Sunday, July 23, 2006
Napa Valley, Cont.
On Sunday, we continued our journey through Napa Valley. We drove from Santa Rosa to Calistoga. First stop - Sterling Vineyards (www.sterlingvineyards.com). As part of our tour, we rode the gondola up to the tour area, tasting room and shop (see view above).
We continued to St. Helena, where we had lunch at Pizzeria Tra Vigne (http://www.travignerestaurant.com/pizzaria.htm). We created our own pizza with mushrooms and pancetta - it was wonderful! After checking out some of St. Helena's great little shops, I convinced Ken to take me to the Culinary Institute of America (http://www.ciachef.edu/california/default.asp). CIA's California branch is in the historic Greystone building (see website for info). Their Spice Islands Marketplace had every cooking tool you could imagine! We just missed a cooking demonstration featuring lemon pudding cake, but I bought the Luscious Lemon Desserts cookbook so I can try it at home! I also bought an apron as a souvenir of my (very short) time spent at the CIA!
Next we visited Yountville, another culinary heaven and home of Thomas Keller's The French Laundry and Bouchon. We visited the shops inside Vintage 1870, then stopped for a snack at Bouchon Bakery - by far the best baked goods I've ever tasted (http://bouchonbakery.com/). I had a chocolate bouchon and Ken tried an apple tart - although the small treats were quite pricey, they were worth every penny! If I could ever make something half as good, I would be thrilled!
We ended the evening with dinner at John Ash & Co. at the Vinter's Inn in Santa Rosa (http://www.vintnersinn.com/dining/). This time, Ken had pork loin and I had a filet. My filet came with asparagus wrapped in fresh mozzarella and prosciutto and polenta fries. Ken's pork had an avocado topping. For dessert, we shared an "ice cream sandwich" made of a delicate sugar cookie and strawberry gelato. I also purchased a cookbook - "Cooking One on One" by John Ash. It is a beautiful book and has great recipes for many basics such as vinaigrettes, salsas, pestos, sauces, etc. It explains techniques in-depth and really is like having cooking lessons within the pages of the book.