We have only been to Bay Wolf, a well known Oakland, Ca., restaurant, a couple of times, but it's one of our favorite Bay Area restaurants. It produces incredible California cuisine, with a penchant for fresh ingredients and a strong inspiration from the cuisines of Italy, France and Spain. It also makes duck like nobody else. Last Christmas Mike got me the Bay Wolf cookbook, but until now I'd been too intimidated to try it. Food that great has to be difficult to prepare.
This year, though, we were in a quandary as to what to do for Mike's birthday. It was his first birthday with our daughter, and he wanted to celebrate it with her. Our original plans of having a personal chef cook us a wonderful meal fell through, so I thought I should undertake the challenge. I told Mike he could chose any recipe he wanted from the book and I'd make it, and that's what we did.
Mike was pretty kind in choosing recipes that were pretty simple. He was also adventurous in choosing dishes he would not normally request. He put together a very good menu that worked surprisingly well. For me, cooking this food was a great experience. I got to learn a little bit about how chefs go about combining flavors and textures and I got to cook food I'd normally avoid (I'm not a big fish afficionado, and a celery salad sounded just boring to me). I also challenged myself (that almond cake scared me!) and at the end felt better as to my culinary skills. The results, moreover, were great. We thought all the dishes I made were very good to excellent and are eager to try more recipes from this cookbook in the future.
I promised both Mike and I that if this culinary adventure worked well I'd initiate a new project of cooking foods from great restaurants. So this is the first step in a new journey that I'm sure we'll both enjoy greatly.
On a final note, this meal taught me that for the home chef cooking a restaurant-style meal can be more expensive than going to the restaurant itself. This is because many of the dishes require ingredients (e.g. walnut oil, sherry vinegar, almond paste) that are expensive and that you are unlikely to already have in your pantry. You may only use a little bit of them, but you need to buy a whole bottle.
Our menu consisted of:
- Celery Salad
- Sauteed Swordfish
with Red Wine-Anchovy Vinaigrette and Broccoli
- Chocolate Mousse-Filled Almond Cake
with Creme Anglaise
Bay Wolf Restaurant Cookbook
by Michael Wild et al.
Ten Speed Press