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My Love of Marcel’s Cooking Classes by Graeme Reinhart

Welcome to our guest blogger Graeme Reinhart who has been taking classes in the Marcel’s kitchen since we opened and is currently enjoying his time in our classes for 12 – 16 year olds.  Read on for more about Graeme and his love of cooking.  Thanks for sharing, Graeme!
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How long have you been taking classes at Marcels? 
I think I’ve been taking these classes for close to 6 years.  I know I was really excited when I got to start going to the Mid-Kid classes. Now I’m in the Big Kid classes. 
 
What do you enjoy most about the cooking classes?
I enjoy learning how to cook and learning new techniques, such as when we learned different knife skills.  The first trick I remember Chef Jamie teaching us was to always crack your eggs into separate bowls in case one egg wasn’t good.  I also remember the tip about washing your hands with a metal spoon to get rid of the garlic smell.  And of course, I like getting the discount to use at the end of class so I can get some new cooking gadgets. 
 
What are some key things you have learned from these classes?
The tips and tricks; why certain things in cooking are the way they are, and what gives certain foods their taste.
 
How would you like to use these skills in the future?
I want to continue to learn more advanced skills because it seems like we are refining our skills in these classes.  I like to know the correct way of doing things because the correct way is usually easier and if it is the correct way, it usually tastes better!  Chef Robin told us to always cut peppers with the skin down, that way it’s easier to cut them. She also taught us the right way to cut an onion, and I’m still trying to remind my mom not to cut the root!
 
Can you tell of a time you made the recipes outside the cooking class?
I’ve made the jalapeño coleslaw chicken sandwiches for out of state friends. I make the egg drop soup every so often as an after school snack.  I also liked recreating the lemon chicken, lasagna and a lot of the desserts too.  I still need to make the clam chowder that was so good. 
 
Do you have a favorite kind of food you like to eat?  
I’m pretty adventurous. I love trying new things so I wouldn’t say I have a favorite. 
 
Any thoughts of becoming a chef?
No, not at all.  I think it’d be difficult job, but I do want to learn how to cook better. 
 
What kind of class would you like to see that you haven’t experienced yet?
I’d like to cook foods from exotic countries and learn more advanced techniques.
 
To register for one of our fabulous kids classes, click on the appropriate age below:

Maison – Bringing The Chef To You by Paul Lindemuth

Maison is beautiful French word that, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, translates to “house, household, home.”  It is the perfect word to embody the wonderful addition to the Marcel’s and Marché family. 

Maison was launched last year, and now 4 chefs from the Marcel’s culinary team pack up their knives, pots, pans and prep gear to bring the chef experience to your home.  We also have a group of talented and professional staff working alongside us to create the perfect celebration.

Here’s how it all works:  An initial conversation with the client determines date, time and guest count as well as any specific event details. A Maison chef is scheduled and begins work on a very personal planned menu that focuses on great taste and seasonal flavors. The chef will embrace every detail of the event, assessing any dietary restrictions, the need for any rentals of tableware and linens, floral arrangements, as well as making wine and beverage suggestions.  

  On event day the chef and staff arrive early to load in, unpack, set up and complete prep and cooking.  Staff also assist with table setting, wine chilling, cocktail mixing and creating beautiful platters for passed appetizers.  Guests arrive, cocktails and appetizers flow, dinner and wine are served and dessert is presented.  At the end of the evening the chef and staff roll up their sleeves for final clean up before saying their goodbyes.   

 

We’ve had the pleasure of being part of milestone birthdays and anniversaries, a vow renewal ceremony and celebration, two full hands-on evenings where the guests prepped and cooked alongside us, as well as some fun and casual gatherings for family and friends. 

We’ve also had one event that began al fresco with a beautiful table set in the back yard.  Then the rain started.  Our team seamlessly moved everything indoors, shuffling furniture to accommodate tables and chairs, putting soggy linens in the dryer, polishing damp glassware and flatware, and resetting the tables – (all without missing a beat) while simultaneously serving cocktails and appetizers to the guests.  And never without a smile on their faces!

The greatest compliment we’ve received (and more than once) was “this was perfect and I was able to be a guest at my own party”.

