Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Hike

Christmas day Lisa and I just spent time hanging together, some much needed downtime.

Bax asked me to share this video with all of you.....

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tasting Sunday 12-18-2011

If you know us well, you know that we are always up for a tasting.  You can imagine my excitement when I found a set of single-hop IPAs from Mikkeller.  Luckily we have a few friends who like drinking beer so we decided to have a beer tasting.  After wrangling schedules from Aaron and Monica, Ryan, and Diane we finally settled on a date and time.  Ryan also chipped in a few from his collection: Alpha Klaus - Christmas Porter and another one that was a special anniversary brew that I can't recall right now.

Next we whipped up a twist on one of our current favorite cocktails - the Albino Old-Fashioned.  It's really easy - take a sugar cube, and drown in Agnostura Bitters.  Put the sugar cube in the bottom of your cocktail shaker, add a bit of seltzer and muddle.  Add 2oz of white whiskey and shake.  Strain into a rocks glass with the biggest pieces of ice you can find (use one of these if you're hard core).  Garnish with a beautiful wide lemon twist and one of these fantastic Luxardo Cherries.  One note about the lemon twist - it is actually named because you should twist it over the drink before putting it in the glass, not because it's shaped in a cute spiral.

This night however, we mixed it up a bit.  We substituted our standby Death's Door for some Silver white whiskey and subbed out the agnostura for some Fee Brothers Cherry bitters.  It made quite a lovely cocktail, but not as complex without any agnostura.  Next time, I think we'll split the bitters between both :-)

For Dinner, Lisa made one of our favorites - simple spinach salad with chevre (<3 capriole) and a soft poached egg dressed with a simple vinaigrette.

For the main course, Lisa not only redeemed herself with the spicy squash risotto, she knocked it out of the park.  I would highly recommend trying this one at home (scanned from Jamie Oliver's Naked Chef).

Usually I pass on the whole "oooooooh cupcake" thing.  My lady bakes from scratch and most cupcake stores make things that taste straight out of a box with boring buttercream icing.  Those aren't worth the calories.  Geri and Kathy brought over a beautiful selection of Parcha Sweets for dinner I wasn't expecting much.  Turns out that those folks over in Broadripple actually know how to bake.  They cranked out some Lisa quality cupcakes including smores complete with a graham cracker crust and wonderful toasted marshmallow goo in the middle of the top.  Every cupcake had a tiny burst of yum in the middle.  It was a great evening.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Vietnam - Coming Soon!

I'm going to head to Vietnam for two weeks in January with my friend Ryan.  He's already left and is blogging his travels here -


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Desk pt 2.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey.  In the end there was a tie between these two:
Lisa and I decided that while the CB2 desk is pretty fab, given our current decor and space the west-elm flat bar desk is a better fit.  Thanks again to everyone who voted :-)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Saturday Dinner at R Bistro

In light of Lisa's finals we decided to forgo our regular dinner and have a dinner out with Geri and Kathy at R Bistro.

Geri and I started with a cheesy polenta topped with yummy sausage and mushrooms.  The textures complemented each other well and the bursts of fennel and thyme goodness were delightful.

For our entree three of us had the sweet potato, cheese enchalada with tomatillo salsa and mango slaw.  The slaw included red cabbage and the most beautiful little watermelon radishes that you've ever seen.  I really enjoyed the sweet/savory/tangy blend of the sweet potato, cheese, and tomatillo. I also enjoyed the slaw, but Kathy and Lisa weren't really fans.

Geri broke with convention and decided to go with the chicken dish for the evening.  It was pretty, but I didn't taste it so I can add much about it :-)

We decided to sample three of the five possible desserts, which turned out to be pretty interesting.  Partially because the desserts were pushed around the table with the expectation that you take a bite and move along.  Needless to say there were a few cases where all three plates got backed up with  one person, prompting a few words.

The favorite dessert honor was a tie between the ricotta ice cream with fresh pomegranate seeds, and some sort of rose-water sauce, and the crostada with roasted apples.  The flaky pastry dough from the crostada was a big hit.

