Saturday, October 16, 2010


Goodness, it's been a month since I returned from vacation. But I can't resist sharing photos from our Lake Tahoe day, which started with a splendid omelet, if I do say so myself. Stuffed with the previous night's leftover grilled veggies and extra ricotta/herb filling from my foray into stuffing squash blossoms, it made for a fortifying breakfast before set out for Tahoe, just an hour away.

On our way out of Placerville, on a tip from my cousin Heather, we stopped at Beyond Baked, which had an outstanding array of sweet and savory baked goods. As soon as I saw this foccaccia with tomatoes, red onions, and cheese, I knew I had to buy it to round out our evening meal. Good thing we arrived early or they would have been sold out.

I'll get back to dinner later. Here are some sights from our approach to Tahoe's south shore.
And here are some shots as we wound our way around Emerald Bay. On a day this clear, you could see why it is aptly named, and one of the most photographed spots at Tahoe. The color of the water reminded me of Cozumel.
Someday I'd love the chance to drive around the entire lake - some 72 miles, google tells me. But I suspect that trying to do that in a single day would either be overly ambitious or insufficient to appreciate all Lake Tahoe has to offer. Once I saw the vastness of the lake, it reminded me of the time I was intent to visit the Grand Canyon plus Bryce and Zion National Parks in the space of three days from Phoenix. (There's nothing like being made to readjust your expectations when you suddenly find your keys locked in the car trunk on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, shivering as the sun goes down, trying to find help, and wondering where you'll end up sleeping for the night. In that case, I think it was the universe's way of reminding me to slow down, and fortunately I had a later opportunity to spend a full week between Bryce and Zion.)

As for our day at Tahoe, we saw a lot, but definitely took our time. One treat was to walk the trail from the Taylor Creek visitor center.
This walk through the marsh leads to the Stream Profile Chamber, a semi-underground area with aquarium-style windows where you can view the local fish. It's especially popular during salmon season - Marilyn tells me there was a big celebration last week.

We also checked out the Tallac Historic site, Camp Richardson, and the beach in front of a restaurant called the Beacon, where you can rent all manner of boats.
After an idyllic few hours taking in the scenery, we ventured into the city of South Lake Tahoe. What an overgrown tourist town that was! And as you continue along Route 50, you're suddenly in the town of Stateline, Nevada - you know you're there when the casinos are suddenly doing everything they can to grab your attention. Not being inclined to gamble, we decided it was time to head back, albeit it after an unsuccessful shopping break at an outlet mall and a stop at Starbuck's so Marilyn could grab a little something to sustain her for the drive back.

Fortunately, dinner that night didn't take much work, just some slicing and assembly. Using salmon we'd grilled the night before (I was planning ahead), I made salmon-watermelon salad. When I first  heard of this dish several years ago, the combination of salmon, watermelon, tomatoes, olives, mint, and feta struck me as so unlikely that eventually I had to break down and try it. Although new to me, apparently it's not uncommon in parts of the south. In any case, I've come to love it and have always found it to be a crowd-pleaser.

Here's another one of my non-recipe recipes, where I'll leave it to you to determine quantities based on your preferences and the number of people you're cooking for.

Salmon (sauteed, baked, grilled - I've even done it in the microwave), cut or torn into bite-size pieces
Watermelon, cut into bite-size pieces
Olives - I like kalamatas
Tomatoes, sliced or, if small, halved (for this meal, we were lucky to have some heirlooms left over from Ferry Plaza farmers market, along with some grape tomatoes from Marilyn's garden)
Onions, sliced - red onions add color; green onions have less bite
Cheese - the original recipe calls for feta, which works great. I've also sometimes used a blue cheese and been very happy with it.
Herbs - the original calls for mint, which is a great, fresh complement to the salad. I also like basil and even dill on occasion. With so many lovely herbs in Marilyn's garden, I used both mint and basil that night, and may have thrown in a few others for good measure.
Dressing - the Fines Herbs Vinaigrette I mentioned in the recipe for my chicken salad works great with this dish too. Or you could just drizzle with olive oil and vinegar, which is what I did this time.

I usually serve this salad on a bed of greens, although it is a satisfying entree with or without greens. Feel free to play around with whatever other ingredients appeal to you or that you have available too. Sometimes I add bell pepper. We had so much squash from Marilyn's garden that I sliced some raw for a little extra color this time around.

A couple of other notes. This is a salad that works just fine at room temp and is great for a buffet where it may be sitting out for a while. (It certainly worked well that way when I offered it as one of two mains for my father's 70th birthday surprise party several Junes ago.) If you're preparing ahead, you may want to wait to add the watermelon until serving time - the sweetness of the watermelon juice is a nice addition to the rest of the ingredients, but you don't want the salad to get waterlogged.

So after our fine day of outdoor exploration at Lake Tahoe, we had another fine al fresco dinner - salmon salad, that bread from Beyond Baked (which tasted every bit as good as it looked), and, of course, some wine.

Later that evening, I ensconced myself in my room to watch the premiere of Top Chef: Just Desserts. There came a knock at the door, and look what Marilyn had whipped up for dessert? What tasty - and fitting - little morsels to end the day.


Chef Dennis Littley said...

I have never been to Tahoe, it looks spectacular!! that salamon salad is really thinking outside the box, what a unique combination of flavors! I love it!!

Kelly said...

Delightful and Delicious looking!

moi said...

I make a watermelon/beet salad that is just divine, but I'll have to try it with the salmon.

Your Tahoe photos remind me I need to put that on my list to visit. It seems all I do is travel and yet this country is so vast, there are still things I haven't seen. Which I'm going to regard as a good thing!

P.S. We opted out of pancakes yesterday and instead chose to eat an entire pizza from a local joint yesterday. Mmmmmmm . . .

Epiventures said...

Argh! can I have that pizza and blue sky NOW please??? Awesome pics.

LaDivaCucina said...

Tahoe looks so beautiful! The air looks so clean. I wish I was there too...never got there from L.A. Thanks for the arm chair travel, Eggy!

Sharon Rudd said...

Dennis, enjoy your trip to SF for the blogger convention. It's a great food city!

Kelly, thanks, sis, for commenting again :)

Moi, oooh, watermelon and beets. Hadn't thought of that combination - would love your recipe. As long as you survived your race, I'm happy you got your carbs in whatever form you preferred. My nephew ran the Columbus marathon Sunday and I got to see pics - he managed to smile through most of the race, then hit the wall in the last six miles. I can't even imagine, but I'm dang proud of him!

Diva, on the arm chair travel thing, back atcha! That Oz spice shop you posted about is too wonderful!

Velva said...

This is a beautiful post. I have never been to Lake Tahoe (sad for me). The food and photos are stunning! I am so glad that you have taken the time to share that fabulous vacation with us.