Tuesday, July 04, 2006


During college, my girlfriends and I coined terms for each of our styles. My look was deemed rugged-elegance (another girl's was sultry-machismo). I truly embraced my ruggedly elegant style this weekend, camping for the first half and lounging at a spa for the second half.

We had a boat-in campsite at Lake Sonoma. Aboard our Zodiac, Aren and I were literally sprawled on top of all our camping gear, the height of which was far higher than the boat's. Aren didn't appreciate my stowaway cracks. We did not try the gourmet-camping thing and instead survived on canned soup and ravioli, an assortment of cereal bars, and some Stella Artois. We did enjoy the sun (Frindians do burn), read a lot, and enjoyed one another's company sans laptops.

As usual, the shower that came post-camping was divine. So fresh and so clean, Aren and I visited a couple wineries:

1. Michel Schlumberger: The winery is the only grower of Pinot Noir grapes in the Dry Creek Valley and crafts all of its wines in a more French than American style.

2. Unti: One of Aren's co-workers swears by this winery, which seems to focus on Italian varietals. The wine was ok -- we picked up some bottles for Aren's co-worker, but none for ourselves.

3. Belvedere: Yuck. Mr. Belvedere himself must be the winemaker.

4. Rochioli: Affordable, above-average wines.

5. A Rafanelli: I'm saving the best for last. Rafanelli has a cult following -- there is a two year waitlist to become part of their wine club. We made sure to come away with a couple bottles of their Zin and Merlot.

We were hungry after all the wine tasting. Fortunately, Farmhouse Inn, the lovely place where we stayed not only has a spa, but a highly acclaimed restaurant. When I was getting ready for dinner, Aren picked up a dozen roses for me and had the host place them on our table -- husbands and boyfriends, use this one!

Dinner was fabulous. I had burrata with fresh tomato crostini, seared halibut, and olive oil cake with lemon sabayon. We asked the sommelier for a really earthy, local Pinot Noir. He recommended we try a bottle from Porter Creek, which he described as producing artisan wines that are too earthy for many people. We loved the wine -- it wasn't smooth, but in a rustic, rather than overly alcoholic way.

We're exhausted from our weekend -- hopefully the fireworks won't keep us from going to bed early.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Food Bytes

I don't have any new restaurant experiences to share with you. So, instead, here are a couple food-related thoughts:

1. AG Ferrari's fresh burrata, which lands in AG's 24 hours after being produced in Italy. Burrata is an incredibly fresh cheese, part mozzarella, part cream. We served our burrata with a thinly sliced baguette and dumped the leftovers, skins and all, into a tomato sauce for a delectable dinner the next evening.

2. Pizzeria Delfina's pizzas. We enjoyed one topped with egg, another with anchovies, and another with broccoli rabe. So fresh and so clean.

3. Power bars. While Aren was out of town, my girlfriend and I had her brother and his friend over for a drink. Her brother will not eat sugar or carbs, so I had to think of something to serve with the plate of cheeses, bread, olives, nuts, and cherries I had prepared for everyone else. I settled on a cubed power bar, arranged around a bright orange gardenia. Genius!

4. That's all for now...

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Winter, Spring

The Newsoms totally owe us. Having spent a lovely weekend at their property in Carneros, we decided to try their property in Squaw over Memorial Day weekend. Our meals at their Plumpjack Cafe and Balboa Cafe were separated by skiing, massages, and candle-making (my candle is way better than Aren's). Food highlights include the breakfast granola, a pork chop Aren had that came with bacon-confit potatoes, and warm pumpernickel bread. Beverage highlights include a Flowers Pinot Noir. The Pinot is the best we've had in recent memory - it was incredibly earthy, smooth, and soft, without being feeble. Lodging highlights include the gas-powered fire pit in the bar, which was perfect after a day on the slopes. We only have to try Jack Falstaff and the Plumpjack Cafe in the city before the Newsom's are obliged to invite us over to dinner.

