Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rotisserie and Wine

I'm a huge fan of PBS cooking shows, but Food Network shows are hugely lost on me. I find them more about the star than the food, and I have trouble trusting many of the stars after disappointing experiences at restaurants they gave raves and attempting recipes they've created.* So I had no clue who Tyler Florence was when someone suggested his new restaurant when we asked for a dinner recommendation in Napa.

Well, I know who he is now and have complete confidence in his abilities. Wow. I say again, wow.

Tyler Florence's Rotisserie & Wine is about a year old and is right next door to another favorite Napa eatery, Morimoto.** My takeaway - fresh, simple ingredients perfectly prepared. I repeat, perfection. And totally reasonably priced considering this was a completely 5 star experience. Allow me to share with you this perfection as best I can without you tasting it yourself.

Complimentary Cornbread Sticks with salted honey butter: Warm, soft on the inside, just crisp on the outside, salty, sweet, and buttery. I mean, they left no stone unturned, nailing every aspect of such a dish you could want. Quite possibly my favorite item of a night filled with fantastic items. My southern family would weep from the beauty and simplicity.

$4 Happy Hour Deviled Eggs: Smooth yolk filling topped with chives and red onions for flavor and crunch. Very good, but possibly my least favorite dish simply relative to it's stellar neighbors. But I may just be spoiled by the crab deviled eggs with housemade Old Bay seasoning at Nettie's. The husband man loved these.

$4 Happy Hour Spiced Snap Peas: Warm in temperature and seasonings. The first snap peas to make me doubt my own sesame soy recipe. How can something so simple be so delicious, and so difficult to recreate? I have no idea how to even begin to crack this recipe. But I will try.

Heirloom Tomatoes with pickled red onions and basil in vinagraitte: Perfection. I can't say it enough. Such ripe tomatoes need little help, and this dish managed to compliment them without overpowering. The ultimate in summer freshness.

Mac & local cheeses: Do you all know of my deep, abiding love for a well-created mac & cheese? I am a snoot of the highest order on this point. It's not about fancy cheeses or oils, it's about balance. Fancy cheese and oils can add a lot, but only if wielded properly. Other than being the only dish on the table that required the addition of a sprinkling of salt, this mac accomplished that balance. Creamy cheese sauce that hasn't separated, coating the noodles with CHEESE instead of OIL. And it remained a sauce rather than turning into a loaf. The local cheeses chosen for the sauce also hit the right flavor balance - not too simple, nor too complex. The pasta not overcooked. Even the breadcrumbs were just right, adding crisp texture without adding too much flavor or starch to overwhelm what should be at center stage - the CHEESE, and the pasta.

Roasted Duck: The husband man and I have both eaten a lot of duck in our lifetimes. We started at a young age, with his father studying classic French culinary arts and my dad shooting many a waterfowl straight out of the sky. We both agree this dish is one of the best, if not THE best we've ever had. The seared breast so exceptional it even stood up to the tender yet charred confit leg. The lentils had me again lamenting my own attempts at similar dishes which pale in comparison. Savory, salty, cooked through without becoming mush. Such a concentration of pure, earthy flavor. Nothing in this dish muddled - the ingredients each highlighted individually. I almost want to cry thinking about it.

Peanut Butter Crisp: So not my usual dessert order, but a conversation about peanut butter had sparked a craving, and there this was on the menu. Oh, how thankful I am for that random craving. The husband man delighted in the wafery, chocolate covered "crisp" portion, but I found myself in utter disbelief over the housemade peanut butter ice cream. Never in my life has such a frozen dessert crossed my lips. A texture unbelievably creamy, and yet somehow at the same time chewy. It was like they creamed and then froze peanut butter fudge. Any preconceptions I've had about what makes a good ice cream have been shattered.

And, according to Wikipedia, this is Tyler Florence's fast food restaurant? I can't even begin to grasp the conceptualization that makes that statement possible. But if it's true, I can't wait to try his San Francisco slow food joint, Wayfare Tavern. Heck, even if it's untrue. I just want more of his food. In my mouth. Now.

*I've had successes, too, especially from Giada di Laurentiis and Ina Garten. Maybe it's more of a production style preference. 

**Do we count Morimoto as a PBS food guy from the original Iron Chef showings or as a Food Network guy from the Iron Chef America showings? Or as neither since the original predates showings on any American network? Or am I over thinking this?

1 comment:

  1. this was really helpful, i've been trying to decide if I should go for my birthday and I think I will :D