I was excited to try the restaurant FnB when I was in Scottsdale for a girls’ weekend a couple weeks ago. FnB prides itself on its “globally accented seasonal menus,” and even offers a predominantly local wine list featuring Arizona wines. Chef Charleen Badman was nominated for the James Beard Award for Best Chef of the Southwest in 2014 and 2015, and the restaurant itself has won numerous awards since it first opened in 2009.
The restaurant is located inside the charming Craftsman Court in downtown Scottsdale. It was warm and cozy, with unique art on the walls. Our waiter encouraged us to order all of our dishes to share as a table, which was a great way to sample much of what the restaurant has to offer. Many of the dishes were hits, though there were a few disappointments. But the menu was creative and fun, and full of fresh local produce.
Yesterday we hosted my family at our home in San Francisco for a belated Thanksgiving Day celebration. Jack and I served Williams Selyem’s Holiday Cioppino with roasted seasonal vegetables (butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and carrots). For dessert I served a homemade almond cake with vanilla ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery. My family members contributed a delicious cheese and charcuterie platter, good bread from Della Fattoria, and a delicious lactose-free pumpkin pie (made by a certain lactose-intolerant family member who will remain nameless). And all day long we enjoyed our favorite wines from Williams Selyem, Kosta Browne, and Bacigalupi.
Jack and I have been wine club members at Williams Selyem for several years now, and one thing we always look forward to with our biannual wine pickup is the seasonal recipe that is included. We always make a point of trying out these recipes, and they have yet to let us down. Each recipe also includes a recommended Williams Selyem wine pairing.
The first (and favorite) recipe we tried was for Holiday Cioppino. Cioppino is a fish stew that originated in San Francisco’s North Beach (“Little Italy”) in the late 1800’s by Italian fishermen (mostly immigrants from the port city of Genoa). It is traditionally made from the “catch of the day,” which typically includes Dungeness crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, squid, mussels, and fish (all from the Pacific Ocean). The seafood is combined with fresh tomatoes in a wine sauce and served with toasted bread (preferably local sourdough).
Jack has made this Holiday Cioppino on several occasions: Thanksgiving for the two of us (when I had to work), dinner parties with friends, and (just yesterday) Thanksgiving dinner for my whole family (nine of us total). Jack has made modifications to the recipe over the years, but the base of the soup has stayed pretty much the same. It’s a great treat on these cold winter nights!
One of the benefits to living in San Francisco is its proximity to so many great weekend destinations. Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Big Sur, Carmel, Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino are all within driving distance, and completely doable for a weekend escape from city life.
One of our favorite weekend spots is the town of Healdsburg, which is located in Sonoma County, along the Russian River. This town has definitely undergone a transformation over the last two decades, as the critically-acclaimed wine regions of Russian River, Dry Creek, and Alexander Valley made it a popular tourist destination; high end hotels, fancy restaurants, and a revitalization of the town square quickly followed.