Baja Wines, French Country Recipes, and Halloween Desserts

Hosted by
Sang Yoon is the owner of Father's Office bar (1018 Montana Ave, Santa Monica; 310-393-2337).

On October 11, he'll be cooking a multi-course Spanish dinner with Evan at Angeli Caffe, 7274 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles. Stacie Hunt will also be serving a number of different wines and will talk about their significance. Space is still available for this fixed price dinner. Call 323-936-9086.

Stacie Hunt is wine buyer at Du Vin Wine and Spirits (540 N San Vicente Blvd, Los Angeles ; 310-855-1161)
Some of the wineries boast big, international names such as the famous Spanish bodega, Domecq. Others are small, making a few hundred cases each year. All have a personal style. The winemakers are passionate and fiercely proud of their wines. Some refuse to liken their wines to any other region in the world, declaring the soil, air and art to be strictly Baja. Every month more awards are handed to the winemakers and recently a '99 Merlot won a Silver medal at the San Francisco International Wine Competition. This is remindful of 1974, when Stag's Leap won the Silver in a blind tasting in France, changing everyone's opinion about Napa Valley.

Break out these wines with simple good food, good times and good friends, or try one of the reservas with a more complex meal, deep conversation and the same good friend(s). Start something.

There are three wineries that you can visit without reservations:
L.A. Cetto in Tijuana ( a huge business concern, likened to the Gallo family in northern California), Casa Pedro Domecq and Bodega Santo Tom-s. Others worth making reservations to visit are: Chateau Camou, Monte Xanic and Casa de Piedra. These three wineries are all international award winners.

Bodega Santo Tom-s is the oldest operating winery, founded in 1882. The winery produces Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo, and in a partnership with Wente vineyards, produces an acclaimed wine called Dueto, a 50-50 blend of Wente and Santo Tomas grapes.

Barbera: Light ruby in color with subtle berry aromas and strong spice, and little vanilla on the tongue from the oak aging, is a very easy drinking wine with anything made from tomatoes and garlic.
Tempranillo: The grape native to the Rioja region is light and tasty, not as rustic as its Spanish forebearer. It's great with Mexican food.
Chateau Camou, founded in 1995, is an ultra modern winery considered one of Mexico's finest. Robert Mondavi, no less, said to their winemaker that he made wines in the same manner as Mondavi's Opus One! No surprise, the winemaker studied in Bordeaux. They are known for crisp Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and their reserve, which is rich, deep and fully satisfying.
Fume Blanc: This SB is as rich as a Viognier. Perfumey and floral, this doesn't taste like any gringo SB on the market. Perfect with spicy food.
Vinas de Camou El Gran Vino Tinto: It's easy to see why this was the Silver Medal winner at France's Vinexpo! A Bordeaux style blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc and Merlot. Berries, vanilla, cassis, coffee. Fruity and smooth.
Monte Xanic, founded in 1988, uses both traditional and modern techniques. Yields are kept low, making the wines very concentrated in flavor. All wines are aged in French oak, giving a very international flavor and weight to the liquid. Their famous wines are a Merlot-Cab blend, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon blend.
Chardonnay: Golden straw color with apple, pear, vanilla and honey on the nose. Rich, refreshing not overburdened with oak. Finishes like a green apple. Not big, not flabby.
Cab/Merlot: Okay, all you big wine fans from Rutherford in Napa. Here's the challenger. Dark red vino with pepper, bold fruity flavors, long after the swallow. Have this with something rustic.

Suzanne Dunaway is the founder of Buona Forchetta Handmade Breads and the author of No Need to Knead, published by Hyperion Books.

Soupe de Poisson Avec Sa Rouille (Fish soup with its sweet red pepper sauce)
Serves 6

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 lbs small crabs, in the shell, or 2 pounds cooked crab, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fennel, chopped fine
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 6 large tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato concentrate
  • 1 small sprig fresh thyme
  • 1/4 inch piece bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped fine
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered saffron or a large pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 1/2 lbs small red snapper, whole if possible, cut into pieces
  • 1 lb cod, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 lb whitebait or any small fish available
  • 2 quarts vegetable, fish, or chicken broth
  • A few drops of lemon
In a large skillet or deep casserole over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the crab (if live). Cover, reduce heat, and cook for about 6 to 7 minutes. If using cooked crab, add it along with the fish. Add the chopped onion and fennel to the oil and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until golden. Add the tomatoes, the concentrate, the herbs, and the fish (and crab, if cooked), and add broth to cover. Cover and simmer on very low heat for 1 1/2 hours, adding more broth if necessary. Pass the contents of the skillet or casserole through a Moulinex or food grinder, and then pass the soup through a chinois or medium sieve. The soup should retain some texture because of the small parts of the fish which will pass through the sieve. Heat and serve with toast spread with rouille.


