Napa Style, Take Two
September 13, 2009
My friends, I must be frank. The past week has not been easy for me. My entire family, including myself, has been sick with the flu so I didn’t get to do any of my DIY projects during the week. Bummer. When I can’t get to my primer and power tools, my knees start to shake and my hands start to twitch. I start to go a little stir crazy. So finally, on Saturday, I was finally able to tackle some projects. I’m hoping to feature them this week, if all goes well. Good stuff coming.
Y’all remember last week’s look at wine tasting in Napa. Here’s another peek at just a few more stops on our weekend getaway.
Day Two began by with a spectacular luncheon at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon in Yountville. As many of you know, Mr. Keller is famous for his world renowned French Laundry restaurant, also in Yountville, with its nine course prix fixe tasting menu. It’s practically impossible to get into the French Laundry, unless you go online at the exact perfect time (at midnight Pacific Standard Time two months in advance). Don’t believe me? Read this dude’s suggestions. And even if you do get in, you’ll spend your kids’ college fund on one meal. But as I understand from my swankier friends, it’s pretty spectacular.
For the ‘regular’ folk, there is Bouchon in Yountville. (And also in Vegas.) It’s a little slice of Paris in the heart of the Napa Valley, from the menu, to the interior décor, to the waiters in little black vests, ties, and aprons.
And the food. Oh, the food. It’s ooh, la, la, off the charts.
The Parisian style interior:
Disclaimer: If looking at pictures of other people’s food is somewhat gross in your opinion, please skip on down to the pretty pictures. But if you’re a looky loo like me, always zooming in on other people’s plates, needling them in the arm, and asking, “Excuse me, what is that?”, then read on.
And yes, I may be strange, photographing food in a fine restaurant. But I really don’t care what people think about my Nikon D60 (awesome camera, I might add). Really good food should be photographed. Raise your hand if you agree.
Mr. CG loves Huîtres (oysters) – of course that’s where he begins.
Me? I’m in the mood for what the locals say is the best appetizer in town. Rillettes au Deux Saumons. Translation: a blend of fresh and smoked salmon, served with toasted sliced baguette. Sealed with a butter top in your own personal jar, served chilled to the table. You’ve got to cut through the butter seal to get to the good stuff. Uh. Mah. Gaw. So delicious. I’d swear there was crab inside, but the waiter denied it. I downed the whole thing in one sitting with no regret.
For lunch, I had the special: Lobster crêpes. Again, eyes rolling back in my head, so scrumptious. Diced lobster and herbs inside a crêpe, served over lobster mushrooms and topped with chive crème fraîche. Heaven.
Then Mr. CG had to ask, “What is crème fraîche anyway?” I kind of knew. I mean, I use it sometimes in cooking. And I pretended I knew. “Sort of like sour cream, but better.”
But then I made the waiter describe it.
Mr. CG had the most amazing special as well. Open face shredded halibut over arugula with herb and bacon crumble. I threatened his life if he didn’t cut me off a slice. In fear, he relinquished some of his decadent choice.
And let me just say that the pommes frites (french fries) are the most salty guilty pleasure ever. Ask for the aioli (dippin’ sauce) and revel in their deliciousness.
Here’s me, pretending to see and be seen. “Oh yes, daahhhhhling, let’s do lunch next week. Smooches.”
Notice less of me, and more of the velvet fabric, the brass detail, and nail head trim.
For dessert, the Tarte au Citron (lemon tart) with coffee.
So then Mr. CG says to me, “This spot is not only a meal, but an education.” Well said, Mister.
But I think it was the Sauvignon Blanc talking.
Then Mr. CG pulled up curbside for a little cat nap.
While he digested, I went exploring in the NapaStyle flagship store, across the street from Bouchon.
I think Michael Chiarello has a strange obsession with salt. Don’t get me wrong. Salt is good. Very good. In food, really really good. But this NapaStyle owner and chef has salt everywhere in the store.
When you walk in, you’re greeted with a salt shaving station. And everyone tries their hand at shaving salt.
Then there’s the racks and rows of specialty salts. Even Jurassic Salt.
And the glass carafes filled with more specialty salts.
And the burlap bags filled with salts.
A salt obsession.
For a chef, that’s OK. For the ordinary person, a bit strange. Confession. I actually own some of these salts. Deeper confession. I really love them.
I fell in love with this Galleria Lantern.
These simple glass jars tied with twine are so simple and so pretty. I envision them hanging from a front porch, or in a series, on a tree branch hung over an outdoor dining table.
I totally dig this wine barrel sink. Outdoors, in the right spot, it would be marvelous.
Finally, I must show you my absolute favorite store in charming downtown St. Helena, called Vintage Home. It is so my style. Oodles of white ceramics, beautiful linens, pillows, and gorgeous accessories. It’s just a teensy bit. . . oh heck, let’s face it. The shop’s merchandise is way out of my budget. But I sure love window shopping !
Spectacular designer ceramics.
I swoon over this standing mirror and zebra print chair.
Stunning planter box and silk florals.
Fabulous gigantic wine jugs.
A green glass version.
You know, I think with the right bottle, I could mimic this look with a bit of paint. For hundreds less.
And I know one of you savvy crafty DIYers out there could make this very same spice chest for much less than the $195 price tag.
How lovely are these wine bottles? And how easy to make, with some ribbon, some frosted spray paint, and alphabet stickers. They make pretty vases for singular stems too.
So that’s it, my friends, another glimpse at our whirlwind weekend in the Napa Valley.
More DIY projects, coming soon.