A passion for food + fashion

Posts Tagged ‘Napa Valley’

Current Flame: Dahlias

In Design, Out of Town on September 14, 2011 at 9:22 am

My mother always has fresh flowers in the house, a goal to which I aspire but often fall short. When we were up visiting for her birthday over Labor Day Weekend, she had vases of flame orange and pink dahlias everywhere. I can’t stop thinking about them.

She gets hers from a local grower, Aztec Dahlias, at the St. Helena Farmers Market on Friday mornings. While visiting, I also spotted him at the Oxbow Farmers Market in Napa on a Saturday morning. The good news for the rest of us is that we can order bulbs for the 2012 season now online. Or zip up to Napa for the weekend…

Night Harvest

In Drink, Out of Town on January 24, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Thank those of you who have emailed about my “Backbreak Mountain” column in the February issue ofBon Appétit magazine! It’s a story that I’ve wanted to write for a very long time now, but I could never have imagined just how much the experience would change the way I felt about a glass of wine. Most of all I am grateful to Doug, John, Elias, David, Uriel, Andy and the Shafer Vineyards team. You guys ROCK. I also wanted to share some photos from that night. Before this experience, I considered my greatest physical accomplishments running the Los Angeles Marathon in close to 90-degree heat and enduring childbirth (in that order). But neither of those events was as physically taxing as picking 11.75 tons of grapes on the side of a mountain in the middle of the night. These photos were taken after about three hours of backbreaking work picking hillside Cabernet Sauvignon in Shafer’s Sunspot vineyard. I lasted about four hours. These guys barely broke a sweat. And then they picked another vineyard. Hard core. Punk rock. And why we love our hillside Cabernet just a little bit more.

Photos by Andy Demsky

Beer-Battered Sweetwater Oyster Po’ Boy with Bacon Remoulade

In Food, Out of Town on December 28, 2010 at 9:15 pm

What was my favorite sammie of 2010? This one. Why? Allow these two words to sink in: Bacon. Remoulade. It’s a good thing I don’t live closer to Hog Island Oyster Company at Napa’s Oxbow Public Market or we’d be in big trouble. Since we’re among friends here, I confess that I had two of these po’ boys in as many days last week when I was visiting my parents for Christmas. My sister staged an intervention when I began making noise about returning for a third. Here’s the not-so-skinny: Four beer-battered and fried Hog Island Sweetwater oysters atop a bed of bacon remoulade on a toasted potato bun. Those sweet and briny Sweetwaters against that smoky remoulade with just a squeeze of lime juice is just about as good as it gets.

Home for the Holidays

In Out of Town on December 23, 2010 at 10:42 am

After a week of torrential rain in Los Angeles, we made the stormy drive to Napa Valley yesterday. It was pretty intense over the Grapevine—pitch black and buckets of rain and winds—but we made it! And woke up at my parents’ house on Howell Mountain this morning to the sunny view above. Sometimes the fog over the valley floor seeps right up to their back deck and looks like an ocean. And then other times, like this morning, it creeps up to the house so that you can’t see more than a few yards in front of you. Here’s a view, below, 20 minutes later as the fog starts to close in. Isn’t that wild? A different, moodier sort of white Christmas, and my very favorite kind.

R.I.P. Taylor’s Refresher

In Food, Out of Town on March 24, 2010 at 5:44 pm

taylor's refresher via kristen&joe

When I was a kid, Taylor’s Refresher in St Helena was a local’s only roadside stand where you could get a 50-cent corn dog. Sadly Taylor’s was threatening to go the way of the dodo back in ’99 when, by the grace of god, Joel Gott and his brother, Duncan, rescued the joint and turned it into the now-famous and cash cow franchise, home of the  $15 ahi burger. (You read that right, $15.) Here’s a snap of one along with some sweet potato fries I enjoyed last Christmas when I was visiting my parents.

Last week the Gotts made the decision, “for legal reasons,” to change the name to Gott’s Roadside Tray Gourmet. While I totally get them wanting their family name above the door, I hate it (the change that is, not the name). But more than that I am beside myself—like, throw myself into oncoming traffic on Hwy 29 upset—that they have done away with the Green Goddess aioli for the sweet potato fries, which has been replaced by ranch. RANCH! The loss is unbearable. But as another childhood favorite, Crystal Gayle, (and yes, you read that right, too) says, “You never want a sip of water, till the well runs dry. You never miss a real good thing, till he says ‘goodbye.'”

It’s Genetic.

In Fashion, Out of Town on February 16, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Do you ever have one of those mornings when you ask yourself…Am I being punked? Because that was what went through my mind when I unzipped my suitcase this morning only to find that while I had four different long-sleeved black shirt options ranging from cashmere to silk to cotton and as many pairs of shoes and tubes of lipgloss, I’d forgotten to pack any pants. No biggie, except that this afternoon I was speaking in front of 50 people. I wore an oooold frayed pair of jeans up on the plane last night (BUR > OAK) with Tiny G in anticipation of possible disaster, so those were out of the question. My mother, who is 5’4″ and lives 5 minutes away from where the conference is being held here in the Napa Valley, offered to loan me a pair of hers. I’m 5’8″, so that really wasn’t going to fly either.

