5 Dining Experiences to Write Home About
Santa Rosa, California | Wine Country
The weather was perfect and we decided to launch our food, wine, and shopping journey with a tasting dinner at the St. Francis Winery & Vineyards in nearby Santa Rosa. And, OMG, what a wonderful way to begin.
We arrived just in the nick of time (they keep to tight schedules here), tired and hungry. The food and wine pairings were absolutely wonderful. We started the meal with Arctic Char à la Barigoule (with a celery root/Yukon Gold potato purée), paired with a Chardonnay. Next was a Red Wine Braised Duck with coriander spätzle along with a really nice Pinot Noir, and a Smoked Beet Salad with goat cheese fondant and green garlic purée along with a different red. Our main course was a Coffee & Cocoa Crusted NY Strip Loin with roasted cauliflower, smoked garlic, and crispy shallots set off with a terrific Cabernet Sauvignon. For dessert, an incredible cheese selection (almost like a cheesecake) was served with a Mexican Chocolate Pot du Crème and a Port. The meal was perfectly portioned and exquisitely prepared and served. It was heaven.
Details: You will need reservations for the dinner and wine pairing. $60 pp. It is a bargain at $60 and less if you join (or are a member of) the Wine Club. Each seating has a maximum of 16 guests. There’s a great gift shop too.
New Delhi, India
After a busy day seeing the sights, we weren’t finished with Delhi yet. We ended the day sharing both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian Chef’s Tasting Menus at India’s number one restaurant, Indian Accent. A real dining adventure by star chef Manish Mehrotra – we sampled 15 incredible dishes. Foodies take note, they have opened branches in London and New York. I wish the photos could impart just how amazing each dish tasted. Elegant and exceptional.
For dinner, we took the advice of several friends (thanks!) and went to Da Dong for their fabulous Peking Duck. The menu is huge and a bit overwhelming, but we stuck with the famous duck and a variety of other dishes and enjoyed a feast. The restaurant is modern, service attentive and instructive as we were taught how to put together and eat the duck, condiments and Chinese pancakes. It was interesting to see the chefs cook the duck in huge fire ovens, and then carve them into small delicate pieces that are reconstructed on the serving platter. Never knew duck skin put in a little sugar could be so good.
Through the years, we’ve eaten some fine meals here – from the iconic Tadich Grill to a messy Moroccan feast at El Mansour, breakfast at Sears Fine Food (no, it’s not in a Sears Dept store and yes, it’s the best bacon ever), and Tyler Florence’s The Wayfair Tavern. There is a fabulous restaurant around every corner of this great city. And, there are too many Chinese restaurants to count. We had heard great things about R & G Lounge and their Chinese-style Dungeness Crab. We knew things looked promising when the other diners are predominantly local and Chinese. And, on the night we were there, the Japanese Consulate had arranged a private event (since the Prime Minister of Japan was in town). In fact, reception staff initially mistook my friend and me for part of the press corps traveling with the Prime Minister. R & G did not disappoint. One surprise was that this place knows how to make a martini.
We tried one of the four signature Dungeness Crab offerings – our choice was the ginger and scallion seasoning. It was delicious, even if we did have to work a bit for our dinner. Making a mess was worth the effort. The spicy green beans are also terrific. Make a reservation, because it is a popular spot.
Strasbourg Fois Gras. Chez Yvonne served up everything an Alsatian meal should be. I was in Strasbourg for a second visit to their incredible Christmas Markets and it was perfect after a day of walking for miles. It was cozy, warm, and had absolutely divine food I felt like was prepared just for us. Staff at our hotel, Cour du Corbeau, recommended the venue when we requested a restaurant with local, rustic-style fare and were not disappointed. We started with an ample serving of exceptional foie gras served with delicious fresh bread and a nice local wine. Frankly, that was so good, we could’ve stopped there. But we continued sharing dishes so we could try more, including dessert, and loved everything. It’s located in the middle of the old town and was a lovely walk to and from our hotel just on the other side of the I’ill.