Well…I thought I should, I hoped I could, I said I would. So, here it is. My first official blog.
Although my blog, “Let’s dish.”, will be mostly about food and all that accompanies the beauty of food, my experiences eating it, making it, creating it and dreaming it, I will also interject other passions and fascinations that I’ve acquired over the years. Health, fitness, wine, travels, family, friends and the good Lord above. All of these, passions and fascinations that I am looking forward to sharing with you as I embark on this fab journey.
So, come on in and enjoy taking a moment to learn about what tastes, trips, sips and downward facing dogs excite and sustain me. You may be surprised to discover how much they excite you, too.
Now….let’s begin….Chapter One, Volume One. Let’s dish.
Salt & Pepper and a life changing walk by the Napa River
“If you’re tired you take a napa, you don’t move to Napa!”-Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City
It was Friday, May 25,2012 when, unbeknownst to me, my-soon-to-be fiancé and I arrived in Napa Valley, California for what was sure to be a life changing experience for me. As a chef and, more importantly, as a person.
Although I’m sure you wish that the rest of this of this blog were about the super lovey-dovey deats surrounding the most perfect marriage proposal, ever, that I received that evening by the Napa River just after sunset….sorry, Charlie. That’s not where this is going.
The topic of this blog begins about an hour post marriage proposal, when my now fiancé and I arrived at our first dinner reservation in Yountville. A small town, about 15 minutes outside of Napa, right out of a movie, centered around one small, quaint street. A street that is indeed lined with one incredible restaurant after another. I almost fell out of the window of the cab trying to snap shots of Thomas Keller’s French Laundry. Of course, I was elated about having just become engaged so our reservations could have been at Burger King and I would have been stoked. But, it didn’t hurt that I was getting ready to enjoy a meal at a restaurant that I had been waiting to eat at for quite some time. Michael Chiarello’s, Bottega was picture perfect and totally my style. I knew it the second we approached the cobblestone walkway. As we entered the restaurant, it was bustling with people eating, drinking and being pleasantly merry. It was rustic, beautiful and totally indicative of what I had pictured to be the quintessential wine county restaurant.
We were seated at the most perfect corner booth and presented immediately with the champagne that my family had ordered for us, in celebration of our special night. We sipped and smiled and giggled and enjoyed every drop. Next, to the table, came the most incredible freshly baked bread. Crusty and crunchy on the outside with a delectably chewy and perfect inside. Along with the bread came a ridiculous parmesan and garlic infused, greener-than-grass, extra virgin olive oil. With every bite, I savored the garlicky, citrus-y, creamy combination of flavors. Man, was it fabulous. Only one thing was missing: Salt. Short side note: I love salt. I crave it. I salt my food, often, and it’s a running joke between my fiancé and I that when eating Mexican food, I literally salt each individual tortilla chip before dousing it in salsa. I can’t help it. I addicted. I will say that I have always had abnormally low blood pressure, so doctors have often told me that I can salt freely. So, at least I have that on my side. I sighed, sadly, as I realized that, of course, there would be no salt on the table due to the pretentiousness of upscale restaurants and the stereo type that goes along with “real restaurants knowing how to season their food, perfectly.” A theory, by the way, that I couldn’t agree LESS with. Some people like extra salt! Or pepper, for that matter! It’s all about personal preference and, to me, whatever makes the diner’s experience more enjoyable, is what’s important, in my eyes. Lose the ego and throw a salt and pepper grinder on the table for cryin out loud! To my surprise, however, seconds later, I gasped with joy to find that Michael Chiarello and I indeed share the same thoughts on the matter. Right there, on the corner of the table was a petit ramekin of freshly ground sea salt, accompanied by a tiny little pepper grinder!!! I absolutely loved that a world famous chef, at an extremely highly acclaimed Napa Valley restaurant, was humble enough to allow the guest to decide when they had, had enough seasoning. Loved it. And, what’s more, two out of our three dinners in Napa, that weekend, had salt and pepper on the table, too! I may need to move there.
Our first courses were perfection.
Monterey Calamari, crisped with Arborio rice flour & Aioli Nero
Burrata Kalamata Olive Crema. Black Anise Crostini, Fava Beans, Pickled Spring Onions and Saba Vinaigrette. No salt necessary.
Entrée Courses bumped it up another notch, yet.
Red Wheat Tagliarini Bolognese Veal, Pork & Porcini Mushroom Sugo, Rosemary, Parmigiano Reggiano
Mediterranean Seafood Brodetto Mussels, Gulf prawns, Clams and Monterey Calamari, Forno-Confit Tomato broth, Olive Oil Croûton, Paprika Saffron Rouille
Our reservations were at 9pm that night and we didn’t leave the restaurant until after midnight. How incredible it was to truly enjoy these wonderful moments together, while relishing in one of the best meals I’ve had. We savored the rest of our champagne and finally called it a night. And, what a night it was.
James Beard said, “There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” And, aside from unconditional and overwhelming love I feel for the most incredible fiancé in the history of the world, I couldn’t agree more.