Black Dogs & The Cypress Inn – Carmel-by-the-Sea

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Cypress Inn Carmel, California

 

There are few things in life that a day or two in Carmel, California can’t cure.  The Cypress Inn on the corner of Lincoln and 7th is in the heart of this seaside town.  Surrounded by quaint shops, restaurants and galleries and a mere few blocks to Ocean Beach it is the perfect boutique hotel experience.   For an additional $30 the hotel will allow your dog to be their pampered guest.  They provide dog treats, a dog blanket and water and food bowls for your room.  Established in 1929, the Cypress is beautiful and reminded me so much of being in Paris.  Our room was small, but the hotel had an elegant room with a stone fireplace to sit and read with your dog at your feet.  Later in the evening the hotel provided entertainment and a classical guitarist played into the night.  We had a wonderful dinner on their patio in front of a big fire with the waves crashing in the distance.

In the morning the hotel provided a delicious breakfast with eggs, country potatoes, fruit and a to die for pastry selection (this was amazingly included with your room).  The mini chocolate croissants were some of the best I’ve ever had.  Later that day we ordered pizza and ravioli  from one of my favorite restaurants, El Fornaio, at the Pine Inn, which is on your way to the beach. We had a glorious picnic looking out over the ocean with our dog.  There are also dozens of restaurants that take dogs and some even provide a dog food menu.

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Ocean Beach, Carmel

Carmel is definitely a dog friendly town and Polly Lou had a blast.  This was one of our favorite trips to Carmel ever.

When I started this blog about my favorite things I knew I wanted to write about dogs.  To say that I love dogs is an understatement.  I am in love with our dog.  Almost eight years ago I decided that a dog was the only thing that our family lacked.  I was warned by friends and family that once the dog was no longer a cute puppy the kids would want nothing to do with it.  The wise advised me not to get a dog unless I was ready to be the sole care taker.  I had grown up with a black lab named Sport that I loved, but was horribly allergic to.   I began my search looking for a Labradoodle which is a crossbred dog created by crossing the Labrador Retriever and the Standard, Miniature or Toy Poodle. The term first appeared in 1955, but was not popularized until 1988, when the mix began to be used as an allergen-free guide dog.

Over several months I researched dogs and looked at so many dog website that I saw nothing but dogs in my dreams.  White and fluffy, cinnamon and chocolate brown.  Little dogs in baskets and little puppy mug shots.  I was ready to buy a grey Labradoodle from Bakersfield when one last Google search put a beautiful black Goldendoodle on the screen.  This was the closest to love at first sight that I have ever experienced.  She had the most beautiful nose for a dog.  I started to read all of the reviews from people who had bought dogs from this breeder and the common thread in all of the reviews was how funny the dogs were.  As someone with a keen sense of humor I kept wondering how could a dog be funny?  Well, I was about to find out.

Along Came Polly

Polly has done nothing but make our lives happier.  We all love her and although I do spend the most time with her everyone participates in her care.

If you are in need of a get away, and would like to take your dog along, the Cypress Inn in Carmel provides a unique and magical experience.

 

 

Chicken, Whiskey and Wild Rice Soup

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Chicken, Whiskey & Wild Rice Soup

 

I apologize for having taken such a long break from my blog, but I have missed it and I am back.  I will be adding lots of recipes  as we all start to cook for the holidays.  I made this delicious soup for MYSELF a few Friday nights ago.  I was craving something and couldn’t quite put my finger on it and I had these ingredients on hand and at about 8 p.m. I just started cooking.  It came together really fast and was a nice late dinner for the kids as they came rolling in with friends later that night. Simmering soups are great for two reasons, they make your home smell wonderful (especially when using this combination of spices) and the soup doesn’t need to be pulled out and reheated as loved ones come home.

Pantry Recipes

This is almost a pantry recipe.  By this I mean most of these ingredients should already be on hand.  In my book Real Food for Real People I provide a list of what is needed for a well stocked pantry and it’s a good idea to have several no fail recipes that you can make without much notice (read hungry teens and friends).  My favorite is Penne Pasta with Pancetta  and Peas (recipe in Real Food for Real People).  I almost always have these ingredients and can make dinner for 10 in about 20 minutes.  For this soup, I already had frozen chicken breast, chicken stock in a box, wild rice in the pantry and a few carrots and some celery in the fridge.    The only thing I typically don’t have is a little fresh cream.   It’s a good idea to always have some fresh cream because it does last a long time and it’s nice if others take cream in their coffee.  I also put bourbon whiskey in this!  Maker’s Mark to be exact.  I love a little alcohol to bring out the flavor in these ingredients.  You can also use white wine or some dry sherry.

Adapting Recipes

Below is the recipe I started with.  It is so important to learn to adapt recipes to your personal tastes.  I like deep complex flavors, so I added some complimentary spices that I personally love.  I don’t like to put flour in my soups because I don’t like them that thick.  I find organic ingredients make a big difference in a soup as opposed to a cookie (e.g. an Oreo tastes great even if not organic).  I also love carrots, but celery not so much.  And I can NEVER make anything without some fresh garlic.  Because of the kids (now teens) I used a wild rice medley.  A pure wild rice would provide an unfamiliar color contrast to the soup that I knew the kids wouldn’t like.  Most kids like white starches making the medley a nice compromise.

Experimenting last winter with flavors I found I loved dried tarragon in most anything.  I also like my onion almost nonexistent.  I know it adds great flavor, but I never want to see it in a soup, so I dice onions very small.  When I read this recipe I thought it might be a little bland for my tastes, but by using just a small amount of dried spices like tarragon paprika and curry I was able to pump up the flavor.  The fresh garlic and whiskey didn’t hurt either.

 

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Original Recipe

 

Sydney’s Chicken, Whiskey & Wild Rice Soup

Ingredients

4 tbsp unsalted butter

2 celery stocks rinsed and chopped into small pieces

4 carrots cut into small pieces

2 cloves of finely chopped fresh garlic

1 small onion diced fine

2 lbs. chicken breast cut into bite size pieces

1 1/2 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme

1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon each salt and white pepper

1/4 Whiskey

2 quarts organic chicken broth

2 cups water

1 cup wild rice medley (combination of brown and wild rice)

1 cup fresh whipping cream

Preparation

Melt the butter in a large soup pot or deep dutch oven and add celery, carrots, garlic and onion.  Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes and then add the raw chicken, fresh thyme, tarragon, paprika, curry and salt and pepper.  Stir well and cook until chicken turns white and then add the whiskey and cook for anther 2 minutes.   Ingredients should be well incorporated.  Add the broth and water and bring to a soft boil then add the rice.  Reduce heat and allow to simmer as long as you can stand it (1-2 hours).   Add the cup of fresh cream and allow to heat through before serving.

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