December Feasting

Fresh sea urchin in Santa Barbara, right off the boat. Whole roasted, bone in rib-eye cooked by yours truly only to be followed up by braising the bones and pulling the meat for Bolognese the following night. Lobster tails on Christmas Eve. Hand-made pasta at Cousin Vince's house paired with one of the first wines I ever made, a 2007 Dry Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. Freshly made cannoli by Mom.


I lost track of how many times I had rib-eye over the month of December. House to house, night to night, city by city it seemed rib-eye was being served. The only break in the rib-eye action was on Christmas Day when Cousin Jeff brought over some antelope (outstanding) and wild duck breasts from three different types of ducks, canvasback being one of them. Delicious (please ignore the unceremonious plating job). Wild ducks are not what most people are used to being served in restaurants, there isn't much fat on these, but the breast meat has a depth of flavor that rivals almost any beef. Cabernet is still too harsh for duck, but Pinot shines with duck, and I've always got some Pinot on hand.

From the Cellar a 2007 Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

From the Cellar a 2007 Dry Creek Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


It was a fantastic December of family, friends, food and drink. A great way to end 2016.

Mammoth Food and Wine Experience 2016

Another year, another Mammoth Food and Wine Experience in the books. 

Rock Creek Lake

Rock Creek Lake

I look forward to this event each year. The Experience benefits the Mammoth Lakes Foundation. From their website:

Mammoth Lakes Foundation is dedicated to supporting higher education and cultural enrichment in the Eastern Sierra. Successes include:

  • Supporting the establishment of Cerro Coso Community College/Mammoth Campus
  • Owning and operating a state-of-the-art student apartment facility
  • Owning and operating a 100-seat performing arts theatre and providing a season of live theatre productions and cultural programming
  • Providing 600+ college scholarships for Cerro Coso College to date to local students since 2000
  • The Foundation holds 40 acres of land for future community benefit in the desirable South Gateway corridor of town
  • Future plans include creating a culinary school and cultural center on the Mammoth Campus

Paradise Patio Party Couscous Recipe

Paradise, California. 

There is such a place. It's just off Highway 395 nestled in at 5,200 feet. I've been to a few patio parties there in the last couple years. For this party, I prepared a couscous salad, along with my tri-tip beef skewers. 

Here's the recipe for the couscous salad:

Cooked Couscous
4 cups Couscous
4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup olive oil
Follow package instructions for the cooking of the couscous.

After couscous is cooked, let cool on an oiled large sheet tray so that the couscous can be worked over by hand. Using your hands (kitchen gloves make this easier and less messy), make sure the couscous is coated in the olive oil. Break up any clumps of couscous with your hands. This will prevent it from clumping up later if you are making your couscous in advance and it sits. Couscous should be “light and fluffy” not clumpy and starchy. 

For the dressing
1 small handful of fresh mint, chiffonade
4 red bell peppers, minced
10 green onions, minced
½ cup Olive oil
½  cup Rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Ras el Hanout (to be found at places like Trader Joe’s and Cost Plus)
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a large bowl and allow ingredients to marinate together for an hour. This will help soften the edge of the bell peppers and green onions.

Combine Couscous and Dressing

Combine the cooled couscous and the dressing together in the large bowl. You can serve immediately or hold for a couple hours at room temperature.

If I may be so bold, grilled tri tip skewers and couscous salad pair really well with my Cabernet Cuvee. Yes, that is a picture of several red wines kept cool on ice. It's 100 degrees in Paradise at 5pm in the summer, I wouldn't want to drink my red wine either if it were "room temperature"!


Dry Creek Valley, Mammoth and Cabernet

As much as I'd like to think I don't have a pattern or a routine, I'm as guilty as my parents for being somewhat habit bound. Thanks to some online tools at for figuring this out, I seemed to write and post in 2015 about:

  1. Dry Creek Valley

  2. Mammoth Lakes

  3. Cabernet

As a winery owner who travels a lot around California, I suppose it's not so bad that I'm spreading the word about Dry Creek Valley, Cabernet and Sangiovese in towns like Mammoth Lakes, Healdsburg and Fresno.

So it seems only natural in this blog post to have you check out our Signature Cabernet Sauvignon from Dry Creek Valley! 

A look back at McGee Creek this Summer

Without any break in the schedule, I went from cooking in McGee Creek at Crowley Lake to Healdsburg over the course of a weekend to begin harvest. So, it's time to catch up on one incredible summer on the East Side.

