Wednesday, March 25, 2009

#65 - 25 March 2009 - "Napa to Lake Tahoe..."

The past week has taken me from a final day as a stagier at The French Laundry to a California Wine Country tourist!

Just to catch you up - finished my "Laundry" at 2:00 a.m. on the 21st and drove to Napa, California to meet Colorado friends (Mike & Judy and I slept in the car overnight in the parking lot at their Inn!), took a shower and had breakfast with them and then it as off to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to pick-up my wife and daughter... and then off to Ghiradelli Square, Fisherman's Wharf (had a great lunch at Capurro's with owner Paul C. - Cioppino, of course!), across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito and a Fika (Swedish for Coffee break with Pastry in the afternoon - around 4:00 p.m.) at the Sausalito Bakery & Deli and then back to Napa Valley.

Sunday, the 22nd we toured Yountville and had coffee and breakfast at The Bouchon Bakery. Me - and Almond Croissant. So good...! Walked the grounds at The French Laundry for the last time, as well... Took pictures of the garden and the restaurant that proved I actually was there... I will write a blog in the future to put that experience in perspective and to give my thanks to a select group of people.

Left Yountville and tasted at Stag' Leap (loved the 2004 Chase Creek Cab), gnoshed at the Oakville Grocery and then on to Opus (2003 and 2005Cab/Merlot). We lunched at Taylor's Refresher (featured in an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives...) in St. Helena. Next stop was Beringer (very good 2004 Nightingale - Semillion and Sauv Blanc) and then down the road to the CIA - to walk the grounds, visit the store and talk with the desk clerk ("Sam"). As a 1987 graduate of the CIA at Hyde Park he led us upstairs and we were allowed into the kitchen to talk and take pictures. I had spent some time at CIA at Greystone several years ago... I'll have to add all those good pics in a future blog as well.

Next on the tasting trip was Charles Krug and really loved the Zinfandel Port (tasted with a Scharffenberger 62% chocolate). Dinner that evening at Barndiva in Healdsburg, California - Modern Country Food. Pretty good...had Goat Cheese Croquettes, Quail Breast, and Beignets.

Monday the Corey's drove to the coast - Bodega Bay up to Jenner; lunch at River's End... Rte. 116 to Alexander Valley and found Jim's Town...10 years later. Tasted at Alexander Valley Winery. Loved their Bordeaux blends... Back to Santa Rosa and cooked seafood dinner. The last meal with P.S.(Cajun-style Catfish, Petrale Sole Meunier, Steamed Clams in Chardonnay, Shallots & Butter and Potato-wrapped Salmon - with Asparagus, Broccolini, Cucumbers, Butter Lettuce Salad, Roasted Tomatoes, Oven-Warmed Pears and Strawberries with Balsamico and Creme Chantilly).

Took the young Miss Corey to SFO on Tuesday and R & J travelled to Mendocino County and found a gem - Roederer Estates!!! The offspring of the house of Roederer Champagne in Reims, France. Wonderful. Loved the MV 2000, the Rose 2000, the 1999 Hermitage and bought several... Roederer was the first pour at my 24-course dinner at TFL on February 27th... I guess I could have bought a 1999 Cristal, but it was $595.00...

On to Mendocino, Ft. Bragg and then landed in Westport at Howard Ranch Inn at the headwaters of the Howard Creek and the Pacific Ocean and among the quail, sheep, llamas, horses and wild berries. A delightful Country Inn (which was once a 1960's hippie commune) with service provided by Sally and Sunny and a killer breakfast by CCA graduate Josh (good luck in Maui, my man!), fun, fun!

Across the Central Valley of California and up into the Sierra's... In Lake Tahoe tonight and off to Nevada and Utah tomorrow. Along the way I have been planning my April 20th Q & A event and I am re-visiting/re-reading Fernand Point's "Ma Gastronomie" with the forward by Thomas Keller. The one may be a re-incarnation of the other. My culinary hero and my culinary hero's hero....

There is much more to write, so stayed tuned. I also owe you several more commandments. I have them all planned out but I'm enjoying touring right now! I have much to say and do. To paraphrase F. Point - he said, "One must taste everything, cook everything and see everything in order to retain just a little bit." Peace.