Friday Night Dinners

At Mealtime Market, every Friday night Chef Thomas hosts a private dinner for about 8-10 people, reservations only.  The menu, which changes weekly, features a 3 course menu that also includes wine tasting!  At $70 a couple you start off with a choice of appetizers and soup, followed by an exquisitely prepared entrée by chef and ending with an array of sweets designed by yours truly :).

For an appetizer we had a Pan Seared Ahi Tuna served with Micro Greens and a Crisp Sesame Cracker drizzled with a Wasabi Vinaigrette.  I really enjoyed the delicate tuna with the crispness and the fragrance of the toasted sesame seeds on the cracker -- it made a great combination of textures and flavors.

If you are not a fish person you could choose the second option which was a Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup --- ooooh man this soup is delicious!  Being a huge fan of mushrooms I couldn't help but sneak a bowl of this soup.  It was rich and decadent, with a delicate earthiness in every bite.  Also since the weather is cold, nothing soothes the soul like a bowl of warm soup.

It pairs perfectly with some freshly baked bread (which we offer)! Now let's move onto the fun stuff -- the beautiful entrees!

First choice of entree would be -- Pan Seared Salmon served with Braised Spinach, Potato in a Blood Orange Bur Blanc.  The Bur Blanc sauce was rich with bright citrus notes which went perfectly with the tender salmon.  The spinach was braised with a little bit of garlic and olive oil served along side of some fluffy whipped potatoes.

Enticing, no?  The colors were really nice too, the creamy orange sauce contrasted with the blood orange slices made this dish very appealing to the eyes.  The salmon was seared to the perfect tenderness, the delicate flakes of salmon immersed impeccably with the decadent citrus bur blanc -- I would've cleaned the plate but there was another entree that needed to be tasted!

The second entree was my favorite one of the night -- Pan Seared Greek Chicken Breast in a Lemon Cream Sauce with Sauteed Cherry Tomatoes Kalamata Olives and Spinach topped with fresh Feta Cheese.  Talk about an amazing flavor combination!

The chicken was cooked perfectly, the meat was juicy and tender and immersed in the amazing lemon sauce that really gave this dish a kick.  Topped with the colorful vegetable medley and the fresh crumbled feta cheese,the only thing you'd be missing was a glass of ouzo and a loud and glorious "OPA!".

I thought the fried lemon slice was a creative twist on using the fruit, it gave the dish a nice rustic appearance (I had to ask chef if it was edible and he said it definitely ... was not :( ) The combinations of colors were beautiful, it was a color explosion on a plate!

I save the best for last of course -- DESSERT! For the dessert trio we had Huckleberry Empanadas with a Huckleberry Vanilla Coulis, a Dark Chocolate Espresso Mousse with Chantilly Cream and Chocolate Shavings and Toasted Spiced Pecans.

I really loved the empanadas, I tucked fresh huckleberries and ricotta cheese into each one.  The result?  An ooey gooey filling paired with the flaky emapanda crust, it was almost like a miniature huckleberry pie!  The smells were absolutely amazing while baking these and the huckleberry vanilla coulis further accentuated the empanada.

Next we had the Dark Chocolate Espresso Mousse with Chantilly Cream -- I love this mousse, it's fluffy and airy yet rich and decadent.  The slight bitterness of the dark chocolate and espresso was calmed by the sweet Chantilly Cream and served alongside some fresh berries and chocolate shavings? MMMM HMMM!

I whipped some up to put in our cases as well, so if any one of you are around the neighborhood you should definitely stop by and visit :) I even took it a step further and added some brownie chunks (From scratch of course!) and folded it into the chocolate espresso mousse.  Oh yeah, that's right -- Bad is my middle name!

Then we had the Toasted Spiced Pecans -- these are always wonderful as a dessert, or ontop of another dessert, or makes a wonderful mid-afternoon snack.  I like to add a kick of cayenne since the Pecans have such a high oil content, it kind of wakes up your mouth a bit.

This is usually what I do to any innocent bystanders that I find sound asleep, I simply take out a Sharpie and scribble on their face, but since I am no longer in college and rarely have sleepovers my only options are my pets.  Don't worry, I didn't draw on Lily's face THIS TIME, but next time instead of photoshop it'll be a big BLACK MARKER face :) I kid, I kid! Happy Friday folks, next week I plan on featuring an Indian Feast, Portabello Mushroom Risotto and last but not least...Turtle Cheesecake Cupcakes.

(image from

Now I usually don't enter contests and sweepstakes because honestly I never win anything so I save myself the disappointment.  HOWEVER, this contest that I got through FoodBuzz just seemed to good to pass up so here it goes.

"... Foodbuzz has partnered with S.Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water to provide the opportunity for two Featured Publishers to attend The S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition. The Almost Famous Chef Competition gives top culinary students from around the world a chance to showcase their skills to top chefs, culinary experts and media and the opportunity to win cash and a paid apprenticeship with a top chef to jumpstart their career."

Now I am suppose to tell you guys why I'd like to attend.  Well the better question should be WHY WOULD I NOT WANT TO ATTEND??? What could honestly beat eating food artistically crafted by top chefs in NAPA VALLEY? That's right, nothing.  I would spread the word by painting my entire body like the san pellegrino bottle and walk around with a huge sign that says "PICK ME TO GO TO NAPA VALLEY" -- now granted I do not have a professional body painter on hand this will just have to do...

I think if I were chosen to attend I would do a fantastic job of keeping fans posted, a play by play if you will, on this fabulous event through numerous pictures and writing.  Did I also mention that Mealtime Market uses ONLY San Pellegrino to make our Italian Sodas??? That's right we only use the best!

So San Pellegrino and FoodBuzz, pick me, Joy Zhang, to be YOUR guest at the S.Pellegrino Almost Chef Competition, I assure you you won't be disappointed :)