Saturday, May 31, 2014



Moving to a new place, whether it's a village, town or city presents its challenges.  I mean really, where do you get your hair highlighted and cut?  Where's the best mani/pedi?  And, what about finding a good mechanic or a decent cheeseburger?  All challenges that need to be addressed when you've moved to someplace new.

But, then, there are some wonderful discoveries you find as you explore your new home town.  In my case, a thriving theater and art community, beautiful mountain and valley trails to hike, new restaurants and wineries to review, and two new favorite women's boutiques that sell that layered, drape-y Kate Hepburn-style clothes I like.

Not to mention the more elusive discoveries known primarily to only those in the know.  Private Chef Robin Goldstein's Table 18 is one of those discoveries.

Richard and I first met Robin when we took the Ojai Artists' Studio Tour.  We drove here and there, to Upper Ojai and back down to lower Ojai.  We went from the east end to west end and saw some amazing artwork, and as the day ebbed and flowed, we found ourselves at the studio of Eilam Byle, a painter who also turns wood into amazing works of art whether it be furniture, kitchen counters, bowls or pieces of sculpture.

So, you're asking - what has that got to do w/ Robin Goldstein?  Well, Robin is Eilam's wife.  The studio is also Robin's gourmet kitchen.  Richard and I didn't know which to ogle first - the artwork or the kitchen. While talking to Robin about her kitchen, however,  we learned about her and Table 18.

Robin attended the world-renowned Culinary Institute of America in New York and has lived and cooked in Europe, as well as worked and consulted with some of L.A.'s top caterers and established restaurants.  She's also worked and cooked for private families in California and Hawaii, Spain, Norway and Switzerland.  Now settled in Ojai, Robin is working as a private chef here in the valley and in the Santa Barbara area (she also conducts cooking classes, has her private pop up dinners and helps people transition to vegetarian/vegan and raw food diets).

You're next question is what is Table 18, right?  It's a series of private "farm to table" dinners Robin gives a few times a year in their studio for up to 18 people.  Why 18?  As she tells it, that's how many  charger plates she has.  We were lucky to get a reservation to her latest dinner.  

When we arrived, vodka celery martinis awaited us made from fresh juiced local celery and cucumber, with a splash of Lillet.  I was surprised how refreshing and delicious it was.  For the teetotalers, Robin made mocktinis with fresh pineapple juice, mint and ginger w/ a splash of sparkling H20. 

I meandered around the studio ending up at the serving bar...

... covered with sweet smelling fresh produce where I talked to a few guests.

As we continued to mingle with the other diners, we nibbled on ahi sliders with a garlic-wasabi aioli and crisp cucumber on mini buns or, if you're non-carbing it, on sliced cucumber rounds, plus whipped feta with crushed pistachios and fig on walnut bread.  Loved every nibble.

Cocktails over, we took seats at one of the two farm tables crafted by Eilam.  

Dinner was served.

The first course, served with a chilled chenin blanc wine, was a citrus marinated Kampachi Crudo with orange blossom essence, along with a raw spring vegetable salad of shaved radish, asparagus, turnip, carrot citrus-olive oil and Himalayan sea salt.  So light, so lovely, so delicious.

For our entree, Robin seared Watkins Ranch grass-fed sirloin steak on rosemary twig skewers and served the steak with a parsley chimichurri with preserved lemon, on top of a roasted cauliflower risotto with porcini mushroom spice and white truffle oil...  So yum.

 ... and two rich red wines.

Dessert was poached local peaches with fresh basil, rose water-basil syrup and Marsala whipped crema.  Normally I'm not a dessert lover, but I loved this. Light and airy as gossamer...

Robin's goal is to create, not only an interesting culinary occasion - but a social experience as well, to bring groups of people into an unfamiliar setting for an evening of good food and good conversation.

She accomplished her goal, and then some.


2 Oz. 
​Vodka or ​
Gin 1 Oz. Fresh Celery Juice
​ and cucumber juice​
½ Oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
Lillet Blanc
Celery bitters


Combine Gin, Celery Juice, Lemon Juice, A Dash Of Bitters, And A Dash Of Lillet In A Cocktail Shaker Filled With Ice. Shake And Strain Into A Chilled Martini Glass. Garnish With Celery Leaves, If You Like.

*To Juice Celery, Use An Electric Juicer And Follow Manufacturer's Instructions Or Purée Roughly Chopped Celery Stalks In A Food Processor Until Smooth. Pour Over A Cheesecloth-Lined Sieve Set Over A Bowl; Press On Solids Until All The Juice Is Drained. Combine Lemon And Celery Juices Immediately To Prevent Browning.

