Saturday, October 2, 2010


Remember the mussels that I mentioned before in the Bouchon post... well these are the definition of what I love! Savoy, mildly spicy broth/sauce with steamed mussels. Serve with a little of everything. Fresh pesto made from basil picked from the garden on toast, strawberries from the stand down the road, padron peppers sauteed and served with salt, and steamed buns from the Oakland Korea Town. What a great family meal this turned out to be.

Bouchon - Yountville

The same week we went to Cantinetta, Eric has some friend from Chicago in town. And for a special "birthday" treat they took us out to Bouchon. Like Cantinetta, I had only been before for drinks (are you seeing a pattern here?). But I had heard great things from other people who had gone before. Plus, it's Thomas Keller. The same Thomas Kelller of French Laundry fame, which is actually right down the street. One day, I will get to eat there. If it's the last thing I do...

Anyways, back to Bouchon. Started off with a glass of sparkling. Delicious bread made next door at the Bouchon bakery with soft butter and pistachios. More ears of bread please!!

The atmosphere is very french cafe. A bit too dark for my taste and maybe the palm tree in the middle of the room was a bit off putting. But then again, that may have just been me because I was sitting closest to it and it kept tickling my ear.

To go with sparkling wine you MUST have oysters. I mean come on, do you think we are savages??? Half a dozen for $18. On the pricey side, but the best oysters I have had bar none. I loved how they were all from different locations and different types. Plus the raw bar was right next to our table so we were able to see them shucked just to our left.

Mussels were fantastic as well. I do like mine hot in a broth of stew, but this was delicious as well. I just wasn't falling over by the amazingness like I was with the oysters.

Charcuterie plate. The one thing I have noticed when people come from out of town to eat is how snotty we are starting to sound. There are things on this plate that would have been unpronounceable a few years ago, but Eric knows how to make now. The cured meats were fantastic. Everytime I have great meat I remember why I will never be a vegetarian again.

Great pick by the som. Told him we wanted something in the $30 range. He didn't balk at all, which was nice because of all the high priced wines they do have on their list.

Soft shell crab with lobster. My first experience with soft shell crab. Apparently, it is only available during certain times of the year because a soft shell is actually a normal crab that has grown out of it shell and had shed it. They are caught during the brief period of time where they are between homes, per say. Delicious, but still weird to eat crab legs with what appears to be it's "clothes" on.

Eric got the steak frites. Be still my heart. French fries fried in duck fat. Best fries I have ever had, and that is not a statement I made when I was drunk and hungry. Little slab of herbed butter on the steak. I'm pretty sure I though Eric had passed out because he was quiet for so long enjoying his classically french entree.

All in all, grrrrreat time at Bouchon. Service was on top of anything we needed and they never made us feel rushed or like we were being a nuisance. I hope I get to go back again soon.

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Friday, October 1, 2010

Cantinetta Piero

A few months ago Eric and I made a date night out of going to eat at the restaurant he works at. My only experience with the place were a few late night after dinner drinks in Yountville. Cantinetta makes for a really nice stopping point in your night. So when Eric's chef told him that he should come in and try out some concept dished we jumped at the chance.

Dinner started off with crostini topped with lardo and tomato paste. If you haven't experienced lardo before, you need to. It's a revelation in food. I had lardo for the first time about 5 years ago in Spain, and I've never been the same. Neither has my waist line. This is a bit more refined than dipping hunks of bread into lardo. This was all about portion control, and I wanted more! It was paired with a glass of Sparkling. Which, I have no idea. The waitress didn't specify. Also, the tomato sauce reminded me so much of apple sauce, a hearty savory apple sauce. So good with the lardo.

Second dish was a lobster mushroom with an egg drizzled in olive oil. So meaty and savory. Another one that left me wanting more.

Third dish was definitely off menu. Pasta medallions with grape leaves and fruit shapes imprinted into the circles. With parmigiano, morel mushrooms, and peas. This dish needs to be on the menu. The chef was developing it for a dinner he was putting on, and he hand stamped dozens of these.

Half way through we acquired a bottle of wine. And a great choice made based on my preferences in wine. Bold enough to compliment the food but not too over powering where it fought with all the unique flavor profiles.

