Last year my girlfriend Deb and I attended the International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) in Sacramento and had a wonderful time. We learned a lot and saw a lot. That's why we decided to attend agin this year. Sacramento is not just the capital of California but it calls itself the "farm-to- fork " capital of the world. California is the land of plenty-the largest agricultural producer in the country. There is a bounty of the juiciest fruit, freshest vegetables and many artisanal, farm-based products. You can find anything from fresh goat cheese to olive oil. This year a pre-conference excursion will go to the Cobram Estate & Olive Oil Commission of California.
Last year we went on an excursion to visit an endive farm and learned how endives are grown indoors. It takes a lot of skill and knowledge to do this successfully.
When I got home I sautéed endives with herbs and butter and they turned out delicious.
We also visited a pear farm where we had a delicious picnic lunch under a very old oak tree.
I made a french pear tart with my pears when I got home. Read about it on my blogpost and get the recipe here.
A local friend of Deb took us to Estelle's patisserie in Sacramento where I was introduced to the Croixnut, a mixture of a doughnut and croissant. It was divine. I brought some home for my husband. He thought they were dangerous.
We enjoyed the Saturday evening dinner with our fellow bloggers.
The City of Sacramento and all of California was changed by the coming of the railroads. If you are interested visit the California State Railroad Museum. The museum features 21 restored locomotives and railroad cars, dating back from 1862. My girlfriend and I are taking Amtrak from San Jose to Sacramento. This will be my first train ride in California.
Near our conference center is State Capitol Park. Last year I spent some time at the Vietnam Memorial. This year I might take a walk to McKinley Park Rose Garden that is nearby.
It is time to pack my suitcase and get ready for this year's conference. I am looking forward to learning new things and meeting new people. For those of you who are not attending the conference and feel like baking I can recommend my German Apple Strudel Cake to welcome in October.
Five days in Burgundy and Dijon
The Burgundy is region of France world-renowned for its outstanding wine and food. It is the end of the rainbow for people who appreciate food and wine. This works out splendidly for my husband and me, as he loves great wine and I love great food. For many years, when I would visit my parents and family in Germany, my father would give us his car and we did a week or two exploring Europe. On an early trip, we stumbled upon the Château Bellecroix and stayed in their smallest room in the turret, lugging our suitcases up the stairs and smuggling in wine bought in a store. Living in a real chateau is such a great experience. It was fun and still is today, although now we prefer the ground floor. From this quiet and tranquil place, we visited all the great wineries and fantastic restaurants. By the way, this place is for sale.
My husband loves Chassagne Montrachet, where he shows me the Grand Cru vineyards . As good as the wines are, they have equally good restaurants. While my husband drooled over the wine, I asked the sales girl for recommendations of some good places to eat. She pointed out a cute little outdoor restaurant called La Cabone, which is run by the same woman who also owns a new restaurant called Ed.Em. I didn't eat in either one and wish I had, because we went on to visit Beaune and had a very bad meal. After being disappointed, I ended up in a nice patisserie with a great piece of a hazelnut chocolate dessert and an espresso. .
For the next two days, we relaxed at the Bellecroix and decided to have dinner on Friday night and a Sunday lunch at two totally different restaurants. In early years, the Bellecroix offered a great dinner. My husband proclaims they had the best foie gras, which the cook made himself. Unfortunately, the Bellecroix had closed its restaurant in January and the owner recommended a place in Rully, a nearby village. This place offers French country cooking at its best. My husband and I both loved our meal. Don’t expect anything fancy (because it isn’t), but boy is it good. I had snail raviolis served in a creamy cheese sauce. Both of our main courses were delicious with a great sauce and I had a delicious crème brûlée .
If you want a three-star spectacular and very expensive experience, make a reservation at the Maison Lameloise in Chagny. It will cost you a sack of gold, but you will experience French food and culture at its best. I can only describe it as a sensual sensation with flavors exploding in your mouth, an art form unto itself. It's not so much about the meat or the fish, but what it comes with it—the work and creativity that the chef puts into every single little detail. It is a culinary experience one never forgets in the hallowed temple of French cuisine.
