You know that place nearing the end of vacation where you start vowing to eat nothing but salad and drink ice water for the next two weeks? I am SO there.
We’ve have had an amazing week in California, but I am pretty sure if I tried to put my jeans on right now (yup, still in sweats) they’d be more than a little too tight.
Our first night in San Francisco, we ate at an authentic little Northern Italian place with delicate homemade pastas, creamy risottos, and impeccable seafood. The following afternoon, we feasted on raw oysters and clams, giant prawns, and the best Oysters Rockefeller (ever) at the famous Hog Island Oyster Company. Is it sad that we got some after-lunch “exercise” by walking through the Ferry Building marketplace and buying paper-thin charcuterie, crusty homemade breads, soft purple figs, local honey, and creamy, salty cheeses for later?
That night, we dined at Incanto, a restaurant known for its use of the whole animal. I never thought I would eat beef tendons, blood pasta, pig knuckles, chicken innards, or cured tuna heart, but we enjoyed them all that night. And I do mean enjoyed. The food was rich and flavorful and the meal was delightfully interactive—everyone reaching over everyone else’s plates to taste these strange and wonderful things. For dessert we had a Douglas fir infused panna cotta with bush berry sauce and a rosemary apple crisp with homemade wine ice cream.
The next few days we spent in Napa and Sonoma, tasting incredible wines and learning about micro-climates, growing techniques, grape varietals, fermentation processes—and how this all effects the flavor profile, alcohol content, and other aspects of the finished product. I’ve learned more about wine in the past three days than I have in my entire life. Fingers crossed, I can retain even half of what I learned.
We took a break from Italian at a Spanish tapas restaurant in Napa where we sampled spicy marinated shrimp, eggs and white anchovies on toast, grilled octopus, tender rabbit rillete with homemade mustard, barbecued lamb chops, and…oh the list go on.
Last night, our palettes fatigued from bold wines and rich fare, we sipped crisp, refreshing cocktails and kept dinner on the lighter side—sharing wood-fired marrow bones, crisp and briny fried olives, herbed salads, seared scallops, and delicate pasta dishes. The portions were, thankfully, on the small side.
It’s our last night here and I’m torn. We’re heading to Biba Caggiano’s to-die-for Italian place in Sacramento, and I feel like I can’t waste the opportunity to eat incredible food from an incredible chef. But, I need to wear my jeans home tomorrow.
Maybe one more night…then I swear, it’s all salad.