Makes one martini.

Private Chef Robin Goldstein
(805) 284-4264

check out my photos and monthly recipe on my website

Eilam Byle

Thursday, May 22, 2014

CARLY SIMON'S Grilled Atlantic Salmon w/ Summer Vegetable Hash

Grilled Atlantic Salmon w/ Summer Vegetable Hash

When Richard first made this dish a few years ago, I waited in ANTICIPATION to taste the results.
Why?  I love hash!  I love mixing whatever's in the fridge and hashing it all together and Carly's version of a hash sounded delicious -- Perfect for a summer night's supper.

Since, in our house, NOBODY DOES IT BETTER than Richard cooking in the kitchen, I wasn't surprised how good it was.

(I know, cheezy, right?  I just couldn't help myself.  Besides I love Carly's music and love these two songs - it's a good thing I couldn't figure out how to throw in YOU'RE SO VAIN, but I digress...)

Now that the hot weather is here - this is a perfect dinner for yourself or for company...  Open up a chilled bottle of white or a tasty pinot noir and enjoy.

Grilled Atlantic Salmon
w/ Summer Vegetable Hash

Note:  At the time Richard found this recipe it was listed as a "tasty creation" of Chef Ben DeForest, the chef at Carly's Martha Vineyard restaurant, Hot Tin Roof (known locally at "The Roof") which she co-owned w/ Harvey Weinstein, Strauss Zelnick and John Sykes.


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons julienne summer squash
2 tablespoons julienne red bell pepper
2 tablespoons julienne red onion
3 ounces bliss potatoes, cooked and crumbled (other potatoes can be substituted if you can't find    bliss)

Note 2:  Believing this was a recipe "adaptation to the magazine" mistake since tablespoons of julienne summer veggies barely feeds a hamster never mind the four this recipe is designed for, Richard just juliennes away and suggests you do the same and julienne as much of the veggies you think will feed four.

two 12 ounce Atlantic (tho we use Pacific since we do live in California, after all) salmon fillets

Belgian endive spears and asparagus spears for garnish - optional.


Heat a skillet over moderately high heat.
Add oil and julienne vegetables and saute until slightly colored.

Add potatoes and toss. (In this case, Richard substituted turnips for potatoes, since I'm doing the starch-y low-carb thing).

Season hash with salt and pepper to taste and keep warm.

Preheat the grill while sauteing the veggies, then grill salmon until done.

Serve on top the vegetable hash, garnished with the asparagus and endive.

Bon appetit.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

SUMMER TUNA - Not Your Mom's Tuna Salad

 Not Your Mom's Tuna Salad

You've got your ceviche, sushi, nicoise, seared Ahi, and mom's tuna salad from a can... and now you have tuna tartare, an absolutely delicious dish that Richard made the other night.

With the weather warming, it's time to bring out summer food delights... ice cream cones, BBQ anything, watermelon, potato salad and cole slaw.  Now you can add tuna tartare to your hot nights menu.  It will snap, crackle and pop in your mouth.

Ahi Tuna Tartare w/ Avocado, Crispy Shallots
& Soy-Sesame Dressing

(inspired by Laurent Tourondel of BLT)



For the Ahi Tuna & Avocado Tartare:
20 ounces sushi-quality Ahi tuna, cut into small dice
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt & freshly ground pepper

For the crispy shallots and rice:
canola oil for frying
4 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons rice crispies (yes, rice crispies!)
sea salt

For the soy-seasame dressing:

3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon hot sesame oil  (Richard used regular, not hot)
1 teaspoon honey


For the tuna tartare:

Toss the tuna w/ the olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Toss the avocado w/ lemon juice and season w/ salt and pepper.

For the crispy shallots & rice:
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan.
Toss the shallots in the flour and fry for 45 seconds, or until golden brown.
Remove the shallots w/ a fine mesh strainer and drain on paper towels.
Mix in the rice crispies.
Season w/ salt.

For the soy-sesame dressing:
Mix all the ingredients together.


Mold the avocado using a 3-inch tartlet ring or cube mold.
        (We didn't have a 3-inch anything so Richard cut the bottom off a Brummel & Brown               "margarine" tub and used that as a mold)
Mold the tuna tartare on top of the avocado and finish w/ the crispy shallots.
Lift off the ring and drizzle the dressing around.

Overhead view:

Serves 6