after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Posts Tagged ‘Ad Hoc

Napa in pictures … Day 2

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t says:  Day 2 started off pretty early in Napa – I popped in Bouchon Bakery for some delicious pastries.  Unfortunately, I took no pictures … let’s just say it was awesome.  Oh – and also, let’s just say that if you go any later than 7:30am on a Saturday during tourist season, you’re going to wait (fortunately, I got there at 7).  After breakfast, g got her nails did (it’s becoming a vacation tradition!).  With full bellies and g’s finished nails, we got down to business with our first tasting of the day: Ma(i)sonry.

Maisonry serves a variety of wines to taste in an indoor-outdoor gallery, including a garden with sculptures.  It was a wonderful setting in which to drink wine.

g and I elected for a tasting of a crap-ton of high-end cabernets.  5 in a row.  Tasting notes include:  “an immature teenage punk-rocker with tusseled hair”, “a classy alluring woman at a skinny black dress”, “a sexy vixen with whips and chains”, “raisins gone wild”, “a baby’s bottom”.  End result: Kristine Ash’s offering (the vixen) and Tor’s offering (the baby’s bottom) were our favorite, with Tor getting the slight edge for grace.

Ma(i)sonry is a great place to go to taste some phenomenal cabs from a variety of winemakers and vineyards.  Yes, it’s pricey, but this was clearly the best “tasting” we had on our trip because it allowed us to compare similarly-pedigreed/priced cabs head-to-head, with no bias or pressure to buy.  Now if only we could afford more of those bottles to bring home with us … maybe next time … Grade: A.

we proceeded to lunch at TK’s ad hoc …

the best fried chicken i’ve ever had … seriously … the crust could not be any more perfect!  Even the cornbread was wondrously fluffy – however – you feel your arteries clogging with every buttery bite …

ribs and a piece of shoulder … it evoked memories of bbq’s of my childhood but with a length and complexity that i could probably only now recognize.  the sauce that was oh-so-addictive – i would use it on every sandwich ever if i had access to it

the potato salad and corn were pretty good – not super-remarkable, but not bad, either …

and here it is: an Ad Hoc cookie … the base recipe for my own cookies … i kinda-gotta-say it: I like mine better – a darker chocolate and a lighter cookie in both flavor and texture – sorry TK!

Our next wine stop was Ehler’s Estate.  We don’t have pictures, so you’ll just have to take my word that they do a nice job there, with a few solid cabs, of which the 1886 comes out on top (predictable, as it’s their top bottling).  Personally, I feel that their more interesting offerings were the non-cabs (Petite Verdot and Cab Franc), but maybe that’s just me being picky (or maybe I still had Kristine Ashe on my mind …).  Grade: B+  (A fun place to visit, but I’m not sure we’d go again on our next trip).

By this time, g wanted a pre-dinner nap, so while she slumbered, I ventured into Napa for another wine-tasting:

Bounty Hunter Wines.  This.  Place.  Is.  Awesome.  For real!  It’s part wine bar and part wine shop (and part bbq joint).  They have an impressive selection of wines by the glass (and by the “taste”) including a few bottlings unique to Bounty Hunter, and the food looked darn tasty (not fancy – just plain ‘ol tasty).  The had a very nice pinot from Brittan vineyards that I’m currently trying to figure out how I can get more into PA.  We’re definitely going to revisit this place on our next trip – I wanna go back with g!  Grade: A+.

Napa Vintner’s Collective.  This little tasting room is most similar to the Carlton Winemaker’s Studio that we visited in Oregon.  The shtick is that it serves as a tasting room for a lot of very tiny vineyards/winemakers throughout the valley.  It had a pretty reasonable tasting fee ($25), but they don’t allow you to pick every wine you want to try – it’s all subject to whatever they have open at the time.  Grade: A-.

