Wednesday, February 27, 2008


This is hilarious! Check out the web site at

They have peripherals and everything!

Here's the video:

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cin Cin

In Italian Cin Cin is an informal toast (pronounced chin chin- and apparently one you do not want to use in the company of Japanese speaking people, as it means penis in their language). In Old Town Eureka it's a great Italian Restaurant.

Last night John and I celebrated a belated Valentines dinner, as well as our 20 year anniversary (original anniversary, not our wedding anniversary). We had been to Cin Cin once before about 1 and a half years ago, and I have been dying to go back. All of the food I had the first time was absolutely wonderful. Well presented and the service was professional and pleasant. But the one dish I was dying to go back for was Tegoline di Grana con Bresaola, Rucola & Olio Tartufato, or Air Dried Beef Tenderloin with Organic Arugola, Parmigiano Crisp & Truffle Oil. It was wonderful, and I never forgot the taste and almost buttery texture of the meat. Well, last night my wish was granted. The Bresaola was just as good as I remembered, salty and buttery. The greens and parmesan crips a perfect crip contrast to the soft texture of the beef. Last time we went we also had one of their cheese platters, which was wonderful, but it seemed like too much after an overly filling and bloating lunch we had had at a friends house earlier in the day so we ordered Salmone Affumicato con Capperi e Pecorino, or Smoked Salmon, Caper & Pecorino Cheese. That way I could have my beloved salmon lox, and still get a bit of a cheese fix. The cheese was a surprisingly good match to the lox, and again the greens a nice contrast in texture.

The first time we went we ordered way too much food. We had three starters, two "first courses", and to second courses, then shared a desert. This time we controlled ourselves a bit. Just one main course a piece. John had Capesante Scottate or Pan Seared Scallops with Salad, Avocado and Almonds. He actually let me have a bite, which surprised me after I tasted how wonderful this dish was. I don't think I've ever had such a perfectly cooked scallop. It was crunchy on the outside, even a bit smokey, and like butter on the inside. John said the avocado was a perfect match to the scallops, as was the tomato and lemon. I decided to go a little heavier. I had Ravioli di Zucca e Mascarpone, or Home Made Organic Pumpkin & Mascarpone Ravioli with Sage Butter. Oh my God! A very rich and wonderful dish. The sage butter was incredible. Very comforting. I actually wanted to eat my food as slowly as possible so that I could savor every bite. It I hadn't been so full at the end I would have licked my plate! The ravioli were perfectly cooked and the pumpkin suttle and surprisingly good. The texture was like velvet.

Believe it or not after that, we squeezed in two desserts. I had a pear sorbeto with a berry sauce. It was so cool and refreshing. It actually perked me up a bit. I loved the chunks of pear, and the contrast of the berries. A perfect lite dessert. John had the traditional Tirimisu, which was mind boggeling good. John had an espresso with his desert, which was the only disappointing part of our dinner. It tasted a bit burnt. I had a Zinfidel port from Moonstone Crossing with mine, which was unlike any port I've ever had. It actually tasted like a dark chocolate.

We also had a great bottle of Italian wine with dinner, that worked great with the entire meal a 2004 Nebbiolo - Renato Ratti - Alba - Italy.

If you want an upscale Italian dinner, in a place that makes their own pasta, not just one of those spaghetti factory, red sauce slathered, calzone places, you have to try Cin Cin. But be sure to bring a c-note, or more if you plan to partake in some wonderful wine. The food is amazing (we were on a total food high when we left) they have a great wine list, the food presentation is fantastic and the service excellent. In fact, We noticed that they've snagged one of our favorite waiters from one of our other favorite restaurants, Carter House's Restaurant 301.

To see more about this restaurant, check out their web site:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

For the Love of Food

Yesterday as I wrote about Chinese New Year, it occurred to me how other cultures put food on such a high pedestal. It’s beautiful the way the Chinese use food to symbolize luck, longevity, prosperity, and family unity. When I look at our current American culture and our relationship with food, I see none of this beauty. What I do see is gluttony and deprivation. I see a rushed feeding frenzy and a fear of the food that we scarf down. We don’t even know where it comes from, nor do we care.

The Chinese take the preparation of their food for Chinese New Year and other holidays to amazing levels. They spend days preparing their food and months preparing their homes for the New Year. Every food has a story, or symbolizes something, and food is thought of as medicinal. It’s revered. Other cultures also consider food sacred and something to be lovingly prepared respected and presented to family and friends.

The Jewish people take food very serious. Foods must be Kosher, and specific foods are served at each holiday. Take the Seder meal for Passover as an example. Three unleavened matzohs are placed within a napkin as a reminder of the haste of the Israelites fleeing Egypt. Maror (usually horseradish or romaine) is served as a reminder of the bitterness of slavery, Charoses (apples, nuts, wine and cinnamon) is a reminder of the mortar used by the Jews to construct buildings as slaves. Beitzah, a roasted egg, is a symbol of life.

