A pat on the back to chef...

A pat on the back to chef Robert Pugh, of the Ojai Valley Inn, who competed last week in the semifinal round of the Evian Healthy Menu Awards competition.

Unfortunately, Pugh's vegetable Napoleon with roasted sweet pepper coulis lost out to a dish prepared by chef Michael Kang of Five Feet Restaurant in Laguna Beach. Had he advanced to the finals, Pugh would have been asked to cook up a meal at New York's prestigious James Beard House.


Speaking of the James Beard House, that's where Gerard Thompson, executive chef at the Stonehouse Restaurant at San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, has been invited to do his thing Oct. 5. He was selected by Country Inns Magazine as part of the publication's dinner series there.

A sampling of his planned menu: sweet potato cake with smoked salmon tartar; Maine lobster and wild rice sope with citrus sour cream; duck and mushroom ravioli in dried berry broth with butternut squash; pan-seared yellowfin tuna wrapped in apple-smoked bacon with foie gras mashed potatoes and caramelized onion sauce; cornmeal buttermilk pear buckle with wildflower honey.


Here's something that's good on the palate and on the palette.

Camarillo artist Pamela Solakian just completed work on the newest labels of three Daume Winery offerings. Her watercolor rose will adorn bottles of the Camarillo winery's Vintners Cuvee, the Vintners Reserve Chardonnay, and the Oregon Pinot Noir.

Solakian and the winery folk chose the rose for the Daume labels based on a customer survey taken at a pair of wine tastings.

"There's a lot of softness in the roses. I used the peace rose, which is a yellow-centered rose with tips that are more of a pinkish color," said Solakian. "The yellow goes well with the Chardonnay and the pink works well with the other red wines."

Solakian's art and the Daume wine will be on exhibit at the seventh annual "Wine Festival Alfresco," Sunday at the Adolfo Camarillo House in Camarillo.

About 70 wineries and 37 restaurants are scheduled to bring samples of their product. The festival will run from 1 to 4 p.m. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the gate, with all proceeds benefiting the Boys & Girls Club of Camarillo. Call 482-8113. The Camarillo House is at 3771 Mission Oaks Blvd.

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