Bouchon Bakery, Bottega, V Sattui Winery, and Morimoto

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

When Vu and I went home this past Christmas, we couldn't refuse a day trip to Napa with Vu's sister.  She's a foodie herself so it's fun to hang out with her and try new restaurants.  Being a super sweet sister-in-law, she let me pick all the restaurants and planned the entire trip.  

We drove two hours in the pouring rain to get to Yountville for our first destination, Thomas Keller's well known Bouchon Bakery.  Despite the heavy down pour, the line was out the door.  The town folks must think that we tourists are crazy for pastries!

They ran out of almond croissants so we got the raspberry ones, which tasted way too sweet.  Overfilled with jam.

Out of all the pastry items, my favorite was the salted caramel macaron.  Of course, I devoured it on the spot and forgot to take a picture.

Lucky for us, our lunch destination was just a short walk from the bakery.  We huddled under our umbrellas and made our way toward Bottega Ristorante.  The ground around Bottega was quite quaint, making me wish that it was summer so we could sit outside with a glass of wine and enjoy the picturesque town.  

The restaurant had beautiful stonework adorned with rustic Italian accents.  It was nice to take refuge inside the warm and cozy restaurant.  

We were hungry and ready to satisfy our growling stomach.  

Wood grilled octopus olive oil braised potatoes, pickled red onion and salsa verde

Polenta under glass, caramelized mushrooms and balsamic game sauce.  The polenta was creamy. slightly cheese, and paired so well with the mushrooms.  Texturally it reminded everyone at the table of baby food, but darn good baby food.   

Goat milk braised pork orecchiette chantrelles, cavalo nero pesto, pine nut gremolata, cristy Savoy spinach, pecorino.  Everyone liked this one except me.  Maybe because I'm not too fond of goat flavored food.  

Ricotta gnocchi with old hen salsa di pomodoro and pecorino.  Another favorite of mine.  So light.  Just amazing!  I could eat these for days.  My favorite gnocchi is still the spinach gnocchi at Bistro Moulin in Monterey Bay.  

Duck three ways, roasted breast, confit leg, duck liver mousse, Sierra Beauty apple passata, spiced hazelnuts and watercress.  My favorite was the duck breast, seasoned perfectly!  I wish it was a bit more cooked though.  

Smoked and braised natural short ribs polenta-speck polpette, espresso agro dolce glaze, smokey jus. Everyone seemed to like the short ribs.

Ricotta zeppole (Italian donuts) served in old newspaper with chocolate sauce.

Tiramisu with mascarpone mousse, cocoa ladyfingers rum and kahlua coffe syrup crunchy chocolate meringues.  It didn't taste like tiramisu but still delicious.

Basil gimlets.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!  It was so good, some of us had a few.

Overall I enjoyed my experience at Bottega Ristorante even though I'm not a huge fan of Italian food.  The food was comforting, delicious, and honest.  Like your grandmother's and mother's food, but a bit more refined.  

After lunch, we headed to V. Sattui Winery in St. Helena to indulge in some wine tasting.  

Besides having an extensive selection of wines, V. Sattui Winery also houses an awesome market stocked with many meats, cheeses, olive oils, mustards, and artisan products, and for your convenience, a grassy picnic area for you to enjoy your purchase.  

I couldn't be happier when the rain died down and the sun made its glorious entrance.  

I strolled the winery ground, admiring its serene and romantic setting, well manicured gardens, giant oak trees, and vast vineyards.  

We must have taken a while at the winery because before we noticed, the sun started to set and it was time for dinner.  

It was dark when we drove to Napa for our last stop of the day, Morimoto.  

I have always been fascinated by chef Morimoto's culinary style and techniques on Iron Chef America and was dying to try his inventive dishes.  

Wagyu beef carpaccio.  Melted in your mouth!  Better than David Burke's Primehouse in Chicago.

Toro tartare with minced seaweed, wasabi, sour cream, chive, guacamole, and mini fried rice balls.  Beautiful dish but the taste didn't match presentation.  

Morimoto sashimi.  All the fish were shockingly fresh!  This was the first time ever that I tried every single piece of fish. 

Chu-toro (medium fatty tuna).  Fresh, buttery, and delicious.

Sea urchin carbonara with smoked bacon, udon noodle, and crispy shallot.  It reminded me of the uni and caviar pasta at L2O in Chicago.  

Grilled hamachi. Smoky and very flavorful!

Whole roasted lobster epiche.  Seasoned perfectly!

Tofu cheesecake.  The lightest cheesecake I have ever tasted.  And you can't even tell that it's tofu.

Blood orange souffle.  Everyone's favorite!  I will attempt this dish one of these days.  Even though, Vu and I enjoyed our dinner at Morimoto Napa, we were not impressed.  The delivery didn't match the price.  Many dishes are similar to L2O's, but for the same price, we would rather eat at L2O.  


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