Saturday, November 03, 2007

I've switched my food blog over to i8 was taken :(

Come by and visit me there! I like wordpress better than blogger.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I made a big batch of pesto on Sunday, but accidentally ground up part of my pink silicone spatula in the Cuisinart. Fortunately it was not a green spatula, and the pieces were easy to locate. The basil was from the farmer’s market, as was the cheese–absolutely delicious raw milk Trader’s Point Fleur de la Terre–and I used walnuts instead of pine nuts because the downtown Bloomingfoods doesn’t carry pine nuts. Booo! I put two Tbsp of pesto into each Saran wrap-lined cup of my muffin tin, and froze the pesto into little cakes, and put the frozen pesto cakes into some Ziploc freezer bags so I can enjoy the taste of summer basil all winter long.

Dinner tonight will come from one of my favorite cookbooks, Lindsay Bareham's Supper Won't Take Long. Sort of, anyway. It's a dish called Brown Tom; the only reference I could find to this on the internet came, coincidentally, from Martinsville, IN: the Morgan County Longrifles site informs us that "Brown Tom was the nickname given to the standard ration bread issued to the British military." Bareham's recipe is for a gratin of tomatoes, brown bread, flat leaf parsley, garlic, and onion. My onions seem to have dissolved into a goo at the bottom of my crisper drawer, so I ended up using lots of garlic instead, and I had no flat leaf parsley. Also, I ignored her advice to peel the tomatoes first.

So my Brown Tom is really pretty different, and I don't know if you can really call it the same thing. I pureed some of the white and whole wheat rolls my mom made while she was here (I've been eating them, but there sure are a lot of them) into bread crumbs, minced about four cloves of garlic, and mixed the crumbs and garlic up in a casserole dish with slices of red farmer's market tomatoes, salt, and pepper. I sprinkled some parmesan on top, drizzled the crumbs with soy sauce and olive oil, and stuck one of my pesto-cubes smack in the middle. I hope it tastes good. It seems like it should, in theory. I will find out soon.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Some interesting stuff I've eaten lately:
- Yummy quinoa salad at Angela and Pete's house: quinoa with parsley and mint, dressed with a garlic-lemon juice-olive oil dressing, mixed with chopped tomatoes.
- Water buffalo yogurt. It's pretty creamy, but sort of a weird, smooth, firm texture rather than the creamier type I prefer.
- Malabar spinach, bought from Jennie and Rebecca at the farmer's market. I thought about growing this for a while--it's recommended by permaculture books as a perennial green (permaculture is big into growing perennials rather than annuals; it's supposedly much easier on the ecosystem). It's... um... interesting. And by "interesting," I mean "slimy." Like okra, it gives off tons of mucilage, especially the stems. I cooked it with ramen and threw in a couple of beaten eggs for protein. I was kind of appalled as I was eating it and the sliminess gradually dawned on me, and had to look it up to make sure it wasn't rotting or anything. The flavor seemed pretty nice and inoffensive. The slime was just something else. I bet it would be good in gumbo, though.
- Mom and I also did a lot of baking when she was visiting--she made rolls, both white and whole wheat, and I helped her make a whole wheat crust custard apple pie with Jonathan apples from the farmer's market. Yummy!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Yesterday, September 15, was Joseah's birthday, so we had him, Beth, Jeanne, and Steve over for dinner and a screening of David Lynch's Inland Empire (horrible). Jeanne and Steve brought some of their homebrewed beer and delicious homemade mac and cheese--the secret is apparently Worcestershire sauce and dry mustard. I made salsa with some red and yellow farmer's market tomatoes, cilantro, red onion, bottled lime juice, salt, garlic, and some rare chiles we bought from the Chile Woman at the market--I believe they were called Arrivivi Gusano. They were very hot, but with a wonderful fruity taste; half were unripe green and half were pale yellow, and they were perhaps an inch long and fairly thin and tapered. I also made some almond thumbprint cookies from the Joy of Cooking, minus the almonds. I made a few with Maine blueberry jam, for Rahul, and for most of them I used spoonfuls of peach jam Joseah's mom had sent him for his birthday, and that he'd brought over to share. It was all very nice. We had hash browns and eggs at Wee Willie's, went to the farmer's market, and went to the Bloomingfoods grand opening, where I got a free chair massage and some free soap samples.

