Archive for the ‘Food and Drink’ Category

WAG Chronicles, Part 2

FlwagmAs I mentioned in my previous post about WAG, after our Saturday night feast up in Napa, we felt we had turned out a meal that would stand up well next to the efforts of the kitchen on Sunday evening at The French Laundry. Allow me to state for the record that upon tasting the first bite of Thomas Keller’s signature dish Oysters and Pearls, we all immediately agreed that “we’re not worthy” and that our efforts in the kitchen the night before, while impressive, were part of a different (and lower) culinary plane of existence. Keller truly deserves his place in the pantheon of the world’s greatest chefs.

I’ve also posted an image of the menu from the evening, which includes the wine pairings. One item that does not appear on the menu is a chestnut agnolotti with celery root cream sauce. My wife Katherine had requested a menu without red meat or poultry, and they served this dish for her in place of the beef course on our menu. We all took a taste of her chestnut-filled pasta and declared it one of the best courses of the evening. Overhearing this, our waiter had the kitchen prepare an extra course and served each of us a plate of the agnolotti. Nice touch.

March 22nd, 2005     Categories: Food and Drink, Foodie, Wine    

WAG Chronicles, Part 1

A few weeks ago, Katherine and I spent the weekend up in Napa Valley at our friends Dan and Stephanie’s place along with four other couples for a long weekend to enjoy our quarterly gathering of our wine and gourmet club, known fondly as WAG. WAG has been gathering since we all met while Katherine was getting her MBA at Stanford in 1998. Initially the event started out as a relatively low-key potluck where each couple brought a dish and a bottle of wine. Over the years, the event has snowballed into an over-the-top feast propelled to new heights by epicurean one-upmanship that sometimes borders on gluttony. As William Blake observed, “the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.”

This weekend was no exception. We had our feast on Saturday night and then on Sunday we went to dine at the French Laundry. We typically choose a theme for each meal. Since we were in Napa we decided to serve Napa-influenced dishes using local ingredients and recipes from nearby restaurants, or, in some cases, each couple simply created a dish they felt was inspired by wine country. Here’s our menu from Saturday night:

Food Courses

Dungeness crab salad with avocado mousse, beets and ruby grapefruit (from the excellent Terra Restaurant Cookbook)

Sonoma Foie Gras and Roasted Chestnut Soup surrounding an island of seared Petaluma rabbit on a bed of green lentils in a crispy bacon cup

Ravioli stuffed with braised Napa Valley lamb shank, Cowgirl Creamery crème fraiche, and wild Napa Valley black trumpet mushroom duxelles with a slaw of green apples and Napa Valley mustard vinaigrette

Sonoma rabbit (from Polarica) two ways: seared loin wrapped in spinach and prosciutto on a carrot puree and braised rabbit paw stew with carrot gelee and roasted red carrots. Accompanied by steamed broccoli with chili garlic oil, solid broccoli jus, and roasted Romanescu broccoli

Crème Brulee of foie gras (from Polarica), Straus Family Creamery unpasteurized cream and Tahitian vanilla, served with butter-poached Peking duck hash and walnut fig compote

Homemade organic Straus Family Creamery ice cream sandwiches: Scharffenberger and Schokinag dark chocolate cookies with peanut butter ice cream complemented by peanut butter cookies with Scharffenberger and Schokinag dark chocolate ice cream

Wine Courses

One mangnum 1997 Viader

Two bottles 1998 La Gomerie from St. Emilion

Two bottles 2001
Viviani Cabernet Sauvignon “2003 Copa de Napa Napa Valley Wine Auction Selection”

Two bottles 1997
Neyers Syrah Hudson Vineyard

Two bottles (one corked, alas) 2002 Echezeaux from Domaine de la Perdix

One bottle 2002
Martinelli Gewurztraminer

One bottle 2001 Bryant Family Cabernet Sauvignon

One bottle 1998 Kongsgaard Chardonnay

One bottle 2002
La Crema Chardonnay

Two bottles 2003
Bella Vineyards Lily Hill Estate late harvest Zinfandel

After this meal, we were feeling pretty proud of ourselves, and decided that Thomas Keller at the French Laundry had his work cut out for him if he wanted to impress us on Sunday evening…

March 19th, 2005     Categories: Food and Drink, Foodie, Wine    

Chocolate Chip Trumps Oatmeal Raisin Every Time…

01-27-05 1721Time for another pet peeve: the feedback loop in the last mile of the cookie supply chain is fundamentally broken. As a VC, I attend numerous conferences, catered board meetings, company gatherings and such. I don’t understand why the food service industry has never figured out that people enjoy chocolate chip cookies a hell of a lot more than oatmeal raisin cookies, or any other cookie for that matter. Time after time, at these events, someone chooses to put out equal amounts of several varieties of cookies. Invariably, the chocolate chip cookies run out early, while every other species remains unfinished and presumably goes into the dumpster at the end of the day, leaving glaring evidence of the superiority of the chocolate chip cookie (see photo above). So why has the cookie serving ratio never been adjusted? As a chocolate chip cookie fanatic (and as someone who believes the world would be much better off if I ran it), this drives me crazy.

The humble chocolate cookie may be the perfect baked good, and I consider myself something of an expert. Four of the best examples of chocolate chip cookies I’ve tasted can be had at Robert’s Market in Woodside (made by Selma’s), The Peninsula Creamery in Palo Alto, Specialty’s Bakery and The Grove Fillmore in San Francisco.

But my wife Katherine made the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever tasted one year for a Fourth of July party we hosted at our place up in San Francisco, using her top-secret modification of a Cook’s Illustrated recipe and several types of chocolate, including our local favorite Scharffen Berger. One of our guests even covertly stuffed his pockets with several extra cookies for the road, though he was busted by his wife on their way out the door when she put her hands in his jacket pocket. Katherine took the theft as high praise.

January 30th, 2005     Categories: Food and Drink, Humor