I Think I Just Gave Myself a Coronary. Something extremely unexpected happened today at work. I got an award for my "hard work." I was extremely embarrassed. Don't get me wrong, I definitely appreciate the recognition for all the long hours and frustration, but I feel awkward when people are talking about me in front of me. My boss is the bomb, and while she was giving me the award, I was thinking that she definitely deserved some of the credit.
Anyway, in the mood to treat myself, I headed up to Ad Hoc in Yountville. If you haven't been, Ad Hoc is a cozy, casual restaurant that has a four-course prix fixe menu that changes every day. The prix fixe menu consists of a salad, a main (usually a protein accompanied by a starch of some kind), a cheese course, and dessert. It's one of Thomas Keller's restaurants, so on weekends it gets super crazy with the tourists. Since it was a weekday, it wasn't so bad, and I was able to walk in without a reservation and get a seat the bar. (Note: if you sit at the bar, you don't have to get all four courses...you can pick and choose.)
Nick, the general manager, was the bartender today and informed me that bone marrow was available as a supplemental item. When I told him I had never had it, he asked me if I like sweetbreads and foie. I answered in the affirmative, but in my mind, I was wondering, "Are there people who don't?". Nick strongly recommended that I get the bone marrow, and I do mean strongly. Ha! Like he even needed to twist my arm. Obviously, this guy doesn't know me. In the end, I told Nick I wanted every course including the supplemental item, and chose a nice, dry riesling to start things off.
And now, some novice food photography and descriptions! (Note: This is not a food blog, and I am not a qualified food critic, so I'll be concise with my critique. Nor am I professional food photographer. This is me snapping what I hope were discreet shots of food as quickly as possible. The dishes' descriptions were pulled straight out of the ad hoc website.)
I like my rieslings dry, and this is the one I picked.
So first, the starter: Salad of watercress and frisee with fatted calf picnic ham, pixie mandarins, haas avocado, pickled red onions, and candied hazelnuts in a citrus vinaigrette.
The ham was tasty, the citrus vinaigrette was bright, and the pickled red onions---with their sweet and slightly sour deliciousness---were the bomb! Next up was the main course. Here we have strozzapreti pasta with some kalamata olives and braised escarole (that's a guess) and tossed in rendered bacon fat. Mmmm, rendered bacon fat. Mmmm. I think Nick said that they make half of their pasta in house and half is imported. This was imported from Italy.
The main protein was a grilled hanger steak slathered with tfl garden (i.e., from The French Laundry garden) spring garlic gremolata, served with red quinoa, wild ramps, and baby turnips.
The quinoa's texture was a nice contrast to the meat, and the gremolata added some nice flavor as well. Next up, roasted bone marrow with warm palladin toast and cara cara orange marmalade.
One word. Rich. That's all that was running through my mind as I smeared the gelatinous marrow on my toast. Because the marrow was so rich, the cara cara orange marmalade was a welcome touch of acid. It was good. Really good. So good that as I ate it, I felt very, very bad (as in "naughty"). At this point, I could feel my arteries crying out for help. But I just ignored them and plowed forward.
With my stomach about to burst and half of my steak and pasta boxed for tomorrow's lunch, the servers brought out the cheese course. It was Capriole Dairy's Mont St. Francis, an aged goat milk's cheese, soda bread, and apple butter. The soda bread was AMAZING. So yummy!
Last, but not least, rice pudding with poached pineapple, lime zest, and a coconut tuile. I love rice pudding. It's kinda like tapioca pudding, but cinnamon-y and more toothsome. And the coconut tuile took me back to childhood; it was like a delicate version of the coconut cookies I used to love getting from the Asian supermarket as a kid.
At this point, with my stomach distended, my arteries clogged, and my mind in a stupor, I waddled out of the restaurant and up and down Yountville's main street, hoping that the exercise would keep me alive at least until I got home. I think I better squeeze in a run tomorrow.
Labels: dining, food, restaurant