Beaulieu Vineyards and Solbar Restaurant are top picks for Napa.

My 1st wine tour was 25 years ago in Napa.   I have a different appreciation for wine these days and tend to put a lot more planning into my wine touring.  I recommend a visit to http://www.visitnapavalley.com to help with planning and for some really great Special Offers.

We stayed at the Silverado Resort again, but next time I’m staying downtown, where there’s lots of fun in walking distance.  The  Napa Valley Welcome Center on Main Street is a good place to start.  Be sure to see if there are any good discount coupons. Oxbow Market is great for breakfast; try Ritual Coffee for seriously good coffee.  I’d love to try it for lunch or dinner too.

Mumm Napa has a great patio tasting experience. We learned that a piccolo is a small wine flute and that a water cracker is an excellent way to cover a piccolo to keep out the elements.  Also worth a visit for the Ansel Adams art collection.

Mumm Napa

 

My favourite tasting room was Beaulieu Vineyards.  The Cabernet Collectors Tasting was $50, and well worth it.  We tasted 5 Cabernet Sauvignons, 2 different clones in 2 different vintages and then a 2015 BV Private Reserve Georges de Latour that knocked our socks off.   We splurged on a bottle since we had a half price coupon for the tasting fee thanks to http://www.visitnapavalley.com.

Beaulieu Vineyards

Solbar at the beautiful Solage Auberge Resort in Calistoga was my favourite meal of the trip. Great service, a fantastic wine list and raves around our table for the food.  The Wilted Kale salad with pickled grapes, roasted romanesco and candied pistachios was so good I’ve already pickled some grapes and am working on my replica.  Don’t miss the crab cakes, no filler here so you can really taste the sweet crab.

Solbar Repro
Romanesco pickled grapes and candied nuts by Cathy

 

 

Hand churned butter is finger licking good at Spritmuseum Stockholm 5 Yums Up!

I had a small butter incident in The Dining Room at the Spritmuseum Stockholm.  When they tried to clear the plate with a small smear of butter remaining, my hand shot out and my finger was in my mouth quick as a wink.  Just writing this, I can feel and taste it on my tongue.

Bread & Butter

Take a ferry to Djurgarden to visit some of the Museums and include lunch or dinner at the Spritmuseum.

Lunch on a beautiful, late summer afternoon made for a perfect day combined with visits to The Vasa and Abba museums.

The restaurant focuses on local, organic ingredients with a focus on vegetables.

Starting with fresh warm brown bread and hand churned butter.  Yes, thank you, we would like more.

A starter of salted pike and cucumber in elder-flower vinegar, tomato and fig leaf was a bright start.

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Fermented corn soup with yeast and nasturtium was a pleasant surprise.  There was a depth of flavor you wouldn’t expect from corn soup.

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Grilled beets and chanterelles with onions in a parsley puree was another hit.  The beets sweet contrasted wonderfully with the earthy chanterelles and the onions added a touch of sharpness.

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We also got to try Himmelsraften a pressed hard, unpasteurized cow cheese named for a mountain in northern Sweden.  Lovely with some honeycomb on the side.

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Buckwheat pancakes (like not pancake I’ve ever seen) with blueberries and cream left us with a sweet ending.

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Trying the Original Smorgasbord at The Grand Hotel Stockholm 4 Yums Up!

I don’t like buffets and I didn’t like herring but all that changed on a recent trip to Stockholm.

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The Verandan restaurant at The Grand Hotel is a bright and cheerful room overlooking the water with equally cheerful people serving and guiding you through the original smorgasbord.  1st up start with a plate of herring some crisp bread and cheese.  I was told that the herring was best with a shot of house made snaps – 1874 Grand Aquavit, flavoured with cumin, anise and fennel and followed with a local lager.  Save room for the salmon, potatoes and meatballs.  Plan to spend some time.  Drink more Aquavit.  You’ll love Stockholm.

Aquavit StockholmHerring

One Meal A Day

Food.  I love to eat , cook and grow it.  With over 50 years of fighting with my weight it may be understandable that I’m uncomfortable saying that.

Wine is my favourite hobby and coffee is a passion.  The best days start with a couple of great Americanos, then I spend a few hours hydrating with a couple of litres of water until it’s time to open today’s bottle of wine.

I’ve been eating one meal a day since May 15, 2018.  It’s liberating.  I can easily go through most days with nothing but coffee and water if I know I’m going to have something fabulous for dinner.  No guilt and nothing is off limits.

Today I realized I had a dilemma.  Since 1995 I’ve quite coffee for the month of February. Should I quit coffee in 2019?  Does my “One Meal A Day” practice trump my annual abstinence?

