Monday, August 30, 2010

L'Affaire de la Bière

Wednesday hubby and I went to pick up the Community Supported Agriculture.  I spent a long time when we arrived home chopping peppers, tomatoes, tomatillo, (grated carrots) and cilantro from our CSA to make salsa.  My husband went to New Leaf Market to pick up an onion to complete the salsa.  He made eggs for us to eat with our salsa dinner.
Saturday we visited with friends in San Francisco.  The four of us attended one of the last weekends of special pre-Impressionist exhibits at the de Young and Palace of the Legion of Honor museums.  Dinner from the Beach Chalet was by the San Francisco coastline.

Today we purchased specially priced Summit Lake wines for friends.  Mark and Heather Griffin were sweet enough to give us a flat of pears from their tree and eggs from their chickens.  I watched as Mark’s four large containers of beer fermented.

This evening we ended our eleventh anniversary weekend at Ad Hoc restaurant in Yountville, CA.  There was a sweet couple from Long Island, NY sitting next to us.  Nathan showed us an empty Blue Apron beer bottle after hubby asked what the 100 bottles on the wall were about.  The bottle looked cool, so I set it down beside me.  After all, with my back to the wall, I though it had come from the recycle bin.  Little did I know it was an important part of the decor.

Ad Hoc was very kind to us:
 Melon and smoked salmon amuse bouche
Yellow and green bean salad with fennel, frisee, olives, walnuts and cream
An appetizer of prosciutto-wrapped sea bass with corn and mushrooms.  I'm a big fan of yellow corn.
Chicken (butchered Thursday) and Italian sausage with polenta
Tome des Recollets with Asian pear and candied peanuts
Peach cobbler with ice cream

My husband and I joked that the staff was trying to determine the best way to get the bottle back from me.  In the end, they had us sign the bottle to put back on the wall.  They gave us a full, fully signed bottle to take home.  The beer affair ended this way:  the bottle now graces our wine room.
The ale from Brooklyn Brewery was used at the NYC opening of Per Se restaurant.  Restaurant group owner Thomas Keller liked it so much that Brooklyn Brewery bottles it now with special "Blue Apron" labels in honor of Keller's chefs.

Monday, August 2, 2010

'02-'04-'06-Ate . . . Who Do We Appreciate?

As my husband's 40th birthday approached, I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday. He replied, a party at Summit Lake Vineyards with a whole roasted pig. That would’ve been too much food, so I said no whole pig. He asked Heather at Summit Lake if we could hold his birthday party there.

Hired Erika Tauriello Catering Rio Del Mar, CA to make the food, basically heavy appetizers. She met up to hand me the food in two neatly packed coolers. Ideally we'd have two hours to set up for the party, however we arrived at Summit Lake only 30 minutes before hand. Kara and Mike from neighboring Dunn Vineyard / Retro Cellars, were the first to arrive. The Dunns were kind enough to help me finish decorating by fluffing tissue paper flowers and hanging Mexican paper flags.
In all, twenty great people joined up on the hill in Northeast Napa Valley. My husband had fun; felt loved, and enjoyed wonderful food and wine. We began with appetizers at 4:40 pm: vegan red bell pepper terrine with crackers, sausage and fennel-stuffed mushrooms, a cheese platter with bread (including Kara's herb rolls), rosemary cashews, vegetable crudités with ranch sour cream dip . . . another guest brought home-smoked ahi tuna. We purchased wine from Summit Lake, and Mike hauled over 18 bottles (Sierra Nevada Summerfest Lager, flavored San Pellegrino, and a lot of water were available).
Dinner was mini twice-baked potatoes, cold cuts, antipasti, and beef skewers. Our friend Tanya at Original Sin Bakery in Santa Cruz, CA made his 12" square coconut cake. Donnelly Chocolate in Santa Cruz, CA made 40 chocolate Port balls from Summit Lake Port.
Most of our friends left to drive to their respective homes, or to nearby hotels, though three friends camped out on the Summit Lake lawn, the two of us stayed in the converted barn. Before sunrise the sky was brilliant, Cody the dog was exhausted from playing fetch all night, and the chickens were beginning to make their morning music. I reflected on the pure blessings in our lives.
Sound asleep I realized with a start that we needed to get moving! I'd promised Heather that we'd all be out by 9 am, plus we had 10 am Ad Hoc brunch reservations. As best I could, we managed to get eleven friends in one place, at one time, for Ad Hoc's fried chicken and waffles. The ending lemon yogurt mousse with berries left us all desiring nothing.
Mike was kind enough to give 8 of us a tour and tasting at Dunn Vineyards. The group went wild about the Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 1997, 2002, 2004 and 2006 from Dunn Vineyards. I'd never seen pale brand new French oak barrels; I'd only ever seen used dark wine-stained barrels.

If we weren't feeling how lucky we were with our friends by now, our dinner with two other friends sealed the sweet life-affirming weekend. Ad Hoc hosted us for a very special dinner on Sunday, hubby's 40th birthday proper.
1. Gazpacho soup that smelled of fresh garden tomatoes.
2.  Salad of beans, endive, stuffed fried squash blossoms
3. Chicken mar i muntanya (like paella), with the most succulent spiced chicken
4. Cheese treats including cheese stuffed pepper, iberico ham, two types of salami, lardo over caramelized onion on paladin toast, cornishon and seeded mustard (Four of us agreed we would have been deeply satisfied if this was our dinner.)
5. Berry sorbet with coconut cookies, compressed honeydew and watermelon, and a crispy chocolate peanut butter bar.

We absolutely appreciate everyone we came into contact with this past weekend. It was an unbelievably comfortable, refreshing and enjoyable time. I think we all felt grateful and happy in every cell.