Friday, March 29, 2013

Ad Hoc - Thomas Keller Napa Valley

When you think about food in Napa Valley, it's hard not to immediately think of Thomas Keller and the many restaurants he has in Yountville.  After deciding we were not ready to spend the money on an evening at French Laundry (too much wine to buy and other food to eat!), we made reservations at Keller's ad hoc.  ad hoc started as a temporary restaurant for the purposes of experimenting with different foods and dishes, but after such an amazing response from the guests, ad hoc became a permanent fixture in Yountville.  Open Thursday through Monday, there is a set four course tasting menu (about $50/person) that changes daily with some optional supplemental dishes (about $15).  One constant is the fried chicken served on Mondays - while we did not get to indulge, from what I hear it's pretty outstanding!

After being seated, our server quickly brought us some bread.  I will say, I was not impressed with our server - I felt a bit rushed.  While the menu is a given, a little extra time and explanation would have gone a long way.  When we ordered, he basically only wanted to know if we wanted the wine pairing (I did) and if we wanted the supplemental side dish that evening (we did) and he was gone.  The rest of the staff - the runners and bussers - did not give off this same feeling and were more accommodating.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Bottega - Italian Cuisine in Napa

After biking our way through Calistoga and tasting plenty of wines during the day, we had a little recovery time before heading down to Yountville in time for our reservations at Michael Chiarello's Bottega.  When asking for Napa recommendations, this was one of Meghan's.  She knows California wine country well, and this was one of her top picks.

We arrived at Bottega a bit early for our reservation and were welcomed out onto their heated patio area for a drink.  There was a party next to us that had a great day tasting (including getting kicked out of a vineyard), and before we knew it they were joined by Top Chef alum Mike Isabella!  He is the blurry guy in the back of the photo below - I tried not to be too stalkerish, hence the bad photo!  He was in town tasting wines for his restaurants - not a bad way to travel!  After enjoying our cocktail and some very obvious people watching, our table was ready and we headed on in.

Cocktails (and Mike Isabella!)

Monday, March 25, 2013

JoLe - Tasting Menu in Calistoga

Traveling back in time to our visit Napa Valley, this week we will be discussing not just the wine but also the food!  Wine country has plenty of restaurants showcasing California cuisine at its best.  The hard part is selecting which restaurants to sample!  After heading up to Calistoga and settling into our hotel, we poked around downtown Calistoga and picked up our bikes for the next days' excursion.  While down there, we checked out a few of the restaurants suggested by the travel websites and ultimately settled on JoLe.

The restaurant is clean and contemporary with a wood fire grill working all night making bread and other deliciousness.  The husband and wife team of Matt and Sonjia Spector behind JoLe source the majority of their food from local farms and showcase the food each evening via a menu so wonderful and diverse that it was difficult to make any sort of decision!  Luckily, JoLe offers four, five or six course tasting menus with an optional wine pairing.  Nick and I both opted for the tasting menu, and I added the wine pairing - when in Rome, right?!  This way, we could split all the dishes and get the most out of our JoLe experience.  The following is a sampling of the amazing food we had.

Corn Fritter

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Swordfish Dinner

Recently Nick and I have been buying the frozen filets or "steak" cuts of fish at the market that we can easily keep in the freezer until the spirit moves us.  Fish is always such a great protein option, especially when we get stuck in our chicken rut that so easily can happen.  I will be the first to say I have not gotten very adventurous with fish yet.  Maybe that will be one of my goals this summer, since fish to me is warmer weather food!

Swordfish Dinner
My mom always used to make a delicious, quick swordfish dinner.  The first time I went to buy some fish at Deluca's (so, obviously, this is going WAY back), when I mentioned using mayo the deli guy did not understand.  After a two minute phone call with my mom to make sure I was not making things up, she explained her swordfish making method.  Beware, it may look or sound weird, but its good!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Baked Apples - Easy Classic Dessert

With the expectation of snow coming this week even though spring is nearly here (technically) I still am seeking those winter comfort foods.  I still cannot make the switch with the weather this cold!  During the blizzard (Nemo) Nick and I cozied up for an easy dinner at home.  For some reason, I wanted baked apples, something my mom made many times growing up, but not something I have had in ages!

Baked Apple

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Burger Dive - Burgers in Assembly Square

Being in our new house has been fantastic.  Charlestown has such a wonderful neighborhood feel - it's still Boston but with a slightly different feel.  However, trying to get a new house set up is hard work.  With all the new space, we definitely did not have enough furniture to make a dent in some of the bedrooms!  Luckily, Assembly Square is right down the street from us and has a Home Depot, Home Goods, Bed Bath & Beyond, and just about any store you need to help get make a new house homier.  On one of our many "errand days" we decided to check out Burger Dive, one of the first of many new planned restaurants in the area.

Grilled Burger Bun and the Tater Tots
We walked in around noon and the place was packed.  It is a cool industrial building and in the summer there is a huge garage door that can be opened to bring the outside in.  Rather than ordering at the counter, we went ahead and ordered at the computer terminal.  This was actually super easy - that, and it helped with the fact that I had no idea what to order!  I finally settled on a make-your-own burger and some tater tots.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Peninsula Grill's SUPER Coconut Cake - Valentine Day Special

This Valentine's Day we decided to stay at home and have a delicious dinner in.  In the past we have gone out to some great restaurants (Grill 23 and Mamma Maria) but I always worry whether we will see the restaurant's best food on these high-traffic evenings.  Nick was taking care of dinner (lucky me!) so I decided I would make something special for dessert.

Extreme Coconut Cake (excuse the mess)
Dinner was a surprise until he started cooking - remembering how delicious I thought Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms looked, he whipped it for a perfect dinner.

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