Posts Tagged ‘Desserts’

A weekend gettaway at Hearst Castle Part II

May 14, 2010

Last weekend, I went with a couple girlfriends up to visit Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California.  Even with the trip being so short, we managed to cram a lot into those 2 1/2 days which is why I’ve broken this trip into 3 different blog posts!  I like to give all the deets!

One of the things I didn’t realize until only a couple days before our trip was how close we were going to be to wine country!  Paso Robles, a huge wine hot spot in Central California, was only 45 mins – 1 hour from our motel!  They have somewhere around 180-odd wineries.

After touring Hearst Castle, I really really wanted to visit a winery but since most of them closed by 5pm, we decided just to go out to dinner.  We found a brochure at the motel and were sold on a little restaurant called Matthew’s that promised to deliver local wine, local ingredients, and “wine country cuisine”.

We started out with some local wine from Dancing Stallion.  We decided to try their 2006 Syrah which was absolutely amazing!  Very rich and full bodied with high tannins and a lush mouth-feel.  You could definitely smell the dark cherry and blackberry aromas!  Some of the best Syrah I have had to date.

The food was just as delicious!  I ordered the pumpkin ravioli.  I love anything with pumpkin.  Fall is my favorite season, so it shouldn’t be any surprise.

Pumpkin ravioli

I also split a salad with Julie.  I love fruit salads!  This one had pears and oranges and was topped with walnuts, Gorgonzola cheese, and a champagne and citrus vinaigrette.  It was très magnifique!

Fruit salad with Gorgonzola, walnuts, and champagne vingarette!

I love that the portions here were so small.  One, it makes you feel less guilty for indulging!  Two, the food is very rich and satisfying so you don’t need much.  Three, it leaves more room for DESSERT(s)!  We happened to order three.  What?!  There was three of us… 😉

Chocolate martini

Chocolate pave with pistachio

Apple caramel bread pudding

My favorite was the apple caramel bread pudding.  I’m not a huge chocolate fan—definitely not into the rich chocolates unless they are mixed with something a little more mellow to balance out the flavors.  For that reason, I didn’t love the chocolate pave which was pretty much like a supper rich, dense chocolate brownie with berries on top.   The chocolate martini on the other hand wasn’t bad with its layers of cream, ice cream, strawberries, and drizzle on top.

We each paid about $50 for the meal (ouch!) but it was totally worth it.  Sometimes you need to allow yourself to indulge in a wonderful meal that you know you can’t get anywhere else 🙂

I’m currently plotting my next adventure up to the Central Coast so I can finally visit their wineries!

Cheers,

Jess

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Crepe making 101 with “Chef” Nate!

April 5, 2010

My roommate Nate has been talking up his crepe making skills for awhile now.  All talk and no game, right?  Well, last Saturday I finally got to try his famous crepes and they were ridiculously good!  Nate was very kind to share his recipe with me and to demonstrate how to make crepes step-by-step.  Anyway, I will let the pictures speak for themselves… 🙂

First thing’s first… COFFEE!

Chef Nate

Didn’t you know coffee is the most important ingredient for any good recipe?  (Especially Starbucks coffee!)  Load yourself up on caffeine before you get started because you are going to need to pay very close attention to the rest of these instructions!

Dry Ingredients

First you will need to gather your dry ingredients and mix them together in a large bowl.  1 cup of flour, 1/8 of tsp salt, and 2 tsp of sugar.

Next gather up your liquid ingredients.  You’ll need 1/3 cup of water, 3/4 cup of milk, 4 tbsp of melted butter, 4 tbsp of brandy, and 3 eggs (1 egg, 2 whites).

Mmmmmmm… brandy!

Quick fact: Did you know that brandy is made from wine?  The difference between brandy and wine is that brandy undergoes a distillation process which concentrates the alcohol, turning fermented wine into what we know as brandy.

Next you want to add your liquid ingredients in this order:


Add water & milk, then mix!

Add butter & mix!

Add brandy & mix!

Add eggs & mix!

My roomie was feeling lazy and didn’t want to separate the egg yolks at the time, but you definitely want to make sure you use 1 egg and 2 egg whites otherwise the flavor will be a little off and the crepes will taste more “egg-y”.

After all the mixing is said and done, you want to coat your skillet with butter spray and scoop a generous portion of the batter into your ladle, pouring it into your skillet in a circular motion (think of a clock).  Cook on one side until the crepe begins to form and flip to cook on the other side using your spatula or do it Nate’s way by using your fingers.  Using your fingers will give you more control so the crepe doesn’t break.

Your finished product should look something like this!

That’s basically it.  The best part is getting creative and adding all of your toppings!  The sky is the limit when it comes to crepes!

I got a little excited and dug into my first crepe before taking pictures!  WHOOPS!  You can’t go wrong with Nutella and bananas 😉

Anyway… This is what a proper crepe should look like!

But I almost forgot the most important thing…

COFFEE!  Crepes and coffee make great companions.

And remember ambiance is everything!  Nate picked up some lovely flowers for our crepe extravaganza but you could just as easily use fake flowers, a candle, or nice dishware to jazz up your kitchen table!

Good luck everyone and let me know how your crepes turn out!

Cheers,

Jess

An Extraordinary Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2010

Little Italy in San Diego

This year for Valentine’s Day, I wanted to get together with a couple of girlfriends (and one LUCKY guy friend).  We were going to go watch the movie Valentine’s Day but somebody was too good to watch a chick flick ;).  Instead we decided to go to “Carnivale” in Little Italy—a street celebration where people dress up in traditional Venetian Carnevale regalia.  It was basically like a very tame preview of the Mardi Gras celebration that is taking place this coming Tuesday, February 16th in the Gaslamp Quarter.

People in traditional Regalia costume walking on stilts!

A couple dancing in the streets.

It was a cute little festival.  There were several people on stilts dressed in character walking up and down the streets.  There was also live music outside a few of the restaurants.  People were dancing and having a great time!  It was definitely an event that people from all ages could enjoy.

There was a massive line out the door at Filippe’s.  I’ve never been but I heard it’s some of the best pizza in San Diego.  I think the 30 minute wait could definitely attest to that.  I’d like to go back to Little Italy soon to find out if Filippe’s lives up to it’s reputation!

But for this evening, I had other plans in mind.  I had been dying to check out Extraordinary Desserts for some time now.  It’s one of the most talked about dessert places here in San Diego.  So my friends and I hit up the location in Little Italy.  There are two locations—the second is in Balboa Park.

They are known for carrying the biggest and most eye-catching selection of desserts in San Diego!  I was speechless at the sheer beauty of the desserts which are a work of art in themselves.

Gerardo ordered some kind of chocolaty cheese danish.  It wasn’t as elaborate looking as all the other desserts but it definitely put Starbuck’s chocolate crossiant to shame.

I got the White Chocolate Linzer Torte which was actually kind of amazing.  If you like white chocolate and raspberry then this is your dessert!  The cake was supposed to taste like almond but I didn’t notice.

I tried a couple bites of the other girls’ desserts which were two different types of chocolate cake, and I have to say I was actually not too impressed.  I think the chocolate danish was probably the best of all, but even so I would have been happier with a slice of white chocolate raspberry cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory >:).

Extraordinary Desserts official report card:

  • Atmosphere: B
  • Dessert Selection: A+
  • Beverage Selection: A+
  • Creativity: A+
  • Taste: B

Cheers,

Jess