Friday, February 22, 2019



With the black & white sunset over and dressed for dinner, we went into town for our anniversary dinner at Madeline's.  

It was a cool, cloudy night, but the moon was out.  A good omen.  Anthony Newley's Littlechap words kept repeating in my head...  "35 years, Evie...  35 years!"

As many of you know, I'm rather schizophrenic when it comes to food.  I love diner food: burgers, grilled cheese, tuna melts, corned beef on rye w/ Russian dressing, and I'm still searching for the perfect cheeseburger... BUT, I also love fine dining.  Tonight was definitely a fine dining night.

As we studied the menu...

... we decided to go with the Chef's Tasting Menu w/ wine pairing.  

Our first course was a Cayucos Red Abalone, panko crusted arugula salad, topped with lemon... I couldn't even wait to take the picture - I had to have a bite.  Totally delicious.

Oscar, our very knowledgeable waiter, poured a 2016 Andrew Adam pinot gris which had a long, buttery taste for a pinot gris.  I'm not normally a pinot gris fan, but I really loved this wine.

Next was another salad course of local greens, golden beets, radish, red onion, crispy sunchokes w/ a sherry vinaigrette.  Perfect way to transition from the abalone to the fish course.

New course - new glass - new wine.  A 2015 Baker and Brain Gruner Veltliner from Austrian grapes.  Crisp, clean - a palate cleanser.

Ever attentive Oscar cleared the table as we sipped our wine, then he headed to the kitchen to find  our fish course.

The fish of the day was a pan seared white fish with capers topped with compound butter over creamy risotto with wilted greens (kale and Swiss shard).  Sadly, (well, not sadly because it was so good) we finished the dish, forgetting to take a picture.

A 2016 Alban Viognier was the wine pairing.  It was by far my favorite wine of the evening.  Oscar gave us a second pouring, then left the bottle on the table... just in case.

To finish off the entrees was a slow cooked short rib croquet, roasted garlic and tarragon bread pudding served with seasonal vegetables, drizzled with chili oil.

The wine, a local from a Cambria boy, Aaron Estates petite syrah.  Sorry, no picture...

By the time dessert arrived  - creme brulee for me with raspberries - and  chocolate truffle cake for Richard...

...  the restaurant's owner and executive chef had shown up, too, David Stoothoff, who was off that night but dropped into the restaurant to meet us (Oscar gave him a call when Richard told him I wanted to write about the restaurant).  Not on the tasting menu, David brought out two after dinner ports for us to sample.  Quinta Da Vallado, a 20 year port and Olde Shandon, a Paso Robles syrah port. 

A perfect ending to a perfect anniversary, fine dining experience.  If you're ever in Cambria, Madeline's is a must.

Madeline's Restaurant
788 Main Street
Cambria, Calif.  93428
805-927-4175 (restaurant)
805-927-0990 (wine shop & tasting room)

Wednesday, February 20, 2019


Day One

"35 years, Evie.  35 years!"  So lamented Littlechap played by the brilliant Anthony Newley to his long, suffering wife, Evie (Anna Quayle) in the Broadway show, "Stop The World I Want To Get Off" (one of my favorite Broadway experiences as I was completely mesmerized by Newley)...

...So, when Richard said he wanted to explore the lovely coastal town of Cambria to celebrate our 35th anniversary (40 years living together - yeh, we're getting old), I was thrilled, although "long-suffering wife" is not how I would ever be described by anyone. What a grand way to have a romantic get-away after all these years.

When we arrived, it was dark and dreary, but I love being by the ocean on an overcast day.  The view was magnificent.  The smell of the Pacific invigorating... so much so, we dropped out bags in our room and went for a hike on the cliff above the ocean on the beautiful trail in front of our hotel.

After our hike, we decided to check out the town and found ourselves in Madeline's restaurant and tasting room. 
We loved the space and booked a table for our anniversary dinner that night.

