after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Posts Tagged ‘Zazie

A Missing Month!

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t says:  Holy cow!  It’s been a whole month since our last post!  How shameful!  I guarantee that we’ve been eating – it’s just that I didn’t have time to eat and type!  So it’s time for a photostorm!!!!

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We’ve eaten a LOT of Long Bridge pizza.  It’s a bit insane to think that this is our “local pizza place”, as it’s definitely something that we would typically reserve for a weekend (given cost and fancy-ness).  However, when faced with just how good it tastes, g and I happily splurge on these two: the meatball pizza with the calabrian chili is to crazy-good, and the kale pizza special.  Hell – we’ve been guilty of ordering a large (or two) and freezing the rest for those lazy weekday nights when all we can muster is the strength to reheat a slice or two.

 

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For our anniversary, we ventured to Flour + Water.  This was my first time and g’s nth time.  Given the difficulty in securing a reservation and how much our friends had loved it, I knew it was going to be good – definitely anniversary-worthy.  We also pulled out a bottle of ’08 Detert Cab Franc (in the background) to mark the occasion – and boy did the sparks fly between the wine and the food!

 

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This pork rind and pickled tomatoes and ?polenta-corn-something-or-other? were an incredible way to start the meal.  I didn’t realize how hungry I was until taking these first bites.  I swear that these pictures just do not do justice to just how yummy these items were.  Given the excess of pork rinds, we held a moment of silence for kp: we miss you! come back!

 

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This salmon-filled pasta pouch was a complete mind-twist.  It was served with a clear [tomato?] broth, that when combined with the pasta gave the mouth a sensation that was as deep and full of flavor as any soulful cioppino or seafood stew that I could imagine … but it was a simple ravioli-ish thing in a clear broth!  Crazy!

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The rabbit tortellini ripped my head clear off my shoulders.  In some kind of buttery sauce, it sang for minutes on the palate with a delicate-but-unctuous presence that combined with the cab franc just so!  I mean, the other dishes were amazing as well that night (we’ll spare you the photos of pasta on pasta on pasta), but this one was the one I’ll remember [until my next time].  I do want to say that Flour + Water’s showing that night was superior to SPQR’s pasta menu because the flavors are homier, but just as profound, which we think make for a more craveable experience.  Don’t get me wrong – they’re both tasty – and SPQR rides the “unique” train (beet+beef + pasta!) – but as I daydream of pastas, it’s going to be F+W’s that come to mind.

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This picture is NOT from F+W, rather from Foreign Cinema.  Let me just get it out of the way right now: Foreign Cinema was underwhelming.  The “movie” that you’re supposed to be able to watch was a lie – it wasn’t even started when we got there, and we were seated far out of the way.  I guess you have to request a seat out in the garden?  On top of that, the food was quite forgettable.  I mean – I forgot what anyone else had already.  Even this dish, a pasta with bitter greens, cheese, and breadcrumbs should have been an easy homerun (I mean, if g and I can kill it at home with these ingredients, a restaurant should do better, right?), but it was “meh” at best.  The rest of the meal was similar – nothing remarkable – all quite snooze-worthy.  We sat, we ate, we left, and we proceeded to forget …  We did, however, go to Butter for Karaoke Sunday.  Pictures are not included to protect the innocent.  We’d definitely go back (with friends).

 

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During a trip to Napa, we hit up Redd Wood in Yountville.  Now this was redemption after the previous night’s snoozefest at Foreign Cinema.  The pole beans were a pretty boring looking item on the menu, but let’s just say that the char on these was fabulous.  I’m never eating steamed beans every again – burn mine forevermore!  We also did an obligatory four-cheese pizza (with an egg), a cheese plate, and a squid salad – but my sis claims that the pole beans were the best.  The rest of us can’t believe that she’d dis’ a four-cheese pizza like that, but I guess the bottom line is that Redd Wood delivered in spades, and might be my new favorite Napa lunch!  (Better than Addendum?  Maybe …)

 

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I have but a single picture from a dinner at Statebird Provisions.  A crime – I know.  Above is a japanese egg custard topped with kimchi and uni.  Go ahead and imagine that for a second.  Well this was even better than what you’re imagining.  It was rich and somehow light.  It was spicy and somehow flavorful (i.e. it wasn’t just a mouthful of spice).  It was a perfect bite.  Yes, Statebird had a lot of other wonderful dishes, from dumplings, to fried rice, to a crazy good kung poa sweetbreads, to burrata – and while it seems ridiculous to omit all the description of the variety that we had, I think you’re better served by this summary: if you want an “interesting”, “delicious” meal that’s an “experience”, then this is your place.  If you’re prone to hesitation or fear or food restrictions or sefishness (i.e. can’t share with tablemates), then don’t even bother.  Your interaction with hearing about food, choosing food, eating food, and groaning about deliciousness takes center stage here – so if that doesn’t appeal to you, then SBP isn’t going to be fun.  Now me: I love this place.  g “likes” it, but it’s not going to win over her heart of hearts – she wants less fuss, less “show”, less pressure to choose between plates that arrive at the table in random order – just give her delicious food and that’s it.