Cheers

 

I give Wolf In The Fog 5 YUMS up with the large sharing plates providing the “something special”

I love the drive to Tofino and Wolf In The Fog has been beckoning since it made Enroute’s Best New Restaurant List. It’s a good addition to the already excellent food scene. Surfers are a hungry lot and thrive on good fresh food. We had dinner at Wolf and lunch in the downstairs Den. Dinner was very busy but there were no mistakes. Chef Nicholas Nutting is a commanding presence in the kitchen that was open enough for gawkers like me to get to watch the action. I liked the big upstairs dining room complete with a large comfortable and happening bar and a cosy couch corner. The food was excellent. Super sharing plates with possibly the best scallops I’ve ever eaten in The French Bombshell. A full patisserie in house produced excellent banquettes.

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The oysters are addictive. Wrapped in shoestring potatoes, they are among the best I’ve had.

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Roasted Winter Vegetable Salad with wild mushrooms and truffle dressing. We cleaned the plate.

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Charred Humboldt Squid with grapefruit, sprouts, cilantro and basil. Not my favourite dish, it was a bit too tart for my taste.

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French Bombshell – scallops, mussels, clams, black cod, baquette and frisee salad. WOW!!!

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Surf and Turf – braised shortrib, spicy grilled octopus, sweet potato and bok choy. i wish I’d never discovered octopus. It was delicious.

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Tofino Blackout – flourless chocolate cake and mild chocolate gelato. I’m not a dessert fan but my sister said it was great.

Does Willows Inn offer the best dining experience in North America?

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Smokehouse

A full 5 Yums Up for me and a spot on my most memorable meal list. From the moment we pulled into the parking lot and were greeted by a fire in the grill and aromatic smoke chugging out of the smokehouse I was engaged in the experience of dining at Willows Inn. A good walk on the beach across the street set our appetites on fire.
As the sun set, the chefs visited the grill and smokehouse more and the kitchen and dining room started to glow with light and activity. I was drawn away from the smokehouse to make a quick change before moving to the lobby bar for a drink, a snack and some excellent entertainment from a young man with a guitar, a violin, a ukulele and a great song list.
Regular trips to the glass French doors to the kitchen built even more anticipation as I watched the chefs with calm and precision work magic as 6:30 approached.
Soon we were all seated in the casually elegant dining room, drinks were poured and a parade of servers and chefs presented each of us with a small lidded cedar box.

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Samish Bay Smoked Mussel

Lift the lid and smoke escaped and we were all in; appearance, aroma and taste. By far the best mussel I have ever eaten and I wanted more, right then. I was soon distracted by tiny crispy crepes rolled around char roe.

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Crispy Crepe with Char Roe

The 1st two bites had the whole room humming. Things moved along pretty quickly but with plenty of time to savour the aromas, appearance and taste of each dish.

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Crispy kale with Black Truffles.

Next up was my favourite of the evening; crispy halibut skin stuffed with halibut emulsion and bits of razor clams dusted with seaweed dust. This had everything going for it; incredible presentation, crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside and flavour that made you long for more.

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Crispy Halibut Skins

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Grilled Shitake Mushrooms

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Spot Prawn Poached in it’s Roe

The lightly smoked oysters were so good, they delivered another order to our table.  Don’t they look amazing?

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Shigoku Oysters

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Black Cod wrapped in Caraflex Cabbage

The Black cod wasn’t the most beautiful presentation of the evening but one of the tastiest.  I happen to know from hanging around the smokehouse that the cod was lightly smoked and there was a sliver of very crisp cod skin along the top of the fish before it was wrapped in cabbage.  My second favourite dish of the night.

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Pears Cooked in Embers

Pears cooked in embers was the pescatarian swap for tartare of venison and wild lettuces.

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Quite possibly the best smoked salmon I’ve ever eaten.

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Smoked Sockeye Salmon

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Slices of Persimmon

Things were starting to get a little foggy about now.  We’d chosen the wine pairing option and the pours were generous.  I don’t know what the persimmons were in but it was refreshing and lively.

Only one other dish needed to be swapped out for our pescatarian request.  It was pine mushrooms instead of pork chop in juniper with turnips buried in embers. Once again I loved the taste of the fire on the turnip and the mushrooms and juniper were earthy, deep and dark.

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Pine mushroom and juniper with turnip from the embers

There was also roasted sunflower root, caramelized squid and charred radicchio, felicata squash and pine-flavoured cream, flax seed squares and bread from local grains with butter and onion drippings but my final favourite was goat’s milk with grasses.  The grasses were in a broth and I was actually reluctant to taste it fearing it might be a bad end to the meal but it was amazing.  So bright it almost sang to me.