Back in our room, we rested for a minute, but were soon out on our patio to watch an amazing black and white sunset, as we sipped a glass of wine (I did mention it was a dark and dreary day, right?).

Night had fallen.  It was time to get dressed for dinner...


Friday, June 29, 2018

FEELING BLUE... APRON (and oh, so Plated)

(and oh, so Plated)

 OK - you know me.  I'm a foodie...  from Bonnie Lu's Cafe, a terrific diner here in Ojai, to the French Laundry in Napa - I love it all.  I'm still searching for the perfect cheeseburger and dream of dining at Per Se in Manhattan.

Because of Richard's gig as a food writer/producer for the Food Network, right after 9/11 we got to escape the horror for a few weeks and travel around Europe being wined and dined by some of the best chefs in the world... check out the towns, cities, wines and food in my blog series, "Five Guys & Me" as we journeyed from an idyllic small town in Germany to cities in France and Italy, ending in Florence.

"My" 5th Guy Took This Pic on Our lst Night In Europe and a Sleepover in Frankfurt

We were spoiled. Or so I thought.  

Recently, Richard and I were gifted with a package of three free Blue Apron dinners for two (meals for more than two are also available) and liked them so much, we gifted ourselves a few more times. 

Why, my friends ask?  You've been fed by some of  the greatest cooks in the world, why would you want packaged dinners?  You love to cook, they argued.  (Oops, no - not me guys -I don't actually "love" to cook, though Richard does).  I tried explaining... life gets busy, even the thought of planning a menu or going marketing can become overwhelming day after day after day after day (ask anyone who cooks at home most nights like we do), especially now that Richard has become the Artistic Director of the Ojai Art Center Theater and the last thing on his mind is cooking, so most marketing and meals are left up to me.  I tend to make the same things over and over again and these Blue Apron dinners were inventive and good.  No, they didn't compare to a Paul Bocuse or Thomas Keller meal (but they don't cost an arm and a leg, either).  And, no, they didn't even  compare to one of Richard's gourmet forays, but everything was fresh and we loved the recipes - the combinations of textures and tastes.

The first time the three dinner combination of seasonings, produce and either meat, chicken or fish (there are vegetarian option) package arrived at our front door, it felt like Christmas morning.  Excitedly, we unpacked the box to see what surprises awaited us.  Everything looked so fresh.  And, none of the dinners had a long prep time since everything was chopped and/or measure out beforehand.  For the first time in a while, Richard actually wanted to get back in the kitchen, so he made the dinners and, when we sat down to eat them, it felt like we had ventured out to a new restaurant.

Here are some of our favorite Blue Apron meals (Plated below).

Crispy buttermilk catfish - so delish and neither of us particularly like catfish:

recipe card

Cornmeal Crusted Shrimp Po' Boy (I never had a "po' boy" before) - this was one of my favorite Blue Apron suppers - full disclosure:  I love sandwiches:


Be still my heart
Beef Medallions with Mashed Potatoes & Balsamic Pan Sauce w/ Spinach:


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Tho we loved the recipe (and other beef/steak recipes) our only complaint w/ any of Blue Aprons meals is that the beef can be a little chewy.  

Shrimp & Spaghetti Marinara w/Spinach:

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ready to eat

Tex-Mex Chicken & Cheesy Rice:


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Soooo good - love the cheesy rice

Discovering my new found addiction to Blue Apron, Alexandra, my wonderful cousin, gifted us w/ Plated - another version of Blue Apron which was equally fresh and delicious.  Take a look...

Salmon & Creamy Dill Sauce:


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Plated plated (this was an exceptionally delicious dinner)
Chicken Marsala:


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Another oh, soooo delicious entree
We've stopped ordering the meals for now, and are back making some of our own tried and true dinners - but we miss those "Christmas mornings" when we got to open up a Blue Apron or Plated delivery and discovered new recipes to make without leaving the house.

Sooooooooooooo, if you're tired of the same ol', same 'ol -  give Blue Apron or Plated a try. We loved them and plan to order them again.