Earlier in November, I geared up for my first trip to Napa Valley, and was quite delighted that it was a beautiful sunny day. I was ready for a full day of culinary and wine tasting adventures. Being my tourist self, I purchased the Go San Francisco card which included Taste Napa Downtown (a $20 value). It was an easy, no brainer guide which enabled us to "taste hop" certain vineyards and tasting rooms in the downtown area. Even though I wanted to see the beautiful Castello di Amorosa, I decided to save it for the next trip when we will have more time for sightseeing.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
After all day of wine tasting in Napa Valley, a quick snack was needed to east off the buzz. Once again thanks to my Micheline Guide, I pointed to Norman Rose Tavern, a gastropub known for "classic, American comfort food". I went there searching for a tasty, crispy buttermilk fried chicken.
Though it was crispy, I didn't find that their buttermilk chicken sandwich was that well seasoned. The meat wasn't juicy and succulent either. The watercress salad, or whatever it was sitting on, was drenched in creamy peppercorn mayo. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad. It was just..... mehhh...., coming from a fried chicken lover. I thought it was a bit steep paying $10.95 for an average chicken sandwich with no sides. Definitely incomparable to the Naked Lunch fried chicken sandwich, but a whole lot better than Wendy's.
The next item I jumped on was the truffle & parmesan fries ($7.95)! These were fresh crispy fries with truffle essence, topped with melting grated parmesan. Okay, those were delicious. I devoured the plate and have nothing bad to complain.
Valuable lesson learned here:
Overall, my dining experience in Napa Valley were only okay, though it could've been much more amazing. For example, I should've taken suggestions and went to Ad Hoc, a part of Thomas Keller restaurant group, back in Yountville. I didn't learn until much later they also make killer fried chicken than Norman Rose Tavern, or anywhere around this area, and at much better value than Bouchon (cry). As my foodie friends responded, "we didn't tell you to go to Bouchon, we said Bouchon BAKERY" T ^ T Well if I did, I probably would also have a better posts to write about. Rather than listening to a book, always trust your fellow foodies. They know best. Indeed it was a valuable, though wasteful, learning experience from a new foodie that I would like to share with everyone!
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Following the Micheline Guide for San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country, we visited the recipient for 2011, Bouchon restaurant in Yountville. Thomas Keller created Bouchon as a traditional Parisian bistro, a more casual version from the French Laundry. With two other locations in Beverly Hills and Las Vegas, Bouchon offers French classics as well as a raw bar.
As we walked in the restaurant, it was lively, crowded and noisy. It was much too hectic and we were asked to choose between squeezing cheek to cheek at the bar, or burn in the sun outside on the patio. I decided to sit out on the patio and bask in the sun instead. The weather was nice, it was more calm and serene. I couldn't help but admire the beauty of fall foliage coupled with a nice sunny weather.
The house made French knots were served with fresh butter. The knots were served warm with chewy doughy inside. The crust was still pretty hard to bite into.
The soup of the day was sunchoke soup. It was fresh though there wasn't much flavour. It was thick and creamy on its own and became too heavy with the added creme fraiche. It wasn't so bad after I dunked the French knots in the soup and let them bathe in the bowl. The bread soaked up the creamy soup quite nicely.
The beef tongue salad was quite delightful and turned out to be more pleasant than I imagined. Tender thin slices of beef tongue with added crisp had executed flavours. There were sweetness from beets, tart from berries, and fluffy creme fraiche. It was a fairly sophisticated dish and I didn't feel like I was eating beef tongue.
The roasted lamb leg with lamb jus was a rustic dish. For medium rare, the lamb a bit over-cooked, and quite bland. The jus has a concentrated onion flavour, but it could've been more rich with lamb flavour. It was a dish that had so much potential, but didn't go very far.
I was a bit disappointed with the soup and entree as they were only mediocre, and the fact that the most impressive dish was the salad. It was good, but not great enough to book one month in advance or obsess over. In my opinion, you can find much better value with comparable quality and at lower price elsewhere.