So when you have an occasion for a celebration, whether big or small, formal or casual, call us and let us bring the party to your maison!

Salmon Poached in Escabeche
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 2 pounds fresh salmon, cut into 2” chunks
  2. 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  3. 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  4. 2 tablespoons sweet Spanish pimentón
  5. 2 cups virgin olive oil
  6. ⅔ cup cider vinegar
  7. ½ cup dry white wine
  8. 4 bay leaves
  9. 10 sprigs flat leaf parsley
  10. 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  11. 2 yellow onions, peeled, trimmed and thinly sliced
  12. 2 large carrots, peeled, trimmed and thinly sliced
  13. 8 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
Instructions
  1. Lay the salmon pieces in a shallow pot, large enough to keep the salmon in one layer. Sprinkle the salt, pepper and pimenton over the salmon. Toss the salmon lightly to evenly coat.
  2. Pour the olive oil, vinegar and wine into the pot. Add the thyme, parsley sprigs, bay leaves, onions, carrots and garlic.
  3. Place the pot over medium heat. Bring slowly to a boil and then turn the heat off immediately the moment the first bubble appears.
  4. Cover with a lid, set aside and let the salmon cook in the retained heat while releasing its juices, about 10 minutes.
  5. Transfer to small plates and serve with some of the poaching liquid and vegetables on top.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Garden Bounty by Julie Szimon

I love vegetable gardening!  Well, let me rephrase that.  I love to get organic plants or seeds and plant them in my garden with organic soil, water them, weed them and see what happens.  I don’t know what the PH level of my soil is.  I don’t use any chemicals to make things grow bigger.  I just plant. 

Growing up in the city, we never had a garden.  We lived in a two-flat on the north side of Chicago.  We did have an apple tree in the back yard that took up most of the space.  Each year I was allowed to climb up the tree and pick the apples on top that no one could reach.  Those apples were then cooked down by my grandmother and made into applesauce.  She would can the applesauce in mason jars so we could enjoy it all winter long. 

When we moved to the suburbs I started a small 4’x8’ vegetable garden.  As time went on, my vegetable garden grew to a 25’x35’ enclosed area with 8 raised beds and an open space for berry bushes.  Each Spring I plan out what worked well last year and I try to add something new.  I love to see how the new plants grow and what culinary creations I can come up with when they are ready for harvest. 

I like to plant peppers and the garden always produces an abundance of them.  Some sweet ones and some hot ones.  I have used them in salsas and salads and I have even pickled them.  Last year I decided to make hot pepper jelly with them.  It was so good!  I made several batches and canned it for myself and gave some as gifts.  My favorite way to enjoy the jelly is on toasted bread or crackers along with some goat cheese.  It’s sweet and hot and delicious! It also came in handy over the winter months when friends dropped in for a glass of holiday cheer. 

This year the peppers are looking good, so another batch of hot pepper jelly will be coming.  The recipe I use is great just the way it is but don’t be afraid to be creative with the pepper mixture.  I added some red peppers for color, cracked black pepper, fresh thyme and some dried lemon peel.

Hot Pepper Jelly
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Ingredients
  1. 12 oz. of jalapeno (or variety of) peppers
  2. 2 cups cider vinegar, divided
  3. 6 cups of sugar
  4. 2 - 3 oz. pouches of liquid pectin
  5. 5 - 8 oz. half pint glass-preserving jars with lids and bands
Instructions
  1. Prepare/sanitize glass jars, lids and bands per manufacturers directions.
  2. Puree peppers in a food processor with 1 cup of cider vinegar until smooth. Do not strain puree.
  3. Combine puree with remaining 1 cup of cider vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add liquid pectin and continue to boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
  4. Ladle hot pepper jelly into hot jars leaving ¼ inch headspace. Wipe rim. Secure lid and band. Process in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when pressed in the center.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Key West Chicken Wraps

