Friday, January 21, 2011

Everyone needs a friend to drink champagne cocktails with

The big news in San Diego this month has been the opening of our very own Sprinkles cupcakery.

Prez was the first to hear about this late last year, especially elated because it was practically around the corner from her house. And yet, she couldn’t quite figure out, based on the description, where this elusive location could possibly be. So we kept our ears and eyes open and we emailed back and forth everytime we heard some further news:

“It’s in the Whole Foods Shopping Center”

“It’s where the yogurt place used to be”

“I drove by and it’s all set up, but it’s empty”

“It’s opening THIS THURSDAY”

The last one prompted a decision as to when we should go on a cupcake-date. (What? You don’t have cupcake dates with your best friends?) Except when we set it up, it turned out to be during San Diego restaurant week. So the query then became “cupcakes or restaurant week?” (An easily more enjoyable choice than “cake or death.”) And since Sprinkles is open year-round and restaurant week is only 2 weeks a year (but is always extended for a second week each time so it’s really 4 weeks a year), we decided to have a dinner date instead of a cupcake date.

And for the record, I heard that opening day, the line at Sprinkles was almost 2 hours long. The nearest Sprinkles is in Orange County, just over 1 hour a way and has no line. You do the math.

Anyway, Prez picked the restaurant, Blue Boheme. I arrived ever so fashionably late. So fashionably late that we probably should have just made the reservations for an hour later. Prez was waiting for me at the bar, sipping a glass of champagne. It’s her latest drink of choice. And actually, I had come bearing a gift – which I proffered as an apology for my lateness. Thatboy and I had discovered Weins’ L’Amour de l'Orange Champagne last summer and I’d been promising Prez a bottle ever since. Except Thatboy and I kept drinking them. This one actually made it into her hands.

She spun around on her barstool excitedly. (Except I’m not actually sure she was sitting on a barstool, it could have just been a chair. And instead of spinning she might have just leaned in my direction. It was dark and I was tired.) “They have champagne cocktails here!”

We were whisked off to our tables where I would soon have my own champagne cocktail. Prez’s was kissed with lavender syrup. I don’t mess around, so I chose the one with St. Germaine liquor. Because lavender syrup? It doesn’t have alcohol in it.

For some reason, even though it seems like Prez and I are having dinner every other week we always have so much to catch up on. So much talking that neither of us ever finishes our meals. I began with the escargot – which was unlike any escargot I’ve ever had before. It was cooked with sausages and chickpeas, the snails removed from their shells. Instead of drowning in garlic butter, they were cooked in a tomato based sauce which gave them a very Spanish feel. How do you say snail en espagnol?

(okay, upon further reflection I see that these are "escargot a la portugaise" so everywhere I wrote "Spanish" sub in "Pourtugese")

Prez had been told the calamari was the thing to get, and so that’s what she started with. And it was also unusual in that it came with an assortment of fried veggies – very similar to one of our favorite snacks at Starlite.

For dinner, Prez had the Boeuf Bourguignone, which she claims tasted like my brisket. Which is good to know in case I ever have fancy people eating dinner at my place. I can whip up a brisket and wow them with my French cuisine. As for me, I got the steak frites. Which was probably the most conventional menu item we ordered. It was just as it was supposed to be – flat flavorful steak served with French fries. And like I said, since we didn’t finish, Thatboy got to enjoy it for dinner the night after.

(In fact, we were talking so much, I forgot to take a picture till I was done, so this is Thatboy's portion)

For dessert we again went in decidedly different directions. Prez got the chocolate mousse and I had the pain d’epice. (which I translated as spice cake and they translated as gingerbread). Their description was just a bit off, for this moist, sweet cake was delicious, but only had the barest hint of ginger.

Since I have posted about Boeuf Bourguignon twice in the past week, I thought perhaps I should share my own recipe for it. It's not the world famous Julia Child recipe, and it's even a little different than Toxicesq. recipe that she shared with us over dinner. But variety is the spice of life, right? Or as they say in France - "Vive la difference!"

Boeuf Bourguignon

  • 1 oz salt pork, diced
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • sprinkle of ground pepper
  • 1 lb stewing beef (bonus if you get bones too)
  • 1/4 tsp marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 cup Burgundy wine (THIS IS THE KEY INGREDIENT)
  • 1/2 cup beef broth (This Is Pretty Important Too)
  • 6 small white onions peeled and trimmed
  • 1/4 lb mushrooms

1. Melt the salt pork over medium heat in a dutch oven. When crisp and golden, remove and drain on paper towels.

2. Add the onions to the melted fat and cook till they are light golden brown. Remove from heat.

3. Mix the flour, salt, and pepper on roll the meat in the mixture. Brown the meat.

4. Add the marjoram, thyme, wine and beef broth.

5. Return the pork and onions to the pot, cover, and simmer 1 1/2 hours.

6. Add the onions and cook 20 minutes.

7. Add the mushrooms and cook 10 minutes.


  1. I love restaurant week. Best week(s) of the year. And in NYC they happen twice a year. Love it.

    The best friendships are the ones where you could talk almost daily and still find new things to say to each other! Good stuff.

  2. Did you know? Pie is the new cupcakes. Or so they say...I suppose the fad has still not died out!