March 3, 2012 Celebrating Sarah’s 32nd birthday in Napa Valley

Today is our celebration of Sarah’s birthday. She won’t be turning 32 until later this month when we will be away. Our plan is start by going to a couple of wineries, then have lunch, followed by maybe one more stop. We start at Victor Sattui’s.

Sarah tasting wine at Victor Sattui's

We taste several wines. Sarah likes the dessert wines a lot, especially the one called Angelica which tastes a lot like nuts. She decides to get a bottle and we do too!

Sarah and Mom having fun at the winery

Then we go to Robert Sinskey Vineyards. On the way in they have a pond of koi. The fish are very friendly and swarm near us with their little mouths open. Hoping for a treat, I think.

Friendly koi at Robert Sinskey Vineyards

Although the tasting fee at Robert Sinskey Vineyards is quite high, the four tastes come with two little plates of tasty food. We enjoy these tidbits a lot since it is approaching 1 PM and we are hungry.

Wine tasting and appetizers at Robert Sinskey Vineyards

Then it is off to Yountville for our lunch at Michael Chiarello’s Bottega.

Sarah outside Bottega

Sarah inside Bottega

Sarah is greeted with a Happy Birthday card at the table.

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Sarah perusing the menu

John and I order a glass of wine and Sarah, being more adventurous, orders a vodka gimlet made with some sort of syrup and with a large basil leaf in it.

Sarah enjoying her vodka gimlet

And now pictures of food. First, Sarah’s meal –

Polenta Under Glass - caramelized mushrooms & balsamic game sauce

"Liberty" Duck Three Ways - Roasted breast, salad of confit, pickled pomegranates, watercress, Sierra Beauty apples, spiced hazelnuts & duck liver mousse

John’s meal –

Lamb & Egg - "House made" lamb sausage, pepperonata, crispy soft boiled egg, red endive & smoked olive oil poached mushrooms

Wood Grilled Octopus - olive oil braised potatoes, pickled red onion & salsa verde

And finally my meal. I tried to select menu items which wouldn’t totally detonate my diet.

Caramelized Brussels Sprout Salad - Citrus segments, toasted Marcona almonds, prosciutto bits, aged balsamic dressing

Mediterranean Seafood Brodetto - mussels, Gulf prawns, clams and Monterey calamari, forno-confit tomato broth, olive oil crouton, paprika-saffron rouille

The first courses are very successful. John orders another primo for his main course. The octopus is very good but the potato is not. Sarah loves her duck three ways. It reminds her of the wonderful duck three way we had in Carcassonne. Both my dishes are quite good although the spicy tomato broth overwhelms the delicate seafood a bit. I am so full. I give almost half of my brodetto to John.

Then we have a wonderful dessert which we all share. We order sbrisolona, a crunchy almond cake, another dish that we had while traveling in Europe with Sarah. This comes with the most delicious gelato ever. It is caramel and sea salt and has espresso poured over it. It is at once sweet, bitter and salty. I forget to take a picture due to its awesomeness.

Leaving the restaurant, we encounter the chef himself cooking a whole lamb outside.

Micheal Chiarello basting a whole lamb cooking over charcoal

Our last stop is at Domaine Chandon but it is so crowded that we just walk around for a bit before heading home. We’ve really had plenty to eat and drink today anyway.

What a great birthday celebration. We all had fun. Happy Birthday in advance, Sarah!

The old folks have a good time celebrating Sarah's birthday

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