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Monday, February 8, 2010

Yummy eats and fiddly feet

Since my mom wasn't able to come down for Christmas this year due to her back, I made a quick trip up to see her this weekend. I headed out right in time to greet the rain storm that had moved in to Northern California - yipee. The first night we had dinner and ran through Joann's so I could try to get ahold of a couple of the new Butterick patterns (no dice). The next morning we lazed around the house a bit before getting ready for our afternoon and evening plans - wine tasting at Hess Collection and then dinner at, wait for it, Ad Hoc! :)

My mom invited her bestest friend forever, L (they've been pals for over 40 years!) and her husband, D, since they both like good food and wine. In fact, it is L that has been slowly introducing my mom to the wonderful world of vino and getting her to drink something other than White Zin - thank God!!

So, we loaded everyone up and headed out to Napa. The rain had stopped, which meant the drive was easy and we made it to the winery in no time. Since I'm a club member, we were all able to enjoy their regular tasting (4 pours/person) for free. It was a nice pre-dinner activity and got us all in the mindset for a foodie good time. At the end of the tasting, everyone took advantage of my club member discount and we left with a half dozen bottles and some peanut brittle.

Since we were still a bit early for dinner, we ran by Bouchon Bakery, just down the street, to grab some baked goods. I'm such a sucker for that place and it's physically impossible for me to be in the vicinity and not stop for something. Bouchons, various rolls and some pastries jumped in our bags and then we were finally ready for dinner.

I was with an *ahem* mature crowd so we did the "early-bird special" dining. Restaurant opened at 5pm and we were there at 4:58pm sharp! Ha! Even eating well before the sun went down, the meal was still superb! In fact, I think it was even better than when Jim and I dined there this summer, which is hard to believe.

Chicken and Dumpling Soup [not pictured because I forgot my camera and didn't realize I could take crappy iphone pics instead until course #2. grrrrr] This was ah-maz-ing! The recipe is in the book and I'm planning to make my own version later this month.

Colorado Lamb Sirloin with roasted cippolini onions, swiss chard, acorn squash, wild mushrooms and sweet potato fritters

My mom and I really don't care for lamb, however, I think this dish might have changed our mind for good. Very little gamey taste and cooked to a perfect medium-rare. All of the veggie sides were equally delicious and held up well against the strong flavor of the lamb.

Cow's Milk cheese with black pepper crostini and bergamot marmalade

I can't remember the actual name of the cheese, but it was mild and lovely. The crostini were ridiculously tasty for something that looked so innocous. The marmalade was a nice touch, but a bit strong for a few of us.

Sticky Toffee Bread Pudding with pecans and creme fraiche

Just ridiculous. All four of us cleaned our plates and there was quite a bit of discussion on whether it would be rude to actually lick the plate to get the last bit of toffee syrup off of it. [We decided that yes, it might be a bit uncouth.]

One last highlight of the dinner was the wine pairings they were offering. Excellent choices and since I wasn't driving, I took full advantage of it, as did D. I wish they would do this every night as it really added to the meal. It was a really fun night and I think everyone was sufficiently stuffed and happy by the time we made it home.

The next day found me fiddling around with a sewing machine and not my own, unfortunately. Remember when I picked up that bag 'o fabric for cheap during the fall? Well, 2 pieces were specifically purchased because my mom wanted scarves made from them. And we all know, it's very hard to say no to Mom. I didn't have time to make them before my trip, but brought the fabric with me and planned to whip them up before I left.

Here is where I'd like to note that said fabric is flimsy poly-chiffon and to reiterate that my mom wanted a scarf. I can already hear some of you starting to giggle, as you should be. I got all set up on my machine, set up the iron and got to work, all excited to make these pretty little scarves for my mama. And that's when I realized that doing a super narrow hem on this kind of fabric is like herding cats. It doesn't do anything you want it to do and it mocks you the entire time you're trying to fold it into submission. Then the cussing and swearing started.

What was my mom doing all this time? Sitting in the livingroom, on her computer, laughing at me. Lovely. At this point, it was the principle of the thing and I was hell bent and determined to get it to work. After playing with it for awhile, I learned that by adding a line of straight stitching right next to the fold line, it gave me a little something extra to work with when folding, pressing and pinning. I also had to put 3974738 pins in per side of hemming to keep it all in place. All in all, they came out okay. I mean, I wouldn't want anyone to look too closely at them, but they're not going to unravel on her, which is the most important thing. I'm guessing that if I had a rolled hem foot this process would have been a bit easier (Any experienced seamstresses want to chime in here?), but I followed Tim Gunn's advice and made it work.

The upsides to this project? Um, I don't think there are any. Well, I guess there is one. My mom is obviously very happy with the finished product, which does make me less bitter about the whole endeavor.

Of course, that didn't stop me from giving her the stink eye when she so nicely mentioned that if I find any other scarf fabric in colors she would like, to feel free to make her some more. Sorry Mom, still recovering from the trauma of the first batch!

Short trip home, but a good one. :)


  1. Rawr! I want!

    Bloggers love eating early. Better light. ;)

  2. I think you've managed to retraumatize me. I made several scarves years ago pinning and turning and thought it was all behind me. Maybe not. Hey, when you were on your way up to Napa, did you see me waving from up on the hill? I live right on the border of Napa County.

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  4. Ohh, I can so relate to sewing scarves without a rolled hem foot. Never again!
    I'm sure you would make many more, quickly and easily, for your mum if you put your rolled hemming foot on your serger. I have not experimented with the rolled foot on my sewing machine but I'm guessing it got to be easier than ironing and pinning teeny seams.
    Sorry, I'm still having a giggle, I just can relate to your frustration so well.

  5. Yum!! That looks great. IT sounds like y'all had fun, up until the scarves came out! I use the rolled hem foot on my regular machine. It's great, but there is a learning curve in terms of how to position the fabric to get it to curl just right.

  6. i love that your mama is beaming so happily in that picture. she's so cute!

    we often eat at early-bird times. we hang with an older crowd, too.

  7. I may have to pick up that cookbook. I have always despised lamb, but I may be willing to give it another go!

  8. I think my stomach just growled...
    Sewing for mama makes for big time brownie points! You're such a sweet girl!

  9. I did the early bird special when I went there too. Your mom is cute.

  10. We will be in the Napa area this summer and Ad Hoc is going on my "must do list." I never would have known about it had you not shared- thank you. Try this technique next time you want to do a narrow hem. It is how I learned from Susan Khalje and it makes a nice hem. First stitch along the edge at 1/4". Then press the edge to the inside with the stitching line just to the inside of the fold. Stitch again close to the previous stitching line. Then trim close to the second stitch line. Fold press and stitch again. Yes, it is time consuming but it works.

  11. Yup - you did make it work! The scarfs look great on your Mom btw. I was having a fit with my hem last night, but worked it out finally.

  12. oh yum. and yay for winning over that fabric!