Thursday, June 5, 2008

Eating Emu

A friend and I attended a live broadcast of local chef, Jasper Mirabile’s, weekly radio show at Louisburg Cider Mill, on one very chilly Saturday. Hot cider warmed our cold hands and then, much to our surprise, we sampled emu meat and egg.

Mike Hursey, private chef, caterer, and a member of Slow Food Kansas City with Mirabile, sprinkled on fresh herbs as he stirred meat and veggies in a large frying pan over a portable burner. By the time he distributed samples the red meat had turned dark brown and slightly chewier than beef, which I would have assumed it was if I hadn’t been told otherwise.

But the emu egg was a revelation. Dark green, rounded, and at least six inches long, it looked like an over-sized avocado. Much less ‘white’ shared space with the two-inch-round, yellow-orange yolk than the proportions found in a chicken egg.

Mirabile added herbs and whisked the egg vigorously before pouring it into the pan. The scrambled eggs felt lighter and somewhat runnier on the tongue than scrambled eggs from a chicken. This time, it was difficult to mistake one for the other.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Dungeness Crab at Fisherman's Wharf

Fishermen still moor their boats and unload their catches daily at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. I walk along Jefferson Street in the early morning, and see tanks full of live crabs at Alioto-Lazio Fish Company, one of only two commercial fish-processors and sellers here, and one of less than two dozen companies at the Wharf that still catch and process their own fish. The family-run operation opened in 1940 and offers shipping services throughout the nation.

Hours later, I walk back towards the docks for dinner. Classic fish stands line the sidewalk where vendors extol the virtues of their enormous shrimp, plump Dungeness crab, succulent swordfish and glistening oysters as hundreds of visitors stream past. Stomach growling, I enter Nick’s Lighthouse - a seafood institution since 1934.

Gingham-checked vinyl covers the tables, fake grapes hang from the ceiling and model ships and thousands of Christmas lights line wooden walls. I seat myself as Sinatra croons and order linguine with crab and tomato sauce. Huge bits of crab are tossed in a chunky light tomato sauce and tiny shrimp pile high on my house salad. I order a crisp chardonnay, dig into my pasta and wonder if the crab came from the Bay this morning.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Fantastic Flavors

You'll never go hungry - or thirsty - at Honor Mansion in Healdsburg, California - a resort inn that mixes luxury with a homey vibe. If you haven't already bought wine at a Sonoma winery, there's a crystal decanter of sherry in your room, and another in the main house near the public access computer.

Ready for something warm and decadent? Check out the free, 24-hour cappuccino machine, with four flavored syrups and sprinkles of cinnamon, nutmeg, or chocolate. Add a chocolate chocolate chip cranberry cookie dipped in white chocolate for a real treat.

Snuggle into your lofty comforter with the newspaper, pot of coffee and biscotti that arrive outside your door each morning. Then bask amidst antiques, linen, and lace as you enjoy the breakfast buffet in the main house. From fresh juice and mimosas to fruit and yogurt, and house specialties such as breakfast strata or Eggs Benedict, there are choices to satisfy every appetite and palate. Each evening the dining room becomes a complementary wine bar with mouthwatering hot and cold hors d'oeuvres.

But there's more to Honor Mansion than eating and drinking. Swim a few laps, practice your putt, work on your tennis swing or jump shot, or even try your hand at croquet or bocce ball. And, after a hard day of visiting wineries, sip some sherry as you luxuriate in your over-sized soaking tub. It doesn't get much better than this.