We stopped off at the Ball and Biscuit for a few yummy cocktails after dinner and had a great time.

Friday, December 2, 2011

I needs a new desk

My current desk is too tall to really be comfortable and was built for oddly shaped people in mind.

So, I need a new one and I'm enlisting you guys to help pick.  Thanks in advance :-)

* Required

CB2 go-cart chartreuse desk ($149)

Suckage Awesomesauce

CB2 go-cart carbon grey desk ($149)

Suckage Awesomesauce

Crate and Barrel Sentry Walnut Work Table ($999)

Suckage Awesomesauce

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pre-Thanksgiving Tuesday Dinner

Tuesday before Thanksgiving was a very special night for us.  It's not very often that we can have so many of our very best friends together: Kerry and Isaac, Leon and Heather, and Geri and Kathy.  We had a great night of introductions, socializing, and fun.

The Bishop’s Wife
3/4 to 1 oz. of Spiced Simple Syrup or Falernum-- we used John D. Taylor's Falernum
1/4″ lemon slice
1 oz. white rum
red wine (zin or a cab, but really any will do)

In the bottom of a shaker, muddle the lemon slice with the Spiced Simple Syrup.
Add the rum and fill the shaker with ice. Shake madly.
Place a few ice cubes in a goblet or double-old fashioned glass. Strain the contents of shaker
into the glass. Top with red wine. Stir and garnish with lemon.

Prepared madly by Lisa Kohli

Champange + Liquor
We have been exploring adding liquor to champagne.  Some of our current favorites are: Koval Rose Hip and St. Germain.  Take 1 oz liquor add to a champagne flute and then top with brut champagne.

Deviled Eggs
Isaac and Lisa collaborated on this substituting wasabi mayo for regular mayo, and topping with super tasty smoked paprika. They were a big hit.

Roasted Root Vegetable Salad
This is one of our favorite fall go-to dishes.  Mainly because it's super easy, universally liked, and can be made for almost any number of people.

Carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes (and parsnips if you like) cut into thick matchsticks then oven roasted with some olive oil and salt (400° for ~40 min- the carrots may need longer and can be started first, or cut smaller). 

Dress with a good olive oil (Olave is great), pepper, and finishing salt.  Top each portion with good goat cheese (Capriole) and broil for ~1 min to soften the cheese.

Anyone who has had more than one dinner at the Kohli household has probably had a risotto.  It's one of Lisa's signature dishes.  It's one of those things that most cooks avoid, but Lisa has become so goood at preparing them that they are always perfectly cooked.  Perfect texture, never gritty or over mushy is a given.  This one however was a disappointment for several reasons, so we'll just leave it out.

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Browned Butter Icing
These were one of my favorites, but Lisa seemed to think that they were just alright.

Makes 2 dozen cupcakes

3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel

1. Preheat the oven to 350
2. Whisk the first 9 ingredients together
3. In a separate bowl for electric mixer mix the pumpkin, oil, and sugar together. Beat the eggs in one by one.
4. Add the flour-spice mixture until just combined then stir in orange peel
5.  Divide batter into cupcake papers and bake for 20- 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Brown Butter Icing
(Martha Stewart)
1 cup butter
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 to 4 tbsp milk

1. Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium high heat. Once it has melted turn the heat down to medium low and continue to cook the butter swirling the pan occasionally.The butter will develop brown flecks and slows turn a golden colour. When this happens remove the pan from the heat and pour the butter into a bowl.Set the warm pan aside (its helpful if the icing separates)
2. Stir the powdered sugar, vanilla, and 2 tbsp of milk into the butter. If it needs to be thinned out further then add 1 to 2 tbsp more. If the icing separates then pour it into the warm pan and whisk until it comes together again. Use immediately.

Pictures of the delectables are coming soon with an updated post.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sunday Brunch Out

We didn't have a home-cooked meal for Sunday Dinner this week - we had brunch out at one of our favorite brunch places in town - Taste.

