Friday Inspiration: Beauty and Love

beauty is reality


BEAUTY is Simply Reality, Seen Through the Eyes of LOVE.

Painting:  Blue Dancers, Edgar Degas, 1893


Pizzeria Mozza – Newport Beach

PM charcuterie & brussel sprouts PM meatballs

One of my newest favorites!  This place makes absolutely delicious food, great cocktails, in an intimate, homey environment.  Pizzeria Mozza is the brainchild of Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich, all acclaimed chefs and restaurateurs.  We are lucky to have one in the OC.

My BOB work crew and I enjoyed:

Small plates:  Brussel Sprouts, charcuterie platter, burrata mozzarella, fried stuffed squash blossoms, and meatballs in a perfect marinara sauce.


Main plates:  Bianca Pizza with fontina, mozzarella, sottocenere & sage.  We ordered a SECOND order of meatballs to top this off!  Mozza’s version of a meat-lover’s pizza: Bacon, salame, fennel sausage, guanciale, tomato & mozzarella.  An entree salad, and a hearty braised chicken.

Our cocktails included: The Maserati (my favorite) which has Vodka, Campari, Grapefruit, Moscato d’Asti; and the Red Hook, with Rye Whiskey, Punt e Mes, Maraschino (served in a martini glass).

We always leave here stuffed, and with our eyes rolling in delight.

Baked Stuffed Portabello

Baked stuffed portabello

I came home at 9 pm last night, starving after a workout.  Looked in the fridge for something hearty that I could make QUICKLY.  I found the following ingredients:

2 large portabello mushrooms (about 4-5″ diameter)

1/4 rotisserie chicken

Shredded Italian cheese


I preheated my toaster oven to 425 while prepping:  Took off the stems and removed the gills from the mushroom (I use a grapefruit spoon to scrape these out).  I drizzled olive oil over the inside of the mushrooms, and shredded the chicken into the mushroom cavity.  Sliced up one whole avocado over the chicken (1/2 avocado on each mushroom).  Topped with cheese.  I will admit I used a lot – probably 2 oz. per mushroom, but you could use less.  Baked for 8-10 minutes, until cheese is browning.  Freshly ground cracked pepper on top.

This was SO EASY and FAST.

Next time I would do one or two things differently.  I would turn the mushroom upside down and bake it for 5 minutes before stuffing it.  Oddly, one of the two mushrooms (both identical size and thickness) was perfectly tender, but the other one could have used more cooking.  If I had pesto sauce handy, I might toss the chicken in the pesto, add some chopped sun-dried tomatoes, then the cheese.  Might omit the avocado if I had other interesting ingredients.

Basically, this is an open-faced grilled sandwich, but with mushroom instead of bread.  The mushrooms and avocado are full of minerals that are a great replenishment after a workout, so it turns out this was an ideal healthy snack.  Just random stuff from the fridge!

A Day of Divine Drinking

Most of you who know me well know that even though I talk a lot about drinking, I’m a lightweight, a “Cheap Date” as some of my friends say.  2-3 drinks in a day is a lot for me (and I don’t drink every day!).  4 drinks, and it must be a major event (like the recent Lady Gaga concert).   Yesterday I outdid myself (over the course of 10 hours), and it was a spectacular drinking day!  I feel great today, and still have a smile on my face.  Of course, the enjoyment of the drink has to do with the company too.

Starting off, we had an all-day corporate strategic planning meeting, at my house.  Since I was hosting, I offered wine with lunch.  I find it clarifies your thinking, makes you more honest and straightforward, and generally contributes to a better outcome!  (Don’t you agree?!).  So while we were working, we enjoyed:

Gary Farrell

Gary Farrell 2005 Russian River Chardonnay.  Wine Spectator rated this 93.  Notes: This 2005 Russian River Chardonnay is bursting with aromas of golden delicious apple, honeysuckle and pineapple. The wine exhibits rich, creamy flavors of lemon custard, butterscotch and hints of nutmeg in the mouth followed by citrus zest and notes of hazelnut.  This generous offering will pair nicely with rich, creamy cheeses, salads with citrus fruits and sumptuous shellfish dishes.  “Rich and expressive, with a wide range of flavors built around pear, spice, hazelnut and green apple, yet it’s also tightly focused, deeply concentrated and fresh and lively on the palate. drink now through 2010.–J.L.” – Wine Spectator  So according to WS, we were a little late, but I think it was still quite good.