For dinner, we went to Bouchon …

Bouchon has a bustling bistro feel, with some very attractive entrees on the menu (think homely French – not quite as rustic as Bibou, but not fancy-shmancy, either).  As you can seen above the meal started off nicely …

… but then the lights went out!  At first it was very romantic.  g made an astute observation, “this is kind of like our version of camping!”  Yep – she’s right-on.  In any case, the restaurant ultimately had to close down, cutting our meal short.  At this point we had had our appetizers (I had an octopus appetizer that was actually quite rubbery – g’s salad was ok), and were kinda-sorta forced to eat our entree in the dark (after the lights went out, we were served our mains in the dark without being asked whether or not we’d like to continue dining).  I have to say that I was a bit nonplussed about this experience and contemplated asking the manager if we could abandon our entrees (or at least mine – the gnocchi dish was actually not a great dish to eat in the dark), but he appeared very busy/preoocupied with all that was happening.  We sucked it up, paid the full bill (they made no offers to comp anything and I was too irritated to raise a fuss), and walked out.  Sorry Bouchon – two sad courses out of four and a disregard for patron’s dining experience … you get a D- (the good bread helps you evade an F)  <g interrupts: Holy crap!  You gave Bouchon a D-?  I think that’s a little harsh!>  back to t:  Ok, then maybe a D … but the point is that it’s so not worth a Michelin Star or the tariff we paid.  I did attempt to contact the restaurant to talk about the experience, but no response yet …

Fortunately, I had some Kara’s Cupcakes to put a smile on my face back the hotel room.  Thank goodness for Kara.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

2 October 2012 at 9:15pm

Napa/SF Recap: Day 3

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t says: Our last full day in Napa.  What to do, what to do!  We started off the morning right with a trip to Boon Fly Cafe with k and cm.  We had their trademark delicious doughnuts – they were pretty good.  I think they were especially good because they were fresh, but, having had some fresh doughnuts from Mary Anne’s in Sea Isle City, I have had better.  I had their chocolate chip pancakes, which were also quite tasty, but they reminded me a lot of something I could have made at home.  Don’t get me wrong – the food at Boon Fly was good, it was inexpensive, and it was filling.  But coming off of such great food the night before, I was kind of expecting to have my mind blown.  Alas, my mind remained intact.  Bummer.

We drove off to di Rosa Preserve, and, after a detour through Sonoma (we missed an important turn), we finally arrived … only to find that most of it was closed due to renovations.  Double-bummer.  We did see their car they had on exhibit:

Pretty wild, right?

We could have reserved a spot to tour their grounds, but we kind of didn’t really want a tour.  We wanted to chillax.  So we left.  But at least we saw their sheep!

In any case, we journeyed across the street to make an unscheduled visit at Domaine Carneros!  They seemed like they had patio umbrellas, which sounded like the perfect way to chillax on a beautiful day.  First … we parked next to an inferior rental convertible …

Yea, their faux cheateau was a little … faux … but it got the job done.  We sat on the balcony and peered over all that is wine country.  It was beautiful.  We enjoyed a cheese plate and g had a glass of … surprise … bubbly!

After an hour or so, we took their tour.  And wow … Domaine Carneros was totally geared for tourists.  They had big windows to look through, and a well-appointed tasting area.  They did discuss the making of bubblies, which was fun, but it wasn’t really down-and-dirty – it was kind of like “look – we do it there – see?”.

Sorry for the blur – I was trying to be nonchalant!

These are their huge mechanized riddlers!


So … where to next?  Another bubbly winery!!  We hit up Domaine Chandon for a slightly different experience.  I won’t lie – Domaine Chandon was also geared for tourists, but there was more walking through the winery involved, which I appreciated.  Also, our tour guide was fantastic.  Yes, he was on auto-pilot mode (he must have given that tour a billion times), but he was still energetic enough to keep our attention.  He also had a huge black eye, which I originally thought was a birthmark of some sort, but turned out to be the result of too much wine and “acting stupid” (his words).

