Cavolo Nero

With the usual Italian sex appeal, this name for Tuscan Kale enticed ChezHelvetica to finally succumb to temptation. This leafy cabbage doesn’t form heads, but rather resembles palm fronds with deep greenish black leaves that can be up to a yard long with pronounced ribs. Its surfaces have a distinctive bubbly appearance. Rich in vitamins and antioxidants, the earthy taste transforms when roasted or sautéed. The primo pasto paired roasted Kale, Garbanzo Beans, Spices (Coriander, just because) and Garlic in Extra Virgin Olive Oil with delicious Rana Mushroom Ravioli. The secondo featured Kale sautéed in Garlic Oil and Balsamic Vinegar with Vicolo’s legendary Cornmeal Crust Pepperoni Pizza –  the perfect complement. Grazie mille to Trader Joe’s, Costco and Ferry Plaza Farmers Market for these adventures to Italia!

A Cobb To Covet

Brown Derby, Hollywood of the ‘ 30s meets ChezHelvetica more than 80 years later in the creation of Cobb Salad. While this classic American salad was first pulled together on a whim by Robert Cobb, the one on this table was a focused study on the finest ingredients available. Hunting and gathering ensued with the juiciest Rotisserie Chicken and sweetest Campari Tomatoes found at Costco and Organic Romaine at the VAMC Farmers’ Market. Blue Stilton jumped the pond from England, imparting its sophisticated Blue Cheese taste to the salad. Hot from the frying pan Applewood Smoked Bacon, creamy Avocados and hard-boiled Eggs completed the entree, accompanied by a warm Sunflower Seed Mini Loaf (all aforementioned from Trader Joe’s). The final flourish: a dressing of Balsamic Vinegar, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Dijon Mustard and touch of Sugar. A dessert of hand-picked Blackberries from the Florin Gardens, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Carob Honey from Cyprus and Mint from the ChezHelvetica Garden evoked the ultimate pleasure!

ChezHelvetica Marquee: Rockfish Redux

The final performance of the Rockfish Roll Out (read: the last of the three pounds of fish) took the form of a show-stopping summer salad. A refreshing Celery Salad – also starring in an encore performance – topped the Rockfish and Red Lettuce, with both stalk and leaves in play. Organic Radishes, Parsley, Capers and Artichoke Hearts completed the cast, all drizzled in Lemon and Key Lime Juices. In the supporting role, warm Whole Grain Sunflower Seed Bread from Trader Joe’s simply dazzled with its topping of Affi’s Aubergine (Fire Roasted Eggplant and Garlic) spread. A final nod goes to Kunde Family Estate Wines. Like the award for Best Choreography, their Chardonnay made the whole show move. Final credits: Saveur Magazine, Costco, Nunez Farm, Gump’s (for the $5 platter from the employee sale) and to Mom for the Denby Dinnerware!

Rock & Roll

At ChezHelvetica, that translates into a Rockfish Roll Out. With nearly three pounds of Rockfish from Costco, what does one do with all of this Sebastes (a genus of fish in the family Sebastidae)? The first answer leapt from the pages of BigOven in Grilled Rockfish with Garlic and Basil. The luscious Butter Sauce (spiced with the heat of Cayenne Pepper) transformed this very basic fish into a gourmet dish, further embellished by Roasted Organic Red Potatoes and Broccoli from Nunez Farm of Watsonville in Pajaro Valley. Candlelight, the golden hue from Hess Select’s Chardonnay and new Chilewich place mats from the deYoung Museum further elevated this Saturday night dinner. Following a beautiful day at Stern Grove listening to Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs on Sunday, the next iteration was Fresh Fish Tacos. Whole grain Las Fortunitas Tortillas cradled the Rockfish, Black Beans, Avocado and Cheddar Cheese as Salsa happily dripped on to our fingers. The Rock & Roll weekend ends with the rest of the Rockfish now chilling in the freezer, awaiting the next show to begin!

Sole Mating

Ceviche. . . such a sensual word; possibly because of its origin (according to lore, Moorish women from Granada accompanied Spanish conquistadors and brought it to Peru), or simply the idea of eating raw fish. With gleaming white Dover Sole from Costco, ChezHelvetica embarked on the creation of Sole Ceviche With Cumin Creme Fraiche. Small pieces of Sole marinated for eight hours in Lime Juice and Tangerine Juice (substituting for Orange), Red Onion, Tomatoes, Spices and Parsley. Yes, it’s the “hate Cilantro” camp here, so Parsley was the replacement herb as Red Pepper Flakes replaced a Jalapeno Pepper. Velvety rich Creme Fraiche with Lemon Juice and Cumin cooled the Ceviche as we chilled with Michael Pozzan‘s oaky Chardonnay. Guacamole with homemade Tortilla Chips and Crudite´ completed this course with TJs Peanut Butter Tracks Ice Cream topping off the dinner. Crystal martini glasses – wedding gifts – encircled the Sole Ceviche as we embraced our new Sole Mates!


