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Redd Wood – Yountville, CA

Whether you’re spending your day wine tasting or are just looking for a great spot for lunch (or breakfast/dinner), you should definitely stop by Redd Wood in Yountville.  Located next to the boutique hotel North Block Hotel (and not far from French Laundry), it’s the perfect place to have an easy, unpretentious meal that’s satisfying, not super heavy and overall a place that you’ll want to go back to.  This is Michelin-starred chef Richard Reddington’s second Yountville spot, his first being Redd which is equally fabulous but oh so different.  *You’ve got to try that spot if you haven’t already!

The decor is very current/urban and comfortable.  Kind of reminds me of a place you’d find in Soho with a California feel.  There’s outdoor seating which is always a great option, especially for someone like myself who doesn’t get the opportunity to eat outside a ton at home.

I stopped in midday for a bite in between wine tastings and was very happy with my order – the shaved summer vegetable salad which couldn’t be fresher and the proscuitto, arugula and parmesan pizza.  I’d love to go back for dinner to try some pastas and main courses.

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Gott’s Roadside – St. Helena, CA

Formerly known as Taylor’s Refresher, Gott’s is THE burger spot in town!   There are 3 locations in the greater Bay Area – The Ferry Building in San Francisco, The Oxbow Market in Napa and here off of highway 29 in St. Helena.  Most burger joints just offer the expected – hamburger, cheeseburger, fries, shakes, etc.  Not the case here.  There’s everything from your traditional bacon cheeseburger to shrimp tacos and chinese chicken salad.

On a recent visit with my husband and some friends, we all chose something different.  I went for the Spicy Chicken Sandwich which was very satisfying however I could have used a little more kick!  My husband went classic and got the Bacon Cheeseburger which was perfect, juicy and everything you would want in a cheeseburger.  I definitely had to steal a bite:)  Along with fries and onion rings (the best I’ve had!), we splurged and also got the special zucchini fries.  How can you say no to something that has “while they last” in parenthesis next to them?  I’ve been on a zucchini kick so I really liked them however when looking back at my pictures I realized what was missing…the home made ranch sauce they said came with them.  Darn!  Next time.

The cute picnic area out back where we enjoyed our insanely indulgent lunch

Bacon Cheeseburger – American cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles & secret sauce served on a toasted egg bun

Spicy Chicken – grilled, chili spice-marinated chicken breast, sliced avocado, Mexican slaw, cilantro sour cream & charred jalapeño mayo on a toasted sourdough roll

Zucchini Fries

 

 

 

La Condesa – Napa, CA

While strolling down Main Street in cute St. Helena I couldn’t help but notice this hip new Mexican joint and I couldn’t wait to try it.  When you walk in you are immediately struck by the vibrant blue painted walls that look something reminiscent of Carrie Bradshaw’s closet in Sex and The City only a tad bit little brighter!

The menu is loaded with flavor punching Mexican favorites with a new twist to them such as the pickled strawberry, roasted pepitas and queso fresco guacamole.  Say what?!  Another dish that stood out to me was the Panza de Puerco Huaraches with pork belly, blue cheese, fig jam, black pepper caramel, arugula and tomatillo.  Wowzers!  I’m not even sure what to say except that I’m looking forward to going back just to try some of their interesting modern Mexican dishes.

I chose to take them up on their $15 lunch special which included a salad, 2 tacos of my choice, rice, beans and a scoop of ice cream for dessert.  Perfect!  PS – the Cream Cheese Ice Cream is delicious!  Tastes just like frozen cheesecake…yum!

Casa Salad – mixed greens, queso fresco, avocado, tortilla strips and balsamic vinaigrette

Cochinita Pibil Taco – seville orange-banana leaf marinated berkshire pork, cabbage, pickled red onion and pickled jalapeño & Pescado Taco – griddled pacific rockfish, cabbage, salsa de arbol, pico de gallo, and chipotle mayo

Coffee Chip Ice Cream

C Casa – Napa, CA

For those of you who have been to the Oxbow Market in Napa you already know how incredible it is!  Although I had been there once before, I hadn’t actually eaten at any of the stalls.  On a recent trip down I needed a quick bite and decided on C Casa.  The menu made it hard for me to narrow down my choices…everything sounded so fresh and yummy.  I settled on the C Chop Salad and one salmon taco which was a special that day.  YUM!  I chose well:)  And I would definitely order them again.

