Dinner In The Hills of Rancho Santa Fe


Went to a fancy shmancy Ranch Santa Fe resort recently to cook for a lovely group of ladies.  It was a 40th birthday party at Rancho Valencia.  This Halibut with herbs was roasted over charred spring onion tops and is perched over English pea shell veloute, sauteed arugula and fresh English peas with lemon and honey aside roasted baby beets and fried purple spring onion.  This little dish was accompanied by several other dishes.  I leave a little mystery to each party depending on what direction the market takes us.  Here are some recent items I’ve done of late.  The first list is plated multi-course while the other is a casual family style menu.

Blue fin Sashimi with turnip tangerine noodles, salted bacon avocado, garlic croutons and fresh aioli
Perfect pork meatball with almond oil poached carrots, laurel roasted crushed potatoes
Grilled baby eggplant and tomato salad (baby eggplants and tomatoes, grilled and marinated)
Duck fat poached baby potatoes with duck broth and chives
Fresh Hawaiian Opah with ricotta gnocchi, porcini broth, gai lan and truffled gremolata
Red and gold beet stack with roasted spring onion, pistachio oil, orange supreme
Pear flan with poached and broiled pear

Pickled cucumber, salmon tartare, wasabi peas, togarashi aioli
Buttered radish with sea salt
Avocado toast bites
Mini twice baked potatoes

Local halibut roasted over charred leeks with leek and squash blossom tossed celery root
Duck lumpia with sherrry/soy/truffle/chive dipping sauce
Roasted beets with beef marrow toasted sourdough, espresso walnut cream, and zaatar dusted carrot chips
Mushroom lentils and roasted pearl onions with balsamic/honey arugula
Beurre rouge stuffed pirogi with pepper grilled NY steak and smoked garlic spinach
Chocolate torte, raspberry sauce, freeze dried strawberries and vanilla/cardamom chantilly cream

Better lighting on the sauce

The Gift of Giving

Had my uncle over for a birthday dinner and ended up blowing my own mind.

My Uncle’s had my food countless times, just never in the multi-coursed style I do for work. Hell…I’ve never had it! I mean…I taste as I go, I cook all the time at home or for family but, I’ve just never been able to sit and enjoy the composed, finished product as it is intended to be eaten. Same for my wife, bless her heart. She hears the details of the nights events with nary a crumb to speak of as her own.

Sat down to my own wine dinner in “07, but that was different. Not being wine focused or planned allows a sense of freedom that feels relaxing. Speaking of relaxing; this marks the first dinner of this magnitude I’ve done while riding the sweet, sweet wave of a consistently filled vodka tonic, gigitty. Please keep in mind that I dropped the garnish ball on a few courses because of drinking, socializing, enjoying myself, parenting and keeping things relatively clean. Here is a quick run through of what we had and how it went down, please ignore the order.



Military Love

I’m a Military lover.  Not only do I respect and appreciate what they do, but my brother still serves.  Recently I cooked dinners for two wonderful Military couples anniversaries. One was a first anniversary while the second was a fifth anniversary/belated honeymoon. Myself being married with children, I get fired up when parents get away for a couple days with just each other; giving them time to let go of some of those daily peripherals.  What made the belated honeymoon extra cool was they had rented a beach bungalow on a private beach. I’m a native and I didn’t know about this place.  Camp Pendleton has a beach for the exclusive use of Military members with their family and friends; super cool and very reasonably priced.  Next summer I’ll have my brother come down and spend a weekend there…maybe he can babysit the kids.

Here are the menus I created those two nights.  As per usual, most of my ingredients are procured at local farmers markets and butcher shops.  Whatever looks in season, cute, ripe or glowingly fresh makes the menu. Review up on Yelp for this one :-)

Asian caesar salad
Truffle, garlic parmesan and herb potato skins
Seared pork with French gnocchi, fava beans and squash blossoms
De-boned and stuffed chicken wing filled with sunchoke mash served over Black lentils and sherry butter sauce
Lamb stuffed carrots with purple snow peas and chermoula
Asian marinated skirt steak with chinese broccoli, caramelized shallots and pickled persian cucumber
Vanilla mascarpone stuffed strawberries with maple lemon glaze and honey tuile

Some pics below to go along with this menu.
Grand Cru Original crostinni with thyme, sherry gastrique red onion
Garlic, herb, parmesan and black truffle potato skins
Chicken fat hollandaise smothered roasted orange cauliflower
English pea soup with granny smith apple, soft boiled duck egg and togarashi tempura squash blossom
Honey roasted salmon with roasted pickled baby turnips, egg yolk gnocchi over lemon, truffle chicken broth
Sea bass ceviche with avocado and granny smith apple
Grilled ribeye, beef fat/thyme roasted carrots, chile/garlic/dark soy gai lan
Chocolate torte with roasted almond whipped cream and Justin port wine

cauliflower pea soup ceviche