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Photo courtesy of Hotel Yountville
By Deirdre Bourdet

The Altamura family has invested some serious time and energy in coaxing the contemporary Hotel Yountville out of the 50-room, country-chic Yountville Inn.  The construction of several new buildings, conference center, restaurant, spa, swimming pool, and outdoor lounging areas is almost complete, though, and the place has shaped up rather spectacularly into one of Yountville's sexiest resorts.

Designed by the same team that transformed Milliken Creek Inn, the remodeled Hotel Yountville blends sleek modern design with luxurious comfort.  Subtle details and rich textures create an inviting environment full of plush seating and contemporary comforts.  When I was invited to tour the property in early February, it was all I could do not to sink into every seat we passed.  Fortunately, I had been invited to sit down for breakfast at the guests-only Hopper Creek Kitchen, which has been making waves since the soft opening in December 2010.

Restaurant Month in California

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All around California, restaurants are celebrating the month of January with fabulous dining specials and savings for lunch and/or dinner. Splurge, savor, and save is the name of the game. See if your favorite restaurant or one you always wanted to try is on the list in the regions below.

Gold Country. You may not find gold, but with savings on food like these, you might as well have! Restaurant Week in Gold Country is January 32-30 with a grand finale on January 30th where the area's finest chefs will offer a unique opportunity to be an El Dorado Epicurean in a countywide progressive dinner. More Details

Monterey County. Catch some fresh seafood in Monterey during Restaurant Month. Participating restaurants are offering prix fixe dinner menus for $20.11 all month long. More Details.

Napa Valley - see our Food Writer's top restaurant picks for deals and steals. Or see the full list of Napa Valley restaurants and their specials here.

Santa Barbara Wine Country
  • Santa Barbara -Dubbed "Film Feast", the prix fixe restaurant program coincides with the Santa Barbara International Film Festival all happening January 27-Feb 6, 2011. Film goers and foodies are invited to choose from "Short" (two-course), "Feature" (three-course) and "Epic" (four-course) length seasonal menus at participating restaurants. MORE DETAILS.
  • Santa Ynez Valley - The foodie fun begins January 23rd and ends January 29th. It's this region's first time participating in Restaurant Month and they will be featuring special 3-course tasting menus for $20.11. A list of participating restaurants is listed, but you will need to contact restaurants directly for specific days, dining hours and to make reservations. MORE DETAILS.

Thanksgiving Dinner in Napa Valley

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Restaurants That Will Be Open in 2012!
CLICK HERE to also see Napa Valley wineries open for tasting!

Spend more time with family this year. There's no need to slave all day in the kitchen cooking up everyone's Thanksgiving favorites. Leave the cooking and dishes to the chefs of Napa Valley! See what some restaurants have planned for the big Turkey Day!


Grill at Silverado Resort & Spa
Enjoy a special Thanksgiving Day Buffet in the resort's elegant Grand Ballroom, featuring an array of traditional holiday dishes such as Butternut Squash Soup; Marshall Farm Honey Brined Petaluma Turkey Breast; Herb Roasted Prime Rib; Lock Duarte Salmon; Roasted Sweet Potato Gratin; and Wild Mushroom Stuffing. MORE DETAILS

Meadwood Napa Valley

Sit down to an elegant feast prepared at Meadowood Napa Valley featuring two preparations of Free Range Turkey (Brined & Roaste Breast, Crisp Skin Leg Confit), Duo of Housemade Bread Stuffing (Chestnut and Sage, Italian Sausage), several other sides and a decadent dessert buffet that include favorites pumpkin pie, chocolate cream pie, apple crumble, and an assortment of other treats. First seating is at 12pm. MORE DETAILS.

Napa Valley Wine Train
Thanksgiving on the Napa Valley Wine Train is a traditional Thanksgiving feast in a non-traditional (yet extremely memorable) atmosphere. We'll have all of the customary Thanksgiving fixings, and of course, a perfectly cooked turkey. Many guests have made Thanksgiving on the wine train their family tradition, returning year after year. Lunch Train is already sold out! So make sure to call and make reservations for the Dinner Train.
MORE DETAILS

Siena Restaurant at the Meritage Resort
Keep calm and gobble on this Thanksgiving at The Meritage Resort. Leave the cooking to our award-winning restaurant and enjoy this time of thanks with your family and friends.
Savor a prefixed menu by our Executive Chef Michael Collins that includes turkey carving at your table, choice of an appetizer, a dessert bar, and much more. Turkey leftovers will even be wrapped to take home for a turkey sandwich the next day! MORE DETAILS



Breakfast at Hotel Yountville

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hotcakes04.jpgBanana-Hazelnut Pancake,
with Gianduja Butter, Amaretto Caramel & Cocoa Nib Tuile


Submitted by Hotel Yountville
Executive Chef David Frakes

Breakfast never looked so good! David Frakes is the new Executive Chef at Hotel Yountville - the newest boutique resort coming to the town of Yountville October 22nd! This recipe calls for a twist on the traditional. Instead of regular butter and syrup with your pancakes, spice them up with Gianduja BUtter, Amaretto Caramel & Cocoa NIb Tuile!

