Friday, March 7, 2014

Food Fun in Wine Country!

My Hubby & I recently got to take a day off from tax returns and clients to attend a 35th wedding anniversary/vow renewal for dear friends of ours. The ceremony and dinner were held at the Hall Winery in St. Helena in the picturesque Napa Valley. We arrived to the area the night before and had dinner reservations at Michael Chiarello's Bottega, in the little town of Yountville. This restaurant has to be one of my favorite restaurants of all time. We've eaten there six or seven times now and I've never been disappointed. We've not had much rain this winter. As fate would have it, the one weekend we got to be out of the office it rained!  It stopped for a brief time during our dinner at Bottega. Our table overlooked the Bottega gardens and it was such a pretty sight with everything wet and the sun beginning to set. (And the wine? We drank the whole bottle, I will confess!)
Every time we eat at Bottega I say I'm going to try a different appetizer. Each time I lose that resolve and order the house specialty, Polenta under Glass. It's a stone-ground polenta cooked with cream and Fontina cheese. It's topped with sautéed chanterelle mushrooms, then served with a reduced balsamic vinegar sauce and a parmesan crisp. It’s amazingly creamy and dreamy.  If someone dropped me in a vat of the balsamic sauce and I drowned I would die a happy woman, it’s so yummy. Once again I chose this as my appetizer.  I’ll have to try something new next time!
For my entrée I ordered a whole fish, roasted in their wood oven.  It was very simply seasoned with salt and pepper, very flavorful and light. My Hubby had the short ribs.  Oh, my goodness, they were divine!
Meyer lemon crostadas were the dessert choice for both of us. The filling was quite similar to lemon curd, very flavorful.
I fell in love with this chandelier in the back dining area of the restaurant.  It is made with spoons!
The next morning we did some antique shopping and  food shop browsing.  One of my favorite shops to visit is the Olivier Olive Oil Co.  They sell amazing olive oil, vinegars, mustards and tapenades. Their balsamic vinegar is the one I use most often. On this day I also bought a bottle of their Green Apple White Balsamic vinegar.
Balsamic jelly!

Various flavors of balsamic vinegar.

Various flavored olive oils for tasting and self-bottling.
The vow renewal ceremony was held in a barn-like structure at the winery.  The view overlooking the vineyards towards the foothills was beautiful.
Our dinner was in a stone-lined room.  Wine barrels, in various stages of fermentation, surrounded our table. The table was made from a whole tree and fitted with glass. It was decorated simply with votive candles and rose petals.  Truly breathtaking.
We were gone 36 hours, were back at our desks Sunday morning at 9:30, very relaxed and probably a few pounds heavier!


  1. I love your posts Jules!!!! You should have been a teacher for Time Management cuz I don't where you find the time to make every thing look perfect!!! Beverly