Not too often do carrots appear front and center, but two weeks ago I told Ryder that I wanted a solbar version of the old cafeteria carrot-raisin-and-mayonnaise salad. As we say, If we’re going to make it stupid, let’s make it STUPID. (Besh said it first.) What Ryder came back with is this killer plate of frenhc round, baby yellow, baby white, and pickled baby red carrots, all cooked differently–some in red wine vinegar and sugar, or with verus and xvoo, or with honey and pistachio, all accompanied by raitha foam (through the isi gun), red sumac, mustard flowers, raisin puree. Not as easy a sell as dungeness crab salad or pork cheek tacos but hey. The plate-up is long and so is the payoff. Nice to see carrots at the center of the plate, ain’t California grand?
Reading HF whittingstall late last night with a glass of Rutz 06 maison grand cru RRVPN . . . is there a more inspirational cookbook or a smarter one? My current top two are that one–The River Cottage Cookbook–and East of Paris by David Bouley, which has been #1 by itself for a long time but now has a serious contender. It’s four-star soul food and I love it even though Danube doesn’t exist anymore. Read that one and you can trace food from the country to the city to the modern kitchen. HFW keeps it in the country but cooks everything from bushberries to cuttlefish to his own cows. Doesn’t a life of early mornings, six hours of hard physical work, a long, leisurely lunch, a nap, and an afternoon spent reading and writing sound just about right? I’m not the first one to say so but MAN that’s gotta be the life. Does anyone get to do it? Unlikely. Anyway, it’s something to aspire to . . .
Can we get them out here? The ones from belle river, a bayou in the north shore of lake ponchartrain used to be the biggest and sweetest when I worked at Rest. August; we’re looking for a replacement for dungeness crab now that it’s getting a little warm out. Might have to call them crayfish on a California menu, we’ll see. Good with our homemade andouille in a carolina gold rice salad? With fresh chickpeas? With cold beer? With lady creamer peas? Probably too early for the latter. Soon we’ll have the first favas from out own garden.
First cones of stockton asparagus are here–working on toasted/ground nori as part of tempura dredge? with soy caramel and pickled shiitakes? If I’m going to steal ideas from other chefs I probably shouldn’t stop at just one per plate . . . there are solbar dishes hook line and sinker on other menus in Calistoga and Yountville . . . like omar says, “the game is the game.” You will not see asparagus and morels together on a solbar menu this spring; is there a more utterly exhausted combination? Those dishes need to be shelved for fifteen years, like the entire library of the Steve Miller Band, completely overplayed and ready for revival by my children someday . . .
Thursday, February 11, 2010
It was a very rainy night, and the only thing that kept our spirits up driving far up the Silverado Trail was knowing that the large fireplace in the handsome dining room at Solbar was waiting to warm us, and that we’d soon be enjoying Brandon Sharp’s food. (more…)
From Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? At Solage Calistoga’s Solbar restaurant, there is no doubt that Lily’s Eggs came first. In fact, Lily’s Eggs are so popular in this Napa Valley town that they have their own Facebook Fan page, as does Solage Calistoga. (more…)
For the fourth consecutive year, the French Laundry in Yountville has earned a rare three stars from Michelin, a name synonymous with fine dining in Europe. Thomas Keller’s restaurant in Yountville tops the ratings for Michelin’s 2010 San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country Guide, which is being released today. (more…)
“Who says the food at a spa resort has to be plain and boring? The menu at Solbar is lusty and full-flavored, with hearty pizzas, short ribs and other substantial fare, and emphasizes organic ingredients. Menu items not to be missed include mini-burgers stacked with bacon, cheddar and onions, and “lucky pig,” a small build-it-yourself buffet of slow roasted pork, lettuce cups and sesame crepes with pickled pineapple and Mongolian peanuts. The cavernous dining room has a chic country fell and can get a bit noisy at times. The wine list has a modest 200 offerings of mostly California wines, but they’re wisely selected.”