Tag Archives: saffron

St. Francis Winery – Sonoma, California

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For more than four decades, the wines of St. Francis Winery & Vineyards have reflected the finest mountain and valley vineyards in Sonoma County.

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Founder, Joe Martin, fell in love with Sonoma Valley and established St. Francis Vineyard in 1971, planting 22 acres of Chardonnay and the first 60 acres of Merlot in Sonoma Valley.

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After achieving great success as a grower, Joe opened his own winery in 1979 with his business partner Lloyd Canton.

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Today, a new generation of winemakers, Katie Madigan and Chris Louton, continues the long tradition of luscious, elegant, fruit-driven wines from Sonoma County grapes.

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Currently,  more than 400 acres of Certified Sustainable estate vineyards in Sonoma Valley and Russian River Valley are farmed. 

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Each with varying compositions of loam, clay and volcanic soils.

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Well, the Tin Man, et al, embarked upon a seated, multicourse Wine & Food Pairing, orchestrated by Executive Chef Bryan Jones who created an assortment of small dishes  paired with hand-selected artisan wines.

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We enjoyed stunning vineyard views and an amazing fine dining presentation at a shared table.

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The seating was hosted by a knowledgeable and friendly wine expert, who created a relaxing, fun and unforgettable wine country experience. 

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If you are planning a trip to the wine country, this is an experience that should not be missed

Click HERE to make your reservations

The Menu was impressive and inspired..

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We began with the Smoked Beet Salad

Grilled Spring Onion – Green Garlic Purée – Aleppo Pepper – Goat Cheese Fondant – Almond Nougat

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Then the second culinary masterpiece was presented…. Red Wine Braised Duck accompanied by 2013 Pinot Noir

Coriander Spätzle – Endive – Pistachio – Tart Cherry-Apricot Mostarda

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Course Number Three…….Arctic Char a la Barigoule accompanied by 2013 Chardonnay

Celery Root-Yukon Gold Potato Puree – Saffron – Preserved Lemon – Parsnip Chips

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le Quatrième Cours…..Coffee & Cocoa Crusted NY Strip Loin with 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon

Roasted Cauliflower – Smoke Garlic – Crispy Shallots – Bordelaise

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La Finale …… Sucreries….Mexican Chocolate Pot du Crème accompanied by 2012 Ruby Port

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Marvelous Culinary Delights and the Creator himself….Executive Chef Bryan Jones…

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It was a most fantastic experience…..delightful, educational and most of all delicious!

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Bouchon Bistro – Napa

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california 217As the Tin Man prepared for his trip to the wine country, French Laundry was at the top of his list…..oh, then this news……….

“The iconic French Laundry in Yountville has confirmed dates for a planned closure and major renovation, and the plans are a fair bit more ambitious than originally hinted at. As chef-owner Thomas Keller tells the SF Chronicle, what began as some modifications to the restaurant’s entry and an expansion of the kitchen blossomed into a major overhaul and reconstruction of the kitchen which will begin the week after Christmas and won’t be complete for about six months.

You see the reason for this desire is because Thomas Keller (born October 14, 1955) is an American chef, restaurateur, and cookbook writer. He and his landmark Napa Valley restaurant, The French Laundry in Yountville, California, have won multiple awards from the James Beard Foundation, notably the Best California Chef in 1996, and the Best Chef in America in 1997. The restaurant is a perennial winner in the annual Restaurant Magazine list of the Top 50 Restaurants of the World.

Timing is everything!!! But wait, there is more…….

In 2005, Keller was awarded the three star rating in the inaugural Michelin Guide for New York for his restaurant Per Se, and in 2006, he was awarded three stars in the inaugural Michelin Guide to the Bay Area for The French Laundry.

He is the only American chef to have been awarded simultaneous three star Michelin ratings for two different restaurants.   He currently holds 7 Michelin stars total:             

3 at Per Se, 3 at The French Laundry, and 1 at Bouchon.

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Bouchon it will be then……reservations were made…

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Delightful and Delicious was awaiting us within these walls…..

Marvelous atmosphere………

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We were seated at a lovely table and then the magical culinary symphony began….

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Of course, we must begin with wine….

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My palate was all a tither at the delights that awaited….

First,  the Foie Gras de Canard ……….oh swoon….

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Then the Möelle Rôti…..Roasted Bone Marrow……

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The table covered with delights………the wine, the tasty morsels …..it was culinary nirvana …

Sitting in Thomas Keller’s restaurant surrounded by laughter and the aromas of saffron….thyme…roasted meats….

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Then the mains came…Boudin Blanc ……..white sausage with dried French plums and mashed….

