Tag Archive | food blog

Yountville

Napa County, California

 

The town of Yountville, California will always hold a special place in this girl’s memory. This little intimate community is home to my very favorite hotel and one of my favorite restaurants.

Yountville is located in the very heart of Napa Valley wine country. This quaint, manicured town was named for early pioneer George Calvery Yount who was responsible for establishing the first vineyard in Napa Valley in 1867. I wonder if he ever knew what he was setting in motion? Great foresight there, George!

 

Today Yountville is known as the “Culinary Capital of Napa Valley.” Bouchon Bistro and The French Laundry are both Michelin-starred restaurants. Redd, Ad Hoc, Lucy and Bouchon Bakery are all first-class eateries with world-renowned chefs. One of my favorite restaurants was Bottega, where my husband and I had a delicious four-course meal and first fell in love with the Napa Valley “buttery” chardonnays. My memory of our dinner here was of impeccable service, elevated Italian cuisine, a stunning wine list, and a delectable parmesan-garlic spread to enjoy on their fresh-baked ciabatta bread. My dining experience at Bottega was a love affair from the first bite! 

 

Not only is Yountville full of world-class restaurants, there are gourmet shops, boutiques, wine tasting rooms, art galleries, top-notch accommodations, and incredible natural surroundings – all in the immediate area. You can casually stroll down the main drag of oak-lined Washington Street and find almost every kind of shop, restaurant, bakery, and spa within walking distance. Be sure to keep your eye out for the over 40 works of art and outdoor sculptures scattered throughout the beautifully landscaped scenic downtown area. 

 

For some day excursions, how about golf, a wine tour, a hot air balloon ride or a bike tour? David and I took off on our own and toured some of the local wineries. Domaine Chandon (owned by French Champagne Moet and Chandon), Frog’s Leap and Goosecross Cellars are all located in close proximity. It is not a far drive to most of the Napa Valley wineries or vineyards from Yountville. Most Napa wineries close at 5:00 p.m. so enjoy your winery visits, have a nice lunch, and come back to Yountville. You can then park your car and walk to one of the 15 tasting rooms. No need to drive any more – just stroll and sip!  

 

If you are wondering where to stay, there are plenty of up-scale hotels, quaint country inns and a few bed & breakfasts. My favorite hotel “of all time” was the Bardessono, located in the heart of Yountville. This was an excellent hotel for location, service, and amenities. With automatic blinds and toilets, a jacuzzi tub, a steam shower, and an outdoor shower on our private patio – I did not want to leave this hotel! The entire place was very “Zen-like” with beautiful flora, fruit trees, fountains, gardens and art work at every turn. The entire Bardessono property was very peaceful and quiet – with the exception of the lively bar, outdoor fire pits and the Lucy Restaurant in the evenings. We also enjoyed the lovely pool and private cabanas a couple of afternoons after returning from our winery expeditions. There may have even been a nap or two in those relaxing roof-top cabanas – just sayin’.

 

This stay in Yountville was one of those trips that we keep saying we want to repeat – and that doesn’t happen for us too often. We visited in October and the weather was absolutely perfect.  Combine the wine, the weather, the hotel, and the meals we enjoyed – and it makes perfect sense why we want to return.

 

My suggestion – set a date, plan ahead, book a couple of restaurants on Open Table and mosey over to Yountville for a great Napa Valley getaway! We may see you there. Cheers!!

For you foodies, here is the recipe for the Bottega Parmesan Garlic Spread: 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of fresh basil, 1/2 tablespoon of fresh chopped chives, 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until well chopped and combined. Spread on fresh ciabatta bread and enjoy!

Dalrock Diner

Rowlett, TX

This is a nice little diner located near the intersection of Highway 66 and Dalrock Road in Rowlett, Texas. It feels like you step back in time when you enter through the front door. This old-school diner has the black & white checkered floor and red & white booths that take you back to the 1950’s. Everything is very clean, neat and intimate.