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Goat Cheese with a Broth of Grasses

In all there were 11 courses and 9 snacks or surprises paired with 5 wines and 1 beer.  I made a mistake and ordered a bottle of Capitello Oregon Brut before dinner and also chose the wine pairing option with dinner.  I was drinking bubbly between courses instead of water and it may have had an effect on my judgement toward the end of the meal.  I wasn’t the last person in the dining room as I’d intended to be and I regret it immensely.

I’ve eaten at a couple of Michelin starred restaurants this year as well as some of the best restaurants in Vancouver and this meal is definitely my best of the year.

I’ve booked it for same time next year.

Wine Pairing:

Capitellp Methode Champenoise Oregon Brut

2013 Big Table Farm “Wirtz Vineyard” Edelzqicker, Willamette, Oregon

2011 Maison Bleue “Upland Vineyard” Grenache, Snipes Mountain, Washington

Longsdon Straffe Drieling Tripel, Hood River, Oregon

2011 Gramercy Cellars “Inifo Montoya” Tempranillo, Walla Walla, Washington

2012 Brook “Tehys” Riesling, Eola-Amith Hills, Oregon

I highly recommend Willows Inn.  Book early so you can stay right on property.

Rachel’s 23rd birthday

I woke in the early morning of Wednesday with a sore throat that managed to keep me awake a long time and was feeling pretty poorly to start the day.  I stayed in bed and skipped the workout and felt much better for my favourite day. Rachel’s birthday invokes the strongest and best memories and I’ve always tried to have breakfast with her.  Yesterday was no exception.  She chose Catch 122 on Hastings.  Neither of us had been there and it was a good choice.  I had a truffle scented mushroom omelet with goat cheese.  It was a little bland but benefited from hot sauce.  The hash browns were a thing of beauty.  Rachel had a 3 decker english muffin scrambled egg and chorizo affair that was impossible to eat as a sandwich.  She ate every bite but I don’t think she’d order it again.  Coffee was good, room is good.  2 1/2 Yums Up.

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David made baked beans on potatoes and an excellent arugula, corn and red pepper dish for dinner.

I ate about 2,300 calories yesterday.

This morning I did a 10 minute bike ride, some crunches and stretches.  My body is aching and sore.  I think I may have a flu bug I’m fighting off.

Tan Tan Noodle Challenge continues and Peaceful takes the lead

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Driving home yesterday I was thinking of what to have for lunch when I saw a parking spot right in front of Peaceful. and the Tan Tan noodle challenge was on.  I ordered to go and perhaps that’s not comparing oranges to oranges but Peaceful came out the winner over Lin’s anyway.  The spinach and tofu addition make for a more interesting dish. Peaceful serves it with the sauces on the bottom and the other components separate on top. Once tossed the sauces become rich and thick  The spicing is just right too, not but not overpowering.  Both have excellent handmade noodles but Peaceful  makes the better dish.

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Monday morning David started our day with this amazing skillet breakfast of potato, egg and curd.  Add some sauce and it’s a new poutine.  It was delicious.

Light workout this morning, feeling quite sore from Sunday and Monday.  10 minute bike, crunches, push ups and stretches.

I ate about 2,000 calories yesterday.  It is possible to eat great food and eat low colorie if there are no extras or alcohol.

Dim Sum at Jade and 2 new must have dishes

Woke up feeling like all I wanted to do was drink coffee and read the news but I climbed on the bike anyway and finished with a very nice workout.  3 sprints on the bike, 2 – 2+minutes and 1 – 1+ minute.

I felt hungover yesterday.  I rarely drink enough to feel that way and it wasn’t lack of sleep.  Dim Sum was a great idea and Jade is one of my favourite places.  They make a fish and mushroom tart that I’ve never seen anywhere else and is 2 bites of amazing.  The prawns in balsamic another slightly odd dish for dim sum but also deeply delicious.  Our 2 new favourites are the personal hot pot with scallops, prawn and mushrooms in a Thai sauce that is mopped up beautifully with the deep fried mushrooms.  There are snowy owls in Boundary Bay this time of year so a repeat may be n the future.

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Halibut with Green Onion and Ginger

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Thai Style Prawn and Scallop Mini Hot Pot

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Prawns in Balsamic Sauce

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Mixed Mushroom and Truffle Chow Mein
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Baked Mushroom and Fish Tart

Another day of not being able to guess at the calories.  Today won’t be like that though.