Gianduja Butter

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Gianduja butter.jpgSubmitted by Hotel Yountville
Executive Chef David Frakes

Makes: A little less than 1 Cup (About 8 servings)

INGREDIENTS

                • 4 Oz Gianduja (or, other delicious flavored/non-flavored chocolate, chopped/shaved into small pieces)
                • 3 Oz Unsalted Butter (softened)
                • 1 T Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
                • Pinch Sea (or Kosher Salt)

Rabanada (Brazilian-Style French Toast)

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2.jpgSubmitted by Hotel Yountville ~ Executive Chef David Frakes

Hotel Yountville opens October 22nd, 2010 and Executive Chef David Frakes looks forward to exploring the possibilities of fried bread that has been soaked in condensed milk and a variety of flavorings. As he says "How can you go wrong, really?,...Trendy? Maybe. Delicious? Definitely!!!"


INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Lg Sourdough Baguette (or medium sweet)
  • 3 Lg Eggs
  • ¾ C Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 5 T Whole milk
  • ½ t Vanilla Extract
  • Small Pinch Kosher Salt
  • ½ C Sugar (Turbinado, or Granulated)
  • ½ T Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • ¼ t Cinnamon (or Allspice/Mace/or Clove, ground)
  • For frying, Vegetable Oil

Amaretto Caramel

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Submitted by Hotel Yountvilleamarettocaramel.jpg
Executive Chef David Frakes


Makes: A little less than 1 Cup (About 8 servings)

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ C Butter, Unsalted (half stick)
  • ½ C Sugar (Granulated)
  • Pinch Kosher Salt
  • 1-2 T Heavy Cream
  • 1 ½ oz Amaretto

Summer Lunching in Yountville

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diningalfresco.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

The glorious Napa Valley summer has arrived, bringing day after day of perfect sunshine, and a compulsive, irresistible urge to lunch al fresco.  Downtown Yountville offers one of the highest concentrations of outdoor dining spots in the whole valley, all within an easy walk of one another, and all with their own brand of wine country charm.

At the north end of Washington Street, the Hotel Luca's Italianate stone archway opens onto a serene courtyard patio with fountains, lounge seating, and the delightful Cantinetta Piero.  Seasonal ingredients, house-cured charcuterie, and rustic lusty flavors capture the spirit of Tuscany with a California accent.   The restaurant's courtyard facing walls open up entirely to the balmy air, allowing even those seated inside to enjoy the weather, while well-placed umbrellas by the terrace tables offer courtyard diners shade from the often searing sun.  To celebrate the arrival of their full bar license, and the indulgent noshing time between lunch and dinner, the restaurant is now offering a Margarita and Margherita promotion.  Between 4 and 6 p.m. during the week, buy any cocktail you like from the bar and score a gorgeous, thin-crust margherita pizza for only $5.  Yes, and yes.
By Deirdre Bourdet

frenchLaundryGardens1.jpgWho doesn't love being let in on a secret? Particularly a secret that involves the magical stuff that The French Laundry puts on its dinner plates. Summer is the perfect time to discover Jacobsen Orchards and Hill Family Farm, the tiny, family-owned, organic farms that sell only to The French Laundry and Bardessono Restaurant.
 
You can walk the Jacobsen Orchard rows, taste and smell the organic peaches, plums, herbs, and esoteric vegetables that are inspiring Thomas Keller this season, and hear all about the history of this farm connection and its golden wares from the godson of the Jacobsens: Ryan Hill.  Ryan will regale you with tales of the Jacobsen Orchard's humble beginnings in the 1970s, when San Franciscans Peter and Gwenny purchased the Yountville land and tiny wooden shack as a country getaway, complete with outdoor shower/garden hose. Their cabin is still there, just across from the larger barn residence brought in several years later, and the fabulous outdoor kitchen that now looks out on the farm rows themselves.

Yountville's Moveable Feast

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hemmingway.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

Adding to the list of delicious off-season promotions, Yountville continues to buzz with the excitement of the first annual Moveable Feast--a self-styled "Seasonal Gastronomic Gallop" through the town's luxurious lodging, spas, and eateries.  Eleven hotels and ten restaurants have put together value-focused packages and prix fixes to lure visitors into the charming little foodie mecca.

Most participating restaurants offer either a massively discounted prix fixe menu (about $24-25 per person for lunch, $28-55 for dinner) or a special price on some of their greatest hits.  Bouchon Bakery hands away free chocolate bouchons with the purchase of any coffee, while Bouchon Bistro next door promotes its late-night scene after 10:00p.m.with a $20 two-course supper of oysters or French onion soup, and croque madame sandwich.  Bistro Jeanty offers one dollar oysters and foie blond paté during happy hour Monday through Thursday (3:30-6:30pm).

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