Napa: Phase Three (The foodie details)

The French Laundry, Yountville, California

No, we didn't eat at the French Laundry.  But we did wander around the incredible gardens across the street, and we did some lurking and snooping to see if we could make a Thomas Keller sighting at the afternoon event in the courtyard.  Some say we were unsuccessful, but I think the guy in the blue shirt might have been him.

The next night we made our way back to Yountville, no thanks to the bizarre road construction stops ("No more than fifteen minute wait") at several seemingly random locations on the back roads.  Thanks to clever changing techniques in the back seat, we arrived only ten minutes late for our much-anticipated culinary treat at

- for temporary relief of hunger -

Thomas Keller's family style restaurant is at the other end of Washington Street.  I can't imagine creating the masterpieces that are served so perfectly at The French Laundry, but the food at ad hoc is incredible AND home menu worthy. Highly recommended:  Ad Hoc at Home.  The melted onions are worth the price of the tome.

It was good to have a food enthusiast friend with me.  John loves food, don't get me wrong.  Fortunately for me he considers a timely delivered grilled cheese sandwich to be heaven sent, but the subtleties of pixie mandarins and carnaroli risotto are a little lost on him (although, if the word "garlic" is included, his ears perk up.)   

A four course meal, ad hoc style:

First course:  Salad.

Really tasty roasted garlic (John:  "Garlic?") vinaigrette, and the toasted almonds were perfect.  I wish I knew what was different about them. A piece of tuna (yum!)  There were anchovies.  I ate one.  For the first time in my life (and maybe the last.)  I thought they looked like lizards.  This is not a compliment.  The dressing and the almonds made this a win.

Second course:  Main dish.

Veal with carnaroli risotto, peas and carrots.  Risotto is on my short list of things to learn to cook well.

An extra main dish:  Pork Belly.  The mustardy sauce and pine nuts, combined with such flavorful meat, were the best. 

Third course:  The cheese course.

Leonora ("From the dry, arid hills northwest of Madrid comes this large brick of soft, cakey goat’s milk cheese that will dazzle your palate with bright grass and lemon flavors. The crusty, natural rind makes a beautiful contrast with the pure white interior.")  Served with with cherry compote and crostini, but also with honey that we drizzled on the cheese.

If you are at my next dinner party, expect a cheese course.  It was lovely.

Fourth course:  Dessert.

Slices of chocolate cake and scoops of cinnamon walnut ice cream.  I'm not a great fan of cake or ice cream, but they were good.

An espresso for the driving home garlic lover, and the long-awaited meal was over.  It was a generous gift from dear friends, it was a night to remember.

Lessons learned:
Napa Valley Casual = wear whatever you want.
Anchovies = no thanks.
Cheese course = as often as possible.
ad hoc = temporary relief of hunger and so much more.

"When we eat together, when we set out to do so deliberately, life is better, no matter your circumstances.  Whether it's a sad or difficult time, whether it's an ordinary-seeming day, or whether it's a time of celebration, our lives are enriched when we share meals together."                                                       Thomas Keller, from ad hoc at home


stephseef said…
--There were anchovies. I ate one. For the first time in my life (and maybe the last.) I thought they looked like lizards. This is not a compliment.--

Agreed. On every count. This made me laugh. HARD.
Alison said…
I love meals like this that are a feast for the eye and the stomach. Works of art and delicious! Glad it was a wonderful meal and break from normal life.
Di said…
I thought of you when I posted this, Alison. Maybe we can meet up for a Napa visit sometime?

Donna Boucher said…
Beautiful pictures Di!!!

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