(Dining) Adventures in NorCal Part 2

As I stare down the barrel of my next work trip, I realize that I never finished writing about all of the food on my last one. I fear I might be too ADD to maintain this blog on a super-regular basis, but I’m trying. Maybe it’s just that even I don’t want to hear what I have to say that often.

When I left off the last NorCal post, Glynis and I had just enjoyed a lovely breakfast at Meadowood and then set out for a meeting at Spring Mountain Vineyard. If you ever find yourself with an opportunity to try their wines, they make a lovely sauvignon blanc as well as a great cabernet sauvignon. Unfortunately we didn’t get to taste as many wines as I’d have liked (time was of the essence), but the property is beautiful and definitely worth the stop, if you find yourself in the Napa Valley. Note – you’ll have to venture off the main roads to find the winery, but you’ll be glad you did.

It is also at this juncture that I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the good people at Back Room Wines in downtown Napa. A winemaker friend suggested we check it out for some delicious grape products for shipping home. Such a great find! Awesome selection of well-known labels as well as smaller producers. And, they had an Orin Swift wine I hadn’t tried yet. What more could this girl ask for?

Clos de Cordeliers Samur Champigny 2009

Chris took excellent care of us, providing recommendations and then relieving us of our money when it was time to pay and ship. The wine arrived just as promised and – as is a must for this service-oriented gal – a follow-up email was sent just because. Two enthusiastic taste buds up for Back Room Wines. PS – I’m currently enjoying a 2009 Clos des Cordeliers Samur Champigny from the Loire Valley in France. If you look for wines based on the importer, chalk this one up to Paul M. Young out of Los Angeles.

That evening, G and I had the pleasure of dining with one of my favorite peeps – the incomparable Matt I. And he made sure to book us at a fantastic restaurant in San Francisco – Epic Roasthouse. The restaurant is on The Embarcadero, with beautiful views of the bay. Not a bad way to spend an evening.

Nickel & Nickel deliciousness

We wasted no time, starting out by ordering a 2005 Vogt Vineyard Nickel & Nickel Cabernet Sauvignon. When in Northern California, have an amazing Northern California wine, no? Incredibly rich and smooth, with balanced tannins. I probably could have had the entire bottle myself, but I was well behaved. Nickel & Nickel focuses on producing single-vineyard wines focused on a single varietal. And I have yet to have anything from their label that doesn’t completely satisfy.

Don’t get too excited – this won’t be a multi-course post. We kept it simple – each ordering entrees and then sharing dessert. That’s the thing about great food. You don’t have to overdo it by loading up on a bunch of different items because the right amount of something phenomenal is more than satisfying. 

Pretty little pheasant

Matt I and I opted for the same main course – the Steak and Cake – a petit filet (ordered medium, of course) with a spicy crab cake accompanied by a dungeness crabmeat hollandaise and tomato salsa. While we zigged, Glynis zagged and went with the roasted pheasant with fava bean pesto, chanterelle mushrooms, caramelized shallots, potato coins and pinot noir sauce. I must say, mine tasted delicious, but for presentation, the pheasant won, hands down.


Steak n Cake

My steak was clearly of great quality and was a perfectly cooked medium (you hear that Eddie V’s?). The crab cake was the star, though. It’s hard for me to say that, considering how much I love a good steak. But it’s true. More crab than cake, and with just enough spice to give it a little heat at the end. I could have eaten three of these bad boys. then slather everything in the crab hollandaise and I was in H-E-A-V-E-N.


This cake IS the devils food

Dessert. Ah yes, dessert. Devil’s food cake with toasted pecans and a toffee sauce. Did I mention it came with a bourbon milkshake? Um, hello! Bourbon. Milkshake. I love both and yet, someone much smarter than me had the insight to put the two together. Nothing short of genius. In fact, I got so excited, that I knocked over my milkshake about halfway through and then asked them to bring me another because I just didn’t want to miss out. I think the waiter was a bit dubious though – the replacement was far less bourbon-y than the original. Oh well.

The cake was dense with a refined chocolate flavor. The pecans were nicely toasted and the toffee sauce was just enough of an accompaniment without overpowering the rest of the dish. But – was it more memorable than any other chocolate cake? Not really. But that bourbon milkshake will stick with me for ages. In fact…I may figure out how to make one of those for myself this weekend. It would be kosher for Passover, right?
The night ended far too soon, but G and I had an early flight (which we nearly missed because I’m lame) to LA where the adventures continued…

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