Dulce pizza. One of the best things about Cantinetta is that they have their own wood fire pizza. Pizza's are made by hand and you can even watch while seated at the pizza bar. Dulce pizza is not usually my favorite but I gave this one a try. The main ingredients were grapes, walnuts, and dulce mozzarella. All super delicious apart, and amazing together.

Main courses were fighting for room in my stomach, but I made sure to leave a pocket open just for them. I had the steak and fingerling potatoes. I like my steak medium-medium well. I am a chefs enemy when it comes to steak, but I hate when it bleeds all over. What's the one thing I learned while Eric's been at culinary school? That if you rest your steak properly it won't bleed at medium. So I took a shot and ordered mine medium. And no blood in sight! Great flavors and a fantastically cooked steak.

Eric got the pork chop and veggies. It looked and smelled delicious. But I didn't get to try it because by this time I was stuffed.

Prosecco! What I thought was going to be the end of our meal. Delicious, not too sweet or syrupy.

Then came the deserts. Agh! Strawberries in balsamic with ice cream and fried pastries. To freaking die for.

Eric got the raspberries and peaches with sugar glass on a custard. It has a name, Eric would know but he's at work. Not my style, a little too perfumed for me. But he loved it. We are different desert people. Which works out great because I don't have to share.

And finally, the pièce de résistance, concord grape sorbete. Probably the most reminicent piece of this meal. It immediately brought back memories of being a kid and eating half frozen popsicle because it was so warm out that it is melting rapidly in your hand and you have to eat it as quickly as possible. Whew!

An amazing meal over all. I would recommend this place to all. Great food, that for me evoked a memory of home. There is nothing more than you can ask for in a meal.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A lesson in bubbles

Bubbles should be poured like beer. Which I take to mean that they should be drunk out of pint glasses as well.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

August Cheers to Taste - Jarvis

Entrance to Jarvis
Every month, the Wednesday before Cheers! St. Helena is dedicated to an event called Cheers to Taste. The premise being that every month a different winery pony's up their space to hold a "Hospitality Event" within their walls. So when I heard that August was going to be at Jarvis, I thought "Cool, I haven't been there yet!". Basically I use these events to check out places that I wouldn't normally go to, or have time to visit. The networking part really isn't my preferred method of mingling. Anyways, little did I know what I was in store for at this month's event.

Barrels of wine

Turns out, the whole winery is underground. Maybe not a go-to for people who are claustrophobic, but still pretty cool. Basically we walked in, got a name tag and a personal light so we could give ourselves the self guided tour if we so desired.

Heading to the tank room
So here is where a combo of good and bad happened. We were greeted with a glass of wine (good) and then grabbed a bite of celery and cheese (could have been good, was very bad). I'm not sure where the idea to pair celery with fromage blanc (think melted string cheese) came from, but someone should have put a stop to it from the get go. It was mushy and bland, it needed flavor, salt, anything else!

Nikki with her light in front of the giant floral doors

Tank Room
So we continued through the tank room. So far, I haven't seen any other winery with all of their equipment underground, but I can't imagine it being much more of a hassle than having your equipment in an enclosed building. Plus, it looked pretty cool.

PotC'esque waterfall

Alright, check it out. So there was a waterfall in the caves. A freaking WATERFALL! How cool is that?! And yet it totally reminded me of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. Both are dark, dank, and smell like chlorinated water. Napa truly is the Disneyland for adults.

Cuvee casks
These casks were right next to my favorite station only because it had the wine I liked the most, 2003 Merlot. Good wine, but the pulled pork sandwich was not. And yet another swing and a miss on the catered food.

Peace out!
The rest of the winery wasn't very exciting. Just two large rooms where they hold "winery events". Oh, and accordion players and giant crystals. *shrug* All in all, it was kind of a weird experience. BUT I would recommend it to someone that was visiting the valley that wanted to go to a unique place. To see all the equipment and have the "cave" experience would be cool for most people.

Morimoto Napa

Lounge Menu @ Morimoto Napa
For our third anniversary Eric and I decided to go to Morimoto Napa. Not only did the restaurant open only a few short weeks before. But they were also offering an Industry (food & wine personnel) Discount on all Lounge Menu items until July 31st. So we figured we'd take advantage of the 30% off (woohoo!!!) and kill two birds with one stone.