Key West Chicken Wraps
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Ingredients
  1. 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  2. 1/3 cup honey
  3. 1/4 cup soy sauce
  4. 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  5. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1/4 cup sliced scallions
  7. 1 ripe mango, diced
  8. 1 avocado, diced
  9. 1 small jalapeño, minced
  10. 1/2 jicama, peeled and diced
  11. 1 head Boston leaf lettuce, separate and clean and dry leaves (or 4 soft whole grain tortillas)
  12. 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Dressing
  1. 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  2. 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  3. 1 teaspoon honey
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon white ground pepper
  5. 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange the chicken thighs in a single layer. Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over chicken. Cover dish with foil and marinade in the refrigerator for 1-4 hours. Turn chicken once midway through marinating time.
  2. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken, covered, in oven for 20 minutes. Remove chicken from oven, uncover and turn chicken pieces over, and bake for another 15 minutes, until internal temperature is 165 degrees. Dice chicken into bite size pieces.
  3. For the dressing: combine lime juice, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Whisk in olive oil. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine avocado, mango, jicama, and jalapeño. Add dressing to taste. Fold in chicken. Season, as needed, with more dressing.
  5. When ready to serve, arrange lettuce leaves or whole grain tortillas on a platter. Divide Key West Chicken Salad amongst leaves or tortillas. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
  6. Serves 4
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

For The Love Of Caramel by Paul Lindemuth

One of my favorite cookbooks is “My Last Supper” by Melanie Dunea. It is a journal where 50 great chefs were asked “if you were to die tomorrow, what would you want for your last meal on earth?’ Each chef shared their personal thoughts and requests.

I’ve often been asked a similar question when I’m teaching: “what is your favorite food or flavor?” I know the answer, hands down, to either of these questions:  Caramel.

There is something seductive about caramel and the flavor descriptors are pretty diverse:  buttery, nutty, smoky, toasted, butterscotch, burnt.

I love the chemistry part of working with caramel which begins with melting pure cane sugar and slowly controlling the temperature to turn the sugar from crystal clear to pale amber to deep golden brown. Each stage yields different flavors: pale amber is light and mild, deep amber is rich and complex. Taking the caramel beyond this point to dark caramel yields a more bitter flavor due to increased oxidation (my favorite). Additionally, heating beyond this point (which happens very quickly) will turn the caramel into a black, smoking, bitter mess as the sugar breaks down into pure carbon.

I spent the 4th of July holiday toying with this chemistry while roasting marshmallows to create S’mores. I started with that initial golden-brown crust on the marshmallows, took it one step further to dark brown (actually peeling that layer off to taste it and then putting the remainder back over the fire and tasting again). Then I let a couple of marshmallows actually catch fire and get totally charred…. not so tasty. It sure was fun playing with melted and burnt sugar!

When you peel back the layers of chemistry and technique of caramel, you can easily create some pretty amazing flavors. Patiently working with one cup of granulated sugar, ¼ cup of water to dissolve the sugar and adding 1 cup of heavy cream to the hot caramel will yield my favorite thing to eat:  perfect caramel sauce.

Salted Caramel Apple Tartlets
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup sugar
  2. ¼ cup cold water
  3. 1 cup heavy cream
  4. ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt
  5. 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  6. 4 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into thick wedges
  7. ¼ cup plus 4 tablespoons sugar
  8. ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  9. 2 tablespoons Calvados or apple brandy
  10. 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  11. 1 package frozen puff pastry thawed
Instructions
  1. In a small saucepan combine the sugar and the water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Using a pastry brush dipped in cold water, brush down any sugar particles that cling to the side of the pan. Continue to boil until the sugar caramelizes and turns a deep amber color, being careful not to let it get too dark and burn.
  2. Place the saucepan in the bottom of the sink. Carefully pour the cream into the melted sugar. The sugar will bubble violently and give off steam. Return the saucepan to low heat and stir until the caramel is dissolved and smooth. Add the sea salt and set the caramel aside.
  3. In a large sauté pan melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the apples and toss to evenly coat them with the butter. Sauté the apples until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add ¼ cup of the sugar and continue cooking until the sugar melts and the apples are caramelized, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Add the nutmeg, Calvados or apple brandy and lemon juice. Toss gently to combine. Set the apples aside. (The apples may be prepared up to 4 hours in advance, loosely covered and held at room temperature.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  6. Gently unfold one sheet of the thawed puff pastry. Cut the pastry into 4 rounds. Transfer the pastry rounds to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Using a smaller round cutter make a shallow indentation into each puff pastry round, being careful to not cut all the way through the pastry. Using a fork, evenly prick the center of each pastry inside the inner circle.
  7. Divide half of the apples into the center of the pastry rounds. Repeat with the remaining puff pastry and apples.
  8. Cut the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter into thin slices and scatter the butter evenly over the apples. Sprinkle the remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar evenly over the tartlets. Bake the tartlets until the pastry is puffed and brown and the apples are soft, about 15 to 18 minutes.
  9. Remove the tartlets from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to plates. Spoon some of the caramel sauce over each tartlet and serve.
  10. Serves 8
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Smears and Dips, Slathers and Spreads; Ode to the Condiment by Kelly Sears