Today I was woken up with breakfast in bed! I didn't actually eat it in bed, but I was incredibly thrilled to wake up to hash browns, cottage cheese, and a vegetable omelet with sweet red pepper, onion, olives, and spinach.

I made an easy casserole for dinner: emptied a can of organic rice and beans into a glass pie pan, mixed it with a chopped fresh tomato, red onion, fresh spinach, and topped it with some shredded cheese, then baked at 350 for about 20 minutes, turned it up to 450 for the last 10 minutes to brown the cheese.

Now I'm trying to catch up on work and readings for class--spent all day in the library watching the videos I'd missed--and I'm feeling very tired.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Best bento boxes ever:

Friday, September 07, 2007

A few yummy things to report:
- I ate paw paws last weekend (Labor Day weekend) thanks to Jeanne, who stopped by early in the morning from her shift at the Bloomingfoods stall to pick some up. They were much better when old and soft and brown, and tasted somewhere between banana, mango, and papaya, with a bit of papaya-ish kerosene taste that kept me from fully enjoying them.
- I made cornmeal pancakes with frozen corn kernels and they were really crunchy and good.
- I also made buckwheat pancakes with buckwheat flour from the WIBS mill at the farmer's market, and then tried to make a sourdough-starter buckwheat bread loaf, but it didn't rise. It was really good when fresh out of the oven, though, with that browned grain flavor bread should have.
- I made a tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes and basil from the farmer's market. I think we ate this with rotini.
- I made a tomato stew with Quorn pieces, green olives, fresh tomatoes, basil, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, and sweet peppers from the farmer's market. We ate this over couscous with sauteed mushrooms.
- Went to Camie's house a few days ago, on Sept 5th, where she and Laura showed us how to make salsa, beans, and fresh corn and flour tortillas. I made huevos rancheros the next morning with some leftover refried pink beans and chipotle salsa. Delicious!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

We had a pretty nice weekend, I think, full of many of the simple domestic pleasures I missed in our studio apartment in Cleveland. Yesterday morning we biked up to the farmer's market and bought a few things. Jennie and Rebecca were there, though without any yarn or roving to buy (and the sportweight alpaca lady wasn't there either!). We chatted about spinning briefly, and I bought some plump Pink Lady and small dark Brandywine tomatoes, and a huge, fragrant, flowery bunch of basil with sharp pointed leaves--it looks like Thai holy basil, but green, not purple. They threw in a small round watermelon along with it. The folks from Wibs were there for the last time this year with their loudly chugging red enameled mill pouring out cornmeal, so I stocked up: 2 lbs buckwheat flour in a white cloth sack, 2 lbs white cornmeal, and 4 lbs whole-wheat flour. The fresh sage at another booth looked so nice, I had to pick some up despite having no plans for it. And it was mainly the thought of having to carry anything else on my bike that kept me from going crazy over the huge variety of summer heirloom tomatoes. We went to the library, I divested myself of three trash bags full of clothes at Goodwill, and I made whole wheat rotini with fresh tomato sauce (seasoned with hot peppers from our Thai bird pepper plant, which grew insanely huge and leafy under Jeanne's care over the summer).

Today, I made John Thorne's buckwheat pancakes--I think the recipe is from Serious Pig--which we ate with maple syrup and melted butter. Not bad, not great either. I think fermenting longer would help. I uncharacteristically attempted to clean the bathtub. Then we went to the Bryan Park pool and I went down the two waterslides about a million times. The sun is shining, cicadas are buzzing, Bloomington looks green and fresh and summery still.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

We had Charlie and Defne over for dinner (plus a late-night postprandial swim in our clothes)

