Sunday, August 22, 2010

California Road Trip: Food and Scenery

I just returned from another fabulous trip to Southern California. This time Lori and I began our adventure in Marina Del Rey and Santa Monica.

We then headed south to San Diego and west to Coronado Bay to enjoy the scenery and magnificent sunsets, not to mention the long awaited late afternoon and dinner reunion with 2 of my favorite cousins Peter and Jane in their fabulous (I want to live there) town of Ocean Beach.

And then we were off to Murrietta Hot Springs (slightly north and most definately east of San Diego) to the desert and valley of the SoCal wine country where we took in the surrounding mountains and experienced the pleasant, dry heat of the dessert. We enjoyed another reunion with extra-special friends we hadn't seen in over 15 years, dining outdoors at Ponte winery. We indulged in Ponte wine, great conversation, belly laughs and tears (mostly mine), fabulous food and a marvelous fine-mist spritzing devise that kept us cool in the desert heat. Heavenly. Just heavenly.

But this is a cooking blog right? So let's get down to business. I'd like to talk about the one constant I experienced at just about every meal I enjoyed- the Avocado. It first appeared in a guacamole as a garnish in some fish tacos I ate (at 2 separate times), then in a vinaigrette on my lobster and crab cobb salad and later as an olive oil infused dipping sauce for the freshly baked bread at the winery. This is some versatile fruit I'm talking about. So when I got home I pulled out my food benefits chart and checked out what this baby has to offer. So after you read the next sentence, fasten your seat belts and run right out and get yourself some of this healthy goodness. Here are the benefits: Avocados battle diabetes, lower cholesterol, help stop strokes, control blood pressure and smooth your skin. Not bad for a bumpy, alien-looking little piece of fruit!

A while ago I came up with an avocado cream cheese spread that works beautifully on toasted or grilled bruscetta. Or as a dip for chips or raw veggies and a sandwich spread (instead of mayo or mustard or ketchup).

Avocado Cream Cheese Spread
Serve on 1 loaf (1 lb) French baguette sliced and toasted

1 avocado sliced
1 tsp Dijon mjustard
Juice of one lemon
8 oz pkg Philadelphia reduced fat cream cheese softened to room temp
2 cloves garlic chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup fresh tomatoes small dice
1/4 cup red onion small dice or substitute 2 T fresh chives chopped

Put all ingredients (except garnish) in food processor or blender and mix until combined. Refrigerate an hour or two to let the mixture set up and the flavors meld. Meanwhile chop garnish ingredients and set aside. Top toasted bruscetta with avocado spread and garnish with 1/2 tsp of tomato mixture.

Now let's tackle the sandwich spread I mentioned a minute ago. The sandwich I love with this spread I call an ABLT: Avocado Spread, Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato. Omit the mayo you usually slather on since you're getting a lot more flavor from the avocado spread. Avocado tastes great with bacon. And tomato. And lettuce. And bread. And remember there's some cheese in this spread which also tastes great with all of the above. And if you want to really take it over the top, sprinkle on some crumbled blue cheese, which ALSO tastes great with everything on this sandwich. I can go on and on about the use of avocados and cheese, but it's late and I'm once again on east coast time. So for now, goodnight and enjoy!


Lori said...

Great post and great photos!

Linda said...

Thanks Lori- I had great company too!