My favorite dish is the Truffle Egg Toast - a simple dish - thick slice of bread topped with a sunny side up egg, covered in a thick slice of swiss cheese and broiled. To add to the madness, top with asparagus, truffle oil and salt and pepper.

Lisa had the most beautiful waffle. It was light and fluffy with a fantastic texture, and of course it was buried in syrup, cinnamon, bananas, strawberries and toasted pecans - yum!

Geri had a pretty quiche and the cheddar biscuits and gravy (cbg) - one of Taste's specialties.

Kathy had an egg-sandwich that was so fantastically huge that it was almost impossible to eat.

We all shared an order of their classic pomme frites with basil aioli as well as a new treat - the sweet potato fries with chipotle aioli. Despite the delicate balance of the slightly spicy aioli with the sweet potato fries, the classic frites with their classic unbeatable crunch were the hands-down winners.

The dinner schedule is running amok with the holidays, updates will be sporadic :-(

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pears, Beans, and Soup oh my!

The Bishop’s Wife

3/4 to 1 oz. of Spiced Simple Syrup or Fee Brothers Falernum
1/4″ lemon slice
1 oz. white rum
red wine (I prefer a zin or a cab, but really any will do)

In the bottom of a shaker, muddle the lemon slice with the Spiced Simple Syrup.
Add the rum and fill the shaker with ice. Shake madly.
Place a few ice cubes in a goblet or double-old fashioned glass. Strain the contents of shaker
into the glass. Top with red wine. Stir and garnish with lemon.

Prepared madly by Lisa Kohli

Cheesy Pear Goodness

  • 1 d'anjou pear sliced thin
  • 2 baby bartlett pears - cut in half and cored
  • Candied walnuts
  • Spinach
Dressing - Pear Vinegrette from
  • 1 (4-ounce) firm-ripe pear, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons green onions
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil 
Combine the pear, Champagne vinegar, shallots, sugar, rosemary and black pepper in a skillet and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the pears are tender, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a blender or food processor.

Add the mustard, soy sauce, kosher salt, and green onions, and puree on high speed. With the motor running, add the oil in a thin stream and process until emulsified. Remove from the blender and refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve. (The vinaigrette will keep for up to 1 week refrigerated.)

Yield: 1 generous cup 

Prepared by Geri and Kathy

Navy Bean and Winter Squash Soup with Sage Breadcrumbs

The Beans
1 cup navy or cannellini beans, soaked
3 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 onion, peeled, halved, and studded with 2 cloves
Aromatics: 1 bay leaf, several sage leaves, a thyme spring, 4 parsley branches
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

The Vegetables
2 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound, more or less, butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and flesh diced
1 large onion, diced
3 to 4 small turnips (about 3/4 pound), thickly peeled and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon chopped sage
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 plump garlic clove, chopped
Aromatics: 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, pinch of dried thyme, 2 bay leaves
1/2 pound Savoy cabbage, chopped into squares

To finish
1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped sage
1 garlic clove, minced

1. Drain and rinse the beans and put them in a pot with 2 quarts water, the garlic, onion, aromatics, and 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for an hour.  Add 1 teaspoon salt and continue cooking until the beans are tender, another half hour or so- cooking times vary according to altitude, age of beans, and hardness of water.  Drain the beans, leaving them in just enough liquid so that they don't dry out, then strain and reserve the cooking water.  You should have 6 to 7 cups.

2. Warm the oil in a soup pot.  Add the squash, onion, turnips, sage, parsley, garlic, aromatics and 1 teaspoon salt.  Give a stir then cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have state to brown a bit here and there and caramelize, about 15 minutes.  Add the cabbage and let it wilt, then add the bean broth or equivalent amount of vegetable stock.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the squash is tender but still intact, 15 to 20 minutes depending on size.  Add the beans and continue cooking until heated through.  Tase for salt and season with pepper.