There’s a charming outdoor space where you pick your order up right at the window otherwise there’s ample space inside.

C Chop Salad – with queso fresco, red bell peppers, pumpkin seeds & creamy cilantro lime dressing

Grilled Salmon Taco – with grilled corn relish, poblanos, green onions, romaine, garlic aioli, micro greens and avocado crema

Morimoto – Napa, CA

My husband and I were lucky enough to have Morimoto do the sushi for our wedding welcome party but we had never been to the restaurant in downtown Napa itself.  I recently went with a friend and I’m already dying to go back.  I didn’t even have any sushi!  I started with the Spicy King Crab with tobanjan aioli and micro-cilantro…wowzers!!!  I can see why my friend had me order my own and didn’t want to share:)  It was rich but not too crazy of a portion if you go with a lighter entrée which we did.  Otherwise it would be a great starter to share with a group.

For our entrée we split the Tempura Calamari Salad which was perfect!  The calamari was cooked perfectly and not too heavy considering it was fried.  Yum!

To end the meal we splurged on the “S’mores” which I think was new to the menu.  Definitely a great choice…I don’t think there was a morsel left on the plate:)

Fremont Diner – Sonoma, CA

Once upon a time this spot used to be a secret but…that’s not so much the case anymore.  The line will prove it too!  But don’t be afraid, people are there for a reason and it’s worth the wait.  Just grab a coffee, iced tea or malt and make the most of it:)

I was there recently for brunch and was overwhelmed by all the tasty options on the menu.  What to order – what to order!  I finally decided on the chilaquiles.  That seems to be my go-to whenever I see it on a menu.  I’m so glad I decided to add the “smoked pork” for $3.50…worth every cent!!!  What a scrumptious breakfast/brunch/lunch!  I couldn’t even finish it but I didn’t leave overly stuffed and I would definitely go back for this again.  My friend got the “shrimp & grits” which were just as amazing.  There was so much more to both these dishes than expected.  Packed with flavor and complexity…the first bite left us moaning, “Mmmmm…Mmmmm!”:)

The “chicken & waffle” and “breakfast toast” had me salivating as well.  Next time:)

Rotisserie & Wine – Napa, CA

I’m a huge fan of Tyler Florence already but this just confirmed it even more.  Located in the heart of Napa with a patio facing the Napa River, he’s opened another fantastic restaurant that is the perfect spot for any occasion.  A thanks to his wife Tolan, his personal interior decorator, the decor couldn’t be more or a perfect marriage with the food.  Rustic yet refined, it’s a comfortable spot that has managed to still be current.  Whether it’s a casual lunch (like i enjoyed) or a birthday get together, you’ve got to try it!

The best surprise ever was the warm cornbread that came out before our meal.  I seriously could have eaten tons of it but had to remind myself of all the food coming.  My husbands R&W cheeseburger looked incredible.  With the fried egg on top it was a little hard to share so lucky him…he got it all to himself.  My salad was perfect for the middle of the day, especially since we had the deviled eggs as starters.

And don’t forget about his tempting kitchen store next door – Tyler Florence West Coast Kitchen Essentials.  I could spend all day in there:)  Here’s where you can get your hands on the pots and pans Chef Florence uses in his restaurants and at home as well as other top brands.   His spice rubs and marinades make amazing hostess and holiday gifts.  I’d be amazed if you walked out without purchasing anything:)

Complementary cornbread to start your meal with…yum!

Deviled eggs with fried capers, shallots and thyme oil

Chop salad – pulled chicken, bacon, avocado, jack cheese and a garlic vinaigrette

R&W Cheeseburger with an added fried egg

I have a little obsession with cookbooks.  Not only do I love using them to cook with but I also love reading them front to back.  I have a lot of people ask me what my go to cookbooks are.  Honestly, there isn’t just one but, below are some of my favorite and most used cookbooks and ones that I feel round out my library pretty well…

Tyler Florence Family Meal – I got this cookbook at a wedding shower and have been in love with it ever since.  I’m a huge fan of Tyler Florence’s restaurants – Wayfare Tavern, Rotisserie & Wine and El Paseo and have found that all of the recipes I’ve tried at home aren’t as complicated as one might expect.  His signature Popovers were definitely a hit at Christmas this year!

