Chef's Blog

Solage Calistoga's Executive Chef Brandon Sharp shares his passion for cooking, life and all things Napa Valley.

August 28, 2010

Tonight we hosted a winemaker dinner (Meet the Maker–you like that?) for Kelly Fleming, one of our Vintner Members at Solage.  Of course, I was so worked up about the ingredients and other common frustrations in the kitchen that I forgot to take pictures of the food.  It was all gorgeous, so just imagine that.

I spoke to the crowd before dinner, as i always do at this event, and . . . it was a table of thirty friends.  Everyone was a solbar regular, a solage member, or a close friend thereof; the setting sun shone through the willow trellis, onto the lawn and the flowers and sycamores; the table was laid with beautiful linen and positively forested with wineglasses . . . I hope SOMEbody was taking pictures, because the scene was an absolute idyll.

In telling them how lucky I was to cook for Kelly’s wines and for all of them tonight, I related a conversation told to me by yet another winemaker, and solbar regular, with a friend of his:

Winemaker:  ”Have you been up to eat at solbar lately?”

Friend:  ”Yeah, we go pretty often.”

WM:  ”Good, huh?”

F:  ”Yeah, and now St. Helena’s the new Calistoga.”

Which–not to seem too regionalistic or hoity-toity (hey, I live in St. Helena, after all) or any of that–I have been waiting for three years to have someone think, much less say.  A simple sentence that is meaningless and bursting with implications.

We finished off the dinner with chocolate glazed creampuffs, black mission figs with pine bud syrup and grated pistachio, and creme fraiche sorbet with fresh nectarines and cracked almonds.  When I snuck out, the Meet the Maker party was still going strong, the bar in solbar was packed, and I got called over by two separate groups on the solbar patio who spotted me in my civvies and wanted to say Hello.

So while Yountville may not be the new Calistoga anytime soon, in the immortal words of McManus, “There’s nothing that can’t be done.”

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