It’s the beginning of January, which means that you probably have made a few New Year’s Eve Resolutions and if statistics are correct – you probably broke a few already too. Don’t despair – You are in good company. Of the 45% of all Americans that make a New Year’s resolution, only 8% actually keep them. Predictably most are health-related: resolutions to lose weight, stop drinking alcohol, quit smoking. God knows in years past I have made quite a few as well. I have an escape clause for those of you that made a resolution to eat healthier and want to remain in the elite 8%. It comes in the form of an easy, super moist, gluten-free chocolate cake. This chocolate cake will allow you to keep all your New Years’ resolutions and satisfy your sweet tooth all in one tasty bite….
This recipe is a slight variation of Christopher Kimball’s insanely delicious orange – anise bundt cake recipe that appeared recently in his magazine ‘Milk Street’. I was so blown away by the flavor, texture, and lightness I began experimenting to suit my tastes. My seven-year-old Beau suggested adding chocolate chips so I did. This cake has now become a family favorite….
Do you remember that wonderful feeling of being a small child on a family camping trip when your dad built a giant bonfire and you got to toast your own s’mores? The ritual began with tramping through the woods, gathering small branches and downed tree limbs to build your fire. The anticipation building fiddling with your s’more stick waiting for darkness to come. The climax reached as the first campfire sparks raced towards an incredibly starry sky. That magic moment when your marshmallow burst into flames and your first s’more was ready to eat. It was as much a rite of summer as eating wild blackberries milkshakes and swimming in Lake Michigan. …
“The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” ~ Willie Nelson
I apologize for apparently having fallen off the edge of the Earth for the past month or so. I returned from the Alsace Wine Festival and jumped directly into an overloaded frying pan that included an intense business trip to Japan checking out wagyu farms and a full-on company rebranding. As a consequence, I have had little time to think, let alone write so I am sharing two quick ricotta fritter recipes that are easy to make and taste amazing….
Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are charming gardeners who make our souls blossom
~ Marcel Proust
If you want to get in the moment and listen to what I am as I write this click here, c’mon, do it. It will make you feel what I am! Now start from the beginning and read thru…
I want to thank each and every one of you for your help so far. As of last night at 8:07 pm we have 8,461 dollars pledged towards our goal of $20,000 in our all or nothing campaign to publish my first cookbook. That means we are 42% funded by an astounding 124 backers. 124 people that I have close relationships, partial relationships, old friends, new friends, winemakers, winos, people I met on wine tours, people I have never met but consider my friends, people from the VW community of the Samba, people from the Rambling Epicure facebook group, people from my job, my wife’s job, old bosses, famous cookbook authors, famous tv celebrities, old commis, line cooks and assorted dirt bags who plate food for a living….
“A barn raising, also historically called a “raising bee” or “rearing” in the U.K., describes a collective action of a community, in which a barn for one of the members is built or rebuilt collectively by members of the community.” – Wikipedia
This weekend I made my all time favorite dessert, a simple and decadent warm chocolate tart with the most amazing creamy texture. I first encountered it at Joel Robuchon’s three star Michelin restaurant in Paris. I had gone through his multi course tasting menu thinking nothing could top what I had just eaten when the waiter appeared at my table with a rolling cart full of pastries. It was love at first bite and I was determined to make this part of my repertoire at home. Luckily the recipe was published in Chef Robuchon’s book ‘Simply French’ co-authored by Patricia Wells. A recipe so simple anyone could make this at home….
Last night, Lisa and I had the great pleasure of dining at Belgian restaurant Si Bon, a lovely simple eatery created by Edith and Philippe Caupain. Philippe was opening Si Bon at the same time we were opening Figue. He came in one day during construction at Figue to check us out and I had a great conversation with him. My boss Lee spoke very highly of his cooking so I was excited to give it a try. My experience with Desert dining hasn’t been kind so to throw money at another restaurant lacking in quality scared me. For instances, at lunch the same day, Lisa and I stopped in a Palm Springs seafood restaurant that was, ‘GOD AWFUL’.
Thank god for bistros like Si Bon. The food is absolutely fresh and delicious. Our evening started by being greeted at the door by Philippe’s wife Edith and the dining room manager. I apologize I forgot his name. They seated us in the corner of the dining with a perfect view of the dining room and kitchen. The dining room was simply decorated which perfectly fit our expectations.
We were inspired to eat by the small but well thought out menu with selections like ‘fried zucchini blossoms with goat cheese; Juniper Gravlax, Cucumber & Goat Cheese Dill Cream; 9 Holers Escargots Waffle; Pan-Fried Wild Oregon Sand Dabs with Capers and Lemon; and Veal Ravioli “Florentino” Tomato Basil Sauce or Alfredo. We settled on the fried zucchini blossoms and “San Daniele” Prosciutto on a Toasted Waffles. Philippe was kind enough to send out some waffles with gravlax for us to nibble on while we waited for our appetizers. We ordered a bottle of Chateau du Prieur 2010 Bordeaux that was unbelievably approachable in it’s youth and an absolute steal at $30. The waffles really steal the show at Si Bon. Philippe said he has been working on the recipe for ten years now… it shows. Forget every preconceived notion you ever have had about waffles. These are not you diner or supermarket frozen waffles drenched in corn syrup and whip cream. Si Bon’s waffles are light as a feather and supremely crisp and are the perfect vehicle for a plethora of savory and sweet topping. They danced with the gravlax and sang with the prosciutto. I could have eaten about ten more easily.
The staff was highly trained and not pushy at all. I cannot stand eating in a restaurant and having food cleared before everyone is finished. Maybe it is a French thing. I call it politeness. I also cannot stand when restaurants bring food so fast you have no time in between courses to relax and restore yourselves. The wait staff at Si Bon was brilliant in this aspect. The waitress was remarkable in her anticipation of our needs.
For main courses we tried the steamed Mussels and braised short rib. The big fat juicy mussels were from Penn Cove swimming in a well seasoned and delicious broth. I do not know why but I was expecting some mayonnaise to dip my Belgian fries in. The only blemish of the dinner was the short ribs. They were very good but not as special as everything else on the menu. Maybe it is just I am jaded. Lisa enjoyed them, guests all around us enjoyed them, but I just keep thinking about those damned waffles.
I normally am not a dessert person. In fact, the only time I eat dessert is in France at the end of an extravagant meal. I tend to prefer stinky, runny cheeses. But at Si Bon, how can you leave without eating yet another waffle, especially doused in Belgian Chocolate and custard, topped with sugar and burnt like a creme brulee? I could not.
We finished out excellent meal with two single espresso’s properly served at the end of the meal and not with dessert. Pure paradise. I cannot wait to go back and eat more waffles. My Chef hat off to Philippe and his beautiful wife Edith for creating a very simple, casual bistro with amazing food. I highly recommend eating there soon, before season starts again and you won’t be able to find a seat!
40101 Monterey Ave #E5 – RANCHO MIRAGE, CA 92270
Phone: 760/837 0011 – Fax: 760/837 0051