The menu:
- aperitifs of Charlie's fancy, fragrant French absinthe poured into a glass, with cold water slowly poured into it through a sugarcube on a cut silver spoon, till the liquid was a cloudy pale yellow
- green leaf lettuce salad with walnuts, dressed with chopped shallots, lemon juice, flaxseed oil, EVOO, sweet and spicy mustard, salt, pepper, dried tarragon, and dried thyme
- sauteed asparagus dressed with herb and fried shallot compound butter
- crisp-fried polenta slices (not fresh--we bought a tube from the store) topped with a tomato sauce made from canned crushed tomatoes, soffritto (garlic, onion, carrot, celery), a fresh chopped tomato, a bay leaf, fresh basil from Aarthi's garden, oregano, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper; and sauteed white button mushrooms
- red lentils cooked with soy sauce, garlic, soffritto (garlic, onion, carrot, celery), fresh rosemary from Aarthi's garden, dried oregano, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, chopped fresh tomatoes, soy sauce, fresh parsley, fresh chopped spinach, bay leaf, salt, and pepper
- rice pudding: a cup or so of brown basmati rice gently cooked, uncovered, with a can of coconut milk and water, seasoned with cardamom pods, vanilla extract, lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, star anise, dark brown sugar, a tiny pinch of salt, and maple syrup from Steve and Amalia's farm.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A nice dinner for one (Rahul is in Georgia, eating pecan pie):
Wash and cut up half a cauliflower into florets. Toss in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a sheet of foil on a baking sheet. Cut the top off a head of garlic and pour some olive oil inside. Wrap it up in the corner of the foil. Bake it all in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, boil some water and make a handful of linguine.
When it's ready, the cauliflower will be a deep, toasty brown on most sides, and the garlic will be soft and browned.
Squeeze out the roasted garlic into a bowl. Mix with the cauliflower and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes.
A nice dinner for one (Rahul is in Georgia, eating pecan pie):
Wash and cut up half a cauliflower into florets. Toss in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a sheet of foil on a baking sheet. Cut the top off a head of garlic and pour some olive oil inside. Wrap it up in the corner of the foil. Bake it all in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, boil some water and make a handful of linguine.
When it's ready, the cauliflower will be a deep, toasty brown on most sides, and the garlic will be soft and browned.
Squeeze out the roasted garlic into a bowl. Mix with the cauliflower and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

We had Steve, Jeanne, Steve's friend Omar, Tim, and Trevor over for dinner tonight. It was a lovely sunny day, mostly spent shopping and cooking. We cleaned and vacuumed the house, and I had a bouquet of purple dame's rocket and tansy leaves from the farmer's market in a glass vase in the living room.

To drink, we had:
- Oliver Winery wine (Sauvignon Blanc and Soft White)
- Jeanne's home-brewed beer, a very light, tasty wheat beer
- Club soda with lemon wedges

We also had:
- NYT no-knead bread (a little flat--the water wasn't warm enough when I added it to the yeast--but very crisp). Served with goat cheese from the farmer's market, soft white stuff mixed with black vegetable ashes
- Salad: red romaine and green romaine from the farmer's market, with a dressing of lemon juice, mustard, olive oil, dried tarragon, minced shallots, salt, and pepper, topped with toasted walnuts and grated parmesan and romano cheese
- Zucchini carpaccio: three zucchini sliced into thin rounds, laid out in three layers; on top of each layer, I squeezed a little lemon juice and sprinkled olive oil, salt, pepper, parmesan and romano cheese, lemon zest, and toasted pine nuts
- Lentil soup: a soffritto of celery, onion, carrot, and garlic sweated for half an hour on low heat, with a bag of brown lentils and about 8 cups of water added to simmer for hours. I seasoned it with a small can of tomato paste, a few glugs of soy sauce, dried oregano, thyme, and rosemary, and fresh Italian parsley added towards the end. I also threw in a quarter of a package of orzo pasta towards the end of cooking.
- Mushroom pasta: Rahul made this: two packages of whole-wheat rotini, handfuls of farmer's market spinach, and a huge saucepan of creamy mushroom sauce. He made a white sauce with a butter-flour roux and whole milk, cream, and mushroom Better than Bouillon added as the liquid. I don't know what other herbs he added, but he did put in a lot of garlic, garlic chives, diced carrots, and onions.
- Corn pudding: I followed the basic recipe shown here:
with five ears of fresh yellow corn instead of six, the kernels cut off the cob instead of grated, and a few other modifications. In other words,
Cut corn kernels and scrape juice from five ears of fresh corn.
Mix with 1/2 cup whole milk, 1/2 cup cream, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp sugar, freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 stick melted butter, and 3 eggs.
Add chopped fresh garlic chives, Italian parsley, and some ground paprika.
Bake in a buttered muffin tin set in a pan of hot water, at 350 degrees, for about 45 minutes. Spoon onto plates.
- Peanut butter cookies: Jeanne and Steve brought these.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Two yummy things at Community Kitchen today:
1) I made coleslaw! I love it when I get to actually cook things. I didn't have to cut up any vegetables, just emptied gigantic bags full of pre-washed shredded cabbage and carrots into a bowl and made a pitcher of vinaigrette to go on top. Apple cider vinegar, vegetable oil, sugar (enough to make it sludgy, and then some), salt, pepper, mustard powder, dried dill, and tons of poppyseeds. I kept looking for caraway seeds or celery seeds, but couldn't find any.
2) Adam made a peanut curry sauce out of coconut milk, peanut butter, turmeric, curry powder, parsley, and garlic powder, and it was absolutely delicious! He was going to cook cut-up apples and assorted veggies in it (looked like broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green onions, green beans?--not sure what else) and serve it over rice or something. I am seriously considering dropping by CK at dinnertime for a plate of the curry.

