Last Friday, my cousin Roxie and I went to the Napa Valley for the day. She had no interest in visiting the wineries, but she wanted to eat a nice meal (of course). And shop. So I made reservations at one of my favorite restaurants, Mustards Grill. I've prepared quite a few of the restaurant's signature dishes, using their wonderful cookbook, The Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook. On this visit, I wanted to try one dish I've never ordered, their famous Mongolian porkchop.
Right off the bat, we made a crucial mistake. We didn't eat breakfast and arrived in Napa with hours to spare before our reservation at Mustards. Roxie wanted to visit the Oakville Grocery, a critical error. The grocery is famous for the wonderful food stuffed into the tiny store. You can't buy toilet paper or cleaning supplies at the Oakville grocery, but you can find a great display of cheese, sausage, and prepared foods. Spurred on by our hunger, everything looked delicious, so we began to fill our baskets. I was delighted to find rendered duck fat, an Acme ciabatta, lemon curd, a huge turtle (the candy), and butternut squash tamales. Roxie bought a stinky Roquefort torta, and two spicy sausages. We were off and running.
Before leaving, we paused outside the grocery to have a few slices of the excellant hot copa sausage that Roxie bought. My brain sent a warning ping, reminding me about my acid reflux--but that got lost in a shuffle of exclamations over the sausage and bread.
From the Oakville grocery we drove to Dean & Delucca, where we totally lost control. I have no pictures of this debacle. We were too busy sampling cheese and buying cookies. Frankly, I blame the guy behind the cheese counter, who kept handing me samples. We wound up buying Cowgirl Creamery cheese (2 Mt. Tam and 1 Red Hawk) and a hunk of Manchego, before I fled that section of the store. I still remember the 4 year old Gouda sample I drew the line on buying. As mentioned before, we bought numerous baked goods--almond croissants, a huge apricot bar, and a Frisbee sized coconut, caramel sandwich cookie. We didn't eat them all, thank God, but saved them for later. A huge glass of fresh watermelon juice was irresistible, so we drank it. At one point I saw lovely wax beans and figs, but wound up buying another cookie instead. Meanwhile my brain was sending me CAUTION notices, but they were routed off to the Dead Letter department.
Then we went to Mustards Grill. We still had an appetite because our transgressions hadn't caught up with us. We shared an appetizer, Seared Tuna With Wasabi Cream On Sesame Crackers. It was the the best part of a very good meal. And it's in the cookbook!
As planned, I ordered the restaurant's famous Mongolian porkchops, cooked with a delicous sauce made of black bean sauce, garlic, and ginger. It was served with egually good red cabbage, mashed potatoes, and a house made mustard sauce.
Here is where we made our fatal mistake. We both ordered the signature dessert of Mustards, the Lemon-lime Merinque Pie. We could have shared one slice, but greed (and the reptilian center of our brain no doubt) took over. Half way through our dessert we began to feel.....uncomfortable. But, it was too delicious to resist, so we forged on and finished our slices of pie.
Leaving the restauraunt, we began to replay our gluttony and swore we were changing our ways, would never do this again, etc. Even we didn't believe it. Roxie said we had to get out and walk, so we drove to Yountville and parked next to the French Laundry. I was pleased to see that their large garden is doing great. The picture captures only a fraction of the different crops they are growing. Nary a weed in sight and the soil looks like black gold.
We proceeded to a small cluster of shops, where Roxie was able to wander to her heart's delight. I sat outside in a lovely breeze, until Roxie lured me inside, where I bought Upsie a silly collar. I then bought myself an expensive purse that I will use about once a year. Me, the person who lives in casual clothes. I swear, it was the food that made me do it. I had so much acid reflux by then I wasn't thinking clearly. I don't have the right clothes to wear with it! And it has a matching scarf!
Roxie and I spent the rest of the day vowing never to eat like that again. (Of course that all fell by the wayside the next day when we went to Lake Tahoe. I don't want to talk about it.)
Today, I'm going to be very good. No outlandish eating. There's still a lot of cheese and sausage here, but Roxie is taking that back to Texas with her. Wonder what Airport Security will make of the smell from that stinky cheese after it's warmed up in her suitcase?