Baccala Insalata

ChezHelvetica transformed previously grilled cod into Baccala Insalata, thanks to a recipe for Salt-Dried Cod found online in Yankee magazine. Taking advantage of some beautiful Cod from Costco, we grilled all the fish at once and stored half in the freezer after our first dinner of Fresh Fish Tacos. This second usage meant flaking the fish and seasoning it with Olive Oil, Lemon, Garlic and Spices and adding a bed of Organic Greens, then Artichoke Hearts and Olives. With warm LaBrea Multi-Grain bread and chilled Boont Amber Ale and lucisous Fleur de Sel Caramel Ice Cream (a Safeway Select find) for dessert, this midweek meal was special enough for a weekend. TGIT – Thank God It’s Tuesday!!

June 5 – A Day of Love, Beauty & Elections

With the celestial power of Venus transiting our orbit, rays of beauty and love from the Goddess herself engulfed this 31st Wedding Anniversary celebration. In the reborn Really Room? at ChezHelvetica, we feasted on an array of grilled dishes from Sirloin Steak to Spring Squash to Baguette to White Corn. Piquant spices seasoned both the Squash from the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market (tarragon) and Corn from Trader Joe’s (chile salt), while garlic was rubbed on the La Brea Baguette. The mouth-watering Steaks from Costco needed only a little salt and pepper with a butter rub. A delicious Limerick Lane Zinfandel (Block 1970) accompanied our meal. After a dessert of Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch Ice Cream and TJ’s Crispy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, we toasted to June 5 and the incredible day it was. All the Lords and Ladies were smiling aboard the Royal Viking Sea.



Vitamin C


While most people are somewhat cognizant of trying to eat a healthy diet, perhaps even Michelle Obama, Alice Waters and my own Mother would be impressed with the latest dish served at ChezHelvetica.  Thanks to Michael Chiarello of Food Network fame, the Arugula Pesto with Pine Nuts recipe called for the inclusion of Vitamin C.  So – from the medicine cabinet to the Cuisinart, a half tab of Vitamin C was pulverized, providing a subtle flavor similar to lemon. The pesto dressed whole wheat fettucinne (from Pezzini Farms in Castroville) and seared ahi tuna (from Costco). The aforementioned three women may be less impressed with the health benefits of the dessert –  multiple See’s Candies, left over from Valentine’s Day. Life – it’s all about balance, right?!

All American with an Italian Accent

Benjamin Franklin must have originally written “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness through Grilling” in the Constitution and later changed it, the way he had replaced “subjects” with “citizens”. This dinner featured grilled salmon (beautiful wild salmon fillets from Costco), basted with Mostarda Di Anguria Bianca or White Watermelon Mostarda from Le Tamerici, a delicacy I had found at the Fancy Food Show. The salty-sweet-acid dynamics of plums and pesto, conjured by Ubuntu Chef Jeremy Fox, materialized in our Green Bean and Plum Salad. Delicate Italian green beans and sweet Tory Farms pluots from the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market – and a parsley, almond pesto – indeed created a dynamic dish. The conclusion to our meal, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, pays tribute to a new American hero. A salute to Stephen Colbert and his AmeriCone Dream!

Spaghetti&Meatballs á la Chez Panisse Café

There’s nothing like a little help from Alice Waters and her Chez Panisse Café Cookbook to wipe out childhood memories of dry, overcooked meatballs with a savory herb meatball recipe. These tender dumplings floated in a simple tomato sauce made from Campari tomatoes and then sauteed in red onion, garlic and parsley. The meatballs and sauce crowned a bed of whole wheat spaghetti. Fresh spring greens and artichoke hearts, enhanced with a little sea salt and Meyer lemon juice, were a great complement to the pasta. The 25th Avenue & Clement St. Produce Market, AK Meats and Costco all played roles in my hunting and gathering. An Italian wine seemed like the perfect pairing for our meal and, indeed, A.G. Ferrari‘s house red elevated the meal even further!