The Sunday market in Chagny is large and a lot of fun. It sells live feathered animals of all sizes.
On this trip, we visited Dijon for the first time. Dijon is the capital of Burgundy and right away mustard pops into our minds. But Dijon is about so much more than just mustard. This quaint town in the northeast of France has a rich cultural heritage, with beautiful vineyards surrounding it—one of four official French cities of gastronomy. We stayed in a cute modern hotel called Vertigo. The staff was super helpful and friendly and the rooms were high-tech. We stayed for two days and never got into the car.
The first night we ate at the restaurant, bistro DZ’envies, a trendy restaurant with a canteen feel where chef, David Zuddas, will satisfy your culinary desires. And you don't need to dress up. We sat outside next to the Les Halles of Dijon’s market and enjoyed a remarkable meal.
The second night we ate at L’Oiseau Des Ducs, a restaurant with a Michelin star. This is part of the Bernard L’Oiseau chain and lives up to its reputation. Here we had the menu dégustion. When you order this menu, you get to sample small portions of the chef’s signature dishes. The food was wonderful with subtle flavors.
I hope I have the chance to visit this beautiful region of France again.
Romesco Sauce and Sorrel Sauce
I can never get enough of different sauces and spreads. I like them thin or thick, and I like them as leftovers used with a salad, a sandwich, or a piece of meat or fish. For me, the right sauce makes the meal. When I visited the Burgundy in France (click here to read about my trip), I had the most incredibly thick eggplant sauce next to a piece of fish with the most delicate flavor I have ever tasted. The great chef had added some African spice, and I have no idea what it was. However, I remember tasting something similar in Morocco. Well, my sauces are nothing like that. They are straightforward, easy to make, delicious and can be used in many ways.
I got the idea for the romesco sauce from my blogger friend, Mary Ann, who writes the thebeachhousekitchen blog. She made her romesco sauce as an appetizer with cruditées. I have made this recipe many times and usually eat it as a sandwich spread or with a salad. It is a healthy substitute for richer foods like mayonnaise or butter. For the salmon, I used a recipe from myrecipe.com. This recipe uses canned tomatoes instead tomato paste and cumin as a spice rather than smoked paprika. I don't purée this sauce as much as Mary Ann’s sauce, leaving it coarser for the salmon. Both sauces are delicious.
The inspiration for the sorrel sauce came from the blog, Back Road Journal, and Bon Appetit. I added more sorrel because I have an endless supply of it in my tiny wild garden. Sorrel is a tart, slightly sour herb, oxalis, another common name for this herb means "sour". I think it has a distinct lemony flavor and I find its tartness refreshing. I prefer to purée the sauce in a mixer until smooth. I love the taste of this rich and tangy sauce. It compliments a piece of salmon and other fish. I could eat it on steamed veggies or a chicken breast. It would also taste great with shrimp, chicken or salmon skewers.
Here is a link to to Mary Ann’s romesco sauce and Karen’s sorrel sauce. Both sauces can be made a day ahead. I had leftovers and ate them for several days.
Romesco Sauce & Sorrel Sauce
When I made the sorrel sauce for a large party, I didn't write down the proportions so I tried to reproduce the recipe for this blog post. I got carried away with the amount of sorrel (I added 4 cups which made the sauce quite tart), so next time, I will reduce the amount by half or less. I tasted the sauce the next morning and it had mellowed out somewhat.
My romesco sauce is a combination of Mary Ann’s blog post and my recipe.com, which was very well received by my nephew who liked its nutty flavor. I have used hazelnuts instead of almonds.
WELCOME TO SUNNY COVE CHEF
Thank you for visiting my blog. My two passions are cooking and traveling. Traveling exposes me to a wide variety of food and experiences. I walk around cities looking for markets, restaurants, bakeries, shops, you name it, and if it is related to food you will find me there, tasting, smelling, talking to vendors, and having a great time.