First, I want to thank Elizabeth, Scott and the kids, without Elizabeth's invite to be in McGee (and the leap of faith in me that I can pull it all off), none of this unique experience happens. Elizabeth allowed me to have tremendous freedom in her kitchen, that level of trust is a rare thing indeed, and for that I am grateful. Thank you Elizabeth for the opportunity and your trust in me. To the kids, Owen and Esha (June won't be far behind), who call me "David Scheidt", not Dave or David, but "Dave Scheidt" thanks for making me laugh each time I hear it (cause it is funny). Scott, thanks for being there when I really wanted to use a Star Wars or superhero reference and Elizabeth would have no idea what I was talking about. Joking aside Scott, I appreciate the help at the wine dinners and crunch times during the season; we needed all hands on deck and those extra hands made each night run that much more smoothly.

To the locals at McGee: Walkers, Slaters, and Meadway (plus Floyd and Dre), I appreciate each of you opening your homes, sharing meals, and bonfires; those are some of my best memories of summer. I got to know many people from the communities of Mammoth, Crowley, McGee, Paradise, Mono, June, and Bishop throughout the summer. Many came in week after week for fresh pasta Friday, some slow-cooked goodness on Saturday or the Sunday Sandwich. I, in turn, got to visit those communities and the people in them. To each of you, THANK YOU. 

I wanted to share a note attached to a beer given to me by one of the guys I worked with, Kyle. He uses the formal title on the note "Chef" rather than David which is a big deal. It speaks to the thoughtfulness and genuine nature of many of the people that I have come to know on the East Side. "A little taste of home" as he put it to me when he gave me the beer and the note. Thanks Kyle.

Taste of Home

Lastly the food. I've put a small collection of photos together of some of the food I cooked this summer. Gluten-free...been there, done that. I crafted a different gluten-free (and vegan in many cases) bowl every single weekend this summer, without a repeat and every one from scratch. 

To balance out the number of gluten-free bowls I cooked, I cooked pounds and pounds of pasta. Pasta with red sauce, primavera, tomato cream and alfredo were all featured. But the runaway favorite was arugula pesto. I put arugula pesto on everything from sandwiches to vegetables. The runaway pasta shape, cannelloni, without question.

For every gluten-free bowl I made, I made two bowls of bread pudding. Vanilla, Chocolate, Mixed Berry, and Vanilla-Cinnamon were my regular offerings. People love bread pudding...don't fight it.

Again, thank you to everyone that came to McGee Creek this summer. I had a remarkable experience with wonderful people. 

Brunch, Lunch and a Wine Dinner

It's been just over two weeks since I've settled into McGee Creek and the East Side (a.k.a. Mammoth Lakes) and my summertime cooking gig.

I've visited an organic farm, Apple Hill Ranch near Bishop, got invited to a BBQ in Paradise, made an apricot dressing for the first time, co-hosted a wine dinner and cooked several meals at McGee Creek (and poured a lot of wine).

Savory scone, with country gravy and a runny egg

Savory scone, with country gravy and a runny egg

Bowl of Chicken Pho

Bowl of Chicken Pho

Winemaker David Scheidt snacking on eggplant parmigiano scraps

Winemaker David Scheidt snacking on eggplant parmigiano scraps

Chicken and eggplant parmigiano over polenta

Chicken and eggplant parmigiano over polenta

83 Dishes means...someone has to do dishes before we serve dessert

83 Dishes means...someone has to do dishes before we serve dessert

Cooking in Mammoth Lakes this Summer

It's going to be a great summer in the Eastern Sierra!

I'm cooking all summer long, starting Friday, June 12 in Crowley Lake as the guest chef at the McGee Creek Lodge, just south of Mammoth Lakes. As many of you know, I love being on the East Side of California and I also love to cook, so why not combine them, right?

David Scheidt, Winemaker and Cook

David Scheidt, Winemaker and Cook

I've been no stranger to The Lodge and East Siders' the last two years, cooking on and off; everything from the El Super Burrito to fresh pastas and slow cooked pork barbecue. I've even widened my own culinary horizons creating vegan and gluten-free dishes. Lots of these favorites will return during the summer, especially the El Super Burrito.

So what's new? I'm committing to Fresh Pasta Friday, which means I'm making and rolling fresh pasta dough every single week, no exceptions! So expect to see ravioli, pappardelle, tagliatelle, agliotti and gnocchi a lot.

Pappardelle Bolognese

Pappardelle Bolognese

Garden fresh is another goal. I was able to use the resources right outside my kitchen door last year, lettuce, tomato, squash, herbs, whatever else I can get and I'm going to do it again for guests all summer.

Thirdly,  brunch!!! Think savory scones, fresh frittata, chicken fried steak and my personal favorite Uova al purgatorio or Eggs in Red Sauce. Hearty food, fresh food, great food. And yes...there will be more house cured bacon.

Don't forget, live music every Saturday night at the McGee Creek Lodge (which is why I've included the music schedule through 4th of July weekend). I hope to see you this summer on the East Side.