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….Truite Amandine….Idaho rainbow trout with haricorts verts, toasted almonds and beurre noisette…

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Absolutely Delightful……amazing service and delectable food….

….perhaps a bit of coffee….

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What  a delightful evening……….hope you enjoyed the visit

The Bouchon was such a delight, Tin Man was quite pleased the French Laundry was closed…hope you enjoyed the visit!

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Napa – California

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Our Journey into Napa was looking to be a great Wine and Food Delight!

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We ventured into downtown Napa and found the architecture to be quite charming….

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Gold and silver may have been behind the hordes that flocked in the 1800s

But liquid gold – Chardonnays, Cabernet Sauvignons and Pinot Noirs – is behind the modern migration

Our drive into Napa took us past many wonderful vistas of vineyards …..

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We had to stop and get some fresh cherries as a snack….

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I guess Google found out that the Tin Man was in town and wanted to get a few street shots…..

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Once we arrived in Napa, our exploration began……

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Off across the First Street Bridge ……away from the touristy, packed downtown area…

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We stopped at a marvelous Olive Oil Shoppe along the way….so many flavors and delights to taste….

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The Tin Man took home a bottle of Basil infused and Chocolate infused Olive Oil….oh delights….

The Shop Owner was a great foodie and sent us off to the Oxbow Market…..

The Market has a commitment to the unique character, spirit and content of the Public Market not only as a place to display and sell organic and/or sustainably-produced local crops, other regional specialties, and other high quality and unique food products, but also as a place that actively supports sustainable and organic farming practices, owner-operated businesses, local food producers and the agricultural community of the Napa Valley and surrounding regions…

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Just standing and looking down the market makes you swoon with delight….

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Okay……..okay………..okay…..We made it all the way to the end of the Market and stumbled upon…..Hog Island Oyster Company

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We were immediately invited to sit out on the deck OVERLOOKING THE NAPA RIVER!!!!!

What a delight ……………wow…..everyone was so delightful and friendly….

We began with some wine……..of course and the delightful bread….

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We ordered Steamers and Clam Chowder…..expecting the usual fare….OMG….look what arrived….

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We can testify that these were the best clam dishes we had ever eaten anywhere on this planet!

The Saffron filled the air with its marvelous fragrance….

But, alas……it was time to venture on…leaving Napa behind us….

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What a delightful day……as we were sitting on the deck we saw the Wine Train pull up to the station…..

….oh yes, we will be riding on that baby…stay tuned for that story….

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Dinner at Ardigna – Salemi, Sicily

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During a recent trip to Sicily, my hosts decided to take me off to an adventure for dinner.  We drove for a couple of hours up these winding, tiny roads………….full of pot holes and parts of the road unpaved.  I was wondering what sort of culinary temple would be nestled up in this dense Sicilian forest and who in their right mind would EVER take the time, not to mention the risk of traveling to this outpost!  It was late at night, around 10 P.M…………remember the Italians love to dine late.   When the headlights shone off the edge of the road and there was nothing but darkness below,

I was reminded of my ride to the rainforest to visit my Aztec friends and wondered why I was alway being put at the edge of the abyss in my life!

After what seemed to be an all night excursion we rounded a corner and entered a parking lot FULL of vehicles!!!  There were others out there who would take this venture……..feeling more confident now!

We found ourselves at an ancient hunting lodge, in the middle of the Sicilian forest on a mountain top! 

The Ardigna was not always open to the public and for years was the private lodge for those who would hunt in these forests.

The interior was so very warm and inviting, the rustic charm so well blended with most incredible smells coming from the kitchen and the smiles of the staff……..


the meal began with a simple knotted bread, with the taste of pretzels and beautiful olive oil……

…oh a light dinner……..I thought…..

…………..and then it began……the virtual tsunami of antipasto………the first a tray of such incredible delights..quail eggs, some obscure meat on a skewer, grilled eggplant, prosciutto, delightful fresh tomatoes, fried mozzarella, olives and several items that were not of my known culinary universe……however they were delightful….

a stew of fresh lamb………..served in ancient copper pots…

………fava beans……….minus the hockey mask……..

…beautiful fresh cheese…

and we are so very, very lucky to have arrived during artichoke season and are rewarded with the most succulent, delightful artichokes……..

then……….oh might I swoon………..gnocci with saffron and pistachio……

followed by more pasta with fresh lamb………

and just when you think you cannot eat another mosel……….comes the platter full of meats that were hunted that day……
venison…….donkey……quail…….goat…..wild boar…..and more………

a most enchanting evening………oh did I mention the wine…….I consumed liters of it……most fantastic!!!