Napa – 9/7/16 – Meadowood

I had no idea that a 3 Michelin star restaurant could be so polarizing.  I dined at Meadowood  in close proximity to several friends whose opinions I trust and had most to all of the same dishes I had.  They loved it, yet I was completely disappointed.  I utterly disliked many of the dishes and the menu as a whole.  To start with the positives, the eggplant foster was absolutely amazing.  And the squab and pasta courses I wished were 3 times as large.  But the menu overall  was just too many soft textures with no contrast.  A few things like this may have been fine, but far too many dishes could have qualified as baby food.  Teeth not necessary.  The braised cucumber in a damp rye is definitely the worst bread course I have had this year.  I suppose I just didn’t get it but nothing about this was a good idea.  Fermented squash juice squeezed over halibut sounded somewhat awful but was just completely flavorless.  And broth has to be the worst trend of the past few years.  I was so excited when lamb arrived but it was so fatty that I couldn’t find one decent bite of meat.  Not even a final bite of babka could save this dinner.  I wanted to love it and I will note that service was impeccable but I guess its just not for me.

okra flower

oyster okra seed caviar

eel smoked over cabernet staves beef tongue

braised cucumber rye dried albacore

tomato clam caviar

roasted gwen avocado walnut oil

sunflower pasta spot prawn chanterelle

halibut fermented squash

steamed potato cod purslane brandade

coal seared squab berries mustard

lamb broth

lamb plum pestled marigold

buffalo milk yogurt cultured with rose overripe melon

eggplant foster

candied peaches

chocolate babka

Napa – 9/6/16 – The French Laundry

With apologies to my still single friends and family, I fear that any wedding I attend in the future will be a disappointment. This was exactly what I would want for my own wedding, but since it has already been done I suppose I will have to stick to my Carrie Bradshaw city hall plan. Everything about this day was completely perfect from the weather to the ceremony in the courtyard, to the salmon cornets that I sadly have no photos of.  And of course being lucky enough to have such amazing friends who let me be a part of their wedding party.  While I had high expectations, serving an entire restaurant at once is challenging and I anticipated some service hiccups. However I could not have been more impressed. I would never have known that this was a wedding and not just a regular dinner or lunch service. Service was just completely impeccable. The food certainly was as well, so much so that I still cannot pick my favorite course. The classics are classics for a reason. Oysters and pearls, the hen egg custard and coffee & donuts will never ever get old. The others were equally as good.  And when was the last time anybody had a memorable wedding cake?  After two decades TFL is as good as ever and is further evidence that so many ‘best’ restaurant lists are pretty useless.

“Oysters and Pearls”
“Sabayon” of pearl tapioca with island creek oysters and white sturgeon caviar

Hen Egg Custard
with a ragout of Perigord truffles

Hudson Valley Moulard Duck Foie Gras “Rillette”
piedmont hazelnut “Genoise,” Yountville figs, watercress and concord grape jelly

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Poached Gulf Coast Cobia
stewed garden squash, fino verde basil, nicoise olives and french vermouth

“Beets and Leeks”
Alaskan king crab, slow roasted beets, horseradish scented leek “mousseline” and garden sorrel

Cornbread Stuffed Thomas Farm Squab
brentwood corn, hominy, applewood smoked bacon, black winter truffle and “sauce mignonette”

Charcoal Grilled Snake River Farms “Calotte de Boeuf”
roasted garden eggplant, lobster mushrooms, ginger scented broccoli pure, crispy barley and miso “hollandaise”

Schmitt family farm apples, marcona almonds and buttered shortbread

Lemon Coconut Cake
K&J Orchards peaches and nectarine sorbet

Coffee and Donuts

Napa – 9/5/16 – Two Birds One Stone

A completely fantastic first night in Napa.  A  unique concept for the area, gorgeous space and fantastic company.

iberico de bellota pork, spiced vietnamese caramel, kimchee

head on prawns, charred lime, sudachi salt

fried forbidden rice, lap cheong, sunny side up egg, chili oil

chicken meatballs, green onions, hoisin

savory japanese pancake, green onion, sambal mayo

barely cooked king salmon, myoga, pickled negi, chilled dashi gel

“chips n dip” pickled plum kewpie mayo
“radishes and butter” dashi compressed radishes, roasted nori goat milk butter
lotus root kimchee

hirame sashimi, cucumber, compressed melon

japanese green tea soft serve ice cream, ginger crumbles
black sesame soft serve ice cream, roasted plum