  • 1 egg yolk (or whole egg)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 large red pepper, grilled, peeled, and chopped
  • 1 very small dried red pepper
  • 1/2 cup stale bread crumbs
Make the mayonnaise in a blender or bowl of a food processor. Add the olive oil, one drop at a time, to the egg yolk and salt (or whole egg) until thickened. Add the rest of the ingredients and process to form a smooth, thick mayonnaise resembling aioli. Spread on toast, place the toast in soup bowls, and serve the hot soup de poisson over the toast, or serve the toast and rouille on the side and let each guest do his own. Grated Gruyere is often served with this soup, but I have never cared for it as a condiment.

Bougnettes (also called Bunyetes)
These are flat, fried cakes which swell in the oil, become crisp, and are served dusted with granulated sugar, much like beignets or doughnuts.

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 eggs
  • A few drops orange flower water
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest, grated fine
  • 1 lb all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 liter of good vegetable oil, such as sunflower or corn
  • Fine white sugar
Mix the yeast with the cooled butter to dissolve it. Beat the eggs well with the orange flower water. In a large bowl, incorporate the two mixtures, adding the flour to make a smooth ball. If it is too sticky, add a bit more flour; if too dry, add a bit more melted butter or a little water. Place the dough on a floured surface, and knead well, picking up the dough and throwing it down onto the surface. You cannot hard this dough by mistreating it! Work it until it is very smooth and elastic, as you would work brioche dough. Place in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until double, about 2 hours.

Divide the dough into golf ball-size pieces. Let rest, covered with a towel, for 10 minutes. Roll out each piece of dough with a rolling pin, making the disc as thin as possible, even transparent in some places.

Heat the oil to boiling in a skillet or deep fryer wide enough to hold 2 bougnettes, or cook them one at a time in a smaller skillet. Slip the discs into the hot oil, being careful not to get burned by the splatter. When one side is golden brown and crisp, turn the bougnette and cook the other side until golden. This will take very little time, so watch carefully that they do not burn. Remove to absorbent paper, and sprinkle liberally with sugar immediately.

Salade Colliourenc
Serves four

  • 2 large heads butter lettuce
  • 24 salted anchovies
  • 4 hard cooked eggs, quartered
  • 4 small tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 cups French green beans, cooked until very tender
  • 1 sweet red onion, sliced very thin
  • 4 Tablespoons wine vinegar
  • Juice of one quarter of a lemon
  • Large pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Divide the lettuce among four plates. Arrange the anchovies, eggs, tomatoes, beans, and onion attractively over the lettuce (tomatoes outside, anchovies in the middle, or whatever you like). Mix the vinegar and lemon juice with the salt and mustard. Whisk in the olive oil until the mixture is very creamy, or place ingredients in a blender and whiz until creamy. Pour over the salad, and serve. Avocados may be added to the salad, or hearts of palm or other cooked vegetables.

Marinated Anchovies
If you can find fresh anchovies, simply skin 1 pound, and remove the inner bone. Place them in a shallow dish, and use olive oil and vinegar in the quantities above as the marinade, adding a bit more salt to the mix. Sprinkle with fresh, chopped parsley. You may need a bit more oil and vinegar, depending on how many anchovies you come up with.

Brooke Williamson is the chef/owner of Amuse Cafe, 796 Main Street in Venice; 310-450-1956.

Brooke will be teaching some cooking classes:

  • "Holiday Treats" - Monday, October 20 - including tricks to make your favorite treats like caramel apples and pumpkin cakes irresistible.
  • "Stews and Soups" - Monday, November 17 - sure to warm the house and hearts.
  • "Art of Hors d'oeuvres" - Monday, December 15 - just in time for holiday parties and entertaining.
  • Dinner is served Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 5:30pm to 10:30pm and until 9:30pm on Sunday. Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday from 9:30am to 2:30pm.

    Pumpkin Butter Cakes

    • 4 oz butter
    • 5 1/2 oz sugar
    • 2 whole eggs
    • 1 1/2 oz all purpose flour
    • 4 oz pumpkin pur-e
    • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
    Place butter into a saut- pan and melt on high heat until slightly brown. In a bowl, place eggs and sugar and whisk until well combined. Add hot butter, pumpkin pur-e, and pumpkin pie spice and whisk. Add flour to the mixture and whisk until smooth. Ladle the batter into greased baby muffin pans and bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until slightly brown on top.

    Caramel for Caramel Apples

    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 cup water
    • 6 Tablespoons heavy cream
    Place the sugar and water in a small sauce pot and simmer on low heat. Do not stir the mixture or you will create sugar crystals. When the sugar begins to turn a rich golden brown, whisk in the cream. Let the caramel cool a bit before dipping the apples.

    Chocolate Cookies

    • 2 whole eggs
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 8 oz chocolate melted with 2 tbsp butter
    • 6 oz chocolate chips
    In an electric mixer, whisk together the eggs and sugar on medium speed. Add the cooled chocolate-butter mixture slowly. Add the flour, baking powder and salt, and mix on low speed until well combined. Add the chocolate chips by hand, and set aside in refrigerator until the dough is firm. Scoop the dough onto a well greased cookie sheet, and bake the cookies in a 350 degree oven.