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Monthly Archive for October, 2005

After Dinner A.B.C.

    Just in time for All Souls Day (for all you non-Catholics that’s the
day after Halloween)
here’s some info about spirits. No not the kind that haunt you (unless you over-imbibe!)… I’m talking about the kind that go so well w/ your favorite Fall desserts like baked apples, bread pudding and pumpkin pie. Did you know that not only do they taste great and warm your gullet, some also serve a functional purpose (i.e., they aid digestion). So pour
yourself a snifter full and kick back while we discuss these delicious
concoctions! Here are a few of my favorites:

      Calvados – A dry apple brandy made in Calvados in the Normandy region of northern France. It is double distilled in a pot still, then aged for at least a year in Limousin oak (some are aged for up to 40 years). The best comes from the Pays d’Auge appellation controlee (a designation that is noted on the label).

     My mom familiarized me w/ Calvados. It was one of her favorite after dinner drinks. She told me about the French term “le trou de Norman” (direct translation – “the Norman hole”), a slang term for Calvados. They call it this because if you drink some after a gluttonous meal it will drill a hole right through all the food in your stomach so you can pig out even more! One of my favorite desserts to pair w/ Calvados is Remy’s Kitchen and Wine Bar’s apple bread pudding w/ caramel sauce!

    Armagnac – A fine French brandy from the Armagnac region, which is situated southeast of Bourdeaux. Although almost as highly regarded as Cognac, Armagnac is of a different style. It’s distilled only once and thus has a lower alcoholic strength (usually about 53% alcohol) whereas Cognac is about 70%. This single distillation also leaves more flavoring elements in the distilled spirit. Armagnac uses the local black oak instead of the Limousin oak used for Cognac. Black oak gives more flavor to the Armagnac and allows for faster aging. The result is that Armagnac is silky smooth but more
full-flavored than Cognac, although it doesn’t have the finesse of the finest Cognacs. Remy’s bread pudding is a good match for a fine

    B and B – This is a blend of French brandy and Benedictine D.O.M. – a sweet liqueur named after the Benedictine monks of the Abbey of Fecamp, Normandy, who first began making it in 1510. Benedictine is Cognac-based and flavored w/ various aromatics, fruit peels and herbs. The flavor is a delicate balance of honey, citrus and herbs. The D.O.M. on each bottle of Benedictine stands for Deo Optimo Maximo, the Benedictine monks’ dedication “To God
Most Good, Most Great”. Again, I’d pair B and B w/ Remy’s bread pudding.
(If you haven’t figured it out by now, I love the bread pudding at Remy’s!!)

  The “Mayor”

Wine Find of the Month

   Every month we’re going to feature new wines in every price range and at least one per month will make the budget conscious smile.

  Our resident Budget Wine GuruMichelle will uncover a low priced but fabulous gem…

This Month

Michelle recommends

Solaris Special Reserve 2001

Cabernet Savignon.

    A handcrafted wine that drinks like an expensive Napa Cab.This yummy adventure brings warmth with black cherry, vanilla and
blackberry elements. You might even detect a slight note of cranberry. So, buy now…  Let it breath and serve with the "Mayor’s  Herbed Rack of Lamb.       


Blissfully Zen

   Hi and thanks for taking the time to view this ode to all things food, wine and spirits. The name may say zinfully but I can assure  you that it will be filled with so much more. This blog is co-authored by C.C.A. trained chef “Mayor Mc Tuna” and Myself and will include guest bloogers from far wide. If you’re interested in blogging about anything that fits into this subject matter, just drop an email to . Incidentally, (since I’ve been asked 100 times) the “mayor” received his nickname by virtue of being known in every corner of the city and the Tuna half of the moniker was due to his ordering the stuff just about every time we all gathered to eat. Or, was it because he has cats? I forget… The point is, NO, he’s not really the “Mayor” of any municipality except maybe some strange, twisted one in the dark recesses of his mind.

