At the end of August (before the temperatures reached three-digit numbers), my husband and I spent three days In the Napa Valley. This time we chose Healdsburg as our headquarters. We had been there before with friends and enjoyed it. We visited several wineries and had some great food. One of the nights, we made reservation at Bravas. Travel & Leisure rates it as one of the top 20 tapas restaurants in the U.S. James Beard finalist, Mark Stark, is the executive chef. Mark and Terri Stark own and operate several restaurants in the area. My taste buds were elevated trying all the different tapas. Everything was top quality, the setting was simple and relaxing. We ate in the garden. The one dish that got my attention was a baby kale salad.
Mind you, I am not a kale salad person, but I ordered this one because of the preserved lemon vinaigrette. I enjoyed every bite of this the salad. Even my husband, (who as you all know is hard to please when it comes to vegetables and salads) liked it. It was our server’s first day on her job, and my maternal instinct kicked in. I helped her along since I was once a waitress at a Howard Johnson restaurant in Massachusetts when I first came to this country. Anyway, the server and I bonded and as a “thank you,“ I got the recipe for the preserved lemon vinaigrette. The recipe was for a large amount. It took some math and adjustment to get it where I liked the flavor as much as in the original vinaigrette. I made a few changes. I was lucky to find baby kale at Trader Joe’s. The baby kale reminds me of Rapunzel lettuces or field salad (Feldsalat). In English it is called lamb’s lettuce or māche. I have used this vinaigrette with other salads.
The salad at Bravas was made with baby kale, shaved Manchego cheese, and slivered fennel. I have made it several times and love it. I used the dressing for another salad with strawberries, sliced onions (soaked in cold water) and avocados. Add a sautéed chicken breast or piece of salmon and you have a meal. The recipe for a delicious chicken breast covered with pretzel crumbs will be my next post.
To make this recipe you will need preserved lemon. I make my own every year, click here for the recipe. You can also buy them ( Amazon has them). You will not regret having a jar of this North African delicacy in your refrigerator. It's great on avocado toasts, couscous, in cocktails, and anything you can think of.
REcipe for preserved Lemon Vinaigrette
This preserved lemon vinaigrette yields about 1 ¼ cup and will last in the fridge for about a week or longer. The preserved lemons are very salty, so add salt sparingly as needed. Do not rinse the preserved lemons. Make sure that the vinaigrette is silky smooth. My Vitamix did the job.
1 generous TBS chopped shallots
a dash of black pepper
1 generous TBS chopped preserved lemon
2 TBS honey
½ tsp. mustard
½ cup lemon juice
1 cup neutral oil like canola oil
½ cup sunflower oil
Add shallots to the preserved lemon, honey and mustard to a mixer. I used my Vitamix. Puree the mix until everything is silky smooth. Slowly add the oil, creating a stable emulsification. Stir in the pepper and season with additional salt and honey if necessary.
Recipe from the Bravas Restaurant in Healdsberg, CA
Adapted by sunnycovechef.com
Check out some of my other salad recipes. Click on the photo to get the recipe.
My last and final destination for my five-week trip to Europe was Sweden. I was taken by the glimmering light of the sky, the golden, deep red and often violet sunsets during midsummer days during my visit. There was an evening glow that was breathtaking. Unfortunately, I have no photos to show you. My trip to Sweden began when Barbie, our tour guide, picked us up in Copenhagen. I had taken a trip with Barbie to Provence in March 2020, where we stayed in Julia Child’s home. Read more about it here. So, I was excited to go on another trip with her.
We were picked up on Monday afternoon in a hotel in Copenhagen and driven to our first lodging in Sweden. There we stayed in the countryside on a farm once owned by the king of Sweden in Kivik, a charming little town in Scane, part of Österlen. It is known as the breadbasket of Sweden. The setting reminded me very much of northern Germany, with its large wheat fields. We enjoyed a nice dinner the first night and got to know each other.
The following day, we had a wonderful cooking lesson in a typical Swedish house with several cooking stations and a nicely decorated dining area. The garden was spectacular with all its herbs and veggies, a labor of love. I very much enjoyed this day in the kitchen and garden with Maria sharing her Swedish recipes and house with us. If you are ever in the area, don’t pass this by. Here is a link to her website
The next day, we visited a farm where mustard is made. We learned a lot and made our own mustard. Mine did not pass quality control.
We visited Ale’s Stones, which I found fascinating. The function of Ale’s Stones is much disputed (according to Wikipedia), and there are many different theories about its purpose. It is generally believed to be either a grave monument, a ritual center or maybe a sun calendar. I tried to have my Outlander moment to go through the stones, but it didn’t work. And I am happy to still be here.
The same day, we ate in a restaurant on the water. Of course, I had to have herring.
Another day, we went foraging for wild herbs with Roland Rittman. He forages for restaurants, most notably René Redzepi’s Noma in Copenhagen. Roland is quite a character and showed us many edible plants that we picked and ate throughout the week. He and his wife invited us to have coffee and cake in his house. It was very pleasant and the homemade apple cake was delicious.
We also met Johanna Kindvall, an illustrator and cook who has written two cookbooks. Barbie sent us one of her cookbooks and I can’t wait to pick a recipe to try. The name of the book is Smörgåsbord, the Art of Swedish Breads and Savory Treat, by Johanna Kindavall.
On day four, we drove to Torekov in the Skane province. It’s a cute little town with its red and white clapboard houses. We settled into our rented house and started exploring the town. Barbie served us smoked salmon with fresh potatoes, which are the best I have ever eaten. The Swedes are very proud of the different varieties of potatoes they grow and I have to say that they are very good. Barbie added our foraged greens to them, which made for a very healthy dinner. Annette, our Swedish tour guide, had prepared lingonberries, I loved them.
Annette encouraged me to participate in the Swedish custom of going for a morning dip in the North Sea. The ritual is that you have to walk to the sea in an old robe with old wooden clogs, take a quick dip in the sea (seven strokes to be precise). On the way home, it’s okay to stop in a bakery in your robe and buy some rolls for breakfast. I found it very invigorating. Barbie gave us some robes.
On one of the days, we visited the beautiful gardens of Norrviken. Norrviken Garden is a 14-hectare garden that was created in 1906-1920 by Rudolph Abelin. There are temporary art exhibits both outdoors and indoors, with beautiful water and Japanese gardens. Ingmar Bergman made All These Women (his first color film) here. We had a relaxing lunch at the Villa Abelin. I was taken by the beauty of this garden.
Another wonderful dining experience was a delicious dinner, which Annette’s friend, Maria, served us at a fisherman’s boathouse by the sea. Thank you, Maria, for a magical evening and for sharing this wonderful place with us.
Our week went by fast and for our last night, three beautiful Ukrainian women prepared a feast for us. Annette’s husband, Anders, shared his crawfish with us and showed us how to eat them correctly.
The next morning, Barbie and Annette put us on the train to Copenhagen where I checked into my airport hotel, as I had an early flight the next morning to return to the United States. Surprisingly, the hotel had a good restaurant where I had herring eggs with flatbread and cream cheese. Delicious! But I was ready to return home to my husband.
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.