Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Visit, Part Two

After the Ani concert, we headed back to our hotel in Santa Rosa, very excited to get up in the morning and hit some wineries. Waking up to a sunny day was a lovely gift, and with fuel in us from the Whole Foods salad bar, we headed off to Frog's Leap. My hubby and I have been to this organic and biodynamic vineyard before, but have never taken the tour. I now know that we were totally missing out. It was an informative, casual, and FUN romp around the grounds and I highly recommend it. I could live at this place, with it's huge gardens and sustainably-built and powered house. But, alas, if we wanted to taste more, we had to leave. I had intended to stop for snacks at Oakville Grocery, since it's the best place to do so IMO, but we weren't all that hungry and had to save room for our awesome dinner (be patient, it's coming). We ended up stopping anyway, and stocked up on some kickin' mustards, olive oils, and jams. Probably the other three things Napa is known for besides wine. All are calling my name from the pantry right now.... We also got some water since our sunny day was approaching 95 degrees. Yeah, time to get out of the sun.

For some shade, and more wine of course, we hit up one of my personal faves - Robert Sinskey. As far as my palate goes, his wines are the perfect compliment to just about any veggie dish. I love his Abraxas blend, and his 1999 Vineyard Reserve, a mostly Cabernet blend, was our wedding wine (we started dating in '99). In addition to making just damn tasty vino, the tasting room in Napa has a bar in which you are invited to eat the yummiest olives and sea salt/rosemary almonds. Can't beat it.

Okay, so we've had some fruit and Synergy at Whole Foods, some samples of mustards and olive oils at Oakville, some almonds and olives at Sinskey, and lots of wine. Definitely time for dinner. I was so psyched because of all the hype around my choice for dinner: Ubuntu. Write ups always claim that it is a "vegetables" restaurant, as opposed to a "vegetarian" restaurant. And, as is so hip and chic these days, most of these veggies come from their own biodynamic garden. Their short trip to the table is the ultimate in freshness, and it undoubtedly comes through in the food. Hearing about all this, and reading a sample menu online, had me very eager... and I came hungry.

From the sign outside which reads "Practicing Humanity Toward Each Other" to the clean and natural feel of the rather large interior, I was sold. Then, the menu came. Now, we all know I'm a sucker for a well-marked menu. In this case, all the vegan items have a nice little "v" by them and all the items with a star can be made vegan. They don't even mind, promise! My mom and I decided to split three small plates, and then get larger offerings individually, which turned out to be exactly the right amount of food for the two of us hungry ladies. To start, we split a salad of grilled strawberries, greens, and pistachio "pudding", a beet and avocado salad, and some lemon asparagus. All were ridiculous, the beets so much so that I was unable to snag a picture before they were devoured. Everything was fresh, joyously flavorful, and insanely pretty. Definitely the best start to a meal I've had in a long time.

For our entrees, my mom had a broccoli and farro dish in which everything was drowning in a technicolor broccoli-stem sauce. It was gorgeously green, yet it somehow managed to taste even better than it looked. As for me, I kicked it comfort food style and got the greens-laden pizza with their own vegan cheese. Oh man, was this heaven. Kale and pesto and spinach and almond cheese bliss. I can almost still taste it if I try.... Yup, there it is. Amazing.

Now, just for the record, we were totally full at this point. Maybe it was the Sinskey Pinot Blanc we were splitting, but we just couldn't say no to the vegan dessert. Plus it seemed so light and refreshing. Indeed, the sorbet in rose soda float was just that. The most beautiful and tasty sunset-colored ending to our day.

The verdict? Vegans, take your others by the hand, put them in the car, forcibly if you must, and drive the hour or so up to Napa. You won't regret it, and they'll thank you for it later.

1 comment:

Joselle said...

OMG, I totally want to be your restaurant buddy. You make everything sound so amazing.