Valley of the “Californian Wine” Kings … Food and Restaurants
“4 Days and as Much as I Could Do” being my motto and mantra, the Napa trip was finalised after much deliberation, mapping, planning and of course, travelling across the pond. For a change, Nerdy Geek played the PA and personal chauffeur, ringing wineries and booking restaurants, setting up meetings, organising the tastings, maps and driving, making me feel rather important.
The drive from San Francisco was easy but busy. Four hours and we were checked in at the lovely Oleander House, Yountville, with an ice cold unhealthy soda in hand, relaxing in the Jacuzzi hot tub in the backyard before dinner.
Cindy Pawlcyn’s legendary Mustards Grill is a minute’s walk from the Oleander. The Napa culinary pioneer’s inspirational dishes were deliciously Californian in style and made with fabulously fresh organic ingredients from Cindy’s seasonal eco-friendly gardens tucked away in the heart of the wine country. Two acres fully planted provides 20% of the restaurant’s year round produce boasted the waiter. Given the number of diners per night, that is pretty impressive I’d say. Thomas Keller of the French Laundry fame is a regular diner I am told.
Famous Mongolian Pork Chop with Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage and housemade Mustard being one choice, washed down with a great bottle of Brian and Lori’s Nuss’ 2007 Vinoce, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc showing true expression from the Mount Veeder appellation. Small family owned wineries are definitely worth a try and in this case, after 31 years of experimentation, the wine was indeed exceptional.
Dinner was at Auberge du Soleil, a thirty minute drive down the Silverado Trail from Yountville. Again, third time in as many visits to Napa, this restaurant still maintains in my list as one of the most romantic places in the world. It’s been around for 30 years and still as beautiful as when I first visited. Under Chef Robert Curry, the menu is inspiring, imaginative and Californian.
Easy going with a fabulous wine list and attentive staff, this restaurant is still a pleasure to eat at!
Terra based for over 20 years in St Helena is certainly another innovative place worth a visit with friendly staff and great Californian Japanese hybrid dishes. More on the Californian spectrum than Japanese in my humble opinion. The menu consists of about fifteen savoury dishes and a puddings list, carefully listed from lighter to heavy fare, using sustainable resources of seafood and organic produce wherever possible. Changed on a weekly basis.
Chefs Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani both exSpago come with serious credentials.
Bouchon Bistro http://www.bouchonbistro.com/
L’Etoile at Domaine Chandon http://www.chandon.com/etoile-restaurant.html
Gott’s Roadside http://gotts.com/about/index.htm
Culinary Institute of America http://www.ciachef.edu/california/
Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen http://cindysbackstreetkitchen.com/