Thanks for reading,


Tasty offerings from the Tasting

Food is as big a part of these parties as the wine,  M&B took it to a new level…

The menu of the night was

– Mayor McTuna’s famous Pizzas on the Grill

– Lemony Smoked Trout Salad in Radicchio

-Mongolian Spiced Beef Kebabs with Chile Jam

-Endive with Blue Cheese and Pecans

-Creamy Hummus and Eggplant Caviar

-Southwest Cream cheese Crowns with Salsa

-Pumpkin Pound cake with Rum Buttercream – Assorted cheese/ fruit/veggiesFood_table2_rtjpg Food_table3_rt Food_table1_rt


“D”                                                          Pictures by Geek Dave

The Night That Was…

Hi, just wanted to introduce the “Mayors” 1st ever Blog entry and  rave about one of the best meals I’ve had anywhere and he did it all in his Kitchen.


First course: Seared sea scallops w/ black grapes and almonds


Arugula and butter lettuce salad w/ honey roasted pear,
triple cream blue cheese and grape seed oil/apple cider vinaigrette


Herbed rack of lamb w/ pinot noir sauce; roasted
butternut squash w/ red grapes and sage


Dessert: Baked apples stuffed w/ honey, almonds and ginger
            Cardamom gelato

( no picture because Duane is a dork)

    The scallops recipe called for champagne grapes in the sauce. I
couldn’t find any, but the black grapes cut in half tasted just fine and their color provided a very nice dark contrast to the scallops in the plate presentation.

   My friend, Bob, asked about how you determine when a scallop
is done, so I showed him a few of things you can do (the last time he cooked some they were still “gelatinous” in the middle). First, you can go by time – a couple of minutes on each side in a hot pan should suffice (depending on the size of the scallop). Or you can go w/ a visual guide – the scallops appearance will go from translucent to opaque. Lastly, I suggested going with the touch technique as when determining the doneness of grilled meat  – the scallop will be nice and firm (but not to the point of being rubbery!) when done.
   Duane’s  Spanish cava was a great match for the scallops!

  The lamb and butternut squash combo was a hit if I do say so myself! The original recipe paired au gratin potatoes w/ the lamb, but I chose the squash instead (chef’s prerogative!). I love the flavor of roasted squash, it’s such a perfect Fall veggie (or is it a starch?… that’s your homework assignment for the day),  plus the prep gave me an opportunity to get some revenge on the perfectionist chef I worked for in San Francisco! She used to have me cut large amounts of squash into perfect 1/2 inch cubes for
her risotto…. for this recipe I cut the squash into 1 inch UNEVEN
squares! God, maybe I need therapy… I didn’t realize the repressed resentment I was  holding on to and the joy I felt doing things imperfectly!!
Cooking is good therapy as long as you don’t take it too seriously!   The pinot noir sauce for the lamb started as an entire bottle…. the final product was 1/2 cup of intensely flavorful sauce! We sampled 3 delicious wines ( no, not zins, pinot noirs!) with the main course. One from Oregon, another from California (Bob and Kristin’s offering!), and lastly one from France. Two of the bottles came from the cellars of The Wine Merchant – they have great wines and it’s a great place to shop too. All the wines were delicious. They each had distinctively different flavors and styles…  best of all by the end of that course I had a nice wine buzz going!!

    I served the salad course w/ the entree, but breaking the rules was the name of the game for this meal. The flavors of the roasted pear, blue cheese and slightly bitter arugula is such a great combo!

   Lastly we had baked apples for dessert. I chose this for selfish
reasons…  I love baked apples and it was easier to make than the other dessert I was considering! Plus hot apples paired up w/ a great calvados will definitely take the chill off an autumn night!! I typically do apples w/ raisins, cinnamon and rolled oats ’cause I love those flavors and textures together. However, in this case, the ginger in the apple stuffing meshed really well w/ the cardamom gelato. The apples could have baked a bit longer, but all in all they were still pretty tasty, and after all that other good food, wine and calvados…

          I don’t think anybody cared or noticed but me!

The “Mayor”                                                                          Pictures by “D”


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