Oh, and the chocolates my mom sent were amazing. My favorite was the raspberry ganache. There's a guy at the Bloomington farmer's market (he was at the winter market, at least, haven't seen him yet at the summer market) who sells truffles covered in raspberry dust. I might have to try some of his.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I had a really lovely birthday. I worked all day (well, so it was lovely aside from that and the agonizing VPN troubleshooting on the phone--"Remote Assistance" wasn't working). Rahul left me a card on my computer that I found when I got up in the morning. Since he scheduled a meeting for the evening, I thought we wouldn't make reservations anyplace since we weren't sure when we'd be able to go.

When he got home, we got dressed and went out to Tallent to see if we could get a table.

Then, when he walked in, he said, "Hi, I have a reservation." So he planned all along to get back in time for our reserved dinnertime, and actually called ahead for reservations! It was a small thing, but it meant a lot.

Here's what we ate:

Indiana Duck Breast
Sweet Potato Roesti, Cauliflower, Golden Raisin Olive Relish

Lemon & Herb Stuffed, Parsley Cous Cous, Sundried Tomato Vin

They also brought us amuse-bouches--a crispy sweet potato chip with smoked salmon, ham, and lemon aioli, and about 10 other things all piled on top in miniscule amounts. After dinner, we were given one thin, chewy chocolate cookie each.

The nicely dressed people across the room were talking loudly about all kinds of unsavory topics. Really loudly:
- "So I was scraping the scar tissue off my groin with a butter knife..."
- "I found out I could pull on the tendons and make the claw [apparently a cut-off pheasant foot] open and close. Then I forgot it in my desk one day and got in trouble when the teacher found it because of the smell..."

And a man dining by himself at another table stood up and I saw to my surprise that he was about four feet tall--he looked normal-sized sitting down, so he must have had really short legs. Between the conversations and the small man in the suit, it started to feel very Lynchian indeed.

We went to Runcible Spoon afterwards. Rahul and I shared a Blind Dave's Mocha (chocolate ice cream, whipped cream, and coffee) and had some champagne. Jeanne and Steve came to join us, and Melinda stopped by with her friend Adam and brought me a rose from the table where she'd been sitting at a law school banquet. There was a private party in the main room to honor Sherman Alexie, and they gave free bottles of wine to the management, so the owner came by and gave us some free glasses of the sparkling red.

Mom and Dad sent me cards, and Mom also UPS'd a box of fancy chocolates that arrived the next morning! I haven't tried the chocolates yet, but they're very beautiful.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I miss my boyfriend. :( Rahul is off in Nashville, TN today and tomorrow for a job interview.

So he missed out on some yummy pasta:

Creamy Lemon Pasta
A couple of handfuls of dried extra-wide egg noodles
A couple of handfuls of frozen peas
About 1/4 bunch of fresh parsley
1/2 of a large lemon (I miss fresh, free California lemons! This one cost $1)
2 large cloves garlic
Olive oil
2 Tbsp mascarpone cheese

Put on the water for the egg noodles.

While waiting for it to boil, mince the garlic. Heat up a dab of olive oil in a tiny pan and brown the garlic. Remove from heat and place in a serving bowl.

Cook the noodles according to directions.

Wash and chop the parsley.

Dump the frozen peas into the pasta water a minute before it's done; by the time you drain it, the peas should be thawed.

Pour the drained pasta and peas into the serving bowl. Throw in the mascarpone and the parsley. Zest and juice the lemon directly into the bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and stir together to melt the mascarpone into a creamy sauce.