 

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Oh Zazie.  You sly dog.  We roll in there on a Tuesday and you blow us away with delightful food, a BYO policy, and tip-includedness.  You can do no wrong.  Seafood stew (above)?  Done.  Lamb?  No problem.  Pork?  Piece of cake.  Now if only you were closer …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

5 July 2016 at 11:22am

Manly Epicurean Adventure

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t says:  I had the opportunity to visit Napa with kp and another colleague (our fourth, a, bailed at the last minute), but only for a day; we had a lot of stuff to cram in a single afternoon+evening.  Realizing that our better halves were unable to join us, we nicknamed it “the manly epicurean adventure”.  Below is a recap of all we conquered:

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First thing we did was conquer brunch at Zazie.  We killed some bread pudding pancakes that were out of control.  On one hand, some were put off by the soft almost-mushy texture of the pancake, but I loved every bit of it (it was like real bread pudding!).  I likened the experience to eating forkfuls of sweet sweet banana-laden clouds …

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Zazie also served up some poached eggs which we wasted no time pillaging.  One had the equivalent of salsa and bacon, while the other had tomato and prosciutto.  Beautifully balanced salty-savory-acid in both cases – could not think of anything worth improving upon.  We now know why there is a line to get into Zazie when they open at 9am on a Sunday.

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Our first Napa destination was Ma(i)sonry, but have no photos, as we’ve already photo’d the bejesus out of it on the blog.  My tastes must have changed over the past 6 months because this time, I was drawn to less fruit-forward cabs, favoring instead some well-done 2011’s with the right balance of acid and fruit.  Funny how things change.  Overall, Maisonry was a fantastic way to get in the mood for the cabs of Napa (the gang preferred reds to whites, so that’s what we focused on).  Our second tasting of the day, at Paloma, courtesy of hookups by a and a’s dad, is pictured above.  We could have listened to Barb, the proprietor, for hours upon hours, with her stories from 31 years in the valley.  As you can see, her view is incredible (the tasting is literally at her house).  Her wines were impressive expressions of Merlot, inspiring us to walk away with a few bottles in hand.  A great visit!

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In contrast to Paloma, MacDonald Vineyards, our third and final visit for the day, was a super-tiny cottage hidden amongst the vines …

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… and some gnarly old vines at that!  As Graeme and Alex walked us around, it was exciting to hear their story.  It was hard to not catch their infectious enthusiasm.  This was not one of those times where the goal was to wow you into believing that they were the end-all-be-all of vine mastery, rather, humble pupils who recognize that they have a unique opportunity to make great wine from hallowed land.  These guys are young, they have no obligation to any sort of winemaking legacy, and they have open minds … in the world of wine, they are dangerous as hell … in a good way …

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There’s no tasting room at MacDonald – instead there’s a picnic bench under a giant tree next to some vines.  I cannot imagine a more perfect setting.  Even when these guys do get around to building a winery and a cellar and a tasting room, I hope they never lose that sense of chatting around a wicker basket and vinyl tablecloth. I have to say that out of every tasting I’ve ever had, this was probably the most personal.  I don’t know if it’s because my tablemates had already consumed ample amounts of wine throughout the day (I spit at every tasting, so I was DD), but the conversations meandered from wine to friends to weightlifting to medicine to bachelor parties and back to wine.  Before we knew it, the sun had set and we were near-shivering … now that is a tasting!

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Oh … and the wine … we had the opportunity to sample the 2011 MacDonald Cab, which was really a treat.  Not to be released until Fall 2014, I have to say that this was easily the best wine we had all day, and we had had wines from multiple talented winemakers (Thomas Rivers Brown, Melka, Jeff Ames, Pahlmeyer) over multiple vintages from multiple sites!  My companions agreed.  But beware – this is no fruit bomb or berry milkshake; certainly no oak monster here.  Bright red-and-dark fruits up front saturate the palate with silky tannins so smooth that you forget they’re there; the fruit is followed by a mouthwatering, moderate-length finish of cool-vintage cab flavors that dance on the palate.  As time passed, it took on even more layers of flavor, including herbs and baking spices.  Overall, it’s a feminine expression of cab, but don’t construe that as “wimpy”, rather, think of that seasoned, graceful principal ballerina, floating across the stage … no one would dare call her “wimpy” – she’s just ridiculous at making it look effortless.

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We had visited Oakville Grocer earlier in the day for a cheese break (after all, with all the wine we had been tasting, we needed a little something in our stomachs), but when it was dinner time, we needed to get some serious grub.  I picked out Bistro Jeanty – a Yountville staple at reasonable prices.  And that night, they were on fire.  The above escargots were amazing, exceeding the deliciousity, texture, and size of Bibou’s.  Similarly, the bone marrow in the background with that red wine sauce was absolutely stunning – made oh-so-simply but so profoundly flavorful that I could have eaten every single piece if allowed; once again, it bested even Bibou’s bone marrow.

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Bistro Jeanty’s momentum carried through the main courses.  My lamb was perfectly prepared, coupled with blue cheese potatoes and green beans …

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… and kp’s cassoulet surprised the hell out of everyone.  On the menu, it sounded almost benign – like a “light bean dish” … except for, you know, the hidden duck confit, bacon, and garlic sausage … Oh, and the beans that could have potentially been healthy?  Not no more – because all the fat from those meats had to go somewhere …

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Dessert was of high caliber – maybe not as crazy as the first two courses, but still damn good.  The chocolate creme brulee struck again (I loved it before when I had it), and the lemon tart was so close to being perfect (the orange marmalade-ish sauce was confusing – they should have kept it lemon … or maybe gone lime … but orange was weird).

Don’t let the above picture mislead you: I was sad that g wasn’t there – she would have loved it.  And of course we missed a …  but … be that as it may, I’m pretty sure I can say that Man Trip 2014 was a success!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

24 February 2014 at 11:30pm