I confess, I have a condiment problem.  At any given time, our refrigerator looks more like an apothecary than a cooling unit, filled mostly with big jars, little jars, half-filled jars, and jars chock full. There are smears and dips, slathers and spreads all just begging for the star protein or vegetable to give it life and make it shine.

 

We all have our favorites.  Bright, spicy, smooth, silky, or chunky, condiments are the pop, the surprise, the little something extra that elevates ordinary to extraordinary.  Condiments work because they help us achieve balance.  When making any dish, we strive for balance to make that dish a success.  Balance comes from the ying and yang of tastes like bitter vs. sweet (dark chocolate brownies) or sour vs. salty (sour cream onion dip with chips).  Richness, temperature, and texture also play a part in keeping the palate scale level.  Yet balance can’t always be achieved by one component alone; enter the condiment!

 

Let’s start easy.  Ketchup and mustard are two of America’s most popular condiments so let’s examine why they work.  Vinegar give both their tang, both are bitter and acidic with sugar, salt and spices in the blend.  Usually served with burgers, brats, sausages or other grilled meats, the richness of the meat gets relief from the acidity (so you don’t feel like you are eating a stick of butter straight up!).  The meat is usually hot, the condiments cold; ketchup and mustard are smooth while the meats have some tooth.  Thus without even knowing it, balance is achieved just by eating a burger with the works.

 

Now let’s take another step up, relish, pickles, mayonnaise, and barbeque sauce. Again, these work just like ketchup and mustard to even out the flavors of the base component.  Fatty ribs love barbeque sauce, creamy mayonnaise and blt’s are great friends, and what perfect Chicago dog isn’t topped with a pickle or relish.  Starting to make sense?

 

Okay, we’re on a roll, so let’s not stop there.  A condiment doesn’t have to be just a store-bought accompaniment to food; a condiment can also couple as a solid component to a dish.  A condiment can be a dip, drizzle or dollop over a vegetable, a slice of meat, or on grilled toast to add sparkle and spice to the final dish.

 

I feel you starting to apply the brakes – work zone ahead!  I know its summer and the last thing you want to do is spend a ton of time in the kitchen. So don’t!  Make a stop at the butcher and pick up some proteins for the week, visit your favorite farmers market for fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables and you’re almost there. We can whittle the kitchen time down to about an hour for two of my favorite condiments. Each one can be made and stored in the refrigerator for at least a week and each has multiple uses depending on your main course selection and meal time constraints.

 

Pepperonata plays nice with chicken, beef, and pork; it’s delicious added to Italian sausage, both on a bun or on a plate.  It can be a stand-alone side dish (although the true definition of a condiment is that it isn’t eaten by itself. Sssh, I won’t tell) or I like to serve it on grilled toast with a smear of ricotta or burrata.

 

The green goddess, although technically a dressing, qualifies as a smear, a dollop or a slather. It wears so many hats. This creamy green goodness is the perfect match for summer’s first bacon, lettuce and tomato; add a slice of avocado and a hard-boiled egg for an extra dose of flavor. Green goddess skips happily along when drizzled over garden fresh (or someone else’s garden!) lettuce, dolloped on cold shrimp, slathered on a roast beef sandwich, or served as a dip for roasted or raw farmer’s market fresh vegetables. A great way to utilize those fresh herbs in your garden, green goddess will make your taste buds happy.

 

The simplest definition of a condiment is that “it imparts flavor onto another food.” Beyond that, it gets subjective.  Make your own rules, combine your own flavors, find your own balance and enjoy a dip, a drizzle, a smear or a dollop of your favorite condiment.

