Dinner Party Drama!

What do you do with a magnum of Bordeaux that is ready and MUST BE OPENED? You cook a bunch of French food and invite a few friends over to share.

Le Menu:


Hors d’oeuvres

Smoked salmon with cognac-caraway creme, cucumber, toasts: I made my own homemade mayo for this. ROCK STAR appetizer!

Soft-cooked eggs with fresh lemon mayonnaise: another use for homemade mayo. The stuff is delicious and can be eaten with a spoon. It tastes NOTHING and I mean NOTHING like the jarred crap. Make it yourself and you shall see. 

Marinated olives: easy to make, easy to eat.

Foie gras and jam sandwiches: these were just plain fun. 


Boeuf Bourguignonne: no intro needed here. 

Greens with mustard vinaigrette

Crusty bread


Bittersweet chocolate mousse with fleur de sel: OH. MY. Where has this recipe been all my life? This is a chocolate lover’s dream. It’s also gluten-free and dairy free of all things. Just chocolate, water and muscle! 

I thought I was so cool and prepared. I made just about everything the day before the party — mayonnaise, sauces, marinades, dessert, even the beef (it’s better the next day anyway). I also did all the shopping and was calm as can be the morning of. I went to the gym without a care, knowing that I had very little left to do in terms of party prep. Or so I thought.

My darling husband didn’t properly shut our refrigerator door the night before. Gone. Everything tossed. And I mean everything. Our fridge was 80 degrees so out went all of my homemade jams, pickles, sauces, curds, not to mention everything I had made for the party.

Alas, we did a remake! And everything came out even better in my opinion. Crazy day, but certainly a fun evening with friends.


foie gras & jam

Foie Gras & Jam Sandwiches



smoked salmon 2

Smoked Salmon with Cognac Sauce



Homemade Mayo



Make your reservations. NOW. It take weeks to get in and believe me, you don’t want to miss this BYOB restaurant. We have taken to making future reservations after every meal at Bottega just to ensure we snare a spot.

The menu changes frequently so everything was new at our recent visit. The consensus? We would absolutely order everything again. And again. And again.

Lamb tartare — toothsome, mild and delicious.

Grilled radicchio salad with gorgonzola — THIS is a salad I will dream about for months to come. Seriously. I am still thinking about that lovely combo of bitter grilled lettuce and sweet pillows of salty, creamy blue cheese. Salad dreams do come true, apparently.

Skate wing with brown butter and capers — buttery, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

Bavette steak with red wine sauce — simple, meaty and perfect.

My dinner of the grilled salad and steak easily ranks among the top 10 meals I’ve enjoyed in the past 12 months. Probably in the top 3. It’s quite possibly #1.

As you can see … oops …


Blue Cheese Heaven

I get anxious when I start running low on blue cheese. Seriously, I start to fret. So when I was pilfering through my cheese drawer and saw only a small nubbin of Stilton remaining, off to Wegmans I went to get my blue fix. I feel relaxed and calm now. So happy to know that blue cheese heaven is just a few steps away …

blue cheese trio.JPG

I went ahead and picked up three of my favorite blues:

Rogue River blue from Oregon: This is a smoky, tangy, aged dense blue. It’s very seasonal and currently in limited supply, so go find some! This slap-in-the-face blue cheese is tempered by a mild fruity sweetness as the wheels are wrapped in pear brandy-soaked grape leaves. Truly a MUST TRY cheese.
Point Reyes blue from California: This cheese is creamy and luscious and just smacks of that wonderful penicilliny, bluey goodness.
Traditional Stilton: The king of blue. No introduction needed.

Must. Go. Eat. Cheese.



Salmon with Lingonberry Sauce


This dish packs a wallop of flavor and is easy, healthy and quick enough to turn around after a long day seeing patients.

I paired the salmon with braised fennel and artichokes — a winning combination if you ask me. We opened a soft, silky merlot from one of our Sonoma County wine club wineries, Chateau St. Jean. If anyone can bring Merlot back into our good graces, it’s Chateau St. Jean. Although it perhaps didn’t pair overly well with the salmon, it’s definitely the type of wine I look forward to cracking open again. And again. And again. Cheers!

braised fennel