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.”

Ghirardelli Ground Chocolate Cookies



I love the taste of the brownies I make from Ghirardelli Ground Chocolate, so I figured that there must be a good cookie recipe using this product. But, after much searching, I didn’t find much that looked promising. So, I made one up. My goal was to have a really easy recipe I could make with my 4-year old granddaughter. Many chocolate cookie recipes require you to refrigerate the dough before forming the cookies. Not this one! Without a 4- year old assistant, you could probably make these in 10 minutes. Really easy! And good. Chewy, chocolatey, and they freeze well too.

Ingredients for 30- 2″ cookies
1 cup Ghirardelli Ground Chocolate (not cocoa)
1 ¾ cups flour
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup mini M&M’s (or chocolate chips, or chopped nuts or any combo)

Pre-heat oven to 350o

Using stand or hand mixer, cream butter and sugar until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and mix again, 30 seconds.

Sift together flour, ground chocolate, baking powder, baking soda, salt. While mixing wet ingredients, add dry ingredients gradually. The mixture may seem too dry and crumbly – don’t worry! By hand, mix in half the mini M&M’s. Turn over dough in bowl and knead very gently until mixture starts to come together in one mass. The butter will end up holding it all together.

Use a small dough scoop to place dough on parchment lined cookie sheet, or pinch off tablespoon sized chunks, and roll gently and briefly to form smooth ball about 1 1/4” in diameter. Drop about 2” apart (they will spread during baking). I barely fit 15 on to 2 large cookie sheets. Place the other half of the M&Ms on top of the dough, and gently press them into the top of your cookie after forming the ball on the cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Don’t overbake or let them darken too much – they are better soft and chewy. Cool on cookie sheet on rack.

Banana Oatmeal Muffins – high protein, low fat, low sugar


I wanted to surprise Susi with something freshly baked this morning, and the bananas just called out. I challenged myself to make a healthier version of muffin, and the results were very good. This recipe made 18 muffins, only because I used round numbers for ingredients. To increase to 24 muffins, multiply each ingredient by approx. 1.33.

The protein comes from milk, eggs, whey, oatmeal, and there is some protein in the flour and walnuts too. I’m not a nutrition analyst, but adding it up, I’d say there was 6-7 grams of protein in each muffin. This is relatively low fat and low sugar too. If you don’t want to use Splenda, add another 1/4 cup brown sugar.

Ingredients for 18 muffins:

2 cups Flour
1/2 cup Whey protein powder (unsweetened)
1 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon

2 Eggs
1/2 cup Brown sugar
2 tbsp Maple syrup
5 packets Splenda
2 tbsp vegetable oil (canola, safflower, or similar)
1 tsp vanilla

2/3 cup low fat milk
2 mashed bananas
2 cups quick cook oats
1 cup walnuts, diced

Topping: 2 tbsp each:
Butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350. Line two muffin tins with 18 muffin papers.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, whey, cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, brown sugar, maple syrup, oil, vanilla, Splenda until silky, about 1 minute. Alternately add dry ingredients and milk, stirring with whisk, finishing with dry. Add mashed banana, then gently fold in oats and walnuts with spatula. Don’t over mix – you will limit the rise in the oven.

Fill muffin cups to below the top (these rise well). Mix together topping ingredients with a fork, and scrape into muffin cups, keeping the topping a bit loose.


Baked on middle rack for 15-18 minutes, until an inserted tester just comes out dry. Cool on rack.

By the way, Susi didn’t just get a muffin. There was also an omelet, with crimini mushrooms, scallions, Canadian bacon, avocado, cilantro, and jack and cheddar cheese. 🙂

Friday Inspiration – Resolutions Edition

disconnect - connect

Since we are in a new year, I thought I’d frame this week’s inspiration in the form of what we need to let go, and what we want to get – Things to disconnect FROM, and things to connect TO.

Happy New Year!

Friday Inspiration – 26 Acts of Kindness

26 acts

After the sadness we’ve experienced from the Newton tragedy, there is a big ray of sunshine.  A movement has sprung up called 26 Acts (hashtag #26Acts), encouraging people to actively engage in Random Acts of Kindness to remember those lost in Newton.

This has already gone viral, with the Facebook Page having 41000 likes.  Here are some resources:

Facebook 26 Acts


Twitter (search hashtag #26Acts)

Random Acts of Kindness Foundation

It’s easy:  Overtip.  Hold doors open.  Serve in a soup kitchen.  Make an extra donation.  Call someone who lives alone.  Write a note to someone who made a difference in your life.  Smile at people in stores.  Leave a dollar on the snack machine at a hospital.

Imagine if we all did 26 Random Acts of Kindness between now and New Year’s Day.  What incredible energy to send out into the universe.  We sure need it.

Happy Holidays!