Spicy Green Mango

--Living and eating with a dash of whimsy and a sprinkling of spice--

  • I'm a budding food-tographer turned blogger who's insanely passionate about food..real food...the kind that sprouts from the earth and you have to wash it to eat it. Yes, hearty real food. I live to eat and I eat to live and am loving every bit of it! If you're here, then I suppose we share the same passion! Enjoy!

Posted by Spicy Green Mango 6 comments

I absolutely adore the month of June!  Besides the fact that I graced the world with my presence (thanks, mom & dad!), June has always been synonymous with celebrations for me--what with graduation parties, the end of my first year in business school and the onset of a spectacular summery wine season, there's so many reasons to love June. I'm dedicating the next few series of posts to my celebratory experiences. So, brace yourselves!


Filled to the brim with making capital budgeting projections, learning the tricks behind marketing segmentation, analyzing cash flows and gaining a thorough understanding of how organizational culture affects our productivity and morale, it's just fitting that we capped off our insane year of studies with a trip to the beautiful wine country in Napa Valley.  It's been 3 years since I ventured back to the area (which is downright sad b/c I only live 40 minutes away), but like I said, it's been a whirlwind year.

With the sun beaming down on us on a sweltering June morning, a group of my fabulous MBA buddies (more appropriately dubbed as the Dream Team) and I made our way into the heart of Napa.  Even before we settled down for lunch, we had our sights set on the an early morning treat at the Beaulieu Vineyard tasting room where we tasted the BV Maestro Collection of whites.  The most memorable one for me?  The '07 Ensemble Blanc White Blend because it was light and crisp and made me wish I was nibbling on some grilled lemongrass shrimp scallops on bamboo skewers. I know, where is a personal chef when you need one?

And then, lunch at Rutherford Grill.  Great for pictures, but the food was blah and nothing to really blog about.

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

And did I mention how wonderfully cordial and heartwarming the chef/owner and staff were at the Bistro? It honestly felt like I had stepped foot into a family restaurant where everybody knew my name and really cared about the food and its preparation.  Several times throughout our dinner, Chef Jacque came by to welcome us and check up on how we were enjoying our experience.  And then, the best surprise of all was when they made the entire restaurant croon Happy Birthday to me by closing the lights right when they bought out my creme brulee.  Awe..so sweet. It was like I was at my grandparent's house. 


6 Responses

  1. What a great day of birthday celebration - perfect with the Napa and City combination! Must check out that new place in the city - sounds amazing! Nice photos!!!

  2. Sounds like a perfect birthday celebration !

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  4. Liren says:

    Happy Birthday! Would you believe that we share June birthdays!? Too many similarities!!! Also, my hubbie graduated from his MBA program, so I know way too much about organizational behavior, strategy, and all that nonsense. Congrats on completing your first year.

    I am in love with your photography, my dear! It gets lovelier and lovelier. Glad you enjoyed Peju the second time around - I really enjoyed what I tasted when I encountered them at Cookin' The Mint.

    Thanks for the tip on the new place in the city! I'll have to check that one out!

  5. I loved the story about your birthday and all the places you visited. Your photographs are beautiful...truly an inspiration.

  6. @Lynn: Thank you very much! I'm glad you enjoy great eye candy.

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