Sunday, June 10, 2012

Apricot Cardamom Curd + Healdsburg Highlights

A weekend getaway was just what the doctor ordered. Often a long weekend will rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit. Hubby and I whisked away last weekend for my birthday to Healdsburg. We stayed at the luxurious Hotel Les Mars, which had been on both of our bucket lists for quite sometime.

The Hotel Les Mars is a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux which brings the anecdote of French living to wine country. Relais & Châteaux is an exclusive collection of 475 of the finest charming hotels and gourmet restaurants in 55 countries. Established in France in 1954, the Association’s mission is to spread its unique way of living across the globe by selecting outstanding properties with a truly unique character. With only 16 well appointed rooms, you feel as if you are staying at a French chateaux with the traditional 17th and 18th century antiques which adds to the old world charm.

The service was impeccable from when the general manager Ramon greeted us upon our arrival to Nicole the assistant manager who checked us in to Colin who brought our bags to the room and shared the amenities of lovely accommodations.

We selected one of their many packages which included a six course dinner at Dry Creek Kitchen at Hotel Healdsburg along with a personal tour at Chalk Hill Winery. An added bonus was our impromptu visit to Lancaster Estate Winery - quite a sublime experience.  In addition, a French breakfast is delivered to your room each morning based on your selection criteria you submit the night prior. One of our favorite amenities was the wine and cheese hour that was served in the gorgeous walnut paneled library.

{ Wine and cheese at Hotel Les Mars }

Ramon hand selects the wine and cheeses from local vendors. A few of the cheeses that really stood out for us were the Andino, a cow’s milk from Ecuador, Pond Hopper, a goat’s milk with Mirror Pond Ale, Valdeen, a sheep’s milk blue cheese, Two Goat Rock, a goat’s milk from Sonoma and Sottecenere al tartufo, a cow’s milk with Truffle imported from Italy. Two wines really stood out for us - the Viognier from Hawley Winery along with the Petite Syrah from Stephen and Walker Winery.

{ Hubby enjoying wine and cheese in the library at Hotel Les Mars }

The true highlight for us was our magnificent dinner at Cyrus. Cyrus has earned numerous accolades including a two Michelin star rating. Michael Bauer from San Francisco Chronicle says "Douglas Keane further enforces he is deserving of a four star rating" and Chef Keane was recognized as the Best Chef Pacific by James Beard Awards.

{ Cyrus }

We opted for the 8 course chef tasting menu and wine pairings. Our vision was to stay at the Hotel Les Mars and eat at Cyrus which is adjoined to the hotel, so we did not have to worry about enjoying the full experience. No driving required. Smile.

{ Our personalized menu for us to take home }
Thought I would share the menu and wine pairings with you. Each course was supreme and I could elaborate for hours on how truly delicious the food was and the impeccable service. Each bite and sip of wine during our four hour dinner was simply perfection.

{ Our beautiful room at Hotel Les Mars }
The inspiration for the Apricot Cardamom Curd was two fold. Each night we enjoyed a lovely wine and cheese respite at Hotel Les Mars in the library. It was relaxing along with meeting some wonderful people. One of the courses during our long dinner was the cheese course. The presentation was pure decadence with tableside service where the waiter would cut each cheese while explaining the flavors and origin. The accoutrements came moments later which included assorted breads and crackers along with panforte and cardamom butter.

The cardamom butter was simply supreme and fascinated me. I knew I needed to discover a way to make this. After much research, I found this recipe for Apricot Cardamom Curd which I altered slightly. The result was a delicious accompaniment for our Friday appetizer night. We purchased the Two Goat Rock and Sottocenere from The Cheese Shop in Healdsburg. I also added a reserve Dutch Gouda and some marcona almonds to the cheese platter.

My birthday weekend was simply magnificent and the best birthday to date. As they say – "Each year gets better and better."

{ My cheese platter for Friday appetizer night. Cheeses from top to bottom: Two Goat Rock, Reserve Dutch Gouda and Sottosenere }

Apricot Cardamom Curd

4 Large apricots
1 Lemon (zest and juice)
3 eggs
1 C. Sugar
1 t. Cardamom, ground

Wash apricots and cut in half and remove the pits. Cut into small cubes. Add to a medium pan with about 1 tablespoon of water. Simmer for about 10 minutes or longer until really soft. Set aside.

In a large bowl add the eggs and whisk gently. Add the juice of the lemon along with all of the zest from the lemon and whisk gently. Place the bowl on top of simmering water and continue to whisk in the sugar.

Use an emulsion blender to puree the apricots and then add to the mixture and continue to whisk quickly. Cook gently until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Feel free to strain through a sieve to remove any random particles. Makes about 2 pint jars. Refrigerate.


  1. What a fabulous birthday weekend, Lisa! Glad you were able to get away for some R&R and delicious food. This apricot curd sounds fantastic alongside a cheese plate - I can't wait to try it!

  2. Looks like the perfect birthday getaway! We love Cyrus for a special dinner and the Dry Creek Kitchen, so many good restaurants in Healdsburg;-)
    Your cheese course with the apricot cardamom curd looks heavenly Lisa, your Friday night appetizers just keep getting better;-) I'll be first in line for your appetizer cookbook!

  3. Thank you so much for my very own jar of this super tasty curd. I love it!

    So fun blog prop shopping with you yesterday--I couldn't wait to use my new paint color so I had to preempt my planned post for another one. I had apricots that needed to be used so I made something up with them for lunch. :)

    So nice to see the pictures of your fab birthday celebration! Have a great week!

  4. Sounds like the perfect way to celebrate your birthday :) The hotel is gorgeous, glad you had a great time.

    And this lovely curd looks/sounds absolutely amazing!

  5. If each year gets better and better, I cant wait to see next years celebrations! I am so intrigued by this curd, it sounds so rich and divine!

  6. What a wonderful birthday celebration. The hotel looks so luxurious, how nice for the two of you to get away and feel pampered. Love the photos of you and your husband. Your curd sounds wonderful too, I love curds.

  7. I'm a real lover of any kind of curd and i made many, but never an apricot one... Yours sounds and looks delicious, i will try it! :)

  8. It was fun learning about this place. I've never been to Healdsburg and north of Santa Rosa before, and I did not know about this place! Sounds like a perfect get away for a romantic couple. It looks like you had a fantastic b-day celebration there. I love lemon curd and that's the only "curd" I've tried in my life. Apricot & cardamom sounds wonderful!

  9. I love all these flavors and look forward to drizzling it over lots of things. It sounds delicious.

  10. I'm so intrigued with your recipe! It's so different and seems delicious. And thank you for sharing your birthday getaway in this wonderful place. Beautiful!

  11. What a beautiful hotel. The curd looks incredible. Love the combination of apricot and cardamom, yum!

  12. o wow!! def loving these pics!! looks like such a gr8 time!

  13. I need a break exactly like this, yeah... including the curd! GREG

  14. such a wonderful way to celebrate your birthday. A sweet place for a well-deserved getaway. And the curd, so flavorful, perfect on a biscuit with a cup of tea in the morning :)

  15. looks like a wonderful vacation and a wonderful dessert... especially the vacation!! cardamom is definitely new to my kitchen repertoire, glad to see you using it.


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