From the awe-inspiring shores of France and Spain, the unique identity of Basque culture enveloped the table at ChezHelvetica on this rainy night. Piping hot Basque Garlic Soup filled the air with its smoky aroma, as we were warmed by broth thickened with Eggs and Pan de Mie (found, surprisingly, at the VA Farmers Market). Sherry Vinegar (made with Balsamic Vinegar and Sherry) heightened the sensation of this Sopa de Ajo. Organic La Tortilla Factory Corn-Wheat Tortillas, spread inside with Trader Joe’s Truffle-Honey Mustard and outside with melted Butter, wrapped Gouda and Cheddar Cheeses. Oven-grilled Onion Rings adorned the Quesadillas. Pomegranate Dressing bursting with seeds, Pomegranate Syrup, Meyer Lemon Juice and Extra Virgin Olive Oil showered the accompanying Arugula Salad. Pepperidge Farm Double Dark Chocolate Butter Cookies finished our conceptual voyage from the majestic Basque Mountains to the hills of Land’s End. Dulce – Sweet Indeed!

Wisdom Is Sage

Black Friday dinner, the counterpart to a Thanksgiving feast, featured Sage as the wise choice to bridge both occasions. The Salvia officinalis (from Three Bees Nursery) used in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce was almost sweet, deliciously bathing Monterey Bay Organic Spinach and Cheese Ravioli. But let me digress, this meal began with a wonderful Roasted Squash Soup with Maple-Glazed Bananas, an “autumn in a bowl” recipe from Food & Wine magazine. A LaBrea Bakery Whole Wheat Bread, baked right before our meal, filled the air with the fragrance of its nutty taste, serving as the perfect accompaniment to sop up sauce and eat with soup. Piquant Kalamata Olives from Haig’s Delicacies and Smoked Salmon from Bryan’s Market rounded out our main course. An excellent Klinker Brick Zinfandel brought black magic to the Black Friday celebration, as did a ChezHelvetica favorite dessert – Lemon Squares from the Neiman Marcus cookbook. So here’s to being grateful and thankful, still, for the love of family and all the bounty life has to offer!