My Culinary Adventures in Napa (Part 4)

Wednesday May 13th

Today was the day I'd been planning for quite some time. This was the day I was going to Bouchon in Yountville, California. To those of you who don't know this place, it started out as a bakery and has since evolved into a French Bistro type of place, both in Las Vegas and here in Yountville.

The place is very non descript and plain, but once inside you feel like you are in France in a small homey kind of feeling. It is very comfortable.

We started with a couple of glasses of Bilcart Salmon Champagne. My niece had the country Pate and I had Foi Gras with turnips, cherries, balsamic reduction and cherry gastric. It was an existential moment, and I had to give pause...

After regaining my senses, I ordered a beet salad with the most incredibly creamy and smooth goat cheese. The salad was garnished with Haricots Verts, brunoise bell pepper in a wonderful vinaigrette. My niece had a salad with butter lettuce, goat cheese as well, with grapefruit and orange pieces, also in light vinaigrette.

For my Entre ©e I ordered hogs jowls with pork Rillette on Lentils, Spring onion and shallot, with a red wine/stock reduction. My Niece had Sweetbreads in a demi glace and a red wine poached egg. Both were very well presented.

On an occasion such as this, dessert is almost required. We ordered Profiteroles AND Lemon Tart and shared our bounty with each other. I also had a Cappuccino. We shared a bottle of a
French Chinon, a 2005 I believe.

All of my expectations about Bouchon were met. I had been here 9 years prior and, to me, it was just the same experience. All the wait staff are professionals and it is very refreshing to be served by these people.

The entire experience was at least.....a 10

Our bill for the 2 of us with wine and cocktails was over $380.00 in my mind money well spent, but something to be done once in a great while. I could however, get used to this way of eating pretty easily.

More fun tomorrow as we spend the day drinking our way through the valley.

Thursday May 14th,

Today my niece and I programmed the GPS to take us to several wineries.

We visited Hagafen Cellars (Kosher wine varietals),

Ceja, makers of chardonnay, merlot, pinot noir,

Saintsbury, makers of pretty much just pinot noirs

Domaine Chandon (sparkling wine)

And Domaine Carneros (Also sparkling wine).

Some of these places served food to pair with the wine choices. The tastings varied depending upon the place, so at Domaine Carneros for instance a flight of 3 flutes of sparkling wine would be $16.00 a pop, but if you make a purchase of some wine, the tasting is then free.

Many places have wine clubs you can join to have wines sent directly to your home each month.

Later in the day we found a small place that had a "happy hour" set up where their food and wine parings were half price. For 2 hours we sat and happily munched on Tapas while trying a few different wines.

We tried 5 different Tapas plates:

Lobster Ceviche served in a miniature Martini glass was a great presentation, and very colorful. It was a little heavy on the cilantro for me and the lobster was diced up small and very flavorful.
I was disappointed to discover the lobster had been already precooked BEFORE it was added to the salad vinaigrette, so this was not, in essence, a true Ceviche. It was very good though

Next up was a salad of mixed micro-greens with Duck Confit. Nice plate presentation and the vinaigrette was nice and light. The Confit was a bit bland but still mixed well in the mouth with the other flavors.

Next up was a deconstructed Salad Nicoise. I'd have to say this was my favorite plate. The tuna was served Tartar on a bed of diced endive and it was molded to form a round. On it was some micro-greens and a poached quail egg half.
On the plate a very fine olive tapenade is smeared across the plate decoratively. Also accompanying the plate was Haricot Verts bell pepper Brunoise all in light vinaigrette.

The main courses were Braised Pork Belly and a Torchon of Foi Gras. The belly came as a shish kabob in square pieces on a skewer nicely crisp and browned served on Micro-greens with sweet vinaigrette. The Foi Gras was served in three rounds of about an inch and a half diameter, with toast rounds, caramelized red onion, and a truffle honey.

I had a flight of 3 sparkling wines, one a brut, one a Blanc de Noir, and the third was Proseco.
Also I had a Bourgonne from France.

Our experience here that afternoon was as exciting and fun as Bouchon was the night before. I gave this place a 9.5

We sat out in the open air and just people watched ate and drank. This was well worth the money and also a very nice relaxing afternoon spent.

At dinner we found ourselves in an Italian Deli putting the finishing touches on our antipasto tray. We got a baguette, some mortadella, salami, pastrami, prosciutto, several French cheeses, marinated artichokes, and mushrooms, some cornichons and olives, a couple bottles of Italian reds. All we need is a candle and some music. WE are taking our dinner on the patio tonight.

Tomorrow is our last day in the valley and we hope to make our way north to visit, Calistoga, and St. Helena. More tomorrow….

Browse Culinary Arts Schools & Colleges