Sunday, July 3, 2016

Food & Wine, but Mostly Food

Today I drove to the Del Dotto Winery in St. Helena, Napa County, for the Delicacies tasting. People come from all over the world to drink the wine in Napa, but I went for the food. I had a few sips of wine during the tour of the caves, and the tour guide was knowledgeable and interesting -- there was much talk about French oak barrels versus American oak barrels and how each affects taste, and other people in the group ruminated and debated over tannins and finishes and I pretended to care... it was the 5-course lunch that was the draw for me, and it would have been just as fantastic with a glass of water.
Tsar Nicoulai caviar, sweet corn egg mousse,
green tomato relish
this lobster roll was nothing like this lobster roll
Hudson Valley foie gras, raspberries, caramelized white chocolate,
black truffle sformatto.

Wagyu beef and bacon slider

vanilla bean semifreddo, peaches, almond crumble


This month in California has been filled with food and wine and friends and family - a huge success!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Farm Dinner

This post is about a spectacular day, filled with beautiful food, which concluded with a situation which felt like a punch to the gut, but ended better than I could have imagined.
Last Sunday I went to a farm dinner in Petaluma, CA, which is about 40 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge (for those you not familiar with Winona Ryder's hometown). It was a beautiful warm day, the hills were glowing gold as they do in these parts every summer, and the evening started with a lovely drinks reception and passed hors d'oeuvres, mixing, mingling, chatting with the farmers, ranchers,
mushroom growers, etc., who had produced all the ingredients for the evening's meal, then touring some of the fields that had produced our food, until we finally progressed to dinner. I met two delightful couples who were celebrating a birthday (that day), and a marriage (that week), who so graciously insisted I join them, and we settled in for a six-course dining extravaganza. I spent the whole evening, as I often do in such a setting, snapping away with my camera. Every angle of the space, every setting on my camera, capturing the outdoor kitchen, the beautiful long
table, the big picture, the details, and of course, all the food. It was when I was snapping what would have been one of the last photos of the evening, the backdrop of glowing hills as the sun began to set, that I saw the note on my camera screen which casually mentioned that I was shooting with no memory card. I nearly threw up. Seriously, I felt my face get hot, and my knees get weak (that's really a thing), and I sat down in my chair, stunned. What was I going to post??? Even I get tired of these stupid ramblings, what I want are pictures! But I had none. So after agonizing over this for a few days, I was able to track down the official photographer for the event, and she graciously allowed me to use her beautiful photos!! All the photos here were taken by Neringa Greiciute of Slow Sunday Photography and they are so much better than anything I could have captured that day.

Dinner was as follows:

*deviled Dungeness crab Red Hill Ranch eggs
Dolcini Ranch steak tartare flambé
Far West Fungi porcini & burrata cannelloni

*County Line Harvest (the farm host) crudité with burnt eggplant hummus (third photo, left side); the veggies were nestled in those bowls in a layer of black hummus which looked exactly like mud - this was one of the best dishes of the night) and Devil's Gulch Ranch rabbit & carrot terrine with Tenbrink Farms mostarda (second photo; I had to break my 'I don't eat bunnies' rule for this one)

*County Line Harvest little gems & marinated melons with crispy speck (this tied with the veggies for the best dish of the night)

*summer minestrone pistou & saffron pasta with tomato & lobster broth

*smoked Dolcini Ranch beef brisket with blackened County Line Harvest eggplant & shishito peppers, couscous, pine nuts & harissa yogurt

*brown sugar pound cake with macerated Tenbrink Farms pluots, strawberry jam & lemon verbena cream (fourth photo)

Everything about this day and dinner was wonderful - and power of the internet even saved me from myself and my empty camera!