3. Toss the breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons oil and sage to moisten them, and put them in a skillet and cook slowly over medium heat until crisp and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic during the last few minutes so that it doesn't burn. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the soup and add a generous helping of hot crumbs to each bowl.

Yield: 2 quarts
From Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen

Caramel shortbread bars take #3.  Will post the new recipe when it's finally completed.  This time the caramel was a little burned :-(

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

2011-10-30 Sunday Dinner *updated*

We decided to start sharing the wonderful things that people make for our weekly sunday dinners regularly on the blog.  We'll include pictures from time to time.

We start off with our appetizers

Endive boats to heaven
<recipe coming soon>
Made by Diane Janowicz

Goat Cheese wonderfulness

(makes 12)
melted butter, for greasing
14-oz/400-g package prepared and rolled puff pastry
all-purpose flour, for dusting
1 egg, beaten

about 3 tbsp fig and ginger jam
12 oz/350 g goat cheese logs, sliced into circles
olive oil, for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Grease 1-2 baking sheets with melted butter.
Transfer the pastry sheet to a lightly floured counter and roll out lightly to remove any creases.
Use a 3-inch pastry cutter to stamp out as many circles as possible.
Place the circles on the prepared baking sheets and press gently about 1 inch from the edge of each with a 2 inch pastry cutter.
Brush the circles with the beaten egg and prick with a fork.  Top each circle with a teaspoon of jam and a slice of goat cheese.
Drizzle with oil and sprinkle over a little pepper
Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and the cheese is bubbling.
Serve warm.

Made by Geri Johnson and Kathy Edwards

Parmesan-Crusted Green Tomato Gratin

Slow roasting gives tart-tasting green tomatoes a smooth, mellow flavor. The Parmesan topping
offers a nice contrast to the mellow tomatoes and sweet onions. Serves four as a side dish.

1/4 lb. bacon, chopped
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
5 Tbs. freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
5 Tbs. breadcrumbs
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
4 green tomatoes (about 1/2 lb. each), sliced 1/4 inch thick
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves

Lightly brown the bacon in a skillet over medium heat, about 4 min. Pour off all but 2 Tbs. of the
fat. Add the onion and cook over low heat until caramelized, about 20 min. Meanwhile, combine
the Parmigiano-Reggiano, breadcrumbs, and oil and set aside.

Heat the oven to 350°F. On one side of a round or oval shallow baking dish, arrange 4 or 5
tomato slices, overlapping them slightly. Spoon some of the bacon-onion mixture on the lower
half of each tomato slice, and then lay another row of tomatoes across the first row. Layer the
tomatoes at a slight angle against one another, topping each slice with the bacon-onion mixture.
Repeat until the dish is full. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, fresh thyme, and the Parmigiano-
breadcrumb mixture.

Cover the dish with foil and cook for 30 min. Remove the foil and continue cooking until the
tomatoes are very tender and the top of the gratin is browned, about another 30 min.

 Made by Lisa Kohli

Green Cabbage Soup
with potatoes and sour cream.

1 small green cabbage, preferably Savoy (about 1 pound)
2 to 3 tablespoons butter
1 large leek, white part only, quartered lengthwise, chopped, and rinsed
1 hefty yukon gold or russet potoato, peeled and roughly cubed
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

to finish
sour cream or yoguyrt
minced parsley or dill

1. Quarter the cabbage, remove the cores, and thinly slice the wedges crosswise.  You should have 5 to 6 cups.  Bring 3 quarts water to a biol, add the cabbage, cook for 1 minute then drain.

2. Melt the butter in a soup pot.  Add the leek and potato, give them a stir, and cook for a minute or two, then add the cabbage and 1 teaspoon salt.  Pour over 5 cups water, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered for 20 imnutes or until the potato is tender. Taste for salt and season with pepper.

3. Ladle the soup into bowls, then add to each a dollop of sour cream, and a springkling of parsley, and a final grinding of pepper.