Pepperonata (Caramelized Onions & Peppers) & Green Goddess Dressing
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Ingredients
  1. Pepperonata
  2. 2 large onions, julienne
  3. 3 large red peppers, julienne
  4. 3 large yellow peppers, julienne
  5. 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  6. 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  7. 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely diced
  8. 5 basil leaves, chiffonade
  9. 1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley
  10. 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  11. Green Goddess Dressing
  12. 1 ½ cup mayonnaise
  13. ¼ cup chopped fresh chives
  14. 3 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  15. 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  16. 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  17. 1 garlic clove, rough chop
  18. 1 anchovy filet
  19. Buttermilk for thinning (or regular milk works fine too but I like the tang buttermilk brings to the dish)
Instructions
  1. Pepperonata
  2. Heat olive oil in a sauté pan and sauté the onion, oregano, red pepper flakes, and peppers until lightly golden; this should take about 20-25 minutes, longer if you want them super caramelized and sweet. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in basil, parsley, and thyme.
  3. Green Goddess Dressing
  4. Blend mayonnaise and all other ingredients in a food processor or immersion blender. Thin with buttermilk. The consistency should work for your intended purpose. This will vary per application, thicker for a smear or a dollop, thinner for a dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Taste, adjust and enjoy!
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Maison – We Bring The Chef To You!

Whether you’re planning a casual dinner party at home or a lavish affair for a large group, Maison is a great new way to elevate your next event with the experience you have come to expect from Marcel’s! 

Weekend in Santa Fe by Robin Nathan

I’m a Western girl at heart. Any chance I get, that’s the direction I head, and I’ve just returned from a long weekend in Santa Fe, one of my favorite cities in the American west.

I met a couple longtime girlfriends there (I can’t say “old girlfriends” anymore, since we’re now actually OLD), and we ate and shopped (but mostly ate) our way through the town. If you’re unfamiliar with northern New Mexico and it’s cuisine, there are three ingredients which really define it: Hatch chilies, both green and red, and both HOT; piñon nuts, AKA pine nuts; and blue corn.

As a heat-freak, I love the fire-y Hatch chilies in everything from salsas and enchiladas to pizza and burger toppings. Locals string the red chilies together in the early fall to form ristras, allowing the chilies to dry and provide a ready supply all year. As for piñon nuts, I’ve been munching on them all my life — living on the west coast and spending time in the southwest provided easy access. One of my girlfriends on the trip, a native Midwesterner, was surprised to learn the nuts are actually harvested from pine cones. But not just any old pine tree’s cones will do – they must be from a piñon pine, the short, scrubby looking pine tree that prefers the higher altitudes of northern New Mexico and Arizona.

What’s Left of my Pancake…

Blue corn, however, is perhaps the most exotic of the cuisine’s native ingredients. Originally cultivated by the Hopi tribe of New Mexico and Arizona, blue corn is ground into a powder for use in tortillas and native breads. In the hands of white folks, it’s found it’s way into muffins, pancakes, and even pizza crust. Blue corn provides 20% more protein than white or yellow corn, and has a sweeter, nuttier flavor. Sunday morning found me and my friends feasting on delicious and lightly crunchy blue corn and piñon pancakes at the Plaza Restaurant, one of the oldest restaurants in Santa Fe, and as depicted in the name, right on the main plaza, across from the Native American artisan market. You don’t have to travel to Santa Fe to pick up some blue corn meal – look for Bob’s Red Mill at your local specialty store! Get your hands on some and try these pancakes some weekend morning soon!

