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SALSA DO PARMIGIANO (“Parm Dip”)
Recipe Courtesy: Michael Chiarello’s Bottega Cookbook

For those who have had the pleasure of dining at Bottega in Yountville, CA…you know what this dip is.  Rather than your typical oil and vinegar you’re given this savory Parmesan dip along with the most exquisite artisan bread to smother it in.  It’s sharp from the cheese, rich with excellent quality olive oil and spicy due to chili flakes.  Truly delicious…it’s easy to loose your appetite with this stuff.  Beware!

Makes 3 1/2 Cups to Serve 16

  • 1/2 pound Parmesan cheese, not too dry
  • 1/2 pound Asiago cheese, not too dry
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Remove any rind from the cheeses and chop the cheeses into rough 1-inch chunks. Pulse the cheeses in a food processor until reduced to the size of a fine pea gravel. Transfer the cheese to a bowl and stir in the green onion and garlic. Add the oregano, rubbing between your fingers to release it’s fragrance. Add the black pepper, red pepper flakes, and olive oil. Stir well. Cover and let stand at room temperature at least 4 hours before serving.

Paula LeDuc Fine Catering

Let me start by giving you a little background on when Paula LeDuc first came into my life. It was about 2004 or so. My good friend Lindsey and I were at the Nordstrom’s Fashion Show in San Francisco (I lived there at the time) and after the show the most delicious appetizers were being passed. The one that stood out the most were these things called Beggars Purses…fine thin crepes filled with créme fraiche and caviar and then tied into little bundles with a single chive. Kill me now…I’ve gone to heaven! Seriously…for 7, yes 7!, years I’ve been thinking about these bundles of perfection and I often find my mouth watering just dreaming of them.

Jump ahead 6 years, my fiancé and I are down in Napa a year before our wedding doing a site visit.  We are at Beaulieu Garden in Rutherford and are walking around the property when the topic of food comes up and we’re told the venue has an exclusive caterer. In my head I’m cringing a bit (hoping to God it’s someone decent) and then two magic words were said…Paula LeDuc!!! Another, “I’ve died and gone to heaven” moment.

So now fast forward a year and here we are at our wedding. I’ve been anticipating this day for a while now for so many reasons. But one of the things I was most excited for was the food fully aware of the fact that I wouldn’t be indulging in it as much as I would like to. My one request was that my new husband and I would have a few minutes to ourselves after the ceremony with a plate full of appetizers. Boy was that a good decision! I can’t tell you how thankful I was to have those savory little bites.

If you or anyone you know needs a caterer in the Bay Area, Paula LeDuc is your woman!!! She and her staff come up with the most incredible menus to fit your pallet and preferences. Don’t be a crazy anorexic bride, take advantage of the tasting because that’s probably the most you’ll enjoy the food since the wedding tends to be a little consuming.  I’ll end it by quoting the PLD tagline, “Perfect will be just fine”

*Image credit (for all photos): Geoff Johnson


The Hilltop at The Carneros Inn – Napa, CA 

Over Memorial Day weekend this year I had the pleasure of spending the long weekend with some good college friends at the lovely Carneros Inn where we passed the time eating, drinking and sitting poolside.  It was the perfect weekend!  Especially since my fiancé was celebrating his bachelor party in Vegas:)

One of my all time favorite breakfast items to get at the Hilltop, located by check-in and the adult only pool, is their Crispy Tortilla and Farm Eggs.  I’m a sucker for any sort of breakfast dish with chorizo so it’s no wonder this one always calls my name.  As heavy as it might seem, it’s really not especially because the portion size isn’t crazy and your friends/family will always want a bite.  If you like chorizo and eggs, this one’s for you!

*Just a heads up – The Hilltop is only open on the weekends.  I’ve been there a few times during the week and have been insanely disappointed to figure that out.  Otherwise the Boon Fly Café is open every day of the week and is great as well.

Crispy Tortilla and Farm Eggs – Ranchero sauce, chorizo, black beans, queso fresco and salsa verde

Press – St. Helena, CA 

This is by far the best meal we’ve had in the wine country!  A part of us was disappointed that it took us so long to figure this place out but on the plus side now we know about it and go every time we’re in the area.  Absolutely delicious food, perfectly done, PERFECT portions…enough said…just go!

This night in particular we started with a butter lettuce salad in a simple dressing of fresh herbs and a mustard vinaigrette which I followed up with a grilled Stripped Bass (seasonal) and the most delicious Mac & Cheese I’ve EVER had!  For dessert we had the chocolate soufflé which I unfortunately don’t have a picture of but it was divine!  Probably why I don’t have a picture of it…I couldn’t waste anytime:)

Butter lettuce salad, fine herbs, mustard vinaigrette

Grilled Stripped Bass, fava beans & sugar snap peas finished with Meyer lemon, olive oil and fresh herbs

Truffle Mac & Cheese

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