They did tell us something interesting: when the winery was built, the surrounding area protested.  They did not want a big ugly massive structure from LVMH.  And so … they made a winery that you really cannot see from the road whatsoever.  It was pretty well concealed.  Here’s the front door.  I’ll spare you the other photos of inside the winery … you’ve seen enough for this post …

We did a “mixed drink” tasting at Domaine Chandon.  It was … interesting.  Our tour guide hammed it up, and we have now learned the beauty of the ginger-mint mojito (with bubbly!) … but I think it was the people around us that made it most fun.  cm sat at a table with some Turkish people who were involved “in textiles”.  They apparently did not want to discuss their involvement.  At the table with k, g, and me was a couple approximately our parents’ age who turned out to also be from the South Jersey area!  When the woman found out we were from Philly, the first question she asked was, “So … do you go clubbing in Old City?”  “Nooo … we just live there.”  Throughout the course of the tasting, as she came to know more about us, she kept referring to us as “such good kids”.  I guess the four of us are goody-two-shoes.

That night, we had dinner at Ad Hoc.  We pre-gamed by hanging out at our hotel with a bottle of white from Castello di Amorosa, a loaf of bread from Bouchon, and a deck of cards.  We had to get ourselves mentally prepared for Ad Hoc.  It was going to be our only TK-inspired meal.  We had high hopes …

When we arrived, I was impressed with how bright and open it was.  Bistro Jeanty was a little dim, and Tra Vigne was dim as well.  Not Ad Hoc – they wanted you to see everything that was about to go down.  It was also a little loud – it reminded me of a crazed BYO in Philly.  I felt at home …  Let the feast begin …

Things started off with a salad.  With bleu cheese.  And Bacon.  And Beets.  You know – I will confess that I was disappointed with “salad” when I read the menu, but I was thinking of some sissy, summery salad.  No, this salad is the salad that beats up other salads and takes their lunch money.  It would have made kp proud.

Then we moved on to the main course, which was chateaubriand.  Cooked beautifully.  It was some of the best steak that I had had in a long, long time.  I think what made it so noteworthy was that I had grown used to tougher cuts of meat like hanger steak and the like – but no – this was tenderloin … and it was tender.  We added on two servings of the “optional” bone marrow and our jaws dropped when we saw the size of those suckers – they were huge!  Normally the marrow is barely more than how much butter you’d use on a dinner roll.  But I swear there was enough per bone to adequately cover the entire blade of a butter knife.

There was so much that cm couldn’t handle the richness past a single half-bone.  It took some real arm-twisting, but I had no choice but to man up and enjoy three half-femurs of bone marrow.  It was awesome.  My blood probably flowed yellow with the amount of fat I ingested that night, but it was worth it.  Vegetables?  Yeah, there were some vegetables, too.  There was a baked-then-fried potato with bacon, and there was some ?squash? – I really can’t remember, because by the time it mixed with the jus, steak, and bone marrow, it might as well have been meat.

The cheese course was fantastic.  I remember thinking to myself, “you know – if this was the last thing I eat tonight, I’d be happy”.  And that says a lot – because when it comes to dessert, I always have to have something sweet.  But no – not this time – I was fine with cheese … until I saw the dessert:

Now, don’t be fooled by this picture.  Sure, it seems like it’s one haphazardly arranged, normal-sized sundae.  No – it’s a MASSIVE sundae (as everything served at Ad Hoc is served family style).  And it’s not just a normal massive sundae, it’s a massive sundae inspired by s’mores.  Graham cracker cookies, vanilla ice cream, marshmallow creme, and rich, luscious chocolate (the kind that puts meat on your bones and sticks to your ribs).

Really, in my opinion, as far as the food goes, Ad Hoc presented us with the most decadent food we ate the entire time we were on vacation.  I’m not sure if that made it “better” than the food we had any other night, but it was executed perfectly – I had zero complaints (rare for me), and there was a lot of food.  I think it was definitely worth the $50 price of admission.

And you know what … if you wanted more of any course, you were able to order more!!  It was all you can eat!  Holy crap!  Who in their right mind could possibly eat any more than they had served?  Afterwards, I actually thought to myself “darn, maybe we should hit up saladworks tomorrow or something for dinner instead of going out”.  I snapped out of it, but you get the idea!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

11 October 2010 at 12:30am