Things that might have made this dish better, if I'd thought of them and had them all on hand:
- Parmesan cheese
- Fresh mint or basil
- More garlic!
- Chopped olives
- Capers

Overall, though, it's a lovely, delicious, simple dish. The mascarpone makes it really easy--the previous incarnations of this pasta dish I've made before (with lemon or with yellow bell peppers) called for using cream and reducing it in the pan, which is much more time-consuming. Since the mascarpone is thick and creamy and clingy already, you can easily make the sauce before the pasta is even done cooking.

So... time to get back to my project and some fashion-ogling. I'm really craving chocolate, or hot cocoa, or a mocha, and we don't have any in the house. Unfortunately, Rahul has the car and it's forecast to snow tomorrow, so I probably won't go out. Saturday I paid no attention and went downtown to get breakfast and to attend Nancy's birthday party and spin at the yarn shop, and by the time I left (with 237 yards of green-blue merino tencel, and 30 yards of angora/silk/cotton 3-ply handspun in hand), huge, horrible globs of wet slush were splattering down everywhere, inch-thick all over the car windows. There was a kind of crust of fluffy/icy slush on the road that was retaining water underneath and I was glad Bloomington is so small.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Vegetarian (not vegan) gravy

Worked up as a substitute for our favorite white bean gravy because of the tragic demise of our hand blender.

Make a light roux with one tablespoon butter and one tablespoon flour. When the roux is thick, but still very pale, add Morningstar Farm sausage crumbles (perhaps 1/2 cup). Mix well with the roux and saute until lightly browned. Add about 1/2 tsp Better than Bouillon vegetarian broth concentrate, and about 1 cup cool water. Stir well; cook until the gravy is the desired consistency, then stir in about a teaspoonful of mascarpone cheese. Cook for a minute longer and then serve with Remarkably Acceptable biscuits.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I made this reasonably good imitation of Gretchen's braised red cabbage, and am enjoying it now with Quorn nuggets and a slice of whole-grain bread:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 2 1/4-pound red cabbage, thinly sliced (about 12 cups)
6 tablespoons brown sugar
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar

Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Add cabbage and sauté until slightly wilted, about 5 minutes. Add sugar; toss to coat evenly. Add vinegar. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until cabbage is tender, stirring often, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

I've eaten some great things while I've been in California these past few weeks (since 12/16/06). I have been on vacation from vegetarianism.

Aloo tikki and masala dosa from Vik's Chaat House.

At Sarah's solstice party, a great spread of all kinds of familiar, wonderful Solstice party foods: "Swedish meatballs" (they turned out to be Italian meatballs from Costco baked in butter); Gretchen's wonderful traditional red cabbage, cooked till tender (water, white wine vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and butter); roasted new potatoes with dill, Sarah's homemade white chocolate peppermint bark with peppermint candies AND peppermint oil, and dark chocolate with salted chopped pistachios; cold, plump boiled shrimp with cocktail sauce; slices of cucumber; slices of crisp apple with caramelly brown Norwegian Gjetost cheese; tangy pickled herring with paper-thin slices of lacy Havarti on those cardboardy whole-wheat crackers; anise-flavored kerosene, aka shot glasses of aquavit; champagne, Martinelli's, both traditional and mango-flavored; gorgeous brownies with whole tiny candy canes pressed into the top of each one (great idea, but I didn't try it).

At Dad's house: Cauliflower roasted in a pan with just olive oil, salt, and pepper, until brown and nutty. It was so delicious we kept eating it with our fingers until it was almost all gone.

Some other lovely dishes at Dad's house, too many to count: lentil hummus, crunchy Fuyu persimmons, home-made crackers with a delectable Brie, vegetable chowder from the Deborah Madison Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone cookbook, black cherry jello mold with walnuts, cherries, and celery embedded inside for a lovely crunch. A fragrant, buttery pear from Harry and David's. Pan-fried masala dosas from frozen packages from Vik's. Pink, juicy grapefruits sprinkled with sugar. Peet's coffee with half-and-half or vanilla soy milk, waiting for me when I came to the table each morning. Another loaf of no-knead bread from the New York Times, which we had the day after it was baked, so it was chewy rather than crispy.

