If you're a "foodie", there is nothing like a day in the Napa Valley. I am lucky to live only an hour and a half drive away from this world-renown gourmet destination.
Yesterday I treated my oldest nephew Taylor (sous chef/culinary student) and me (foodie) to a day in the Napa Valley on a culinary field trip, of sorts. Here is a sampling of how we spent our day:
Since all great chefs start their day at the farmers market, we naturally began our day at the Napa Farmers Market. Our shopping mission was to find fresh beets. We found one vegetable stand that had three gorgeous varieties of beets: red, golden and chiggia. They were sold in bunches for $3.00 each.
We bought as many bunches of beets as our ice chest would hold. We are both going to roast our beets to use in French-style salads. Here's Taylor's recipe for roasting beets:
Taylor's Slow Roasted Beets
Trim all but 1 inch of the greens off the beets, then wash and pat dry.
Wrap each beet separately in aluminum foil, adding 1 T. of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 300 degrees F. for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until a knife inserts easily. Let cool slightly, then peel the cooked beets. Slice or cut the beets into wedges. Toss with a little olive oil, walnut oil or vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper.
Roasted beets are delicious in a mesclun salad with goat cheese, pecans and a French vinaigrette.
Our next stop was the Oxbow Public Market across the street. The Oxbow Public Market is an indoor marketplace which opened earlier in the year. At the Oxbow Market stand we met the spice man, Shuli Madmone owner of Whole Spice.
Shuli was quite personable and generously shared his culinary knowledge with us. He gave us a wonderful Indian fish curry recipe to try with his basic (Indian) curry, brown mustard seeds and methi leaves. He told us both when cooking "no fear"!
Check out the Whole Spice website for inspiration, recipes and mail order for their exotic spices from all over the world.
Next it was time for lunch. No, we didn't dine at Thomas Keller's The French Laundry but I had to drive my nephew by to see it. It is rated as one of the world's top restaurants. I hear, dinner for two is about $500.00! Hmm...maybe Taylor can get a job there someday!
Since most diners can't get a table or don't want to spend the beaucoup $$$$$ at The French Laundry, the next best thing is Thomas Keller's, more casual, Parisian style bistro Bouchon, just down the street.
Next it was off to Dean and Deluca in St. Helena for some gourmet food shopping. Since I can't jet off to Paris this year, I was able to replenish my French tea stash here.
D & D has one of the largest inventories of Mariage Freres of French teas that I have found outside of Paris. They also carry Hediard and Kusmi French teas. Oui, they do mail order!
We had a great day in the Napa Valley and can't wait to go back and try a new restaurant. If our little culinary adventure has you craving a taste of the Napa Valley, you can always check out Thomas Keller's The French Laundry and Bouchon cookbooks.