Lisa's notes - last time we added some kale with the leek and potato which gave a beautiful color.  Napa cabbage works too.  Impressive flavor for a recipe without stock.

from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen

Gooey Caramel Butter Bars*
for the crust:
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

for the filling:
1 bag caramel candies
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons dark rum
pinch of salt

1 cup pecans, walnuts or cashews (optional)

To make the crust: in a large bowl, combine the butter and sugars.  Using an electric mixter set at medium speed, beat together until creamy.  Add the vanilla and salt and beat until combined.  Sift the flour into the butter mixture and beat on low speed until a smooth, soft dough forms.

Cover a 9x13" baking pan with parchment (or cooking spray) and press 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of the pan.  Pat the remaining dough into a flat disk and wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325F.  Bake until firm and edges are a pale golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. 

While the bottom crust is baking and the remaining dough is chilling, make the caramel filling: place the unwrapped caramels in a microwave-safe bowl.  add the cream vanilla, run, and salt.  Microwave on high for 1 minute.  Remove from the microwave and stir until smooth.  If caramels are not completely melted, microwave on high for 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval until smooth.

Sprinkle the nuts over the bottom crust.  Pour the caramel filling over the nuts, using a small metal spatula to nudge the filling evenly over the crust.  Remove the remaining chilled dough from the refrigerator and crumble it evenly over the caramel.  Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is bubbly and the crumbled shortbread topping is firm and lightly golden, about 30 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cook completely.

being adapted from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth

*Works in progress because you know Kohlis don't use bag caramel.  We're still working out caramel kinks.  Will post back the real recipe when it's final.

Monday, October 17, 2011

When It Rains It Pours

No posts for a long time and now two in two days.  Head over to to check out my guest post titled "Never Say Never" on how we started running.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The French Laundry

The roots of our trip to the French Laundry stretch far and deep.   We had talked about a special celebration with Kerry and Isaac several times.  We really got started in earnest when we met Danelle in Buenos Aires.  She had been before and dubbed the experience "life changing" for a foodie.  With that, we were sold.

Reservations are difficult to come by.  The restaurant accepts reservations two months to the day by phone only.  They completely book very quickly.  Since we had decided to target Lisa's fall break, we only had a limited time window that would work for us, making it another order of magnitude harder.  Sunday before we left for Colorado, Lisa called 140 times before getting through (think middle-school radio call-in-show).  She secured a lunch reservation for us.  Since Sunday wasn't the best day for us, Lisa and Danelle continued to call.  Between the two of them, they only got through once more and were placed on the waiting list.  We all felt very lucky to have a reservation.  We ended up going to the lunch reservation, and the waitlist never came though.

There are two menus at FL - the chef's tasting menu and the tasting of vegetables.  Both are nine courses and are offered at a fixed price.

It's nearly impossible to describe the experience.  The food and the service were both spectacular.  Napkins were automatically replaced when diners went to the restroom, entrees were placed on the table simultaneously, up to three at a time.  Since we were seated a bit later than most of the rest of the lunch seating so by the time that we were finishing lunch we basically had the place to ourselves.

We started off with a bottle of French champange.  This particular bottle is a blanc de noirs, which means that it is made entirely from pinot noir grapes.  However, the skins are removed very quickly, preventing them from transferring color into the wine.  It had a beautiful deep yellow color with just a hint of red.

We started with a quick bite of Gruyere fried in a wonderful breading, which was far more intoxicating than any other "mozzarella stick" ever consumed.

We moved on to the Oysters and Pearls - a sabayon of pearl tapioca with Island Creek oysters and white sturgeon caviar.  It was an explosion of creamy salty goodness with a nearly indescribable texture.

Isaac had a different course that featured royal ossetra caviar that was imported from China in addition to sea urchin, pacific hiramasa, garden melon, red ribbon sorrel and juniper creme fraiche.

Next, on the chef's tasting we moved onto Moullard duck fois-grois with flowering quince, French Laundry garden turnips, cornichon lamelles, and dijon mustard.  The foie gras was served with perfectly toasted brioche from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon bakery right down the street.  The salty foie gras was perfectly mated to the bright acid from the fruit and sweet bread.