Our next afternoon bottle was:

rochioliRochioli 2009 Russian River Chardonnay.  WS gave this a 93.  International Wine Spectator gave it a 91, and said: Bright gold.  Perfumed aromas of peach, tangerine, melon and flowers.  Lush, sappy and seamless, offering deep pit fruit and candied citrus flavors with nuances of tarragon and toasted bread.  Finishes very long, with enticing sweetness, a touch of lemon pith and lingering smokiness.  This is pretty complex for an entry-level wine.

After the meeting was done, a couple of us went for spa treatments to celebrate a significant work anniversary.  After that, we started our evening drinking.  First up was the Pelican Hill Resort bar’s


Lemon Drop, with Grey Goose Vodka, Luxardo Lemoncello and Fresh Lemon Juice.  This was a nice palate cleanser.

While dining at Andrea, the restaurant at Pelican Hill, we enjoyed two very nice wines:

La Scolca Gavi di Gavi

La Scolca 2010 Gavi di Gavi (Black Label).  Pale straw color, with delicate greenish highlights. Intense fruit and floral fragrance. On the palate it is strongly typical of Gavi: fruity and flinty with notes of almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts lingering in the finish. 100% Cortese.  The prestigious La Scolca “Black Label” Gavi dei Gavi is the “Grand Cru” of the appellation. The wine is produced with the utmost respect for nature, from pruning to harvest and through vinification. Grapes are sourced from estate owned hillside vineyards in the Rovereto Superiore region of the Gavi appellation. These are the oldest Cortese vines in the entire appellation averaging over 60 years old.  The Black Label is vinified according to traditional methods. The juice is vinified in neutral vessels and then aged on the lees for 9 months prior to bottling.

The ratings I saw were in the mid to upper 80’s, but I would rate it higher for my palate.

One of my companions said this wine was the love child of Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio!

Our last wine of the evening:


2008 Bouchard Pere et Fils Volnay 1er Cru “Les Caillerets – Ancienne Cuvée Carnot”

This is French Pinot Noir, from Burgundy (Chateau de Beaune).  We found that this wine changed considerably with more air and time, and by the end of the bottle, which had been decanted, it was really quite wonderful.  It paired well with the Wagyu beef that several of us had.  Here’s what the experts have said about it: 92-93 Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate: “Around 60% of the crop that informed Bouchard’s 2008 Volnay Caillerets Ancien Cuvee Carnot was spared by the July hail, and around 40% of that remainder declassified. But these circumstances still leave 8-9,000 bottles worth, which I tasted from tank. Musky narcissus, smoky Lapsang black tea, and black fruits on the nose lead to a silken-textured yet invigorating, subtly tart but berry-ripe palate suffused with chalk and savory salinity.  This finishes with precisely the sort of ‘animated interchange of fruit, mineral, and inner-mouth floral elements’ I credited to the 2006, and here the effect is both strikingly buoyant and positively reverberative. A bottle opened 24 hours earlier (for Michel Bettane, as it happens) had not lost any of its allure. I would look for at least 15 years of excitement.” (06/10)  92 points Wine Spectator: “There’s beautiful purity to the raspberry, black currant and violet aromas and flavors as this compelling red moves across the palate. There’s depth and detail, with a long, fruit- and mineral-filled aftertaste. Best from 2012 through 2024.”  (10/10) 92 points Wine Enthusiast: “Structured and concentrated, it has a silky richness that is very Volnay, while at the same time giving the bright fruits of the years. The final tastes are smoke and crisp acidity.”