Summer Dinner and Sunday Brunch Hours
Starting June 12 in Crowley Lake at The McGee Creek Lodge

Friday 5:00 - 9:00pm
Saturday 5:00 - 9:00pm
Sunday Brunch 10:00am - 3:00pm

Live Music Schedule
Music Starts at 6:30pm

Greg and Gilly            June 6
Double Coyote            June 13
Cruiseship Volunteers        June 20
Driftwood Creek            June 27
Good Medicine    (Friday)    July 3
Bodie 601    (Saturday)    July 4

Sunday Funday in June Lake

The combined Valentine's Day and President's Day weekend on the East Side was a great couple days away.

After the all-day prep session and cooking marathon for a full house of guests on Saturday night, Sunday started slowly but not without a plan. I did have an objective: Find the Ohanas395 food truck and drink some beer. Fortunately, both could be accomplished in June Lake.

I'd eaten from Ohanas395 before, during Burger Battle 2014 at the Mammoth Food and Wine Experience. The Ohanas395 burger incorporated exactly what they set themselves out as, Hawaiian inspired cuisine, not a standard ketchup, lettuce, mayo, mustard profile. Personally, I loved the burger. It reminded me of Burger Battle 2013, when Chef Bruce Kalman used pork belly and Kim-Chee on his burger.  

Ohanas395 burger at the Mammoth Food and Wine Experience 2014

Ohanas395 burger at the Mammoth Food and Wine Experience 2014

However, since Burger Battle, I haven't been at the right place, right time to catch Ohanas395, until now.

I drove over to the June Lake Brewery where Ohanas395 is parked for the winter season. The Ohanas trailer is easily spotted, painted orange and all alone in the parking lot. Some would argue that ordering one of the specials, the ahi poke salad with rice, would have been a risk so far away from the ocean. Not so. The ahi had great color, looking to be center cut and of high quality. June Lake Brewery allows Ohanas395 patrons to bring their food inside and order up some beer; the Alpers Trout Pale Ale seemed the natural pairing with my ahi poke.

For dessert, there was only one thing to get. Doughnut holes. Fantastic. An absolutely great piece of fried bread (and some great beer).

Fried goodness from Ohanas395

Fried goodness from Ohanas395

Relaxed after the weekend festivities, I headed out the following morning for Healdsburg. See you again soon, East Side.

Valentine's Dinner and Sunday Funday

It's been at least a month, so I must be traveling to Mammoth Lakes and the East Side (and then back up to Healdsburg...deja vu all over again)

Valentine's Dinner is usually one of the busiest nights in the restaurant trade and the East Side is no exception. The wrinkle is that the crowd at Crowley Lake is not just couples coming for dinner, rather, whole families are coming in for dinner and listening to bluegrass. 

The dinner menu at the McGee Creek Lodge Valentine's Day:

Cream of Mushroom Soup
Wedge Salad with Bleu Cheese Dressing with bacon and croutons
Roasted Chicken with Quinoa salad of yams, dried apricots and dates in a Meyers lemon vinaigrette
Pot Roast, Potato and Root Vegetables with pan gravy
Chocolate Mousse
Bread Pudding

Prep for dinner started on Friday night when I arrived, trimming and seasoning my chicken and pot roast. The pot roast needed to be perfectly fork tender, so an early morning start in the oven was essential. Seasoning was basic, salt, pepper, carrots, onions, celery, bay leaf, water and Cabernet Sauvignon

Pot Roast is the perfect pairing for Cabernet Sauvignon

Pot Roast is the perfect pairing for Cabernet Sauvignon

As much as I'm a fan of meaty proteins and plenty of gluten, not everyone else shares my enthusiasm. Therefore, I often create at least one dish that is vegetarian, vegan and/or gluten free. Taking a page out of a recent trip to Santa Barbara, I reinvented my quinoa and butternut squash dish and used it as both a side to my roasted chicken entree and as a stand-alone meal for any vegans that walked in.

Quinoa with yams, dried apricots, dates and chives in a Meyers lemon vinagrette

Quinoa with yams, dried apricots, dates and chives in a Meyers lemon vinagrette

Finishing the evening were a couple desserts, Chocolate Mousse and Bread Pudding. I used sourdough bread as my base for the bread pudding. Just good old fashioned sourdough bread. Then I soaked it in cream, eggs, vanilla, sugar and maple syrup before I baked it in the oven.

Bread Pudding and Chocolate Mousse for dessert

Bread Pudding and Chocolate Mousse for dessert

Part two of the blog post title, Sunday Funday is up next. I check out Ohanas Food Truck in June Lake at the June Lake Brewery.