The Mexican culture is another culture that reveres it’s food, especially corn. One holiday that comes to mind is El Dia del los Muertos (Day of the Dead). This is not Halloween. This holiday has it roots in the Aztec culture, and modern day Mexicans take weeks preparing for this day; much of it involving food. In the Mexican culture it is believed that deceased relatives come back to visit their families once a year. The families spend a great deal of time preparing alters, and a path to that alter to welcome their deceased relatives. Having lost both of my parents, I find this a beautiful ritual. One food that is the center of this holiday is pan de muerto (day of the dead bread), which is left as an offering at the alter. Various sweets are also left, such as calabaza en tacha (pumpkin candy), sugar skulls, chocolates and more, to satiate the sweet tooth of the dead. Often, a place is set at the dinner table for the deceased, with offerings of tamales, mole and more. The deceased’s favorite beverage is left at the alter along with a sip of water to wet their lips after their long journey from the afterlife.

And then there is the French. Love them or hate them, the French know how to cook. Almost every great Chef in the world has studied French cooking. But beyond the high class French cooking, there is the down home country food. The cheese, wine and bread. These people have perfected food, because they revere it. They do not fear their food. When an animal is slaughtered, the whole thing is used from head to toe. Americans are so squeamish about this. We turn our backs and sink our teeth into a tasteless burger. The French know what they’re eating, and they sit down with their families and savor every bite, while we scarf down a tasteless piece of cardboard, unsure of what we just ingested.

I’m pleased that I grew up in a family that revered food. When I look back, I realize our special times together always revolved around the food of whatever season we were in. We always had a large garden and fresh, off the vine, food. Apple and peach trees, even grape vines. Both of my parents grew up with an agricultural background. They grew up at a time when many families had a milk cow, made their own butter and cheese, gathered eggs from their chickens, and butchered their own meat. In my childhood, we didn’t raise our own meat, but we knew people who did, we grew our own vegetables, and we hunted our own food when the season was open. Venison, trout, salmon, crab, elk, antelope, bear, duck, geese, and grouse. As a child I had the opportunity to eat it all. Crawdads gathered from creeks, zucchini from the garden, and potatoes from Tulelake fields of friends or family. I grew up loving the smell of soil and fresh butchered meat. When we ate dinner at my house the TV was turned off, and we sat down and ate together. Breakfast was the same. At the end of every hunting season, there was a big dinner served to the whole family, always serving some of the game that had been bagged. It could have been venison liver and onions, or Staffato served with wild game birds, but what ever it was, it honored the animal and brought the family together.

I did not realized how odd this was in our American culture until high school. My friends thought my family was weird, like some “Father Know’s Best” show from the 50’s. I would go to their homes and be shocked by the dirty dishes left in bedrooms (My God! You eat in your bedroom? That was unheard of in my home), dust on the dining room table, McDonalds remnants everywhere, and a freezer full of frozen convenience foods. That was shocking to me.

Well, I feel lucky enough to raise my children differently. They are able to see their veggies' pulled and picked from the garden, and if not the garden, then the farmers market. They have eaten all manner of game, because my brother and a good friend are kind enough to share what they hunt, from venison to bear to boar to pheasant. They eat crab, salmon, albacore, clams and oysters from the sea. Most recently they have been able to eat pork from a pig our friend raised. A pig they met while alive, and are now eating at the dinner table. Soon they will be enjoying goat meat from the very goats we are raising in our field.

This may be disturbing to many Americans, but I’m proud of this. My children will know where their food comes from, and they will not fear it. They will have a connection with the earth, it’s plants and animals that most American kids their age will not enjoy. They will know how it was handled, that is was humanely cared for, and is delicious. Food will not be their enemy, or a mystery to them. They will know, respect and revere their food.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Chinese New Year was February 7th this year. Usually I try to do a little Chinese New Year dinner. I'm not Chinese, but I figure, "what the heck! I can use all the good luck I can get" and that is what this holiday seems to be about.

This year, as usual, I didn't have my act together and didn't pull together a celebration for the beginning of the year of the rat. John had slow cooked a wonderful batch of short ribs from our recently butchered hog. I can't describe to you how wonderful the house smelled when I got home from work. My mouth started watering instantly. Definitely a Pavlovian response to slow cooked pork. My oldest daughter talked me into cooking up some type of Chinese Noodle Dish, because long noodles represent longevity. So I whipped up some Szechuan noodles, which were very simple but delicious. A perfect side to the pork. They were sweet and salty with the sweetened Teriyaki sauce, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper. The spring onions were fried and added a bit of sweetness and crunchiness to the noodles. I just finished it off with steamed broccoli and it was a hit. We did share oranges for desert, as they are a symbol of good luck for the Chinese.

Typically the Chinese would serve a whole fish or a whole chicken on New Years Eve as they symbolize togetherness, abundance, and prosperity. Long noodles are served to represent longevity, oranges are shared for good luck, along with little red money envelopes called lysee, and a special New Year Cake, which symbolizes rising fortunes. The roundness is a reminder of family togetherness. The house is to be completely cleaned before New Years Day, doors and shutters painted in red to keep evil spirits away, and all debts paid off. This is done because the Chinese believe that the Kitchen God will ascend to heaven to report the state of the household to the Jade Emperor. Often the Kitchen God is bribed with treats, or given honey so that he cannot open his mouth when he reaches heaven.

There are so many different versions of these traditions, it's overwhelming when you start to research them. China is amazingly diverse when you look closely at their culture and food. It's a pleasure to be able to attempt to enjoy one of their fascinating celebrations. Hopefully next year I'll have my house clean and a proper Chinese New Year dinner served. I need to get the good word in to the Jade Emperor. Like I said, I need all the luck I can get.

So until next Lunar New Year....

Gung Hay Fat Choy! (strictly translated: Congratulations Prosperity.)