofed sourdough.

The dough is scored.

And the trays slotted into a rotating oven for baking.

Boudin sourdough is the highlight at the nearby Pacific Wharf Café.

After a leisurely day in Santa Monica, we retreated to Sonoma Wine Garden for wine and snacks. Located on the deck of Santa Monica Place, a building originally designed by Frank Gehry and recently renovated. ‘Cradle‘, a sculpture by Ball-Nogues Studio, is suspended from a blank exterior wall. Dozens of polished stainless steel spheres are clustered in a provocative shape.

A chalkboard on a wine barrel at the entrance enticed passers-by with happy hour, live music and wines of Washington!

To the right is the dining room, and to the left is the bar. The surrounding patio is tiered with plenty of space for lounging in the glorious SoCal weather.

Wooden blocks stamped with wine logos dangled in the gentle breeze, an optical illusion is created with angled mirrors.

Candles flickered and outdoor heaters switched on, it was a beautiful evening to be dining al fresco.

In need of some rest after a day in the sun, Sonoma Wine Garden had a casual atmosphere with a bar menu and an extensive wine list.

We ordered a bottle of 2008 Fogdog Pinot Noir, a robust Sonoma Coast red wine.

We nibbled on marinated olives and truffle fries. Glistening globes of green olives were served in a recycled glass jar. They were mild and aromatic, with small pits.

Golden and crispy, the fries were perfumed with the earthy tones of truffle oil and topped with Parmesan and parsley.

Fairy lights twinkled in twilight as I reflected on how much I miss natural light.

I noticed a row of Enomatic dispensers and spotted one for Penfolds Grange at the cost of one dollar per millilitre!

One last glance at the horizon and we exited into the night.

A weekend trip to Southern California was temporary reprieve from a wet and windy Seattle. We spent Saturday in Santa Monica and it was a delight to squint in the sunshine, wear flip-flops and splash in the Pacific Ocean again.

Our generation of Australians grew up with ‘Slip Slop Slap Seek Slide‘, a public health campaign against skin cancer, and sunglasses and hats are requisite outdoor accessories.

Ms D-R recommended Coast at Shutters on the Beach for brunch. With a panoramic view of Santa Monica Beach, the hotel is a sight to behold. Painted ivory and white, the building is resplendent against the blue sky and palm trees.

Coast is on the bottom level of the hotel with a beachfront entrance.

How apt that the hotel logo is a deckchair, symbolising an idyllic holiday!

The upper levels are One Pico and The Living Room, both with a spectacular vista.

Coast has counter seating, a communal table and a patio. The main dining room has wide beach frontage.

The communal table was laden with wine glasses for a cosy family gathering.

Nautical themed, the restaurant is spacious and welcoming. Our corner booth had vertical navy stripes. Framed black and white photos hung on the slatted walls.

A glass jar of Bonne Maman honey accompanied my pot of Art of Tea Earl Grey.

Mr S’s espresso was served in a daffodil yellow cup.

Ms D-R ordered the traditional eggs Benedict with the Hollandaise sauce on the side.

The chicken Caesar salad was rustically chopped and lightly drizzled with a tangy dressing.

Topped with yoghurt, cinnamon and berries, the granola parfait was a generous size with plenty of fruit.

I had a simple but tasty breakfast of fried eggs on toast at the hotel so I opted for spaghettini pomodoro. Tangled strands of al dente pasta were tossed with tomato, basil and garlic. It was well seasoned and scrumptious, hearty sustenance for an afternoon walk.

Santa Monica is a charming spot and I fell in love with Shutters on the Beach.


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