For our gluten-free friend, the chef created a seared foie gras pared with walnuts and the tiniest tastiest spinach leaves we've ever seen.  The table agreed that Danelle won this course.

On the vegetable tasting side, Lisa enjoyed the Jardinere de legumes d'autume including “fairy tale” eggplants and the cutest and tastiest micro radishes that you've ever seen:

Our second vino course was a fantastic Sauvignon Blanc from Napa valley, pictured above.

After showing you our second bottle of wine, I recall that I should mention how unbelievably hard Kerry and Lisa worked to find the perfect hotel.  Since we were only booking two months out during a popular fall-break time choices were extremely limited (and wicked expensive).  Both Lisa and Kerry spent countless hours researching and calling places trying to find the perfect spot.  Ultimately, Kerry found Hotel Yountville which was just a few blocks away from FL, which was perfect because no one had to drive after lunch.

Next up: Sauteed fillet of mediteranean corvina (fish) served with chorizo, razor clams, filet beans, demi-sec tomatoes and spanish saffron.  The vivid chunks of chorizo against the bright yellow from the saffron made for a fantastic presentation.  It turned out that the chorizo was actually the highlight of this dish.  Unlike any that we have had before it packed a big wallop of flavor and salt that along with the mild fish and dry saffron created something special.

Lisa had the FL garden squash, Jacobsen's farm apples, brussels sprouts, and Madras curry pudding.   This dish was typical of Lisa's first few dishes.  They were perfectly prepared and quite tasty, but as Lisa is an accomplished vegetable chef herself, they were similar to dishes she prepares at home.  Lisa's best courses were toward the end of the meal.

One of Lisa's best courses was the fantastically delicate pretzel roll, only a few inches long but packed with fantastic flavor and a perfect vehicle for their two selected butters.

Next up were the "mits" of butter-poached maine lobster, gros michel banana, radicchio, watercress, parsnip puree and burgundy truffle.  We learned that burgundy truffle is between the typical white and black truffle with a superlative flavor which paired fantastically with the lobster.  It's hard to see in the picture, but the cut surface of the truffle was beautifully glistening and intricate.  The radicchio provided a bitterness that cleansed the palate allowing each bite of lobster, truffle, parsnip goodness to be appreciated anew.

This pinot noir was absolutely fantastic and provided the perfect transition toward the big red cab.  Even Lisa, a self-proclaimed red-hater, enjoyed a glass of the pinot.  We enjoyed it so much that we considered trying to visit the vineyard prior to leaving wine country.  Alas, they did not have an open tasting room :-(.

This was the first of Lisa's dishes that yielded envy from the omnivores.  Beautiful, perfectly ripe figs were paired with their dried counterparts, marcona almonds, arugula and perched atop a carmelized fennel bulb.  The plate was dressed with three beautiful dots of 100-year aged balsamic vinegar.  The freshness of the figs paired beautifully with the melt-in-your-mouth sweet spiciness of the fennel.

Next up was the salmon creek farm pork belly "en fuille de brick" served with baby beets, parsley shoot, choucroute, and horseradish creme fraiche. This dish contained one of the main highlights of the meal for the entire table - choucroute.  Choucroute combines cabbage, onions, juniper and cider vinegar with bacon fat to make a perfect blend of sugar, acid, and fat.

Lisa's degustation de pommes de terre, fingerling potatoes, red radish, petite lettuces and australian black truffle was one of her favorites.  Lisa's been lusting after a new culinary tool called a tamis (a.k.a. drum sieve) that can be used to make the smoothest, finest mashed potatoes that we've ever had.  One funny thing about this dish is that Lisa thought that she didn't like truffle.  Apparently truffle in the hands of the FL staff suits the lady just fine.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm such a great big red to finish out the meal.

Chestnut agnolotti, celery branch, pomegranate, and fontina d'aosta.  This was definitely Lisa's best savory dish.  The fresh-made pasta pared with the smoothest, sweet, nutty chestnut filling cut by pomegranate was sublime.  Little bits of pungent fontina poked through for another layer of flavor.  This was Lisa's favorite dish of the evening.