Blue Corn and Piñon Pancakes with Piñon Butter
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For Pancakes
  1. 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 ½ cups blue corn meal
  3. 1 tablespoon baking powder
  4. 3 tablespoons sugar
  5. Salt to taste
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 2 ½ cups milk
  8. ½ cup buttermilk
  9. ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  10. ½ C. Piñon pine nuts
  11. Additional melted butter for griddle
For Butter
  1. 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  2. 1 tablespoon honey
  3. 3 tablespoons piñon pine nuts
  4. Salt to taste
  5. Confectioner’s sugar or maple syrup for serving
Make the Butter
  1. Using a small spatula, combine the butter, honey and piñon nuts in a small bowl and season to taste with salt. Set aside at room temperature. (Refrigerate if making more than an hour in advance, bring to room temperature before using.)
Make the Pancakes
  1. Place dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to blend. Combine the eggs, milks and melted, cooled butter in a smaller bowl or large glass measuring cup. Whisk to blend, then pour into dry ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon until just incorporated, the batter should still be a bit lumpy.
  2. Preheat a griddle to moderate heat (350 if it has a thermostat.) Lightly butter the griddle and ladle the batter onto the griddle to form the pancakes. Sprinkle with a few of the pine nuts and cook until the underside is golden, about 2-4 minutes. Turn and cook the other side. Transfer to a platter and hold in a warm oven until all the batter has been used.
  3. To serve, pile onto plates and dollop with the soft piñon nut butter. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar or drizzle lightly with maple syrup and enjoy.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/

Dining in the American Riviera by Jamie Bordoshuk

Santa Barbara is known as “America’s Riviera” for good reason. The lush Mediterranean climate, picturesque Pacific coastline, red tiled roofs and sophisticated culture make you feel like you’ve been magically transported to Spain or Italy. In addition to all of this, it also holds the title for having the most restaurants per capita on the central coast – 450 to be exact.

My wife and I were lucky to call Santa Barbara ‘home’ for the entire month of January. And we had one goal – to try as many of Santa Barbara’s restaurants as possible.

First on our list was Brophy Brothers, a Santa Barbara staple for the past 30 years that is located right in the harbor with views of mega-yachts and playful sea lions. Brophy’s wins the Best Seafood title year after year, but it’s their award-winning Brophy’s Clam Chowder that keeps the locals coming back. My bowl was brimming with big chunks of clam, russet potatoes, onions and celery in a perfectly creamy base. Top all of this off with a basket of warm sourdough and a local craft brew and I was in heaven.

For Taco Tuesday we ventured out in search of a Cali-Mex restaurant that served homemade chips and salsa, fresh flavors and strong margaritas. Walking up State Street, we came upon Sandbar, an outdoor restaurant with fire pits, heat lamps and a wonderful ‘come as you are’ vibe. The stars were aligned again as we were pleasantly surprised to hear that Happy Hour included 2-for-1 margaritas and $5 appetizers. Sandbar became our weekly ‘spot’ for the rest of our Tuesdays.

On our final weekend (with my sisters in tow), we visited Paradise Café – the first and only Santa Barbara restaurant to grill their prime steaks and fresh seafood using live wood oak. Live oak imparts the unique and pungent flavor to meats, seafood and vegetables while allowing the quality of these ingredients to come through. The savory flavors brought out by the oak allow them to keep additional seasonings to a minimum. For an appetizer, we ordered the fresh local mussels steamed in wine, butter, garlic and Pernod. Unbelievable! In addition to the flavor, each mussel was literally the size of a silver dollar. No two ways about it, we just had to order another bowl!

Although we didn’t make it to all 450 restaurants, we did put a dent in the list. You can bet that we will be picking up where we left off next year. While at home, I make this New England Clam Chowder and imagine we are harbor-side at Brophy’s.

New England Clam Chowder
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Ingredients
  1. 2 (10 oz) cans clams, with juice reserved or 2-3 pounds fresh clams
  2. 2 cups bottled clam juice
  3. 4 cups seafood broth
  4. 3 tablespoons butter
  5. 2 cups onions, small dice
  6. 2 cups celery, small dice
  7. 2 carrots, small dice
  8. 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  9. 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
  10. 2 bay leaves
  11. 3 cups potatoes, peeled and medium dice
  12. 2 cups heavy cream
  13. Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. In a Dutch oven, over medium heat, sauté onions, carrots and celery in butter, until translucent, about 6-7 minutes. Add garlic, thyme and bay leaf and sauté for 1 minute more. Add potatoes, seafood broth, reserved clam juice and bottled clam juice. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked - about 20 minutes. Add clams and heavy cream and cook another 5 minutes. If soup is too thin, mash a few of the potatoes to thicken. Season with salt and pepper.
Marcel's Culinary Experience https://www.marcelsculinaryexperience.com/