Polite Provisions: Manufacturers of Local Tonics, Elixirs and Cures

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Polite Provisions is the brainchild of Erick Castro and the guys behind famed San Diego bars Craft and Commerce, Underbelly and Noble Experiment.  The interior space  has the feel of an old time drug store with it’s tiled floors and faux tin ceilings mixed with fitting but eclectic touches like old street lamps and fire extinguishers.  The space is absolutely cool, hip and well thought out but the real draw is the amazing cocktails made from a selection of over 50 different bitters and forty six taps pulling everything from craft beers and sodas to draft cocktails and spirits.

Polite Provisions 05We had to drive to San Diego to pick up our beloved VW Westfalia from Pete at SD Westy.  When we arrived he told us we would need another hour or two to button up some loose ends and get our vanagon ready for the voyage back home.  Lisa had come equipped with a list of places to check out and things to do.  Polite Provisions on 30th and Adams was at the top of the list.  We stood outside in the rain waiting for the bartender to unlock the doors and let us in the gold framed wood and glass door.

Polite Provisions 01We sat down and checked out their amazing cocktail and beverage menu with so many great choices of pre-prohibition influenced libations I knew we were in trouble.  Go to their web site to check it out: http://politeprovisions.com/menu/politeprovisionsmenu.pdf  We started with two cocktails, one rum based and the other with Champagne.

Polite Provisions 14Now that we had drinks we needed to order food from Soda and Swine, the sister restaurant next door.  The premise is a meatball shop offering six basic meatballs which you can get in a variety of guises from a sub to pasta and back again.  They have amazing sides, like the Scotch Egg pictured below to over the top dirty fries topped with pork belly and other tasty treats.  They kindly deliver food to your table so that you won’t have to leave your cocktail unchaperoned.  The food is plentiful, fatty and deliciously served on half sheet pans.

Polite Provisions 18While eating Pete called and said it would be a few more hours.  What a terrible place to have to sit and wait for your car to be serviced!

Polite Provisions 13 Polite Provisions 12 Polite Provisions 11 Polite Provisions 10 Polite Provisions 09 Polite Provisions 08 Polite Provisions 07 Polite Provisions 06 Polite Provisions 21I could not more highly, or drunkenly, recommend Polite Provisions!

Cheers!

Diavola: Maybe the best restaurant in the World?

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Dino Bugica has something incredibly and edibly special going on in Geyserville, California.  Dino is the Chef owner of Diavola, one of my favorite places to eat in the world.  What I like most is that it is a regular spot featuring amazing farm to table cuisine with an Italian touch.  The food is mind blowingly simple yet so rich and textured in it’s flavors and combinations.  The menu offers everything from amazing pizzas baked in his wood fired oven, like our perennial favorite the Cha Cha Cha, a house smoked pork belly pizza to pan seared Iberico pork loin in a white miso and mustard sauce.  Even dishes I would rarely if ever order, like tripe or tuna heart, are brought to majestic new heights at the Chef’s talented  hand.  If it is on the menu, I am ordering it.

Next time you find yourself in Northern California and you are wondering where to eat go visit Dino at Diavola Pizzeria http://www.diavolapizzeria.com/

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braised Beef Tripe alla Fiorentina with a sauteed Farm Egg

Here is a gallery of photos I have taken over the last few years of eating there, enjoy!

Figue’s Figs

Our baked figs at Figue Mediterranean is undoubtedly the most requested appetizer on our menu.  It is the culmination of what Figue is in one bite, charcuterie, figs, labne, Provencal honey and Sicilian pistachios.  The melding of cultures and cuisines.  The inspiration originated when I bought Greg and Lucy Malouf’s excellent and inspiring book ‘Arabesque’ and saw a similar dish.  Ours is modified from their original recipe but still pays tribute to it’s origins.

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Please click the link below for a printable copy of the recipe:

Figs by Francois de Melogue at Figue

The 9th International Alsatian Wine and Food Festival 2014

Wow!  It is that time of year again! Time to don our festive Alsatian outfits and drink our way through a legion of unpronounceable white wine varietals while eating delicious pork and Asian inspired dishes.

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Bob and Claudia Klindt,
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For me it is something far more, something more akin to a spiritual homecoming to a place where my heart and soul still resides.  My family lived in Mendocino for seven years and I still think about those beautiful experiences often.  I had the good fortune to work with Bob and Claudia Klindt at their amazing micro winery, Claudia Springs Winery for three years. I was their cellar rat performing whatever task that needed to be done on that date.  One hat I wore remarkably well was marketing, basically a license to torture them electronically with imagery and pictures only a twisted kitchen mind could conceive.  In their good nature they actual let me run with a few of them and never fired me, though the picture of Bob in Alsatian attire came awfully close.  I had a lot of fun working there and learned a lot from Bob and Claudia.

Every year, the Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association host two great festivals, Pinot Fest and the other celebrating the wine varietals commonly found  in the Alsace region of France.  My great grandparents are from Alsace so the thought of eating steamy bowls of choucroute while downing glasses of Gewurztraminer almost sounds sexy.

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Chef Francois with Shirley Londer, Londer Vineyards

The International Alsatian Wine Festival was one of the highlights of the year  I looked forward to.  Dozens of winemakers and restaurants from all over the world converged on our sleepy little valley and uncorked some of the world’s most amazing white wines.  I eventually got involved with some of the inner workings of the festival culminating with me coordinating the food side of the event in 2011.

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I got bitten by the Chef bug and returned to man the ranges at Figue Mediterranean in the Palm Springs area of Southern California.  For a year and half I have been deeply immersed in all things Mediterranean from beautifully poetic seafood stews like Bourride, Bouillabaisses less elaborate cousin to Moroccan Chicken Tajines to perfecting the art of spit roasting and everything in between.

Like the prodigal son I am returning to the Anderson Valley this Friday to do a demo of my Moroccan Seared Sea Scallops that I formulated especially for this event.  It is a quirky fusion of Moroccan and Italian tastes that simply work well together with off-dry Gewurztraminers.  My thought process was to create something that not the typical foods paired but would fit the bill.  I consulted Evan Goldstein’s book ‘Perfect Pairings’ and took his wonderful pairing advice.

Gewurtraminer goes well with aromatically spicy dishes.  You need to be aware of the level of heat, but exotic cuisines that stress curry, ginger, clove, cinnamon, allspice and cardamom are very happy tablemates.

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Claudia Springs Winery on a misty May morning

I thought about the cuisine we are doing at Figue (www.EatFigue.com) which really is a fusion between classic, traditional flavors and bold and experimental interpretations fusing different cultures.  The Mediterranean is the first true fusion cooking the world has known.  The menu of Figue is the story of the Mediterranean.  It is the story of conquests, invasions, immigrations and discovery.  Each wave of change brought new foods, cooking techniques and dishes to the table.  I look at the range of typical recipes, ingredients and techniques and see an artist’s palette full of beautiful colors and sensuous flavors waiting to be reimagined on a canvas.

my Seared Moroccan Sea Scallop with Preserved Lemon Farrotto, Green Charmoula and Gewurztraminer recipe

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