Snake river farms "callotte de boeuf grille" served with chanterelle musrooms, glazed pearl onions, nantes carrots, scallion salad and sauce carbonnade.  This dish is hard to put into words.  It's by far the best preparation of beef that I've had in my life.  The server educated us that the callotte is chef Keller's favorite cut and is also known as the crown of the ribeye.  Paired with the big fat cabernet and sweetness of the perfectly prepared veggies this dish will not soon be forgotten.

After the big rich mains, a cheese course was the perfect interlude to starting dessert.  For her cheese course, Lisa enjoyed the FL's take on a welsch rarebit - combining Cabot clothbound cheddar, califlower florets, mustard frills and bitter ale bechamel.  The bechamel and cauliflower were served together, amounting to a super-rich soup that was balanced perfectly with the toast and melted cheese.  When coupled with the double-decker presentation the result was a real knock-out.

For those of us on the chef's tasting we couldn't really compete with Lisa's cheese course.  We had Point Reyes blue with FL garden apples, celery branch and marcona almonds provided a tasty palace cleanser to shift toward sweet.  It was tasty, but paled in comparison with the rarebit.

Yummy dessert #1 for Lady was Mountain Huckleberry Sorbet, cornmeal genoise, yogurt parfait and crispy lemon curd.  The presentation was pretty spectacular as you can see.  This one fit firmly into the "don't try this at home" category.

I'm missing a picture of the Chef's menus dessert #1 - Verjus sorbet with candied cashes, grape relish and mountain mint.  The real standout of this dish was the amazing mint leaves.  they were only about the size of a fingernail, but packed a wonderful mint punch.  The candied cashews were a close second.  Really though, these were just "appetizer" desserts as the real finale was yet to come.

For the chef's tasting - carmelized white chocolate namelaka with peidmont hazelnuts, toasted oats and black mission fig sorbet.  This one was divine.  Again featuring the super tasty figs and amazing candied nuts.  The hazelnuts were so well prepared, I thought that I was tasting hazelnut for the first time.  The creamy sweet texture of the namelaka was a great contrast to the tart sorbet.  All-in-all a nearly perfect dessert.

Nearly perfect until you compare with the second choice dessert for the chef's tasting.  For this course, there were actually two different desserts available for the chef's tasting.  The peach melba with Sicilian pistachio "pain de gene", andante dairy yogurt, biscotti and raspberry sorbet.  The most amazing portion of this dessert was that instead of some crappy gelatin with bits of fruit sprinkled through, the peaches were actually layered super-super thin on top of the pistachio crust.  This dessert was definitely killer.

The FL take on pecan pie, was something special.  The presentation was so amazing that I had to include a detail shot of the tastiest, tiniest poached pear ever and the beautiful transfer-sheet decoration on the chocolate.  Lisa was in heaven, and it was the perfect way to (almost) end our meal.

Thus begins the set of "mignardieses" which are tiny, bite sized desserts served at the end of the meal. Otherwise known as small bites of heaven.

A semi-freddo that was basically a perfectly chilled mocha custard that was made to look hot, but was ohhh soo cold.

Tasty little cinnamon doughnuts.

More amazing candied hazelnuts covered in chocolate and confectioners sugar.

Just when you thought you were completely stuffed, they bring out Valhrona truffles.  Clockwise from the upper left - Olive oil, dark and stormy, PB&J, Michigan cherry, hazelnut, and lemon.

After all of this, they brought out a giant magazine for each of us along with copies of the menus, and beautiful little to-go packages of their tasty shortbread.

The service was so nice, and our server offered to take pictures of our party in front of the famous blue door.  We left after the best 4 hour 30 minute lunch of our lives, feeling incredibly lucky to have this kind of experience.

We went across the street and took hundreds of pictures throughout the FL garden across the street. More on the garden visit coming soon!