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The Food Nomad – goes to wine country, Napa Valley

I love wine, not only because of its obvious sensory attributes and its complimentary relationship to food, but because it’s a subject that no one can ever fully comprehend – the learning / discovery process is perpetual.  We make it a goal to visit at least one wine producing region each year, and so far we’ve sipped and gurgled at Hunter Valley (Australia), Bordeaux and the beautiful Saint-Emillion region (France), Bozen (Italy), Marlborough (New Zealand), and Napa (USA).  

Thus far, Napa takes the crown for the best wine region in my books.  Being in Napa was a gourmet’s dream with good food and even better wine.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Bordeaux and, in my opinion, nothing can surpass the French mastery of wine-making, but Napa exults a vibrant energy that embodies the American spirit of innovation and progress, with local wine makers boldly stepping out of the traditional boundaries to produce their own unique brand of wine.  

Below are some excerpts from our food / wine journey in Napa – it’s definitely a place worthy of many return visits.

Welcome to wine country – driving up to Far Niente vineyard.

My first drink in Napa (surprisingly, it wasn’t wine) but a peony-infused tea liquor with thyme flowers called Tea Thyme at Press Steakhouse in St. Helena’s.

I am usually not a fan of mac and cheese, but this was jaw-dropping.  Very silky and drizzled with a generous amount of truffle oil. (@Press restaurant)

The best pork chop I’ve had, thus far.  A thick, juicy cut of pork, brined for 24 hours to retain the moisture, and then char grilled to form a beautiful savory crust around the succulent meat inside.  (@ Press restaurant) 

Visiting the acclaimed Jarvis winery.  The family-owned winery is set in a hollowed out mountain – the amount of work they’ve put into the construction is mind-boggling.  

Inside the tunnels at Jarvis.
Enter the tasting room, also inside the bat cave.  Our guide, Rob, was fantastic and had me laughing so hard my stomach ached! 
This is serious business!  We loved the Jarvis tasting so much, we shipped 12 bottles back to Hong Kong.
Another day, another tasting.  At Sterling vineyard, where gondolas transport guests up to the winery on top of the hill.  I liked the wines but it was nothing to write home about.
At Far Niente, famous for their golden honey-coloured Dolce noble rot wine.
It’s really hard to make a decision when they all look so good!  At Dean and Delucas at St. Helena’s.
Creamy, nutty oysters at Bouchon, the casual sister restaurant of The French Laundry kitchen.
Fried summer squash flowers – they were so light that it felt like eating air.  I liked the freshness of it, but wished it was more substantial.  I remember having some in Rome, and they were stuffed with anchovies and cheese, which made it much more memorable.
Heirloom tomato salad – feels like they took all the brilliance of summer sunshine and distilled it into these tomatoes.
Seared red snapper with Maine lobster and wilted kale.  Very fresh, although not dazzling.
Summer truffle risotto with parmesan foam.
Ready to dig in!
Sipping wine and watching the sunset from Auberge du Soleil.  
I love Far Niente’s golden Dolce dessert wine.  We compared it to a similar French opponent and Far Niente won both of us over.

 Fresh lavender at the St. Helena’s farmers market.  I would love some fresh lavender to use in my recipes!
Cheers!!  At Mumm’s champagne winery.
The champagne rotation cages at Mumm’s.  
Before heading to San Francisco, we had a picnic at Vi Sattui winery.  The deli there is amazing!  This one is a minced pork, sausage and cheese concoction baked on top of a beefy portabella mushroom steak.
Shaved tri-tip beef sandwich on focaccia, also from Vi Sattui.
Bon Appetit!

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