Deirdre Bourdet: February 2010 Archives

Save Shroom For My Love

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By Deirdre Bourdet

Winter vegetables are notoriously time consuming and obnoxious to prepare.  Few people are willing to double their usual meal preparation time in order to accommodate the stubborn nature of cold weather veggies.  While I love greens and root vegetables at least as much as the next person, I'm also tremendously lazy and don't like spending every night of my life on the prep work and cooking necessary to transform them into something tasty and tender enough to eat.

Yeti, I Know You...

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yetifrontdoor.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

I'm sure my girlfriend and I are not the only ones who loved that guy on American Idol who auditioned in Atlanta with his original one-man duet lovesong, beginning "La-ty, I know you," in falsetto.  Now I hear that guy every time I hear a word that starts with "lay" or ends with "tee"... or anything remotely similar.  As we strolled under the large Yeti Restaurant sign into the historic sawmill building of the Jack London Village Shops in Glen Ellen, the Atlanta guy was with us.  But the delectable smells wafting up from the open kitchen into the restaurant quickly put to rest any fears of further comparisons to that performance.  Warm spices, creamy curries, and blistering tandoor breads filled the air with their enticing aromas and made it clear that we needed to get to know Yeti, stat.

Restaurant Week Comes To Sonoma February 22-28, 2010

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By Deirdre Bourdet

The tradition of local "restaurant week" promotions dates from the last recession, post dotcom crash, when the nouveaux poor's continued need for high end dining and the high end dining establishments' need for continued business found common ground in a beautiful, prix-fixed way.  New York and San Francisco restaurants enjoyed such success with their Restaurant Week programs that they kept them in place even after fortunes were again flying high.

The Pearl of Great Price

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By Deirdre Bourdet

The Restaurant Pearl has anchored the corner of Franklin and Pearl Streets in downtown Napa for almost fifteen years, and is much beloved by locals with a taste for internationally-inflected wine country cuisine.  The steak soft tacos, the Guerrero-style grilled corn on the cob, and anything and everything seafood on the menu have cult followings.  But as the restaurant name suggests, the oysters are the most unique and fabulous things to eat there...  and the most fabulous time to eat said oysters is in the winter, on a chilly Saturday afternoon during the Oyster Extravaganza.

How To Feed Your Lover

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By Deirdre Bourdet

Valentine's Day is upon us.  Do you know what you're feeding your lover?  

Much has been written about aphrodisiac ingredients, but if your love target doesn't like them--skip 'em.  The key to a romantic dinner is making food that is attractive to the object of your desire, and doesn't weigh either of you down too much.  Definitely choose dishes that inspire the senses through fragrant herbs and spices, exciting textures, beautiful shapes, and addicting flavors, but steer clear of things you know are on their Do Not Eat list. I will never attempt to seduce my partner in crime with lamb, for example, no matter how irresistible and succulent it may sound to me.  Stick to things they like.  With this in mind, here are some tasty ideas for a happy Valentine's Day.
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By Deirdre Bourdet

Most visitors to wine country have experienced at least once the painful desperation of not having enough food in their stomach to carry them through the day's wine tasting agenda.  For people who don't live locally, filling that ravening hole can be an exercise in frustration and financial dismay.  Many restaurants are expensive, and many smaller less expensive eating establishments have strange hours or slow service that don't jibe with a tasting party's urgent need to feed.

Here are a few locals' suggestions for places to fuel up in Napa Valley without breaking the bank:

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).

Homard Homage

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By Deirdre Bourdet

Lobster is a luscious, decadent food. From lobster rolls to lobster ravioli, the crustacean's rich flavor, meaty texture, and affinity for butter make it universally desirable. Unfortunately for us non-New Englanders, lobsters' high cost tends to keep them in the realm of the special occasion foods. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, though, and I'd venture to say that our lust for lobster is more intense than the Mainers', and our delight in devouring it much greater.

Wine country restaurants give the traditional lobster preparations a creative California twist, making the crustacean even more special, and even more compatible with the local wines.

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