Three! generous pieces of unagi on rice, miso soup, and salad, for about $10, with Leah and Martin at Mifune in Japantown. Did I mention it costs about twice as much for unagi donburi in Bloomington? I don't know how much they give you, but I seriously doubt it's six whole pieces of fish, and I don't think they include the sides of soup and salad, either. Also some nice salted edamame.

Dad took me out to Lalime's as a Christmas present. We ate:
- Caesar salad: crisp, beautiful baby romaine lettuce, full of sweet flavor, dressed with a complex, creamy anchovy dressing and unfortunately large, sparse, crunchy croutons. The salad would have been perfect with a larger number of smaller croutons.
- Wild mushroom stroganoff--creamy, with wonderful wild mushrooms and perfectly cooked al dente fresh pasta. It came with a tiny kabocha squash gratin on top.
- Rich, luscious mud pie with frozen coffee? hazelnut? ice cream, frozen whipped cream, chopped toasted almonds, and a dark chocolate sauce with little chocolatey wafers on top.

Dad had some kind of Mexican-inspired fish with a roasted green pepper sauce, and a mixed greens salad with roasted golden and red beets and a huge piece of runny, pungent blue cheese, which he kindly shared with me.

Patty got locked out of the house for three hours that night--she was home dog-sitting and left the keys in the house when she took Jeb out for a walk. Unfortunately, their neighbors John and Betsy were out, and Jeb would lunge at people if they came near, so Patty couldn't bring him to some random neighbor's house. She ended up huddling in the laundry room for warmth and going through the trash at the high school to find a paper plate for Jeb to drink water out of. I had already felt pretty guilty about eating the wonderful meal without her, without the thought of her shivering in the cold while rummaging through dumpsters.

We went up to Napa for Christmas Eve and dashed back down Christmas Day for Patty to go to dinner at her sister's house with the aforementioned black cherry Jello mold in tow.

For Christmas dinner, we had some wonderful oldies-but-goodies. Roasted turkey, brined for two days until it was unspeakably luscious and juicy. A bite of the sticky rice (loh mai) stuffing straight from the bird, all crisp and brown and savory at the edges, studded with sweet sausage and mushrooms. Honey-roasted ham, crunchy and brown along the slashed, broiled edges. White wine from New Zealand, red wine. Yams with marshmallows on top. Soft, doughy garlic bread with the crust all crunchy from the oven. Roasted carrots and potatoes and who knows what else. Roasted cauliflower with capers and anchovies (the plain roasted stuff we made at Dad's was better, though). Green beans. Salad. Is it bad of me not to remember the vegetables very well? Roasted whole yams, perhaps left over from the casserole dish. Last but not least, a stunning buche de Noel that Juliana made, with cocoa-dusted meringue mushrooms on top, a dark ganache icing, and yellow sponge cake rolled with a pastry cream/whipped cream mixture, served with a scoop of coffee ice cream. Grandpa got sick that night and said the buche de Noel had done him in.

Latkes with applesauce and sour cream at Saul's, with Mike and Christy.

On the 29th, Will's wedding, and Will and Nikki provided, of course, an amazing feast. They were married in the basement of the CIA in St. Helena. We had stopped by Dean and Deluca on the way over and enjoyed window shopping for beer toffee and nuts in honey. In the basement, when we first walked in, there was a bar serving Nutella hot chocolate with dishes of banana and espresso marshmallows. I had one of each.

We walked between the giant wine casks and the towering stone walls all draped with white, starry lights, and sat down to watch their wedding take place against burgundy velvet curtains. It was a lovely ceremony, and they danced away from the altar to the tune of "I Feel Good."

Next came hors d'oeuvres: rather dry breaded balls of duck confit topped with a candied kumquat, perfect little Chinese soup spoons full of creamy mac'n'cheese topped with bacon bits, and Patty's favorite, crisp crackers seemingly made completely of nori, topped with a slightly spicy tuna tartare and masago. We had these with crisp, fizzy, delicious glasses of cava--my favorite alcoholic beverage of the evening.

Upstairs, I was seated at Table 1 with Michael, Yvette (who has moved to New York), and Valerie, Will's best man Reed and groomsman Geoff, Reed's girlfriend (I forgot her name--something with an M), and Will's cousin Leigh, who sang a Sarah McLachlan song in the ceremony. We had:

Huge, juicy, crunchy pan-seared day boat sea scallops on a bed of roasted cauliflower puree, with roasted cauliflower pieces and a crispy fried caper vinaigrette. Incredibly good.

