"True wine enthusiasts don’t collect wines.
They collect memories of wines shared with friends and family."

-Dario Zucconi

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Birthday Celebrations: Pot Roast with Rosemary Roasted Potatoes . . . . And Some Extra Special Treats

Today's post is not about recipes - necessarily - although food is certainly at the center of this post. It's more about CELEBRATION!

November is a special month - not just because of Thanksgiving. Turkey day is awesome! But, November is an extra special month because my family gets to celebrate two birthdays: Mine and my youngest son's birthday. We're the duo Scorpios!! Here are some of the special ways we've celebrated our birth month. Since both of our birthdays fall on weekdays, the celebrations have been continuous for the past couple of weeks.

Mommy's Special Day Celebration
(Bread pudding at Artisan)

I've enjoyed celebrating my birthday the past couple of weeks. The weekend before my birthday, the kids and Patrick took me out to dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants, Artisan Bistro (http://artisanlafayette.com/). Artisan knows how to make you feel special on your birthday - they print the menu with your name and a "happy birthday" note on it. But, the best part was the bread pudding, which was especially delicious.

(Soufflé at Santé)

(Private wine, cheese, and
chocolate tasting at Arrowood)
(Lone bunch of grape
in the vineyard
Last weekend, Patrick surprised me with a trip to the wine country (Sonoma) for a quick birthday celebration get-away and spa treats for me. A huge thank you to our dear friends Nadine and Gail for taking care of our kiddos overnight. It takes a village, for sure!

The night away was amazing. We had a lovely outdoor dinner at Santé Restaurant (Sonoma Mission Inn) - with a scrumptious soufflé (Above). And, we had a special private wine, cheese, and chocolate tasting at Arrowood Winery (http://www.arrowoodvineyards.com/).

(Pumpkin Tart dessert at Duende)

My birthday celebration continued this past Friday. . . . Nadine and Gail took me out to dinner at another one of my favorite restaurants, Duende (http://www.duendeoakland.com/).  Duende is one of those special places that is not just a restaurant, but feels like going to your best friend's house for dinner. The food is like no other. The Chef and Owner, Paul Canales, is a dear friend of ours. He's not only a creative and brilliant Chef, he makes sure that every dining experience is one you will remember - no matter how often you've been there. We had an awesome time. Thanks, Paul, Nadine, and Gail! Okay, I think that's the end for now. . . . It's been a birthday that I won't forget!

Now. . . . My Baby Boy's Celebration

Today was all about my little man, who turned 7 this week. Since his birthday fell during the week, we decided to do our family celebration today. We did our usual Sunday activities in the morning. Then, in the afternoon, I prepared a special Fall family comfort meal for dinner: A tender and savory pot roast, which was braised for about 4 hours; roasted fingerling potatoes; Caesar salad (my son's new favorite side dish); and of course chocolate cake (his absolute favorite).

To kick off the afternoon celebration, I prepared the meat for the pot roast. I first seared the meat (boneless Chuck Roast) to give it a nice brown color on the outside before I put it in the pot with the liquid. That way, all the flavors are trapped inside.

I also sautéed a mirepoix (mixture of carrots, celery, and onions) with fresh herbs and garlic for the pot roast. Then, I added tomato paste, a bottle of red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon), 1 cup of beef broth, and 2 bay leaves. I covered the pot, put it in the oven (325°) for 4 hours (turning the meat over 1/2 way through). 

The result was perfection! The meat was tender and juicy. The flavors were popping in your mouth. The house smelled like culinary heaven. Patrick and I enjoyed the pot roast with a glass of Arrowood Cabernet (2010).

(My son was leading us
on the trail.)
The best part about today wasn't necessarily the food (Don't get me wrong - that was a big hit for my family!). But, the highlight for all of us was the fact that, while the pot roast was in the oven - braising slowly, we went on a hike through Robert Sibley Regional Park. It was a cool, crisp Fall afternoon (not too cold and not too hot - just perfect!).

My son and I are enjoying our birth month. I am especially grateful for my health, my family and friends (near and far), and all those who have made my birthday an extra special one in all the wonderful ways that you have expressed your wishes for me. I'm forever grateful!

Until next time . . . Love and Cheers!


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