Greek Cooking In An American Kitchen – Hands down my favorite cookbook for many reasons.  First of all, I’m Greek and I grew up with this cookbook in my home.  It comes from St. Demetrios Church where I grew up going and now live a few blocks from.  You can buy it directly from them for $25 (bring a check book).  Be sure to check out the Greek Festival they throw every fall.  It’ll really make you want the cookbook even more:)

Williams-Sonoma Cooking For Friends – This cookbook is unlike any other I have.  One of the things I love most about it is that for certain ingredients, they show you 3-4 different ways to cook/prepare them.  For example: Savory Tarts Four Ways – Greek-Style Tomato & Feta Tart, Plum & Goat Cheese Tart, Pear & Gorgonzola Tart and Leek, Pancetta & Gruyére Tart.  It’s a good one I swear!

Cristina’s of Sun Valley – While I lived out my ski bum dreams in Sun Valley about 10 yrs ago my roommate and childhood friend worked at Cristina’s and I was lucky enough to have goodies brought home to me on a consistent basis.  I have been a fan of Cristina’s Italian food for a long time now and I love that I can make it in my own home for friends and family.

I’ve recently added (and have been gifted) a few new books to my collection that I’m dying to cook with.  Here are a few of them:

Good Fish – Written by a local Seattleite, this cookbook provides endless sustainable seafood recipes from the Pacific Coast.  I love seafood and am always looking for new recipes…especially ones that don’t require the BBQ since I don’t have much patience for our coal Webber:)

Kokkari: Contemporary Greek Flavors – One of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco…this used to be my stomping ground whenever I had a Greek food craving.  It’s upscale and more modern than most Greek spots but the food is memorable and so well executed.

Simply Truffles – My sweet sister-in-law (who knows me well) gave me this cookbook for Christmas.  Trouble…because I’m a truffle addict and this will just give me endless ideas and cost me a pretty penny to try them all.  I’m in!

Bottega – One of my go to spots in Yountville, CA, this oversized cookbook is full of stunning photos and recipes that define California Cuisine…something I miss.  The Parmesan Dip I blogged about is from his other book Michael Chiarello’s Casual Cooking which I love so I have no doubts that this cookbook will win me over too.

Cook – St. Helena, CA

With so many amazing, credible restaurants in Napa Valley…how do you choose?  I’ve only been to Cook twice (once for lunch, the other for dinner) but both times left me wanting to go back.  Located on Main Street in St. Helena it’s a small, quaint place with great decor inside.  They pride themselves on using local and seasonal ingredients and showcasing simple yet elegant North Italian food.

I highly recommend making reservations for dinner since they get full fast.  Lunch on the other hand I would say you have a much chance of just walking in.

The burger on a ciabatta roll with aged cheddar and grilled onions…yum:)

SALSA DO PARMIGIANO (“Parm Dip”)
Recipe Courtesy: Michael Chiarello’s Bottega Cookbook

For those who have had the pleasure of dining at Bottega in Yountville, CA…you know what this dip is.  Rather than your typical oil and vinegar you’re given this savory Parmesan dip along with the most exquisite artisan bread to smother it in.  It’s sharp from the cheese, rich with excellent quality olive oil and spicy due to chili flakes.  Truly delicious…it’s easy to loose your appetite with this stuff.  Beware!

Makes 3 1/2 Cups to Serve 16

  • 1/2 pound Parmesan cheese, not too dry
  • 1/2 pound Asiago cheese, not too dry
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Remove any rind from the cheeses and chop the cheeses into rough 1-inch chunks. Pulse the cheeses in a food processor until reduced to the size of a fine pea gravel. Transfer the cheese to a bowl and stir in the green onion and garlic. Add the oregano, rubbing between your fingers to release it’s fragrance. Add the black pepper, red pepper flakes, and olive oil. Stir well. Cover and let stand at room temperature at least 4 hours before serving.

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