Peju Province Winery: Situated right off of Highway 29 in the Rutherford Valley, my previous experience at Peju was less than spectacular, but this time around defiinitely proved that second chances can be a real charm. Usually, large groups on the weekends will need to make an appointment for tastings, but our robust group of 9 were greeted warmly by their friendly staff. Our pourer knowledgeable about each and every wine he poured (which is really the only way it should be) and entertained us with stories of each wine's orgins. The Classic Tasting included both reds & whites and he even threw in some extras (of their new release) based on our individual preferences. I bought myself a bottle of their Provence (to complement my spicy papaya salads) and '09 Carnival (for when I'm snacking on a yummy teacake and sweet golden peaches). My friend, T, ended up purchasing 20 varietal bottles--it's okay, she says it's for her family (they're pretty serious about their wine :)
Great For: If you love reds or whites that be easily paired with a light steak salad or chicken/seafood dish. However, if you prefer more robust and peppery notes in your wines, then keep moving :) Below, the Pink wine where 10% of sales proceeds would go towards breast cancer research.
And then a final stop into Cakebreak Cellars. Eventhough the gentleman at the entrance told us they had already closed their tasting hours, we sauntered in and my friends were treated to a complimentary glass of their Sauvignon Blanc. I missed out on this opportunity (but stole a few sips from Lisa's glass) b/c I was busy capturing the shots that you see at the top of my blog (and right below). Ah, sacrifices for the sake of my blog. It was so worth it b/c the sunlight was perfect!
As much as I love fine dining, I must say that service is tantamount in my book (right there next to flavor). You ever take me to a place where the people look at you as if they've got better things to do than serve you, I start bolting for the door. No joke. And b/c of this, picking a new restaurant to try is that much more difficult b/c when I'm hungry, I do not want to be disappointed (or else I turn into a little dragon with flames flaring out of my nostrils. Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but hey, it's my blog, so I'll fill it with metaphors if I wish--haha! :) Luckily for me, that didn't happen this past weekend.
For my belated birthday dinner, I chose something different: French cuisine at the newly opened Bistro Central Parc in the NOPA district of San Francisco. A quaint little bistro located in an unassuming corner of a residential neighborhood near a laundromat of all places, the Bistro is a little gem of a find. Warm and inviting with all the charm of a local mom & pop restaurant sans the pretentiousness you'd expect from fancy French dining, I was quite impressed! The entire night was oozing with hearty comfort and oohs & aahs over the chef's skillful culinary presentation, to sum it all up in one hyphenated made-up word: Uh-MAZE-ing!!! Let me show you just how much:
Behold: Salmon tartare with fresh dill and parsley wrapped in gravlax and topped w/caviar. I know what you're thinking..this just looks too good to taste good, right? Welp, whaddaya know? The food here tastes even BETTER than it looks. I kid you, NOT!
I have to say that the MOST deliciously creamy risotto is served up here. My friends each ordered the scallops w/lobster sauce and shitake mushroom risotto and I had a chance to sample both. I'm not sure what heavenly pint of cream they use to prepare this dish, but it's decadent. Creamy to just the right consistency and the scallops were seared to genius-level perfection. I could have licked both plates and cleaned them by making swirls with my fingertips, but unfortunately, the plates were not mine (darn!).
Hearty Southern French-style seafood bouillabaisse w/clams, mussels, fresh fish and potatoes