Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Eating in and Around San Francisco Day 2 Napa and Sonoma

Today our adventure in California continues. We drove to Napa Valley, bordered by mountains on both sides. It has the advantage of having the bay on the southern border, so at night we wet, cool air rushes right through the valley and helps cool the air down and give moisture to the vines. We toured Mondavi's winery. 

These are cabernet sauvignon grapes.
We learned a lot! We got to taste the grape varietals right off of the vine.

 We saw the barrels of wine aging. 

We then got to taste three wines. We tasted their 2007 CHX Napa Valley Chardonnay. It was very good. It had notes of vanilla cream, pears, and key lime pie. ( I got that off the tasting notes, to be honest. My palate isn't that refined!) Then we tasted a 2007 Napa Valley Fume Blanc. I liked this one a lot, it had citrus and floral notes and a nice mouth feel. 

The third one was a Cabernet Sauvignon, which I learned is the most grown grape varietal on the Mondovi estate. This was a 2007 Carneros Cab, a little pricier and it was nice to taste but not my favorite. (Very tannic). We bought a Pinot Noir there that isn't available in Pennsylvania, and are excited to try it!

For lunch we went to the CIA-the Napa Valley branch of the Culinary Institute of America. We sat at the counter of a round open kitchen.

It was a great view.

Sweet white corn soup with basil oil. I had this as a first course. It had a lovely, pure fresh corn flavor and was absolutely fantastic.

Jake's first course; Burrata- Creamy fresh mozzarella, local heirloom tomatoes, olive relish. The creamy cheese went well with the tomatoes and olives.

Watermelon and watercress salad with ricotta salata, pine nuts, and lime vinaigrette. The cheese in this dish was fantastic.

Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi with baby zucchini, patty pan squash, romano beans, cherry tomatoes, with yellow tomato au jus. I don't even like plain zucchini and summer squash that much and this was delicious! They made the gnocchi by putting the dough into long cylindrical tubes, steaming them, and then cutting off pieces and pan frying them. We got to figure this out  by watching them cook.

Here I am with some of the CIA chefs!

We had dinner at a restaurant in Sonoma called "The Girl and the Fig" Unfortunately, my camera battery died so no food pictures. But it is a charming restaurant, with delicious olives and a nice variety of cheese, both local and from France.

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