Friday, August 26, 2011

Foodie Friday

Second installation of Foodie Friday!  My friend Nicole is extremely diverse in her knowledge of food
and take notice this is a truly expert opinion.  Not to mention the wittiness (is that even a word?) of her answers!

Name:            Nicole 
Affiliation:     Friend/Magic baker/cook/bartender, etc.
Occupation:      Sommelier/cook
Location:        California
Birthplace:      California

1.) What recipe do you consistently make at home?
Salad for dinner!  If you have good olive oil, delicious salad dressing is insanely easy to make.  I like to load the salad up with nuts and seeds, dried and fresh fruit, vegetables, and, if I have some good bread lying around, homemade croutons.  I feel full and satisfied after I've eaten it, but never weighed down-a much more pleasant state when you're about to go to bed. 

2.) Name three items you have in your refrigerator?
Unsalted butter (for baking), lowfat milk (for magic cappuccinos), and mustard (for emulsifying salad dressing). 

3.) Tell me about your most memorable meal.
Since I have a terrible memory, I don't have much to choose from-so this one's easy!  Hands down, my most memorable meal was at the Duck Soup Inn on San Juan Island off the coast of Washington.  For starters, we ate on a to a pond...surrounded by wilderness.  We could hear the bugs chirping (...or were they birds??)  and smell the grass and trees all around us.  We ate produce grown on the island, fish caught off the island, and eggs laid on the island.  The menu was thoughtful and creative, but ALMOST seemed like a meal you might eat at a friend's house...who happened to be an expertly trained chef but preferred to be thought of as a self-taught cooking prodigy.  We began our meal with house-made bread and anchovy butter, then finished with Chicory Root Ice Cream with Butterscotch.  How I had room for dinner after all of the bread that I ate, then dessert after the amazing appetizers and entrees, still remains a mystery.  Did I mention how fabulous the cocktails were?    

4.) What are your favorite restaurants and what do you order there?
 Lola Gaspar in the Santa Ana Artist's Village, Cafe 242 Sushi Fusion in  North Laguna, Ramos House in Historic San Juan, and Side Door in CDM are my go-to's.  242 is one of those places where your meal is always so good that when you go back, you want to order the exact same thing to relive the experience.  We force ourselves to branch out and are always happy that we did.  I think the entire menu is now filled with favorites.  Must eats: 242-Aloha roll, if available, Ice cream roll, Give You Energy, and Cucumber Candy Roll.  Lola Gaspar-the menu changes constantly so I always try something new.  Ramos House-Beignets, Hush Puppies, and Wild Mushroom Scramble.  Side Door-again, changing menu, but I always start with a cheese plate and enjoy a beer flight and a house cocktail if I'm lucky enough to not have to drive. 

5.) What is the most unusual thing you have ever eaten?
Kangaroo.  The poor things!  I thought they were sacred animals in Australia, like cows in India.  They're not.  They're the face of Australia because they make tasty BBQ fare-those monstrous Aussies!  (You're welcome, English husband.)  I don't regret trying it, but I still feel guilty about it.

6.) Of all the places you have traveled, which has the best food?
Italy.  (You're welcome Amy's Italian husband).  I'd come from France so I can't say their bread was terribly impressive, but everything else! I don't even care about tomatoes and I found myself THINKING about eating them.  The cheese, the olive oil, the pasta, the vegetables, and the DESSERTS!  Italian desserts are the best in the world.  The cooking world would tell me I'm dead wrong (French), but how can you compete with gelato, cannoli, biscotti, tiramisu, cakes and cookies with ALMOND paste in them and soaked in booze?  That's correct.  You can't.

7.) What is your drink of choice (alcoholic)?
Oh, my.  That's constantly in flux-probably because there's so much amazing stuff out there!  Right now, I'm into interesting white wine varietals (Rousanne, Albarino, Muller-Thurgau), Sparkling Wine (from all over the world but Argyle winery in Oregon is the best!), IPAs, and Cocchi Americano (an Italian apertif).  Though I'm not drinking as much of it, I'm also in love with Bourbon, Belgian Ale, and a good Dirty Martini.  I can't forget Green Chartreuse!  Oh, and Tanteo Jalapeno Tequila! 

8.) What is your ultimate dessert?
God, this is like Sofie's Choice.  I can't answer this.  I will submit three ultimates, though I'm sure I've left something out.  1) Salted Butterscotch (with either Bourbon or dark rum in it) sundae with GOOD ice cream (Black Raspberry is amazing but hard to find on the west coast, so maybe vanilla bean and coffee) candied nuts, boozy whipped cream, and good cherries or fresh raspberries.  2) Swedish Princess cake or Italian rum cake 3) French Pistachio Macarons.  I must also give honorable mention to white chocolate-macadamia nut cookies, cannolis, affogato, cheesecake, creme brulee, and coconut-cashew caramel corn (also know as crack corn).  

9.) What is a food/dish that reminds you of your childhood?
New York-style pizza and steamed clams with drawn butter.  We spent a lot of summers in New Jersey with my Dad, and the pizza and clams there were perfect (and inexpensive!)

10.) What is your go to meal for a dinner party?
 I wouldn't want to bore my guests with the same crap over and over again, but I guess that's EXACTLY what we do with our weekly curry night (the dinner party we host the most often).   My magic husband makes creative and delicious curry that tastes slightly different every time, fried papadams, and butter-slathered garlic naan.  I'm on chutney and rice duty.   Before I was someone's wife, my dinners tended to vary a bit more, but were actually probably more conventional-I went through a savory tart-making phase (that was ALMOST a double entendre), I loved making great salads to accompany every meal, and my sister and I used to make fresh pasta a lot when she lived in California.  Come home, Laura!  It was delicious!  I guess my go-to meal was to make a bunch of appetizers-it's the female style of eating, sharing with friends and tasting lots of different things.  That's why I'm so happy that small plates restaurants have taken off. 

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