Thankfully, salvation came from a different gene pool. This morning, I was rescued by a pair of Genetic Denim’s “The Shane Cigarette” in Zinc at Pearl in St Helena. They look really dressy and I love the way they fit!

Clam Chowder Satisfaction

In Food, Out of Town on December 28, 2009 at 9:34 pm

Yesterday morning my sister and I ran 8 hilly miles through the misty vineyards and woods in St. Helena. We were hellbent on undoing any good we might have achieved, and so hightailed it to Hog Island Oyster Co at the Oxbow Market in Napa for lunch. The dozen oysters—Hog Island sweetwaters—would have been virtuous enough had we stopped there. But we didn’t. Instead we piled on with a pint each of Lagunitas IPA and steaming bowls of clam chowder, which consisted of Manila clams, bacon, potatoes, carrots and celery in cream. Mr. Foodinista, who did not run 8 miles, must have been experiencing fondue withdrawal from the other night. He opted for a grilled cheese sandwich featuring Cowgirl Creamery Gruyère and Fromage Blanc with housemade pickles. I may have indulged in (read: demanded) a gooey delicious bite…

Things to do with a leftover 8lb pork butt: part one

In Food on November 7, 2009 at 9:23 am

slow roasted pork sandwich

Earlier this week, I slow-roasted an 8lb pork shoulder (aka Boston butt) forever, resulting in the best, most tender and rich pork I’ve yet to enjoy. And it couldn’t have been easier. We’ve already had two nights of AWESOME leftovers for three slightly piggy adults, and still have enough for several more meals. At least. So, at $4.99/lb, this roast was something of a steal. The first round of leftovers was inspired by a favorite slow-roasted heritage pork panini at Napa Style in Napa Valley. Taking a page out of chef Michael Chiarello’s book, I had my husband stop by Mozza2Go to pick up a jar of mostarda (an Italian riff on chutney made w/ pear and mustard). Of course, being too generous to say anything until he got home, he bought the damn jar, which cost NINETEEN DOLLARS. I mean, that is half the price of the freaking pork butt.


But begrudgingly—and I mean begrudgingly—I admit it was incredible on the sandwich. As well it should be at prices that rival gold. I lightly toasted some potato buns from Ralph’s, where we also picked up a bag of pre-shredded slaw and mixed with mayo & apple cider vinegar.

cole slaw

And then reheated the pork in a 300-degree oven for 10-15 minutes, and piled it high topped w/ slaw on the sandwich. I’m guessing we will be porked out by the time we’ve reached the end of the bounty, but next time I’d love to try this with a bone-in heritage Boston butt, though it’d be almost triple the price. Hmm…Santa, baby?

slow roasted pork

Annie the Baker

In Food on September 2, 2009 at 8:00 am


A couple of weeks ago, my sister was visiting from Napa Valley and she brought down a bag of her favorite cookies, which quite honestly left me and my husband a little speechless. Look at them! Now imagine biting into one of these chewy, decadent peanut butter cookies with mini chunks of peanut butter cups tucked in there, or how about one with toffee bits and milk chocolate chips? Oh my god!!! These are the work of Annie the Baker, who sells these heavenly cookies at the St. Helena and Napa farmers markets in Northern California. Annie is the former pastry chef at Mustard’s Grill, and recently she has turned her attention full time to her cookie business. I love her motto: “For those who love cookie dough more than the cookie.” But not as much as I LOVE HER COOKIES! Annie, when can we get our mitts on these in SoCal???

Grey Gardens

In Design, Film on April 26, 2009 at 9:50 am


Friday night we made it through about an hour of the HBO Grey Gardens remake with Drew Barrymore. (Above photo from the original 1975 documentary about the Bouvier cousins in East Hampton.) My friend Billy loved it, and if he were at all reachable I would demand that he state his case right here and now, but alas he is in Dallas this weekend, having attended last night’s Art Ball benefitting the Dallas Museum, wearing a midnight blue Dolce & Gabbana tuxedo jacket with black Prada pants, black tuxedo shirt and vintage black YSL bow tie with patent leather lace-ups. I know he’s been obsessed with Drew’s hair lately, particularly at the Golden Globes (below) but I’m going to need more…


Chez Foodinista, today we are staging our own version of Grey Gardens. That is, we’re painting our garden wall Meadowood Gray—the color used at Meadowood in St. Helena (below), where we got married two years ago. The guys at the St. Helena Paint Works kindly shared the formula. We’re starting with the garden wall, but plan to paint the whole house in this dreamy sandy gray with cream trim later this year! (By which I mean sometime before 2020.) I’ll post before after pics of the wall here later today.


Update 9:10pm: We are still watching paint dry – looks great!…. photos forthcoming….