Thursday, October 16, 2008

West Coast pt.2

Ad Hoc
Washington Street, Yountville, CA (Napa Valley)

Bouchon Bakery bread at Ad Hoc
Alexis: This is one of FOUR establishments in Yountville by Thomas Keller, King of Chefs. French Laundry was too extravagant and Bouchon was too casual. There is also Bouchon Bakery, which supplies much of the bread and pastries for the three. I made reservations at Ad Hoc via Open Table. On a Thursday night, they were not that busy. We started with bread from Bouchon - one similar to ciabatta and another with speck and rye.

Alex: I love bread, all shapes, sizes, forms, and colors. Bread is my enemy!

Salad at Ad Hoc
Alexis: The first course, salad. Gulf shrimp, saffron calasparra (Spanish paella) rice, lipstick peppers, haricot verts, red onions and a sherry vinaigrette. Very bright and fresh-tasting, and looking so happy in the yellow serving platter. Sweet peppers and onions went very well with the saffron in the rice.

Alex: I never would have thought to put rice in a salad, but it worked very well. The shrimp I could have done without (but at least I did try it).

Main course at Ad Hoc
Alexis: The main course, pork tenderloin brined then roasted. Topped with cabrales cheese and served with twice-fried potatoes tossed in sofrito. Sofrito is a spice mix used in many forms of Spanish cooking. Basically it is a mix of garlic, onions and tomatoes. Different countries add other ingredients (peppers, chili, tumeric, etc). The pork was so juicy and tender! Everything must be brined from now on.

Alex: Yes, the brine really set this dish off. So tender and juicy. The spice on the potatoes was also very well done.

Alexis: The cheese course. A sheep's milk cheese (bottom) and cow's milk cheese (top) served with homemade quince paste and marcona almonds. I liked the cow's milk cheese best, which when eaten with the quince paste, tasted like candy. Something like pastillas de leche, which is a Filipino candy made with carabao (local water buffalo) milk. It is cooked with sugar and butter, then cut into strips rolled in more sugar when cool. The quince paste had the consistency of fresh pastillas, and the cow's milk cheese carried the creaminess. At this point in the meal I was ready to burst but had to find more room for the dessert course...

Alex:I didn't find anything too special about the cheeses, but combined with the quince paste it took it to a whole new level. The almonds were ok but I would have liked them to be a bit more crunchy.

Basque Cake w/ Huckleberry Compote at Ad Hoc

Alexis: Basque Cake with vanilla pastry cream and huckleberry compote. Oh my goodness. Light and airy and slightly creamy-moist from the pastry cream, this little cake was not the thick, rich dessert I thought it was going to be. My only wish was that I had more stomach room to finish it all.

Alex: Dessert was also a winner. At first it looked like a brick sitting there but it was surprisingly airy. The sweet and tart of the huckleberry was a nice addition to the vanilla like flavor of the cake.

Alexis: *****
Five stars for food, ambiance and great great service. Everyone who stopped by the table to drop off drinks or food or clear plates was exceptionally nice and polite. When I said, "Thank you" they said, "You're welcome." They were all knowledgeable about the food and drink they were serving. Despite all this the atmosphere was not stuffy at all and we felt at ease. Our waiter had noticed that I was nerding out with my camera and offered to take photos of us both at our table and at the big Ad Hoc sign by the entrance. Not exactly above and beyond, but definitely really nice of him.

Alex: *****
This is the first time in my life that I felt like I could have paid more for my meal. Everything was just excellent and at an extremely reasonable price. Like Alexis said, this place was not stuffy at all. The perfect place to feel like a prince on a paupers budget. Ok maybe not exactly a pauper, but you get the idea.

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