I have dined here several times now and have really enjoyed it each time. Dalrock Diner serves American homestyle breakfast, lunch and dinner. The surprise for me was the Greek influences throughout the menu.

The menu is quite varied – with breakfast foods, sandwiches, salads, and “down home” foods. Breakfast choices include Tex Mex migas, omelets, pancakes, fried chicken & waffles, breakfast skillets, and a gyro breakfast. Their burgers and sandwiches are all delicious and come with French fries. (The Yankee Ruben is my favorite!) They also have a few seafood and cajun options, which are very good. The Greek salad (with gyro, grilled chicken or grilled shrimp), the gyro sandwich and chicken souvlaki are especially tasty and a welcome change when in the mood for something different. The meat is very tender and perfectly seasoned. This diner also serves the usual comfort foods – chicken fried steaks, chili, smothered steaks, fried chicken, and a variety of homemade country vegetables and sides. The food is served in a timely manner and is always piping hot. All the meals have nice-sized portions and are very reasonably priced.

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Chicken Souvlaki

Each time we have dined here, the service has been very attentive. The servers are very personable, helpful, and are on hand to refill your drinks and check on you. The owner is present most days and personally greets patrons and visits with regulars. Dalrock Diner is definitely a little neighborhood gem and is perfect for dining solo, couples, or families.

Be sure to check out the glass display up front when you enter or when you pay your check. It is filled with all types of delicious house-made pies and cakes. Have a slice for dessert or buy a whole one to take home. 

Dalrock Diner is simply good food at good prices – nothing fancy – no more, no less. Check it out.

 

Dushanbe Teahouse

Boulder, Colorado

Boulder is now one of my favorite cities! You drive through the town and see mountains in one direction and modern buildings in another. There are trendy restaurants, open shopping areas, parks, creeks, evergreen trees, and sculptures scattered in between. It is a sensory overload for me. Love it!

One building that stands out from all others is the elaborate Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. Photos do not do it justice. It is an artistic structure designed in bright blues, yellows, greens, reds, golds, etc. and the more you gaze at the details – the more you see. No two panels or cedar columns are alike. The entire place is handcrafted, carved, and painted with beautiful intricate patterns that are traditional in Persian Art.

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handcrafted ceiling & cedar columns

Dushanbe is the capital of Tajikistan and this teahouse was actually constructed there and sent as a gift to Boulder, their “sister city.” It was completely built by hand without the use of any power tools whatsoever. It was finished, disassembled, crated up and sent to Boulder to be rebuilt. The teahouse stands today as a symbol of friendship and to remind the citizens of Boulder to value cultural diversity, global cooperation and international friendship. 

Besides just being a gorgeous building, Dushanbe Teahouse is one of my absolute favorite places to eat when visiting Boulder. I have never found iced chai tea anywhere that can compare to the spicy deliciousness of the ones served here. I have had the privilege of dining here for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner and have sampled many of their tasty and somewhat unusual dishes.

You can choose to be seated indoors and enjoy the building’s architecture and beautiful plants and fountains. You can also choose to be seated outside under flowering trellises or canopies and enjoy the outdoor sights. The teahouse is a work of art to enjoy either way.

The menu is very diverse! Try Kookoo Sabzi (a Persian omelette with baba ghanoush and rice), a Honduran Beleada (tortilla, black beans, eggs, cheese, and avocado), Chickpea Kufteh (chickpea croquettes with Persian tomato sauce, greens and pomegranate) or maybe delicious Indian Samosas (with  spicy potatoes and peas). 

For the more traditional diners – try the Hummus, Whole Wheat Chai Pancakes, Russian Beet Salad, or American Breakfast (complete with a homemade pop tart). There is also a wide variety of sandwiches, salads, and pastas on the menu but I am always game to try something new and different. The desserts have always been especially good with my favorites being their Tangerine Tea Gingerbread and Mexican Chocolate Cake (which packs quite a chili pepper punch!). 

