September 22, 2009

This issue is dedicated to the bright and shiny memory of the life lovin' Don Steele.
You will be so missed by so many.

Whoa, am I on terra firma? Finally, after one hell of a start to the month. I just got back from Spain Friday night, and I think I finally kicked the jet lag after the monster 23-hour journey. My week in Jerez was muy fantastico—I am so fired up on sherry I don't know what to do with myself. I'll be recapping the trip soon, sharing my pics and discoveries from the numerous bodegas I toured (sometimes up to three a day—yup, which meant barrel tastings at 10am), and you know there will be a tablehopper sherry tasting at some point. I managed to eat jamón daily, and even had some Bellota for breakfast (I was also busy falling in love with creamy salmorejo on toast). What a country.

As a food-and-wine warm-up for my trip, I got to attend the Papillon VIII event at Mondavi Winery a few weeks back. Chef Alvin Leung (aka the Demon Chef) of Hong Kong's Bo Innovation had six tables going with two dishes offered at each, all paired with a variety of Robert Mondavi and Opus wines. A fave for me included Iberico ham wrapped around morel-braised vermicelli with saffron foam (I think I ate three of those), and there was a taste of the exotic: "Cheung Fun" of yak milk's cheese wrapped up in rice paper, with the texture of creamy gnocchi. The hit of the event was the side-by-side pairing of xiao long bao soup dumplings, one stuffed with veal cheek topped with truffled caviar, and the molecular version, which popped in your mouth with the tang of vinegar associated with the dish. It was exciting to taste a modern take on Chinese cuisine—more like a teaser, really,

Speaking of Michelin stars, I was dining at The French Laundry the following evening, so you know I was eating like a bird in between the feasts. The gracious service was breathtaking, the room was surprisingly comfortable and lively, and the dishes, well, they varied on the charm-meter for me. I expected more flavor from some, but then others totally delivered with fantastic textures and taste. The presentations were certainly artful. The two visiting sous chefs from Hong Kong at our table promised me some of their images, so I'll hopefully be able to post an album soon enough. I will say this: that oysters and pearls dish really is a thing of beauty.

Hey y'all, thanks for the nice notes about my appearance last week on Eye on the Bay covering street food with Liam Mayclem; we visited Kitchenette, Da Beef, and Little Skillet. If you want to take a peek, the segment is now posted on the website. (Just call me chuckles.)

This week is full of so much news, holy moley—it took over the column. (I obviously had some catch up to do.) I also have a Spanish-themed sugar mama giveaway for you, check it out.

Hasta luego,
~ Marcia