Big City Finds: French Butter

 
Butter

In life, there are some things you just can't live without - those baggy, ripped sweatpants that you only wear in the comfort of your own home. Or how about the artesian water you have flown in by hot air balloon from Bjork's personal waterfall in Reykjavik? 

I totally made that up, I would never wear ripped sweatpants.

My one can't live without item is French butter. Rather than splurge on expensive designer handbags, I splurge on creamy, bright yellow colored butter with large crunchy sea salt crystals. I was in Paris last year and fell in love with a particular butter called  Grand Fermage  Sel de Mer. I loved it so much I brought back one dozen bricks in my suitcase. Sadly, my family devoured it all within a couple of months and I was in a slight panic when I opened the freezer and found a crumpled empty ziplock bag.

Since I had no luck convincing my husband I needed to board a plane to Paris to pick up a few more pounds of butter, I scoured the internet looking for something similar. 

And voilà!

butter

igourmet has a great selection of butters at quite a reasonable price. The bulk of the cost is shipping though - worth it to me...

I ordered a Belgian butter called Les Prés Salés, made with sea salt from Camargue,  as well as Isigny which I also happened to find at a local specialty market here in San Francisco, although not on a regular basis. I included an Irish butter called Glanstal since my go to everyday salted butter is Kerry Gold.

All of the butters I ordered are delicious and creamy, but I thought the Belgian butter was as close in taste and creaminess to the Grand Fermage. But all in all, it's delicious creamy salty butter, how could you go wrong?

Since my favorite butter is not available in the United States (unless someone out there knows a connection) it looks like I'll be secretly planning a butter buying journey this summer, though I may need one suitcase for butter alone...

 

Crab Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

 
Crab Stuffed cherry tomatoes

An hors d'oeuvre doesn't need to be complicated or intimidating to prepare. These crab stuffed cherry tomatoes are super simple, require no cooking, can be made ahead and are sure to be a hit at your next cocktail party.

I'm a sucker for a good hors d'oeuvre and I've been known to make a meal out of them, so if you invite me to your party make sure you have plenty. Have some champagne too. I love champagne.


CRAB STUFFED CHERRY TOMATOES

yield: 50 tomatoes

  • 50 large yellow or red cherry tomatoes
  • 8 oz. fresh lump crab meat
  • zest of 1 lemon, juice of 1/2 - use meyer lemon if in season
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 1/8 tsp old bay brand seasoning
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbs full fat sour cream
  • 1 tbs fresh chives, finely minced
  • 1 tbs fresh dill, finely chopped, plus 3 tbs for garnish
  • 1 tbs fresh mint, finely minced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 1/2 clove crushed garlic
  • 3 tbs red bell pepper, finely chopped

Slice 1/4" off at top of each tomato at stem end, then make a small slice on bottom so tomato can stand without toppling over. With a small melon scoop or demitasse spoon gently scoop out seeds. Invert onto a paper towel drain excess moisture

To prepare filling, mix crab and other ingredients until just combined, making sure not to smash up your expensive crab meat. Fill each tomato with 1 tsp of crab and top each with a sprig of dill

Tomatoes are best prepared the day of serving but they can be filled, covered and refrigerated one day prior

Mendocino Winter Getaway

 
Hidden cove

While searching for a weekend escape from our hectic city lives in San Francisco over the winter break, Mendocino seemed like the perfect spot to unwind. This quintessential New England look-alike town is perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean - a site I never tire of. Located three hours north of San Francisco by car, it's an easy trip for most people who haven't had the pleasure of traveling with a dog who drools profusely and gets car sick. 

Mendocino is an ideal place to be completely unproductive and not feel guilty about it. Of course if you're one those crazy energetic human beings then this place is for you as well. You can go wine tasting, rent a kayak, go to a day spa, visit a gallery, go whale watching, climb a lighthouse, have your aura read...

I'm the unproductive type when it comes to Mendocino.

There are many inns, bed and breakfasts, yurts and homes dotted along the vast coastline to choose from. If you're looking for uber-luxurious accommodations like the Ritz Carlton, you may be out of luck, but a quaint room with high thread count sheets and an ocean view aren't hard to come by. When I travel with my family we usually opt for a cottage or home - with two kids and two dogs we desperately need the space. It also saves us money  - cooking meals instead of eating out three times a day makes things a bit easier and a time saver.

I can't recommend Mendocino enough - so if you ever happen to find yourself  looking for a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city, any city, head to Mendocino, you won't regret it.

Mendocino town

Tips:

  • Winter is a wonderful time to visit Mendocino, rooms and homes are less expensive and the weather is clear and cool. Beware of summer - it can get foggy and quite cold.
  • Explore nearby wineries in the Anderson Valley such as Scharffenberger and Husch
  • For pet friendly lodging try The Cottages at Little River Cove
  • Fort Bragg is the nearest "big" town if you feel you need to see a movie or visit the Tattoo Museum
  • Be warned! Wifi is super spotty so if you have any mergers and acquisitions in the works, you might want to check with your inn or rental home to confirm a connection 


Mendocino overlook