Handmade fettuccine with roasted butternut squash puree, shavings of Romano cheese (grana padano?), onion soubise (that is, finely minced caramelized onions) and big slices of crunchy fresh black truffles. I was surprised to find that I liked the fresh truffles--their earthiness is better restrained when they're fresh, not cooked or infused into oil. This was such a wonderful dish--my favorite was either this or the scallops.

Beef short ribs with shallots, young haricots verts with peeled orange and gold baby carrots, thinly sliced potatoes layered into a crispy-topped cheesy gratin, and fat, meaty pieces of Maine lobster poached in butter and served with a lobster reduction sauce.

The wedding cake, a hazelnut dacquoise that turned out to be essentially a big heap of hazelnut buttercream with a few little nutty crunchy bits here and there.

A cheddar cheese croissant and a puffy sugar-topped brioche from the bakery in Stanford Shopping Center. While Mom and I were sharing the croissant, we saw a security guard for the mall zip by on a Segway.

Mom's meltingly tender beef short rib stew served over noodles.

Slices of canard a' l'orange with Ken and Sarah at a French restaurant in Los Altos, served with chewy Thai red rice, and probably also some kind of vegetable, broccoli perhaps. I mainly remember the seemingly endless stack of slightly red coin-shaped slices of duck piled on my plate.

At a restaurant in Milpitas, on the left-hand side of the mall as you face Ranch 99: Salt and pepper Dungeness crab, soothing silken steamed tofu with shrimp in it, steamed spinach with chopped bits of pork and black mushroom.

A couple of pieces of salty preserved lemon or plum, from Tsang Po Po--who knows, really, what those fruits are in the end. It's the salt/sour/sweet punch in the mouth you really crave.

Big cubes of fried stuffed tofu from Canton Palace or whatever it's called, on the street across from Marina Foods. It's fried so the skin is chewy, but the inside is still silky, there's a big lump of shrimp meat in the top, and a savory brown sauce coats the whole dish. Also cooked romaine lettuce or nappa cabbage, with a soy or oyster sauce.

Dim sum at Koi Palace in Daly City: ha gao, siu long bao, beignets (sai yong), lo mai fan. I remember the siu long bao filling was coarsely knife-chopped and they weren't very full of broth.

My New Year's Eve dinner: decent, but not exceptional, paneer tikka masala and aloo naan from the curry place on Curtis and Solano. The free chai was really good, though, I have to say. Later, at Robert and Sara's, between bouts of rabbit-pestering in Rayman with Mike and rocking out with Guitar Hero 2 with Willis, I enjoyed some champagne, a cocktail of whiskey and ginger ale, some utterly delicious melty queso (cheddar with cream, tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, and who knows what else) with tortilla chips, a banana (!), and lemon-ginger cream sandwich cookies.

New Year's Day lunch with Lee and Mary and Molly at Daimo: cheung fun with shrimp, cheung fun with you tiu inside, lo bak go, chow fun, crunchy tsin mein, and salt and pepper tofu with fantastically crunchy, salty outsides. I have to say it beats the salt and pepper Dungeness crab we ate in Milpitas a few nights earlier. It's great to just enjoy the crunch without having to pick through shells to extract the tiny bits of meat.

Lo bak go fried with scrambled egg, Vietnamese iced coffee, and a small #1 bowl of noodles at TK Noodle, an old favorite that we abandoned for years after TSS saw someone sneezing into the soup. I think we went back because it's under new management. The broth is so soothing and is full of thin rice noodles, beef balls, slices of beef, bean sprouts, tiny crunchy pork rind pieces, and cilantro.

A bacon waffle with maple syrup from Pancake House in Los Altos with Mom, TSS, Serena, and Tsang Po Po. I tried one of Mom's sausage links--the sausage was really sweet and moist and tasty.

A bowl of pho with tendon and steak from a place on S. Murphy, aka Downtown Sunnyvale. I had forgotten how much I loved all the fixings: squeezing in the tiny wedge of lime, dropping in the sliced green peppers, tearing the Thai basil into the soup, and stirring in handfuls of wet, crunchy bean sprouts, their white echoing the white of the rice noodles.

God, this is a lot of stuff already, but I'll add anything noteworthy I think of later.