Thursday, October 1, 2009

Californimastication: Part I

Wednesday was delicious. It was our first full day in Napa, and it began as our first days here usually do...a caffeinated beverage and pastry at Dean and Deluca. Lil' Bit and I shared an apricot brioche that would make you slap your grandma it was so good.

Chef and I celebrate our anniversary every October in Northern California. We stay at my dear friend Meghan's gorgeous family home in Calistoga, and truck it back to San Fran for a few nights at the end of our visit. I look forward to this trip every year...this year makes number 4.

There is nothing like waking up at dawn, which is Lil' Bit's morning ritual here since she is stuck on EST, and watching the sun rise over a gentleman's vineyard as quail scurry about pecking at mounds of fallen grapes scattered under their vines. Megs and I have been in cahoots since we were ten years old and she is family to us, Lil' Bit's godmother to be exact. Her father has been in the wine business as long as I can remember, which is not a bad business to be in from what I can tell, and we are so lucky to have such remarkable folks in our lives.

Lunch at Mustards, Cindy Pawlcyn's Napa flagship restaurant, is a new must for us every time we are in this part of the country. Sean Night, Pawlcyn's partner, is a friend of Chef's from growing up in Atlanta whom he reconnected with on our last visit. The food at Mustards is quintessential California cuisine fresh, casual yet elegant simplicity. Basically, perfection. One of the most famous dishes on their menu is the Lemon Lime Meringue Pie, which is pictured above. The meringue on top is something Suessean in nature. You have to see it to believe it, and yes it tastes better than it looks. Lil' Bit couldn't keep her hands off it. She is such a trip to eat with. Mustards has a fantastic kid's menu, from which we ordered her a chicken panini, but she preferred our duck entree to her infantile fare.

We schlepped to Sebastopol to meet our friends Marcy and Roger, who recently moved back to California from Amelia Island. Two smart people if you ask me. We met them and then drove to Sonoma to have dinner at The Girl and Fig. The menu was classic French infused with the pioneering California spirit. Owned by Sondra Bernstein, this restaurant is a gem. We dined al fresco on a lovely patio with lanterns draped about and fires blazing in table side pits and out door fire places. We sat next to a minimalist water fountain that held Lil' Bit's attention off and on through out dinner. Lil' Bit immediately engaged a man whom I supposed was the manager of the restaurant with her girlish wiles. She knows who to work in the room. Lil' Bit targeted the manager at Mustards earlier in the day and was awarded a special plate of sesame seed crackers which she splashed about in as if it were a dog bowl of water.

When we arrived she was in a bit of a mood after a long car ride, but as soon as the little dish of olives hit the table she was cracking the whip. "More. More. More." I couldn't pit them fast enough, and had to enlist Chef to help. She devoured all but five olives, and a caper berry which she sucked on like a lollipop for a while. Quite a palette our little one is developing.

I am not sure if it is pregnancy, well that is a lie, it is the prego factor that is making me dessert obsessed. At the end of this lovely dinner I had three scoops of fig and port wine ice cream nestled in a homemade cookie bowl, which Marcy summed up perfectly after a spoonful exclaiming, "Holy shit that is good!" Actually, she basically described our entire day of dining with those five words. It was a wonderful, wonderful Wednesday.


Anonymous said...

give auntie megs a kiss from heather. and lil' bit is a quite the gourmand, huh? well, we would expect that from a set of parents such as yourselves. eat some good food for me. and i can imagine it is hard to visit napa not being able to drink wine....or cheese! you guys and have so much fun on the rest of your trip!! love,

Marcy Gordon said...

Holy shit it was good! So fun to see you guys at one of my favorite restaurants in Sonoma.