This weekend we tried Woodward's Garden, which has a view of an overpass, rather than a garden. I'd describe the restaurant as shabby chic, service as no-frills, and food as California comfort. We sat in the stark back room, which is simply decorated with a crooked chandelier -- it was pleasantly romantic. I started with a simple green salad, moved on to a large piece of halibut (hence the comfort food aspect) that was served on a bed of vegetables and topped with fava bean puree, and finished with an olive oil cake that came with a citrus compote and creme fraiche. Oh, and the 2003 Pur Sang we brought paired nicely with my meal. I've had a handful of people mention that they'd like to try Woodward's -- my advice is that it's worth trying, but that it probably won't be added to your list of favorites.

Monday, May 01, 2006


Our friend Michael was visitng from Seattle last week and enjoyed our guest room ("Michael's Room") Friday night.

After enjoying a Pride Merlot at home, we walked a couple blocks to Delfina to make our 10 pm reservations. The food was good, but not remarkable. We had an earthy red wine, but nothing memorable. I had:

Little gem lettuce with Parmigiano frico and lemon-anchovy vinaigrette

King salmon with melted leeks and meyer lemon-caper butter

Profiteroles with espresso gelato, warm chocolate sauce and candied almonds

In the Italian restaurant scene, A16 does it for me much better then Delfina.

Michael and I may have ganged up on Aren on the way home. Someone asked us if we had a light. Michael and I simply said sorry, no. Aren instead had to say, "No. I do not smoke." Read what you want into Aren's response, but Michael and I thought it was hilarious.

Friday, April 14, 2006

My Friend Jeff

This entry is not very food related, but it is about my friend Jeff who happens to like tasty food.

Like me, Jeff fell into a period of blog-apathy, his last entry was from the 22nd of January! Pathetic!

Friends and food-lovers alike, let's all muster up some mental energy to lend Jeff to get back onto the blogging-bandwagon. Gooo Jeff!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Warm and Cold

Last weekend, we went to Foreign Cinema for the first time. As per my request, we were seated inches away from the restaurant's fireplace, making for a very warm and lovely meal. Last night, we dined at Pilar, a newish restaurant in downtown Napa. We were plopped next to a window near the entrance (not what we had requested), causing me to focus more on my coldness during the meal, rather the well-prepared food.

Before our Foreign Cinema experience, we had drinks at Laszlo, the bar connected to Foreign Cinema. We whiled an hour away on a leather couch in the bar's loft-like upstairs level. The bar is very stark and eurotrash, yet cozy. Our evening at Foreign Cinema itself was the best first-time experience I've had at a restaurant in quite some time. I started with a chicory salad with garlic croutons (Aren with the beef carpaccio, a stand-out dish) before moving onto halibut for my main and pavlova for my dessert. The best part of our meal may have been the 1997 Mount Veeder cab we brought -- it didn't exactly match my halibut, but I really didn't mind. After sharing a half glass with us, our server kindly waved the corkage fee.

I had a rather draining week at work last week, so Aren promised to take me away for Saturday night if I promised to leave laptop and work behind. We escaped to the Carneros Inn in wine country for an overnight. Uncharacteristically, we opted for an afternoon of spa treatments, rather than hit up some wineries. Even though we didn't run into Gavin (the Newsoms manage the Plumpjack facilities, of which the inn is part), we enjoyed our stay. Our tin-roofed cottage featured heated slate floors in the bathroom and an outdoor shower in our private patio which was accessible from the french doors a hop-step from our bed. Luxurious.

Aren had read about Pilar on a fellow Stanford alumnus' blog. The food was simple, fresh, and elegant, but the service was not. After waiting 45 minutes for the back corner table we had been promised, we were seated at the abovementioned table. Fortunately, I had Aren to rub my goosebumped arms throughout the meal, which, again, was very good. I had a raddichio salad with balsamic poached cherries and parmesan reggiano, seared halibut on a bed of leek-whatnot, and an apple tart. Unfortunately for Pilar, I don't think we'll be returning. There are too many other restaurants in wine country that have not only good food, but also good service and atmosphere.

Aren't you happy I'm back?

Sunday, April 02, 2006

It's Alive!

Many of you keep reminding me that I have a blog. I took a bit of a sabbatical from my blog, but am resuscitating it.

I have some food and wine experiences from this weekend to write about later, but here's some reading material to tide you over in the meatime: SF Chronicle's Top 100 Restaurants of 2006