Weekend in Wine Country.

This past weekend was my annual golfing trip with a group of good friends. To me, it’s really a great excuse to get together, catch up and be in great company. This year, we decided that Napa would be best as our past trips have been either in Nevada or in the Central Valley, which meant long drives in unpredictable traffic conditions. Also, staying closer to the Bay Area meant that we could stay an extra night and maximize the weekend. So we ended up at a cozy house at Silverado Ranch, a well-known community in the area most famous for its golf course and spa.

Our first evening after our long drive was a dinner at Ad Hoc, Thomas Keller’s (à la French Laundry) casual, family-style restaurant in Yountville. We were seated at a raised round table close to the center of the restaurant, which not only gave us maximum space, but also a great view of the restaurant. As the menu is a prix-fixe set menu, we didn’t know what to expect. So here was our menu for the evening:

  • Corona bean and shrimp salad — poached shrimp, brunoise, red onions, piquillo pepper diamonds with garlic vinaigrette
  • Marinated hanger steak — swiss chard, bacon lardons and potato croquettes
  • Lincolnshire poacher — marshall farms honey, pears
  • Pecan tart — whipped vanilla cream, caramel sauce
  • At first I was a bit worried as I was not a big shrimp NOR a steak kind of guy, I was more than impressed by the taste of the food; but overall my personal favorite was definitely the hanger steak. The steak was so tender it could almost melt in your mouth. I think I had at least five pieces or more. The family-style service definitely worked in my favor here. The pecan tart that completed the meal was also amazing. I should also mention that the service was just top-notch. Although it was a busy restaurant, our waiter came back numerous times to ensure that everything was in order. I am already planning my next trip back to this restaurant.

    ad hoc
    6476 Washington St.
    Yountville, CA 94599

    The next morning was our golf game at Chardonnay Golf Course. Since I haven’t played in quite a few months, I wasn’t expecting myself to do very well. So I ended up with a 120, which is basically my average score, giving myself a handicap of 34.6 (or was it 36.5?). That said, I did have one memorable shot of the day on the last hole in the Lakes course — a bunker shot straight into the hole. So naturally I was quite pleased.

    chardonnay golf course, napa.

    After returning to the house after the game, it was time for my ‘public’ debut as chef. I have never really cooked much as part of our group outings except for the Japanese okonomiyaki, which is what I call a “Japanese pizza” mixed with vegetables, bacon and more. This year I wanted to really contribute a main dish, something that has somewhat of a wow factor. I found a recipe for a salmon with mustard-dill sauce in the September issue of Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food and decided that was my dish for the evening. After soaking the salmon in white wine and lemon juice, I put the salmon in the oven for ten minutes and it was ready to serve with the mustard-dill sauce that was already prepared mise-en-place the night before. I would have shown a photo here, but I was too excited that I forgot about the pictures… so here’s a picture of the mixed greens with pecans and pears that was prepared by another friend of mine. Luckily my dish was well-received, which gives me more confidence to cook!

    A lovely weekend indeed.

    mixed greens with pecans and pears, napa.