Morimoto expediting on the line
When we first parked out on 2nd street, the roads was dead. So we figured we were in for a quiet night. But once we walked into the main room, the place was buzzing with excitement. Lounge menu means you can either sit on one of the comfy looking yellow couches, at the bar, or at the sushi bar. I for one LOVE the sushi bar. It's a great place to start up a conversation with the person making your food.

Glass of Page Sauvignon Blanc
Eric and I started off by ordering drinks. Morimoto pours their own brew, has a full bar, sake, and wines by the glass and bottle (ZD Wines has their chardonnay by the glass, it's delicious with seafood).

Then after a little wait we started ordering appetizers.

First out was the Miso Soup. I have a deep love affair with Miso, the salty, warm flavor is magnetic. Morimoto miso soup was unlike any I have had before, it had a lovely "meaty" taste. The whole flavor profile made it seem so much more heartier than it appeared. And the silken tofu came in large soft chunks that I enjoyed.

Next up was the Pork Gyoza. The gyoza are actually hiding underneath the thin sheet of dough, the added surprise was the tomato based sauce the gyoza was placed on top of. It was a great mix of Italian flavors in a traditional Asian appetizer. A few days later I learned that some people flip the gyoza over and the sauce melts into the dough. Not sure how they do this, but sounds fun!

Third and final appetizer was the Bone Marrow. With a crust of spices and teriyaki sauce, this one was SPICY! The wasabi cleared out my sinuses, but I couldn't stop eating.

Sushi! This had Yellow tail, Salmon, and Tuna. Tuna should always come with a slice of lime, I am now convinced. Beautiful, fresh fish. The majority comes straight from Japan. Honestly, it's so great to have GOOD sushi in Napa. No more mediocre sushi for me!

More Tuna, Salmon, and Golden Big Eye Snapper. My first time having snapper, and it was delicious. We had already eaten a piece of it by the time I remembered to take a picture.

The man himself sitting at the end of the bar, having a beer and some sashimi.

Prices of apps are pretty normal for Napa. Nothing was totally outrageous. But the sushi prices were great! $4-7 for two pieces of amazingly fresh fish. We will be back. Mostly to sit at the sushi bar again and have some rolls and the Tuna Pizza that I've heard to much about. And hopefully someday soon I will be able to do the Morimoto Omasake (chef's menu). It would be such a treat!

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Carpe Diem - Downtown Napa

My day off falls on Saturday. Which ends up being interesting because I consider it Tourist Day here in Napa. I've come to notice that on those days I am not treated like a "local". The vibe is more of what someone would get that day here on vacation. That has it's pluses and minuses. Allison, a good friend I've made out here, and I had earlier in the day gone to Rubicon for a glass of sparkling and ended up starving. I suggested Carpe Diem, as it's the new kid in town and neither one of us had been. The vibe when we walked in was really courteous and warm. The menu is full of delicious sounding foods, from apps to flatbreads and deserts. I would consider it more of a small plates bar. Allison and I got the works cheese and charcuterie board and harissa fries.

Let me just say that this was the best cheese/meat board I've had in the valley so far. Better than Auberge even, well the cheese at least. Everything was a really good price, especially for downtown. I will be reccomending this place all the time!

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Open Homes

Just last Sunday some coworkers and friends got together at my Tasting Room manager's newly renovated home for a "Housewarming". Party started at 4, so when I got there after work at 6 the wine was flowing and food was being passed around. One of my favorite things about parties out here is that it is second nature for everyone to bring a bottle to share. Pretty soon you end up with 5, 9, or more!

In addition, it was also a paella cookout. Jason made "vegetarian" paella for Yesenia, who doesn't eat meat but does eat seafood.

The rest of us ate from a much bigger paella pan headed by Curtis himself. Food was delicious and the wine was of all varietals and countries. All in all, a great night with some fun people who like good wine.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

new blog

So I've decided to separate "Life in Napa" from my more non-pc, random, everyday thoughts. So friends, add my other blog: extremely loud thoughts. I know I've been a bad blogger, but I have had a lot on my mind lately and no where to say it. I will now have more motivation to blogblogblog, both here and @ xtrmlaudthgts.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tequila luge

Things found in an attic

Open that Bottle Night - Cliff Lede

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