Their drink menu is extensive with wines and cocktails but I keep going back for the chai tea…..it is just too delicious to pass up. If you want something different, try one of their Blooming Teas – where a flowery dried tea ball is actually dropped into your clear glass of hot water and the artisan tea literally “blooms” as it steeps. It is quite an unusual drink, to say the least. 

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blooming tea

One of my favorite trips to Dushanbe Teahouse was last October when the Boulder Farmer’s Market was being held on a gorgeous Saturday morning. The whole area in front of and around Dushanbe is filled with booths and stalls selling various products: plants, flowers, granola, fruits & vegetables, soaps, jams & jellies, honey, goat cheese, breads, artisan crafts, T-shirts, etc. It is truly a sight to behold! My morning was filled with sights, sounds, scents and tastes from this wonderful market. What a fantastic and memorable way to spend an autumn day in Boulder – a stroll through the Farmer’s Market and then brunch at Dushanbe with good friends and family. Life doesn’t get much better.

I also learned a very valuable chemistry lesson once while dining at Dushanbe Teahouse. While enjoying a wonderful brunch here and dining on French Toast stuffed with Orange Cream (fantastic dish!), I decided to stir a little pack of sugar into my mimosa for added sweetness. What came bubbling out of that champagne flute looked like a third grade volcano science project! Warning: NEVER add sugar to champagne and then stir. Lesson learned.

If you ever have the pleasure to visit Boulder, please make it a priority to visit Dushanbe Teahouse. I do not think you will be disappointed. And if you have visited before, please leave your comments on this blog page. I would enjoy hearing about other’s experiences. 

I hope you enjoyed this article. If so, please subscribe to this blog and read more of my dining and travel experiences. Thanks!

Medina Oven & Bar

Dallas, Texas

Whenever we have an event to attend at the American Airlines Center (AAC) in Dallas, part of the fun is deciding where to dine in that area. Several times we have returned to Medina Oven & Bar because we enjoy it so much. When you tire of Tex Mex, steaks & seafood or hamburgers and such – give this little Moroccan/Mediterranean place a try! It is only two blocks in front of Victory Plaza and is an easy walk to and from parking or the actual AAC. The interior is small and well-decorated with comfy seats and lots of Middle Eastern decor, lighting, and metalworks.

Let me begin with their drinks! They have an extensive wine list, but I never get past their specialty “sexy cocktails”.  The main item that keeps bringing me back to this restaurant is their Caramel Fig Martini. Words cannot describe it and the photo doesn’t do it justice. Just imagine vodka and lemon juice poured into an ice cold glass with caramel swirled inside and a roasted fig floating in the bottom and ice slivers on top. To me, it is pure perfection. The Pomecello Martini comes in a close second. 

We usually begin our meal with the Mixed Platter appetizer that comes with 4 spreads (hummus, eggplant, roasted pepper and harissa) and some of the best Mediterranean olives we have ever eaten. This is accompanied by a basket of fresh pita bread triangles. Everything was delicious.

Our most recent entrees were the Marrakesh Chicken Breast and the Chicken Apricot Tagine (pictured above). The Marrakesh Chicken Breast consisted of two juicy, boneless chicken breasts with  olives, roasted potatoes and a lemon sauce. The Chicken Apricot Tagine had two chicken breast fillets seasoned with saffron, cinnamon, honey spices and was served over roasted potato slices and apricots. This dish sounds really sweet but was actually very tasty and more savory than expected. For those diners who are not so adventurous, Medina also serves delicious meat skewers with rice, salads, and flatbread pizzas.

We finished up our meal by sharing a Caramel Bread Pudding with ice cream and nuts. It was served warm, covered in caramel and was most enjoyable. In other words….there was not a morsel remaining!

I hope you will give this little place a try. I do not think you will be disappointed. I do suggest reservations since they are very small and only seat around 40-50 patrons inside. When the weather is nice, they also have a nice little patio for outside dining. 

Did I mention the Caramel Fig Martini??? I hope you will check it out!