Rustic Canyon Wine Bar’s Soft Openning

I ate at the “soft openning” of my friends restaurant last night, Rustic Canyon Wine Bar located at 1119 Wilshire Blvd Santa Monica, CA 90401 (310) 393-7050. It was a soft openning, where they are trying to work out the kinks, etc. so I won’t comment on much of the bad (and there really wasn’t much of it), but I will say that the restaurant is quite loud….

But now the good. We had…
Fra’ Mani All Natural Salumi with Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese and Toasted Bread – $12
This was totally tastey. Smooth and silky salami, without a terribly strong or overpowering taste and a beautiful small hunk of goat cheese. It was served with a drizzled of extra virgin olive oil over the salumi, with crisp toast, but not to crisp as to create “mouth meat” and a couple cornichons and olives.

Mixed Moroccan Salad Plate with Grilled Flatbread and Harissa – $14
A nice plate with some really good little treats…. pickled beets, marinated mushrooms, hummus, etc. All homemade, including the harissa which was really good (I love harissa). Small amount for the price, but nice to share between two people, just the right amount for each to have a taste or two of everything.

Pan-Roasted 1/2 Boneless Chicken with Roasted Root Vegetables, Sauteed Bitter Greens and Pan Jus – $22
A really good peice of chicken, done a bit differently than is common. I liked the half boneless thing, and it had a nice crispy skin which is always the mark of good chicken (and it was nice and moist as well). The pan jus was really good and not too strong as to overpower the chicken. Liked the roasted root veggies, but could have lived without the bitter greens. Never have liked them and I grew up in the south :-).

Grilled Flat Iron Steak with Sauteed Pea Tendrils and Crispy French Fries – $22
A nice steak that came out cooked to perfection. Sliced nicely and presented on the plate with shoestring fries. It really reminded me of Steak and Frittes in a french bistro, but American.

Apple Huckleberry Crisp with Crème Fraîche Whipped Cream – $8
This was really, really good. I make personal sized crisps, crumbles, etc. all the time for dinner parties. They are great tasting, easy to make and guests love ’em (as long as they don’t burn their hands on the porcelain bowl…). So I know my crisps, and this was a good one. I could have used a bit mroe crumble on the top, but it was fabulous in it’s taste. I understand that the pastery chef from Luques/AOC is consulting/doing the sweets

2004 T. Solomon Wellborn, Pinot Noir, Santa Barbara – $11

2005 Morgan, ‘Cotes Du Crow’, Santa Barbara – $12

In the end, I look for it to hopefully do well. And living within walking distance, I can see myself heading over there for a burger (it looked amazing… Rustic Canyon ‘Cast Iron’ Burger with Applewood Smoked Bacon and Point Reyes Blue Cheese – $14. Although I didn’t have it, a woman next to me ordered it. Big and juicy at the right pricepoint, etc.) or for the steak and a glass of wine.

I will be back, and I can see myself becoming a regular 🙂

Time with Carter Roberts, the President of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)

I had an opportunity to hear Carter Roberts speak the other day. What a great speaker he was and he had some seriously interesting things to say!

Personally, in the past, I have been a big supporter of wildlife. It’s where I tend to do my charitable donating. Up ’till now, my preference has been with The Nature Conservancy. But after hearing Carter Roberts speak, I think that I am going to split my charitable giving between the two.

One of the things that I have liked about The Nature Conservancy is that they don’t “mess around”. They see something that they want to protect and they go out and buy it. One of the things that Carter Roberts talked about that got my attention was the angle that they were taking.

Instead of buying land and protecting it. Instead of spending money on lobbying. The World Wildlife Fund is working with global companies to try to change the way they use/buy/sell products. Hoping that if they change the way Wal-Mart does something, it will not only force other retailers to follow suit, but change the public mentality as well. Kind of like “wagging the dog”. One example Carter gave was how Wal-Mart is now selling sustainably raised/harvested fish. This is huge with the over-fishing of the seas and Wal-Mart being one of the largest sellers of fish in the world!

And the WWF also has a cool new holiday catalog where you can adopt or sponsor anything from a fox to a research vessel. And what I am proud of is that when Carter was talking about the new holiday store, I asked, “Can I use credit card points/miles to buy things?” You should have seen the PR guy next to him start scribbling things down. Even if you only got pennies on the dollar for your “miles”, I would gladly buy stuff/donate them to the WWF, and American Express would be very happy because that would take tons, and I mean tons, of miles “off the market”! So when you can use “points” to buy/donate at/to the WWF, remember where the idea came from :-)….

The other thing I asked for was a program kind of like EarthWatch, where it’s an educational vacation. But I want a bit more than that…. I don’t want to commit 3 years to the Peace Corps, but I’d gladly give the WWF 6 months somewhere. We’d both get something out of it. I’d pay my way, and they would provide me with basic needs, etc. (adequate and making sure I’m OK, but it’s not the Four Seasons…) and get to go someplace cool with an opportunity to be in another part of the world (potential travel, experiences, etc.)… and in return, they would get to “abuse” me and use my skill-set, if not for my entrepreneurial skills then for my strong back :-)! Sounds like fun, huh?!?