So after all the glooorious food at Bouchon and the CIA Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant, we weren’t done, and headed out early the next morning for the 15th Annual Taste of Yountville event right on Washington Street. A whole street lined with delicious food and wine booths – this was the perfect event for the hungry foodie.
After purchasing our tasting tickets and souvenir glass, we browsed the stalls before committing to any of them – well, except Bouchon – which we needed to try right away before the crowds arrived. Bouchon served a meat terrine on thin slices of baguette, in addition to their famous chocolate bouchons (brownies + chocolate morsels), and a variety of cookies from the bakery. Delicious.
From the Cantinetta Pierro (located at the Hotel Luca), we sampled the delicious Maiale, or braised pork cheek with toscanelli bean salad, with Gianduja Budino for dessert. This was the showstopper of the day I think. I absolutely looved the chocolate-hazelnut creamy pudding (like a French pot de creme) topped with little chocolate and toffee bits. Delicious. Sooo sensual as the velvety chocolate hazelnut cream coats the tongue… absolutely divine. David (obviously) preferred the braised pork cheek – falling apart and wonderfully flavored. It paired very well with the toscanelli bean salad – tart from the light vinaigrette, but buttery and nutty from the white beans. What a fun burst of different flavors.
Michael Chiarello’s Bottega presented an Olive Oil and Meyer Lemon Braised Artichoke Puree with Fresh Burrata on Crostini. It was to say the least… interesting… and not in a bad way either. Though I hesitate to give more positive ratings as I’m not much of a cheese fan (I know, I know – tar and feather me).
Hurley’s, a local favorite, offered a delicious Rabbit Pot Pie that I devoured in a heartbeat. I was soo surprised that it was soo good!! Who knew RABBIT would be so good??!?
The Compadres Rio Grille served up carnitas on a corn tortilla. There was also really good homemade Potato Chips and dip, a Sonoma Chicken Salad Sandwich, and Asparagus Risotto that we tasted as well.
We stood at the Papa Veterano’s Pizza booth the longest I think. Two good friends opened a traveling pizza stand, complete with transportable wood-fire oven. They brought over 600 pies to the festival, and the line to try some of their fresh homemade pizza was loooong. After much anticipation and after watching the dough being formed and garnished and topped, I FINALLY got a slice of their pesto pizza. Nice thin crust, excellent pesto, aromatic Italian herbs, and just enough smokiness to give the pizza some character.
So all in all, I spent like $30 for all that food and wine, which isn’t bad considering all the variety. We wandered around for a bit, took in the sites, and took off for our lunch destination – Sonoma.
Sonoma is slightly off the beaten path, and only a 25 min drive (or so) from Napa. Also sprawling with vineyards and wineries, Sonoma is a hermit and wine taster’s paradise. The small downtown Sonoma Plaza is small and quaint with rustic charm – old buildings dating back to the days of the missions (1850s) still stand, next to the numerous little shops, boutiques, and tasting rooms. Lunch was at the girl & the fig, on a recommendation from DW (thanks!).
Located on the ground floor of the Sonoma Hotel, right on the edge of the historic Sonoma Plaza, the girl & the fig boasts country style food with French passion. The menu features typical French bistro fare, quiche, croque madame, matchstick frites, various cheeses and wine pairings, but the general ambiance is homey and comfortable.
After the food from the Taste of Yountville, I wasn’t particularly hungry, and so went with a seasonal salad. Nothing too spectacular. David, however, ordered the navarin of lamb – ground lamb meat braised in red wine, with various sweet vegetables such as leeks and baby carrots. The overall effect was quite pleasing, as the red wine did not over power or dilute the distinctive lamb taste. Rather, it was a sweet undercurrent that ran throughout the dish, and concentrated the flavors of the lamb and vegetables. The preparation of the dishes was very distinctly French, but the dining room echoed vintage country character, much like the rest of Sonoma actually…
We paired the meal with a flight of red wines – a first for us!! I think we are finally moving up on the wine tasting ladder!!!
By the late afternoon with tummies satisfied and minds well-rested, we meandered home along highway 1 and stopped in Half Moon Bay to enjoy the sunset at the Ritz-Carlton. While the sun prepared to sink into the Pacific Ocean, I reflected a bit on our mini vacation. Only 36 hours in Wine Country, but it felt absolutely wonderful. And after all that good food and wine, I felt recharged and ready to tackle work and reality again. Typically speaking, most of us work 8 hour days, are discontent, under appreciated and under recognized. Our palates are jaded, our minds are weary. Somewhere along the way, we lost a purpose, a vision, a reason to LIVE. We lost all that youthful idealism and passion that we once clung onto. We go about our days much like the shadows in Plato’s Allegory. We merely exist. Well folks – I am not content to merely exist. I want to live. And this weekend in Napa, I did. Afterall, I’m young, in love, and idealistic. The world still holds so much promise and hope. So if you’ve forgotten that, please go out, and rediscover it. Perhaps in Wine Country…
Young, in love, and idealistic,
PS. Bouchon cookbook arrived and I’ve already recreated the steamed mussels and saffron; snapper meuniere; pomme frites; and carmelized cauliflower. An incredible book. I really am in love!